In this day and age where illnesses and obesity-related problems are the norm, we’re bombarded from all sides with new fads and diets. Everyone has a different kind of advice, from our doctors and nutritionists to our gym instructors and family members. With all this information available, it can get difficult to pick the right diet for our lifestyle. And isn’t it true that our ancestors (by this we mean humans before the agricultural revolution) were fitter, taller and much healthier? So what was it about them that we seem to lack – aside from sedentary lifestyles and modern conveniences, of course.
Many people believe that it is our increasing dependence on grains that is causing all these problems. Such people choose to follow a different kind of diet – something that the early man used to follow. Commonly known as paleo (after paleolithic) diet, it can also be referred to as the caveman diet. People who follow this kind of diet believe in omitting all kinds of grains from their diet; indeed, they believe that grains and dairy (except milk in infancy) were not meant to be consumed by humans and that the human body is largely intolerant towards them.
So What Do People On The Paleo Diet Eat?
Contrary to what many people may think, the paleo diet actually has plenty of food options.
According to nerdfitness.com, these include the following:
- Meat – Grass-fed, not grain-fed… which causes the same problem in animals as they do in humans. We’ll discuss the problems that grains cause in humans later on in the story. Olden-day humans used to hunt for their prey, much like carnivorous animals do today. Meat was an integral part of their diet, and should be in your diet too if you choose to follow the paleo diet.
- Fowl – chicken, duck, hen, turkey…things with wings that (try to) fly. Fowl were another animal group that was commonly used by olden man as food. According to paleo believers, our body and digestive system is used to processing such kinds of food for centuries, which is why it is digested quickly without giving us the excess carbs and fats that grains do.
- Fish – wild fish, not farmed fish, as mercury and other toxins can be an issue. Farmed fish can be bred using artificial means, which basically defeats the entire purpose of going paleo. Natural foods are the norm here, so fish in the wild can be super effective to maintain our fitness levels and lose weight effectively.
- Eggs – look for Omega-3 enriched eggs. The same reasons as fowl apply here – the more naturally produced eggs we eat, the better for our bodies.
- Vegetables – as long as they’re not deep fried, eat as many as you want. We all know that eating the same number of calories from grains and fruit do not really affect our body in the same way. Besides, vegetables are full of nutrition, low in fat and keep you feeling full for much longer. As long as they are not fried or smothered in butter, vegetables can be a great bet for those on the paleo diet.
- Oils – olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil – any natural oils you can think of can work here. Just remember to limit your portions or it will not show results quickly.
- Fruits – have natural sugar, and can be higher in calories, so limit them if you’re trying to lose weight. While fruits are extremely nutritious and great for health, eating too many of those can have adverse effects on your body, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. Have them in healthy quantities, and you won’t crave for sugar or high-calorie desserts and your body will thank you for it.
- Nuts and seeds – Though part of a natural diet, they can be high in calories. So have them as a snack, but don’t eat bags and bags of them.
- Tubers – sweet potatoes, yams. They are great add-ons to the paleo diet and since they’re higher in calories and carbs, are good for eating right after a workout to replenish your glycogen levels.
Dishes such as steak with asparagus and sweet potato fries, grilled chicken salad, massive omelettes, and apples dipped in almond butter should be your new staples, and proponents of the paleo diet promise that you’ll see results in less than 30 days.
Why Are Grains Bad?
According to Mark from Mark’s Daily Apple, grains cause a funky response in our system. Since grains are composed of carbohydrates, and those carbs are turned into glucose (a type of sugar) in our system to be used for energy and various other tasks to help our body function – any glucose that isn’t used as energy is stored as fat.
Also, most grains contain gluten and lectins. The harmful effects of grains are well documented in the thousands of cases of gluten intolerance and allergies among people. Most notably, teen star Miley Cyrus has advocated the health advantages of a gluten-free diet and how it makes you feel good. Many people believe that gluten is the cause of problems such as dermatitis, joint pain, reproductive problems, acid reflux, digestive conditions and auto-immune disorders. What’s even more scary is that most cases of gluten intolerance go unnoticed.
On the other hand, lectins are natural toxins that grains contain to discourage consumption. They are known to affect our gastrointestinal tracts and interfere with its normal functioning and reparation from wear and tear.
So the paleo diet prohibits the consumption of three major components: grains, sugar and processed foods. Just by making these three simple changes in your diet, your body can regain health, fitness and avoid illnesses. Those on the paleo diet swear by the fact that it leaves your body toned and fit, and your skin glowing. Combine it with exercise to see major results.
The question is, are you up for it?