There is no one size fits all prescription for health and fitness. Trust me I wish there was it would make my job as a coach and trainer much simpler. Everyone is different though and what works and achieves results for one person may not for another. Hormones, metabolism, and genetics can vary wildly from one human to the next even among family members so it’s no surprise to me when a program that I love is not a good fit for clients.
I will be the first to tell you that I often offer advice based on my own experiences and results. In fact I would never recommend a program, diet, or process to someone without first having tried it myself. I like to think I temper my own preferences with the latest scientific findings in diet and fitness but I admit even I can fall prey to enthusiasm over new trends.
If you’ve met me or read my articles then you know I am a strong advocate of a Paleo-centered diet program. I believe and the word believe is key here that biologically speaking a Paleo diet is the healthiest and most efficient way to fuel your body and promote good health. I’ve seen excellent results in myself, my girlfriend, and numerous clients and athletes who adopted this eating style. So does that mean it’s for everyone; of course not. I’ll probably keep advising people to adopt it though if for no other reason than it helps most people clear the “crap” out of their diets and by crap I mean over-processed carbs and sugars that trigger insulin spikes when eaten and promote fat storage.
Something to consider for those of you looking for a new fitness program or diet is what works best for you. Over the last 18 months or so Gwen and I have taken it upon ourselves to experiment with several different diet approaches ranging from pure vegan-ism to a Mexican/Latin American based diet (my favorite), to an anything goes but in moderation, and for most of the last 10 months a Paleo model. We are not strict Paleo by any means. For most of the week we try to be but come Saturday we loosen the belts and indulge. It’s how we deal with missing old foods we love.
I know that Gwen has seen dramatic results in reducing body fat since we switched over but I also believe she is Gluten and Lactose intolerant. Eliminating these two food groups from her diet has improved the quality of her health and helped clear up digestive issues that have plagued her most of her life. I’ve seen good results as well but it’s harder to determine if that’s from eating Paleo, changing my workout style, or just that I don’t eat everything in sight anymore. I know from blood tests that I am not Gluten sensitive, lactose intolerant, and in fact have no food allergies. So is Paleo or any kind of diet mandatory for someone like me?
It’s a tough call to make. I can share tons of scientific data supporting one diet and workout program over another, but at the end of the day theory can come into conflict with reality. Do I believe gluten and grain are harmful to human beings? I do, but here’s the catch, if they are so bad for us how have we managed not only to survive on it but colonize the globe and become the dominant species? Yes I know all the arguments about the impact of genetically modified foods and modern agricultural practices versus the hunter gathering lifestyle. If you’re focusing on that though then you’re missing the point. I believe that a large portion of the population has adapted, just as they have to consuming milk, even without the supplementation of lactase. One cannot deny with a straight fact the capability of human beings to endlessly adapt to change. I know what science says but I cannot deny what I see with my own eyes either though can I?
In the final argument I can’t say that one diet is for everyone and as a Health and Fitness professional I don’t believe anyone is capable of making such a claim. I’m human and time and time again I see humans rewriting the book on what humans can do. In my experience the inner workings of individuals can vary so much that it’s hard to predict how one person might react to a certain diet when compared to another. Just as I know CrossFit isn’t for everyone, I know Paleo isn’t either, and if you don’t participate in these so what! If your program is delivering good results and improving your health in measurable positive ways then stick with it. The arguing over one diet versus another is moronic and ultimately a waste of time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try something new out for yourself before dismissing it.