Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and recent years has shown that it may continue to rise given the dieting patterns among adults. In addition to heart disease, many other health conditions are starting to become very common, which has led many adults to change diet and lifestyle as a result. The Paleo diet is a popular and growing diet plan that can aid in certain conditions while improving overall energy levels. Listed ahead is everything you ought to know about the Paleo diet and some of its health benefits.
Diet Related Health Concerns
Prior to jumping in on the Paleo diet topic, it is important to have an idea as to why and how diets are created. Recent decades have shown large increases in obesity, diabetes, and intestinal and stomach issues. They have become so common that that they cause drastic changes to everyday living and honestly many of the conditions are a nuisance with daily life. With that said, let’s take a closer look at some of the health conditions that have led to dietary changes.
Obesity is a fast growing disease in the U.S. and recent rates have become quite alarming. Statistics suggest that more than 36 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese, thus suggesting that diet and activity are primary culprits. While obesity in itself is not lethal, it can lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and other conditions that can collectively harm your life.
Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes is becoming a very common condition in the U.S. and prolonged diabetes can cause a great deal of dysfunction in the body. Close to 30 million individuals in the U.S. have type II diabetes, or about nine percent of the entire population. Type II diabetes is largely considered a lifestyle disease and many adults with this form of diabetes go on a diet plan as a result.
Bowel and Stomach Issues
Perhaps the greatest rise in food-related illnesses involves the stomach and intestines. Currently, around 5 million individuals in the U.S. have some form of irritable bowel disorder, which includes Crohn’s disease and colitis. These conditions are generally blamed on the foods that we regularly eat and many consider a great deal of foods in our diet to be causing some form of allergic reaction that is unpleasant.
What is Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet is an emerging diet plan that is geared towards cutting foods out of your life that are causing poor health. The premise of the Paleo diet is to consume foods that our cavemen ancestors would have consumed, meaning everything that was around when they hunted and gathered on earth. This seems pretty simple; however, this era did not have any grains or legumes, which means the Paleo diet only considers food that that you can hunt and gather to be allowed. Let’s take a closer look at what you can and can’t eat ahead.
What is Allowed?
Whenever you think of what the cavemen used to eat, the first thing that comes to mind is meat. The Paleolithic era, or just Paleo, is a time when our ancestors hunted for protein as a way to nourish the body. Today, we have protein all over and it is very accessible. While meat is everywhere, it is important to note that not all meats are allowed on the Paleo diet. This diet plan allows for lean meats, so consider chicken, poultry, lean beef, grass-fed beef, salmon, and other lean fish. This part of the Paleo diet plan is easiest to nail down.
When compared to other diet plans, the paleo meal plan allows for fats. If weight loss is something you desire, this may not sound very appealing, but the Paleo diet encourages healthy fat consumption. Healthy fats contain omega-3 fatty acids, which play a major role in inflammation regulation as well as heart protection. Consider eating foods that contain healthy fats such as avocados and nuts for best results.
Fruits and Vegetables
A major part of the Paleo diet involves eating the plants that were, in theory, around in the Paleo era. For this reason, consuming fruits and vegetables is vital to getting adequate nutrition on a regular basis and it aids in boosting fiber in the body as well. Consider any fruits or vegetables you desire throughout the day and be sure to include plenty of vegetables with each meal to help fill you up.
What isn’t Allowed?
The Paleo diet is based off how the cavemen used to eat, which means anything that is processed in a food plant or with a machine is off limits. This means the healthy granola bars you enjoy, energy bars, breads, and peanut butter are all off limits. The caveat to processed foods is that some vegetables are ok to eat from the can provided there are no additives in the ingredients list. Also, flash frozen fruits and veggies are ok as well.
Dairy may have been around in the Paleo era, but it is not allowed in the Paleo diet plan. The rationale for this is that dairy is very inflammatory, to the point to where it causes stomach aches, pains, and allergic reactions. The lactose present in milk is generally the culprit, which gives some insight as to why dairy products should be avoided. This includes all milks, cheeses, creams, and even butter (even though some people still eat butter).
One generally healthy food that many people should typically eat more of is legumes. However, the Paleo diet does not allow for legumes essentially because they were not around when cavemen existed. The legumes food group includes peanuts (sorry, they do not qualify as healthy nuts), peas, snow peas, beans, and lentils.
This should not be a surprise to you, but if you are going to change your lifestyle to the Paleo diet, you will need to eliminate any and all forms of sugar, sweeteners, and other foods that boost or enhance flavor. There were no sweeteners or sugar when cavemen were on the earth, which means you should definitely cut this from your diet. Sweets include all forms of sugar, honey, molasses, nectars, sucrose, candies, artificial sweeteners, donuts, ice cream, cookies, crackers (they have added sugars), fruit juices, and potato chips.
The last food group to avoid includes some starchy foods. Generally, this means no yellow potatoes, but yams and sweet potatoes are generally allowed. Consider skipping on the Yukon Gold potatoes and make the swap to yams or sweet potatoes for best results.
Macronutrients on the Paleo Diet Plan
Most diets have a magical plan for how you should consume macronutrients, meaning you should have a particular percentage of fats, carbs, and proteins for best results. The Paleo diet does not have a set-in-stone reference for the amount of macros you ought to consume, but there is at least a general rule of thumb to aim for. Check out the macro details further below.
The Paleo diet consists of higher quantities of fat, which means it is near what the keto diet promotes. When on the Paleo diet, it is reasonable to have a daily consumption of fats around 65-70 percent of your total intake, which is much higher than many traditional diets.
As with other diet plans, carbs are significantly reduced as a way to cut out unwanted and unnecessary calories. The Paleo diet cuts the carbs out as a way to boost health, which means it is important to do the best you can. Aim for no more than 20 percent of your diet from carbs for best results.
The last macro you should monitor when on the Paleo diet is protein. Protein will play a central role in your daily eating habits and it should consist of lean options. With that said, your Paleo diet plan should consist of at least 15 percent of your total caloric intake for the day.
Paleo Meal Plan
Now that you have plenty of information on the Paleo diet, it is important to understand that generating meals throughout the week is easier than it sounds. Your transition to the Paleo diet will take a bit of time, but once you fall into a good routine it should be seamless.
The hardest meal when on the Paleo diet seems to be the breakfast option. Most traditional breakfast foods are sugary and carb-dependent, which is not the best on the Paleo diet. Consider healthy eggs, veggies, fruit, and even nuts to start out the day.
Lunch is usually the most challenging meal in the day for adults to be good. When on the Paleo diet, you have many options to fit your needs. Consider healthy salads, chicken, hummus, nuts, and other recipes that are Paleo friendly. Here is a complete listing to over 400 recipes that are Paleo friendly.
Similar to lunch above, dinner has many options that you can enjoy. Consider the list of Paleo recipes as a way to swap it up throughout the week. In addition, dinner options can be as simple as a protein, veggies, and a piece of fruit for dessert, but they can be quite detailed and involved. The good thing is you can decide on how involved you want to be for your dinner option.
There are some options that you can consider when on the Paleo diet plan. Water is the most basic beverage you can enjoy. In addition, black coffee without sweetener is allowed, in addition to unsweetened tea options. Alcohol is technically not something you should have with your meals when on the Paleo diet, but consider water, coffee, and tea as a starting point.
Is the Paleo Diet for You?
The Paleo diet is gaining quite a bit of popularity in recent years and changing your lifestyle to this way of life is something that you should consider. There are plenty of health benefits from jumping on the Paleo meal plan, which is what draws people towards it. Consider the following health benefits in your decision process.
The Paleo diet encourages foods that help to cut inflammation from the body. Inflammation is widely known for causing heart disease, cancer, and intestinal issues so keep this in mind.
Type II Diabetes
Diabetes is a growing issue among children and adults and the Paleo diet may aid in preventing this condition. Since the Paleo diet encourages fewer carbs than a traditional diet, it is reasonable to expect that you could have better glucose control. In addition, since there is less sugar in your blood, your body’s insulin sensitivity should improve as well.
Perhaps the most common health benefit of the Paleo diet is that it can promote weight loss. Even though the diet includes high amounts of fat, the Paleo diet is one of the best for shredding added fat from your body. These improvements in your body composition are quite appealing and many adults enjoy this health benefit.
Wrapping it Up
It is important to make the right decision to go on a Paleo diet. Many people tend to look into the diet for its overall health benefits and how it can help with weight loss, but realistically it is a healthy dieting plan. Once considered to be one of the most restrictive diets around, the Paleo diet now has hundreds of recipes and foods that essentially make your transition that much easier. Consider any of the recommended sites for recipes and make the change to the Paleo diet as soon as you are ready.