Once upon a time, more than 10,000 years ago…
Somewhere between 2.5 million years to 10,000 years ago, the Palaeolithic man roamed across the stretches of wild and uncultivated lands. This age was marked by the earliest use of stone tools, carefully crafted by the Homo Habilis.
The Palaeolithic man formed small bands or groups of other Homo Habilis which found food via plants, fishing, or hunting. Sometimes, it also preferred to scavenging dead animals for its diet.
He used bones obtained from the dead carcasses and stones to fashion different varieties of tools.
The Palaeolithic way of life mainly centered on having a simple hunter-gatherer economy.
They hunted wild animals for food, climbed on trees for fruits, and dug up the earth in search of tubers. The other marked features of this period are a highly nomadic lifestyle, high rate of infanticide, low body fat, and late weaning of infants.
But it is not these anthropological topics which we are going to focus on. Here, we are going to pay special attention to the typical “caveman” diet. We dive deeper into the concept of the Palaeolithic diet.
Is the way to go, when it comes to having a more healthy and natural approach to eating?
Would you eat like a caveman?
Had it not been for an intrepid dentist’s trip to the ends of the earth, the Paleo diet would have remained a long forgotten tale of the past.
Weston A. Price, whose journeys brought him closer to this primitive way of eating, was wildly criticized initially. But over a decade or so, this “eat-like-your-ancestors” trend has resurfaced.
Mostly because our modern diet is light years away from what experts would call “natural” or “healthy” (or in sync with what our body demands).
Today, everything we eat comes artificially colored and preserved, packed in shiny wrappers, treated chemically to have a longer shelf life.
Everything the modern man eats is dangerously laced with sugar. But millions of years ago, the caveman ate every item in its most natural and un-preserved form.
Our digestive system has evolved in coherence with what the Stone Age man ate. And that’s why this diet seems like a very tempting offer.
The basics of a Paleo Diet
The basics of a Paleo Diet are pretty simple.
Ask yourself, what would a Stone Age man eat? And then go and eat exactly that.
A Paleo diet is typically rich in fats and proteins (mainly derived from animals).It is low in carbohydrates, or moderate in the most.
Natural sources of healthy fats are encouraged in this type of diet.
Main sources of these fats are coconut oil or olive oil.It also includes consuming naturally available nuts and seeds such as walnuts, apricots, pistachios, and cashews.
Freshly grown fruits are an important part of a typical Paleo diet. Seasonal and locally grown fruits are the best options.
A Paleo diet loads up on fresh vegetables too.Even the starchy vegetables, which are routinely shunned by dieticians as being fatty in nature, are consumed whole-heartedly.
Sweet potatoes, yams, eggplants, cabbage– all these are a part of this diet.
Next comes the most significant element of a Paleo diet – animal proteins.
Remember, the Stone Age man didn’t artificially rear animals. Everything was either hunted or fished. Wild-caught fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and even shellfish is consumed as a part of this diet.
The kind of meat consumed in this diet is organic and grass-fed. The animals are not injected with antibiotics nor are they exposed to any kind of harsh chemicals such as pesticides.
Not a part of Paleo diet
- Things which are completely removed from the diet are cereals (whole grains and refined). So are legumes and lentils.
- This means zero consumption of wheat, oats, barley, brown rice, beans, peas and others.
- Sugar is a big no-no for a Paleo Diet. Anything which has added sugar (brown or white) cannot be Paleo since the Stone Age man didn’t have this item on its kitchen shelf.
- Similarly, all artificially pressed oils such as vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils are also gone.Paleo diet is 30% proteins, 30% fats, and 40% Carbohydrates.
Pros and Cons of Paleo Diet
There are lots of advantages associated with this kind of “ancestral” eating.But there are some drawbacks too.
Let us have a closer look into each of these
- Paleo Diet is completely free from packaged goods and processed food. Even from refined sugar. The meat is exclusively grass-fed and organic, i.e, they are either naturally reared. Fish is wild-caught.
- This means no artificial preservative, chemicals, toxins, pesticides, and similar elements enter your system. It’s the textbook “clean” diet.
- Through a Paleo diet, you are consuming only fresh fruits and vegetables which are loaded with anti-oxidants. This builds a strong immunity against diseases.
- This diet is dominated by healthy fats and proteins – things that make you feel full for a longer time. This improves your satiety and you tend to binge eat less.
- Since you have limited food options, you end up consuming only those things which are healthy and filling. Hence, it’s a great diet plan for those planning to lose weight.
- This diet plan cuts of major food groups dominating our current diet –cereals and legumes. It becomes highly restrictive and difficult to sustain over longer periods of time.
- Vegans face a lot of problems while following this diet because animal proteins are a major chunk of what you eat in a Paleo diet.
- The assumption that our gut health is the same as that of the Paleo man is highly misleading.
- Legumes, grains, and dairy products aren’t unhealthy things to consume. Still, they are not a part of Paleo Diet, making it an incomplete diet.
- In fact, these food groups help in controlling our blood sugar levels and help in losing weight. So there is no reason to keep them away from your diet.
- People tend to over-consume saturated fats (because frankly speaking, they aren’t eating much of anything else). Though saturated fats are not bad for your health, still over-doing it may be counter-productive to healthy eating.
- There is no “single” Paleo diet since the Stone Age man wasn’t confined to one geographical region or climate. Also, the fruits and veggies we eat today are unlike the ones which the Paleo man consumed.
- They were smaller, tougher to eat, and not as sweet as they are grown today.
“Fasting as an epilepsy cure: Osteopaths Hear That 22 Days On Water Usually Ends Fits”
These headlines featured in the year 1922, when a Dr. Hugh Conklin’s radical approach helped many patients control epilepsy fits through a change in diet.
This diet, which primarily included intermittent fasting and only consumption of water, gained much popularity in the 20s. Almost 9 decades have passed since such “water” diet gained popularity.
Many nutritionists and physiologists studied the foundation of this type of eating for various benefits. This intense research has given rise to an effective, long-lasting, albeit a slightly unconventional model of diet practice called the Keto Diet.
During the research on the epilepsy patients, it was observed that when patients were not allowed to eat for a longer duration of time (fasting), the frequency of the seizures decreased.
Additionally, scientists also noticed that this fasting period improved blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and body fat content. The reason behind this miracle was found to be “Ketosis”.
When your body is short on sugar supply, it turns to the alternative source of energy – the fat molecules. Your body starts burning its fat storage instead of the usual glucose.
These fuel cells, called as Ketones, are burnt when the body has no glucose at its disposal. The end result, known as Ketosis, thus helps in effective burning of fats and weight loss.
Eat fats to burn fats: Keto Diet basics
So instead of eating tasteless salads and forcing yourself to go extreme gymming every day- you force your body’s metabolism to go into a state ketosis.
A state where you start burning fat reserves since you don’t have any glucose left in your body.
How do you do that?
Simple, eliminate glucose and consume fats.
Sounds tempting? Well, it is.
Let us try to delve a little bit more into what all a Keto diet expects you to eat.
- Eat a generous amount of fats (healthy fats). This is the basic requirement of the Keto diet. Fats comprise almost 80% of the entire diet. Be careful that you consume saturated fats only. Healthy sources of saturated fats include olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds.
- Avocados are a very good source of fats since they are rich in other nutrients and anti-oxidants.
- Make sure that the vegetables you are consuming are non-starchy in nature. This eliminates all kinds of potatoes, yams, and other tubers.
- Include more of green leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce. You can safely consume zucchini, asparagus, eggplants, cabbage etc. Broccoli is a great source of nutrition in a Keto Diet.
- The protein that you consume in a Keto diet must be low (or zero) in carbs and high in fats. This could include grass-fed meats, free-range poultry, cage-free eggs, lots of bone broth, and wild-caught fish.
- Keto diet encourages you to consume organ meats and dairy products. The dairy products should be full-fat, low in carbs, and are consumed ideally in the raw state.
A Keto Diet is 70-80% Fats, 15-20% Proteins, and a meager 5% Carbs.
Pros and Cons of Keto Diet
Eating fats to burn fats – It does sound like a dream come true for all those food-lovers trying hard to shed pounds. To many, it might sound too good to be true.
But in reality, just like the Paleo Diet, this diet comes with some drawbacks despite its obvious advantages. Let us examine each in detail.
- The many advantages of this effective diet include controlling insulin spikes, reducing binge-eating and increasing satiety.
- Increases the amount of fat you burn daily (thermogenesis).
- Introduces changes in brain chemistry which help control seizures.
- Improves overall cognitive functioning.
- Enhances endurance and physical performance.
- Lowers bodily inflammation – reduces the risk of cancer.
- Improves neurological health.
- The body requires some time to adjust to this kind of metabolism. Around 2-3 weeks.
- Extremely restrictive in nature – eliminates all sources of carbs (whole grains too).
- Many people tend to consume more fats (the unhealthy kind) under the pretext of eating healthy.
- It is difficult to obtain organic and free-range meats and poultry. Keto diet might become expensive too.
- Eating large quantities of fats for a longer period of time is not a good approach to sustain the weight loss.
- Keto diet followers have a tough time finding what to eat during social events and other occasions.
- You are not consuming whole grains and fiber. These are important for controlling blood-sugar and clearing your gut.
Paleo or Keto – Which one to choose?
Decide on what you expect from your diet – do you want to concentrate on the quality of foods or do you want to lose weight?
If you want to focus on eating “clean” and natural foods go for a plateful of Paleo.
If you are aiming to lose weight and control blood sugar, Keto diet is the answer for you.
There is no restriction on the amount of carbs in Paleo, and none for fats in Keto.
Choose the diet which you can complement with your daily physical activity levels to derive maximum benefits.
There are various tests which will tell you if your body is in the state of ketosis or not. But none whatsoever for being “Paleo”.
Keto Diet has a specific outcome which can be measured – how much weight did you lose? Paleo Diet, on the other hand, is not as specific and measured as Keto. Pick the one that best resonates with your goal.
It is possible to be Keto and Paleo at the same time!
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