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The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman

Paleo Diet for Bodybuilder

The Paleo diet offers a nutritional blast from the past that may be just what you need to burn fat and pack on muscle!

By Frank Hoffmann

While it may be an overstatement to say that I eat like a caveman, I do come pretty damn close. Save for a crisper drawer full of veggies and a freezer full of meat, my refrigerator resembles that of an unemployed writer; bare shelves, a half-empty jar of mustard and the remnants of faint stains in the vacant space once occupied by my beloved yogurts.

The decision to start the Paleolithic diet was not one that was made lightly. The Paleolithic diet, otherwise known as the “Paleo” or “Caveman” diet, is a regimen that follows the dietary principles of our ancient ancestors before the agricultural revolution began some 10,000 years ago. There are about 150 different versions of this trendy diet floating around the web and several books have been written on the subject including Dr. Cordain’s, The Paleo Diet. I even stumbled upon a Paleo diet cookbook when I was visiting my local bookstore. Needless to say, there is no shortage of information for you prospective cavemen and cavewomen out there. I too searched high and low for the best Paleo diet that would suit my lifestyle but the more versions of this diet I came across and the more message boards I visited, the more confused I became. In short, a Paleo diet must only consist of wild or organic meats, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds – that’s it. No dairy, no grains, no starches, no salt and definitely no processed foods. This is the formula I decided to stick with because this is the most orthodox version and although most Paleo diets out there include sweet potatoes, I opted to keep this tasty ingredient out of my otherwise bland meal plan.

As inconvenient as this diet may be, the dilemma for me was how this type of diet would affect my muscle growth and strength gains. Health benefits aside, if following a Paleo diet meant sacrificing my bodybuilding goals than it’s just not worth it. Prior to starting the Paleo diet I generally ate clean; 5-6 meals a day, high protein, high carb, low fat and no processed foods. I would throw in an occasional cheat meal but nothing planned. Unlike most dieters who might dedicate one day of the week to the Golden Arches, I would just let life take its course and if I just so happened to find myself in temptation’s way at a party or outing with friends, I would indulge. I probably averaged a cheat meal once every three or four weeks, otherwise I ate clean everyday. But with this new diet I could already foresee that this was going to be hell on earth. Grains I might be able to live without, but a life with no dairy? Now that was going to be tough! The tub of yogurt that I would reward myself with after my biggest meal of the day, the only thing I looked forward to that would make eating clean tolerable, was gone.

As with any diet, you’ve got to give it a fair shake before determining its effectiveness or even before considering tweaking it. Most dieters make the mistake of jumping on the scale a day or two after starting a new diet expecting to see some kind of downward shift only to end up feeling discouraged with the results right off the bat. Following a diet 70% just won’t cut it and is pretty much pointless, so I set my sights on following a strict Paleo diet with no cheats for 12-weeks with the exception of a post-workout protein shake (100% sugar free pure whey isolate). Yes I know, cavemen had no access to protein supplements but in my defense cavemen also didn’t squat or deadlift and weren’t worried about their bodybuilding goals either. So I found the purest, most natural whey protein isolate on the market and consumed the flavorless sludge immediately after my hardcore training sessions. Otherwise I was 100% Paleo!

I entered the 12-week Paleo plan weighing in at a lean 243 lbs. with a hazy four pack. After the 12-weeks, I weighed out at 236 lbs. with six solid bricks for abs and some decent muscle gain. While my strength pretty much stayed the same, overall I’ve never felt better. To this day I eat about 85% Paleo and sing its praises to anyone who will listen. So, without further ado, here’s how it went down:

My 12-Week Paleo Meal Plan:

6:30am – Meal 1:

7 eggs
1 shake with:

  • water
  • 8 large kale leaves
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 clove of garlic and ginger

9:30am – Meal 2:

8 oz chicken breasts
1 cup green beans

11am – Snack:

1 banana
1 handful of almonds

1pm – Meal 3:

12 oz ground turkey
1.5 cups of broccoli

3:30pm – Meal 4:

10 oz white fish

6:30pm – Post-workout:

2 scoops whey protein isolate
1 banana

7:30pm – Meal 5:

6 eggs
2 green bell peppers
1 avocado

10:30pm – Snack:

1 handful of almonds

*Note: I drank water throughout the day, in total about 5 litres. Once a week I would substitute Meal 3 with 12 oz of beef.

Frank Hoffmann is a former NCAA and Professional CFL football player from Toronto, whose passion for health and fitness stems from his years as a personal trainer. Frank works as a freelance fitness and lifestyle writer while holding down a nine to five job and believes having a full-time job is no excuse to not be fit. Check out his fitness blog at Nine2Fit.tumblr.com and follow him on Twitter at @Nine2Fit.

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