Is Paleo For Me?
Is the Paleo Diet Right For Me?
It’s hard not to find praise for the paleo diet online these days. It seems everyone and his/her mother is following the diet (and reaping the rewards).
You’re most likely reading this article now because you’re also interested in following the “paleo way of life,” but you’re not yet ready to commit.
You want to know what the paleo diet is really all about. And more importantly, you want to know if it’s a diet that will benefit your personal lifestyle.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the paleo diet (along with its biggest pros and cons) and, together, help you decide whether it’s the diet for you.
Let’s get started!
Paleo Diet 101: A Brief Overview
There are sources all over the Internet (like this one) that provide a ton of in-depth information about the paleo diet, including what it is, its history, research, etc.
Today’s article focuses more on how to decide if the paleo diet is right for you. So with that in mind, we’re going to briefly overview the paleo diet, in bullet-point form:
• It is a “caveman” diet. A diet that’s based on the presumed foods available to people who lived during the Paleolithic period (early Stone Age).
• It excludes grains, dairy, and legumes. The paleo diet frowns upon gluten-rich and high-carb foods. It also avoids dairy products due to a large percentage of the population’s lactose intolerance.
• It focuses on healthy fats and animal proteins. Meat, fowl, and fish are cornerstones of the paleo diet along with natural oils, nuts, and seeds.
• It avoids added sugars. Soft drinks, fruit juices, cookies, cereal, and just about all other processed foods are out of the question.
• It is independent of exercise. The paleo diet doesn’t require a person to exercise in order for her to experience substantial weight loss – thanks to its enhanced ability to burn more fat and less carbs.
Foods Allowed With the Paleo Diet
As I alluded to earlier, the paleo diet focuses on four main food categories: meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds. With that in mind, here are the main foods allowed with the paleo diet:
• Beef, pork, fowl, and fish. All of these food types are excellent sources of animal protein and provide your body with essential amino acids (like Omega-3s found in wild caught fish).
• Eggs. Eggs are another stellar source of protein and Omega-3s.
• Natural oils. Natural oils like olive, avocado, and coconut are one of the paleo diet’s main sources of healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats).
• Fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables both give your body essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They are also a key source of fiber. Fruit should be consumed in moderation, while vegetables can be consumed freely.
• Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are another excellent source of healthy fats and make great calorie-dense snacks in-between meals. Almonds are the most nutrient dense, but all are good options.
Foods NOT Allowed With the Paleo Diet
It would be safe to say that any foods not included in the list above (and ALL processed foods) are to be avoided when following the paleo diet.
The main foods to be avoided include:
• Grains. Bread, pasta, rice and any other grain-based products are to be avoided on the paleo diet. These carb heavy foods will affect your body’s ability to effectively burn through fat. And they’re also filled with gluten – a component that many of us can’t digest properly.
• Dairy products. Diary products like cheese, milk, butter, and yogurt contain higher amounts of carbs and promote higher insulin levels. They are also packed with lactose, a sugar that, like gluten, is not digested properly by many people.
• Legumes. Legumes, like black beans, pinto beans, etc., contain phytic acid, an acid that binds to nutrients from other foods and prevents them from being absorbed properly by the body. Add to this the sheer number of calories consumed from eating legumes and it’s clear why they don’t make the cut.
The Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet
I’d be a liar if I stated that the paleo diet doesn’t have any drawbacks. Every diet does. But its benefits tend to outweigh its drawbacks.
• No calorie counting. Calorie counting is a thing of the past with the paleo diet. Because most of the foods you eat aren’t as calorie dense, it’s very hard to eat more calories than your daily limit.
• More muscle, less fat. The paleo diet relies heavily on meat as its main protein source. And protein from animals is very anabolic in nature. That means animal proteins promote muscle growth. And the more muscle you have, the more fat your body burns.
• Great source of vitamins and nutrients. Thanks to the wide variety of fruits and vegetables available in the paleo diet, people who follow it take in far more vitamins and minerals than with other diets.
• No more processed foods. If chips and cookies are your current staple foods, switching to the paleo diet (or any other diet) is going to be difficult. But that also means no more whole-grain bread, pasta, and rice, too.
• Can get expensive. If you follow a true paleo diet (only natural and organic foods) then expect to spend a substantial amount of cash with each grocery visit.
• No dairy or legumes allowed. In addition to no processed foods or grains, you’re prohibited form consuming dairy and legumes, too. This in itself will be difficult for some. But it will be exceptionally difficult for vegetarians, who rely on both for sources of protein.
Is the Paleo Diet Right For You?
The only person who can answer that question is you.
For some, making the switch to the paleo diet will be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. For others, it will be excruciatingly difficult.
If you’re still on the fence after reading this article, here is what I propose…
Allow yourself one month to follow the paleo diet. If at the end of that month you still miss grains and dairy and legumes (or can’t tell a difference), then feel free to try something new.
Here is a link to the Best Paleo Cookbook
Ask yourself… what do you have to lose, besides a few unwanted pounds?
If you have any questions about the paleo diet, feel free to post them in the comments below!
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