Dissecting the Paleo Diet

As you’ve doubtlessly surmised from my blog description page, my main reason for starting this website is to gain a better understanding of mankind’s lineage, through our role in the ecology – by creating food (gardening) and enjoying it (cooking). I stumbled upon a relatively new lifestyle that’s slowly gaining ground – the Paleolithic Diet – and I’ve come to believe that some of the characteristics of this diet are in keeping with this site’s values.

The Paleo Diet assumes that our bodies evolved over millions of years in a world before agriculture, meaning that there was no place for mankind’s current staples of grain, corn and legumes in our diet. Study has also led many to believe that most of our health problems (especially autoimmunity) are linked to gluten and excess carbohydrates. The Paleo Diet simply removes these items from your diet – no wizardry, no gimmicks, etc. Basically, you replace a high-carb diet with a high-fat diet consisting of meat, poultry, seafood, veggies, fruits, nuts and berries. The diet seems like an all-encompassing version of other, successful lifestyle choices, like the gluten-free diet.

This idea interested me so I’ve decided to give it a shot. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of bread so I already had a head start. I’ve been doing it for about three weeks now, and I’ve had mixed results: initially, I went full-on Paleo, even removing some inflammation-related food items like dairy, potatoes, tomatoes, nuts and seeds. But after a couple weeks I was starting to lose too much weight (I’ve already lost about 10 pounds and I’m a relatively thin person), so I’ve decided to re-introduce all of the above items. Rice is a hotly contested item (shunned by the Paleo Diet as a grain, but welcomed in other low-carb diets like the Perfect Health Diet), so we’ve decided that if we’re going to have any starch in our diet aside from tubers (potatoes, yams), we’re going to have white rice. As far as dairy is concerned, we’re only eating the high-fat items (which goes against everything that I’ve learned before) like butter, cream, cheese, and european-style yogurt.

Probably the best side effect of this diet is that our family has cut out almost all processed foods, since they all contain some form of wheat, soy, or corn. Personally, I feel much healthier (no more post-meal tiredness or gas) and have been sleeping more soundly. We’ve also been choosing healthier food products like nitrite-free meats and grass-fed beef, which actually taste really good. I definitely miss beer, though.

If you’re interested, here is a 12-step process taken from this Paleo nutrition blog.

1. Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS) and all foods that contain flour.
2. Start eating proper fats – Use healthy animal fats or coconut fat to substitute fat calories for calories that formerly came from sugar and flour. Drink whole cream or coconut milk.
3. Eliminate gluten grains. Limit grains like corn and rice, which are nutritionally poor.
4. Eliminate grain and seed derived oils (cooking oils) Cook with Ghee, butter, animal fats, or coconut oil.
5. Favor ruminants like beef, lamb and bison for your meat. Eat eggs and some fish.
6. Make sure you are Vitamin D replete. Get daily midday sun or consider supplementation.
7. 2 or 3 meals a day is best. Don’t graze like a herbivore.
8. Adjust your 6s and 3s. Pastured (grass fed) dairy and grass fed beef or bison has a more optimal 6:3 ratio, more vitamins and CLA. A teaspoon or two of Carlson’s fish oil (1-2 g DHA/EPA) daily is good compensatory supplementation if you eat grain-fed beef or no fish.
9. Proper exercise – emphasizing resistance and interval training over long aerobic sessions.
10. Most modern fruit is just a candy bar from a tree. Go easy on bags of sugar like apples. Stick with berries and avoid watermelon which is pure fructose. Eat in moderation.
11. Eliminate legumes
12. If you are allergic to milk protein or concerned about theoretical risks of casein, you can stick to butter and cream and avoid milk and soft cheeses.

Considering that this diet is quite a lifestyle change, I expect this blog to shift focus a little bit, if only to offer more Paleo-friendly recipes. For further reading, I suggest the links found on paleohacks.com.

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