What's The Paleo Diet?

The Paleolithic diet, or Paleo diet for short, is based on the concept that while we as a species have been evolving for millions of years, we have only begun farming the land in the last few thousand (until which time we had the Paleolithic period, hence the name).  Around that time, grains began to enter our diet in large quantities, followed by excess fructose (fruit sugar) and lineolic acid.  Our bodies cannot yet have become adapted to consume these substances safely, and there is scientific evidence to prove the damage that has been done.  Before we began to process grains we enjoyed optimal health - the diseases of civilisation (cancer, heart disease etc.) were almost unknown, according to the remains archaeologists have found.

There are different schools of thought in the Paleo movement as to what we ate before the event of agriculture, and in what ratios we consumed the macronutrients fat, protein and carbohydrates.  It's generally agreed what we did NOT eat - cereal grains, large amounts of fruit, processed foods - and a Paleo practitioner generally avoids these substances.

The Paleo diet is relatively low in carbohydrates as starchy, high-carbohydrate foods tend to be avoided, so when low-carb diets in general are discussed, the Paleo lifestyle is generally brought up at some point.  But some advocates emphasise lean protein for a plan that's also low in fat, while others have a high intake of natural animal fats for a plan that's high in fat, adequate in protein, and low in carbohydrates.  There are also zero-carb practitioners, who eat only animal products.  Some go as far as to cut out dairy foods as they weren't part of Paleolithic Man's diet, whereas others aren't concerned with re-enactment, more about simply cutting out what's harmful, most of which happens to have come from the Neolithic period (when we began farming).

With the Paleo diet also comes a way of exercising that generally avoids jogging in favour of steady walking and interval training based on the physical stresses our Paleolithic ancestors would have experienced during a typical day.

Where I come in

I am firmly in the high-fat camp, given that animal fat is not only not the killer the official line would have you believe, it's also extremely healthy.  It doesn't cause insulin spikes, it doesn't clog your arteries and it provides optimal nutrition.  It also keeps you fuller for longer.

I describe my diet as paleo-influenced, meaning that I avoid the substances that I believe to be harmful, but do eat Neolithic foods that I believe are either harmless or beneficial.  This means that I do eat dairy and cured meats such as bacon.

I'm going to be covering these topics in greater detail later.  If you want to know more about Paleo or low-carb nutrition, check out the blogs in my blog roll.