Leave Your Cubicle and Modern Society Behind
Let’s face it, every diet has its ardent and fanatical followers, but man, does the Paleo Diet take this to a whole new level. People set up entire personal web sites just to document what they’ve eaten and how nice their meals look. There is some reason for this seeming overreaction. Many people consider the Paleo Diet a crock. I’ve even seen it recently listed on the top 10 worst diets right next to the Cotton Ball diet. I won’t go into details on this one but it’s pretty much what it sounds like. And since cotton balls have fewer calories than food, maybe it works.
In philosophy, the Paleo Diet is based on the concept that our bodies evolved in a certain way due to the foods that we ate and the way that we lived. The further we have gone away from this natural state and from our natural environment, the more unhealthy we become. While it’s impossible to completely mimic the Neanderthal lifestyle without being committed instantly – throw away the key – the Paleo Diet claims you can get a lot closer while remaining a functioning part of society to the point where your health will dramatically improve. There are a few other names that this diet goes by without enough differences to call it a different diet: Caveman Diet, Evolutionary Diet, Dinosaur Diet, etc.They all live by the same principles.
Is the Paleo Diet for Real?
Actually, at its heart, the Paleo Diet is really just another low-carb diet where you restrict certain foods that make you gain weight while containing little to no nutritional value. Yes, that’s right, it’s actually pretty sound. The downside is that it’s difficult to remain on this diet 100% and live in modern society. This is actually encouraged by the Diet’s founder, as I’ll discuss in a little bit.
No Rice. No Pasta. No Bread. No grains.
The Skinny on Paleo
If it wasn’t consumed before the agricultural revolution, approximately 10,000 years ago, stay away from it. This sounds nice until you realize what that means. No pasta. No corn. No potatoes. No bread. No fatty meat because animals were less lazy back then, so to mimic this, you need to stick to meats that most closely match the animals that our ancestors hunted and killed.
There are some other rules that will take a little getting used to if you want to give this diet a try. And they might seem a little odd at first. Butter: Good. Lard: Good. Canola Oil: Bad. You can eat as many carbs as you want. The catch: They all have to come from vegetables.
There are no grains on this diet. It’s said by the Paleo proponents that grains are a staple of the modern world, contain not nutritional value and aren’t really any good for you. It should be acknowledged, that the population of the planet could not be fed on this diet. Grains are a staple of much of the world where there are not plentiful sources of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and fishes.
Oh yeah, no dairy
How much can you eat?
This is the great part about this diet. You can eat as much as you want. And as often as you want, though it is encouraged that you eat a few big meals rather than eating 6 tiny meals a day as is generally recommended. I think the logic goes that when you hunted and killed a mammoth, it took a long time to do, and you couldn’t snack while doing it. But when he finally went down, there was a lot to eat. Or something like that.
Did I mention no chocolate ?
Back to how much. As many vegetables as you can possibly eat, no problem. Certain vegetables are encouraged over others. There are charts that specifically tell you which foods to limit and which to eat as often as possible. Fruits, the same thing, though it’s often recommended that you don’t overdo the fruit as you can overload on the sugar.
Oh, yeah. No sugar and no salt, either.
Meats. If you can kill it, you can eat it. Pretty much, that’s the thinking. Cow, lamb, sheep, moose, goat, pig, fish, lobster, oysters, clams, seahorses, chickens, parrots, tigers, turtles, rabbits, deer, you name it. Eat about as much as you want. Again, certain animals are preferred fare on the Paleo to others. I’ll be adding a chart to this section soon, so check back.
How Do I Get Started?
It’s recommended that you don’t dive in all at once. Start cutting things out, little at a time. Maybe stop eating pizza. Start getting burgers without buns. Leave the rice on the plate. These are all good ways to transition into this diet.
The Paleo Diet is really more than a diet. It’s somewhat of a lifestyle choice, where there are recommendations on how to do other things in your life other than just WHAT to eat.
Long distance running is discouraged. Better to do strength training with bursts of super high intensity short duration movements. Followed by periods of rest. Think the opposite of cardio anything.
You know the adage ; don’t miss a meal or you’ll gain weight. Paleo doctrine says this is dumb (I tend to agree for what it’s worth, but that’s just me) You should skip meals whenever you feel like it. Periods of fast are natural and we evolved just fine without eating every 15 minutes so stop trying to do this.
Count your calories. Not on the Paleo. They don’t believe in calories. Though I have seen some reasoned recommendations where there are some responsible “within reason” qualifiers attached.
Does It Work?
Yes. The Paleo Diet can be quite effective for people looking to lose weight. There is also some preliminary evidence that some of the wilder claims made by Paloe enthusiasts may actually be true. The Paleo philosophy is that our ancient ancestors were much healthier than we are today and didn’t suffer many of the modern maladies we are afflicted with today including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer. While it’s pretty hard to prove that cavemen didn’t have these issues, it is becoming clear that many of these issues can clear up when Paleo rejected foods are eliminated from your diet.