so what is Paleo?
I have had many people ask me about the Paleo diet: what it is, if they should try it, or if its just a fad. So, I decided to dig into it a bit more and share with you.
The Paleo diet is basically constructed after what our ancestors ate, who at one time were hunter-gatherers, before there was agriculture. Some of the main elements of the diet are to have a high intake of protein and fiber and low intake of carbohydrates. The high protein part, found in meats and other animal products, is what it says to increase beyond what the american diet already intakes— up to as much as 35% of your diet as that is what our ancestors ate. In my mind, Americans already eat a lot of meat and increasing your intake of meat and animal products isn’t necessarily good for everyone. For many, eating a lot of meat can be disruptive to their digestive systems and can make some people sluggish or tired.
It says high fiber is necessary for a health diet which I agree with—it helps your digestion and carries out the toxins in your body. It says is that the highest fiber isn’t necessarily found in whole grains but non-starchy vegetables and to increase those. While I agree that you should increase your vegetable intake there are some grains that are very high in fiber and I wouldn’t cut those out completely— quinoa has about 7 grams of fiber per serving where broccoli has 3.8 grams.
It also talks about lowering sodium intake, moderate to high amounts of Omega -3 and -6, higher intake of vitamins and balancing your acid/alkaline levels in your diet. All of these areas seem to make sense and are reasonable additions/subtractions to your diet as well as reducing processed foods overall.
There are many pros to what this diet suggests but just because we descended from hunter-gathers does not mean we should eat like them. We live in a much more complex world than our ancestors, and while it would be nice to think going back to a simple diet of the past is the answer for health— it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
My journey to a healthy lifestyle has been a long one and it is ever evolving. Several years ago, I worked with a health coach similar to myself and found that protein and meats gave me a lot of energy. So my diet did actually swing to be a bit more similar to the Paleo diet. After finding out about my gluten allergy and then attending nutrition school, I became much more aware of the meat industry and what these animals go through to end up on our plate. For me, it is no longer staple in my diet for personal reasons and also environmental.
I do think the diet is a bit of a fad diet right now— the newest one that has come out that a lot of people are gravitating towards. My suggestion is if something about this diet speaks to you, try it for a few weeks. Take note of how you feel, if your mood change or overall energy. If you become sluggish or edgy, then its probably not for you. But its good to try new healthy things and keep evolving your health.