We have all heard about the Paleo diet, but what is this new trend? Is it just a fad, or is the Paleo diet worth a truly deeper look? Because going Paleo is so effective for such a wide range of individuals, it’s definitely worth investigating further. The Paleo diet gets its name from the Paleolithic Age or the Stone Age. This diet is one that proposes literally getting back to our roots, back to the basics. In essence, it says, let’s go back to eating what the original people ate. This gives the hope of gaining a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle (and – let’s be honest – a more toned physique).
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Purpose of the Paleo Diet
Every diet has a basic goal: to help people lose unwanted weight. The Paleo diet, on the other hand, takes things a step forward by suggesting ways to maintain that healthy weight loss and sustain a healthy lifestyle in general. The idea is that people on this diet cut out any foods that were not available during the hunter-gatherer era. By doing so, it suggests that the body runs more optimally because it does not have to filter through and process foods that are made available today through artificial means.
Why You Might Want to Follow a Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet is effective for certain people. With that being said, the Paleo diet is definitely not for everyone, especially if you have certain dietary restrictions or health conditions. You might be interested in this diet if any of the following apply to you:
- You want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
uwant to avoid chronic diseases associated with the Western Diet such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer
- You have food sensitivities associated with processed foods or their additives.
Details of The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet is fairly strict when it comes to what is permitted and what is not permitted. The idea is to remain authentic and true to what would be available during the Paleolithic Age. With that being said, it is important to note that the diet does not consist of foods only available during the Paleolithic Age. Much of those foods are either no longer in existence or insufficient regarding nutrition. Instead, this diet really cuts out foods that have just been proven to have a truly negative effect on the human body (in spite of how tasty they tend to be!)
What to Eat
Red meat is permitted on the Paleo diet because, during the Paleolithic Era, human beings hunted. In turn, this food group provides the body with a great deal of protein. Try to stick to leaner cuts of red meat, though, and to limit how many days a week you eat it, as it is high in saturated fat.
Like red meat, fish is a great source of protein and is typically safe to incorporate daily. Grilling and baking fish are tasty ways to ensure you stay on track with this diet without sacrificing flavor. Frozen varieties are completely acceptable even though the earliest people definitely did not have freezers.
You do not have to say goodbye to your morning omelet – just the cheese on it! Eggs are another great source of Paleo-friendly protein. This versatile food is great boiled as a snack and can also be added to lunchtime salads to make them a little more hearty and flavorful.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Vegetables are a staple of this hunter-gatherer diet. You do not have to settle for salads, though. You can sauté up your favorite kale or chards and add them to a delicious protein such as a fish for a well balanced Paleo meal!
Fresh and Frozen Fruits
You will want to limit how much fruit you eat every day when on the Paleo diet. Even though fruits are natural, they have fairly high sugar content. Natural sugars are definitely preferable to artificial sweeteners, but they still require a lot of processing on the body’s part. Sprinkle in some fruit here or there as a sweet treat but keep it in moderation to stay as healthy as possible!
Nuts are a great source of protein and also a great way to get in your daily dose of fiber. These versatile morsels are delectable on their own and can also be mixed into your favorite meal. Nuts can be grounded down or even blended and used to make a nice breading or crust to liven up your protein options!
Like nuts, seeds are another outstanding source of fiber and protein. These tiny treats are excellent in salads and trail mixes. They make a great accompaniment to any entree but can also be eaten on their own while at work or home.
If you were afraid that the Paleo diet would be lacking in flavor, think again! Herbs are found naturally in the wild, so they are fair game on the Paleo diet. Feel free to try new combinations of herbs to bring some life to your weekly meal prep!
The same goes for spices. You can put a nice dry rub on your favorite proteins before throwing it on the open flame or create a truly appetizing soup by blending some delicious vegetables with a delicious spice blend. Who said diets have to be boring?
Do not be afraid of healthy fats such as avocados. Remember that the Paleo diet encourages us to use food for fuel, and fat is a great source of fuel when eaten properly. Everything in moderation!
Butter might be a thing of the past when it comes to the Paleo diet. You can always cook with olive oil and still achieve a healthy and delicious meal!
What to Avoid
Sugar is okay in moderation, but in general, sugar is something you want to try to cut out of your diet. It converts into unsightly fat easily, not to mention it wreaks havoc on your teeth. Cutting out sugar can also help reduce headaches!
Like natural sugar, artificial sugars are a serious no-no on the Paleo diet. Remember, if it did not exist during the Paleolithic age, it shouldn’t exist in your diet!
You do not see any paintings with cave men and women drinking soft drinks. So, you definitely do not want to have any soft drinks in your fridge when sticking to the Paleo diet. Soft drinks leave you feeling bloated and lead to the inevitable sugar crash, so it is best to avoid them altogether.
When on the Paleo diet dairy products are best avoided. If you really feel the need to work some dairy into your diet, though, make sure it is low-fat and as natural as possible.
Margarine is artificial and is therefore considered a food to avoid on the Paleo diet.
Trans fats tend to be found in processed foods, so they should not be consumed on the paleo diet. They are very unhealthy anyway, so we recommend you avoid consuming trans fats always.
Vegetable oils require heavy processing, so they are recommended against by the Paleo diet. Instead, stick to healthy oils.
Shown Health Benefits
For individuals who have been approved to start and maintain the Paleo diet, they can see immense health benefits as a result. These benefits include healthy weight loss, a reduction in the risk of diabetes, and a substantial decrease in blood pressure.
Individuals who try and stick to the Paleo diet tend to have substantial weight loss. The serious reduction in sugar, natural and artificial alike, definitely plays a large role in this weight loss. Making more informed choices with foods that are natural rather than processed, the body has an easier time converting food into energy rather than storing it as fat. Individuals who stick to the Paleo diet have been shown to lose weight and keep it off as long as they maintain this diet and follow it up with an active lifestyle.
Reduced Diabetes Risk
Individuals who have been on the Paleo diet for an extended period have been seen to reduce their risk of developing Type II Diabetes. Cutting out unnatural sugars and limiting salt has an amazing impact on the human body. In one study, researchers found that even over short periods, people on the Paleo diet had healthier glucose control and better lipid profiles than people who were on other diets that included processed foods.
Lowered Blood Pressure
Another great benefit of the Paleo diet is how individuals’ blood pressure tends to drop and stabilize as a result of it. While more research is needed, in small trials, researchers found that the Paleo diet can help reduce bad cholesterol. This, in turn, can lead to a decrease in high blood pressure. Another study also confirmed these findings that following a Paleo diet and combining it with a healthy lifestyle can lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
Dietary Concerns and Questions About Paleo Diet Hypothesis
Although there are serious benefits to the Paleo diet, and it can lead to improved weight loss, it is not for everyone. This diet cuts out affordable foods such as processed foods that are known for being unhealthy. But it also removes foods like legumes, which are considered to be quite healthy by many experts. So, from an affordability standpoint, the Paleo diet is not necessarily inclusive.
Furthermore, this diet tends to include a large amount of red meat, which can be difficult for some people’s bodies to digest. Red meat is also problematic regarding the amount of fat it contains. This diet also poses challenges for individuals who try to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet because legumes and tofu, which are excellent sources of protein and fiber, are eliminated.
Another concern about the Paleo diet is just how accurate it is. Due to regional variations and gaps in history, it is difficult to determine what people actually ate during the Paleolithic Era. How much of it is even around today and easily accessible. In general, though, this diet is a good option for many individuals who are looking to eat more naturally and cut out unhealthy processed foods from their daily diet.
In this migration back in time, foods were more natural and used for fuel rather than for coping. The Paleo diet helps individuals reach their health goals without sacrificing flavor and taste. Eating healthy and living well should not be a chore, and it certainly did not seem to be for the earliest people. Taking a page from their playbook, individuals on the Paleo diet tend to live better because they eat better. Doing away with processed foods and foods that are simply not natural can have a positive effect on both your body and your mental state.
If you wish to change your current eating habits for the Paleo diet, you should discuss it with your doctor. Once you have been given the green light, get started today and begin your journey to eating better, feeling better, and living better.