Posted on April 16, 2014
The Paleo diet, also called the Stone Age or Caveman Diet, has actually been around since the 70s, but its current popularity makes it the “most Googled” diet on the internet. And plenty of celebrities are on the Paleo diet bandwagon.
The diet is based on the theory that we should be eating the same way our Paleolithic ancestors did two million years ago, the way we were “biologically designed” to eat. You only consume food that can be fished, hunted, or gathered (seafood, lean meat, fresh produce, and seeds). This means no grains, dairy, processed foods, or legumes are allowed. In other words, heavy on the protein and low on the carbs. The creator of the Paleo diet, Dr Loren Cordain, claims the Agricultural Revolution changed the human diet to include too much toxic food like Doritos and Lucky Charms. Our bodies never adjusted to processing grains. Farming created an increase in disease, obesity, and a less active lifestyle since we didn’t have to work so hard for our food. Our ancestors hunted and gathered all day, making for a physically active lifestyle. But, don’t worry, your Zumba class or bike ride can be your modern day equivalent of a bison hunt.
One of the good things about the Paleo Diet is the restriction of processed foods. With this alone you lower sodium intake which lowers your blood pressure. When you cut out refined sugar, you also cut out the harmful effects of additives, preservatives, and chemicals in the body. Iron intake is increased with the high levels of meat consumed, and heavy protein consumption means you will feel full longer. The fresh produce, oils, and nuts/seeds in the diet have an anti-inflammatory effect and are high in micro-nutrients. Dairy, gluten and grains are the biggest cause of inflammation in the body. Weight loss naturally happens with a high protein, low sugar and low carb diet.
Any downsides to the Paleo lifestyle? Because the Paleo diet is highly restrictive, it’s also difficult to maintain. The Paleo diet is not recommended for vegetarians since beans are excluded. Consuming zero dairy can minimize your calcium intake so you need to find other sources of calcium. Grains in moderation are good for your energy levels so you might feel sluggish at first. The Paleo diet is expensive and time consuming. Buying grass fed and organic items will increase your grocery bill significantly. You need to pick your lean meats carefully, steering clear of hormones, antibiotics and toxins. Expect to spend a lot of time cooking, as eating out can be challenging.
So, what CAN you eat? Well, you will have to employ your modern day “hunting and gathering” skills to find the freshest, grass fed, organic lean meats, and wild fish and seafood. You can also have fresh fruit, vegetables (non-starchy), nuts (no peanuts), seeds, eggs, and plant-based oils (olive, walnut, coconut, etc.) Happy hunting!