The Paleo Diet – The Hottest of Hipster Eating Plans
But what is this plan exactly? What does ‘Paleo’ even mean?
Well, it all started around 2.6million years ago. We’re taking you back to the Palaeolithic era, lovingly known by food-trend-fans and archaeologists alike as the ‘Old Stone Age.’ So is anyone hungry?
Who was knocking around back then? Why cavemen, of course!
The Paleo Diet is based upon the simple premise that if cavemen didn’t eat it, then neither should we. The aim of this ‘diet’ is to go back to basics, filling ourselves up on only the essentials – naturally sourced animal proteins and plants – to improve our overall health and well-being.
Think for a minute, how trim and physically fit these early humans were. Back in those days, there were no chronic illnesses like modern-day heart disease, obesity or diabetes. Our ancestors were lean, mean, hunting machines… They only survived thanks to super strong muscles and efficient metabolisms. Body goals so far? You betcha’.
It’s Just a Name Guys!
Now, you know us. Normally we’d avoid the word ‘diet’ like the plague, as it implies all that calorie-counting and starvation stuff. Doesn’t just hearing the word ‘diet’ make you peckish?
Some people do call it the Paleo template, but that’s way too hipster for us. As most people know it as the Paleo or Caveman Diet, that’s the name we’ll stick with for now.
Before we reveal what’s involved, please remember this particular eating plan is not a short-term, quick-fix-thing for weight loss (we’re looking at you, Atkins). This is a strict lifestyle that’s been based on millions of years’ worth of science and genetics.
So how does it actually work?
Give Us Your Best ‘Hunter-Gatherer’
How does the whole thing work?
Over the years, we humans have biologically adapted best to whole, natural foods. That’s plants, meat, seafood, if you wondered – each of which is loaded with the nutrients our bodies have evolved to thrive on.
Just 10,000 years ago us humans sparked an ‘agricultural revolution’. We learned how to grow grains as food and keep cattle, so we stopped hunter-gathering as much. Why go out and catch it, when you can sit back and just chop it up when it’s grown? While not artificial in the Diet Coke sense of the word, our food was no longer naturally sourced.
Very quickly, humans went from solely relying on meat and plants, to eating modern foods like wheat, sugar and chemically processed vegetable and seed oils. Since this has happened in such a short space of time (when you look at our whole evolutionary history, 10,000 years is just a teeny tiny part of the timeline) pro-Paleos say that our bodies never got a chance to evolve. Hence we all got heavier. And fatter. And diseased.
It’s enough to make you want to… Well, try Paleo really.
What can I eat?
Don’t worry. You don’t need to rush out to forage for food. You also don’t need to cook everything on a fire or craft your own weapons just to hunt down your nearest hotdog.
Just consider the foods that cavemen would have eaten. That’s grass-fed gamey meats (most often raw back in those days!), fish, seafood, fruits, veggies, eggs, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils like olive and coconut. Yum!
So what should you put down if you’re Paleo? Cereal grains (wheat, oats, etc.), legumes (even peanuts, lentils and heartbreakingly, chickpeas), anything dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt, and refined oils. It’s a pretty big list.
And by the way, there’s no booze allowed either. These guys hadn’t even created the wheel, let alone any wine. So remember, if you’re Paleo, you gotta lay off the bottle baby!
So is Paleo actually healthy?
When it comes to Paleo being good for your body… Well, we’re on the fence about that one. It is and it isn’t.
Cutting out processed foods? Great for you. Completely cutting refined sugar and salt? If you can do it, sure. But totally ditching dairy, grains and beans? That’s where you get into a bit of a grey area. Plus – it means no hummus. Or peanut butter. Or Greek yoghurt. The list goes on.
There are plenty of arguments against the Paleo diet, many from dietitians and scientists, to popular food activists. Pro-Paleo peeps often claim they feel much better eating this way… but what were they eating before?
If this eating plan gets you off a junk-filled diet, it’ll certainly be a lifestyle improvement. But if you’re already pretty balanced? We’re not so sure.
Is it easy to stick to?
If we’re honest, any ‘diet’ that is based on the complete exclusion of several major food groups is probably going to be seriously unsustainable.
Veggies and vegans – this might not be the plan for you, as the focus is on a high meat intake. If you prefer a more flexible approach that offers wider variety of foods, look for another eating plan, there’s plenty out there – including ours.
The Paleo Diet – the perfect plan? Or poor choice for anyone post-Stone Age?
Going full Paleo might be a little extreme for most of us, so it’s ok if you just want to get inspired by the principles of the plan.
Cut the processed junk food, scale back on salt and booze, and skip out refined sugars. That’s already a huge step in the right direction – and you don’t have to run round with a spear, live in a cave or wear what you ate for dinner last week.
If you’re looking to make the leap to Paleo, good luck. Remember – you need to be eating high levels of unprocessed animal fats and proteins, with low carbohydrates. Eat when you’re hungry and keep active – and keep us posted on your results.
Remember to pop back to our blog, where we’ll be looking at more ‘diets’ in detail in our future ‘Eating Plans Explained’ posts. Got a health-kick you just can’t get your head around? Let us know and we’ll try our best to bust it.
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