Paleo diet is now days taking off on the internet as a trend. This diet is designed to look and feel what our ancestors ate, especially during the hunting-gathering phase. This diet mainly consists of lean meats, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
It should also be noted that the paleo diet limits foods that have become common after these humans started farming, such as dairy products, legumes, and grains.
However, the question arises in one’s mind, is this diet safe?
Yes, and it does also have several benefits. However, before we understand the benefits, here are a few items that you should exclude from your consumption while on a paleo diet.
- Sugar and high fructose products are corn syrup, sugar, candy, pastries, and soft drinks.
- Grains, which also includes bread, pasta, rye, wheat, barley.
- Legumes must be avoided entirely, especially beans and lentils, amongst others.
- Dairy is an absolute no-no, especially the low-fat variety.
- Vegetable oils should also be avoided, such as soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, etc.
- Trans fats, i.e., The fat found in various processed foods, also known as hydrogenated fat, should be strictly avoided in this diet.
Here is what you can eat when on the paleo diet.
- Meats such as beef, lamb, chicken, pork, etc.
- Fish and seafood, like salmon, trout, haddock, shellfish.
- Eggs that are specifically free-range pastured or omega-3 enriched.
- Fruits such as apples, bananas, avocados, pears, oranges, etc.
- Tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Nuts and seeds including almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, and more.
The Paleo diet’s main aim is to eat only unprocessed food, which means that this diet usually is low in carbohydrates.
As you are removing processed food from your diet and avoiding high-carbohydrate foods, this diet would directly impact in reducing the body fat, subsequently, help in faster weight loss.
Increased insulin sensitivity
As most paleo foods are low on carbohydrate content, there is often a lower demand on the pancreas to produce insulin.
Hence, the paleo diet helps reduce insulin secretion and thereby improving the effectiveness of insulin. This also tends to reduce insulin resistance which happens to be the driving force of type 2 diabetes.
Improvement in heart health
The paleo diet has several benefits for the holistic health of the cardiovascular system and the heart.
This is particularly helpful for men who are suffering from diabetes, as heart diseases are one of the well-known and most common complications that a lot of diabetic’s face.
The health benefits of this healthy diet also include improved cholesterol control as well. Lower cholesterol levels in the body translate to a lower chance of any heart disease.
Provides more energy.
As you are following the paleo diet, you will only be eating foods that are low on the glycemic index. Hence, you will surely avoid the sugar crash that follows consuming foods that contain high sugar levels.
As you follow the paleo diet, you would be eating low carbohydrate and low glycemic index foods, particularly foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
This may protect you against excess inflammation in the body—the lower the inflammation, the lower the risk for health problems, including type 2 diabetes.
How do you start a paleo diet?
Firstly, you would need to consult with a dietician before making the switch to the paleo diet.
In a very general sense, the paleo diet consists of high levels of fat, moderate levels of animal protein, and low to moderate levels of carbohydrates. Hence you don’t have to count your calories nor control your portions.
Below listed is a sample menu that you could use, to begin with this diet. This diet plan consists of a balanced amount of paleo-friendly foods.
However, this is only a sample; you could adjust the below menu based on your preferences and the recommendations that your dietician has given you.
Eggs and vegetables that are shallow fried in coconut oil, along with a single piece of fresh fruit, preferably banana.
Chicken Salad drizzled with olive oil, nuts (around 40 grams) (if you have an allergy, switch to having a piece of fruit)
Salmon seared in a pan with butter and a side of boiled vegetables, preferably salted.
Do note that there is no need to track the calories or the macronutrients in this diet as of now; this is something you may need to do at a later stage.
If you intend to lose weight using the paleo diet, make sure that you tweak this meal plan in such a way that you are essentially cutting down the carbohydrates.
It is also strongly recommended that you consult a physician/nutritionist for tweaking the diet according to your body and fitness levels.
Obviously, like any diet, there are several myths that surround the paleo diet as well. Here we try to debunk a few of these myths.
It is a meat-only, unbalanced diet.
This is entirely untrue; although meat is primarily part of this diet, it only constitutes only a small portion. This diet also consists of a lot of vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
According to a study, it was also noted that paleo dieters tend to eat a lot more plant-based food when compared to others.
This diet is a fad.
Like every new thing that emerges in the sphere of health and nutrition, there have been several people that have produced baseless claims that this diet is a fad.
However, the paleo diet traces its roots back to when the early man was a hunter-gatherer. The paleo diet’s fundamental tenet is to eat only what the human body was initially designed to consume.
Furthermore, there are several pieces of research and studies that prove the efficiency of the paleo diet.
It is expensive to follow.
Some people do have the misconception that this diet is expensive and is only reserved for the elite. However, there is no substantial truth in this claim. The finances of this diet mostly boil down to preference.
You don’t have to choose the good cuts of meat; you could always prefer economic ones, which contain the same value of nutrients. Also, you could switch up the diet by replacing meat with fish to save money.
A few documented side effects have been noticed in groups of men with specific comorbidities.
Low blood sugar if you are using any glucose-lowering medications.
Low carbohydrate flu
Craving for foods that you’ve eliminated.
Lack of energy in the initial stages.
Change in bowel habits.
The paleo diet is a healthy and nutritional way to start your fitness routine. However, do note that you would need to consult with your physician and your dietician so as to avoid making any grave errors while you are planning and eliminating food items from your diet.
Additionally, if you have a medical history or if you are using any medication, it might be best to check how the paleo diet might affect the working of the medications.
All in all, this diet is a great diet that will help you get rid of body toxins and start your journey onto the path of fitness and health.
Author Bio:- Dr. Anuradha Nama Kodhandram, General Practitioner and Diabetologist at Corporate Hospital. Has vast experience of 32 years as a Medical Officer. https://www.linkedin.