The Paleo diet.
An increasing number of diets have grown in popularity over the past few years: the vegan diet, intermittent fasting, the vegetarian diet, the keto diet or even the paleo diet, just to name a few.
Although all involve eating differently than we normally would, one of these diets even promotes eating like our ancestors would have: the paleo diet.
But what does this diet consist of? Which foods are authorised and which are prohibited? And more importantly, is it dangerous for your health in the long term?
What is the paleo diet?
The paleo diet is based on the dietary habits of ‘hunter-gatherers’. This involves only consuming foods that our predecessors in the Old Stone Age would have had access to.
The aim of this diet is to imitate that of our ancestors in order to theoretically respect only the physiological needs of our body, and to help it function in the most optimal manner.
According to the followers of this diet, our genes have not evolved since the Old Stone Age, and so our body only needs the most natural products possible.
Within this frame, they suggest giving up processed foods, as these come as a result of the transformation of agriculture and of the food industry.
The foods promoted by the paleo diet.
The paleo diet is mainly based on foods of animal origin and on the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The foods authorised by this diet are:
- meats, ideally lean, and from grass-fed animals
- fish and seafood
- fruits and vegetables
- unprocessed vegetable oils
It is specified that the animals must be grass-fed given that a grain-based feed would result in man also indirectly consuming grains, which would not be authorised within the frame of this diet.
Indeed, grains would be too inflammatory and the resulting rise in blood sugar would be too high.
Moreover, the muscular tissue of grass-fed animals would be higher in omega 3 than that of grain-fed animals, whose flesh would be higher in omega 6.
The prohibited foods in the paleo diet.
The foods that are not authorised in the paleo diet are all those resulting from the transformation of agriculture and the food industry:
- vegetable oils
- dairy products
- processed foods
- alcohol and coffee
- refined sugars
The paleo diet is therefore a naturally gluten-free diet.
The benefits of the paleo diet.
With the paleo diet, a large proportion of your food intake comes from fruits and vegetables, which are fundamental to a healthy diet.
From a health perspective, the paleo diet might also play a part in the prevention of various diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, but also obesity and diabetes. The adoption of such a diet might also help with certain autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
Moreover, according to its users, the paleo diet helps lose weight and reduce body fat. It is also claimed to lead to better physical and intellectual performances, as well as a renewed sense of energy. However, no studies as such have proved these benefits; this is solely based on testimonies of followers of this diet.
The disadvantages of the paleo diet.
The primary disadvantage of this diet is social isolation. It is extremely difficult to follow such a restrictive diet in our current society.
Moreover, the paleo diet can be deficient or low in certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and calcium. As a result, you may suffer nutritional deficiencies if you do not supplement adequately. Insufficient intake in these two micronutrients can, for instance, lead to osteoporosis in adults.
At Feed., The products contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and calcium.
It is also important to underline that our current knowledge and understanding of the prehistoric food environment is not complete. As a result, it is impossible to assess whether following the paleo diet in today’s society would be comparable to how our ancestors may have eaten.
It is strongly recommended that children and adolescents do not follow such a restrictive diet. This could have negative and irreversible impacts on their health.
The frequently asked questions linked to the paleo diet.
Are there risks associated to the paleo diet?
Before following any type of diet, it is important to read up about it, and to discuss it with a health professional, a dietician or your GP.
When you follow a diet which excludes a whole category of foods, it is important to be aware of the potential resulting nutritional deficiencies and to supplement adequately.
Moreover, the paleo diet is especially restrictive, which can lead to a sense of frustration.
It is also important to take into account that certain studies have shown that there are health risks linked to an excessive consumption of animal products such as red meat, which the paleo diet promotes.
Is the paleo diet adapted to athletes?
According to the followers of the paleo diet, it is suitable for athletes. Indeed, thanks to a shorter recovery time and a renewed sense of energy, the paleo diet would be completely appropriate for sportspeople.
Although the previous information is based on the testimony of followers of the paleo diet, it has been scientifically proven that the paleo diet is rich in omega 3. This aspect is truly beneficial for athletes, as omega 3s limit inflammation.
However, the drastic reduction of the proportion of carbohydrates in the paleo diet could be considered contradictory to intense physical exercise.
Is it possible to lose weight thanks to the paleo diet?
It is important to underline that weight loss is possible regardless of the diet you follow. The key factor is to be in a situation of calorie deficit.
That being said, the paleo diet could help lose weight as it involves giving up carbohydrates, as well as encouraging a higher consumption of fibre and protein, nutrients that bring a more rapid and lasting sensation of satiety.
Regarding the high consumption of nuts and oils that the paleo diet promotes, these can be very energy and calorie-dense, which can potentially hinder weight-loss if you consume these in excess. It all comes down to a matter of quantity.
However, if you abruptly stop this diet, it is possible to regain the weight that you had lost; this is called the yoyo effect.
To sum upTo sum up
The paleo diet is:
- lots of animal protein
- omega 3s and 9s
- no complex carbohydrates (in this respect it is similar to ‘low-carb’ diets)
- fibre that exclusively comes from fruits and vegetables.
We recommend that you seek the advice of your GP before following such a restrictive diet, and that you be medically followed and assisted in order to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.