Paleo Diet Review
Of all the low carb diets, the Paleo Diet is the strictest.
I say this first, so that anyone who is not willing to consider it can quickly move on. Several versions of this style of diet exist and since they are not exactly interchangeable, there are a few options for those who wish to explore or read further.
If you’re not familiar with the “Paleo” (Paleolithic) Diet, you may have heard instead of the Caveman Diet, or NeanderThin, or the Primal Blueprint. These are plans based on eating plants and wild animals similar to what cavemen are presumed to have eaten around 10,000 years ago.
Paleo Diet principles
In this Paleo Diet review, I will try to outline the principles, benefits and drawbacks of this style of eating. The concept of the Paleo Diet is to emulate, as closely as we can, the diet that was consumed by our pre-agricultural ancestors, the hunters and gatherers. In Paleolithic times, there were no grains, no sugars or processed foods, no processed oils and no dairy products. They mainly ate meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, vegetables, berries and some nuts.
Our ancestors had no exposure to the types of foods that make up such a large part of our diets today (obviously the carbohydrates are a major factor) and because of this, they did not suffer from the “diseases of affluence” that are now so prevalent – such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, obesity, certain forms of cancer, asthma and alcoholism.
Paleo Diet – foods you can’t have
The Paleo Diet advocates the exclusion of many different foods, not just carbohydrates. Like all low-carb diets, this one (in all its versions) recognizes the detrimental effect of highly processed and refined foods, but also looks in depth at the difference between the meat we may buy at the supermarket and the grass-fed beef which contains less saturated fat, and a better balance of omega 3 / omega 6 fatty acids.
There is also no dairy allowed on this diet. For me, this makes it too hard to contemplate following for any length of time. On the Insulin Resistance Diet, I was able to enjoy some cottage cheese or natural yogurt as a protein, and when your diet is restricted anyway, it’s hard to consider taking even more out of it. I would also argue (as do many experts) that dairy products contain valuable nutrients and are beneficial to our health.
Pros and cons of the Paleo Diet
- Apart from raw, it’s probably the purest form of low-carb eating we can aspire to
- Like many other low carb plans, it will curb appetite and control cravings
- It can clear up allergies and many other complaints as well as regulate insulin production and aid weight loss
- Due to the very limited choice of food items, you will not need to spend hours planning recipes…
- There is no calorie counting. You just eat from the “allowed foods”.
- You will almost certainly lose weight. For most people, the restrictions of this diet mean you will be cutting out a HUGE proportion of the food you might normally eat, and therefore a lot of calories. Any eating regimen where you stop consuming something you’d usually have regularly, whether that is pies, doughnuts, potato chips or even yogurt.. of course you will lose weight.
- The diet is highly restrictive
- Extremely difficult to sustain long term, because so much food is not acceptable on this plan
- For the same reason, it could get very boring very quickly
- I have read many reports where people have done well and felt better, but only as long as they were keeping to the plan. Once they lapsed, they regained the weight quickly and suffered as before.
- Difficult to adapt to everyday living in the modern age!
- Some of the recommended foods – organic vegetables, wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef – may not be easy to obtain and they are expensive
- Some experts claim that you would need to supplement this diet (especially with calcium and vitamin D)
- Requires a huge adjustment – even more than most low carb diets, eating this way requires an enormous change in eating habits
- Initial side effects may include fatigue, irritability, and cravings
The Paleo Diet – verdict
If you’re disciplined and don’t mind the extreme limitations of this diet, you stand a good chance of benefiting from it. It is based on sound principles and the nutrition aspect of a diet high in protein and fiber is not in question.
However, for me, the restrictions of The Paleo Diet make it unappealing, unfortunately right from the start. I have a degree of “willpower” which has been tested on many occasions (you may relate!) but I cannot foresee that I would ever be able to stick to this one for the rest of my life, despite the fact that it would no doubt do a good job of getting my insulin production quickly regulated.
Other books in this genre (including Paleo Diet cookbooks) are available at Amazon.com – click any of the images below to check them out!