of the biggest pluses of the paleo diet isn't about nutrition at
all—it's about the support paleo eaters give each other. Online
community forums, Facebook pages, and even Meetup groups are filled
with people living the ancient lifestyle in modern times. You won't
find that with many other diets.
that comes in a box, jar, or bag should be avoided on the paleo diet—as
should anything that just wasn't consumed back then. That means no
grains, dairy, added salt, or legumes (including peanuts, beans,
lentils, and soybeans), according to Robb Wolf, a former research
biochemist, paleo expert, and author of The Paleo Solution. While potatoes are
generally outlawed on the diet, Wolff says they are okay to eat
sparingly as long as you earn them through exercise (more on that
next). Alcohol and honey are also generally considered paleo no-nos,
but red wine tends to be the closest option there is to a paleo drink,
and honey is far preferred to table sugar or artificial sweeteners.
is a lifestyle
paleo diet is by no means a temporary diet," says Cordain. It's meant
to be a lifestyle, just as it was thousands of years ago. You don't
just stop it if and when you start feeling better or reach your goal
weight—you stick it out for the long haul.
isn't just about food
is a vital part of the live-by-your-genetic-code equation. Surviving in
the Stone Age meant a constant on-the-go lifestyle that probably
required 4,000-plus calories a day, according to David L. Katz, MD,
director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. Even most
people who hit the gym regularly won't need to eat that many calories,
but the principle of using food as fuel to exercise still stands.
out processed foods improves health
the diet as a whole hasn't been well studied, the benefits of cutting
packaged foods from your diet could be huge. According to the Harvard
School of Public Health, three quarters of the average American's
sodium intake (which is almost double what it should be!) comes from
commercially prepared foods. And, one Public Health Nutrition study
found that people who cook at
least five times a week are 47% more likely to be alive 10 years later
compared to those who rely more on processed foods.
impossible to completely mimic our ancestors
ancestors didn't chase cows and chickens around in the wild. They
hunted game, antelopes, buffalo, and probably some animals we've never
heard of that are long extinct. Their meat was generally quite lean,
and provided more healthy omega
3s than meats from modern
day animals, even the grass-fed ones, according to Dr. Katz. Many of
the plants that thrived back then are also extinct today, making it
impossible to truly follow their meal plan, he says.
can eat too much protein
estimate that our ancestors consumed a one-to-one
ratio of calories from
meats to produce. Since you have to eat a lot of salad to consume the
same amount of calories in a steak, the paleo diet should ideally
include mostly fruits and vegetables, Katz says. However, many people
don't realize that and eat too much meat. Consuming excess protein and
not enough carbs can cause kidney damage and also increase your risk of
osteoporosis, Dr. Ochner says. Plus, since most of today's meats are
higher in saturated fat than those of yesteryear, it can increase the
risk of heart
disease, Dr. Katz says.
of paleo's banned foods are good for you
fad diet thinks it has discovered the root of all evil," says Dr.
Ochner. But nutrients in legumes, whole grains, and dairy—all of which
are forbidden on the paleo diet—can help to lower the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular
disease, reduce blood pressure, and promote a healthy weight,
he says. Cutting dairy, the primary source of calcium and vitamin D in
modern diets, is especially worrisome for women who want to avoid
paleo diet is difficult
eating requires a lot of planning, prep time, and mental resolve. For
instance, eating out on the diet isn't as simple as ordering chicken
and a salad. Think: In what oil was the chicken cooked? Did any of the
salad toppings come processed, canned, or packaged? "As with every
elimination diet, it's just not doable long term," Dr. Ochner says.
loss is far from the sole
purpose of eating paleo, going on and off of the diet can lead to big
weight swings. Any yo-yo diet starts in weight loss from both muscle
and fat, and usually ends with weight gain of all fat, which
contributes to a slower metabolism and increased insulin resistance.
can be expensive
the paleo diet can be pricey. Inexpensive and healthy non-meat
protein sources like soy
and beans are off-limits, and a recent BMJ Open study
shows that healthy meats like lean ground beef and boneless, skinless
chicken breasts cost an average of 29 cents more per serving compared
to less-healthy ones, such as high-fat ground beef and chicken
drumsticks. Even switching from peanut butter to paleo-approved almond
butter will cost you—it goes for up to $13 a jar.
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