The more I have read recently the more times I have come across Primal or Paleo and whilst I am intrigued by the simplistic evolutionary logic behind it, the sceptic in me cannot help but wonder is this just another passing fitness/health/diet/nutrition craze?
We have all seen the news stories about how eating red meat “kills”, how increased levels of meat and fats causes CHD and that despite all the evidence to suggest otherwise, Government advice continues to suggest we should base our diet on starchy carbs. All it will take is one persistent scare story or statistic to scare the horses and being Primal or Paleo will suddenly be seen as the worst possible diet choice you can make and heaven forbid anyone should fee their children like that!!
But….the science behind the lifestyle choice does seem to make sense and together with the natural movement concept they both seem to tap into some ideas I didn’t even know I had! The idea that movement (and fitness) should be natural and fun is something I feel really strongly about, fitness should be about so much more than 30 minutes on a treadmill or how much you can bench press – the idea that variations of the movements we carry out everyday should feature in our workouts makes perfect sense to me. The sense that, ideally, we should eat the foods we have eaten for generations and not the much more recent, heavily processed foods (including white bread) seems to be so obvious I end up asking ‘what’s the catch?’.
But with so many parts of the fitness industry embracing ‘going primal’ does that mean that it will encounter the all-too-obvious backlash that seems to happen with every successful lifestyle plan?
And what exactly does Primal or Paleo mean to me personally and how far from the ideal is my diet? For me, eating primal means eating clean and lean – lots of good quality animal protein, no grains or starchy carbs, good fruit and veg including berries, nuts and seeds plus a small amount of dairy. I don’t claim to have all the answers and I don’t claim that I nor my family follow this all the time but I am conscious that this approach is now a fundamental part of my diet.
To be honest I feel so much better mentally, physically and emotionally since I have cleaned up my diet; I know from time to time carbs creep back in along with the odd sweet but really felt the difference in my body. The carbs make me feel lethargic and bloated and although the sweets are nice at the time I have noticed that the more often I eat something processed, sugary or full of carbs the more often my body craves it – the more you eat this type of food, the more your body seems to crave more and more of it!
But am I following a Primal diet or lifestyle? I am sure that many would say a resounding ‘no’ and that my hours spent in the gym on my programme are a complete anathema to primal-enthusiasts and I recognise that; I know that to embrace the ‘natural movement’ movement I need to get out of the gym and spend more time just playing, running, jumping, climbing – all the things we all did as kids!
In terms of a lasting phenomena though, Primal or Paleo encompasses so many things that I gravitate towards and whilst I don’t think I am ever going to be a fully paid up member of Primal community there is a great deal of sense and logic wrapped up in a primal wrapper and for me, this is a one fitness fad that could and should stick around!