The Paleo diet is a protein-heavy diet that has gained immense popularity in recent years. If you are fascinated by its back-to-the-basics philosophy and thinking of giving it a shot, here are all the facts about the Paleo diet that you need to know so that you can make an informed decision.
What is Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet is inspired by our hunter-gatherer ancestors from the Palaeolithic era. It includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and seeds— basically whole, unprocessed and unrefined foods.On the other hand, food items that emerged as a result of agriculture—cereal grains, legumes, dairy, soy, potatoes, refined sugar, salt, and other processed foods—are to be strictly avoided.
This is because advocates of the Paleo diet believe that the human body was better suited to the diet of our ancient ancestors, and is now unable to adapt to the dietary changes that came about because of farming. Since there probably weren’t any overweight cavemen with heart disease running around in prehistoric times, the proponents of Paleo hold that problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease can be attributed to the new agricultural diet.
Health benefits of the Paleo diet
The diet is heavy on fruits and veggies that are high on nutrients and low on calories. This can help manage weight without compromising on essential nutrition. Replacing unhealthy, calorie-rich sugary and processed items with protein and fibre-rich whole foods also contributes to weight loss. Since it is a low-carb diet, it also reduces the risk of heart diseases.
Problems with Paleo
An important issue with the Paleo diet is that it excludes entire categories of healthy foods, making it difficult for people to fulfill certain essential nutrient requirements. For instance, whole grains and legumes are good sources of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Dairy products are rich in vitamin D, potassium and calcium. However, both categories are eliminated in the Paleo diet and this can result in deficiencies and related ailments.
The diet is also difficult to follow over the long term since it doesn’t allow casual binging, which is such a common part of the current fast-paced world. Also, the Paleo diet is expensive to follow. Organic foods are much costlier than ordinary ones.
Finally, it can be argued that the Paleo diet is based on oversimplified logic. We’re biologically different from our predecessors, and the foods today aren’t the same as what the hunter-gatherers were eating.
Tips for getting started
Make a slow transition. Since the diet eliminates a lot of common foods, it will be difficult to directly jump into it. You’ll be giving up on a lot of your staples and this could result in intense cravings. Hence it makes more sense to make a few changes, and give your body time to adapt. Once you’re successful, move on and give up on items that are more difficult. This will help you keep up with the diet in the long run.