The Paleo Diet in a Nutshell
With the new year upon us, we are all looking to revamp our eating habits. I’m sure you have heard of the paleo diet. What is the paleo diet exactly? In this blog post, I will go over the paleo diet in a nutshell, including the pros and cons. Of course, any diet you choose is your choice ultimately, and with this information, you can decide if this is the right diet for you. Also with changing anything drastically, it’s very important to discuss this with your doctor.
The paleo diet is also known as the “caveman diet.” This basically means its a diet focused on a hunter/gather theory of what our ancestors would eat. This includes fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and nuts. So basically its nothing that is processed, boxed or canned. All fresh. With the consumption of these types of foods, this has a healthier ratio of saturated to unsaturated fatty acids, increased nutritional values, and has a balanced array of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. From the popular book, The Paleo Diet (https://thepaleodiet.com/dr-loren-cordain/) was written by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. he states, “by following these nutritional guidelines, we put our diet more in line with the evolutionary pressures that shaped our current genetics, which in turns positively influences health and well being.”
What does eating these nonprocessed foods mean? The paleo diet decreases the glycemic load by eliminating processed foods. That leads me to now explain the glycemic load. The glycemic load is: GI x carbohydrates(g)/100. For example, an apple has a GI (glycemic index) of 38 and contains 13grams of carbohydrates per serving. So this calculates to: GL=38 x 13g/100=5. The glycemic load equals 5 for the one serving of an apple. The glycemic load calculation is classified as low (10 or less), medium (11-19) and high (20 or more). According to the Glycemic Index Foundation to maintain the best results in maintaining your health, you should aim to keep your daily glycemic load under 100. So to make it easier to understand, you want to choose lower GL and GI foods. This will keep your blood glucose at a more balanced level with the carbohydrates fats and proteins digested.
Quickly I will go over what happens when we eat a meal so it all ties together. The carbohydrates we eat are absorbed into our bloodstream. When they are absorbed it produces an increase in blood glucose levels. This leads to a response in our bodies that distributes insulin. Depending on what we eat depends on how much of the hormone insulin is distributed and for how long. When we eat carbohydrates that are digested slowly it produces a more prolonged increase in blood glucose response. We want to consume carbohydrates that are digested slowly so there are no peaks in blood sugar.
Dr. Loren Cordain also states, “We don’t need to take any supplements if we operate in the environment that we operated in throughout history. Now, we obviously don’t, so…” The paleo diet is about eating foods from the ground just as our ancestors did. It can include fresh vegetables, fresh meat, fresh fruits, and seed or nuts. In the paleo diet it’s suggested to consume 35% of the total day’s calories from fats, 35% from carbohydrates, and 30% from protein. The paleo diet is not just about what foods we eat. You need to incorporate exercise to maintain a healthy body. Back in the day, there were no cars or computers. Our ancestors had to work hard to gather food, commute to places, and there were no video games or social media. The main principle of the diet is to fuel our bodies appropriately and to provide our bodies with the appropriate nutrition.
The pros of the paleo diet. Whats amazing with the paleo diet is the community. There are so many online Facebook pages, Instagram pages, support groups, and community forums. Having the accountability from others makes a huge difference in how we stay motivated. Another pro is the increase in paleo menus at restaurants. I have on many occasions gone out to eat and there will be a page of options on a paleo only menu. One of my favorites in Rhode Island is Blackies Bulldog Tavern in Smithfield. They have a great paleo menu and the food is great. Just as a FYI I had the marinated portabella and steak tips under salads, OMG AMAZING! I recommend that dish 100%. Another great pros of the paleo diet are the ability to get most of your nutrients from the food source you are consuming. You are consuming foods that are meant to be eaten. Another pro is that when cutting out processed and packed foods makes a huge difference in sodium intake. In order to preserve foods, most contain high levels of sodium. So when you cut out processed foods you decrease that number hugely.
Photo Source: dietplan-101.com
The cons of the paleo diet. One of the biggest cons is the cost. Of course, fresh foods cost much more than processed foods. So you may see a spike in your grocery bill. Another con is that you may lose some of your modernized favorite foods. Anything that comes in a box is to be avoided on the paleo diet. You will have to say good-by to crackers, cereal, alcoholic beverages, frozen meals, cookies ect. A con that can be difficult is the time it takes to meal prep. The paleo diet takes a lot of time, emergy, and money to prepare. If you choose the paleo lifestyle its like what I just said, its a LIFESTYLE.
In a nutshell the paleo diet is sometimes called the caveman diet. This basically means you stick to foods that were foraged and can be grown. The paleo diet is all about avoiding processed foods which can increase your GI or GL. So remember, the paleo diet is a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle to obtain all your nutrients and energy from foods from the earth. The most important thing with any diet is being persistent and consistent.
“What about Glycemic Load?” Glycemic Index Foundation, www.gisymbol.com/what-about-glycemic-load/.
“The Paleo Diet: Eating Modern Daily Foods in the Paleolithic Lifestyle – Page 2 of 2.” Diet Plan 101, 31 May 2017, www.dietplan-101.com/the-paleo-diet-eating-modern-daily-foods-in-the-paleolithic-lifestyle/2/.
“Everything You Need to Know About the Paleo Diet.” Health.com, www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20786451,00.html.
“Bipolar Disorder Is The Same As Hypoglycemia.” David’s Organic, 25 Feb. 2015, www.davidsorganic.com/bipolar-disorder-is-the-same-as-hypoglycemia/.