I've been doing crossfit for just over two years now. It's a fantastic workout, but the crossfit industry consistently pushes a Paleo (also known as caveman) diet. As a vegan of over 15 years who performs very well in both strength and endurance, I've been suspicious of the hype around the idea that I need to eat muscle to become muscular. After all, I've gained about 20 lbs in muscle since starting crossfit without eating any animal protein.
A new 2014 study from the International Journal of Exercise Science should cause some alarm for the heart health of those following a Paleo diet:
"Our results demonstrate that an ad libitum unrestricted Paleo diet intervention is associated with deleterious changes to blood lipids in healthy subjects, despite concurrent improvements in body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness."
Similar to Atkins (but with better marketing) the Paleo diet definitely appeals to a machismo that we associate with the caricature of a caveman, but even the American Dietetic Association considers it a fad diet, and as more studies documenting the long-term health consequences of diets like these are published in scientific journals, we have the option of rationalizing the aesthetic appeal of a diet like this, or the option of making changes in response to concrete findings.
This is what the Plantbuilt team of 100% vegan athletes looks like, photographed in Austin, Texas this year. Derek Tresize (right of center, back row) just went pro after taking 1st place in Men's Physique at the Naturally Fit Super Show this past July 2014. Ed Bauer (front right) is a crossfit athlete and coach as well.