In the past few decades, our diets have changed dramatically. Processed foods are more common than fruits and vegetables, and it’s impossible to go more than a few miles down the road without spotting a dozen new fast food chains that have cropped up. Enter the Paleo diet plan, a diet that seeks to ditch the modern convenience foods in favor of the foods eaten by our ancestors.
The Paleo diet has been associated with many health benefits from better blood sugar levels to reduced inflammation. Considered one of the best diet plans for weight loss because it’s high in protein and fat and emphasizes nutrient-rich foods, it may also increase satiety and help correct nutrient deficiencies. Still, the diet has remained the subject of much controversy in recent years.
Despite this, the Paleo diet plan remains one of the most popular diets today, and there is a massive community of people who swear by it, claiming that it can be a convenient, easy to follow and effective way to attain better health.
What Is a Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet definition is simple: Eat only foods that were available to our hunter and gatherer ancestors thousands of years ago during the Paleolithic Age. This means that things like processed foods, refined grains and cereals are off the table, and instead your plate should be full of fruits and vegetables, meats, nuts and seeds.
The idea is that these are the foods that our bodies were designed to eat while many of the heavily processed modern foods that fill our diets today contribute to chronic disease and health problems. Proponents of the diet suggest that a well-planned Paleo diet could lead to improvements in many aspects of health, such as enhanced weight loss and reduced inflammation.
Because it is essentially a grain-free diet, it tends to be lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein and fat than some other diets. However, it also eliminates several food groups that contain beneficial nutrients, such as legumes and dairy, which has made this diet a subject of much debate among experts.
Why Try a Paleo Diet? 6 Paleo Diet Benefits
- Promotes Weight Loss
- High in Protein
- Reduces Inflammation
- Boosts Satiety
- Corrects Nutrient Deficiencies
- Regulates Blood Sugar
Promotes Weight Loss
For many people, following the Paleo diet can result in a substantial amount of weight loss. By swapping processed foods and refined sugars for nutrient-rich proteins and healthy fats, you can cut calories and kick-start weight loss.
The specific foods included in the Paleo diet plan can also amp up weight loss. The plan encourages fruits and vegetables, which are high in slow-digesting fiber, along with healthy fats and protein, which increase satiety and reduce appetite.
Keep in mind that the amount of Paleo diet weight loss can vary depending on many factors, such as your what your diet was like beforehand. While some people may see the inches and pounds slide off after starting the Paleo diet, others may not see such dramatic results.
High in Protein
Getting enough protein in your diet is essential to maintaining overall health. Protein is vital for repairing and rebuilding tissue cells, maintaining normal blood sugar, transporting oxygen, healing wounds, and building muscle mass.
A protein deficiency can lead to a host of negative side effects, including low energy levels, decreased immunity, poor concentration and slow wound healing.
Protein is one of the staples of the Paleo diet plan. In fact, the plan encourages filling your plate with plenty of protein foods, such as grass-fed beef, poultry and seafood.
Inflammation is a normal bodily response triggered by the immune system to protect against foreign invaders. Prolonged or chronic inflammation, however, is at the root of most diseases, including chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
The Paleo diet plan encourages eating plenty of anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which help neutralize the harmful free radicals that contribute to inflammation in the body. Meanwhile, nuts and seeds tend to be high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
Reducing inflammation can also be beneficial in reducing symptoms of inflammatory or autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or ulcerative colitis.
The Paleo diet plan puts the emphasis on packing in plenty of heart-healthy fats and proteins into your diet, which can help support satiety and reduce appetite.
Fat is digested very slowly, so it stays in the stomach for longer and keeps you feeling full. Meanwhile, a high-protein diet can reduce levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, to reduce appetite. Protein has also been shown to kick-start your metabolism and decrease caloric intake.
Furthermore, the Paleo diet plan limits foods like refined grains and ultra-processed foods that are typically digested very quickly, leading to spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels as well as increased levels of hunger.
Corrects Nutrient Deficiencies
One of the biggest benefits of the Paleo diet is that it prioritizes nutrient-dense foods over heavily processed or refined foods. These foods can supply important micronutrients that you may be missing from your diet, helping reduce a wide range of symptoms, from brain fog to chronic fatigue.
Increasing your intake of red meat, for instance, can provide more iron while adding more nuts and seeds into your diet can up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
If you have any nutrient deficiencies and are currently consuming a diet rich in “empty calories” from nutrient-poor foods like junk food, switching to a Paleo diet may help you fit more nutrients into your diet.
Regulates Blood Sugar
While not as extreme as a very low- or no-carb diet, the Paleo diet does restrict many types of carbohydrates, such as cereal grains. This may positively impact your blood sugar levels. The diet also emphasizes nutrients like fat and protein, which are digested slowly, keeping blood sugar levels stable.
A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the benefits of following a Paleo diet versus a diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association in 24 participants with diabetes. After two weeks, researchers found that the Paleo diet led to greater improvements in blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity than the conventional diabetes diet.
Of course, lifestyle factors also play an important role in diabetes prevention. In addition to making dietary modifications, exercising regularly, reducing stress levels and drinking plenty of water can also help you maintain normal blood sugar.