What is The Paleo Diet?
The Paleolithic diet or the ‘Paleo’ diet is being discussed by everyone, everywhere at the moment! I even had a conversation about it at the dentist the other day, not easy during a hygienist check-up let me tell you. It has been described as ‘the world’s healthiest diet.’ We wanted to do some more research on this particular diet to find out just what it was, what its benefits are and what it has to do with cavemen!
What exactly is the Paleo Diet?
It is often referred to as the Caveman diet, the Stone Age Diet and Hunter Gather Diet. This is because the nutrition of the diet is based on the idea that – if the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either.
It is when humans discovered farming that their eating habits changed quite drastically. Our ancestors 2.5 million -10,000 years ago very much lived on food sources that they could hunt or gather. Then, we made the change from hunter-gatherers to farming and grains were introduced into our meals.
The ethos of the Paleo diet is that as a race, we never adjusted to all these new grains we began to consume. It is believed that we’ve become quite reliant upon grains – bread, pasta, rice, corn and so on (I definitely can vouch for this). For example, when we’re feeling tired and looking for a quick source of energy we often turn to our comfort food favorites such as pasta, pizza or rice. You never see a caveman (in historical drawings and depictions rather than on the street) tucking into a Domino’s in front of the TV. They were exerting themselves all day long and still didn’t/couldn’t resort to a Chinese takeaway on a Friday night.
The Paleo Diet is designed so that we go back to eating how we were biologically designed to eat believing that we will be much healthier in so many ways as a result.
What are you supposed to eat?
There are different variations of the diet with some people believing you can eat certain things and others disagreeing completely. Generally speaking though, these are the foods believed to be permitted and not permitted while on the Paleo Diet.
|Meat – nothing that’s highly processed but things like poultry, steak, pork, grass-fed beef, etc are all allowed.||Pasteurized Dairy – Butter, milk yogurt cream, ice cream, powdered milk.|
|Vegetables. Almost all vegetable foods are allowed on the paleo diet but some are suggested to be limited if you’re trying to lose weight. These include:
Sweet Potatoes (Great for after a workout though)
|Grains – Wheat, rice, millet, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, rye, barley, corn. And any flour, noodle or other food made out of any of these.|
|Sea Vegetables – for e.g. seaweed||Legumes – All beans.|
|Fruit – If you’re on the Paleo Diet in order to lose weight, you’ll want to cut back on the fruit intake and focus more on the vegetables allowed on the Paleo Diet. However, you can still have 1-3 servings of fruit a day. (How generous of them!)||Refined Sweeteners – sugar cane, white sugar, brown sugar, refined maple syrup, refined honey, Splenda.|
|Nuts and Seeds – If you’re trying to lose weight limit the number of nuts that you’re consuming. Although, a handful of nuts a day is still much better for you than a chocolate bar.||Legumes – Black beans, broad beans kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas (not the band), tofu, lentils, etc|
|Fats – Grass-fed butter.||Most Vegetable Oils – Any oil with a high omega 6 content that comes from a seed, grain or legume, such as corn, soybean, sunflower, peanut, and others.|
|Drinks – water, coconut water, herbal tea, freshly juiced fruits, and vegetables||Salty foods – Avoid sauces like Ketchup high in salt.|
|Coconut Palm Sugar||Highly Processed Oils – any oil that is hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, fractionated or refined.|
|Fish – If it swims and has fins it’s allowed.
Shellfish – crab, prawns, oysters, scallops, etc.
|Fruit Juice – Unless it comes straight from your juicer at home|
|Oils – lard, coconut oil/milk, olive oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, hazelnut oil.||Soft drinks – energy drinks, fizzy drinks, and soft drinks.|
Despite the fact that many medical professionals support the Paleo Diet there is still relatively little research surrounding it. This makes it very difficult to say with 100 percent certainty what the exact health advantages are. The diet claims to benefit you in the following ways:
- Reduces your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and most chronic degenerative diseases that affect people in the Western world.
- You will lose weight if you are overweight
- Improves your athletic performance
- Slows or reverses the progression of an autoimmune disease
- Improves or eliminates acne
- You will sleep better and have more energy throughout the day
- Your mental ability and mental outlook will be improved
- You will enjoy a longer, healthier, more active life.
Some Advantages and Disadvantages of The Paleo Diet
- The Caveman diet is quite a cool name
- You can eat as much as you want and don’t have to calorie count
- You shouldn’t feel hungry on this diet – protein and fiber are filling and you’ll get plenty of both
- It’s approved by many doctors and health professionals
- You are still cutting out whole food groups
- There is not a lot of research about the diet
- Diets that restrict things can be quite difficult to follow
- You have to change the way you think/prepare and eat food quite drastically
Although there is disagreement amongst nutritionists about the Paleo Diet (I’d be surprised if there wasn’t!), they do agree on one thing. Cutting down on processed foods that have been highly modified from their raw state through various methods of preservation is a good thing. The Paleo Diet wouldn’t suit everyone but certainly taking on some of the principles of the diet would improve your nutritional intake.
Let us know if you are on the Paleo Diet or are considering going on it, we’d love to know what your experience is!