As trendy as the paleo diet sounds, it represents a very old way of choosing what to eat. The diet, also called a caveman diet, was Google’s most searched for weight loss method in 2013. What is it about then?
The paleo diet consists of foods that can be hunted, fished or gathered. These foods are meat and seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and herbs and spices. It’s a system based on the assumed eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the paleolithic era, before the development of agriculture around 10,000 years ago.
The paleo diet therefore excludes cereal grains, such as wheat and dairy, refined sugar, potatoes and salt – as well as anything that’s been processed – is completely off the plate.
The paleo diet is believed to be a long-term healthy eating plan that can help it’s followers lose weight and even reduce the risk of some diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. As most studies on the paleo diet are small, more long-term research is therefore needed to conclusively show any real results regarding health benefits from following the diet.
The definite positive side of following such diet is that it promotes eating less processed food and more fruit and vegetables, which is in accordance with the Government Eatwell Plate model. As with all diets that restrict consuming high-calorie foods, they reduce total intake of calories, which in turn helps you to lose weight. Another good aspect of the diet is that it doesn’t force you to count calories and therefore is simple to follow and even allows for some flexibility, such as the “80/20” rule. This means that you follow the diet 80% of the time, which makes the diet easier to stick to and you’re more likely to be successful.
Cons: As there are no accurate records of the diet our Stone Age ancestors enjoyed, the paleo diet is based on educated guesses about what might’ve been part of the caveman’s diet in the day. Most versions of the diet encourage followers to eat a large amount of meat, which doesn’t comply with current health advice on eating meat. Because many forms of the diet ban wholegrains and dairy, which form a part of a healthy, balanced diet, it’s not suitable for vegetarians, as meat, eggs and seafood have to be included in the diet.
All in all, most variations of the diet exclude key food groups from menu and therefore causing a potential nutritional deficiency – unless thorough substitutions are made. Dietary supplementation may be necessary. The diet doesn’t offer too much variety and can get boring quickly, which might make sticking to it impossibly difficult. As a conclusion, the diet does have positive aspects to it, but to be healthier, an adapted version of the diet that doesn’t ban any food groups would be a better choice.