Okay, so here’s the game. Remember those bearded, beefy cavemen you see in drawings and paintings in history museums and books? You have to go their way. And we don’t mean you should time travel or wear animal skin. No, sir. No, ma’am. We’re talking about Paleo Diet.
Cool? Cool. Wait. What?
What is Paleo Diet?
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Paleo diet, or the caveman diet, is a popular diet trend that requires you to eat only whole foods. And yes, you will have to avoid foods that you already probably love (good news: you don’t have to COMPLETELY break up with them).
You got to avoid processed foods in favor of natural ones: plants and animals. These include fruits, veggies, nuts, eggs, fish, and other greens (except maybe the Hulk and Shrek).
It’s the ‘caveman way’ because it’s basically copying the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors of long ago. They didn’t have access to packaged, processed foods that we so easily get today. They didn’t have grocery stores that supplied them with hotdogs, buns, hotdogs, buns … and did we say hotdogs?
The Paleo diet movement has been around for quite some time, and it has evolved a lot. Lucky for you, there are no strict, written-in-stone rules. You can still eat some of your favorites if you decide to go halfsie caveman.
(We just hope you don’t go the caveman way when it comes to your hygiene!)
So how does it work?
Not to be too technical, we’re going to discuss it using only two words: carbohydrates and fats. Cool? Let’s get it on.
First, your body needs a source of energy. That’s because you’re a living, breathing, moving organism. Sometimes you dance and sometimes you sing (no need to do that right now). Sometimes you work out; sometimes you just sit there like a sick duck. Even when you’re sleeping, your body still uses energy.
And just like anything that moves and does work, you need fuel. Vehicles need fuel. Gadgets need batteries (unless they get their juice from the sun, in which case the sun is their fuel). And your body uses carbs and fats as its fuel.
The thing is your body prefers fats as its fuel. It burns fats when it uses energy.
The problem is that, in modern times, we consume too many carbs. And when our body gets more carbs than what is necessary, your body stores excess carbs and turns them into fats. Those excess fats pile up. Your body doesn’t use them. And you turn obese. You don’t want that, do you?
The Paleo diet solves this problem by removing all the unnecessary carbs from your diet. Your body will then burn more fats rather than carbs—which is how the body should work.
Wait a minute, I thought fat was bad?
Not in the sense you think.
You probably think that you need to avoid fat because it just sticks around longer in your body. You think it’s what prevents you from wearing that bikini or donning that muscle shirt.
But, as we have mentioned, your body prefers fat as a source of energy. The problem is that you consume more carbs than what is necessary, so your body ignores the fat and stores it instead.
When you go caveman, you cut down on simple sugars and carbs. And since your body doesn’t have any more access to those things, it will turn to the fats stored in your body. It is fuel that’s longer lasting and burns much slower than carbohydrates.
What about carbs? I thought they were the good guys…
Don’t get us wrong. There are good carbs and bad carbs.
First off, remember that there are simple and complex carbs. You ought to stay away from simple carbs, while you can eat complex carbs from time to time. Why?
Simple carbs burn quickly. Your body ‘transforms’ them into sugar faster than complex carbs. And when these carbs turn into sugar, your insulin levels spike up, preventing your body from burning fat. Bear in mind that one of your goals in the Paleo diet is to burn fat instead of carbs.
Key Benefits of a Paleo Diet
People aren’t raving about the caveman diet for nothing. Aside from achieving that fit and sexy body you always wanted, there are other more important benefits. Here are some of them:
- Weight loss
- Less craving for sugar
- Better digestion
- Lesser inflammation
- More muscles
- Clearer skin
- Feeling full for longer
You may want to add “six-pack” abs to that list, but that would mean you should work out. We encourage that.
Paleo Diet: What to Eat?
Before you go to the grocery store and hunt for food like a caveman, you can keep this checklist:
- Red meat
- Healthy fats
- Natural oils
- Natural sweeteners
You have got to put organic foods on top of your list. For seafood, choose those that are fresh and from the wild.
Paleo Diet: What NOT to Eat?
Now, here are the foods you may want to throw out or donate to your next-door foodie friend:
- Refined sugar
- Processed foods
- Refined carbs
- Vegetable oils
We know it’s hard to say goodbye to these, but just like a nasty breakup with an ex, you’ll move on. Oh, yes you will.
What to Drink?
WATER. It’s still the best way to keep your body hydrated. You can’t imagine cavemen of the past jonesing for Fanta or Coke every now and then.
Aside from good old H2O, you may allow for some tea and coffee, which are both rich in antioxidants. Green tea is the best. And who can survive a day without a cup of coffee? That dark, magical liquid.
Wine also makes the list even if it’s not entirely Paleo, since it sports a lot of antioxidants too. Just don’t imbibe too much, okay?
Other Key Insights
Although there are no strict rules of what’s the best Paleo diet, there are some recurring rules that experts and enthusiasts follow.
Avoid Processed Foods
Here’s the good news: once you have taken them out of your system, you will have less cravings for them.
Avoid Food that makes you want to vomit
If that food makes you sick to the stomach, even if it’s Paleo, better veer away. There is a large selection of Paleo foods to choose from. Just think about your hot but toxic ex. Right.
Don’t be too strict, though
Going cold turkey is difficult. It’s the same with a diet program. You don’t have to go full-blown caveman. If it’s better for you, go with 80-20. You’ll eat Paleo 80 percent of the time, but you’ll grab that pizza 20 percent of the time.
Cook your own food
Fewer processed foods means more time in the kitchen. You will have to learn to cook your own food. It wouldn’t be too stressful, however. There are tons of simple Paleo diet recipes that you can try in the comfort of your kitchen. No, you don’t have to burn down the house.
The Paleo diet is a very flexible diet. That means you can experiment with it varieties and choices. Check out different versions, and see what fits you better.