Unless you have been hiding under a prehistoric rock for the past six months, it is likely you know of, have heard of, or tried the Paleo diet. This diet has taken health, fitness, and nutrition experts by storm and created a huge tribe of followers. In part, thanks to CrossFit enthusiasts who swear by the Paleo philosophy and devotees who believe this miracle diet cures minor and major aliments. What is this madness over going Paleo?
What is Paleo?
The Paleo, or the primal diet, is truly the oldest diet known to humans–about 2.5 million years old! Eating Paleo means eating as humans did in the Paleolithic, or Stone Age. Anything that can be hunted and gathered can be eaten. No, not rocks and sticks! That means eating protein, vegetables, fruits, and occasionally nuts. No dairy, gluten, sugar, or grains. Nothing processed, from box, or packaged. Basically anything that can be hunted and gathered. (Many people who have already been gluten free for some time find following Paleo a fairly easy transition.) As for cooking oils, Paleo peeps swear by coconut oil for everything as the most acceptable fat to cook with for its high antioxidant properties, ability to withstand high-heat cooking, and because it is more easily digested than grain-based oils. Paleo experts believe that human bodies were put into shock when we started to farm grains and cultivate animals for meat and dairy.
The philosophy behind Paleo is that our bodies were not equipped to consume these toxic, over-processed foods as evolution has not had enough time to catch up to our modern day diet, based mostly on complex carbs, sugar, and chemicals. Paleo is bringing it back to the primal basics when our ancestors were lean and fit.
Sound, difficult to avoid grains and diary? Paleo asks that you try for thirty days and see if you miss these indulgences at the end. Most swear they do not, and have through-the-roof energy, along with lost weight, leaner muscles, and mental clarity. The Paleo club likes to share recipes and there are many blogs online worth looking at when taking your diet time machine back to the Stone Age. When building a Paleo meal, a basic rule to stick to is a closed-fist size of protein, always meat, the same size serving for fruit, and the rest of the plate (about half) all vegetables.
Why is Paleo so Popular?
Eating like a caveman doesn’t exactly sound like the most likely, or appetizing way to jump-start the path wellness, but for many, the Paleo transition is easy once they start reaping the health benefits. Aside from the high energy and smaller jean sizes, followers of the Paleolithic lifestyle say they are rarely sick, and there have been numerous claims that the diet prevents arthritis, certain cancers, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. While we are not certain if these claims are true, or if this is just another diet fad that will eventually be forgotten along with South Beach and Atkins, Paleo people seem to be popping up everywhere and some of us are joining the Paleo party, bringing it back to the (way) old-school ways of our caveman ancestors.