Ever heard of the Paleo Diet? I’ve only heard of it recently from a few of my colleagues in the internet marketing business. I was a bit spectacle about this diet. I myself have never gone on a diet, but for my readers that may want to shed of few of those holiday pounds or regain their muscles mass, I did a bit of research. Let me share with you what I found.
The Paleo diet has been gaining tremendous popularity. It’s currently sweeping the nation because of its promise of a fitter and healthier life, free from the common lifestyle diseases that are prevalent today – all that while shedding unwanted pounds. The theory behind the diet is very simple: Eating like a caveman will help you lose weight and maintain excellent overall health. In other words, if the cavemen did not eat it, then neither should you.
According to Loren Cordain, PhD, author of The Paleo Diet, by eating the way our prehistoric ancestors did, we can be leaner and significantly reduce the risk of serious health problems today like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. However, some people disagree. Their main argument is that people today enjoy a longer lifespan than our Paleolithic ancestors, so why follow their diet?
To help you decide whether you should go Paleo or not, read on.
The Paleo Diet in a Nutshell
Otherwise known as the Stone Age and Caveman Diet, the Paleo basically consists of a high-fiber, high-protein, low-carb diet plan that can produce weight loss without calorie-intake reduction. The idea of losing weight while ingesting as much calories as you can is what attracts a lot of people, particularly for those sick of calorie counting.
Your weight loss goals will determine how long you want to maintain this diet. You can adopt the Paleo Diet only for a few months or follow it as a lifestyle.
What you can eat:
- Fish and fresh lean meats (lots of them)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Healthy fats and oils including olive and coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds
What you can’t eat:
- Processed meat
- Dairy and wheat products
- Refined sugar
- Peanuts and beans
Limitations: The diet provides some leeway for “cheating,” especially at the beginning. Cheat days allow you to have whatever your heart desires for three meals in a week. This is what Cordain refers to as “open meals”. For best results, however, try to set a limit of a single open meal a week.
Shopping and preparation/cooking: Going on Paleo may increase your grocery bills. The idea is to plan your daily meals and stock your pantry with the allowable foods that you will cook from scratch.
Positives and Negatives of the Paleo Diet
- Scientifically proven and tested for its promised benefits – Various studies have been conducted since 2007 by scientists representing a wide range of institutions. They are peer-reviewed and published in reputable journals such as Nutrition and Metabolism, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and Cardiovascular Diabetology. Paleo was found to be superior to comparable diets like the typical Western diets, Mediterranean diets, and diabetic diets in terms of cardio disease risk factors, weight loss, and type 2 diabetes risk factors.
- No exercise needed – If your goal is merely to lose weight, exercise is not required. You can shed unwanted pounds just by strictly following the diet plan. However, for overall health, Cordian highly recommends supplementing the diet with exercise. After all, our hunter-gatherer ancestors were always on the move, although they did not consider this as “exercise” back then.
- Low in sodium – This diet is good for the heart as it helps reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. However, if you have to eat food that comes from a box or can, better check the label first for the sodium content.
- Available support – You can follow the diet on your own; but if you need to connect with your fellow Paleos, you can find a lot of online Paleo Diet forums. Sometimes, it is better if you work on your diet with someone else on the same program than going through it by your lonesome.
- Fullness – With each meal containing lots of protein and fiber, you will never go hungry with Paleo. This was confirmed in a study made in 2010 and published in Nutrition and Metabolism. When compared to the Mediterranean diet, which is generally seen as a similar diet, the Paleo was shown to be equally filling, but offers fewer calories.
- Fits your own taste – You prepare and cook all your meals, so if it does not taste good, you have no one else to blame but yourself. You can always adjust your meals according to your preference anyways.
- Cookbooks and Recipe sites are in abundance – You can always find simple new dishes on the internet whenever you need to whip up a new meal for variety. You do not have to worry about running out of new recipes to experiment with.
- Not recommended for vegans or vegetarians – Because the diet encourages the intake of lots of fish and meat, it is virtually impossible to go Paleo without consuming meat, eggs, or seafood. Worst of all, excellent vegetarian protein sources like beans and other legumes are not allowed.
- Hard on the pocket – Expect higher grocery spending for lots of meat and fish when on this diet; but if it is for your overall health, wouldn’t the extra spending be worth it?
- Difficult to follow – How do you eat a sandwich without bread? Or resist the temptation of a chocolate bar? A diet that bars entire food groups is never easy to follow. However, there is a loophole. You have “open meals” right? So use them to your advantage.
- Lacking in some nutrients – Based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the Paleo Diet falls short in some of the more important micronutrients, particularly vitamin D and calcium, although it meets the requirements in most other nutrients like protein and dietary fiber.
Weight loss and overall health: these are the two main benefits that the Paleo Diet claims to provide. Does it deliver on the promises? A lot of people who have benefited from the diet plan says yes on numerous online reviews. Of course, there are those who counter and give bad reviews for the Paleo Diet. In the end, you be the judge.