‘If a caveman couldn’t eat it neither can you’ – this is the principle that forms the basis of this new health craze that seems to be taking the world by storm. The Paleo Diet has fanatics raving about its health benefits – but is this hunter-gatherer concept actually healthy, or just the latest Flintstone fad? In this article, Is Paleo The Way To Go? we break down the do’s and don’ts of this new diet for you and assess whether or not the paleo is really viable.
So, what can you eat?
Essentially the diet is premised on the idea that humans can regulate their own weight, hunger and appetite in their natural environment. The emphasis here is on the word natural – meaning no grains, no sugar and no processed foods. This is about going back to the way humans ate before they started meddling around with farming and agriculture.
Fresh fruit and veggies, unprocessed grass-fed meat, eggs, wild fish, spices and healthy fats (such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and nuts).
Grains (this includes corn!), beans and legumes, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, refined sugars and industrial oils (such as canola oil). This list also includes those foods that cause issues to the gut for a handful of people, being those who are lactose intolerant and people who find starchy vegetables such as potatoes cause bloating and other belly issues.
What’s the methodology?
Unlike the strict calorie counting rule-book ways of other fads, the paleo diet is much more flexible.
It’s about eating the right things and adjusting your body to burn its own stored fat rather than the sugars and carbs from the dodgy modern day processed nonsense that we are currently (often unknowingly) consuming.
It is an experimental process and focused on learning about your own constitution, tolerances and what works best for your health and nutrition goals.
If you want to lose weight, play down the carbs. Be adventurous and try all the parts of an animal (yep, I’m talking organs!). And make sure that you supplement those vitamins and minerals you may be depleted on (think calcium if you are giving up lactose, and vitamin D for most people).
If you are a fan of flexibility and like the idea of not worrying about portion size or calories, but rather just the healthy foods that you can stock your fridge with, this diet has a lot of benefits. Conversely the downsides while few, mainly centre on the fact that the diet really emphasizes eating lean grass-fed meats – which don’t often come readily or cheap.
So there you go, the in’s and out’s of paleo in a nutshell. If you’re so inclined, it’s worth giving it a try; just remember to make sure you give it at least 30 days before condemning it to the fad pile as it takes your body a while to adjust from fuelling itself on sugar and carbs to burning your stored fat for fuel and energy.