I’m sure you have, at least, heard of Paleo. I should actually go ahead and clarify that according to it’s followers “Paleo” is not actually a diet, but more of a lifestyle. It’s not like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig where there are points or packaged foods. It’s a set of principles you follow to achieve optimal health and if you lose weight in the process, bonus! I know many people who have embraced the Paleo lifestyle and, in addition to a consistent exercise regimen, have lost weight. So what exactly is Paleo? Let’s break it down:
Contrary to what you may think, this diet has been around for a long time – like a LONG time. Think ancient ancestor cavemen long time. That’s right, I bet you never thought a diet based on the eating patterns of “cavemen” would become popular, but that is the idea behind Paleo. It’s based on the principle of the hunter-gatherer. It’s believed that our very ancient ancestors were onto something by eating not only locally, but keeping their diet to what they could get their hands on.
Lean protein, vegetables, nuts, and a little fruit mixed in rounds out the core of this diet. So, food groups like dairy, legumes, processed foods, and sugar, etc. are off limits. I know what you are thinking, this sounds very restrictive. It is, but most of it’s followers all state that it’s the simplicity of the diet that is the most freeing.
Paleo followers claim that after following the diet over time they had more energy and began to think more clearly. And yes, they all claim to lose weight. Also, because this is not really considered a diet, there are no “points” or “calories” to count. It is believed that if you follow the actual principles of the Paleo diet you can eat freely within reason. Most Paleo books and blogs claim there is no need to stick within a certain amount of calories because you will be satisfied within a normal range because of the types of food you are consuming. Sounds great right? For some it’s a dream come true, but for others it’s another diet trap.
I’ll admit I’ve tried the Paleo diet a few years back for 90 days and here were my thoughts:
First, I will say that I did feel really good, and yes, I did have more energy. I originally didn’t try Paleo to lose weight, but I had 10 pesky pounds I wouldn’t have been sad to part with. Within the first few weeks of this plan I did lose around 4 pounds pretty quickly, but that was about it. I have no doubt that I could have continued to tweak what I was eating to continue to lose, but over time I just found it too restrictive for the long term.
Of all the blogs and articles I’ve read about Paleo, that is always the biggest issue with this diet. It’s too restrictive – and I have to agree. Over time I have come to the conclusion that, for me, cutting out entire food groups entirely is just not something I can sustain for the rest of my life. I do think you have to work through trial and error to find exactly what foods your body uses most efficiently, and I really believe that this is different for everyone. For me I try to limit my carbohydrate intake, but I never completely eliminate it all together. Whether it’s Paleo, or any other type of eating plan, if you eliminate food groups you have to eliminate them for life, or the second you put them back in you are more than likely going to gain the weight right back.
To be fair, I definitely don’t think Paleo is “bad” at all. I know so many people that have had huge benefits from incorporating these principles into their lives. It just wasn’t for me. If you are interested in trying Paleo my biggest suggestion is to do your research first. A quick Google search of just the word Paleo will open a world of information from scientific research papers or cookbooks. There are also a ton of great Paleo blogs out there with support groups and eating plans. My biggest piece of advice, no matter what diet or eating philosophy you choose, just make sure you can see it as a lifestyle. If you work so hard to lose weight through a plan, but it’s not something you can keep up for life then what’s the point? So, here’s to healthy eating for life – whatever name you put on it!
Leave in the comments below if you have tried Paleo. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. Also, for those who might be interested if you have great Paleo articles or blogs that we should all check out leave those links in the comments! I will be checking back here to hear everything you have to say.
Stay Happy and Healthy!
Olivia, of ‘The Biggest Loser,’ tells us why Paleo didn’t work for her. Will it work for you?