So what does eating paleo mean, what is the definition of paleo? I have several friends that keep throwing out the words paleo diet and swearing by it, especially when it comes to helping stabilize their blood sugars. Honestly I’m not a huge fan of “diets” in general but after doing a little research on paleo, I can certainly understand why they are so giddy over living paleo!
The Paleo diet is certainly not a new idea. Coming to popular attention with the publication of a book on the subject by Walter Voegtlin in 1975, its central concept is to mimic the diet of humans that lived 25 to 50 thousand years ago, during the Paleolithic Age. Voegtlin claimed distinct benefits are associated with what he claims was the high protein and low carbohydrate die of the ancients. His plan is occasionally called the caveman diet, the Stone Age diet and the hunter-gatherer diet. Proponents of the Paleo diet continue to practice it, and it has been somewhat validated by the emergence of other similar low-carb diets.
Health Benefits Of The Paleo Diet:
For most people the fact the Paleo diet delivers the best results is enough. Improved blood lipids, weight loss and reduced pain from autoimmunity is proof enough. Many people however are not satisfied with blindly following any particular form of eating, aka “a diet”. Fortunately, the Paleo diet has stood not only the test of time, but also the rigors of scientific scrutiny.
With a very simple shift the paleo diet not only removes the foods that are at odds with our health (grains, legumes, and dairy) but we also increase our intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Paleo Diet For Diabetics:
There are a number of studies investigating the effects of Paleo diets on type 1 and type 2 diabetics and results are impressive. A study published in July 2009 in “Cardiovascular Diabetology” compared the Paleo diet to the Mediterranean diet in subjects with type 2 diabetes over a period of three months. The researchers found that the Paleo diet reduced fasting blood sugar levels, hemoglobin A1C, plasma insulin levels and insulin resistance significantly compared to the Mediterranean diet, indicating potential benefits of the Paleo diet for people with type 2 diabetes. Here are 5 more studies and how they help stabilize blood sugars, feel free to check them out.
Pro’s Of The Diet:
Right off the start you can see how well this diet is going to control blood sugar levels. In a world where many of us experience roller coaster-like blood sugar fluctuations, this aspect alone proves to be an extremely beneficial aspect of the set-up.
As most of us know, the more stabilized our blood sugar levels are, the less likely you’re going to be to experience food cravings, to battle ongoing fatigue, and to be at the potential risk of developing diabetes down the road.
Since the paleo diet is also chalk full of healthy fats from all the seeds and nuts that are being consumed while also being low in saturated fat due to the restriction of dairy and high fat meat sources, this is also going to work to improve your cholesterol profile and help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
When using the paleo diet you shouldn’t find you have any issue getting enough protein in either, which is something that’s critical for both the fat loss and muscle building process as you’ll be including lean meat sources with each meal. By choosing to incorporate a wide spectrum of fruits and vegetables in your menu, you’re also going to help to keep calorie intake on the lower side, so this will be beneficial from a fat loss point of view.
If you are someone who happens to actively looking to build muscle and thus require that higher calorie surplus, you can simply add larger doses of nuts and seeds into the plan to help boost your calorie and healthy fat intake up higher.
Since the paleo diet has you moving away from all forms of processed and refined carbohydrates, most individuals will find this naturally lowers their calorie intake as well as less food choices are available. Without ten different flavors of chips to choose from or eight different types of cereals lining your pantry, you’re going to have a much easier time sticking with your meal plan and getting the results you’re looking for.
Con’s Of The Paleo Diet:
So what are the drawbacks to the Paleo Diet, if any?
The biggest issue that you may run into that can easily be overcome with proper planning is the fact that if you are a very active individual doing high volume workout sessions, you may find it harder to get in the complex carbohydrates that you need. While you’ll definitely get in carbohydrates from the fruits and vegetables you consume, you’ll be hard pressed to get in hundreds of calories worth without walking around feeling bloated all day long.
Thing is, the body can only handle so much fiber at once and if you’re aiming for a calorie intake of 4000+ per day, with 2000 calories coming from carbohydrates, you may begin to struggle. Since high intensity exercise can only utilize glucose as a fuel source (as fat will not support this intensity of activity), therein lies the potential issue that must be dealt with. A paleo food list can be found here.
The way to get around this problem is to focus on eating the highest carbohydrate-rich fruits available including bananas, cherries, and pineapples. At over 100 calories per cup or large fruit, this will add up quickly not to mention you will have to be careful as it will certainly effect your numbers.
Additionally, some athletes will choose to also include the most wholesome grains such as brown rice and steel-cut oats, so that’s another consideration. While eating these will move away from the diet being a true, authentic paleo diet, if you keep the carbohydrates limited to just these highly natural sources, you’ll still receive the same benefits that the approach has to offer while getting in those necessary carbohydrates for energy and muscle glycogen restoration purposes.
The second limitation that you may run into with this approach is that those who choose to use a vegetarian lifestyle will find it very difficult to get in the necessary protein they need to meet their needs. Since most vegetarian protein sources such as quinoa, soy, lentils, chickpeas, and all other legumes are restricted on the plan, there aren’t many options left.
Those who are vegetarian who do want to pursue this diet may want to consider adding a protein powder to their diet to help meet their protein intake and then following the plan as outlined within the foods they are okay eating. Just keep in mind in doing so they won’t be using a pure Paleo Diet either as dairy products and egg related products are not permitted.
The Paleo plan may require some fine tuning in order to be a desirable bodybuilding diet. Overall it provides the essential nutrients for optimum health, but dietary considerations are only part of a bodybuilding regime. Increasing your muscle mass also requires regular physical activity that includes a weight training program. Like with any other diet you are considering, consult with your doctor before starting.
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Also, if your looking to get that added protein to begin a paleo lifestyle, then you need to add this to your arsenal.
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