What Is The Paleo Diet?
Originating during the Palaeolithic ages some 10 000 years ago but resurfacing in the 1970s, the paleo diet has become a eating fad endorsed by tv personalities such as Pete Evans.
Also known as the caveman diet or the stone-age diet, you can eat anything we would be able to hunt or gather like our ancestors – think meat, fish, nuts and vegetables. That means you’ll have to leave processed foods at the door.
Along with your favourite treats, you'll also have to ditch grains, legumes, dairy and anything that contains artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, no alcohol as well unless it's approved - no more celebrating with champagne.
Originally, eating rules were strict but in recent times, guidelines have loosened with supermarkets selling foods that are considered processed but labelled as paleo approved.
Are There Weight Loss Benefits?
There’s no denying the slimming benefits.
Recent research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that women lost weight and saw major reductions in liver fat over a 5-week trial. Other important health markers improved significantly too.
But while the diet has been used to shed fat quick, dietitians argue that it might not be the best way to keep weight off long-term.
Does The Paleo Diet Work?
“In the short term, there’s evidence to show that you will actually lose weight. The issue is that the quick weight loss you might see is probably related to the exhaustion of your body’s natural carbohydrate stores, called glycogen. And when you exhaust your glycogen, you’re also depleting it of a little bit of water.
“Often when people go on these crash diets – paleo and other high fat, low carb diets, they lose the 500g of glycogen in their system but they also lose about 2kg of water. Often, people get off to a red hot start and they lose 2.5-3kg in the first week and they think how good is this but really when people go on a diet they need to lose some of their fat stores,“ continues Feren.
Are There Any Dangers To The Paleo Diet?
While enthusiasts might see results, unfortunately, the eating regime may limit the intake of important nutrients – crucial vitamins and minerals that are predominantly sourced from ineligible foods can lead to deficiencies.
“There’s some potential nutritional deficiencies that might actually occur when someone follows the Paleo diet to a T,” says Feren.
“We know there are a number of sources of calcium but the probably the best source of calcium is dairy – things like cheese, milk, yoghurt and we know that soy products are not allowed on the Paleo Diet.
"They also run the risk of certain B vitamin deficiencies, commonly found in whole grains and legumes. I think the big one for me is actually fibre. Obviously it's found in fruit and veggies but it’s also found in whole grains and legumes. Fibre is protective of heart, it reduces risk of diabetes, it can help keep us fuller for longer and is also wonderful for our gut health.”
What Can You Eat On The Paleo Diet?
When it comes to what you can put on your plate, you might be surprised to hear it's more than just steak, fish and leaves.
Favourites such as avocados are always recommended and they’re packed with healthy fats.
Many meat-based dishes can also be infused with vegetable-based sides, dressings or pastes. Whether you're after lamb ribs with lemon & herbs or a frittata packed with greens, there are plenty of paleo-approved options that will have you satiated.
And who can turn down a rib-eye steak paired with baked vegetables?
If you're in doubt, Foodiful provides great paleo-approved recipes that will treat your tastebuds.
There's no denying that The Paleo Diet will help you drop weight. But beware the health implications of sticking to a restrictive diet. And don't forget to keep a spear handy to catch dinner.