The Paleo Diet, all you need to know

How to lose weight and not gain it back, whilst there is no miracle diet in the real world, we can find many different diets to help weight loss and to help us live a healthier life style. There are several weight loss plans available on the internet nowadays considering also your blood type and body shape. Obtaining an optimal BMI can be difficult, the hardest part is to integrate healthy eating habits every day consistently, not only when Summer is just around the corner. We all agree that gaining weight is much easier than loosing those dreaded pounds and although many of us have googled the best and easiest way to lose weight and FAST, one should opt for a diet that can fit their life style. The secret to succeed is persistence and although we might fall off the wagon sometimes it is important to set reasonable targets for the long term.

Unfortunately many have failed to stick to their healthy eating patterns, hoping for a magic spell to help obtain a perfectly sculptured body. Unfortunately for many this magic spell has not been written yet! In the meantime, if you a looking for a balanced diet that will not leave you feeling hungry for most of the day, the Paleo Diet can be an option.

Here are some very useful tips I found for the classic paleo diet. The Paleo diet, together with regular exercise has been found to help shed those extra pounds.

The Paleo diet takes us back to our ancestor’s days, as it resembles what human hunter-gatherer ate at the time. One can apply 2 very basic rules to stick to this diet and reap its benefits.

The rules of the paleo diet

The 2 rules of the paleo diet are:

  1. If your ancestors did not eat it, neither should you.
  2. Only eat what runs, swims, flies, bleeds, and breathes

Seems easy enough right? The tricky part is to avoid processed sugar and saturated fats – also known as bad carbs.

paleo diet eat like a caveman
paleo diet – eat like a caveman

What to eat on the Paleo Diet

Here are the basics for more guidance and simplicity –

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils.

Avoid: we should try and Processed foods, soft drinks, sugar, grains, dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.

Potatoes unfortunately are not allowed in the paleo diet, because of the starch and high carb nutritional value. Therefore, carbs may be considered as Paleo’s worst enemy too (just like many other diets).

At the beginning of your Paleo diet journey, you may experience some hard carb cravings! We all crave the fried chips and doughnuts to help us get through a stressful day, but try swapping your usual comfort food for healthy fresh options, choose bit sized cauliflower, zucchini or even carrot sticks with a healthy dip of hummus (chickpeas are lean protein rich food). Including them in your diet will help satisfy that sweet and salty cravings. One can get very creative when owning an air fryer as it can give you healthy crunchy food with hardly any oil. There are many recipes available for doing the paleo diet that include food with high nutritional value to help you switch to a healthy lifestyle.

Balance is the key to everything

The key to every diet is balance, although some believe that the intake of vegetables is important, others argue that they might not counter for other vital minerals such as vitamin D and calcium, which are critical to the health of your bones.

On the other hand, saturated fats and proteins can be consumed far above recommended levels, thus increasing the risk of kidney and heart disease and certain cancers. Having said this, the reduced processed sugars intake on the other hand can benefit those with blood-sugar issues, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

While you are not technically required to limit carbs in the paleo diet (this is a main difference from the KETO Diet) the goal of Paleo is to limit consumption of processed and highly refined carbohydrates, since we are not allowed to eat too many common carb-heavy foods like bread, pasta, or grains. During weight loss, one must also limit overall calorie intake (aim for a caloric deficit). In a nutshell, since there is no one way to follow the paleo diet, the basic idea is to avoid processed foods and focus instead on healthy, whole foods. 

meat and veg for paleo diet
meat and veg for paleo diet

Choosing your diet

In general, any diet you eventually choose should help you:

  • achieve a healthy body composition.
  • optimize your health
  • enjoy life to the fullest

And, most importantly, your diet should help you sustain all 3 for the long-term. You diet should be considered a lifestyle change and not a last-minute hack. One does not need to starve for most of the day to lose weight after all!

To sustain weight loss one MUST also exercise regularly. Limiting calories intake is usually not enough to reduce weight and achieve your goals. Cardio workouts are usually the best to achieve results. Cardio exercises can be increased once stamina is built. Here are some useful tips to exercise especially during the hotter months:

It is very important to keep your body hydrated, drinking water regularly can also help reduce the hunger cramps.

Having a meal before exercise: Yes, it is recommended that Carbohydrate intake should be at least two hours prior to any workout.

Eating during exercise: Carbohydrates during workouts should be taken in the form of fluids. Workouts, lasting less than an hour (including warmup) don’t require any carbohydrate.

Eating immediately after: In the first 30 minutes post workout, use a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrate and protein. This will help muscle growth. You can also make your own paleo recovery smoothie by blending 16 ounces of fruit juice with a banana, 3 to 5 tablespoons of glucose depending on body size, about 3 tablespoons of protein powder, especially from egg or whey sources and two pinches of salt.

Why is the Paleo Diet Beneficial?

Health and fitness are not synonymous. Unfortunately, most people are fit but unhealthy. The paleo diet significantly improves health long term. Paleo can help with muscle development. It also reduces tissue inflammations and the catabolic effect of acidosis on bone and muscle while stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This is increasingly important with aging. Therefore Paleo diet can be considered a good diet if you are over 35 years of age.

We all know that vitamins and minerals are necessary for optimal health. The most nutrient rich foods are generally vegetables and seafood. This can make Paleo diet expensive BUT on average, vegetables have nearly twice the nutrient density of grains (that are much cheaper to buy).

Negative Effects and Disadvantages of the Paleo Diet

These include:

  • Can be expensive to fill any plate with limited or no carbs.
  • Removing grains or dairy which can be good for health and energy.
  • This diet can be difficult for vegetarians and vegans because it excludes beans.
  • Paleo diet would also be difficult for most athletes to follow as a regular athlete need between 3 to 6 grams of carbs per pound of their body weight, per day. This would be difficult to achieve with just fruits and vegetables.
meal plans for paleo diet
meal plans for paleo diet

Paleo Diet Alternatives

If you want to “health up” your diet by all means do so! Here are some other Paleo alternatives that can help you change your eating habits, to be considered:

  • Try to eat three well balanced meals a day, rich in fresh healthy raw vegetables, and rich in lean protein
  • Always include some lean protein at every meal and snack (yes, even for breakfast!)
  • Include foods with natural colourings in every meal or snack (I find tomatoes very versatile)
  • Grains should also be included with moderation in every meal and snack. For example unsweetened cereal, whole grain bread, rice, or pasta. Remember balance is the key!
  • Fats should also be included in each meal. Healthy fats such as nuts, grass fed butter, salad dressing, olive oil or a little mayonnaise. Healthy fats can help us feel full and reduce cravings.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, choose water for most of the day and treat yourself with a freshly squeezed raw fruit and vegetable juice (add ginger if you like it spicy)
  • Always be selective with some of the less healthy foods, cheating is accepted but only in moderation.

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