The Power of a Paleo Diet
July 11, 2016 | 2,588 views
By now, you’ve probably heard of the Paleo Diet because it’s being promoted by chefs, added to menus in certain restaurants and recommended by some health experts.
But what makes the Paleo Diet appealing? Is it the fact that it can help with weight loss and health improvement? Or is it because of its emphasis on real food, minus the harmful junk?
The Basics of the Paleo Diet
There are four major food components in the Paleo Diet: lean meats (including organ meats), seafood, fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables, all of which are considered “real food.” Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans describes the Paleo Diet:
“… Eating Real Food; simple as that — food that doesn’t inflame anything in me or cause any distress in my body. I love organic fruits and vegetables (not so many fruits), and I love to know where my meat or protein source comes from.”
The Paleo Diet attempts to adhere to the food choices and eating habits of our ancestors who lived during the Paleolithic period. What they ate depended on the availability of the food and the time of year. Paleo Diet expert Loren Cordain, Ph.D. explains:
"The nutritional qualities of modern processed foods and foods introduced during the Neolithic period are discordant with our ancient and conservative genome. This genetic discordance ultimately manifests itself as various chronic illnesses, which have been dubbed ‘diseases of civilization.’
By severely reducing or eliminating these foods and replacing them with a more healthful cuisine, possessing nutrient qualities more in line with the foods our ancestors consumed, it is possible to improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease."
Common Concerns About the Paleo Diet
There are concerns about the efficacy of the Paleo Diet. The primary point of contention is the amount of protein, or more precisely the lack thereof, that is consumed in the Paleo Diet. Most carbohydrate sources aren’t allowed and are replaced with protein from lean meats. But there’s a limit to the amount of protein that you should consume, and if you’re not careful, you could easily go exceed the recommended daily amount.
Ideally, you should strive for 40 to 70 grams of protein a day. Dr. Ron Rosedale, a diet expert, advises that people should eat only one-half gram of protein per pound of their lean body weight. You can, compute the exact amount of protein you would need by finding out your lean body mass.
Determine your body fat percentage first, and subtract the value from 100. However, if you’re a pregnant woman, or a person who competes and/or aggressively exercises, you should add 25 percent more protein.
Reducing the amount of protein you eat is helpful in decreasing protein’s impact on the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a passageway that incites the growth of cancer. Thus, you end up preventing cancer growth. Another concern about the Paleo Diet is that it isn’t big on carbohydrates. Many people are concerned about consuming such a small quantity of carbs.
The Paleo Diet is about 23 percent carbohydrates. Lowering your carb intake can improve your blood cholesterol profile and decrease your triglyceride levels, but you might experience hormonal changes that can disrupt your blood lipids if you keep your carb consumption below 25 percent.
According to Dr. Paul Jaminet, an astrophysicist and author, your ability to withstand an extremely low-carb diet depends on your health. Healthy people can handle it, but those who are unhealthy may not last. Jaminet also believes that once you limit the glucose in your diet, you experience health changes.
Maximize Your Paleo Diet by Adding Healthy Fats
The Paleo Diet’s emphasis on real, organic food and dismissal of processed, unhealthy food may be a good mindset to have. But this diet is lacking in one area — healthy fats.
Healthy fats, especially saturated fats, have been vilified for ages. However, it has been proven that saturated fats have their own health benefits, which most people fail to recognize. Start adding healthy fats to your diet as soon as you can with healthy fat sources, such as:
- Raw butter made from grass-fed milk
- Organic, pastured egg yolks
- Raw nuts
- Raw dairy
- Coconut oil
- Unheated organic nut oils
- Grass-fed protein from fish and meat sources
When you add healthy fats to a diet that contains high amounts of fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, as well as moderate portions of grass-fed meats, you can experience boost your health.
This type of diet also places you in a prime position to practice intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting restricts eating time to a six- to eight-hour window, while the remainder of the day is spent fasting. It may be daunting for beginners, but intermittent fasting can be effective if you eat the right foods. Plus, you get additional health benefits as well:
- Abolishing sugar cravings because the body retrains to burn fat instead of sugar
- Enhancing mitochondrial energy efficiency
- Lowering LDL and total cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Inhibiting inflammation
- Lessening oxidative stress and cellular damage
- Regulating ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels
- Developing better metabolic efficiency and body composition
- Improving insulin and leptin levels and insulin and leptin sensitivity
Now that the basic principles of the Paleo Diet have been discussed, it is easy to see why more and more people are trying this diet. However, keep in mind that some food items are not in the Paleo Diet remain an essential to a truly healthy diet. If you’re just starting out with the Paleo Diet, always listen to your body so you can modify your diet as needed. Discover more about the Paleo Diet, as well as what experts have to say about it in my article, “The Paleo Diet — Is It Right for You?”