Hollywood celebrities like Ray Mears, Megan Fox, Eva La Rue, Kim Kardashian, Olympian Amanda Beard, NBA All-Star Steve Nash, and Elite Mountain Biker Greg Parham follow Paleo diet or Paleo like diet. Also, called the cave man's diet as it mimics the diet of the caveman, Paleo diet has brought about desired changes which enthuses its followers rave about the success.
Obesity and diabetes is on the rise. Realizing the need to eat right is gaining momentum. Before switching over to Paleo diet, find out if it is healthy at all. Consider why it works, what it involves and the pros and cons of following a paleo diet. Is it a mere diet or more of a lifestyle? Check if a diet of the distant past is the key to shedding excess pounds, safeguard against a plethora of modern age lifestyle related illnesses and ultimately a healthier life.
Understanding Paleo diet
It is actually Paleolithic diet. The foods that form part of the diet are similar to foods of cavemen of the Paleolithic period, more than 2,000,000 years ago, when farming wasn't even discovered. As a hunter and gatherer and the absence of grains made humans sustain on fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, meat, fish and vegetables. The caveman had no access to processed foods, sugar, salt, grains, legumes, dairy products, coffee and alcohol. A Paleo diet strictly prohibits eating any of these, a strict 'no' to refine and processed foods.
Today's Paleo diet is aimed at going back to eating how we're biologically designed to eat. The guiding principles are:
Planning a meal with foods that form part of paleo diet is simple. It is primarily a low-carb, high-protein diet. The foods should be organic, BST free and milk is included provided it is from pastured cows.
Here is list of foods which do not form part of a paleo menu.
Practically, the diet allows for making changes to suit individual specific needs. Calorie intake and nutrients may be higher or lower depending on food choices. Sometimes by making some adaptations anyone can come up with really delicious and precise meals.
Here are points to remember while planning a paleo meal.
Samples for Paleo breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner menus.
Paleo diet suitability
Following Paleo diet may amount to eating a large amount of meat, fruits and vegetables. Health experts opine the diet approximately results in 35% protein (leaner protein), 25% carbs (from fruits and vegetables (fibrous) and around 40% fats (more mono- and polyunsaturated fats, less saturated fats). Protein and fat intake account for a higher percentage of calories and carbohydrates account for lower percentage. This is a large discrepancy with the current FDA Food Pyramid. An attempt to make up for the deficit of calories may have negative effect on the body.
The diet is highly popular as it is construed to aid in weight loss. Studies show that Paleo diet may help improve heart health and improve blood sugar (glucose) control.
Everybody's body is different. Your individual calorie needs depends on various factors like age, gender, body weight, height, activities, health status etc. Consult nutritionist or health care provider, consider specific caloric requirements, weigh the pros and cons of paleo diet and then embark on a new diet regimen.
Pros of Paleo diet
Aids weight loss: Protein, carbohydrates and fat are the three macro nutrients that form part of a balanced diet. Overload of carbohydrate opens to weight gain. Carbs in paleo are less. Paleo also cuts down on grains, legumes and sugars. The diet is completely focused on unprocessed foods. All natural foods aid weight loss. The inclusion of lean meat, seafood, roots, tubers, fruits and vegetables (high-nutrient density food) makes a meal quite filling. Higher intake of protein reduces appetite and increases metabolism. Body tends to burn calories at a higher rate. Boosting metabolism is recommended for weight loss.
High energy levels: Carbs in Paleo diet is from organic fruits and vegetables. Unlike refined carbs, natural carbs result in improved energy levels and mental alertness.
Acclimatize to eating healthy: With Paleo diet, body gets tuned to eating organic foods and therefore it avoids processed foods which are high in calories and low in nutrients. The right vegetables and fruit selection make up for lost calcium and carbohydrates.
Diet that doesn't cause disease: Paleo diet is regarded as a dietary pattern that 'doesn't cause disease'. The combination of modern diet and a lifestyle devoid of regular exercise or care for the body makes the body susceptible to cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes and many other modern-day diseases. Paleo diet is devoid of foods that are known to increase risk of many of these health conditions.
Also, fewer carbs in the Paleo diet means fewer health problems. Being a low-carb diet, paleo diet helps ward off Type II diabetes. Avoiding processed foods means overall sugar and fructose intake is low. A check on intake of processed carbs and sugar is actually good because both can actually destroy the ability to regulate how much is consumed as the appetite regulating cells get destroyed by too much sugar in the blood.
Good for body: Lean proteins support strong muscles, healthy bones and optimal immune function. Fiber rich fruits and vegetables reduce the chance of constipation, lower cholesterol and also reduce risk of developing coronary heart disease and diabetes. Absence of preservatives or harmful ingredients in paleo diet is good for the skin as well as hair.
Cons of Paleo diet