More and more, Paleo-style dieting is seeping out of the fringes and into the mainstream. No longer just a fanatical tool in the world of athletics, Paleo, "neo-Paleo" and "carb-cleanse" diets are graduating into pop culture touchstones for fad dieting.
Which means more and more "regular people" are taking forays into this method of eating. And while I have written similarly on this topic before, I couldn't hold my tongue while watching a new wave of idiots fall like lemmings off the carbohydrate cliff. I must restate a simple and true fact of human dieting. (I'll get to it in just a second – bear with me.)
You see, what makes Paleo Dieting so convincing is that it is borrowing off of biological facts to describe it's content. Facts are hard to argue, especially those wrapped in the bright-colored sugary shell of "science." Once science becomes candy, everyone falls in love with it. And this was Paleo Dieting's marketing success to the masses: it uses simple, bite-sized scientific facts to uphold it's rationale. It basically is promoted as "how our bodies were designed to eat." It looks at our biological design and draws conclusions based on evolution. And therein lies the candying of the message: it's so yummy with facts it's hard not to dig right in.
However, as true as these facts are, they are only part of the story. If you want to talk about "how we are designed to eat" and evoke our evolutionary track, then you can't just selectively pick from the candy bins only those sweet facts that uphold your story. You have to assess all the facts when analyzing a design; anything less creates misleading conclusions.
The biggest overlooked "fact" in analyzing how we were "designed" to eat via our "evolution" is also the one that has always seemed – to this coach, anyway – the most glaringly obvious:
NO GREAT HUMAN ACCOMPLISHMENT
THAT LED TO THE BETTERMENT OF OUR SPECIES
WAS EVER ACHIEVED WITHOUT ADDED SUGARS.
And I mean all our greatest accomplishments. Whether it is Stonehendge or the Sisteine Chapel; open-heart surgery or the Mars rover; a Shakespearian sonnet or the internet where you are now reading this article; nothing awesome we humans have ever accomplished didnt also require tons of excess sugar to get done. Including:
THE POSSESSION OF THE SCIENCE WHICH ALLOWED US TO LOOK BACK
AND DETERMINE THE DIETS OF OUR ANCESTORS
RELIED ON TONS OF SUGARS TO INVENT.
PALEO DIETING WOULD BE UNKNOWN TO US
WITHOUT MILLENNIA OF HUMANS
INTENTIONALLY EATING NON-PALEO DIETING.
Our ancestors – the guys who ate Peleo – were the ones who invented non-Paleo, added-sugar dieting. And thank god they did! It was a boon to our evolution!
And this is a fact: to get ahead, we must use out ability to develop technology. And while there are many worrisome woes to the industrialization of food, industrialization is different from applied technology. While mass-production of carbs has caused us terrible setbacks, that is not the fault of the carbs themselves. The application of technology – the use of refined tools – to enhance our diets is not the bad guy here; we are not going to get our best performance by shoving twigs into ant holes for a mouthful of bugs. Avoiding crappily-produced (read: industrialized) foods is a good thing, but avoiding added sugars all together? Yah, that idea didn't really work out for our ancestors either.
Which is why they invented adding sugar. And then all kinds of awesome started going down.
And that is an evolutionary fact. Just as factual as the face used to bolster Paleo Dieting. Th problem is that thy are not as sugary sweet; these here are like the factual brussel sprouts to the M&M's ofd Paleo's science tray. Of course they are easy to shove aside. Way too much fiber to be any "fun."
Paleo-style dieting is a trick of logic and marketing, not a boon of health promotion or a maximization of human potential. Our potential was maximized when we used tools – one of the evolutionary traits which helps define our species – to change what we ate. Then pyramids, The Beatles, Great Wall and airplanes, not to mention Olympics, marathons, baseball and bodybuilding, among many other cool things.
Paleo is clever, but stupid. It is a useful compendium of ideas on our biology, but a lousy prescription for maximizing human performance. yes, the short term benefits have been extolled time and again through countless "after pictures." But the fact of the matter is human betterment relies on adding sugar to our diet – judiciously and conscientiously, but absolutely.
And no sweetening of facts will out-nourish the nutrients in that fact.