The Paleo diet is also known as the caveman diet, stone age diet or hunter-gatherer diet. It has become enormously popular in more recent times, all you have to ask yourself is what would a caveman eat? This guide explains the pros and cons of the Paleo diet, what it involves and what you need to know to make a decision on whether this is right for you or not.
The diet uses the same foods that our cavemen ancestors did, things like fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood and nuts. Loren Cordain, PhD. a professor of health and exercise science at the Colorado State University stated ‘By following these diet guidelines we put our bodies in line more with our ancestors evolutionary pressures that helped shape our genetics’. This diet reduces the bodies glycemic load, increases vitamin and nutrient consumption, contains an optimum balance of protein, carbs and unsaturated fats.
The health benefits of a Paleo diet are unproven, our ancestors ate this way and didn’t have many of the bad diseases we do, it doesn’t mean the food they ate is the reason why. A small study showed that the diet improved blood sugar levels over a 12 week period compared to a Mediterranean diet.
The diet is all about fresh foods from the earth that our ancestors ate i.e. fresh fruits, vegetables, meat. Our ancestors didn’t have there own livestock or crops back then, so go with grass fed or organic varieties of food to limit the exposure to pesticides, chemicals etc. Research suggests that Paleo diet people obtain 30% of calories from protein, 35% from carbs and 35% from fats.
One of the biggest bonuses about the Paleo diet is the support Paleo eaters give each other, there are many online forums, Facebook pages, even meet-up groups, what other kind of diet has that kind of support?
Any sort of food from a jar, box or packet will have to be avoided on the diet as well as anything not consumed back in the caveman days. This means things like grains, salt, dairy or legumes (peanuts, beans etc.). Potatoes are frowned upon on this diet, but are ok now and again so long as exercise is stepped up, honey is definitely preferred to sugars or sweeteners, you can’t have alcohol either although red wine is about the closest drink to a Paleo Diet as there is.
This diet is by no means temporary, it is meant to be a way of a life, just the same as it was 1000 years ago, you shouldn’t just stop when you reach your ideal weight or start to feel better, keep going for the long haul.
Our ancestors required 4,000 calories plus a day in order to survive and be able to perform the tasks that they did as they were constantly on the go.
Exercise is a vital part of your genetic code and is definitely needed in order to stay healthy, most people will never need that many calories in a day but you should think of food as fuel required to do exercise etc.
The whole effects of the diet haven’t been fully investigated, the benefits of removing packaged foods are totally beneficial to you and could have enormous benefits.
Almost three quarters of Americans diets have twice as much sodium as they should and it mostly comes from pre-packaged foods, studies have shown that people who cook at least five times a week live upto 10 years longer than those relying on processed food.
Our ancestors were not farmers and didn’t keep chickens or cows to get produce from, they hunted wild game like antelope, deer etc. They ate a diet of lean meat that provided much more omega 3 than modern animals do, many of the plants they also fed off of are now extinct making it nearly impossible to fully determine there diet.
Experts say that our ancestors ate a 1:1 ratio of calories from meats and produce. You have to eat a lot of salad to get the same calories as a steak, so your diet should consist of plenty of fruit and vegetables, most people don’t realize this simple fact so eat far too much meat.
Eating too much protein and hardly any carbs can cause kidney damage and even develop osteoporosis. Most meats today are also far higher in saturated fats, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Every diet you ever come across will claim to have discovered the ‘miracle’ in all diets, nutrients found in legumes, dairy and whole grain can help lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.
Cutting out dairy, a healthy source of vitamin D and calcium is a worry in women who are more susceptible to Osteoporosis than anyone else.
The diet required a hell of a lot of prep work and forward planning as well as mental preparation. Even eating out can become a chore, imagine you ordered just a chicken salad, what oil has the chicken been cooked in? has the dressing in the salad been processed or tinned?
Going on and off the diet can lead to big weight savings, yo-yo dieting produces results at the expense of fat and muscle, but this means an increased insulin resistance and slower metabolism, leading to more weight being piled back on with more bodyfat.
This diet can be pricey, especially considering that soy-based products like Quorn etc. are off limits, lean ground beef and skinless chicken costs 29 cents more per serving than the unhealthy equivalent. Switching from peanut butter to almond butter can cost upto $13 a jar.
I will leave it to you to decide whether a Paleo diet is right for you or not but please bear in mind the above information when deciding. Feel free to comment below.
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