Those in search of health and weight loss have considered many diets. The Paleo diet has probably come up in your research. In brief, it’s about eating organic, earth-bred foods like our ancestors once did without the processed junk. But is this the right diet for you?
What the Paleo Diet Is All About
Most Americans subscribe to the Standard American Diet (SAD), which involves a large amount of processed foods and starches. These foods have created several health and wellness issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems, digestive disorders, and more.
The Paleo diet is basically the opposite of the SAD. Foods in the Paleo diet nourish your body and reduce digestive and inflammatory problems. It’s about simple nutrition that fuels your body and balances low carbs with fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
Subscribers to the Paleo diet consider it the diet of our ancestors. Paleolithic humans generally consumed only natural foods from the earth. According to research, those on the earth before packaged goods consumed three times the produce and more fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fat, and vitamins and minerals than the SAD. They consumed less saturated fat and sodium as well.
A general list of foods you can eat on the Paleo diet includes:
- Animal meat, including organs, bone marrow, and cartilage
- Animal products like eggs and honey
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Vegetables and fruits
- Added fats like avocado, coconut oil, and butter
- Dark chocolate
The Paleo diet also means avoiding grains, even whole grains. Heavily processed oils and packaged foods are out as well as legumes, soy, and most dairy products.
Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet
Like all dieting methods, there are positives and negatives to each side of the diet. Use this chart to assess the ups and downs of this diet.
Pro: You’ll eat more fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-rich foods.
Starches and carbohydrates tend to replace natural foods in the SAD. Most Paleo dieters eat primarily vegetables and meats with fruit for dessert. Since we know that these foods are rich in nutrients the body needs, you know you’re getting the resources necessary for a healthier diet.
This also means a decrease of additives, preservatives, and chemicals, which can cause inflammation and gastrointestinal issues. Omitting them could be helpful if you’ve been struggling with these issues.
Con: It gets expensive.
When you switch from packaged foods and grains to healthy or organic foods (depending on the version of Paleo you’re on), the costs rise. It’s more expensive to eat this way if you’ve always lived on the staples in the SAD: bread, eggs, and milk.
It doesn’t have to be too expensive to try, however. There are ways to do the Paleo diet on a budget. Research your options and think outside the box if your budget is tight.
Pro: You’ll probably lose weight.
While weight loss can’t be guaranteed for any diet, many Paleo subscribers report shedding a few pounds. This is mostly due to the limited calories in the available food choices. You can only eat so much, so if you stick to it, you shouldn’t have a problem dropping the pounds.
That being said, it’s not a guarantee. Replacing regular cookies with Paleo cookies and eating them daily will still make it difficult to lose weight in the long run.
Con: You miss out on the energy and health benefits of dairy and grains.
Too many carbohydrates can cause problems within the body, but your body still needs them. Grains and dairy are designed to give you energy. When going on the Paleo diet, you’re likely to experience an energy crash because you’re not getting enough carbs.
Grains and dairy are also essential sources of dietary fiber, B vitamins, minerals, calcium, and more. You can get these nutrients in other foods and supplements, but it’s more difficult, and many people on the Paleo diet simply miss out.
Is Paleo Right for Me?
Carefully consider the implications of going on a Paleo diet. All diets require some form of sacrifice, so make sure this is right for you.
The biggest risk people face when going on the Paleo diet is improper nutrition. They lack essential vitamins and minerals found in the foods they don’t eat. If you’re willing to educate yourself properly and learn which Paleo-centric foods can replace those missing vitamins, you can be successful.
If you find that trying the Paleo diet has left you without energy or you simply don’t think you can stick with it, it might be best to find another diet that’s better suited to your needs.