What exactly is the Paleo diet?
Our sedentary lifestyles and modern ways of eating have been the root cause of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Over-processed and sugar-loaded foods have changed our eating habits and dietary habits. We have gotten so used to eating this way and it has affected many of us personally. In fact, if you don't suffer from diabetes, heart disease, or obesity yourself as a result of a bad lifestyle, then you probably personally know someone who does.
It is for this very reason that experts, doctors, and nutritionists created the paleo diet, also known as the caveman or stone-age diet.
What is the Paleo diet?
In short, the main goal of the Paleo diet is to remove modern foods from our diet and return to the way our early hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. This diet is based on the principle that we need to eat what is naturally given to us by nature such as vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish. They base their arguments on saying that we do not need processed foods or too much sugar and that everything our bodies need, can be found organically.
We can't really argue with this statement. The truth is that our bodies run on energy and they will use whatever energy you give it to get you through the day effectively. This is why the Paleo diet suggests that you do not need fries and a coke to get by. You will be able to go about your day by having unprocessed meat and vegetables. This diet will also improve your overall health by eliminating processed foods that are very high in fat with little to no nutritional value and way too much sugar. They emphasize that we need to load up on fruits and veggies that are full of healthy vitamins and minerals your body needs. These foods also contain a lot more minerals and fiber which will fill you up much faster, making you eat much less and as a result, helps you prevent gaining weight.
What are the benefits of the paleo diet?
As we have just learned, the basis of the paleo diet is consuming unprocessed food. For that reason, the paleo contains low amounts of carbs since it excludes foods like grains that need to be processed before eating. When you avoid processed foods as well as foods that are high in carbohydrates, you will inevitably lose some fat. The paleo diet is known to reduce body fat.
Increased insulin sensitivity
Since the paleo diet has very little carbs and sugar, it decreases the demand for the pancreas to produce insulin. The paleo diet can decrease insulin secretion and therefore increases insulin effectiveness and decreases insulin resistance.
Good for your heart
We know that the paleo diet was designed with certain heart conditions in mind. It has been found that the paleo diet significantly lowers overall cholesterol. Lower cholesterol levels mean better overall heart health.
We could all use some of that, right? Eating low GI foods (glycemic index) as part of the paleo diet means that you will be less likely to crave sugar-filled foods that cause your energy to suddenly drop. Low GI foods that we eat in the paleo diet keep you fuller for longer, making your energy levels stable. People who tend to eat processed foods and foods loaded with sugar tend to feel that their energy spikes and drops continuously. This is why the paleo diet is excellent for those who don't wish to fall asleep at your office desk.
What foods can I eat?
Here is a list of food you will typically be able to eat on the paleo diet:
- Lean cuts of beef, pork, and poultry, preferably grass-fed, organic, or free-range selections. Even "game-animals" will do like springbuck, gemsbok, or kudu.
- Eggs but limit yourself to only 6 eggs per week.
- Fruit that doesn't contain too much sugar
- Nonstarchy vegetables, such as asparagus, onions, peppers, and pumpkin
- Nuts and seeds, including almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds
- Olive oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil, all in moderation
What foods should I avoid?
By now you should know what foods not to eat, but here is a list as a reference to help you.
- All dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter
- Cereal grains, such as wheat, rye, rice, and barley
- Legumes, like beans, peanuts, and peas
- Processed potatoes such as fries or wedges
- Sweets, including all forms of candy as well as honey and sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugary soft drinks and fruit juices
- Processed and cured meats, such as bacon, deli meats, and hot dogs
- Highly processed foods
If you want to give this diet a try but unsure where to begin, we suggest purchasing this Paleo diet E-book that can show you the ins and outs of the paleo diet. If you would like to combine the paleo diet with your workout, come talk to your trainer at Fitness Fables who would gladly assist you in aligning your diet with your exercise goals.