With every diet, there are restrictions and rules or some sort of reward system. With Paleo, that isn’t the case. Paleo is simple, if our ancestors thousands of years ago didn’t eat it, then neither will you. It’s a rule in itself, but is it really a restriction? The choice is really between eating healthily or not. However, before we get into this, let’s just go over what exactly we will be missing in a Paleo based diet and the reasons behind it.
Grains and legumes are strictly forbidden. Reasons are because they have anti-nutritional components within them such as saponins, lectins and phytic acid. Saponins prevent proper digestion of proteins, vitamins and minerals in the gut, which may cause hypoglycemia. Although uncommon in people who don’t have diabetes, it does disrupt your nutrients intake. Lectins, found in any gluten containing grains like wheat, barley and rye cannot be broken down in the digestive system, leaving the full, large protein in the gut. Phytic acid can inhibit absorption of iron, calcium, magnesium and various other minerals and trace elements.
All in all, grains and legumes are avoided in a Paleo focused diet.
Next, we’re going to talk about dairy products. This is on the fence. Yes, the possibility that our ancestors actually milked cows and drank milk is questionable. Obviously, during the suckling period, our ancestors would have drunk the milk from their mother’s teat and not from cows. Milk has plenty of great qualities but there’re also plenty of people who aren’t able to handle the digestion of lactose and some are even allergic to casein which is the protein in milk.
Milk is not considered part of a Paleo diet and a point of debate. You won’t find that many recipes with milk in them in a paleo recipe book, but if it’s your favorite drink, or you’re looking to gain weight, fermented milk like yogurt is a great source of good bacteria. Even more, the fermentation process consumes most of the sugars which means less lactose to process.
One other thing to take note of when taking milk products is the fact that there’s a high amount of carbohydrates in it. That fact alone promotes insulin which can cause problems if you’re already fighting to control insulin levels or if you’re trying to lose weight. Additionally, store bought milk is usually produced by grain-fed cows which equals a higher omega-6 fatty acid which can trigger inflammation which may have negative effects. Right, so if you were on the fence, I hope that answered a few questions.
Now let’s get on to another aspect of going on a Paleo diet which is a concern for many people who question whether or not a Paleo diet will work for them. More often than not, the concern I hear is that eating using a Paleo diet won’t provide enough energy for them to get through their already hectic days.
This can’t be further from the truth. If anything, being on a Paleo diet would give you more energy than you’d be able to gain from a typical unhealthy diet. With Paleo, fat is the primary fuel you’ll be expending. Much more than sugar and starch, fat provides better fuel which is a good thing because the more fat you use to fuel your exertions, the more fat you lose and the healthier you feel.
According to Nora Gedgaudas, the author of Primal Body, Primal Mind, “The human body and brains’ primary source of fuel is designed to be fat in the form of ketones – not glucose” So where fat produces energy slowly and for longer lasting periods of time, glucose (sugar and starch) exhausts itself quickly. Logical as well, considering our ancestors had to walk everywhere, or run everywhere and this was way before breads, pastas and donuts ever came to exist.
So there you have it, I hope this post expelled some doubts you had on what a Paleo diet requires out of you. Don’t fret if all this is new to you, I’ve put quite a lot of information here on my blog dispelling many a myth about Paleo diets here and you’re more than welcome to browse around. If you’re anything like me and looking to get a half decent start, I also picked up Secret Paleo, a recipe book for all things Paleo diet related which you can check out here.