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The Paleo Diet and Leah's Weight-Loss Story

18 September, 2014

Paleo

The Paleo Diet and Leah’s Story

 

Leah Williamson, Brisbane Paleo Group

THE PALEOLITHIC DIET. 

The paleo diet, also commonly known as the ‘Primal’, ‘Stone Age’, ‘Caveman’ or ‘Hunter-Gatherer’ diet is often misrepresented and misunderstood. Everyone seems to have their own opinion as to what the paleo diet is and what you can and can’t eat when on the diet. This has caused great confusion within society and thus still poses the question for many; What is the Paleo Diet?

The thing about the paleo diet is that it is not a “new” diet, it is a modern approach to the presumed diet of the Palaeolithic humans. It was developed by Loren Cordain, PhD, a researcher from Colorado State University, who started doing studies in the 1970s. He believes that the paleo diet is the way humans were genetically designed to eat. It is a diet that is centred on fish, grass-fed, pasture-raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots and nuts. The diet recommends that you avoid any foods that are thought to not have been available to humans during the Palaeolithic era. This includes grains, legumes, dairy products, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils – basically anything that is perceived to be an agricultural product.

Some people refer to the paleo diet as a ‘fad diet’, however unlike most fad diets there is some scientific evidence to support some of the claims that the paleo diet makes. According to Robb Wolf, former research biochemist and now New York Times best-selling author of ‘The Paleo Solution – The Original Human Diet’ believes that the paleo diet is;

“The healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, ophthalmology, dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and infertility”.

PROS OF THE PALEO DIET.

There are many reasons why people choose to adopt the paleo diet. The paleo diet is rich in soluble fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, phytochemicals, omega-3, fatty acids, monounsaturated fat, and low-glycemic carbohydrates. It is also gluten-free and low in added sugars, Trans fats and salt. Some of the benefits that people following the paleo diet have experienced include;

BENEFITS:

Increased and more stable energy levels

Improved sleep

Clearer skin and healthier looking hair

Mental clarity

Improved mood and attitude

Improvements in those suffering depression or anxieties

Less or no bloating, decreased gas

Sustained weight loss

Muscle growth; increased fitness

Lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer

Higher immune function and a general feeling of well being

Improved glucose tolerance; decreased insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity

Improved lipid profiles

Healthier gut flora

Better absorption of nutrients from food

Reduced allergies

Paleo diet is anti-inflammatory, most people experience reduction of pain associated with inflammation

Improvements in those with respiratory problems such as asthma

Most nutritionist would agree that the paleo diet is at least doing one thing right: that being cutting down the on processed foods that have been highly modified from their original wholefood state through various methods of processing. It would be agreed that such processed foods have a lower nutritional content then unprocessed foods and can also be packed with high levels of sodium and preservatives which may increase a person’s risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

CONS OF THE PALEO DIET.

Some nutritionists would argue that the paleo diet ignores the benefits of many plant-based foods such as; fruit, nuts, whole grains and legumes and also dairy products including milk and yoghurt. Some disadvantages to the diet include;

DISADVANTAGES/RISKS:

It lacks healthy nutrients such as vitamin D and Calcium (supplied in dairy products). These can be known to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis, fractures and other bone issues

The paleo diet can be very expensive

Can be a difficult diet for vegetarians

If foods and nutrients are taken away and are not substituted with a suitable replacement a nutritional imbalance can be created

May not be a suitable diet for most athletes as they generally need 3 to 6 grams of carbs per pound of their body weight, per day. This can be difficult to do with just fruit and vegetables

Not eating any grains, whole or otherwise can be detrimental to your energy levels and general health

The diet can be ultra-restrictive

Can be hard for many people to maintain over a long period of time, which can lead to yo-yo dieting and poor overall health

CONCLUSIONS.

In the big picture it is up to the individual to decide if the paleo diet is for them. Each person is different and parts of the diet may suit some people and not others. However I feel that nearly all of us would benefit from taking some of the paleo “themes” and applying them to our lives. For example; eat more vegetables, less carbohydrates, less sugar and only grass-fed, pastured-raised meats and sustainably-raised fish and poultry. With a very simple shift we not only remove the foods that do not necessarily agree with our bodies but we also increase our intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. 

To meet up with other people that are trying the Paleo diet visit;

Brisbane: http://www.meetup.com/Paleo-Brisbane/

Gold Coast: http://paleo-diet.meetup.com/cities/au/gold_coast/ 

Melbourne: http://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-Paleo/ 

Sydney: http://www.meetup.com/Paleo-Sydney/ 

Adelaide: http://www.meetup.com/Paleo-Life-Group-Adelaide/ 

Perth: http://www.meetup.com/Perth-Paleo/ 

Darwin: http://www.meetup.com/Paleo-in-Darwin/ 

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