So What Is The Paleo Diet?
The human body evolved for more than 2 million years with the food found in nature: game meat, fish, vegetables, wild fruits, eggs and nuts. The human race was thriving on this diet high in animal fat and proteins and low in carbohydrates, but things changed when we introduced unnatural foods to our bodies. Mankind has become detached to the food we have been eating in nature for millions of years that has allowed us to become a highly evolved species.
While diet fads have come and gone, there has been one that’s stuck around, and from whom many swear by. A Paleo diet, also known as paleolithic diet or caveman diet, it is all about natural foods to help achieve great health and a perfect physique.
The Paleo diet does help with keeping the weight off. Put simply, the Paleo diet is not just a diet that you follow to achieve a specific goal, but more a way of living in harmony with nature and our food to achieve great health in every aspect. We call this diet the paleo diet because it includes the food that was available to us for most of our evolution during the paleolithic era, starting about 2.5 millions of years ago. The idea is that our genes and physiology evolved through the process of natural selection and are most adapted to be nourished with the food that we evolved around. That includes the whole spectrum of animal food (beef, fish, shellfish, poultry, pork, lamb, bison, …) including their fat and organs as well as eggs, vegetables and limited amounts of fruits and nuts.
What we should really be eliminating in our diet are grain products, excess sugar, vegetable oils, legumes and dairy. Here are my top 10 tips to follow to kick start your Paleo journey. It’s up to you to decide to what extent you want to follow those rules;
The 10 rules of the Paleo diet
1. The Paleo diet should be high in fat, moderate in animal protein and low to moderate in carbohydrates. Calorie counting is not encouraged, neither is portion control.
2. You can enjoy saturated fats like coconut oil, butter. olive oil, avocado and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and to drizzle over food, but not for cooking. Cut out all vegetable, hydrogenated and partly-hydrogenated oils
3. Make sure you eat plenty of animal protein. This includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs (liver, kidney, heart…), wild caught fish and shellfish.
4. Eat good amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables either cooked or raw
5. Eat low to moderate amounts of fruits and nuts (If your an ostomate be careful with nuts its not always advised we eat nuts because of blockages so I steer clear). Try to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants like berries as well as nuts high in omega-3, low in omega-6 and low in total polyunsaturated fat like macadamia nuts.
6. Preferably choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat coming from a local, environmentally conscious farms. If not possible, choose lean cuts of meat and supplement your fat with coconut oil, butter or clarified butter. Also preferably choose organic, local and/or seasonal fruits and vegetables.
7. Cut out all cereal grains and legumes from your diet. This includes, but is not limited to, wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, brown rice, soy, peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and black eyed peas.
8. Eliminate sugar, soft drinks, all packaged products and juices (including fruit juices). As a rule of thumb, if it’s in a box, don’t eat it. At the supermarket, visit only the meat, fish and produce sections.
9. Eliminate dairy products other than butter and maybe heavy cream. You don’t need dairy.
10. Eat regularly I eat 5/6 times a day small and often. Consider supplementing with vitamin D and probiotics. Levels of magnesium, iodine and vitamin K2 should also be optimized. Iodine can be obtained from seaweeds.
What are the benefits to a Paleo Diet?
Paleo and primal diets consist of real, whole foods – except for some natural but bottled or packaged sauces, condiments and ingredients – so you automatically eliminate a whole range of preservatives, hidden sugars, sodium, additives, colouring, artificial flavouring and who knows what else. As a result you eliminate unnecessary toxins and consume more nutrients, plus the food tastes so much better.
Paleo diet is rich in nutrients
One of the misconception about the Paleo diet is that it’s all about protein and fat. What many don’t realize is that by eliminating nutrient-void processed carbs – I call them fillers – we supplement with loads of vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, berries and fruit, all of which are full of minerals and vitamins. Combine that with the improved gut health and increased nutrient absorption which happens through avoidance of irritating grains and legumes, and you get a very balanced diet. You’d be surprised that we can get pretty much all required nutrients from animal, seafood and plant based foods.
Sustained weight loss
Most people experience weight loss and muscle growth while eating a paleo diet and keeping an active lifestyle. Improved metabolic processes and gut health, better sleep, stress management, sufficient Vitamin D and a healthy ratio of Omega-3/6 fatty acids all aid in burning off stored body fat.
Reduced bloat (and gas)
Paleo diet provides lots of fiber, which together with adequate H2O intake and a smaller intake of sodium help to decrease the bloat many people experience on a Western diet. Plus, paleo diet helps to improve the gut flora which is essential in keeping a healthy digestion.
It’s rich in healthy fats
Paleo diet promotes healthy saturated fat from grass fed meat, poultry, seafood, ghee, butter and coconuts; lots of monounsaturated fat from olive oil, nuts and seeds and a small amount of polyunsaturated fats; no trans fats; a healthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. The right types of fat are essential in maintaining healthy arteries, brain function, healthy skin, as well as decreasing systemic inflammation.
People following the Paleo/Primal diet experience many of the below benefits:
- Increased and more stable energy levels
- Improved sleep
- Clearer skin and healthier looking hair
- Mental clarity
- Improved mood and attitude
- Improvements in those suffering depression or anxieties
- Less or no bloating, decreased gas
- Sustained weight loss
- Muscle growth; increased fitness
- Lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer
- Higher immune function and a general feeling of well being
- Improved glucose tolerance; decreased insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity
- Improved lipid profiles
- Healthier gut flora
- Better absorption of nutrients from food
- Reduced allergies
- Paleo diet is anti-inflammatory, most people experience reduction of pain associated with inflammation
- Improvements in those with respiratory problems such as asthma