In The Diet World Right Now The Caveman Is King.
The Paleo Diet is all the rage promising weight loss, reduced risk of lifestyle diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, improved athletic performance and increased libido. The book shelves at Barnes & Noble’s are over flowing with titles on the diet itself and cookbooks that show you how to cook like a caveman.
The basic principle is this: eating foods that mimic the foods our hunter gatherer ancestors would have eaten will make you healthier and help you lose weight. The Paleo Diet revolves around eating fruits and vegetables, grass produced meats, seafoods, eggs, seeds and nuts. You should remove or severely limit your intake of cereal grains, legumes (beans and peanuts), dairy, potatoes and processed food. On the surface it’s hard to argue with the premise of this diet because if these are the foods you evolved to eat they must be what’s healthy for you, right? Well that’s assuming that humans have stopped evolving which isn’t the case. We as a species are still evolving and part of our evolution has been our ability to eat diary and grains. But does our body do a good job of processing these foods? The answer to that question depends on the person. I have talked with many people who swear by this diet. They say that they have more energy, sleep better, their skin cleared up and they had their cholesterol levels stabilize. Others didn’t notice any changes. I’ve heard people say that this is just an Adkins diet retread but that’s really not the case. The Paleo Diet focuses much more on fresh fruits and non starchy vegetables as well as grass fed and pastured meats, eggs and wild caught fish.
The upside of this program is that it’s pretty darn healthy. You eat tons of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and salads as well as the healthiest meat products on the planet. The diet steers you away from overly-processed foods and sugars while steering you towards healthy fats.
This diet has a couple of downsides. One is its lack of grains and dairy. If you’re one of those people who love bread, pasta, milk, yogurt and cheese this nutritional plan can be tough to stick with. Another down side is this diet can be expensive. Grass fed and pastured meats, eggs and wild caught fish can be pricey and are a main component to most meals. There’s also a learning curve when it comes to cooking, though the sheer number of Paleo Diet cookbooks out there should make learning how to cook the caveman way a little easier (I thought our ancestors just stuck their food on a sharp stick and held it over the fire).
I had my own personal experience with this diet. Awhile back I re-injured my back and was unable to exercise for 8 months. During that time I gained almost 15 pounds. I decided I needed to do something about my weight so I started doing the Paleo Diet; in less than 2 months I had lost all the weight without the benefit of exercise. I doubt that my experience is typical and in all honesty for me adhering to the diet was pretty easy because I’m not much of a bread guy. All I really had to do was replace the rice, potato or pasta that my wife would have and add an extra helping of vegetables instead. The hardest thing for me was giving up beer…come to think of it, that may be how I lost the weight!
Kent Burden is the creator of the “Workout at Work” e-book series. The first two books in the series are “Workout at Work: 25 Upper Body Strength Exercises with Resistance Bands to do at Your Desk,” and “Workout at Work: 25 Lower Body Strength Exercises to do at Your Desk.” Other recent books include “Exercise Sucks! The Secret to Losing Weight Without Really Trying” and “Is Your Chair Killing You?” All of Kent’s books are available at www.amazon.com