Paleo Diet: How Does it Work?

The paleo diet, a.k.a. the caveman diet, primal diet, or the hunter-gatherer diets works on a simple premise: eat as our palaeolithic ancestors did. This hugely popular fad diet came into focus a few years ago thanks to Dr. Loren Cordain’s best-selling books. The diet popularises the intake of fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood and nuts and asks followers to eliminate any kind of processed / modern food including dairy products, legumes and processed sugar.

Benefits

The palaeolithic diet is said to be beneficial as it mimics the evolutionary process that shaped our current genes. It has a healthy ratio of vitamins, fats (saturated & unsaturated), carbohydrates and proteins. As it requires you to completely refrain from any processed food, it tends to improve body composition and metabolic rates. It is by no means meant to be looked at as a temporary diet, the palaeolithic diet is a lifestyle. Lastly, exercise forms a large part of the diet. You must take concrete steps to include cardio vascular exercises into your daily routine. Our ancestors, on an average burned approximately 4000 calories a day, something even avid gym goers today struggle to achieve.

Pitfalls

The medical benefits of the paleo diet is still unproven, most medical professionals do not endorse it. It is virtually impossible for us to completely adopt all the lifestyles habits of our ancestors. Today’s climate, environment and quality of food is also considerably different from the palaeolithic era. Therefore, certain processed foods like milk and legumes become an important and necessary source of vitamins and nutrition. Lastly paleo diets are expensive and difficult to follow; the food items allowed are usually in the gourmet section of grocery stores and it’s cheaper alternatives are not allowed. Eating too much of any particular kind of food disturbs our body balance and leads to nutritional deficiencies / overdoses.

Compared to the typical western diet, the paleo diet is definitely better because it encourages the consumption of food that’s good for your health. However, their list of ‘allowed’ foods is limited and impractical for everybody to follow. Given that it is meant to be a lifestyle change and not something temporary raises the question of cost and convenience. Certain aspects of the paleo diet are great to adopt into our daily lifestyle, however we must realise that our environment is constantly changing and so something that was excellent for us centuries ago may not be sufficient today.

 

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