The Paleo Diet: How It Works? Is This Safe?
The Paleo diet appeals to imagination because it is based on what our ancestors ate. It is also a diet with a large number of followers, not in the least because of the specific lifestyle and striking food choices. By eating in the Paleo way, many people have already lost weight. Nevertheless, the Paleo diet is not without criticism. So it is high time to go into this more deeply. We discuss, among other things, the effect of this diet, give Paleo tips and an example of a Paleo scheme.
The origin of the Paleo Diet
In order to be able to explain the Paleo diet and its backgrounds, we first have to go back a bit in our history to the “paleolithic”, or the old stone age . Now you also know where the name “Paleo diet” is derived from. The old stone age began about 2.5 million years ago when the then man began to use stone tools. These people were the so-called hunter-gatherers. They lived from hunting and fishing and gathered plants and fruits, for example.
The diet of the hunter-gatherer
The diet of these primal people therefore consisted mainly of meat, fish, fruits, seeds, nuts, and plants and roots. All foods were unprocessed and naturally raw, because they did not yet have access to fire. This remained so until about a 12 thousand years ago when the paleolithic came to an end.
Little is left of this hunter-gatherer diet today. Especially under the influence of the industrial revolution, the change in our dietary habits has gained momentum. Our food is now mostly (industrially) processed and provided with all kinds of additives before we finally get it in our hands.
Our current diet and Paleo
The Paleo diet assumes that our eating habits have changed so quickly that evolution has not been able to keep up with this. We have therefore just turned the evolution off too quickly. For example, today we consume an excess of (refined) sugars, salt, fat and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
The body can not process all this, resulting in the development of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and various autoimmune diseases to name a few.
What can you eat at the Paleo diet?
The Paleo diet means that your diet is as natural as possible. Eating like our ancestors in prehistoric times. This strictly implies that, for example, dairy , grain and carbohydrates (sugars) can not occur in the diet.
What you can eat:
- Vegetables (preferably organically grown)
- Fish and seafood
- Natural oils
- Fresh meat (beef, chicken, lamb, pig, turkey etc.)
The Paleo diet and its characteristics
The following general characteristics characterize the diet of our distant ancestors and thus also the Paleo diet:
1. Relatively higher protein intake (20 to 30%)
These are obtained from meat, fish and seafood.
2. Lower intake of carbohydrates
Good carbohydrates are obtained from the consumption of starch-free fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. These carbohydrates are slowly digested by the body, so that they do not cause peaks in the blood sugar value.
3. More fiber intake
Fibers ensure, among other things, that our intestines stay clean and function properly and help to reduce the ‘bad’ cholesterol level (LDL). Fresh vegetables and fruits are great sources of fiber.
4. Unsaturated fats
Especially the so-called trans-fats must be avoided. These are fats that originate from an artificial hydrogenation process and therefore do not occur naturally. It is these fats that are especially harmful to humans. So natural products never contain trans fats! Unsaturated fats are the best, so take it easy with the (natural) saturated fats.
5. More potassium and less sodium
Potassium is important for good heart and kidney function. In unprocessed fresh food, on average, there is 5 to 10 times more potassium than sodium. Disturbing this balance by adding extra salt (NaCl) to our diet can cause problems such as high blood pressure.
Higher intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
By replacing foodstuffs that have been processed at the factory for fresh fruit and vegetables and other natural products.
Is the Paleo diet safe?
The Paleo diet is a healthy diet, but here also applies: everything in moderation. Try to find a good balance. For example, do not eat only meat, nuts or fruit . The diet works because it is a balanced whole that contains everything our body needs. The most important thing is that you avoid the bad carbohydrates such as pasta, bread and potatoes and you will feel hungry with protein-rich food.
A few more at a glance:
- No carbohydrates (or very moderate)
- Many proteins, such as meat or fish
- No candy and junk food!
- Eat fresh fruit and fresh vegetables.
- Only boil the vegetables for a short while so that vitamins are not lost.
- Make dressings with natural oils
- Raw vegetables salads
5 Special Paleo tips
Here are some useful tips when you follow the Paleo diet.
1. Make it easy for you. Provide delicious recipes (also see the recommendation at the bottom of this article) and pleasant daily menus. As long as you eat well, the Paleo diet also stays fun immediately. If you are not a cooking fan, you can still prepare a lot of simple dishes, as many Paleo recipes are based on simplicity. Of course, it is a good skill to lose weight with others. Not only for motivation, but it is also fun to exchange recipes and experiences with each other.
2. Know what to expect. The first weeks you will get withdrawal symptoms because your body will “miss” the carbohydrates. Known symptoms are headache, weakness and dizziness. These effects are not very strong but sometimes noticeable. This is normal. As soon as you are through the first few weeks you will see that it becomes a lot easier.
3. In order to make the Paleo diet too expensive, you can eat with the seasons. Vegetables are much cheaper at certain times of the year, as long as the supply is large. By eating with the bargains you are not only cheaper, but you immediately follow the diet as our ancestors did. The products are usually also fresher. A win-win!
4. Make a list based on the recommended diet. Also make a list of the food that you really can not eat with the Paleo diet. Make sure that your kitchen is completely free of this last group and get the recommended food in the house. Then keep making sure that bad food has no place in your house.
5. Prick a date on which you want to start with the Paleo diet and plan the first month in any case. Stick to this. It is a fairly strict diet in the sense that you have to convert many eating habits that you are used to. So prepare well with a schedule, daily schedules and recipes.
One last tip: Our ancestors had a completely different lifestyle, so do not forget to take the necessary physical exercise!
Example of schedule for the Paleo Diet
There are many different food schedules for the Paleo diet, as you can also draw from the various nutritional list. The diagram below is an example, so you have an idea what you are going to eat with this diet.
- Breakfast: Fried eggs with bacon and some vegetables. Fry the eggs in olive oil, walnut oil or coconut oil.
- Snack: A piece of fruit, such as an orange, banana, apple or a small dish of pineapple.
- Lunch: Homemade hamburgers made from beef, minced meat or pork. A vegetarian alternative is a burger made from cauliflower, sweet potato and zucchini. In addition to the hamburger, eat a salad of cucumber, tomato and avocado with a vinaigrette dressing.
- Snack: A dozen nuts, for example almonds or pecans.
- Dinner: Fried fish, such as salmon fillet or cod in an oriental way. Here a mixed group of stir-fried green leafy vegetables such as spinach and bok choy. Add some tasty cooked and steamed vegetables such as broccoli or parsnip.
All this finished with a nice dressing including rice vinegar, sesame and herbs.