Paleo as the name implies is a form of diet that strictly follows the way early humans ate. It is hugely popular nowadays with celebrities like Khloe Kardashian following the diet to lose weight and stay fit. But what exactly is the true meaning of Paleo? Let’s jump right in.
What is Paleo Diet?
People who follow this diet believe that the human body is better adapted to eating foods that were consumed by early people throughout the Palaeolithic period. Instead of the excessively processed and high-carbohydrate diets that many people consume nowadays, these foods feature lean meat and plants.
In his 1975 book “The Stone Age Diet”, Walter L. Voegtlin, M.D., proposed the paleo diet as a strategy to improve one’s health. Lean unprocessed meat, fish, green vegetables, fresh fruit, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils are all Paleo-friendly foods. Meanwhile, cereals, milk, cheese, potatoes, legumes, processed foods, added sugar or salt, and refined vegetable oils are prohibited on the diet.
According to a 2015 review of research published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, nutrition that is derived by one when they follow this diet has been proven to result in health advantages such as reduced waist circumference, lower triglyceride levels (which are nothing but blood fats linked to heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease), and lower blood pressure.
However, losing out on essential nutrients is a concern for many of the dieticians who are very critical of this diet since many of the health advantages touted by paleo may be related to weight reduction rather than the diet itself.
What are the risks of the Paleo diet?
Vegetables, berries, sweet potatoes, nuts, and seeds are abundant in a real paleo diet. You can get enough fiber if you consume enough of those items. The issue however is that the vast majority of people do not get enough fiber. Many individuals take what they want from their diet, such as eating as much meat as they want, and keep on ignoring the veggies.
This can probably result in a high-saturated-fat diet. Because the paleo diet excludes dairy products, getting enough vitamin D and calcium is a major problem. Furthermore, because there are so many things on the no-eat list, some people may find it difficult to stick to this eating pattern.
What are the various types of the Paleo diet?
Individual food requirements can be accommodated by the paleo diet. Heather Mangieri, a Registered Dietitian, Certified Expert in sports dietetics, and Author of “Fueling Young Athletes” says that she often helps clients personalize it, especially athletes and energetic people who require more carbs for fuel.
Adding a few more complex carbs to your diets, such as oatmeal, potatoes, and other whole grains, can help you meet your exercise objectives while still sticking to a balanced eating plan. The goal is to consume only what you require and not to overdo it.
Most individuals who profess to follow the paleo diet, according to her experience, are actually following a modified version of it. She follows it up by saying that it is completely fine as a rigorous paleo diet isn’t required by one to lose weight.
Over time, other paleo diet variations have emerged. The autoimmune paleo diet is one such modification. This is an elimination diet, which requires a person to exclude foods from their diet one at a time in order to establish which foods trigger autoimmune disease symptoms.
Eliminated foods are those that proponents of the paleo diet believe are common offenders, such as grains and processed foods. While there is a minimal study on how the paleo diet affects autoimmune illness, there has been anecdotal evidence of its advantages. Sarah Ballantyne, a Ph.D. in medical biophysics and Author of “The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body”, was one of them. She discovered that eating a paleo diet helped her get rid of her ailments.
Irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, anxiety, migraines, and eczema are just a few instances of the ailments that the paleo diet cured for her. She claims that adhering to a paleo diet helped her lose weight and sleep better.
What are the benefits of following this diet?
- Weight loss is a primary advantage of the paleo diet, according to a study, even when things such as calorie tracking and portion control are not required. Losing weight can be advantageous to the health of people who are overweight or obese.
- Consuming less sugar, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates (processed carbs without fibre) is essential for people who are suffering from diabetics, and the paleo diet may assist improve glucose control, according to a small study conducted by experts at the University of California, San Francisco. This by far is the biggest advantage or benefit that you can get from following a paleo diet. Most people notice a change in their diet by focusing solely on lowering those nutrients.
- According to a 2019 review of research published in “Nutrition Journal”, the paleo diet can help to reduce weight and waist circumference, as well as aid in the management of various chronic conditions. In addition, a tiny 2015 research discovered that after four months of consuming paleo meals, people with high cholesterol had changes in their cholesterol and triglyceride values, both of which are important in preventing heart disease. According to another evaluation of randomized studies published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, the paleo diet resulted in short-term improvements in waist circumference, triglyceride levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels when compared to other diets.
What are the foods you should avoid on this diet?
- Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are available in a variety of food products. They are found in food products such as soft drinks, fruit juices, table sugar, confectionery, pastries, ice cream, and many more.
- Grains include bread and pasta, as well as wheat, spelled, rye, and barley.
- Beans, lentils, and other legumes
- Dairy: Avoid most dairy, especially low-fat dairy (some paleo diets allow full-fat dairy, such as butter and cheese).
- Vegetable oils are something that you should avoid while being on this diet. Those which are vegetable oil, include soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil and safflower oil.
- Trans fat is a type of fat that can be found in a variety of processed food and also in margarine. Oils that should be avoided include oils that are hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.”
- Instead of using artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium, use natural sweeteners.
- Don’t consume any highly processed food or anything that is branded “diet” or “low-fat” or contains a lot of additives.
What are the foods you should have on this diet?
To help you in getting the most out of this diet, here is a list of the foods that you should consume while being on this diet:
- Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, and other seafood. If possible use wild-caught fish.
- Choose free-range, pastured, or omega-3-enhanced eggs.
- Consume vegetables such as broccoli, kale, peppers, onions, carrots, and tomatoes.
- Consume fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados, strawberries, and blueberries
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, and other tubers
- Have some nuts and seeds as almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
- Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and other healthy fats and oils
- Sea salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, and other spices
If you can afford it, select grass-fed, pasture-raised, and organic meat.
What are the concerns of researchers regarding this diet?
The following are some arguments supporting a more comprehensive view of the development of human dietary needs:
- Dietary variations due to location, climate, and food availability, as well as the shift to farming, would have impacted the evolution of nutritional demands.
- Archaeological study has shown that early human diets may have incorporated wild grains as far as 30,000 years ago – long before farming was introduced.
- According to genetic studies, significant evolutionary changes persisted after the Palaeolithic epoch, including diet-related alterations such as a rise in the number of genes connected to the breakdown of dietary carbohydrates.
The paleo diet is based on the foods that hunter-gatherers were likely to follow. While there is no single way to follow the paleo diet, the main principle is to eliminate processed meals in favor of nutritious, natural foods.
Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, as well as healthy and natural fats and oils, are all foods that you can consume if you are following this diet. While on this diet, stay away from processed meals, wheat, and sugar. You may also base your diet on paleo meals while incorporating a few current healthy items such as grass-fed butter and gluten-free cereals.
A paleo diet will help you in losing or maintaining your weight. It might possibly offer additional health benefits. However, there have been no long-term clinical trials on the diet’s advantages and potential hazards. You may be able to attain the same health advantages by getting adequate exercise and eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables.