Should You Try the Paleo Diet?

 

“I’m not as hungry and don’t think about food all the time. I’m sleeping better and have lost 10 pounds,” she says.

The Paleo Diet gets its name from the Paleolithic Era which ended 10,000 years ago. Sometimes referred to as the Caveman, Stone Age, or Hunter-Gatherer diet, Paleo became popular in the 70s and has seen renewed interest in the last few years. Paleo’s premise is that the human body functions best when eating foods that our earliest ancestors ate—whole foods from the earth. These foods were eaten prior to the agricultural revolution that introduced processed foods into our diets. Purists point out that our Paleo relatives didn’t suffer from life-threatening diseases like diabetes, cancer or heart disease.

The Paleo Diet consists of lean proteins—including grass-fed, pasture-raised meats—fish, chicken, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and roots. Paleo eliminates all processed foods including grains, refined sugar and processed oils. Also gone are dairy, legumes (beans and peanuts), alcohol, white potatoes, soy and salt.

The Paleo Diet is generally high in protein (20-35%), low in carbs (20-40%), and about 30% fats, which is similar to most Western diets. Lean meats, animal fats, and eggs, plus vegetables are the most abundant foods. Proponents of the diet stress that eating increased protein satiates and reduces overeating and cravings.

Paleo emphasizes cooking over prepared foods, adding flavor with natural herbs and spices, using seasonal, organic produce, and choosing high quality, healthy meat.

A typical day on the Paleo Diet might look like this:

Breakfast: Eggs with vegetables, sausage, and a green tipped banana

Lunch: Salad with romaine, avocado, tuna, and a drizzle of tahini

Dinner: Baked chicken, roasted vegetables, and fruit salad

Snack: Almonds or coconut milk

According to Karen Malkin, who is a holistic health and nutrition counselor, the Paleo diet is beneficial for anyone with with insulin resistance and unstable blood sugar, heart disease, excess weight, and those with food sensitivities to corn, wheat or gluten. Karen adds, “Much of our grains are now genetically modified and the Paleo diet is void of these food-like, allergy-promoting substances that compromise our immune system.”

The Paleo Diet also stresses exercise. Many CrossFit enthusiasts have adopted the diet. The moves in CrossFit are similar to activities that hunters and gatherers would have done naturally in the everyday quest to survive—intense, simple workouts involving exercises like squats and using weighted balls. Visit any CrossFit gym, and chances are you will hear the “P” word come up in conversation.

Critics of the Paleo Diet caution against removing dairy, a great source of protein, calcium and Vitamin D. Doubters also question avoiding whole grains like 100% whole wheat, oatmeal and brown rice. These foods can be important components of an active, healthy person’s diet.

Intrigued and interested in learning more? Check out “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet,” by Robb Wolf for more detail. Katie began her Paleo diet with a 21-Day Sugar Detox outlined on the Balanced Bites website.

Katie also mentioned that it helps that she enjoys cooking and preparing fresh foods for her family—so if you’re not up for chopping some veggies, it might be more work than you want. And while the diet was initially challenging, Katie’s body has responded positively to Paleo.

Did I mention she looks fabulous?!