The Paleolithic, or Paleo, diet has become quite a craze recently due to the endorsement of many celebrities. Although this has been touted as a new fad, it is actually based on a diet millions of years old. In other words, it is what the cavemen used to eat. The reason it works is because it is designed around the most natural unprocessed foods, foods which our body is designed to easily digest. During the paleolithic days, there was no obesity or degenerative diseases. Cavemen were required to have boundless energy to hunt for the family. These are the outcomes which people who go on the Paleo diet experience.
But, if you are anything like me, hearing about a new diet just brings about depressing thoughts of what I will not be able to eat. The Paleo diet is no exception. But, with the long list of benefits that were supposed to result from it, I decided to give it a try. I was surprised at the wealth of available recipes that did not involve boiled vegetables and cardboard-like tasting dinners. In fact, I was genuinely excited to try out some of the recipes I found. They looked much more colourful and delicious than what I was already eating. If I could become healthier from it, then all the better.
Benefits of the Paleo Diet
Paleo diet fanatics report leaner muscles, smoother skin, improved stamina and more energy. They also claim to have improved libido, greater mental clarity and not suffer from the cravings normally associated with dieting. When you put aside processed foods, all the contradicting nutritional claims made by food manufacturers and really go back to the caveman style of eating, you will no doubt see the improvement in every aspect of your health. The Paleo diet has become one of the fastest growing diet fads because the results speak for themselves.
In addition, there is more and more scientific evidence that it is not fat in the diet that is causing all the chronic lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular inflammation, diabetes and high blood pressure. It is, in fact, sugar that is most harmful to our diet! This means that the Paleo diet's focus on meats and vegetables while cutting out simple sugars and starches fits into this current health trend being advocated by doctors.
It has been concluded that, during the normal course of the day, our body metabolises sugars as our primary source of energy. Fats are our body's second choice of energy source if sugars are not available. The excess sugars which cannot be fully metabolised are then stored as fat. The next day, the cycle repeats itself and so on. This means that the body keeps storing fat as long as excessive sugars are ingested. This also means that as long as we are including carbohydrates in our diet, it will be extremely difficult for us to lose weight and lose fat. This is one of the reasons why many dieters fail to stick to their plan. They experience this yo-yo effect in their weight and keep succumbing to cravings and mood swings after a drop in their blood sugars.
The Paleo diet includes lots of fish and seafood which will increase omega-3 fatty acids in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best anti-aging supplements available as it targets the telomeres that causes cell death. This, and the other easily available anti-aging supplements, has been further explained in another article of mine on Infobarrel. It also focuses on getting more fiber in the diet, acquiring vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetable sources, and more protein to maintain muscle bulk.
I found that I did see some good overall results while on the Paleo diet. I felt fuller for a longer time and this led to less unhealthy snacking in between meals. I did have less cravings and better skin. I also lost some weight which was great!
My personal opinion is that any diet should not be commenced with the sole purpose of losing weight. Maintaining a good diet should be undertaken for its health benefits first and then any weight loss that comes with it will be a pleasant surprise. If you are in it for the health benefits, then you are much more likely to stick the diet rather than give up if your weight loss becomes stagnant.
There are more than enough Paleo recipes out there to stop you from feeling bored or restricted while you are on this diet. Even before starting, I already loved omelettes and fruits. So it was such a big plus to have those included in the allowed list of the foods. I also let myself have a cheat day once in a while. I think that while the Paleo diet does have its pros, I do not wholeheartedly agree with cutting out whole food groups. I love pasta and couldn't bear the thought of never having spaghetti carbonara again. But, even though I only followed the diet 85% of the time, I still saw good results.
I prefer my modified Paleo diet much more than the original one. My modified version is basically just focusing on learning more about how my body is designed to digest certain foods better than others and trying to source whole unprocessed foods like grass-fed meats, fish and organic vegetables. I have not eliminated carbohydrates completely, just reduced it to a minimum. In fact, most fruits and nuts have some amount of carbohydrates anyway. So, even if you stick to the Paleo diet 100%, you wouldn't be cutting out sugars totally. The idea is just to make sure not to ingest excessive carbohydrates so as to prevent insulin resistance. There is no one-size-fits-all for the Paleo diet. It's about tuning in to your body and seeing how it feels when you exclude and include certain foods. You can definitely have fun experimenting with it!
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