Before the agricultural revolution the world was made up of hunter-gatherers. The Paleo diet was created to mimic the way our Paleolithic ancestors ate during this time. The diet consists of lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Professor Loren Cordain recently made the diet popular and explains that obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and numerous other health problems have become the result of consuming refined sugars, grains, saturated and trans fats, and processed foods. He says eating the way we were genetically adapted to would dramatically decrease the prevalence of major health problems most Americans are faced with today. The diet is also stated to provide followers leaner bodies, acne-free skin, improved athletic performance, and relief from metabolic and autoimmune disorders.
The Paleo diet is based on keeping your body at an alkaline state, which is supposed to prevent diseases of acid/base imbalance such as osteoporosis, kidney stones, asthma, hypertension and stroke. It discourages the consumption of grain and dairy and encourages an unlimited amount of fruits and vegetables. One of the unusual parts to the Paleo method is the low emphasis on physical activity. In fact for the first two weeks of the diet it is not recommended that you exercise at all. I found this shocking since our cavemen ancestors were very active on a daily basis while hunting. Cordain has come out with another book titled, Paleo for Athletes, however the original diet is modified to incorporate a few more low-glycemic carbohydrates to account for the physical activity.
So here is my take on the Paleolithic diet. I do not disagree with this form of eating. It promotes a nutritious diet using lean meats and seafood instead of high fat meats and cheeses like other low-carb diets. It encourages unlimited fruits and vegetables to replace processed, high sugar snacks and foods. All of these things are great and I can definitely see how weight loss would occur while following this diet. However, like with other diets, when you eliminate and entire food group (grains, dairy) you are bound to lose weight because you are most likely eating less. However, the downfalls I see with the diet are the long term viability and lack of emphasis on exercise. Cordain encourages that while following the diet you eat mostly organic and grass fed meat. I am all for organic eating, and if you are going to eat meat, then I say free range is the way to go, but it is not highly accessible. Many people do not have access to a Whole Foods type store nor can they afford to shop at the higher prices for these products. So I see long term sustainability as a problem. Also, I am a strong advocate that exercise is a must with any diet or way of life. It is essential for strong muscles, bones, and the day to day functioning of your body. All in all, I would not discourage someone to try out the Paleo way of eating, but as always I encourage you to obtain all the facts and know how to do it properly so you get all of the essential vitamins and nutrients necessary. Also, I recommend you talk with your physician before starting any diet or exercise program.