Have you heard of the Paleo diet, but aren’t sure exactly what it is or if it is right for you? According to proponents of this way of eating, you can lose weight without exercise or counting calories and lessen the risks of major health problems. The premise behind it is that you return to eating the types of foods that were consumed in the times of the hunter gatherer or prehistoric times. That doesn’t mean we’d be eating dino-burgers, but it does mean eating the very freshest foods you can get from animal sources, the freshest vegetables you can get, fruits that are in season, healthy fats and some nuts and seeds. Here are some guidelines from what we’ve learned about the Paleo diet if you are considering making the switch.
Paleo Do’s and Don’ts
If you decide to begin following the Paleo diet, you will be spending extra time in preparing food as everything is made from scratch and processed foods are not allowed. Since this diet follows the hunter gatherer type menu, wheat as well as other grains, dairy with the exception of butter, legumes, refined sugars, salt, fruit juices and refined vegetable oils like Canola are not included in the menu. What you will be eating is a lot of fresh meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. The meats and fiber from fruits and veggies will keep you feeling full so overeating is not recognized as a problem in this eating plan.
If you are committed to a vegetarian or vegan diet, the Paleo diet is not for you. According to Loren Cordain, PhD, author of the book The Paleo Diet, meat, seafood, and eggs are stressed as being protein sources for this diet and vegetarian proteins like beans and legumes are not included in the foods to eat list. Besides the defining of foods that can and cannot be eaten on the Paleo diet, there are lifestyle changes to make. These include only eating when you feel hungry instead of by the clock, getting the maximum amount of sleep possible, getting rid of stress, and limiting exercise to short periods a few times during the week. Some sources also encourage taking supplements to get vitamin D, iodine, and probiotics.
The Paleo Diet is a high protein diet. The recommended protein type is from animal sources. This includes meat, fish and eggs. Some sources that support the Paleo Diet encourage eating fatty cuts of red meat and organs like liver instead of concentrating on only lean meats like poultry, pork and fish. The explanation behind this is that lean meats provide more protein than the body can metabolize. Protein is seen as a source for growth and repair in the body and not as a fuel for energy. Energy production in this diet is dependent on carbs and fats.
Fresh vegetables and fruits are another staple of the Paleo diet. If you can’t get fresh then frozen is allowed. These will provide the carbohydrates needed for energy production. Vegetables can be cooked or raw and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes are encouraged. Carbs such as cereals, grains, beans, legumes, and rice are not on the list of acceptable foods.
Monounsaturated fats and saturated fats are also important components of the Paleo diet. They are used for energy production and other body functions. Coconut oil and butter would be the fats of choice for cooking and olive oil and avocado oil are good choices for eating on foods rather than for cooking. Nuts are another good source of fats that are encouraged, especially those with lots of omega-3 fatty acids and not much omega-6 fatty acids. Hydrogenated oils of any kind or degree are not allowed which would include margarine, corn oil, vegetable shortening, canola oil, peanut oil and sunflower oil just to name a few.
AFA Bluegreen Algae and The Paleo Diet
Based on what we have learned, both forms of AFA bluegreen algae: whole algae and heart of the algae with the cell wall removed, we think are a good fit for the Paleo diet. They provide lean proteins and high quality fats plus glycogen from the cell wall of the whole algae. Glycogen is the fuel that is stored in our livers and converted to glucose when we need a quick burst of energy. In a cave man, the liver would use glycogen any time the “fight or flight” response was triggered. In today’s times our bodies need glycogen when we are under stress or need a quick energy fix. The best sources of glycogen are meats including liver and properly processed blue-green algae from Klamath Lake. The cell wall of the whole algae is made up of glycogen that your body can use right away. AFA blue-green algae also contains easily assimilated nutrients including: essential fatty acids, active enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, trace minerals, proteins, complex sugars, and phytonutrients that provide your body with nutrients it can use for increased daily energy. The form of algae with the cell wall removed is small enough to slip through the blood brain barrier to feed hungry brain cells and help with mental clarity and stamina. And while I’m pretty sure our cave dwelling ancestors didn’t have access to algae supplements, consider that algae is the fundamental basis of the entire food chain – the foundational nutrient source for creating and renewing all life on earth. That definitely sounds like it fits in with a prehistoric menu.
After reading through these guidelines for the Paleo diet, you now get to decide whether this is for you or not. Hopefully we have given you some beginning insight into what this diet is all about. If you find you are drawn to it, then we encourage you to do some more in depth research and consult your healthcare provider to make sure it will meet your individual needs and be safe for you. The main thing is to find a diet, a program, a lifestyle or whatever works for you to help you stay as healthy as you can possibly be.