Hello my friends! It’s been a crazy couple of days for me. I’ve been wrapping up a few experiments in the lab and preparing for a committee meeting. In light of my busy work load, I’m bringing you all a great guest post today! Tune in tomorrow for another edition of Blog Tip Friday: Fonts!
A Quick Guide to Eating Paleo
At this point, you’re probably more than familiar with the term “Paleo” – it’s the latest health craze to sweep the nation. But beyond being familiar with the fact that Paleo diet exists and that it’s probably good for you, most of us may not know what the diet actually means. Whether you’re considering jumping on the Paleo bandwagon or just curious as to what it is, here’s a quick guide to going Paleo.
What is Paleo?
The Paleo Diet is based upon “eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era.”
A simpler way to think about Paleo is to eat like a caveman; if you could hypothetically hunt or pick your food straight from nature, it’s on the approved Paleo foods list. If it’s processed or made from ingredients that don’t come directly from nature, it’s off limits.
As such, the main components of the Paleo diet are grass produced meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, tree nuts, seeds and healthful oils such as olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado and coconut oil, which is used in many healthy desserts. Foods to avoid are cereal grains, legumes (including peanuts), all dairy products, refined sugars, potatoes (except sweet potatoes, those are allowed!), all processed foods, salt and refined vegetable oils.
So how effective is the diet? We’ve evaluated the pros and cons below to help you decide for yourself.
The concept behind the Paleo diet is a good one: eat natural, unprocessed foods that are high in protein and low in bad fats. Here are some benefits of the Paleo diet:
- The Paleo diet is great for clean eating; eating unprocessed foods means you’ll cut out preservatives and artificial ingredients that contribute zero nutritional content to your body.
- Unlike some diets that advocate smaller servings and portion sizes, the Paleo diet doesn’t place restrictions on how much you can eat, as long as you stick to Paleo-approved foods. This means you can eat the same-size meals that you’re used to and will stay full while you diet—a revolutionary concept.
- Because the Paleo diet cuts out salt and advocates large fiber-filled servings of fruits and vegetables, chances are that you’ll notice reduced bloating. Not only can this help you drop pounds, but you’ll feel healthier and thinner, too. Additionally, more fruit means more servings of potassium that’s good for your heart and for lowering cholesterol.
- Paleo makes it easy to stick to a high protein, low carb diet that can be full of good, healthy fats as long as you choose lean meats and fish. Although meats contain acids that can have detrimental effects on bone and muscle, this acid is essentially negated by the increased consumption of high alkaline-containing fruits and vegetables. Plus, eliminating so many other acid-producers like beans, cheese and salt lowers your risk for problems down the road even more.
- The Paleo Diet doesn’t just cut out foods that are bad for you; it also cuts out good-for-you foods that have proven health benefits like yogurt, beans and whole grains. Removing dairy means you’ll likely cut out a lot of vitamin D and calcium that your body needs, and avoiding grains reduces the benefits you’ll get from whole grain fiber and important B vitamins.
- There are no studies to show that Paleo will result in long term weight loss, and some factors suggest that it won’t. For people who currently partake in healthy weight loss behaviors like eating low-fat yogurt and fruit in the morning, dropping these behaviors may not result in large weight changes. Plus, the diet’s strict nature could make it a tough one to follow long-term.
- The Paleo Diet is impossible to really replicate; most plant food nowadays is cultivated instead of grown wild and most meats are domesticated rather than hunted. Plus, original Paleo eating was probably brought on by food scarcity rather than health conscious choices, which raises some questions about its value and applicability today.
- A diet that’s so high in protein means it’s easy to overeat meats that are high in bad saturated fats. Meat wasn’t as lean as it was in Paleolithic times due to differences in raising and feeding animals, so eating large quantities of it today may have different results than it did back then.
It’s a tough call; both sides of the Paleo argument make valid points and are centered on healthy nutrition. So what do you think—is it worth it to go Paleo? Feel free to share your thoughts or personal experiences with the diet below!