Paleo FAQ: Power Your Life With Paleo!
Q. How does the Paleo Diet (more like lifestyle!) work?
A. We love quoting Nom Nom Paleo’s Michelle Tam, and rightly so. Michelle knows how to get across the point of Paleo, how Paleo works, and why it’s probably a really good thing for you to get into. So, let’s hear what she has to say…
In a nutshell, the Paleo diet (or, as I like to think of it, the Paleo template—the word “diet” tends to mislead folks into thinking this is nothing more than a temporary weight-loss program) is based on the notion that for optimal health, modern humans should go back to eating real, whole unprocessed foods that are more healthful than harmful to our bodies.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Q. How can a meat- and fish-dominated menu help me lose weight?
A. Can you lose weight eating only grapefruit or candy bars or chemical-infused diet “shakes”? Sure. You can drop pounds on almost any kind of fad diet. The problem is, this approach will ultimately lead to defeat in the Battle of the Bulge. You likely will “find” all that weight you “lost” within months of resuming your prior eating habits—sometimes with a few bonus pounds. Talk about adding insult to injury.
The high-protein, high-fruit, and vegetable-based Paleo diet provides higher amounts of fat, with increased quantities of healthy omega-3 and monounsaturated fat, the good kinds. Higher levels of protein help boost metabolism, turning up your excess weight-burning furnace while reducing hunger pangs. Clinical trials have shown that high-protein, low-glycemic load diets are more effective than low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets at fueling and maintaining weight loss.
Q. Doesn’t dumping dairy put me at-risk for bone loss?
A. Bone up on calcium research and you’ll find that despite being a leader in calcium intake, the U.S. has the dubious honor of having one of highest rates of osteoporosis in the world. Why? Bone health is largely dependent on dietary acid/base balance.
According to Dr. Loren Cordain, the world’s foremost authority on the Paleo Diet and founder of the Paleo Movement:
All foods upon digestion ultimately must report to the kidney as either acid or base. When the diet yields a net acid load (such as low-carb fad diets that restrict consumption of fruits and vegetables), the acid must be buffered by the alkaline stores of base in the body. Calcium salts in the bones represent the largest store of alkaline base in the body and are depleted and eliminated in the urine when the diet produces a net acid load. The highest acid-producing foods are hard cheeses, cereal grains, salted foods, meats, and legumes, whereas the only alkaline, base-producing foods are fruits and vegetables. Because the average American diet is overloaded with grains, cheeses, salted processed foods, and fatty meats at the expense of fruits and vegetables, it produces a net acid load and promotes bone de-mineralization. By replacing hard cheeses, cereal grains, and processed foods with plenty of green vegetables and fruits, the body comes back into acid/base balance which brings us also back into calcium balance. The Paleo Diet recommends an appropriate balance of acidic and basic (alkaline) foods (i.e., grass-produced or free ranging meats, fish and seafood, fruits, and vegetables) and will not cause osteoporosis in otherwise healthy individuals. Indeed, The Paleo Diet promotes bone health.
Q Won’t a meat-based diet put me at risk for high cholesterol and heart disease?
A. Again we are going to rely on Dr. Cordain for an answer:
A 100-gram serving of roast buffalo contains only 2.4 grams of fat, and 0.9 g of saturated fat, whereas a 100-gram, T-bone beefsteak contains a whopping 23 grams of fat, and 9 grams of saturated fat. Additionally, the bison roast contains 215 mg of heart-healthy, omega-3 fatty acids, whereas the T-bone steak contains a paltry 46 mg. Despite its blood cholesterol raising effects, recent meta analyses (combined, large population studies) show that saturated fats have little adverse effect upon the risk for heart disease. We recommend that you should choose free-ranging or grass-produced meats over feedlot meats whenever possible. These meats are more healthful because they have nutritional characteristics similar to wild animals. Recent clinical studies have shown that high-protein diets are more effective in improving blood cholesterol and other blood lipid levels than are low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets. High-protein diets have also been shown to lower blood homocysteine levels, another risk factor for heart disease.
Q. But isn’t kicking the salt shaker habit going to be hard?
A. Chances are, you won’t miss the salt shaker at all! By eliminating processed foods, the major source of sodium in the American diet, you’ll be eating a low-sodium diet without even trying. And because Paleo provides nearly twice the typical amount of potassium of a typical American diet, you’ll enjoy a combination of low-sodium and high-potassium—the recipe for good vascular health and low blood pressure. Win. And win.
Q. I want my whole family to go Paleo. Is it OK for kids?
A. That’s how Paleo Eats got started. My kids were having a boatload of health problems, and I couldn’t get any answers from my doctor. I researched the Paleo Diet and decided it was worth a shot. We scored big with Paleo! Our whole family has seen remarkable improvements in health. Best of all, they love eating this way!