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Can Precision Nutrition and The Paleo Diet Work Together?

precision nutrition i'm paleo

A while back, I did a comparison of two popular diet and nutrition plans – the Precision Nutrition system, popular with many athletes in various disciplines (cyclists, runners, cross-country ski racers, martial artists, football players, and more,) and the Paleo Diet, extremely popular among CrossFitters, some ultra-endurance runners and triathletes, and even a few hipsters.

Though I gave the edge to Precision Nutrition, the whole idea was flawed. I mean, who says you have to choose one or the other?

What if you could combine the principles from Precision Nutrition with the food recommendations of the Paleo Diet? Might that provide the best results? If so, how do you go about combining the two?

Allow me to answer all your questions…

 

Where do Precision Nutrition and The Paleo Diet Disagree?

First off, let’s get this out of the way – there are some fundamental differences between these two diets. If you wanted to, you could get into some very heated arguments depending on which philosophy you subscribe to. That’s not really going to improve your health (on the contrary, the stress could make it worse,) so let’s just look at these differences with an open mind.

The Paleo Diet restricts some foods whether you like it or not. The Paleo Diet totally rules out all grains and all dairy. If you can digest dairy easily, and a plate of pasta gives you endless energy, too bad!! You can’t eat it!

Precision Nutrition, on the other hand, encourages you to eat a variety of foods. At the same time, if you choose to be a vegetarian, no problem – the system still adapts to you. The point is to find what works for you, not to arbitrarily remove certain food groups from your diet.

So, if you do choose to strictly follow the Paleo diet, Precision Nutrition will still accommodate you!

 

Questioning the Paleo Diet

What if you get sick of eating only meats, veggies, nuts, and seeds? I’m not positive, but I guess you go hungry. If you’re trying to pack on muscle or recover from long training sessions, that’s not a good solution!

The Precision Nutrition team has conducted extensive research into milk and grains and whether or not you should include them in your diet.

In the All About Milk article, I found some very interesting data. First of all, the calcium you get from milk is overrated. Second, it’s hard to find good quality milk anymore. Just check out the “Life of a Cow” comparison between 1850 and 2005 and it’s no wonder dairy from the grocery store is frowned upon.

However, some people have no problem digesting milk, so it probably doesn’t hurt for them to drink it.

When it comes to grains, as discussed in All About Grains, the key is knowing whole grains vs refined grains (and choosing to eat whole grains.) It’s not so simple – whole wheat bread does NOT count as eating whole grains!

You also have to prepare the grains in such a way as to properly digest them and absorb as many nutrients as possible.

One of my favorite articles from PN is “Should You Avoid Grains?”

In this article, the author explains why you should consider eating grains, unless you are intolerant. He presents a very logical argument. Basically, eating grains helps him avoid overeating other foods.

I’ve found myself in that type of situation every time I’ve tried to go Paleo or Primal for a short amount of time. Without grains, I overindulge in meat and nuts, and it’s not nearly as fun as it sounds!

Also, did you know that toxins are everywhere, not just in grains?

 

john berardi phd interview on crossfit journal

What Does JB Say?

You might think that Dr. John Berardi, the creator of Precision Nutrition, would tell you that PN is the best and only choice if you want to eat right. But that doesn’t fit the PN philosophy one bit.

You know what JB said, when interviewed about Paleo eating?

“To a certain extent, I love this way of eating.”

He loves it! I wouldn’t even go that far!

I think this quote sums it up best, and I agree wholeheartedly:

That’s exactly how most of us should be eating. Especially when we’re not blowing through lots of carbohydrates with high-level athletic training.

If you’re not an endurance athlete, the Paleo diet is pretty darn close to ideal. I for one would not eliminate oatmeal from my diet, but yeah, I’d cut back on grains.

Naturally, there are some exceptions. Specifically, hardgainers and endurance athletes are two groups that won’t reach their maximum potential eating Paleo. We need carbs for energy! And we need lots of them! And that means grains, legumes, and fruit will come in handy!

Along with that, Dr. Berardi takes issue with one thing:

While I like the style of eating, the name does bother me a little. Because it implies that we actually know how our Paleolithic ancestors ate. And it implies that they all ate one way.

Neither is true.

New research and new digs are finding evidence that some ancient cultures included wild grains and potatoes in their diets. It’s only a matter of time before we realize that what our Paleolithic ancestors ate doesn’t match up with the current “Paleo” diet. Then what?

Despite these issues, Precision Nutrition even created a presentation called Paleo for Everyone, which reveals how everyone can learn from the Paleo diet.

No wonder there is no single answer to, “what’s the best diet?”

 

What Does The Paleo Community Think of JB?

As you can see, Dr. John Berardi isn’t an enemy of the Paleo Diet.

Likewise, I don’t see the Paleo community crying out against Precision Nutrition.

Here’s what I gather from talking to Paleo dieters and reading forums:

They respect JB and what he has to say.

While not exactly a prominent figure in endurance sports, John Berardi is a big name in strength training and bodybuilding circles. Not only is he extremely well-educated, he talks the talk and walks the walk, having competed at a high level in football, track and field, rugby, and power lifting. You’ll find a number of his articles published at BodyBuilding.com and T-Nation.com.

They use his cookbooks all the time.

Even if they don’t follow the system, they still use his recipes! The Gourmet Nutrition cookbook is full of Paleo-friendly recipes that are both delicious and easy to make.

Chapters 6 and 7 are simply called “Meats” and “Poultry,” and include dishes such as:

  • The Perfect Steak
  • Texas Thin Crust Pizza
  • Venison Stew
  • Sauteed Chicken Breast with Spinach and Roasted Garlic
  • Ground Turkey Casserole
  • Mexican Chicken Souvlaki

All these are either Paleo-compatible or can be converted to Paleo easily with a few ingredient swaps.

They’re not on board with the increased meal frequency and nutrient timing.

While Precision Nutrition is meant to be adapted to your personal needs, they do start with certain suggestions that have proven helpful for the vast majority of people. One of those involves eating multiple small meals each day.

Due to the food choices on the Paleo diet, it works out well with eating just 2-3 meals per day. Or even Intermittent Fasting. (JB has personally tested doing a 24-hour fast once per week!)

Otherwise, I don’t hear any complaints.

 

Gourmet Nutrition Recipes That Are (Almost) Paleo-Friendly

Speaking of cookbooks, let’s look at a few sample recipes from Gourmet Nutrition.

sirloin burger from gourmet nutrition

Sirloin Burger with Coconut Cauliflower Mash
Ground beef, veggies, and fake mashed potatoes made from cauliflower and cashews. You can’t beat that!

pesto chicken pizza from gourmet nutrition

Pesto Chicken Pizza
You’d have to make your own crust with almond flour, and skip the cheese, but this pizza is based on awesome ingredients like chicken breast and veggies like basil, broccoli, and asparagus.

banana cream oatmeal from gourmet nutrition

Banana Cream Pie Oatmeal
OK, so this isn’t even close to being Paleo. Bananas and oatmeal are about as far as you can get from Paleo. But it’s so good, it serves as a reminder of what you’re missing out on if you pigeonhole yourself into a strict Paleo diet! 😉

Full recipes can be found here: My Favorite Gourmet Nutrition Recipes.

 

The Perfect Time To Start Precision Nutrition

Back when I first reviewed Precision Nutrition, I could only think of two possible reasons not to order – and one was the price tag (a hefty $97 plus shipping.)

Well, the all-new Precision Nutrition 4.0 has been released, and price was slashed! Now it’s only $49 for an even better version of what I thought was excellent!

So if you’ve been on the fence, today is the day to order Precision Nutrition and start to make positive change in your health!

 

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5 Comments
  1. Legumes are not Paleo. That is all.

  2. @Russel

    Yeah that was a personal pet peeve of mine. Well, not a pet peeve necessarily. It was more like if anyone tells me I can’t eat peanut butter, I automatically don’t like them! 😛

  3. Ahh, that’s why you completed the Pn1 certification program and not a CrossFit certification!

  4. @Steve

    I guess you could say that.

    CrossFit really has nothing to do with nutrition though, so it’s not something I’d even compare. And I didn’t choose to get a USA Cycling coaching certification over a CrossFit certification any more than I chose cycling coaching over basketball coaching! They’re all quite different.

  5. cool site…
    more info on meal prep? and how about something on fasting cardio… ?

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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