The Paleo Diet has been gaining some major popularity in the past few years with good reason. I am always skeptical of the latest fad diets because they are always hype and nothing else. Usually, these diets stave you in clever ways or convince you into eating less calories. The Paleo Diet took me a while to warm up to, but after trying it and seeing the high level fitness professionals who support it, I agree that it is a great base for good nutrition. I however, believe that everyone is different and that modifications to this diet need to be made for the individual.
Since its popularity, many Paleo “gurus” have come out with their own version. They claim theirs is THE BEST form of the diet urging you to listen to, read, and buy everything they produce. For the most part, The Paleo Diet is very simple. These people have merely tweaked it to their own one size fits all template.
A Simple Concept
Eat as if you lived in the Paloelithic Era or before most human technology. Basically eat like a hunter-gatherer or a caveman. So what was available to them? Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and nuts. For the most part, that’s it. If you limit your food choices to these categories, I guarantee you will see results. It’s almost impossible not to lose body fat if you are strict with these guidelines.
First off, you cut out any kind of processed or fast food. Enough Said.
Second, you cut out a ton of sugar. Sodas, juices, candy, syrup, etc. are off limits. Grains are also prohibited on this diet, though I believe brown rice is an exception. Stay away from all other grains especially wheat and corn because of its pro-inflammatory properties.
There is a clear difference in the nutritional content of fruits and vegetables versus cereals, pastas, breads, crackers, cookies and all the other horrible, blood sugar spiking carbs. Eating only good carbs alone will make the biggest difference in results.
Back then, all the meat was lean compared to today’s fatty domesticated meats. Ideally, you would eat nothing but wild game and line caught fish. Unless you live at my house and have freezers full of wild meat or are an avid outdoorsman, then your best bet is organic, naturally raised meat. These meats have more omega 3s and have a higher protein to fat ratio. With lean meat there is less fat thus less calories.
Some good fats can come from high quality protein sources like wild Alaskan salmon, wild game, or naturally raised, organic meats. Other times it can come from olive oil, nuts, avocados or other sources containing good fats. Again, the more omega 3s the better.
In the by the book Paleo diet, no. The book most likely omitted potatoes because the readers would probably eat too many of them and not achieve their desired results. Hunter gathers did have wild potatoes in South America even before they began cultivating them so technically it is a Paleo food. I believe sweet potatoes are great if you need the extra carbs. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, then you wouldn’t need them, but an athlete may need starchy carbs a few times a day. Stay away from white potatoes as they have a high glycemic load and go for sweet potatoes instead.
Did cavemen cultivate brown rice? No, but it is a great complex carbohydrate if you need extra carbs for energy. As with sweet potatoes, athletes and very active people may need the extra carbs to supply their strenuous workouts. Brown rice is gluten free as well a low glycemic starch making it great for those who need it.
In limited quantities eggs are fine. Sometimes people can have food sensitivities with eggs so a good rule is to limit yourself to 6 eggs a week. Also, whole eggs are not a lean source of protein so too many can add a little too much fat in your diet.
Legumes are not allowed in Paleo Diets, but I believe they are okay in small quantities and if you need the extra carbs.
Coffee and Tea?
Yes, Although cavemen didn’t have these beverages, it has health benefits if you are not sensitive to caffeine. Make sure your coffee is organic and your tea does not come in chlorinated bags.
In my book, YES! It is a quick, easy source of protein and ideal for post-workouts. If you workout, you need protein powder even though it is not technically Paleo.
The list can go on with these questions regarding the perfect Paleo diet. Paleo Guru’s may claim to have their own “perfected Paleo Diet”, but the results depend on each individual. One person may be able to eat starchy carbs with each meal while another may function better with only fibrous carbs. I suggest you start with the basics: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and nuts. From there, you can add or subtract various foods to get an ideal nutrition plan for your body.
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