First of all, what is the Paleo Diet?
There’s been a lot of recent hype on what is supposedly the “world’s healthiest diet,” but for those of you who have tried and not succeeded at dieting, skepticism comes easily when a new one comes around.
The basis of the Paleo Diet stems out of evolutionary research, defending that if we eat the same way as our ancestors in the Paleolithic era we will be healthy and fit. Not surprisingly, it is also called the caveman diet, the Stone Age diet, and the hunter-gatherer diet. These groups of people lived off vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, and grass-fed beef. They did not consume grains, beans, dairy, or any processed foods.
According to www.thepaleodiet.com, following this diet will supposedly help you lose weight if you are overweight, improve athletic performance, clear up skin, improve mental outlook, and even reduce risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic degenerative diseases.
Is the Paleo Diet is right for you!
1) Bye-bye machines! The fact that the Paleo diet consists of a caveman type diet automatically eliminates processed foods since industrialization and technology were unheard of in those days. Processed foods are generally high in sugars and high fructose corn syrup and virtually stripped of any possible nutritional value. Eliminating them from your diet at ALL costs would not be a bad idea.
2) Increased protein intake. Meat and seafood are the staples of the Paleo diet. Not only can protein help re-fuel your tired muscles after workout to make them stronger but it also helps you feel fuller longer, meaning less snacking and an overall decrease in daily calorie intake!
3) Fight diseases! In a study where one group of people were on the Paleo diet and the other group stuck to the Mediterranean diet, the cavemen were lucky to see the signs and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes reversed. The Mediterranean eaters did not see significant improvements. A lower sodium intake could also lead to reduced risk for heart disease. Higher intake of vitamins, antioxidants and plant phytochemicals can lead to a strengthened immune system and even a decreased risk for cancer. Not bad!
1) Vegetarians and vegans would literally not survive. Since the basis of the diet is animal products and grains and legumes are not allowed, anyone who chooses not to eat meat would not be getting the correct amount of nutrients.
2) The Food Pyramid? Any diet that specifically restricts not just one but several entire sectors of the Food Pyramid should be followed with caution. If you’re going to eliminate all dairy, you better take a calcium supplement. As women, we especially want to make sure we’re doing what we can to maintain strong, healthy bones.
3) To state the obvious, WE ARE NOT CAVEMEN! So many things have changed, namely genetics, air pollutants, higher stress levels, and an overall reduction in exercise level. Our everyday lives are so different than they were hundreds of thousands of years ago and the ways we lose weight or become ill with disease are far more complicated than they were back then.
So, should you go primal or not?
None of the research on the Paleo Diet is long-term, meaning we have absolutely no idea if eating this way will actually eliminate disease from our bodies in 50 years. Proponents of the diet believe that diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease have resulted because of the way we eat today. However, it is important to keep in mind that people in the Paleolithic age did not live past 30 or 40 years at most. Was that because they were nutrient deficient and didn’t know it? Were they too young to even fall victim to heart disease and cancer?
The concepts behind the Paleo diet seem to be beneficial but again, you should always be cautious when a diet tells you to eliminate an entire food group. Your best bet is to talk to a nutritionist about your specific needs, especially if you are active. It is safest to try a new diet once there is more research on it because otherwise, you are just reading opinions and personal anecdotes.
Bottom line, if something is working for you, stick with it. If not, change it! Just do your homework first.