The premise of the Paleo diet is to eat like your caveman ancestors. That means valuing healthy fats, loading up on veggies, cutting out carbs, and focusing on naturally raised meats. The diet, wildly popular among athletes, may help preserve and even increase lean muscle since it focuses so heavily on animal protein, incorporating it in each meal—with some recommendations targeting 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Spreading protein intake throughout the day may have muscle-building advantages: A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Nutrition indicated that including a moderate amount of protein at each meal better assists muscle-protein synthesis over 24 hours compared with having it in selected meals.
This muscle-friendly diet also eliminates some plant-based foods (legumes, grains, beans, and lentils), so dietary lectins—proteins bound to carbs, cells, and tissues that are resistant to digestive enzymes— are heavily reduced. These lectins attach to the lining of the stomach, allowing other undigested proteins to enter, which can result in decreased energy and weight gain. A review done by the Journal of Cereal Science indicated that dietary lectin affects weight gain via leptin resistance. Leptin is a hunger hormone that sends a signal to your brain that you’re full.
Certainly, eliminating processed foods that wouldn’t be found in any cave can only help with weight-loss efforts. “Choosing whole foods over processed ones has been linked with a reduction in visceral fat (belly fat) and blood pressure and a decreased risk of disease such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancers of the colon,” says Erin Palinski-Wade R.D., C.D.E., author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies.
True Paleo veterans opt to be dairy-free, but some include it, citing the health benefits of dairy. These go beyond bone-boosting calcium to also include the probiotics found in foods like kefir and yogurt, which are essential for maintaining gut and overall health. “Although some people remove dairy from the Paleo diet, I would recommend consuming two servings of low-fat dairy daily to gain the associated benefits,” says Palinski-Wade. Dairy in the Paleo diet can be optional, based on a person’s preference. According to U.S. News & World Report, those who don’t consume dairy only obtain 700 mg of calcium from a Paleo food plan. The RDA for calcium is 1,000 to 1,300 mg.
Another benefit for those of us who live busy lives is that Paleo diets are actually relatively easy to follow, even when dining out. Choose a lean protein and vegetables, such as broiled fish with steamed vegetables. End your night out with a bowl of fruit.
Top Paleo Food Delivery Services:
TrueFare uses organic, grass-fed, and free-range ingredients. Meals ship frozen. truefare.com
Caveman Chefs offers meals per week or dinners by the pound. It delivers throughout the country. Cavemanchefs.com