Paleo Diet: Pros and Cons
The idea behind the Paleo Diet is that our bodies were genetically designed to eat as our cavemen ancestors did. Therefore, the diet shuns processed and pre-packaged foods and instead encourages the dieter to embrace lean meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and seafood. Starchy vegetables are out, though, as are sugars, grains, salty foods, dairy, legumes, fatty meats, beans, and processed foods.
It probably sounds extreme and in a lot of ways, it is, though there is plenty to appreciate here. The majority of Americans consume a poor diet and culling sugary, fatty, processed foods is a step we could all afford to make.
We have allowed a lot of additives to creep into our daily diets and replace the vitamins and minerals that we so desperately crave. So, a diet that encourages you to avoid all that and stick to the basics has some merit. So, with all that being said – what are the pros and cons of following a Paleo Diet?
You will eat much cleaner because of the processed foods being cut from your diet.
Due to the balance of protein and fat, you will find yourself feeling fuller and for much longer.
Reduced inflammation as many of the foods you will eat from nature are anti-inflammatory.
An increase in iron intake, provided you are eating red meat (lean).
You will lose weight, simply because of the restrictions on junk food and foods that typically fuel weight gain.
Increase in potassium which supports both liver and heart health.
It revolves around the consumption of healthy fats, which your body needs to function properly.
Its restrictive nature can make it difficult to maintain long-term.
It's a difficult option for vegetarians.
The lack of beans and grains makes it difficult to balance your diet properly.
It's difficult for athletes to get their carb count right when they are fueling with just vegetables and fruits.
The allowed portions often exceed the daily recommended allowance.
You may experience higher grocery bills, as meat and fish can get expensive.
WebMD points to a variety of studies which found that the Paleo Diet might be helpful in treating a variety of illnesses (https://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/paleo-diet), including acne, heart disease, inflammation, weight loss, and high blood pressure. If you have one of these medical issues you should speak to your primary care physician about whether the Paleo Diet is right for you.
It certainly isn't the perfect diet, but there is no harm in cutting processed, junk food from your diet. You will instantly feel better once your body has had time to purge the toxins you've been feeding it (though you may experience a withdrawal headache).
In fact, a study from the University of Lund (on A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease, Lindeberg, et al) found that the Paleo Diet was more effective at stabilizing blood sugar and stimulating weight loss when compared to the Mediterranean diet. The Paleo Diet has also been found to improve blood lipids, blood pressure, glucose tolerance, and per calorie, it is more satisfying than the Mediterranean Diet.
Don't worry if it all sounds too much, there are plenty of elements of the Paleo Diet that you can borrow to create your own healthy eating lifestyle. The key to any change is diet is choosing something that you can comfortably maintain for the long-term.
After all, we know that diets don't work – it's about leading a healthy lifestyle and make lasting habit changes. So, don't forget to find time to exercise regularly and eat well.