A lot of people are talking about the Paleo diet. Before you dismiss it as just another health trend or fad, you might want to consider some of its benefits. Here is a brief overview of what it is and why you may want to consider giving it a shot.
What is the Paleo diet?
The name “Paleo” comes from the Paleolithic era, which lasted about 2.5 million years and ended about 10,000 years ago. The diet reaches back to the time of the Stone Age or the Hunter-gatherers. Its philosophy is essentially, “If the cavemen didn’t eat it, neither can I”. The Paleolithic era essentially ended with the development of agriculture or grain based foods. Prior to agriculture, people only ate what they could find. This consisted mainly of fish, lean meats, nuts, vegetables, fruits, roots and nuts. Excluded from the diet are grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar and processed oils.
What are the benefits?
You may be asking yourself, “why on earth would someone want to eat like a caveman?” Before you stop reading consider some of the incredible benefits of such a diet.
Weight loss: Most weight loss programs will tell you to count calories. They claim that by consuming fewer calories than you use, you will naturally loose weight. While this may be partially true, remember that not all calories are created equal. Eating 500 calories of chocolate ice cream is not the same as eating 500 calories of spinach. The Paleo diet therefore removes emphasis on counting calories and places it on what types of food you are eating. You can eat as much as you want, as long as it fits within the Paleo diet requirements, and you will still loose weight!
“But why take out grains? I thought they were good for you”. The government continues to recommend that people eat 6-11 servings of grain a day. You were probably taught in elementary school that grains were at the base of the food pyramid. Why then are more than one third of adults in the U.S. obese? Something isn’t right.
Grains have their own set of problems. Some grains like rye, wheat and barley contain a high gluten content, which can lead to a lot of problems down the road including joint pain, reproductive problems, and acid reflux. Grains also contain lectins, which is a natural toxin that defends the grain against consumption. Grains actually don’t want to be eaten. Lectins cause problems especially in the gastro-intestinal tract.
Many people think that carbohydrates come mainly from grains. Sports teams often have carbo-loads before a big game, where they eat huge portions of pasta. However, you can get also get carbs from fruits and veggies. In fact they are better for you than carbs from grains. Carbs from fruits and veggies have a low glycemic index which means they lower blood sugar and insulin levels. This decreases your chance of Metabolic Syndrome diseases including obesity, hypertension, undesirable blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and gout. The Paleo diet is also high in fiber, protein and omega-3 fats, which prevent such diseases.
Of course the only way to know if the Paleo diet is for you is to try it. Your body will take time to adjust to the change, usually no more than two weeks. Consider trying it for 30 days or so. You will likely find yourself feeling and looking better.
Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health and fitness. She occasionally freelance writes for Six Nutrition men’s vitamins. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.