There’s a lot of talking about the paleolithic diet and not necessarily for the best of reasons. There are many theories about the benefits that this diet can bring to anyone’s life and also theories that don’t support it because it’s much too radical in certain aspects.
When we talk about this diet, we are not talking about an easy system when it comes to schedules or even calorie-control. The motto is to eat only when you’re hungry and to carefully choose quality foods. It’s not an option to eat foods with no nutritional value or foods with a high dosage of carbs that spike the blood’s insulin level.
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Those in favor of this diet believe that you can have a healthy life by reeducating yourself when it comes to food, following the parameters of the paleo style. Outside the painting are processed foods, vegetal oils, margarines, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners, milk and dairy products, cereal and every food that has been processed with cereal, potatoes, vegetables and spirits. There’s the belief that these products are a big cause for intestinal and cardiovascular problems, and that they are responsible for a low immune system and lack of energy, among other related factors.
To this lifestyle belong only natural foods that haven’t been subjected to any type of transformation through the modern food industry. Outside of the black list are: organic meats, fish that haven’t been bred in captivity, oilseeds, dry fruits, healthy oils and fats (ex: coconut or avocado oil), eggs and biological vegetables, honey (not very often), green leaves, fruits (preferably berries or strawberries, avoiding fruits that suffer alterations to their production and that have a bigger caloric value), tea and coffee, wine and beer (moderately, 2 glasses of wine and 350ml of beer).
Among many positive aspects described by the followers of the Paleo diet, the most common stand out:
– A diet high in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants;
– Avoids industrialized foods;
– High amount of poly-saturated fat;
– Low allergenic effect;
– Low in sodium;
– Appropriate for weight loss (in the first 21 days there’s an estimated weight loss value of about 2.5kg to 8kg);
– Strengthens the immune and digestive systems;
– Improves sleeping quality;
– Ingestion of very low amounts of carbohydrates;
– Leaves out dairy products;
– To some extent, it harms the individual’s social life, due to its food restrictions;
The great amount of fruits and vegetables that this diet requires allows an elevated consumption of vitamins, minerals and fiber, that may be helpful to your body, avoiding diseases associated to the lack of these foods (ex: anemia, hypovitaminosis) and improve bowl function. Besides that, the fact that it has antioxidant substances will also reduce the risk of any chronic disease (diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, etc).
The counterpoint is the fact that this diet is very low in carbohydrates, providing a very low level of energy, putting normal serotonin levels at risk (hormone responsible for regulating humor, sleep, appetite, cardiac rhythm, body temperature, etc). Hypoglycemia generated due to a low level of carbohydrates may cause a cognitive impairment and difficulties when it comes to learning. Another factor to consider is the radical exclusion of dairy products, factor that drastically diminishes the levels of calcium in the diet, important mineral for the development of the body’s metabolic functions, like bone and teeth formation and muscular contraction.
When on the Paleo diet, you’re allowed to have the occasional free day when you have the possibility of having a meal and eat something that is not in the permission list. Many athletes and Crossfit enthusiasts follow the Paleo diet, considered Crossfit’s official diet.
N/d, Dieta do paleolítico, n/d, translation and adaptation of the original version
N/d, Paleo – A dieta oficial do Crossfit, December 2012, translation and adaptation of the original version