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Eating like a Hunter-Gatherer? The Paleo Diet.

Updated: Jul 10, 2021

Now that I made many people cringe having talked about The Keto Diet, get ready to grab your pearls as I discuss the Paleo diet.

The aim is to present the various methods of eating and options so that as you assess your health and fitness goals, that you may do so armed with information.

Every once in a while, I re-introduce a few more carbohydrate sources into my diet in a process called “carb -cycling”.

Carbs are not all bad nor are they created equal!

Carb cycling is a very strict diet used by serious athletes and bodybuilders who want to drop body fat, get more muscle mass, or store more carbs for long-haul exercise like a marathon.

I generally do this along with making changes to the way I train.

Specifically, when I do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

This way of eating may sound extreme — you’re cutting out entire food groups, after all — but it can be a healthy alternative to the typical American diet which is high in grain-based, sugary foods loaded with highly processed fats and oils.

Sounds like a typical Trini diet too, right?

The paleo or hunter gatherer diet basically dictates that “if it was made in a factory, avoid it”. The concept is to eat whole foods and avoid as far as possible, processed foods.

What then can be eaten?

Here are the basics:

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils.

Avoid: Processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.

Avoid these foods and ingredients:

  • Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup: Soft drinks, fruit juices, table sugar, candy, pastries, ice cream and many others.

  • Grains: Includes breads and pastas, wheat, spelt, rye, barley, etc.

  • Legumes: although variations of the diet include some legumes.

  • Dairy: Avoid most dairy, especially low-fat (some versions of paleo do include full-fat dairy like butter and cheese).

  • Some vegetable oils: Soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil and others.

  • Trans fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods. Usually referred to as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.

  • Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium.

  • Highly processed foods: Everything labeled “diet” or “low-fat” or that has many additives. Includes artificial meal replacements.

A simple guideline: If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it.

If you want to avoid these ingredients, you must even read labels on foods that are labeled as “health foods.”

Salads which should comprise most if not all meals, should be eaten “naked” or without dressings or with only a drizzle of healthy fats in the form of oils such as avocado oil, olive oil etc.

Dark chocolate 70% and above is permissible for its nutritional and health benefits as well as the occasional glass of red wine for the heart health benefits.

Modified Paleo diet:

There are variations to the paleo diet and the original paleolithic people used what was available to them.

Similarly, it is not unusual to include gluten free grains such as rice (brown rice) when on the paleo diet or in our local context, provision.

This is because availability of food has changed since the paleolithic period 10,000 years ago.

Even then there were variations of the diet simply based on availability of food.

Archeological studies have found evidence that humans living during the Paleolithic era did in fact eat grains.

Diets of early humans varied dramatically depending on where they lived.

There is no one “Paleolithic diet.”

Discuss with your health practitioner and your fitness coach, your specific requirements when composing your meal plan.

Before turning up a nose at either the keto or paleo diet, remember they both encourage avoidance of foods which cause inflammation; a key component to boosting immune health which in turn improves chances of fighting Covid -19.

Another advantage of the diet is that it is rich in potassium – Eating a lot of fruit and vegetables increases potassium levels, which is important for maintaining a healthy blood pressure and healthy kidney and muscle function.

  • The fats are healthy – Consuming moderate amounts of unsaturated fats such as those found in nuts, avocado and olive oil gives rise to a healthy lipid profile.

  • High protein content – Proteins are essential for growth and development of the skin, muscles, bone and cartilage. Adequate amounts of lean protein in the diet contribute to a healthy body composition and a lowered insulin response.

  • Elimination of processed foods – The diet is composed of whole foods, which means less salt and sugar is consumed. This improves blood sugar levels and blood pressure and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The paleo diet is beneficial to persons who may be or at risk for:

  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)

  • Cancer

  • Psoriatic arthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Migraines

  • Celiac disease

  • Diabetics

  • Multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune conditions

One of the most frequently echoed misconceptions about the paleo and keto diets because they are so similar is that they are high protein or too meat centric and thereby increase risk for high cholesterol and heart disease.

This is false. Protein from meat should be moderate.

A simple rule to follow at home to work out your portions:

Meat: size of the palm of your hand

Carbohydrates: the size of your fist

Fats: the size of your little finger.

Another frequently touted “negative’' is that the diet eliminates dairy.

Studies have raised concerns over dairy consumption such as a link to obesity and inflammation etc.

Legumes were originally not considered paleo, but lentils and black beans are examples of legumes which are paleo friendly on the “Modified Paleo diet” and ensure intake of manganese, selenium and magnesium.

While the diet eliminates most grains (sources of fibre) the fibre in this diet would be vegetable sources such ac cruciferous vegetables and sweet potatoes.

Before beginning any diet plan, consult your doctor and work with a specialist who will assess your food and medical history and develop a personalized nutrition plan to suit your lifestyle and preferences.

Dionne Williams is a certified Fitness Nutrition coach, avid gym goer and fitness enthusiast.

She also owns and operates Full Circle Nutrition, formerly called The Keto Kook.

Full Circle Nutrition makes it easier than ever to enjoy healthy and nutritious meals for persons on the go. The company offers meals to fit a range of dietary patterns, including a variety of low calorie, ketogenic, paleo, plant-based, and low carb options. Easy to follow meal plans are also available online.

If you have questions, the team at Full Circle Nutrition would be happy to help. Give us a call at 1-868-485-5874 or visit our Facebook page to book a free consultation.

Health Disclaimer:

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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