FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ANSWERS TO THE MOST COMMONLY MISUNDERSTOOD ASPECTS OF PALEO NUTRITION AND CROSSFIT
Part of the beauty of the Paleo and Crossfit approach is that they are both a completely new perspective in their fields. Paleo nutrition is almost a total 180 from what most nutritionists, doctors, and governmental organizations will advise. Crossfit's take on functional, constantly varied movements with an emphasis on broad and general fitness vs specific skill development is a new concept to most gym-goers. While these paths less wandered can lead to amazing results, it also creates room for misunderstandings, questions, rumors, and other non truths. Let's get right down to business!
ISN'T EATING A LOT OF RED MEAT (OR MEAT IN GENERAL) BAD FOR YOU?
No. Eating red meat or meat in general is not bad for you. In fact, eating high quality, unprocessed meat is very good for you! Our bodies require protein for countless functions throughout the body. Protein is the building block of multiple tissues, hormones, DNA, muscles, and only every cell in your body. (And ladies remember, muscle burns fat and makes you look leaner!). Animal protein is the only whole food protein source that is a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids in the correct ratios that your body needs for optimal absorption and utilization. Meat (including red meat) also contains a variety of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including zinc, B vitamins, iron (especially important for women), and selenium, all in their most bio-available form. It is important, if you can, to eat high quality, organic, grass-fed meats (i.e. nutrient-dense) for many reasons, including grass-fed meat has a much healthier fat content then grain-fed meat (omega-3s vs omega-6). Grain fed, industrial cattle is sick, and we should not be eating sick animals, period. (Also worth noting is that if you have any moral issues with how industrial animals are raised, putting your dollar towards properly and ethically raised animals is actually the best move you can make to help change the system, intsead of boycotting meat or animal products entirely, as some might think). If you cannot afford or don’t have access to organic, grass-fed meat, eat leaner cuts or opt for wild caught seafood, and you will still be getting some of the health benefits of meat.
FAT MAKES YOU FAT, RIGHT?
Let's get this straight once and for all.. burn it into your brain: FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT! Dietary fat is essential to a healthy body and brain. The membrane of every cell in our body is comprised of fat. Our brain is mostly fat. Fat is a building block of hormones that actually burn fat and build muscle, keeping you lean. Fat allows the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins that keep us looking and feeling good. AND fat contains an antioxidant called CLA that actually helps burn body fat! What does cause fat to accumulate, however, is carbohydrates- more specifically, excess carbohydrates and the wrong kinds of carbohydrates (example: refined sugar), as they cause our insulin levels to go up, which signals our body to store fat. Animal fats from properly raised animals, including lard, tallow, grassfed butter, and even bacon fat, are all healthy, stable fats that are great for cooking, while plant based fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and coconut based products are a healthy addition to any diet. Yes, calories matter up to a point, but quality>quantity every time. Fat is PHAT.
I THOUGHT WHOLE GRAINS ARE PART OF A HEALTHY DIET?
Whole grains are not healthy and do not offer any nutrients that you cannot get from meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. In fact, Paleo-friendly foods provide much, much more nutrients than grains could ever hope to. What about fiber, you ask? Fruits and veggies provide more fiber than whole grains, period. Whole grains, refined grains, and any kind of any grain at all are unhealthy because they naturally contain compounds called anti-nutrients that prevent the absorption of any healthy nutrients they may have. Anti-nutrients also damage the lining of the gut, causing issues such as leaky gut, which contributes to chronic inflammatory diseases. Whole grains are also carbohydrates, which cause a spike in insulin levels resulting in fat storage, among other health issues. Did you know that two slices of whole grain bread raises your blood sugar level more than a Snickers or bag of Skittles? Yeah. Whole grains: No bueno mi amiga.
IS CROSSFIT DANGEROUS?
No, CrossFit is not inherently dangerous. That being said, anything can be dangerous if you are doing it incorrectly or carelessly. CrossFit is an intense program with a lot of dynamic movements meant to give you excellent results, and pretty much any time you are moving your limbs around, there's always a possibility for injury. Should we sit on the couch all day in a bubble to protect ourselves? No! Runners continue running and skiers continue skiing even though they have some of the highest injury rates of any sport. When you are pushing yourself and being active, there's always a risk for injury. There are a lot of Crossfit gyms out there so do your research and find one with excellent coaching, and above all, listen to your body. There is a big difference between pushing past a mental barrior and challenging yourself, and doing something that just hurts; Learn the difference and pay attention to it. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
WILL LIFTING WEIGHTS MAKE ME BULKY?
No! For the last time, NO! Lifting heavy weight will not make you bulky. In fact, lifting heavy weight is an excellent way to burn fat and build muscle, making you leaner. Women simply do not have the hormones that men do that help them "bulk up"; For a woman to gain a considerable amount of muscle mass, she has to first have the right genetics, secondly she's got to train multiple hours every day (like.. A LOT), and lastly, she's got to eat like a lion. Think Olympic athlete level training- that type of commitment may get you some pretty serious muscle mass, but for the rest of us, even the most die-hard gym go-ers, it's just not a reality. Say it with us, "You will not get bulky lifting heavy weights!". So go do it!