THE PALEO DIET
WHAT IS THE PALEO DIET?
The Paleo Diet (or Caveman Diet) is based upon the assumption that dietary and lifestyle habits in humans have changed at a dramatically faster rate over the last 5000 years than our genes have subsequently evolved. Indeed in the last century there have been such significant and dramatic changes in diet and lifestyle that many believe that the current obesity epidemic experienced in the western hemisphere is as a direct result of these rapid changes. Advocates of the caveman diet also strongly believe that a number of health problems experienced by modern humans are as a direct result of our excessive consumption of simple sugars, refined wheat and processed foods. These disorders include diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and arthritis to name just a few.
Rather than discuss the evidence for the value of the Paleo Diet for treating disease, improving health and weight loss, I will instead focus on what the Paleo Solution actually requires you to change. If you’re interested in learning about the evidence behind the Caveman Diet then Wikipedia offers a completely non biased view with multiple references available. Though Wikipedia offers evidence for and against the caveman diet, the overall consensus and conclusion is that it is a healthy and effective lifestyle choice.
It is not entirely accurate to name this program the caveman diet or paleo diet as it advocates a complete lifestyle change that goes beyond diet alone. For this reason it is often termed the Paleo Solution and is based on 4 fundamental principles which I have listed below:
1. Sleep: Paleolithic man was active when it was light and slept when it was dark. And it was really dark, not the low light that we would experience with thin curtains in cities that never sleep but pitch black. For this reason you should aim to get at least 8 or 9 hours of sleep MINIMUM every night in a completely dark room (blackout curtains are a must, an eye mask will not do). Chronic sleep deprivation affects cortisol release (and subsequently fat metabolism) and may have a greater effect on weight gain than dietary habits. To learn more about the value of sleep towards health and weight loss CLICK HERE.
2. Stress: In Caveman times, human beings had frequent periods of rest and leisure. Today’s lifestyle of constant work within a stressful environment although difficult to avoid is a major factor towards the development of obesity and inflammatory diseases. If you are suffering from these conditions then finding time to relax each day may be essential for your health!
3. Diet: Dietary changes although by no means the only focus of the stone age diet, are still central to this lifestyle. The focus is on eating lean meats, unrefined fruits and vegetables and above all avoiding processed foods wherever possible. Click the following link for a list of CAVEMAN DIET FOODS. Learning to create meal plans and tasty recipes from this list requires some changes to how you think about food and its preparation but rest assured you can still enjoy good tasty food on the paleo diet. Click this link for some free PALEO RECIPES.
4. Exercise: In stone age times, people were active. They used their muscles regularly and were physically fit and active right through to old age. Indeed there are recent pictures of elderly aborigines who still essentially follow a form of the caveman diet where elderly men in the tribe are lean, muscled and ready to move! Any Paleo Plan will include specific and gradually increasing levels of exercise which will utilize those muscles which evolution requires us to use for good health. Click the following link for more info on PALEO EXERCISE.
So with all that in mind, how can you realistically put all of the requirements of the stone age diet into practise when you’ve spent every day of your life up to this point , eating a modern diet full of processed foods. I would strongly advise you to obtain a reliable guide to increase your understanding and appreciation of this lifestyle so you’re not trying to make serious changes without proper direction.
I won’t try to fool you that you can’t find free information on which foods to eat on the paleo diet and some free recipes on the web (including here at dieting revisited). You can easily get hold of information about the paleo diet concept, food groups and general exercise plans, but often what you really need are comprehensive food lists, shopping plans, large scale recipe books, extensive exercise videos and proper support.
So if you’re looking for a more structured approach then I would recommend purchasing a dedicated and complete paleo plan. There are lots of paleo programs available on the web and elsewhere and some are certainly better than others.
CLICK HERE to read a review of my Top Paleo Plans.