Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Would a "Real" Dietitian Say About Paleo?


I recently recieved an email from Karl, a strength and conditioning coach in Edmonton, Canada.  Here's what he wrote:

Hi Amy,

I am a strength and conditioning coach in Edmonton who has recently (9 months) transitioned to a Paleo Diet and have experienced many wonderful changes in the process.  I have also helped some of my athletes/colleagues move away from the food guide and closer to our genes, which is exciting.

Recently, I had someone comment on a friend's blog as a skeptic, wondering what a 'Real' dietitian would say about the Paleo Diet...which is why I am emailing you.

If you could spare a few minutes, I would love to hear what you have to say about eating Paleo.  I have read your blog and haven't come across a specific post on this subject.  I have linked your most recent post in the hopes of promoting some common sense in the scientific world.

Thanks for your time,
Karl

I get this type of question A LOT!!  Since I am a Registered Dietitian, and a member of the American Dietetic Association, people tend to think that I am a pro-food pyramid, anti-fat, whole grain pushing professional.  Well, that's not the case and here's why...

In college the Ancel Keys' studies, China study and many others were hammered into my brain.  I will be the first to admit that I WAS sold on the whole low-fat, high carb, food pyramid way of thinking.  I ate the text book 'dietitian' diet for a LONG time (7 years), and guess what it got me.  Uuuhhhh....  nothing.  I take that back - a whacked out thyroid, overtrained, train wreck of a body.  With the constant prodding of my friend Scott, I started thinking about the Paleo way of eating.  I saw him doing it and watched his performance get better and better while mine seemed to ebb and flow in between injuries.  I started digging into the research to see what the pros and cons of this 'Paleo' thing were.  (A little background here, I got my bachelor's and master's degrees from Colorado State University, home of  "The Paleo Diet" author Loren Cordain.  Now, back when I was at CSU general consensus in the nutrition department was that Dr. Cordain was a "little off his rocker".)  Once I actually read "The Paleo Diet", "The Paleo Diet for Athletes" and a whole lot of research papers, I was left with one conclusion.  I needed to try this 'Paleo thing' for myself.

That leads me to where I am today.  I know that the Paleo way of eating makes me feel GREAT, perform better than I ever have, and I rarely if ever get sick.  There are a lot of people that think I'm a "little off my rocker", but I'm alright with that.  I know how I feel.  I also know all the benefits I am getting, from a health and disease prevention standpoint, by eating this way.  When I am questioned by others in my profession I simply stick with the facts.  It is extremely difficult to argue a diet that promotes eating lean meats, vegetables, fruits and heart healthy fats.  It's all there; (carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.), it's all unprocessed, and it's all backed up with research and most importantly 'real life' experiences - not just mice and monkeys!! 

So, what does a 'real' dietitian have to say about the Paleo lifestyle?  "Try it, you'll like it!"

Comments...

15 comments:

  1. Amy, thank you for taking the time to post this. I will link this to my blog in my next post so that my friends and colleagues can read for themselves.

    Karl

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  2. I certainly did a lot of self experiment to "prove" Paleo to myself. Must've spent $300 on NMR Lipoprofiles and other such blood work. But after reading all the Pro/Con I could, I implemented Paleo and tested it out. I'm certainly SOLD, now!

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  3. Hey I love this post! I graduated with a Nutrition degree and was always preaching the food pyramid to my friends and family. Now that I am a Personal Trainer/ Coach and after reading "Paleo Diet for Athletes" I have "switched" sides. I am now hounding one of my old professors and trying to convince as many people as I can! I love your blog and cant wait to send it to friends, clients, and family!

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  4. I'm an RD in southern GA. I have not had a chance to read the Paleo diet yet but out of curiosity, what does it say about about whole grains such as steel cut oats, barley, brown rice, bulgar...?

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  5. Freshour Fitness - Thank you so much for the feedback!! And keep spreading the 'AWESOMENESS' of Paleo!!!

    Brenna - All grains are out on Paleo, and there are several reasons for this. Grains contain lectins which contribute to leaky gut, there are also issues with auto-immune diseases. Additionally grains, when processed in our bodies contribute to a net acid load. Carbohydrate in the form of fruits and vegetables contribute to an alakaline environment. These are just a few of the draw backs to grains. I highly suggest reading Loren Cordain's book 'The Paleo Diet'!! Let me know if you'd like to learn more!!

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  6. I'm definitely interested. There are so many "diets" that claim to be right and have lots of research to back them up (the atkins, mediteranian, paleo, Dean Ornish) I just feel overwhelmed at the moment and don't know where to start reading. I just know the current food guide pyramid is a bunch of BS so I've already started trying to cut out a lot of processed. Too bad I love toast as much as I do...

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  7. I too tried the Paleo diet for athletes, but as an athlete in endurance mountain bike racing (24 hour races), I found I could not get enough. Yes, the ideas are great to follow, and for a serious athlete (or at least endurance athletes), you may need to eat some of the "forbidden fruits." I had to reincorporate yams, rice, and noodles into my diet.
    Liz with TeamCuteness.com

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  8. Liz,
    Paleo for endurance athletes looks a little bit different than straight up Paleo. It allows for certain "forbidden" foods at certain times - pre/during/post exercise. This allows the body to adequately refuel and still reap the benefits of a Paleo lifestyle! Let me know if you'd like to know more! I am the consultant dietitian for the Training Bible Coaching and have had many successful Paleo athlete clients!!

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  9. So interesting to hear your thoughts on this as a dietician, and how you feel about the food pyramid, etc. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. I have started to read about the Paleo diet....all of it makes intuitive sense. I am a little overloaded with info right now....does anybody KNOW of a RD that specializes in prescribing Paleo diets? If not....one of you should take the plunge! I need help and reading is just one step....following a prescribed regiment for awhile would really help me get into a rhythm.
    Paul

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  11. Paul,

    I would love to help you!! I am an RD!!! send me an email at amyk.rd@gmail.com

    I'll talk to you soon!! :)

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  12. Amy,

    Do you have any advice for those who have microscopic (lymphocytic) colitis that are following the paleo diet and need to *gain* weight? It's difficult, especially when your intestines aren't that great at absorbing and digesting fat, raw fruits and veggies, and too much fruit in general. Any help is appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Ashley

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  13. Ashley,

    YES!! I have worked with several colitis clients - there are definitely some things we can do!! Send me an email and tell me a little more about your case/current diet/symptoms, etc. My email is amyk.rd@gmail.com

    Talk to you soon!
    -Amy

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  14. Out of all your posts, why haven't I seen this on sooner? It's awesome.. I sent it to a friend, hopefully she decides to take the challenge.

    -Beau

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