What is the Paleo Diet?
You’ve probably heard of the Paleo Diet. Also known as the cavemen diet and the hunter-gatherer diet, it is the diet of the Paleolithic Era. If the food was not available for people back in that era, don’t eat it. First introduced in a book by Walter Voegtlin in 1975, the Paleo Diet didn’t become popular until recent years. Dr. Loren Cordain is the owner of the trademark “The Paleo Diet” and in 2013 it was the most popular weight-loss search term on Google. CrossFit users follow the Paleo Diet and NBA superstar LeBron James has even gone Paleo during the NBA offseason.
The Paleo Diet advocates eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, nuts and seeds and healthy fats. All of these were available to people during the Paleolithic Era and the population was very lean, muscular and active. Fast forward to today and worldwide obesity rates are high. One out of every three adults is obese in the world today which can lead to a multitude of health problems including heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, stroke and many more. Diets today are high in processed foods, dairy, grains and added sugars. The Paleo Diet avoids dairy, grains, processed foods and sugars, legumes, starches and alcohol.
So what specific foods do you eat on Paleo?
- Fruits and vegetables should be a staple to your diet because they are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and decrease the risk of health problems.
- Focus on lean meats for your proteins. Chicken and turkey are two excellent meat choices because they are generally lean which helps you gain muscle, have healthy bones and because they take longer to process by your body, it makes you feel full.
- Many people associate fats as a bad thing. But fats are an essential part of a diet. You just have to choose the right ones. Avoid saturated fats because those increase the risk of health problems. Instead opt for foods that are high in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds, fish and grass-fed meat are good examples.
Research has shown that the Paleo Diet decreases the risk of diabetes and heart disease, promotes fat loss and lean muscle gain, and improves our immune system. There are opponents of the Paleo Diet because it does cut out food groups like grains which are high in fiber and decrease the risk of heart disease. It also cuts out legumes such as beans and lentils which are a good alternative to meat. Today, most foods are processed in some way too so it’s difficult to eat like our ancestors. Whether you go Paleo or not, the greatest takeaway from it is avoiding added sugars and processed foods. If you can avoid that, you are taking a positive step toward a healthy lifestyle.