It seems the whole of the Sunshine Coast, and indeed the country, has been swept up by a wave of Paleo and Crossfit. All of a sudden people are avidly following this new lifestyle, often without considering some fundamental risks. While there are some huge benefits to going Paleo, it’s not all good news; there are limitations to the diet [see Primitive Opinions post] and the potential for injury when Crossfit is used dangerously.
Eating totally Paleo is very difficult to replicate in modern society, as the meats we eat are fundamentally different from those found in the Paleolithic times. Most of us sit in offices, then drive to the supermarket to buy farm grown, grain fed meats from animals that have had less exercise than us. Contrary to some interpretations, our ancient relatives were not lucky enough to have constant access to steak, bacon or chicken and were lucky to live beyond 35.
However, some Paleo diet guidelines are right on the money; it’s always a good idea to remove soft drink, alcohol, juices and added sugars. But grains are also off the menu. This is fine nutritionally speaking, as you could argue they are not essential, however, as a cheap source of protein and fibre, the right type of grain is a smart, healthy and economical option. The Australian Dietary Guidelines are developed for all Australians, not just those who can afford grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon and organic fruit & vege. Removing breads and white rice while opting for whole, unprocessed grains is a simpler alternative than completely eliminating this staple food. Similarly, removing dairy means it’s easy to become calcium deficient. While this can be avoided if you plan carefully and include bony fish, almonds and high amounts of leafy greens, many people will not sufficiently compensate and may experience deficiency symptoms. Before we start mocking the Australian Dietary Guidelines, remember they do their best to serve ALL Australians at a population level, not celebrities and people with intolerances, diseases or high activity levels.
Likewise there are risks to jumping into a new exercise regime, especially if you’re new to lifting heavy weights. With many inexperienced trainers now offering group sessions, the potential for injury is great. Your trainer should be aware of any injuries or imbalances and have the experience and knowledge to offer safe alternatives whilst providing an effective workout. Using ultra heavy weights without correct form and technique can lead to spinal injuries such as bulging discs – a lifelong and serious condition. Teaching the fundamentals and correct technique is essential, and something that may not happen in all establishments.
If you want to try Crossfit, make sure you’re given proper instruction and don’t expect to start lifting twice your bodyweight in the first session; go to a reputable establishment that focuses on teaching the basics first. If you’re already doing Crossfit or another intense exercise, ensure you’re adding in a stretching element such as yoga or Pilates to ensure you maintain a balanced regime.
At the end of the day, personalised nutrition and fitness is always the best option as it’s designed to suit YOU and YOUR GOALS. Everyone is different and a one-size-fits-all approach will never compare to a tailored program delivered by an experienced coach. Talk to someone, try a few options and listen to your body first and everyone else second.