What is the Paleo Diet?
Bellbottoms are proof that trends from the past can come back in style. But what about diets? In particular, a caveman diet that hunters and gatherers survived on thousands of years ago? Yep, we’re talking about the Paleo diet.
Loren Cordain is widely held as the inventor of the paleo diet, however, the idea of a Paleolithic diet was first written of in a book by Walter Voegtlin, gastroenterologist, in 1975 and then further developed through the years. Cordain’s book in 2002 revived the caveman diet’s popularity.
What is it? It’s essentially a high protein and fat diet with no refined sugars or (most) carbs. It doesn’t count calories, it just cuts out all the foods we’ve invented and processed in the last 10,000 years. Intrigued?
To determine what you can and cannot eat, just imagine yourself wearing the skin of some animal you just slaughtered with your rock that doubles as a pillow, your language is ‘gruntican’ and looking out at vast range of unindustrialized lands is how you pick what’s for dinner.
In other words, if its processed, packaged, refrigerated, canned, sprinkled, creamed, drizzled, buttered or makes your mouth to water the day before cheat day— chances are it’s not on the Paleo diet list.
Before we get to what you can eat, let’s talk about the theory behind paleo.
The History of The Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet, or the stone-age diet, was not ‘invented’ nor was it a fad. Millions of years ago, up until about 10,000 years ago, it’s how we used to eat. Literally to survive. You know how our grandparents had to walk through 3 miles of snow uphill barefoot to get to school? Well, our ancestors just did that to murder a mountain lion for dinner. Or, to pick berries, nuts or nearby fruit for fuel.
You’ve heard “eat to live, don’t live to eat” yes? Well, cave people didn’t have a choice. They ate what was available and our bodies processed that fine, so they say.
Over millions of years we’ve evolved, adapted and discovered new ways to make eating more convenient and appetizing. That is where we started our problems, so thinks paleo dieters. It is surmised in the past 10,000 years our bodies have not yet been able to adapt physiologically or metabolically to post-agricultural foods.
While our menus evolved, our bodies never truly adapted to refined sugars and simple carbs. Processed foods, preservatives and excess sodium.
The paleo diet theorizes that if we eat like we used to, we not only will lose weight, which is backed by science, we will be healthier like our cave-ancestors were.
But those teeth….. Am I right?
There have been a few short-term studies that prove the paleo diet reduces blood pressure, increases insulin sensitivity, and decreases cholesterol.
Now, if you read our carb-cycling blog, you get the science behind why low carb diets can be effective. But, just in case you didn’t, we’ll do a quick run down and then go over the additional benefits.
The Science Behind the Paleo Diet
The science behind a low carb diet is more about ketogenic responses by the body when we don’t have carbs that didn’t exist in our diets before. It promotes fat loss by forcing our bodies into a state of ketosis.
This state we reference is what paleo lovers believe is natural. Where our bodies run off fat as a fuel rather than running off glucose made from carbs. Paleo lovers believe our bodies weren’t meant to use glucose converted from carbs as fuel and attributes obesity issues to our affinity for flaky buttery biscuits and its carb siblings.
In the absence of simple carbs and refined sugars, the body will produce fuel called ketones to provide energy. The liver produces ketones from fat stored on in spare tires, muffin tops and love grips.
It’s nearly the same process as when the body goes into starvation mode, but when we consume natural proteins and good fats, we basically fuel the body like we fueled our cars when we were teens—with JUST enough gas to get where we needed to go.
This means we aren’t storing fat on our bodies for ‘future road trips’. Make sense?
But the paleo diet goes a little deeper than carb-cycling. While carb-cycling recommends good fats— it permits complex carbs. It also does not eliminate packaged or processed foods entirely. Thus, the paleo is eating like monks live-with only necessity in mind.
Are you game?
What You Can Eat on the Paleo Diet
Fresh stuffins galore is what you can eat.
Meats, fish, veggies, nuts, fruits and good fats are all on the Paleo list. But don’t be too true to the caveman way and not cook meat. Seriously—that’s dangerous!
Sorry ice cream, cupcakes, and bread—you’re off the team. No processed foods, no dairy, pretty much all grains are hands-off. Yeah, grains are natural but the process in which we make them came after agricultural processes were discovered, so none of that either. That’s the basis of the paleo diet, pre-agricultural food sources only.
For the ultimate list of what you can and can’t eat–go here to the Ultimate Paleo Diet Food List.
Now that you filled up your head muscle with some fuel, why don’t you hit the gym and get your regular muscles just as buff.
Keep on feeding your mind and fueling your muscles. Until next time, fit friend.