Does the Paleo Diet Work?

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You’re probably accustomed to hearing about new diet fads every other week. A more recent one that seems to be blowing up is the Paleo or “caveman” diet. Everyone’s doing it, including some of the Lakers’ players, so if you’re not in the know you better hop on board. (Kidding).

To sum it up, you are literally supposed to eat like our primal, warrior ancestors, meat and plants in their most pure forms. All things hunted by our stone aged friends including fish, meat, eggs, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and berries make the cut. Supporters, and many doctors and researchers, say that our bodies were created to eat in this simple manner, so why was it ever changed in the first place?

If you speak with advocates and researchers, the Paleo diet isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle. The goal isn’t to lose 10 pounds in two days; it’s to be healthy and kind to your body for the rest of your life. The Paleo eating plan cuts all grains, gluten, salt, dairy, refined sugars, potatoes, and legumes from your every day eating habits.

According to some studies, our bodies weren’t genetically meant to process the foods harvested or “created” after the agricultural revolution. Because this diet is so rich in fiber, protein, antioxidants, and plant phytochemicals, it has been known to prevent type 2 diabetes, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases…just to name a few. One last thing I should probably mention, going Paleo means completely giving up alcohol, sorry!

This diet is a big craze with athletes, both strength and endurance, and particularly high with cross fit athletes. In case you’re unaware of cross fit, hop on Instagram or Twitter and hash tag it, you’ll get millions of results I’m sure. If you aren’t so technologically savvy, good old-fashioned Google will do the trick. Athletes are all about this because the lean protein helps keep their bodies fueled, veggies take care of nutrient requirements, and the fat consumed is all good fat.

Although there are many pros to this diet, it can be hard to follow. It limits what you can eat, and it tends to be rather expensive. I myself try to eat as healthy as possible, and it can definitely leave a big dent in your bank account. But, and this is a big but, would you rather spend money now to keep a healthy diet, or massive amounts of money later undergoing sever health problems? At least that’s what I ask myself when I deal with the dilemma of reaching for a quick bite off the $0.99 cent menu or a nutritionally satisfying, more expensive one.

Another problem with this diet, it can’t be mimicked exactly as it was in the Paleolithic era. We aren’t able to go out and kill a chicken or hunt down a deer and eat it later for dinner. The average person eats domesticated meat and cultivated plants. Some researchers argue that our bodies have in fact adapted to dairy, legumes, and other foods that are on the “no” list, but it’s doubtful that every single person will have the same opinion, so I say it’s your call.

There are so many books and research papers written on the Paleo diet, so if you’re interested, save yourself some cash and Amazon away. I would recommend Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan (if you look at her website you can read about the Lakers diet), or The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain. These are personal preferences, so if you find something that sounds more thrilling, more power to you.

Megan Duehring is a Contributing Writer for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle, entertainment and sports. Follow her on Twitter: @meganjune9
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