The Pros And Cons of the Paleo Diet
As with everything in life, there's a "good" side and a "bad" side.
In the world of health and nutrition, there's literally hundreds of dieting protocols you can follow to become a healthier self & attain your ideal physique.
But is every diet good for you?
Most have their advantages and disadvantages.
We always ask ourselves a hundred different questions (with good reason) when considering a new diet:
"Will this help me lose weight?"
"I'm trying to gain muscle, should I follow this?"
"Do I have to cut out carbs?"
"Can this fit into my lifestyle?"
"Can I do this short term? What about long term?"
"I want more energy, will I feel more energized?"
"What kind of food will I be eating? Do I have to meal prep every week? "
The "paleo" or "paleolithic" diet is one of the many diets to achieve mainstream status & has helped millions of people around the world improve their quality of life.
A short summary of the pros and cons associated to the paleo diet will be highlighted within this blog post.
After weighting the pros and cons, you could then choose to make the paleo diet your nutritional strategy of choice or, look for more information to see if this is the nutritional strategy you want to implement to reach your goals.
You could also join our private Facebook and take on the 67 Day Challenge.
What is the paleo diet?
For someone that can't stay away from sugar longer than 48 hours, the paleo diet can be a nightmare.
That is because the paleo diet is centered around the removal of all grains, processed foods, processed sugar & dairy from your caloric intake and adopting a "primal" diet - eating the exact same foods our pre-ancestors ate, long before agriculture took over.
It's also known to be the "cavemen diet".
The diet is centered around meats, fish, fruits, nuts and veggies.
CONS OF THE PALEO DIET
Limited Food Choices
Like mentioned above, the paleo diet removes all dairy & processed foods from your diet.
Because the Western diet is dominated by carbohydrates and processed foods, this leaves you with a small category of foods you can choose from.
However, the evolution of our society has brought great technological advancements that make our lives easier.
We don't have to go hunting for food every other day or go through long periods of famine.
These technological advancements have played a massive role in the evolution of agriculture & the manufacturing of food.
Paleo branded foods have emerged on the market. Paleo protein bars, paleo dressings, paleo baking flour, the list goes on.
However, some hardcore paleo dieters will only stick to the foods mentioned at the beginning of the article.
A looser paleo diet can include foods such as whey protein isolate, 100% pasteurized honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, beans, chickpeas and a few more offshore items.
That decision will be up to you.
Expensive Grocery Bills
Vegetables and meats aren't cheap. As I am typing this, I just got back from the grocery store.
When checking out of the grocery store, I was able to go through the "1-12 items" cashier.
These 12 items cost me 106$. Don't believe me? Look at my receipt below: One hundred and six dollars for twelve items.
Ok I just counted. That was 16 items.
Nonetheless, this goes to show how expensive the paleo lifestyle can be. I didn't even buy fruits, cooking oils or spices.
You can easily walk out the grocery store with 60-80$ worth of groceries for the week, for one person, if starchy carbohydrates were an integral part of the weekly menu.
If you're on a very tight budget, you can throw the paleo diet out the window.
Creativity In The Kitchen
Based on my experience, this may be the most negative aspect of this diet for most people.
Because food selection is severely reduced, alot people have issues putting together decent meals.
You'll have have look online for new recipes if you don't want to eat the same repetitive meals over and over again.
Take it a step further and you will find yourself baking paleo pastries here and there. Things like donuts, cookies, banana bread.
This is where the coconut sugar comes into play.
Baking paleo pastries is alot more time and energy consuming than going to the store and buying a box of cookies.
If you have no desire to learn how to cook a little more complex meals with unique ingredients - meals that aren't centered around starchy carbohydrates, this is probably not for you.
Side note: This could also be viewed as a pro. Self growth is always a good thing.
"Attempting to improve your nutrition without a willingness to do at least some cooking and kitchen prep is like saying you want to win a basketball game without taking a shot." - Tim DiFrancesco
PROS OF THE PALEO DIET
No Processed Foods
Because virtually all processed foods are removed from your diet, this leaves all the room for some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.
Green leafy vegetables will be an integral part of your diet. Fruits will also become your best friend.
I don't think you need me to point you towards scientific studies for you to visualize the concept of a healthier self by the subtraction of processed foods from your diet.
The fact that you won't be eating any processed foods bring us to the second point below.
Natural Caloric Deficit
The vast majority of processed foods are calorie dense. Over time, this opens the door for your metabolism to be overfed.
When you replace calorie dense by nutrient dense, you now create a natural calorie deficit.
Calorie tracking shouldn't be a part of your approach when following the paleo lifestyle. Instead, focus on eating as many nutrient dense foods as much as possible, most notably green leafy vegetables.
This will ensure you remain in a caloric deficit and help put your metabolism in the best possible situation for optimal fat loss.
You hardly ever see anybody overeat broccoli.
Rice? That`s a different story.
If you haven't lost any significant weight after three weeks or don't see a difference in the mirror, then i'd strongly suggest you start tracking your calories to identify possible overeating.
For me, the issue was over snacking on nuts. God knows I love pistachios. I could snack on an entire bag of pistachios in one day.
Keep your nut consumption in check if your goal is fat loss. If your goal is muscle gain, have a field day.
The two pro's listed above leads us directly to the third one.
A wide variety of controlled studies have successfully demonstrated that the paleo approach results in a multitude of health benefits:
- lowered triglycerides (fat stores)
- lowered blood pressure
- reduced weight
- lowered BMI (body mass index)
- smaller waist circumference
Removing gluten, high glycemic & inflammatory foods from your diet will play a factor in improving your health.
Even short-term consumption of a paleo type diet can improve critical health markers in people that don't exercise - without losing a single pound.
Your ability to handle carbs more efficiently will be improved by decreasing insulin secretion over time and increasing insulin sensitivity.
If you take advantage of this and exercise regularly, this should turn you into a fat burning machine.
Are you suspected of IBS, IBD, Celiac disease or a leaky gut?
While the diet itself lacks real scientific backing in treating those conditions, it could serve as a good place to start and help alleviate your symptoms. (Consider the low FODMAP diet)
The logic here is that the removal of wheat and other grains and their role on inflammation in the gut should help reduce your symptoms.
All Roads Lead To Rome
Someone you know may have refused to replace their breakfast by throwing a chunk of butter in their morning coffee to eliminate hunger in the morning and lose weight (this is called the Bulletproof diet or Bulletproof coffee).
Someone else may have followed through with that advice & lost over 50 pounds in a year, throwing that exact same chunk of butter in their morning coffee, every single day.
There's no such thing as the "best diet" in this world.
All roads lead to Rome & this could not be more true in the world of health & nutrition. There's multiple nutritional approaches you can take to reach your goals, if you do things the right way and stay consistent with that approach.
If the paleo approach is of your interest, look no further.
The 67 Day Challenge is completed by adopting the paleo lifestyle for 67 days, similar to what LeBron James accomplished a few summers ago.
If you want to take on the Challenge, you can apply to join our free private Facebook group by clicking here.
If you're looking for a personalized meal plan & nutritional strategy based on your goals and lifestyle, you can reach out to me here.