The Paleo diet, also referred to as the Palaeolithic diet, the caveman diet, the Stone Age diet or the hunter-gatherer diet, is thought to be one of the world’s healthiest and simplest diets around today. It has been thought that following a diet similar to our hunter-gatherer ancestors in today’s society is of great benefit, not only for our health and fitness, but for weight-loss and potential prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These include heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, acne, auto-immune disease, and many others. This is a breakthrough nutrition plan that has been devised by professors of Palaeolithic diets, fitness professionals and nutritionists, and is based on eating foods that we are genetically designed to eat. The Paleo diet is derived from the diets of our Palaeolithic ancestors and is supported with scientific research and through real life achievements.
This diet is primarily based on consuming lean cuts of meat (beef, pork, chicken turkey, rabbit, goat offal and game meat), fish (most available fresh fish and shellfish), eggs (limited to 6 per week), tree nuts, fresh fruit (almost every variety), non-starchy vegetables, and oils (including olive, avocado, flaxseed, and coconut). Water is the only drink (there was nothing else available back then), and there is a big emphasis on cutting out salt and sugar, as they were not available in this Paleo era. The main foods to avoid are dairy foods (and processed foods made with any dairy products), cereal grains (corn, oats, rice, wheat…), legumes, and starchy vegetables. We are talking about an era in time that lasted 2.5 million years and was around 10,000 years ago, ending with the development of agriculture. If they were able to survive in this era, an adapted version of their diet has been proven to help fight disease, provide maximum energy and keep you naturally thin, healthy and strong.
There are many books devoted to this topic, including a basic book and cookbook to complement the diet, with many easy and tasty recipes to follow. There is also a version of this diet dedicated to athletes, whose dietary requirements are more demanding. For the serious athlete it is important to ensure the right foods are consumed before, during, and after workouts/events. This is outlined in the 5 stages of daily eating relative to exercise:
Stage 1- Eating before exercise
Stage 2– Eating during exercise
Stage 3– Eating immediately after exercise
Stage 4– Eating for extended recovery
Stage 5– Eating for long term recovery
There are many reasons that this diet is a great way to allow the body to perform at its maximum potential and why many athletes around the world choose to adopt such eating guidelines. They allow an increased intake of BCAA (branched chain amino acids), which promote muscle development and anabolic function, while offsetting immunosuppression which is common in endurance athletes after long bouts of exercise. Such a diet can reduce tissue inflammation usually prevalent in athletes and promote muscle healing, and can also be alkaline-enhancing, allowing muscle protein synthesis to be promoted.
Overall, this diet is a change from the standard Western diet we have become accustomed to; however, there are many benefits to adopting such a dietary change. Primarily, the many health benefits, weight-loss benefits and athletic performance benefits have been documented and backed up with scientific research over the years and have proven to have healthy and long lasting effects.
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