September 29, 2010
Members of Flatirons CrossFit set out to get hard data about the effects of the Paleo Diet and CrossFit workouts. Amy Santamaria and Tim Retzik report their findings.
As more members of the CrossFit community adopt a Paleo Diet, there is a great need for data quantifying the benefits of such a diet. We hear plenty of anecdotal evidence for Paleo-related improvements, but how reliable are these unsubstantiated claims? Those recommending a switch to Paleo need a foundation of results and critical evaluation.
At Flatirons CrossFit, we decided to embark on a Paleo study rather than a “challenge.” There was no competitive element; rather, affiliate members agreed to participate in a scientific investigation following the standard guidelines for experimentation with human participants. This meant that they committed to participating, filled out consent forms, followed an experimental protocol, provided data at regular intervals, and participated in an interview and debriefing at the end of the study.
We hypothesized that:
1. Cholesterol and triglyceride measures would improve, particularly for participants outside the normal range.
2. Strength and metabolic-conditioning performance would improve on average.
3. Subjective wellness measures (energy and affect) would improve throughout the study.
4. Body composition would improve (weight loss and lowered body-fat percentage).