1. Paleo is a fad weight loss diet: Actually, it’s not really a diet. It’s more of a huge lifestyle change. If you study and read several paleo sources, you quickly realize that becoming paleo in the way you eat is more about overall health and wellness than it is about weight loss. Some people don’t even lose weight. If you are over weight, then you will most likely get rid of some fat. But the real victory is in the health that we can’t see; blood work, hormone balance, and brain function. Also, I have heard it said that if paleo is considered a “fad” diet, then it’s the longest running fad ever. After all, this is the way people ate for thousands of years before agriculture was introduced. Another clarifying point is that the term “paleo” is basically the version of eating that in it’s best form resides in an overall “primal” lifestyle. To be primal will effect not only your food choices, but the way you exercise, sleep, play, and live your day to day lives.
2. Paleo is just another “carb-free” diet. Actually, it’s not carb free. Technically, paleo is considered “low carb”, not “no carb”. Carbohydrates exist in most foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and starchy tuber plants (potatoes) all contain carbs and are approved paleo foods. If a person is trying to lose weight while eating paleo, it would be advisable to restrict your carbohydrate intake simply because of the effect they have on your blood sugar levels. A healthy, lean individual can enjoy as many sweet potatoes as they desire.
3. Paleo is all about eating meat. Actually, even though meat is a large portion of a paleo diet, it’s not the largest. Some people think that you have to eat a ton of meat and very little else to be paleo. I eat way more vegetables now than I ever have in my life. Most primal/paleo sources will summarize the diet in these terms. A good paleo meal should be low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein. So what does that look like? My plate will have a normal portion size of good quality meat and the rest is stuffed with a variety of vegetable. The low carbs are found in the veggies. The high fat is in the grass-fed meat (grass fed beef will make fat that is omega 3) and also in the delicious coconut oil that my veggies are roasted in. There will also be butter on my steamed veggies. The protein consumption is moderate, about the same as any other healthy diet.
4. Paleo basically means no bread. Actually, there is more to it than just cutting out grains. (To be clear, grains are wheat, rye, corn, oat, rice, barely and the like.) If you have done your research you will find that paleo focuses on getting back to healthy, natural foods. Not only have I cut out all grains from my diet, I have also removed all unnatural oils (margarine, vegetable, corn, safflower, etc). Through my studies, I have learned that these highly toxic oils can do as much damage to our systems as grain. Refined sugars and artificial sugars have been cleared out as well. I have also made attempts to improve the quality of meat I eat. Yes, it’s expensive, but trying to chose grass fed beef, free range chicken and fully pastured pork will make a big difference in your overall health.
5. There is only one REAL version of the paleo diet. Ha! That one makes me laugh. Truth is that there are lots of version to this diet/lifestyle. There is a group of people who are adamant about the absence of dairy in a paleo diet. This same group will also say that paleo versions of conventional foods are unacceptable, such as grain free banana bread or chocolate chip cookies. I call these individuals “Paleo Purists”. Even though some of their ideas are too extreme for me, I give them the freedom to do what works for them. To me, there are just a few specific “musts” that define your diet as paleo, but there is lots of room for individualized versions. Finding a version that makes you feel satisfied, happy and successful will contribute to the longevity of the lifestyle changes you have made. Basically, finding a diet I could live on, while being healthy and still enjoying my life, was a pursuit I have been on for years. I finally found it.
Read, study and try it for yourself. Chris Kresser’s book, Your Personal Paleo Code, is a great book to start your investigation. The link to his website is below.