Police nutrition is a highly debated topic. Everyone agrees that police offers need to eat healthy but how to do it is a common question. The truth is there are many ways for cops to eat healthy. Anyone who is preaching just ONE way to eat healthy is being close minded and dogmatic. Every officer needs to find the healthy eating plan that works for them. The Paleo Diet is the healthy eating plan that works for me and I believe many police officers will see health benefits from eating paleo.
The Basics of the Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet is a huge topic that I can not cover in 1 paragraph. The point of this article is to highlight LEO specific paleo benefits.
The super short explanation of Paleo: don’t eat processed foods, eat lots of vegetables, meats and healthy fats, limit your fruit, drink water, get sleep, and exercise.
To go a little deeper, the Paleo Diet focuses on trying to eat similar to a hunter/gather lifestyle. The belief is that humans evolved for hundreds of thousands of years on a diet mostly made up of vegetables, meat, and healthy fats. The paleo diet makes the argument that our DNA has not had time to adapt to the modern diet. The paleo diet claims that the main cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes are the high sugar content and man-made oils that are present in all the processed food we eat. The paleo diet eliminates grains such as flour and corn, high fructose corn syrup, and man made oils such as vegetable and canola oil. So what can you eat? A basic paleo dinner plate has a ton of healthy green vegetables, a moderate amount of lean protein, healthy fats, and a small amount of fruit. Most most common meals are a grilled chicken, pork or beef with a giant side of broccoli or spinach cooked in butter with garlic and onions. I also eat a lot of eggs, avocado and bacon. If you want a more detailed explanation of what the paleo diet is, Nerd Fitness’s Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet is an excellent read.
The Paleo Diet offers many benefits to Police Officers.
- Build Muscle: Most cops want to build muscle. Lean meats are one of the main building blocks of the Paleo Diet. Eating lean meat with almost every meal will make sure that you get your protein requirement for the day. Eating enough protein is crucial to recovery in strength training. Following the Paleo Diet will help you get the most out of your training.
- Improve Testosterone Levels: Testosterone is a vital hormone for all males and especially for police officers. Following the Paleo Diet can help improve testosterone levels on multiple levels. First the Paleo Diet encourages eating healthy fats and cholesterol. Cholesterol is the building block for testosterone. The easiest way to get quality cholesterol is by eating the yolks of eggs from pasture raised chickens. Next the Paleo Diet advocates getting quality sleep every night. Lack of sleep can lower testosterone levels. In older males, more sleep can double testosterone levels. If you are following the Paleo Diet you will start making sleep a priority and improve T levels. Finally, the Paleo Diet discourages eating soy products. Consuming soy regularly may increase estrogen levels. When estogen levels go up, testosterone levels go down.
- Burn Fat: We all want to look good in our uniform. Burning fat and improving body composition is one way to look sharp. The Paleo Diet promotes burning fat while preserving muscle mass. The paleo diet removes grains and processed foods from the diet. These foods tend to be high in carbohydrates. As a result followers of the paleo diet tend to consume less carbohydrates than the average person. This leads to lower blood sugar levels and forces the body to burn fat for fuel. This is often referred to as being Fat Adapted. If you follow the paleo diet and stay around 75 grams of carbs per day you will be in the fat burning sweet spot while still being able to enjoy fruit or sweet potatoes.
- Go Longer Between Meals: The nature of law enforcement work means we never know when we’ll get a call and have to postpone meal time. This isn’t a problem on the Paleo Diet. Meals high in protein and healthy fats leave you feeling satiated and you can go longer between meals.
- Manage Stress Levels: Police work is notoriously stressful. The Paleo Diet won’t limit stress exposure on the job, but it can help how we manage it. The Paleo Diet encourages eating healthy, exercise, and getting proper sleep which are all key factors in managing and reducing stress.
- Improved Immune System: Working a shift with a cold is horrible and no LEO wants to burn sick days that can be avoided. The Paleo Diet can improve your immune system and prevent that. By removing grains from the diet you can stop leaky gut syndrome and improve your gut health. Improving your gut health with probiotics is a corner stone of the paleo diet. Leaky gut syndrome is a constant strain on your immune system. Stopping this stress on your immune system will make it stronger. In the four years I have been eating Paleo I have only gotten really sick once, and it was a case of pneumonia that I caught in Mexico. I used to catch the flu whenever it was going around. That is a thing of the past for me and I credit it to improving my gut health with the paleo diet.
- Reduce Inflammation: Inflammation is one of our bodies first responses to a health problem. Left unchecked, chronic inflammation can be a precursor to a host of health problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Following the paleo diet can help reduce inflammation in many ways.
- Delicious Meals: The paleo diet does require planning, shopping and cooking but the outcome is consistently delicious meals. Nom Nom Paleo PaleoOMG and Everyday Paleo are great places to get recipes. My favorite stop for recipes is The Foodee. It hasn’t been updated in a while but there are over 1500 recipes on the site. There are multiple sites that offer Paleo Meal Plans such as Robb Wolf Ultimate Paleo Guide and Paleo Leap.
If you want to learn more about the paleo diet some great resources are Mark’s Daily Apple and Robb Wolf. If you are already sold and want to give paleo a try, The Whole 30 Challenge is a great place to start. In my 30 day challenge I dropped 20 lbs of fat, got rid of nagging heartburn, and felt better than I had in years. This lead me to adopting the Paleo Diet as a lifestyle that I still follow to this day. Start you own 30 day challenge today, send me an email if you have any questions or need some support.