It seems like every week there’s a new fad diet that everyone is following, but one seems to have stuck around longer than others− the paleo diet. Also known as the ‘caveman’ diet, the paleo diet attempts to get you to eat the way humans did 150,000 years ago. As with any fad diet, there are supporters and deniers. What’s the consensus on the paleo diet? Is it just another fad, or is it, in fact, helping you get healthier?
The Paleo Pros
Many fads center around cutting something out of your diet. For some, it’s sugar. For others, it’s meat. In the case of the paleo diet, you’re told to cut out any foods that entered our diet in the last 10,000 years. This includes grains, legumes, dairy, and refined sugar.
This only works in principle. Foods have changed drastically in the last thousand years, let alone the last 10,000, so it’s almost impossible to eat exactly like humans would have back then. Instead, it’s necessary to look at the paleo diet for what it really is− cutting out refined sugars, grains, and processed foods. When you cut out unhealthy processed foods, you’re left with fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean meats, and oils high in antioxidants, like olive and walnut oil.
All the approved paleo foods, like fruits and vegetables, are fantastic sources of antioxidants and fiber. Nuts and seeds (in moderation) are a great source of protein. Unprocessed, lean meats like pork and fish contain healthy fats and are complete proteins.
Opponents of the diet don’t claim that eating unprocessed foods is bad, or that eating fruits and vegetables raw is worse than eating them cooked; however, there are some downfalls to this (very) old-school diet.
The Paleo Cons
It is ideal to get all the nutrition your body needs directly from your food; vitamin and mineral supplements should always be secondary. When it comes to the paleo diet, although most of the foods you are cutting out have little to no nutritional value, like processed meats and sugar, you’re cutting out some important nutrients as well.
Take legumes, for instance. Beans, lentils, and peanuts, when combined with a grain like wheat, rice, or corn, make up a complete protein. This means that eating these two foods together provides your body with all nine amino acids essential for producing protein. Legumes are also extremely high in antioxidants, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Combining them with wheat or another grain (things banned from the paleo diet) is a great way to get the benefits of meat without all the fat and cholesterol. The paleo diet also removes dairy, which is a great source of protein and calcium.
One of the main arguments for the paleo diet is that human beings 150,000 years ago didn’t have the ability to digest lactose and grains. While this is true to an extent, we also didn’t have tomatoes, oranges, or cantaloupe back then. All modern food has come into being in the last thousand years or so. Over time, the majority of us have evolved the ability to digest lactose and wheat, and foods containing them make up a large part of our modern diet.
If you do decide to ‘go paleo,’ you have to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to need to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to make up for the nutrients you’re losing from other sources. For some, that’s a fair trade. For others, it’s easier said than done.
Regardless of how you feel about the paleo diet, one thing’s for certain: cutting out processed food and refined sugar is an excellent way to improve your health. And when you get down to it, that’s what we all really want.
It’s common knowledge that when trying to lose weight, diet is only half the fight. Exercise is a vital part of any weight loss plan, but without proper training or guidance, exercise can be difficult and sometimes even dangerous. If you find yourself sore or injured after exercise, give Airrosti a call or visit us online to schedule an appointment. We’ll find the root cause of your pain and get you back on your feet fast because the longer you’re in pain, the less time you’ll spend doing what you love.
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