Paleo Diet Review
The Paleo Diet involves eating the same food that cavemen ate thousands of years ago. It has skyrocketed to popularity over the last few years, fuelled by celebrity endorsements from Matthew McConaughey, Kobe Bryant, Miley Cyrus, and many others.
Some see the Paleo Diet as the world’s oldest “fad” diet. It’s based on the idea that humans were perfectly healthy in Paleolithic times, and many diseases only became a problem after the Agricultural Revolution. Supporters of the diet claim that reverting to caveman foods is a great way to lose weight, build lean muscle, and improve our cardiovascular health.
Why are dieters throwing 12,000 years of food science in the garbage? Find out today in our paleo diet review.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet is a diet which involves eating many of the same foods cavemen ate. It’s called the “paleo” diet because it’s based on human eating habits from the Paleolithic era.
Some people call the Paleo diet the caveman diet, Stone Age diet, or hunter-gatherer diet.
History of the Paleo Diet
The diet was first mentioned in 1975 when a dietician named Walter Voegtlin published a book called The Stone Age Diet.
Ten years later, two researchers published a paper on Paleolithic nutrition in the New England Journal of Medicine. That paper sought to explain the medical science behind the Paleolithic diet and the implications of following that diet.
Throughout the 1990s, a number of other papers were published on the effectiveness of the Paleo diet and its various benefits. Despite this research, however, it never really gained much popularity outside of academia.
That all changed in 2010. In 2010, a dietician named Dr. Loren Cordain published a book called The Paleo Diet. Dr. Cordain also filed a trademark application for The Paleo Diet. Dr. Cordain calls himself the world’s leading expert on Paleolithic diets and claims to be the founder of the Paleo Movement.
After that book was published, the Paleo diet exploded with popularity. In 2013 and 2014, the Paleo diet was the most-searched diet on Google. In 2015, the Paleo diet has showed no signs of slowing down.
How Does the Paleo Diet Work?
The Paleo diet is based off the idea that humans are still wired for the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Humans lived a successful and healthy lifestyle for the 2 million years prior to the Agricultural Revolution, which occurred just 12,000 years ago.
The earliest human fossil was found 2.3 million years ago. The earliest modern humans – Homo sapiens – emerged 250,000 to 400,000 years ago. For over 2.3 million years, humans successfully lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, subsisting off wild fruits, plants, and animals.
Then, 12,000 years ago, our hunter-gatherer lifestyle abruptly came to an end: the Agricultural Revolution occurred and humans began to form cities and nations.
The Agricultural Revolution brought a lot of advantages, but it also brought many downsides: rates of human disease and illness increased. Some of these diseases were attributed to crowded cities and lack of sanitation. Other diseases, however, may have been linked to our ingestion of processed grains: something the human body had never ingested before.
Ultimately, this history lesson leads Paleo diet enthusiasts to the following conclusion: the human body has not evolved to a point where it can handle processed grains, sugars, alcohol, and other modern foods.
In other words, the physiology and metabolism of modern humans is still wired for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. By following the paleo diet, we can enjoy considerable health benefits, including everything from weight loss to fewer allergies.
Paleo Diet Foods and Recipes
The key idea behind the Paleo diet is eating foods that were eaten during the Paleolithic era while avoiding “modern” foods that were created after the Agricultural Revolution.
Simply speaking, the Paleo diet can be broken down as follows:
What To Eat: Fruits, Vegetables, Lean Meats, Seafood, Healthy Fats, Nuts, And Seeds.
What To Avoid: Grains, Processed Food, Processed Sugars, Dairy, Legumes, Starches, And Alcohol.
If You’re Following The Paleo Diet, Trying Eating The Following Types Of Foods:
— Popular Meats Include Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, And Pork.
— Popular Types Of Fish And Seafood Include Wild-caught Salmon, Trout, Shrimp, Shellfish, And Haddock.
— Popular Types Of Eggs Include Free-range, Pastured, Or Omega-3 Enriched Eggs.
— Popular Types Of Vegetables Include Broccoli, Kale, Peppers, Onions, Carrots, Tomatoes, Etc.
— Popular Fruits Include Apples, Bananas, Pears, Avocados, Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, And Oranges.
— For Nuts And Seeds, Try Eating Macadamia Nuts, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Sunflower Seeds, And Pumpkin Seeds.
— Popular Tubers Include Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, And Yams.
— Popular Healthy Fats And Oils Include Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Lard, And Tallow.
— Popular Spices Include Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt, Garlic, Rosemary, Turmeric, And Any Other Spices Which Grow Naturally In The Wild (like Most Herbs).
At the same time, you’ll need to avoid many of the popular foods you like, including bread, pasta, beans, milk, cheese, soft drinks, candy, soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, trans fats (like in margarine), artificial sweeteners, and any processed foods which are labelled as being “diet” or “low fat” or have long lists of weird chemical ingredients.
Some people also ignore the “no alcohol” requirement of the Paleo diet and will enjoy the occasional glass of red wine. Red wine is rich with antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients, although dieters should be careful not to overindulge.
Health Benefits of the Paleo Diet
Paleo diet enthusiasts love to tell you about the unique benefits of the Paleo diet. Most diets help you lose weight and improve cardiovascular health. The Paleo diet, however, does all that and more.
Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy while taking the Paleo diet:
— Stable Blood Sugar
— Burn Away Stored Fat
— More Efficient Workouts And Better Lean Muscle Gains
— Fewer Allergies
— Balanced Energy Throughout The Day
— Improved Sleep Patterns
— Clearer Skin And Better Teeth
— Reduced Risk Of Disease, Illness, And Inflammation Throughout The Body
It’s pretty easy to see where these benefits come from. Fruits and vegetables are rich with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fibers. All of these compounds have been linked to a reduced risk of disease along with better overall health.
Meanwhile, lean meats are the best way to build strong bodies. The protein in lean meats supports healthy bones and better immune system functionality while also leaving you satisfied between meals. Lean meat provides all of these benefits while minimizing fats and cholesterol – two of the reasons why red meats are bad for you.
Finally, the Paleo diet provides powerful health benefits because of the healthy fats dieters get from nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish oil, and grass-fed meat. Healthy fats like monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to reduced rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline.
Counter-Arguments Against the Paleo Diet
There’s a huge debate in the nutritional community about the merits of the Paleo diet. The primary argument against the paleo diet is that the human body is more adaptable than Paleo dieters assume.
Even if we’re still evolutionally wired to live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, our bodies are flexible enough to handle all different types of foods.
Here are some of the other arguments against the Paleo diet:
— Our ancestors had an average life expectancy between 40 to 60 years of age. They didn’t get old enough to develop so-called “diseases of affluence”.
— The problems with a modern diet – like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease – aren’t directly caused by grains and other processed foods. Instead, most of our health problems boil down to consuming more energy than we expend, something that wasn’t an issue for hunter-gatherer populations.
— The Paleo diet is unattainable today due to artificial selection. Specifically, the plants and wildlife our ancestors consumed no longer exist today. Our modern domesticated plants and animals are significantly different from the plants and animals that existed during Paleolithic times.
One of the biggest counter arguments against the Paleo diet is that it’s expensive and difficult to follow. In 2014, the U.S. News & World Report ranked the Paleo diet tied for last place out of 34 diets. Diets were ranked based on their health benefits, scientific evidence, and ease of following.
Conclusion: Should You Take the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet is one of the world’s most popular diets. It involves replacing unhealthy processed foods with more natural choices.
Scientists and nutritionists disagree, however, about why the Paleo diet works. Most evidence suggests that the Paleo diet doesn’t actually replicate what our ancestors ate, and that it’s just a catchy name for a healthy diet based on good fats and lean protein.
The Paleo diet is also one of the world’s most difficult and expensive diets to follow. Cutting all processed grains and sugars out of your diet is harder than you think. Buying wild meats and organic fruits and vegetables can be very expensive when you’re not actually hunting, fishing, and foraging these foods on your own.
If none of those hurdles dissuade you, then the Paleo diet may be your next new favorite diet.