With all of the fad diets hitting the fitness industry lately, the Paleo diet is one that can raise a lot of questions, and the amount of meat and various restrictions can be scary for beginners. Let’s break down what a Paleo diet is, the health pros and cons of the diet and also a sample meal plan of what can be eaten throughout the course of a day.
The Paleo Diet for Beginners
In a nutshell, the Paleo Diet is the opposite to chemical-loaded low-fat, artificial sweetened modern diets, and it gets today’s nutrition and fitness minded people back on track to the roots of how we got here. This is where the nickname The Caveman Diet came about, as experts believe we should be eating exactly how we did thousands of years ago. There were no boxed cereals and no canned meat – it was all what you could find off the land to survive.
The diet itself has actually 3 main macronutrients that we are all familiar with: protein, carbs and fats. The ratio and sources of these is what is different on this plan. On the Paleo Diet, you are instructed to eat normal ratios of animal protein only (no protein substitutes) within all meals during course of the day.
Carbohydrate sources will come from lower GI sugar fruits and vegetables (no grains, wheat or cereals). The fat source is the primary food group and should be accompanied with all meals daily coming from good fat sources such as oils, nuts and seeds.
Health Pros and Cons
Many will say that this diet will contribute to heart attack and stroke risks because of it’s richness in high animal proteins and fats. In reality a diet rich in good fats will actually raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. Because this diet is low in carbohydrate sources, it is easier to stay lean, especially as an athlete, as it is unused carbohydrates that is stored as bodily fat, and not dietary fat.
The amount of meat and animal proteins in general will be significantly higher, greatly improving your body’s natural anti-inflammatory process as well as taking in some extra daily iron from red meat consumption. Also, you are less likely to feel hungry on this plan due to the high protein intake, as well as the amount of fiber from vegetables and greens between meals.
On the other hand, this diet has its drawbacks. The average athlete requires at least 2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight in order to build and sustain muscle, and without eating rice, potatoes or beans it makes hitting that mark very hard to do. The good bacterium that comes from dairy will no longer be consumed hinting at digestive and intestinal health related problems down the road.
This type of diet, if chosen by vegetarians, complexes things that much more because absolutely no beans are allowed on the diet. Finally, the overall cost of buying groceries for this diet will be a lot higher due to your only carbohydrate source being fruits and vegetables and the amount of protein and nuts you will intake.
A Beginners’ Paleo Diet Meal Plan
A normal meal plan usually includes 5-7 smaller portioned meals periodically placed within a day to make sure metabolism is high and nutrient intake is on point. Not so with the Paleo Diet. There are no structured meal timings and no calorie counting. Eat when you are hungry and eat whatever you want, whenever you want within the plan’s guidelines. A sample diet plan looks like this:
✓ Breakfast: 3 Large eggs scrambled with either olive oil or coconut oil and fresh grapefruit or blackberries
✓ Snack: A couple of handfuls of walnuts or cashews with some mixed berries such as raspberries and blueberries
✓ Lunch: Ground beef with kale, spinach and romaine salad. Drizzled with olive oil or coconut oil
✓ Dinner: Chicken salad with mixed greens and shaved carrots and radishes. Top with avocado slices and crushed nuts
✓ Snack: Apples with almonds
The Paleo Diet is a great opportunity for those looking to get healthy or even for those athletes looking to shed some extra body fat. Although it does has its pros and cons, this diet plan is something to consider to take your fitness game to the next level.