Why Follow a Paleo Diet?

Why Follow a Paleo Diet?

(Last Updated On: April 19, 2019)

caveman-400pxImagine a diet completely devoid of foods most people take for granted, including cereal, bread, pasta, corn chips, beans, candy bars, and soda. Now, imagine replacing those staples solely with foods your human ancestors ate exclusively: fresh meats, eggs, vegetables, nuts, and a few fruits. If you did this, you’d be following a Paleo diet.

The Paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet,  is designed to provide only the foods that were available before the advent of agriculture, some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. As such, the diet omits all grain products – humans had to become farmers before they could eat grains in significant quantities – and replaces those grains with foods that were available in Paleolithic times.

Proponents of the Paleo diet believe it can help you prevent the so-called “diseases of modern civilization,” which include cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. They also believe it can produce physical fitness that’s superior to the fitness you potentially can achieve on a grain-based diet that contains sugar.

Do Grain-Based Diets Promote Obesity, Diabetes?

Although many physicians blame a high-fat diet for the obesity epidemic, supporters of the Paleo diet approach believe both the epidemic and the diseases related to obesity, including heart disease and diabetes, stem from excessive carbohydrate intake.

If you eat a fairly typical diet, you probably consume plenty of sugar every day, whether you realize it or not. Sugar consumption in the United States has risen sharply over the past half-century, and now tops more than 22 teaspoons per day, per person. Much of the growth in sugar intake stems from an increase in consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, mainly in sweetened beverages such as sodas.

Grain products, meanwhile, turn quickly to sugar in your body, especially if they’re made out of white flour and have been highly processed. Both grains and sugar will encourage your body to produce more insulin, which can set you up for diabetes. In addition, there’s some evidence that higher intake of wheat – the basis of most bread, pasta and other commercial baked products – also promotes obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Paleo Diet: Will You Lose Weight?

Paleo diet proponents note that the diet can lead to significant weight loss; people who start a Paleo diet frequently find they lose five to 10 pounds fairly quickly, and may continue to lose weight, even without trying particularly hard.

However, the majority of those following the Paleo diet do so because of the potential health benefits. If sugar and grains promote obesity, diabetes, heart disease and perhaps cancer, then dropping those foods from your diet should dramatically lower your risks for those diseases.

Although there hasn’t been a large, long-term medical study indicating that eating Paleo long-term does decrease your risks for serious diseases, there’s evidence from some smaller, shorter studies that the Paleo diet may improve your body’s reaction to insulin, lower your blood pressure and help you lose weight.

Those studies – plus anecdotal evidence of improved physical fitness and better overall health among Paleo followers – provide enough evidence for many people to continue eating like their remote ancestors.


Related Articles By Cathe:

Eat Like a Caveman: The Paleo Diet

The Easy Paleo Plate: Meal Planning for Paleo Beginners

Workout Like a Caveman: Exercise to Complement the Paleo Diet

7 thoughts on “Why Follow a Paleo Diet?

  1. Good timing, Cathe! I recently checked out several Paleo books from the library, both educational and cook books. I’m thinking about switching, but I think changing the whole family over would be the hardest part. I love pasta, and husband and son are both bread heads. We eat whole grain, after converting from white years ago. Dropping them all together may be tough though. We saw a big change converting from white to whole grain (not just wheat), I do wonder what eliminating them completely would do.

  2. How is this different from a high protein diet? I’ve never done either and would love to know the difference. I follow the Clean Eating plan-(most of the time haha). I don’t eat sugar or pasta but I do eat whole grains.

  3. There is a recent thread over in the Open Discussion Forum about the Paleo Diet…has some interesting links to articles and more info…

  4. I don’t understand why people are interested in a Paleo diet when the people then ate what they could. We are 10,000 years older and I’m willing to bet our metabolism and our need for certain foods has significantly changed and we eat what we would. I’m not sure I want to go backwards metabolically. What do you guys think? Looking back seems awkward to me. I’d rather watch what I eat than to try some strange diet. Ho-hmm!

  5. I agree with Clara. I’m really not interested in the Paleo diet because I have no interest in giving up grains that are beneficial such as brown rice and oatmeal. I’m all for giving up processed foods, but not whole grains. We really don’t know for sure if the diet followed that long ago was more beneficial. We don’t know for sure what diseases they suffered from. One thing that is for sure is that people live much longer today than they did in the past. Life expectancy was not much longer than 50 on average many years ago, but now people live well beyond that. I do believe that the over-consumption of processed foods and the lack of activity is detrimental to our health, but I don’t think we need to go backwards and cut out those whole grains that are extremely beneficial especially when you’re living a very active lifestyle. Healthy, whole grains provide energy and nutirents we need. The Paleo diet would be perfect if it included brown rice, oatmeal, and other whole grains.

  6. i think because of our lifestyle, many things have changed and do our diet needs will too! we work less with our bodies and more with our minds, so a change is needed in our diet.
    we probably do need less carbs in our diet and more protien, but, what about us who have issues with our bowels? I need as much fiber and water as i can get?
    thank you

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