The paleo diet... what is it ?
People often ask me what is the best diet when it comes to losing weight and being healthy.
To be honest, I don't believe in "diets". They don't make sense to me, as they usually involve some level of restriction over a given period of time, wether by limiting calory intake, or by restricting specific categories of nutrients (carbs, fats, proteins, etc.)... some diets even ban them altogether (such as the Dukan diet).
Such restriction almost inevitably causes people to gain back all the weight that they have lost, if not more, and leads them to metabolic imbalances.
So, we can safely assume that most "diets" are useless and don't work, many testimonials prove it.
And yet, the object of this post is indeed the paleo (or palaeolithic) "diet". In reality, more than a diet, it is a readjustment to eating. And even a lifestyle, because a classic diet is carried over a given period of time, while the paleo diet is adopted over the longer term. It really is a lifestyle change.
The roots of paleo diet
This diet has was not "created" in the narrow sense of the term, because it is in fact intended to be the closest to an ancestral diet. Why?
The premise of this diet was put forward by researchers and doctors in the 1980s, including Dr Boyd, who demonstrated the correlation between the appearance of chronic degenerative diseases that plague our society (such as cancers, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases...), and eating habits.
Indeed, these diseases did not exist back in the Paleolithic era, when our ancestors only ate raw and unprocessed foods. Yet, our current genome is very close to theirs (0.02% difference). Dr Boyd then concludes that this ancestral diet is the most suitable for us.
" The frequency of spontaneous DNA mutations in the cell nucleus is about 0.5% per million years. Our genes are therefore very similar to those of our Paleolithic ancestors 40,000 years ago. What has changed is the food that we eat, with the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago, and especially the industrial revolution. We are not genetically adapted to modern foods. Paleolithic or preagricultural foods can therefore be considered a model for modern nutrition."
Excerpt from Dr. Boyd's article published in 1986.
We must come to an alarming realization : modern food is increasingly devitalized, devoid of quality nutrients, and therefore highly inflammatory. This is because of the many processes that have been set up to meet the needs of mass consumption : intensive agriculture, refining foodstuffs to increase their shelf life, inhumane practices in livestock farming... Productivity at the expense of living beings, in short.
This is all the more grieving if we consider the fact that most of the diseases known today (and mentioned earlier in this post) are of an inflammatory nature ! And, let me tell you, so is depression...
In fact, readjusting your eating habits to incorporate the key paleo diet principles is an effective means of preventing all these pathologies, real scourges of our society.
(To illustrate this point, here is a scientific study that shows positive results of the paleo diet on people who have type 2 diabetes).
But, what are those principles ?
While starchy foods are the basis of modern diet, they are completely missing from the paleo diet ; as they are highly refined for the most part, they promote the accumulation of fat in tissues and, therefore, weight gain.
They are replaced by the following foods :
Fruit and veggies, preferably organic ;
Organic meat or bushmeat, wild fish, eggs ;
Nuts and healthy fats (cold pressed vegetable oils that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids : olive oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil,...).
Foods you need to cut out from your diet :
Cereals and starchy foods ;
Processed and industrial foods such as sweets, sodas, fast food, syrups, deli meats, jam, white sugar... ;
Refined fats such as margarine and oils that are rich in omega 6 fatty acids, because they are pro-inflammatory (peanut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil...).
Does this diet cause frustration ?
As for myself, I have been following this diet for close to three years now, and I don't feel the least bit frustrated. But of course, everyone is different. This diet is widespread across the Atlantic, especially among top athletes and sportsmen and women. It provides satiety due to the high proportion of proteins and good fats it provides.
A word of advice if you want to move towards this diet, though : don't go cold turkey. Take it one step at a time, start by gradually reducing the foods you need to avoid, and find healthier alternatives for them. For example, use honey or coconut sugar instead of white sugar. And if you are weary about cutting out grains, then go with whole grain and organic grain products, as their carbohydrate and gluten content is lower than conventional cereal products.
The main thing to keep in mind is to maintain a good base. If you slip every now and then, it's OK ! :)
Thank you for reading me :D
Don't forget to subscribe and share this post if you liked it !