In the last 20 years the number of overweight people in western society has risen by an obscene amount. There are countless diets on the market promising quick fix results with minimal effort, resulting in the crash dieting culture we now live in. People are successful on these quick fix diets but majority of the time they are not maintainable. The paleo diet is a manageable and healthy alternative to the crash diet. It works with human genetics to promote energy, strength and a lean body.
What is the paleo diet?
The main premise of the paleo diet is that the lifestyle of our caveman ancestors is the most appropriate for our bodies as modern humans. During the Paleolithic era, there was limited amount and variety of food available, as a result of this we developed nutritional needs specific to what was available. Current health research supports this claim as results indicate that illnesses such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s Alzheimer’s and depression are in no small part due to the modern diet that majority of people consume on a daily basis. A diet containing high amounts of sugar trans-fat and refined food.
The main problem is fat storage. Because of the environment our ancestors lived in, where food supply was sparse and unreliable, we developed the ability to store fat to be used as energy when food was unavailable. However, nowadays in the western world food is rarely unavailable so these fat stores continue to grow causing people to become overweight and lead unhealthy lifestyles. We also have a biologically evolved taste for fat and sweetness because of the historic need to store fat. The more fat that is present in one meal the more can be stored as reserves, which is why a sweet tooth can be so difficult to curb.
Unfortunately the very evolutions that may have saved the species in the pre-modern era are the same evolutions that are killing us now. Therefore the paleo diet aims to recreate this pre-modern society where food is concerned in order to get our bodies into prime shape.
How does it work?
Many diets stick by the ideal that to losing weight is as simple as expelling more calories than you consume. In simple terms, eat les exercise more. However, working with this ideal means that there is no distinguishing between calories. Some calories are harmful but there are also some that are nourishing. It also doesn’t take nutrient partitioning into account. There are two parts to nutrients partitioning.
- Body fat set point – Every person has a natural level for the body fat that their body needs to maintain. If you go too far under this point, your body fights back by restraining energy expenditure and making you constantly hungry in an effort to gain more fat.
- Nutrient set point – If your body is not getting enough of the nutrients in needs from food, the consequences will be the same as going below your body fat set point. So, even if you are overweight if your diet consists of processed food with minimal nutritional value then your body will continue to react as if it’s hungry, prompting you to continue eating and as a result storing fat.
So because of nutrient partitioning eating less is not the best prescription for weight loss. In this regard the paleo diet aims to work with the body instead of fighting against it, giving it the nutrients it needs and reducing the need to store fat.
What to eat / what not to eat
It’s simple really. Reduce the amount of refined processed food you consume and increase the amount rich in monounsaturated and omega 3 fats.
Eat – Grass-produced/free range meat, fish and seafood, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Don’t Eat – Grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, salt, processed foods.
The Paleo diet offers a clean living, healthy and maintainable alternative to the common contenders on the market currently, getting our bodies back into the optimal condition they were meant to be in.