Food 101: Paleo

The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility.
— Robb Wolf

So, by this point, y’all know how I feel about blanket statements. However: there is a lot of truth in this statement by Robb Wolf, whose accolades are in power-lifting. He has 3 people on his team, one of whom is an actual dietician.

Paleo isn’t a diet in the traditional sense, in that is not a short-term plan, it’s a lifestyle change. It’s also not meant to cause weight loss, though weight loss can be a byproduct of this shift in menu items.

The name paleo is problematic for a number of reasons, namely that what your ancestors ate in the paleolithic era varied tremendously depending on where on the globe they happened to be. The short description is that paleo avoids processed foods with the philosophy that we shouldn’t eat anything that wasn’t available to our ancestors during the Paleolithic era. The list of things to avoid is simple: grains, starches, processed or added sugar, legumes, dairy (though some argue grass-fed dairy is paleo friendly) and alcohol (some argue that fermented beverages like mead{Skald!} and cider are ok but avoid distilled substances).

It’s a simple list, but when you look around in your daily life, you begin to see how much of everything we eat has something on that list in it (hello corn syrup?).

The yes foods are fruits, vegetables, lean meats (nose to tail), wild caught seafood, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats (which is a funny category, because you’ll find your healthy fats in fruits, seeds, wild caught seafood and grass-fed meat). There is a special consideration for organic, grass-fed, pastured and wild caught food product to avoid any potential toxins as much as possible.

To me, this is just sensible eating. Sustainable and planet-friendly farming and agriculture practices yield healthier food. Go figure.

What you get with Paleo is a diet that is rich with variety (think veggies and fruits of different colors) and minimal inflammatory triggers. The grain rich diet promoted by the US government is very much responsible for the obesity epidemic today. As I have mentioned, if you’re not working out, lifting weights, you don’t need the many starchy carbs in your life. Refined sugar, especially HFCS, hits the bloodstream, numbing our glucose response and puts us in danger of diabetes. I love dairy as much as the next person, but milk is not that good for you, no matter how many olympians grew up drinking it. There is no proven link between drinking milk and decreased risk of osteoporosis, in fact there is evidence of the opposite, and milk can cause build of mucus in the body.ew. I think fermented dairy products like greek yogurt(none of that yoplait ish), cottage cheese and cheese are great, but only if it’s full fat. Also, grass fed dairy has a healthier cholesterol profile.

And alcohol. Well, if you're going to argue with me that cutting back on alcohol is bad, i just can’t.

There are a lot of cons with this method eating, namely its difficulty. Next time you're grabbing lunch at Pret, just try to find something that has no grain, and no dairy. I do think it’s worth the effort to keep your diet as clean (not processed, not hormone and antibiotic ridden, and not sprayed with chemicals) because there is so much more to our health than how much we weigh. Your skin, for instance, is the largest organ in/on the body. Anything from patches of scaliness to unexplained acne can be caused by toxins that are in conventional food.

Digestive issues can also be an indication that something is off and many times, because we don’t discuss it, what we think is normal for ourselves isn’t actually healthy. When we the last time you looked at your poo? I’m not even kidding.

What you want to know is “will paleo help me lose weight?”

The answer is “probably.” Again, remember that weight loss happens when we are in caloric deficit, and we determine this by tracking your intake and expenditure. The Paleo menu forces us to seek out foods that are inherently more nutritious. When our micronutrient needs are met, we experience hunger far less frequently. The change in menu items will most likely lead to fewer calories consumed on a daily basis, which will lead to weight loss.

Paleo gets a thumbs up from me for sustainability, even with its challenges when it comes to eating out. This “diet” existed before it was coined Paleo and rode the fad train with the crossfit crowd. It was just called “Stop eating junk.”