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The Definitive Guide To The Paleo Diet: What It Is And How To Make It Work For You

Author: Renu Puri

Date: 18-01-2023

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This blog offers a deep dive into the world of the Paleo lifestyle, what the diet entails, if it is the right diet for you, how it can benefit you, some insightful statistics, along with some Paleo-friendly food options.


Since Paleo is the kind of diet that has mixed reviews online, we wanted to write a blog from a nutritionist’s point of view to educate people on the truth about this diet. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the Paleo diet. 


Introduction



If the first thing that comes to your mind when we say “paleo diet” is cavemen running, hunting, butchering animals, and eating fruits straight off trees, you are not alone. In fact, a lot of people call the Paleo diet “the modern caveman’s diet”. Although the Paleo diet is designed to resemble the food mechanisms of the Palaeolithic age, there is a slight difference between what cavemen used to eat and what a paleo plan encourages you to eat. The element of similarity it tends to resemble is whole foods.


Let’s be real, you may be wondering that cavemen ate what they ate due to the lack of options, if they did not kill, hunt, and eat, they would starve to death but that isn’t the case with modern-day man. A person today has thousands of dishes to choose from hundreds of cuisines, and thanks to delivery apps like Uber Eats, Zomato, and Swiggy that it comes straight to your doorstep within a 15-minute window. Then why would you want to eat like a caveman?


The Paleo diet may seem to be a bit out of place at first glance but trust us, it is not uncommon and does exhibit some health benefits. A lot of scholars and people who follow the Paleo lifestyle believe in the ideology that natural foods are a gateway to a healthier life. Paleo diet works on the idea that humans were not designed to consume highly processed foods with high levels of sweeteners and preservatives, rather they were designed to eat foods that are natural and whole.


A lot of times, when you sit with your grandparents, you will see that they have very different views on nutrition and foods that are healthy then you do. Many times grandparents will share stories of how their diet used to be full of nutrients due to the unavailability of junk food and how the current generation is doomed due to their unhealthy eating habits. 


Whether you agree or not, the nutritional value of food is becoming worse as generations progress. And with bad nutrition follow a series of ailments like obesity, bad heart health, diabetes, pcos, etc. That is why Paleo supporters want to preserve the nutritive value of food by eating it whole. 


What exactly does a Paleo diet entail?


A Paleo diet entails cutting modern processed foods from our diet and replacing them with whole foods like our ancestors used to eat to avoid health problems. Paleo is also a rather controversial diet, wherein some claim that the advancement of food is a part of evolution and we can not get sufficient vitamins and minerals from the diet. 


Paleo supporters believe that farming is the root cause of the change in our diets. They have a notion that due to farming, we got access to grains and the next progression to farming was dairy. Both of these changed the way people perceived health and nutrition.


Keeping opinions aside, Paleo diet can definitely improve your health. How you may ask? Eliminating fatty and processed foods from your diet that carry empty calories or very little nutritional value will always have a great result on your overall health. Not just in a Paleo diet, but in any kind of diet that you decide to take up. 


Can I follow the diet? 


To answer the first question, every person is different and every body has a different dietary requirements. To validate if it is good for you or not is something that would totally be dependent on your body type, health conditions, activity level, etc. In scenarios where you are looking to hop on a new diet, we recommend taking professional guidance.


A registered dietitian or a certified nutritionist can really help you navigate the roadblocks and provide you with a paleo diet chart that is safe to follow. Oftentimes we get clients that hook themselves onto fad diets that they found on some sketchy website and compromise their health.


In no way are we trying to say that Paleo is a fad diet. In fact, a lot of people swear by Paleo’s results and encourage other people to live a much simpler and healthier lifestyle. The problem comes when people start to self-diet, especially on diets like Paleo, and lose out on important nutrients that their body needs. 


It is imperative to know what to eat when to eat, and even how to eat. Without this knowledge, you may end up doing more harm than good for your body.


What are the benefits?



The Paleo diet is actually very healthy and comes with a lot of health benefits. From weight loss to positive effects on digestion, Paleo can be a good option for someone who is trying to go the “all natural” route.


1) Whole foods = Best foods


This is the key reason people opt for Paleo diets as its core ingredients are all natural – whole foods. Once you start avoiding processed and artificially sweetened foods from the snack aisle of a grocery store, you are likely to improve your health. All those bags of chips, cookies, chocolates and soft drinks that you see lined up beautifully in the store are filled with harmful ingredients – artificial coloring, high amounts of sugars, sodium additives, and much more. 


In fact, your favourite soft drinks have an artificial sweetener called Aspartame, which causes neurological and behavioural disorders in humans. Paleo limits harmful toxins from entering your body since it puts you on an “all natural” food journey.


2) Blood glucose levels on check


Avoiding sugary foods and staying clear of artificial sweeteners will ensure that your blood glucose levels are optimum. People with blood pressure issues know how difficult it is to battle those feelings of deep exhaustion and constant fatigue from the sugar spikes. Paleo can really help maintain those sugar levels. Although, if you fall into the diabetic / pre-diabetic category, it would be best to consult a medical professional or a registered dietitian if you want to follow this eating plan. 


3) Bye bye gluten!


A lot of studies have shown that gluten could be a cause of a lot of lifestyle diseases – PCOS, diabetes, obesity, heart problems, cancer, etc. If you remove the root of the problem from your diet, it will prevent you from getting ill in the long haul. A gluten-free approach is also very promising for anyone who is looking to lose weight. This is because it results in a lot of digestive problems and you will find it easier to pile on weight if you consume gluten.


4) Satiety is important


During snack time, have you ever wondered how you ate that whole bag of doritos, a pack of oreo and a bar of chocolate but still feel like you aren’t fully satisfied? The “something’s missing” feeling eventually turns into you feeling sluggish and wanting to throw up. Whereas, if you eat a bowl of salad, it will, in most cases, never leave you hungry. This is because salads have a lot of fibre as compared to the bag of doritos and oreos. 


Opting for whole foods means you will have foods filled with healthy fats, proteins, and just the right amount of fibres and carbs. Hence, keeping your nutrition intact while ensuring your satiety.


5) Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging


The lesser toxins in your body, the better you end up sleeping. It’s as simple as that. If you regulate your food cycle and sync it up with your body cycle, you will experience wonders in your health. Sleep when your brain signals you to sleep and notice how you will start waking up full of zeal and enthusiasm. 

If not for anything, think of reverse aging. If you have a routine and get good quality sleep, you age much slower. Megan Fox , the famous American actress and TV personality once in an interview shared that her beauty secret is Paleo diet and good sleep. No wonder she still looks like she’s 18! 


6) High energy for high efficiency


Some people feel that since the Paleo diet does not include dairy, it will not give them the nutrition that they need to sustain bodily functions. Quite contrary to the popular belief, a balanced diet can actually make you super energized while providing the right amount of nutrients, especially if it’s paleo.


7) No more Calorie Counting hassles


For a lot of people who want to lose weight, Applications like HealthifyMe and MyFitnessPal are their biggest companions. These apps can count the calories of any kind of food, from a pack of biscoff cookies to a full-fledged meal of three-cheese ravioli. It even counts calories of nutritious food for you. However, it can be a huge hassle to log in calories each day. The whole point of a diet is to make sure that it doesn’t feel like a diet and feels more like a lifestyle. In the Paleo diet however, you do not need to track or count your calories. It is relatively simpler and offers an ‘instinctive’ approach to mindful eating.


8) Cleanse your mind and body


By eliminating all the unnecessary elements from your diet, you’re healing and cleansing your body one meal at a time. By eating more fruits, vegetables and detox drinks, you will be providing your body with the right amounts of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Since Paleo food is usually high in fibre, it will make sure that your bowel movements are in sync with your body clock and you don’t accumulate built-up waste inside your body. 


9) Leaner muscles for the win


Natural foods provide the body with essential nutrients that help with physique building , thereby resulting in a leaner body. Most of the artifacts gathered from the Palaeolithic age exhibit that obesity was not prevalent during that time. The reason for this was diet and physical activity. To hunt, kill, and eat, they had to go on long stretches of uneven terrains. This rigorous regime ensured that their muscles were lean and strong.


10) Prevention is better than cure


Paleo diet ensures that your health is at the top of the game. Since the diet encompasses good foods for health that contain heaps of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and plentiful vitamins and minerals, it will help your body fight off infections and potential ailments. Avoiding those sugary snacks and processed eatables do nothing but add extra calories, and contribute to a bad heart health in the long run. Adopting a Paleo lifestyle ensures that you don’t get ill fast and your body protects itself from any current or potential diseases.


Paleo diet and lifestyle statistics that will amaze you!


According to an article by Paleosafe.org ,


  • In one study Paleo dieters blood sugar levels decreased by 0.4%, HDL cholesterol levels rose by 3 mg/dL and Triglycerides levels fell by 35 mg/dL. (Jonsson T, et al., 2009)
  • Paleo has been shown to positively impact a number of important metrics like blood sugar levels, HDL (the good cholesterol) and Triglyceride levels.
  • After eating a strict Paleo diet for 10 days participants saw a 16% decrease in total cholesterol and Insulin AUC fell by 39%. (Frassetto, et al., 2009)
  • The Paleo diet has shown a significant improvement in bad cholesterol levels and Insulin AUC in a 2009 study
  • Eating a modified paleolithic diet for 5 weeks resulted in participants losing almost 10 pounds on average and a 3.1-inch (8-cm) reduction in waist circumference. (Ryberg, et al., 2013)
  • Even a short burst on the Paleo diet can show a drop in pounds and a decrease in waistline.
  • A University of Minnesota study showed a decrease in the occurrence of colorectal polyps. (Whalen et al, 2014)



According to an article by Hardvard T.H Chan,


Some randomized controlled trials have shown the Paleo diet to produce greater short-term benefits than diets based on national nutrition guidelines, including greater weight loss, reduced waist circumference, decreased blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved cholesterol. However these studies were of short duration (6 months or less) with a small number of participants (less than 40). [4-6]


One larger randomized controlled trial followed 70 post-menopausal Swedish women with obesity for two years, who were placed on either a Paleo diet or a Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) diet. [7] The Paleo diet provided 30% of total calories from protein, 40% fat (from mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and 30% carbohydrates. It included lean meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, avocado, and olive oil. The NNR diet provided less protein and fat but more carbohydrate with 15% protein, 25-30% fat, and 55-60% carbohydrates, including foods similar to the Paleo diet but also low-fat dairy products and high-fiber grains. Both groups significantly decreased fat mass and weight circumference at 6 and 24 months, with the Paleo diet producing greater fat loss at 6 months but not at 24 months. Triglyceride levels decreased more significantly with the Paleo diet at 6 and 24 months than the NNR diet.


Paleo diet food list


Poultry and Meat : Chicken, lamb, duck, goat, eggs.

Vegetables : Broccoli, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, kale, cabbage, cauliflower.

Healthiest fruits : Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, dried apricot, avocados, apples, pears.

Nuts and Seeds : Cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds.

Spices : Turmeric, salt, garlic, cumin, paprika, chilies, horseradish, black peppers.


Foods to avoid when on Paleo diet


Sugary Syrups : Aerated drinks, artificially flavoured juices, energy drinks, sweetened syrups.

Grains : Wheat, Rye, Barley, Millet, Quinoa, Corn, Oats.

Dairy : Cow milk, buffalo milk, or any kind of milk derivatives.

Artificial sweeteners : Sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, cyclamates.

Processed foods : Chips, chocolate, wafers, cookies, cereals, bread, pastries, pies.


A primitive solution or a hidden gem?



That’s for you to decide. We believe the best way to find out if the diet works for you or not is through professional guidance. Our registered dietitians at niwi.ai have guided a lot of aspiring paleo dieters like you on a fulfilling journey.  


Ready for a health revolution? Join us on our mission to transform the nutrition landscape!


For any queries, Write to us at info@niwi.ai or call us at +91-8800874676.


At niwi.ai, we have helped thousands of clients transform their lives and feel stronger, more energetic, and definitely more confident in how they look and feel, by improving their relationship with food!

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