What is The Paleo Diet? Health Benefits of Paleo Diet
The main concept of Paleo diet is to be on a diet that cavemen used to follow in the Paleolithic period and the process lose your excess kilos. The founder of this diet is Loren Cordain, Ph.D. who also has a book published on the same called ‘The Paleo Diet.’ The leading theory behind the foundation of this healthy weight loss diet is that if we begin to eat as our prehistoric ancestors did, we can shed the excess kilos and stay leaner. Also, we will be less likely to get the various diseases like heart problems, cancer, diabetes and the likes. The diet is also called the Stone Age Diet or the Caveman Diet. This diet mainly focuses on a meal plan with high-fiber and high-protein which aids in reducing the fat in your body without you having to cut down on the calories.
Origin of Paleo Diet
60 million years ago the earliest primates who roamed the earth thrived mainly on leaves, insects, and fruits. About 2.6 million years ago as evolution began, the early man moved to hunting and gathering. Agriculture began only around 10,000 years ago. And, just before agriculture took the world by storm Paleolithic humans lived on what is considered the purest and healthiest diet. This diet had three times more of fiber, protein, omega-3s, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals and hardly any sodium or saturated fats when compared to the typical American diet. This gave rise to the Paleo diet which focuses on the foods typical Paleolithic man might have thrived upon.
How does Paleo Diet Work?
The Paleo diet is touted by many to be the healthiest way to lose body weight and probably, also the healthiest diet around. This is because this diet is the only one of its kind which takes a nutritional approach in shedding those excess kilos while promoting your health. It works with the genetics of your body to make you lean and boost your strength and energy. Research in various disciplines of medical science has revealed the fact that modern diet causes most of our diseases. That’s because modern diet is mainly composed of refined foods, sugar loaded stuff and trans-fats. These are the root of problems like cancer, obesity, heart problems, diabetes, Parkinson’s, infertility, depression and Alzheimer’s.
What to Eat on a Paleo Diet
Lean proteins are much recommended on a Paleo diet. That’s because lean proteins are good in supporting strong muscles. Plus it also gives the feeling of fullness in between meals. So, eggs, skinless and fatless meats and fresh fishes are much recommended. The diet also emphasizes on the goodness of mineral and vitamin rich fruits and vegetables. Eat a balanced diet of different kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables to supply your body with antioxidants and phytonutrients as well. This way you can naturally keep degenerative diseases like neurological issues, diabetes, and cancer at bay. Paleo diet also encourages you to eat more nuts and seeds. Moreover, you would need to switch over to healthier oils like coconut oil and olive oil.
Things to Note
The Paleo diet like most another diet may not be straightforward, to begin with, and although it is not a harsh diet, it does require moderate levels of effort. The diet doesn’t require you to count your calories as you will simply be relying on the fiber enriched fruits and vegetables and proteinaceous eggs, fish and meat to fill your appetite.
For beginners though, the diet is more lenient. It allows you some room for cheating such that you can begin by 3 Paleo meals a week. These are called Open Meals. If that too seems like a lot for you, you can challenge yourself with just one open meal in a week. However, this diet does need to provide some quality time for it. For example, you will need to buy the allowed food items, and more importantly, you will have to cook them from scratch. So, you will need to keep a kitchen time set aside. And while exercise is not mandatory to see the results of this diet, it surely helps and is strongly recommended.
Furthermore, this diet is not for vegetarians or vegans. Cordain says Paleo diet will not remain in its original form if you are not eating meat and fish. A Paleo diet is impossible to achieve without eating eggs, meat or seafood. That’s more so because the otherwise excellent protein rich foods like beans and other legumes are not allowed. Paleo diet is strict in the sense that it doesn’t even allow salt. On a positive note, this will help in cutting down on sodium. But if you do have to eat canned fruits or vegetables, you should better check the food labels for sodium.
The increased consumption of fish and meat could up your grocery bills, but it is a surefire way of shedding weight without eating lesser. What could be more rewarding for someone haunted by hunger pangs? For support, you could always connect to other Paleo dieters in the online forums.
Foods to Avoid on Paleo Diet
You may find this funny just while reading, but Paleo dieters reveal that sometimes it’s just easier to know what not to eat on this diet rather than what to eat. After all, it’s not easy to jump into the shoes of prehistoric humans that walked the earth tens of thousands of years ago and eat as they did! While there are certain items which are a clear ‘no-no,’ there are others which are subtle and are matters of debate amongst the Paleos.
The primary line of difference is that you are not allowed to eat any processed foods. And since the Paleolithic people were hunter-gatherers and not farmers, dairy and wheat need to be chucked out of your meal plan, just like grains and legumes (including peanut which in reality is a legume and not a nut!). With this, you also have to take off refined sugar from your diet and to the dismay of many of you, potatoes too! Salt too was not a used during those times and neither the Paleo dieters can have them. And finally, no refined vegetable oils like Canola oil, for example.
Paleo purists will disallow any food item that was introduced during the Neolithic era. This is because they believe it was in this era when food began to lose its original and natural values. While this appears to be an extreme condition for dieters to follow, a vast majority of Paleo inspired diets are without that harshness and in reality, much simpler to follow without
As a rule of thumb, if a food item was not around some 200 years ago it was unlikely to have been there tens of thousands of years ago either. The artificial ingredients that are so indulgently used in cooking these days were majorly created in the last 100 years or more recently. Common additives like aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG), calcium sorbate, potassium bromate, sorbic acid, nitrates, GMOS, artificial sweeteners and synthetic food colors find no place in Paleo diet.
Aerated beverages or sodas also not allowed on a Paleo diet as understandably the drink of choice amongst the Paleo people must have been plain simple water. The drinks are loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup and artificial ingredients without any nutritional value. Sometimes these empty carbs are loaded with caffeine which again is not a natural substance.
Prehistoric people certainly did not have ways to extend the shelf life of oils, but the food corporations make sure to do that by the use of partially hydrogenated oils. This causes the foods to be loaded with trans-fats which are unhealthy for the body.
Interestingly, the lives of Paleolithic people revolved around survival, and hence, there was not much need neither time to create foods that leave you fat and feeling gross! Junk food or a quick snack is made with chemical ingredients that have been created in laboratories to tantalize the taste buds while in the long run, spoiling your health. These snacks do not have much food value and are usually heavily salted or overly sweetened with chemical sweeteners. And, no matter what The Flintstones might want you to believe but in the Stone Age, people ate natural food and there no KFCs or McDonalds. Avoid burgers and fries, and everything called fast food if you are on this particular diet.
Grains are also cut out from the Paleo diet. But please don’t confuse them to be gluten or grain free diets. Many dieters have revealed just by cutting wheat and grains they feel they have more energy and better digestion. Plus, they also experienced weight loss to their delight. If you are a strict Paleo, you will have to give up on dairy too. This often creates a lot of heated debate in the Paleo circles. Many amongst us are lactose intolerants, and Paleos regard that this is because humans are drinking the milk of other species which the body is not able to digest as it could it mother’s milk when they are born! While this topic can give rise to a string of debates, but as the rulebook says it, when on a Paleo diet, chuck the diary!
Paleo also rejects any canned or boxed food as most of the times they are processed with plenty of chemicals. But, this yet again is a challenge for many city dwellers as it is the butchery one can come as close to animal husbandry for meat and it is the farmer’s market or organic food stores one can come as close to self-farming for fresh produce without chemical pesticides or insecticides. Paleo also asks you not to eat legumes because they contain Phytic acid which is an antinutrient. In other words, consuming legumes can cause improper absorption of certain nutrients, often, negative their effects.
Potatoes too don’t find a place in the Paleo diet which is otherwise the staple food of all of America. The only logic that defines their negation is that they could have only been produced and harvested around the Neolithic period when the Paleolithic men gave up hunting and gathering. Lastly, there is also a ban on pseudo grains like quinoa which is not considered grains. Bucwheat and Amaranth too follow quinoa in this category and are to be avoided.
Health Benefits of Paleo Diet
Paleo diet is not only a diet that can help you to lose weight, but it also helps boost their immunity. For example, you blood lipids are improved, if your body used to remain painful, that will reduce too and the likes. It has been proven that the Paleo diet can reverse insulin resistant type-2 diabetes. The Paleo food groups also keep any heart diseases at bay. Plus, you become more and more immune to infections whether it is parasitical, bacterial, fungal or viral. There is evidence where dieters even reveal how their reversed Multiple Sclerosis through this diet.
Effectiveness of Paleo Diet
While eliminating dairy, processed foods, sugar and grains will help you lose weight quite understandably, with its restrictions and limitations it is a challenging diet nevertheless. The founder-author of Paleo diet says that various clinical trials have proven how this diet can effectively lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, help you get rid of acne, reduce the risks of heart diseases and on the other hand, promote optimal health giving you an athletic boost.
Sensitive Indulgences toTweak the Paleo Diet
There is no rule written in the stone that the Paleo diet does or doesn’t allow certain foods. A rule of thumb is to adopt this diet in a manner it suits your unique personal needs and preferences without becoming overly challenging or mentally exhausting. Stick to the basics. Eat meat, fish, eggs, fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, healthy fats and oils and spices.
Let go of processed foods, refined sugar, dairy products as much as you humanly can, legumes, artificial sweeteners, margarine, trans fats and refined vegetable oils. Plus, once in a while it is not too bad indulging in wine, and it’s only a pity that dark chocolate was not born in the
Paleo times. Drink the finest quality red wine which will enrich your body with antioxidants and nutrients, and the 70% dark chocolate is extremely healthy too. A good quality red wine is high in antioxidants and beneficial nutrients. And while tea isn’t exactly Paleo, it is not a bad idea to relax your occasional stresses with antioxidant-loaded green tea.