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What is the paleo diet?
In short, paleo is a diet that attempts to recreate a way of eating that occurred during the hunter-gatherer era, a rather long time ago. Therefore, if you couldn’t hunt for it back then, you can’t eat it now is the mentality of this diet.
The theory is that our bodies are designed to eat natural food that we can obtain outdoors rather than inside factories.
Where did this concept come from?
The paleo theory really comes down to one thing, the arrival of agriculture.
You see the hunter-gatherer era began over 2.5 million years ago, and only ended around 10,000 years ago, when agriculture began. So, humans lived as hunter-gatherers for a fair whack of time!
So, paleo adherents believe that our bodies became so used to sourcing and eating food in that same way that when the agricultural revolution started producing grains and other processed foods, our bodies couldn’t deal with the change in diet and never adjusted.
The paleo argument then is that we’ve become a species dependent on grains like pasta and rice and refined sugars when we are biologically designed to eat fresh fruit, veggies and meats.
Hence, sources say there was a shift in diet but no shift in genetics.
So, what foods should be eaten?
What do I eat?
Paleo has a strong focus on wild-animal products and uncultivated plant sources.
Paleo dieters make friends with natural, fresh food like veggies and meats, and stay away from processed foods, refined sugars and grains.
It’s generally a diet high in protein and fats, but low in carbs due to the reduction in grains and sugars.
Fats are your friends as a paleo. Like the keto diet, the idea is to minimise carbs and introduce healthy fats alongside protein and veggies to be used as fuel.
This ‘real food’ focus is to make it easier on your body, as without processed foods digestion may be less of an issue for many people
Most paleo dieters stick to these foods:
- • Meat (preferably grass feed), fish (wild if possible) and free-range poultry
- • Eggs
- • Vegetables (as much as you like) and fruits (limit intake for weight loss)
- • Oils (natural/unrefined)
- • Nuts
- • Root vegetables – think sweet potatoes and yam
In terms of your beloved protein powder, a paleo-friendly powder would be a milk protein powder and possibly a natural or raw product that uses stevia or fruit powders to sweeten. Choose Bulk Nutrients Naturals WPI/WPC.
For vegans, Bulk Nutrients Pea Protein is your best bet!
What don’t I eat?
To reinforce what we’ve already said, the paleo diet cuts out grains, refined sugars and processed foods.
Many paleo followers cut out dairy but others don’t, so that may be a personal preference. Thinking realistically, it’s not that likely that hunters and gatherers carted a cow around with them for milk!
Bone broth? what’s the deal?
Yes, yes it was a paleo who started the whole bone broth thing.
Bone broth is the result of the boiling of chicken or beef bones to create a stock.
This broth is supposedly full of nutrients, a form of connective tissue extract and works as a natural ailment for colds and sicknesses.
Today it’s sold in cafes and even in ready-to-go jars that you just add water to.
The good thing about paleo is that it focuses on real, unprocessed foods that taste great and your body loves. No fan-dangle ingredients or supplements just natural food.
The plus to eating a wide variety of meats and veggies means your body can get all those vitamins and minerals that it needs.
Eating paleo can be restrictive, especially if eating out (however not as restrictive as other diets like keto).
This diet lacks sufficient calcium intake and it should be supplemented in order to prevent bone mineral loss or any other complications. (CITE)
It does mean you have to give up bread, pasta, rice and sugars. This is easier said than done and may take a few weeks to wean yourself off and get used to the new way of eating.
You could find that it’s slightly more expensive due to the emphasis on grass fed, wild meats but you can be frugal about it!
What does the research say?
Modern day diets are said to be a major factor in obesity as well as high cholesterol, blood pressure and a greater risk for diabetes.
Studies have shown that paleolithic diets can assist with the prevention and management of metabolic syndrome.
One study found that even short-term stints of paleo dieting improved blood pressure, glucose tolerance.
Due to the reduction in processed foods, eating paleo may also assist with better digestion.
Is paleo for me?
It is a less drastic diet change and you may notice many benefits in overall well-being and digestion. With the removal of processed carbohydrates, you may feel less sluggish and bloated.
Paleo does have its critics though, particularly with the heavy endorsement of it by Chef Pete Evans.
It’s definitely one to evaluate for yourself.
Frassetto, L., Schloetter, M., Mietus-Synder, M., Morris, R. and Sebastian, A., 2009. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 63(8), pp.947-955. Available at: Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet.
Klonoff, D., 2009. The Beneficial Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Type 2 Diabetes and other Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, [online] 3(6), pp.1229-1232. Available at: The Beneficial Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Type 2 Diabetes and other Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease.
Manheimer, E., van Zuuren, E., Fedorowicz, Z. and Pijl, H., 2015. Paleolithic nutrition for metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 102(4), pp.922-932. Available at: Paleolithic nutrition for metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis.
Nerd Fitness. Paleo Diet Beginner's Guide: Is Eating Like A Caveman Healthy? | Nerd Fitness. [online] Available at: Paleo Diet Beginner's Guide: Is Eating Like A Caveman Healthy?.
Mayo Clinic. Paleo Diet: Eat Like A Cave Man And Lose Weight?. [online] Available at: Paleo Diet: Eat Like A Cave Man And Lose Weight?.
Pete's Paleo. What's The Deal With Bone Broth?. [online] Available at: hat's The Deal With Bone Broth?.