Paleo- Fad or Fact
There has been a lot written about the pros and cons of following a paleolithic diet/lifestyle. Some of it based on sound scientific research but a lot of it is based on hypothesis and the agenda of certain authors and personalities within the health industry.
Let me demystify this for you.
In its purest form the paleo diet is very low carb. This is based on the ‘insulin hypothesis’ which stems from a bunch of studies on sick people and rats. If you are reasonably healthy and active there’s a good chance that you aren’t insulin resistant enough that you couldn’t improve that simply by being in a calorie deficit by exercising a little more and eating a little less. (1, 2)
Foods that are high in protein are not only good for the growth and repair of bones and muscles but are also highly satiating, so ensuring a decent sized portion of protein at every meal may lead you to eat a little less food throughout the day. Beef, pork, chicken, fish and eggs are all great sources of protein.
If you eliminate any food groups like wheat or dairy, ensure that you understand why and what the benefits of doing so are. We, in fact, adapt very well to any foods and researchers have shown that some paleolithic communities were processing grains for well over 30,000 years. Do you really think that Asian cavemen didn’t eat rice? Or, early South Americans didn’t eat potatoes? (3)
Eating minimally processed foods and a great variety of vegetables should be the main focus of any health conscious person. A full colour spectrum of vegetables will provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants while also keeping your meals interesting and varied. This includes starchy vegetables like roots and potatoes which are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Personally, I don’t feel that our diet should feel restrictive or limiting. Food and mealtimes should be as much about enjoyment as they are about nourishment. However, for a person who has been overweight and unwell for a while then paleo might be a good starting point.
Episode 66 of my podcast featured Dr Chris Kresser who explained how a paleo type approach may help with some health issues.
It will create a fresh focus on whole foods, meal prep and cooking. But, in its purest form paleo is too low carb for someone who does a lot of exercise and may create more problems than it solves.
Life is about being flexible and so too should your diet. If the paleo lifestyle appeals to you and doesn’t feel limiting, then give it a go. Just be aware that you can adapt it to suit your personal taste and activities. Include pulses, potatoes and dairy (if you can tolerate it) and don’t be that person that no one invites around to dinner because you’re a nightmare to cater for.
1. Calorie for Calorie, Dietary Fat Restriction Results in More Body Fat Loss than Carbohydrate Restriction in People with Obesity : [email protected] http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2015.07.021
2. No difference in body weight decrease between a low-glycemicindex and a high-glycemic-index diet but reduced LDL cholesterol after 10-wk ad libitum intake of the low-glycemic-index diet1–3. Birgitte Sloth, et, al.
3. Thirty thousand-year-old evidence of plant food processing Anna Revedina, et, al.