CrossFit Athletes Cheer Paleo Diet For Weight Loss And Health

Joanne Eglash

When it comes to exercise trends, CrossFit has gone beyond the "just a fad" stage. As more fitness fans muscle up to CrossFit boxes, as they're known, experienced athletes are also discussing their diet recommendations. And many of them power their workouts with the same Paleo diet used for weight loss, reported the Denver Post on Sept. 2.

Denver personal trainer Emily Schromm won the title of 2014 Next Fitness Star from Women's Health magazine. And she sums up her Paleo diet goal succinctly. "I want to be the Paleo-weight-lifting Jillian Michaels. I want to bring people the truth about fitness and food."

She believes as strongly in the principles of the Paleo diet as she does in the benefits of CrossFit. And while not everyone may be ready for CrossFit, Emily says that everyone can win at weight loss and health by eliminating gluten and sugar. In addition, she stays true to the caveman cuisine criteria by limiting her dairy to grass-fed butter in her coffee.

Emily began her journey along the Paleo diet path by cutting out all starchy carbohydrates. There's a common misconception that a Paleo diet eliminates all carbohydrates. However, vegetables also qualify as carbohydrates, albeit non-starchy carbs.

"A few years ago, I stopped most carbohydrates, like oatmeal, quinoa and bread, and replaced that with fat," she said. "I don't know one person who hasn't had tremendous health benefits from changing their fuel source from carbohydrates to fats."

A typical Paleo diet breakfast includes four pieces of bacon, two eggs, butter coffee, kale and spinach. Emily drinks more butter coffee with a protein bar in the mid-afternoon, followed by a cooked sweet potato in the late afternoon. But it's her low carb diet dinner that ranks as her favorite meal. Emily describes her Paleo diet evening meal as her "big meal of deliciousness."

It features five to seven ounces of protein such as beef, greens, mushrooms and avocado. She's careful about the quality of fat in her diet, choosing healthy sources such as olive oil.

While 25-year-old Emily powers her fitness career with her Paleo diet, Vincent Lopez works as an attorney. But like Superman, he hides his real powers. Vincent, who also follows a Paleo diet, just finished competing in the Reebok CrossFit Games in the division for men ages 50 to 54, reported Active Life DC on Sept. 2.

Vincent is firm in his belief that a Paleo diet is essential for CrossFit fitness success, both in terms of performing and recovery.

"I believe a proper diet is the key to performance and recovery. I follow the Paleo diet. I eat a lot of organic chicken, green vegetables and sweet potatoes, and nuts. I generally try to avoid gluten, sugar, processed foods, and dairy products," he said.

But he admits that there's a downside. He's not a popular dinner guest at the home of gourmet friends.

"I also try to avoid meals that I don't prepare myself, so I don't get asked out to eat much anymore," he laughed.

A Paleo diet isn't just for athletes, however. New studies have shown that low carb diets trump other plans for weight loss. The evidence is so convincing that some experts are arguing that the food pyramid should be reversed to recommend a Paleo-style low carb diet, as The Inquistr reported.

Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health, agrees with Emily's Paleo diet guidelines. He feels that eating more fats and fewer carbohydrates could help alleviate the obesity epidemic.

"The focus on reducing fat in the DGAs (Dietary Guidelines for Americans) implicitly led to higher carbs," said Willett. "And that became problematic, because the vast majority of carbs in the U.S. are refined and bad for you."

[Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]