How To Eat Like a Caveman: The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet: it may sound like the newest fad diet, but in reality, it is the oldest diet around. The Paleolithic (Paleo) Diet, also known as the Stone Age or Caveman Diet, has been gaining a lot of buzz lately among fitness enthusiasts and dietitians alike. The diet claims to satisfy our evolutionary needs and lead to quick weight loss. But should you start living like Fred Flintstone just yet?

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The argument: 10,000 years ago, long before the age of breakfast cereals and Big Macs, our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers. Mama Caveman and Papa Caveman would go out into the great outdoors and hunt their dinner for that evening, picking up some wild fruits, veggies, and nuts along the way.
Then, the Agricultural Revolution came along, completely and permanently revolutionizing our food. Modern foods like rice, wheat and corn began to emerge as dietary staples, and people began raising livestock as opposed to hunting them in the wild. Since they were no longer running for hours a day, people began to enjoy a much more sedentary lifestyle, and as a result, they began to gain weight.
Fast forward to the present. Processed foods exist everywhere you turn, and obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are three of the most life-threatening conditions, claiming millions of lives per year. These processed foods have been around for no more than a millisecond in evolutionary time, and Paleo supporters argue that our bodies have not yet evolved to digest them. 
The Paleo diet aims to bring us back to nutrition basics, providing our body with the nutrients our genes are supposedly begging for. 
What can I eat? On the Paleo Diet, you are restricted to eating foods similar to those available in the pre-agrarian era, such as lean meats (preferably grass-fed), fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Anything that was not found in prehistoric times, especially processed food, is out of the question. This means no salt, no added sugar, no dairy products, and definitely no grains. 
Should I try it? On the one hand, the vast majority of dietitians agree that reducing the amount of processed foods in the diet would be beneficial in reducing prevalence of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type II diabetes. The diet also encourages regular exercise in order to mimic the hours a day our ancestors spent hunting for food (on a smaller scale, of course), which is always a good thing.
However, the diet has run into some controversy. Many argue against the evolutionary evidence, claiming that the human body has in fact adapted to consume whole grains and dairy over time. More detailed studies need to be done in order to confirm this.
But the most convincing argument against the Paleo Diet is that it is too restrictive. It cuts out foods that most of us enjoy on a regular basis, and it may be too difficult for the majority of people to sustain.
The bottom line: The Paleo Diet can lead to weight loss, but it is extreme. It involves cutting out entire food groups that we have been eating our whole lives and could lead to cravings and binging. If the idea of giving up your lasagna or yogurt smoothie for good makes you want to club yourself over the head, just remember that there are ways to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle without making yourself miserable. Focus on a diet filled with fewer processed foods and more whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and fruits and vegetables, and you will have a prehistoric physique in no time.
Interested in giving Paleo a try? Check out this awesome spaghetti squash recipe!

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