Ask The Trainer #66 – To Paleo Or Not To Paleo


Hi Chad. I was wondering what you thought about the Paleo diet for shedding body fat? Was thinking of trying it, but I wasn’t sure if I could remain on such a low carb diet for an extended period of time. Your advice is appreciated.

Thanks, Derek.


Hi, Derek. According to the experts who tout the Paleo Diet, its premise is based on the following attributes:

1. Avoiding vegetable oils, butter substitutes, etc., because these synthetically derived fats weren’t around in the Paleolithic Era.
2. Avoiding processed foods that are made with various chemicals, refined sugars, corn syrup, or refined flours.
3. Avoiding most grains because farming wasn’t a reality during Paleolithic times.

The most common versions of the Paleo Diet suggest adhering to a moderate amount of protein, a high amount of fat, and a low amount of carbohydrates. This is interesting to me because historically, Paleolithic humans did actually consume a moderate amount of carbohydrates in the form of fruits, starchy tubers, like potatoes, and other types of root vegetables.

The problem is people will take an original concept and reinvent it to make it seem more glamorous or cutting edge than it really is so they can strategically market it in hopes of making a fortune.

For example, most so-called Paleo experts advocate that no more than 20% of your diet should come from carbohydrates. However, most people of the Paleolithic era likely consumed closer to 35-45 percent of their calories in the form of carbohydrates.

Paleo Criticisms

That’s my main criticism of the popular, commercialized Paleo diets. They advocate a carbohydrate intake that is not ideal for optimal health and performance. Many studies have demonstrated that adhering to a low carbohydrate diet has a negative impact on testosterone levels.

This is because a hormone called GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) manipulates its synthesis according to available glucose levels in the body. When there’s a sufficient amount of glucose present in the body, the brain releases more GnRH. Hence, your body produces more testosterone.

Chad ShawConversely, when there’s a low amount of glucose present in the body, the brain emits less GnRH, inhibiting testosterone production. Furthermore, adhering to a low carbohydrate diet for long periods of time will cause your cortisol levels to increase. High cortisol levels disrupt protein turnover—resulting in loss of muscle tissue. Anytime you lose muscle, your metabolism automatically slows down. Your muscle IS your metabolism!

Paleo Praises

At first glance, the one thing I do love about the Paleo Diet is that it forbids consuming processed foods. When you eliminate processed foods, you avoid putting trans fats, synthetic fats, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugars, and lots of man-made chemicals into your body. Refined sugars have a negative impact on your leptin and insulin levels, which promotes hunger and fat gain.

Additionally, processed grains trigger the same nasty effects. The more processed the grain, more negative the effect is on your body. Moreover, many grains have been genetically modified to resist heavy doses of weed killer. The main ingredient in many of these is called glyphosate—an herbicide that is a cancer-causing and endocrine disrupting chemical you may ingest when you consume non-organic whole grains. If you consume grains, be sure they are organic and minimally processed!

Synthetic fats and trans fats are extremely high in Omega 6 which acts as an inflammatory in high amounts. Most Americans consume about 25 times the recommended healthy level of omega 6 and not nearly enough omega 3. This imbalance allows systemic inflammation to flourish, thus increasing the chances of many health risks like cardiovascular disease, weight gain, stroke, neurological conditions, chronic pain, and hormone imbalances.

To achieve optimal health, a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is recommended. To achieve this, avoid processed food products and consume plenty of omega 3 rich foods like wild salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring, extra virgin olive oil, chia seeds, walnuts, cage-free eggs, and avocado. Since it isn’t practical to eat an abundance of these foods, I also suggest taking a krill oil, or fish oil supplement daily.

Chemicals In Processed Foods

There are many synthetic chemicals in processed foods that have been scientifically proven to disrupt endocrine function and have a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effect in the body. Some of these chemicals are even considered to be neurotoxins that actually cause damage to the brain and central nervous system.

The chemicals to really watch out for are MSG (monosodium glutamate), monopotassium glutamate, monoammonium glutamate, magnesium diglutamate, glycyrrhizin, aspartame, neotame, carrageenan, alitame, and thaumatin.

Now please understand what I mean I say something interferes with your endocrine system. It means your hormones are being tampered with in a bad way! A way that encourages reduced thyroid function, adrenal function, weight gain, reduced testosterone levels, reduced growth hormone levels, increased cortisol, and inflammation levels.

In other words, any disruptions in your endocrine system WILL make you more prone to gaining fat and losing muscle!

Following a Paleo Diet doesn’t mean you can eat tons of Paleo-friendly food and still lose weight. If you consume more calories than you require, you WILL gain fat! Portion control is a virtue!

To sum things up here, I will tell you I think the Paleo Diet could be extremely valuable for someone looking to improve their general health, lose unwanted weight, prevent degenerative diseases, and optimize their physical performance. This is because, for the most part, all of the garbage responsible for encouraging these atrocities will be eliminated.

However, if you do decide to try it—be sure to include plenty of carbohydrates! No less than 40 percent of your total calories for the day should be in the form of carbohydrates!

Best of luck to you my friend!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

Have A Question For Chad?

Just click the button below.