The world’s most popular diet in 2013, the Paleo craze hasn’t lost any steam. It has acquired quite the cult following from certain fitness groups, but don’t be fooled. The Paleo Diet was not created by CrossFit.
So why is it so popular? And should you jump on the bandwagon?
Well that depends 100% on what your health goals are. Part of the reason for so much confusion around nutrition is the assumption that there is one perfect diet out there. When in fact many of the diets have huge health benefits when pair with their perfect partner. Screw soul mates, I’m looking for my soul food.
Scientist and "Paleo Mom" Sarah Ballentyne, Ph.D. defines Paleo as:
“A nutrient-dense whole foods diet based on eating a variety of quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. It improves health by providing balanced and complete nutrition while avoiding most processed and refined foods and empty calories.”
It is often referred to as the “hunter/gatherer” diet, as it is rooted in our ancestor’s diets from before the agricultural era. When in doubt #WWEME – What would Encino Man eat?
FOOD DO’S AND DON’TS ON THE PALEO DIET
What I love about the Paleo Diet is that it was created to increase the amount of whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods you eat; while reducing the number of gut-disrupting, hormone-disrupting, and inflammatory foods.
At first it can sound super restrictive especially if you are used to eating a lot of processed foods, grains or legumes. But there is a pretty wide variety of food to choose from, you just might need to start exploring the veg and meat sections at the grocery store a little more.
You can include fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat (including organ meats), seafood, healthy fats, fermented foods, herbs, and spices.
The paleo diet excludes processed and refined foods (e.g. sugar, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, etc.), grains (e.g. wheat, oats, rice, etc.), dairy, and most legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, peanuts, etc.).
The paleo diet can be thought of as more of a "template," rather than a strict set of rules.
It’s a diet that seems to be easy to maintain, and with little to no negative side effects. There is no measuring or counting of calories or carbs (practices that I would love to burn in a flaming furry).
HOW DOES THE PALEO DIET AFFECT YOUR HEALTH?
Several clinical studies have been done to find out whether there are health benefits of eating this way.
Some of the research has shown that the paleo diet can help with weight loss and belly fat. That alone may be reason enough to give it a try.
Not to mention its effect on several modern-day chronic diseases. For example, it can improve risk factors for heart disease. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, and even reduce symptoms of some autoimmune diseases.
It’s also thought to be “gut-friendly” because it includes a lot of high-fiber foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds), fermented foods (which contain gut-friendly probiotics), as well as being full of nutritious natural foods.
WHO SHOULD JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON?
Some people recommend the paleo diet for those with food intolerances or autoimmune diseases. Those at high risk for heart disease or diabetes may also be good candidates to give the paleo diet a try.
If you react to gluten or lactose, this diet removes them both by eliminating all grains and dairy.
Those struggling to lose belly fat may see a huge improvement with this way of eating as it helps to balance hormones that cause fat to be stored around the abdomen.
Even if you don't choose to go paleo, the elimination of added sugars, processed and refined foods should be a goal to move toward.
My 12 Week Thrive Weight Loss program incorporates a lot of these principles into easy to follow meal plans. While not 100% Paleo it follows many of the guidelines with a little more wiggle room (‘cause in my world a little wine and chocolate are good for the soul). Check out this Masterclass that will give you lots of actionable takeaways and access to the program that takes all the guess work out of eating a little more Encino Man style.
The paleo diet is based on what hunters and gatherers ate thousands of years ago. It is a whole-food based, nutrient-dense diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood, and fermented foods.
Science has shown that it can help some people to lose weight, reduce risks of heart disease, improve glucose tolerance, and reduce inflammation.
At the very least, eliminating added sugars, processed, and refined foods are a great goal, even if you decide not to “go paleo.”
PALEO BANANA MUFFINS
3 large eggs
5 mashed bananas
½ cup almond butter
¼ cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup coconut flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a food processor or stand mixer, blend eggs, bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla.
In a large bowl mix coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add blended wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Spoon batter into muffin tins, ¾ full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden.
Serve & enjoy as much as my 2 monkey's do!
Tip: You can top muffins with walnuts before baking.