The Paleo Diet Review – What You Need to Know

The Diet Plan

The “caveman diet”, also known as the Paleolithic diet has been gaining in popularity over the last 5 years with bloggers and researchers publishing a number of best -selling books on the subject.

Of the books available, my favorite Paleo book is The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. If you haven’t had an opportunity to hear the last interview with Mark, check it out here: Episode 46: The 21-Day Total Body Transformation with Mark Sisson. In the mean time, let’s review the basic premise of the Paleo diet & lifestyle…

The Paleo Diet Claim

This diet is based on the premise that during the Paleolithic period, humans consumed foods that were good for the body and promoted overall health. They were hunters and gatherers eating wild game and any vegetables and fruits that were available to them from the land.

The premise of the caveman diet is that much of our modern day disease and poor state of health is caused by the fact that we consume foods that are inconsistent with the type of diet that we evolved to consume.

According to the paleolithic philosophy of eating, we should choose foods that are consistent with what we evolved to eat; if we do so, we will activate the genes that keep our metabolism strong, our weight down, and our life long and full of energy.

How Long Do I Follow This Diet?

The diet is to be followed for an unspecified amount of time, in fact, the paleolithic program is not even seen as a diet…it’s a way of living that includes wholesome, natural foods and plenty of activity.

The basic plan involves starting off slow and continuing to make changes to the diet until you can mimic all of the food-guidelines that pertain to the lifestyle of our paleolithic ancestors, who existed between 10,000 and 2.5 million years ago. Paleontologists can pretty well ascertain what types of foods were available based on archeological finds and the study of the few remaining hunter-gatherer tribes.

The Paleolithic way of life is truly a lifestyle, in every sense of the word.

What Can I Eat?

Well, here’s the tricky part…

The only foods that are allowed are those that would have been consumed from 10,000-2.5 million years ago. When it comes to meat, two key authors differ. Loren Cordain believes that you can eat lean meats. On the other hand, Ray Audette believes that lots of red meat can be eaten including those with a high fat content. Mark Sisson has a tendency to lean more towards Ray Audette’s philosophy, having no fear of animal fats. I have a tendency to lean towards leaner cuts of meat, but am not afraid to have a hamburger patty a couple of times a week either. Try to choose more organic and free-range meats as they will more closely mimic wild game. It is advised that you avoid foods that come from animals fed with grains as no such animal would have existed during paleolithic times.

What Foods Are Permitted On This Diet?

Meat, vegetables (not starchy ones), eggs, fish and seafood that are native to the time period, fruits and nuts that can be eaten raw. The simplicity of this diet takes the stress out of eating. In other words, when mealtime rolls around, you don’t find yourself trying to figure out what to eat, you have a choice from one of the six foods above.

The Paleo Diet Pros: What Are the Benefits?

One key benefit is that you will be returning to a simpler way of eating, and living for that matter. Mark Sisson believe that advances in agriculture including the canning process, robbed food of its nutrients. In this way, the Paleo Diet resembles those who advocate eating raw foods and is very similar to the lifestyle recommended and scientifically proven by Jonathan Bailor in his book The Smarter Science of Slim.

This diet is extremely healthy and may, in fact, be the healthiest diet and lifestyle available to the human race.

Paleontologists have studied everything from ancient fossils to hunter-gatherer cultures, which still exist today.  Through the study and observation of these cultures, most scientists believe that they have an accurate grasp of the type of diet that best suits our genetics and I have a tendency to agree with them.

People who follow a fairly strict paleolithic lifestyle have a tendency to be lean, healthy, energetic, and quite evangelical about their Paleo diet and lifestyle. You can usually spot them by their lean physiques and Vibram Fivefingers Shoes (shoes that mimic barefoot walking, which some believe are far healthier for the tendons and ligaments of your feet).

How Much Weight Can You Lose?

There are no specific recommendations for weight loss. It all depends on how well you adhere to the diet guidelines and which book you choose to follow as far as meat and fat rules.

Presumably returning to raw foods will do the trick to help you lose weight. People who adopt this style of eating almost universally lose weight, lean out, and feel more energetic. My observation has been that followers of the paleolithic way of living have a tendency to look 10-20 years younger than their non-Paleo counterparts.

To answer your question, if you follow The Paleo Diet word-for-word, you can likely lose it all…by “it all” I mean all of the unnecessary fat on your body, that is, if you stick to the lifestyle…which, is no small feat in this world of tasty-treats.

Does the Plan Stress Exercise of Any Kind?

This plan does talk about physical activity but no particular exercise. People who lived during Paleolithic times were quite active as they were always walking, running, building, gathering or out trying to chase down some poor animal while on the hunt.

Since we don’t hunt for a living, nor are we active all day long, we need to incorporate plenty of activity during after hours…

The Paleo-folks recommend performing activities that mimic running, jumping, hunting, etc. Such activities include: Kettle bell training, Metabolic Effect training, interval training, sports, martial arts, etc.

Mark Sisson recommends lifting “heavy things” once or twice a week, sprinting once a week, and just having fun by playing sports for the rest of the week.

The simplicity of the Paleolithic way of life is what makes it so attractive to so many people and so repulsive to others…they think, it can’t possibly be that easy! Simple, it is…Easy, it is not…

The Paleo Diet Cons: What’s Wrong With It?

One of the downsides of this diet is the fact that it can be a shock to someone who is use to or even addicted to refined carbohydrates. Strict Paleo suggests avoiding all grain, bread, cereals, white rice, candy, cakes, etc. In addition, depending on the Paleo-camp that you affiliate with, they even recommend avoiding starchy carbs such as potatoes and brown rice.

There’s no doubt that the elimination of many food groups that we are accustomed to may make it difficult to acclimate to and adopt into our stress-filled, sugar-laden lives. As for milk and dairy, because Humans are the only animals that drink milk past infancy and the only animals that drink the milk of another animal, any dairy products (cheese, yogurt, milk) are not typically recommended, nor are : whole grains, root vegetables and many legumes.

The diet may be quite restrictive for some…let’s be honest, it’s restrictive for everyone, by today’s standards. Most Paleo fans would simply say…”Get over it!”

The truth is, the magic of the Paleo diet is in the tribe-mentality. The people who become part of the “tribe” and don’t sway from the Paleo way of life, are the ones who succeed best. They are the ones who consider themselves to be part of the “Paleo movement” and feel incongruity when they eat refined carbohydrates and sit motionless on the couch for hours on end.

The “tribe-mentality” built into the Paleo lifestyle is its greatest asset because, besides being arguably the healthiest diet on earth, it provides the missing ingredient in most people’s lifestyle…”consistency”.

What Does the Paleo Diet Plan Cost?

The most expensive thing you will probably buy is the organic or free-range cuts of meat. If you can’t afford organic or free-range, then opt for the lean-cuts like 96% fat-free ground beef and chicken breast; the fat is where most of the toxicity of non-free range meat exists.

Strict Paleos suggest sticking to seasonal vegetables and fruits, when fruits and veggies are in season they can be quite reasonable. If you shop at food warehouses, you can eat very close to “Paleo” without spending ridiculous amounts of money.

Final Notes

You can tell that I’m a fan of The Paleo diet and lifestyle; in fact, a lot of the recommendations that we make within the Cut The Fat Podcast are in line with the Paleo way of life…

The golden nugget here is that a fat loss lifestyle must include large quantities of REAL food to be successful, I honestly believe this statement. That’s not to say that you can’t include the tasty-treats of modern living into your lifestyle, it just means that most of your food volume should come from real, Paleo-friendly foods such as the “Caveman 6” – meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish. (By the way, I’m officially trademarking that term the “Caveman 6” – you are my witness) If you learn to eat like a caveman or cavewoman, then you may no longer need us and that would be a proud day for us 🙂 Until that day, however, keep visiting us here at Cut the Fat Podcast and feel free to leave your comments and experiences in the comments section below!

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