Your Paleo diet primer for that beach-worthy summer body
Ah, summer. Bringer of all things we love: outdoor barbeques with family, friends, and cold beers; vacations, far and near; staycations at your favorite hotel; longer, warmer days (a welcome respite, in colder parts of the world); walks in the park; all those fun things.
Oh, summer. Bringer of things we love to hate: specifically, the realization that those extra Christmas pounds still haunt and taunt us like yesterday’s ex-flame. And, what’s worse, swimwear is generally unforgiving; and what is summer without the donning of swimwear?
Don’t chuck your bikini (or board shorts) out just yet. Hold on to the Hasselhoff, because those Baywatch dreams may still be within your grasp. If not for this summer, then the next one, for sure. How, you might ask? Here comes the Paleo diet, running down the shore.
Paleo what now???
The Paleo or Paleolithic diet has been a hot fitness topic and trend for some time now, having been wildly popular in 2013. It has sparked both “Yays” and “Nays;” criticism and controversy, from experts and wannabes alike. But what is this Paleo diet, all about really? Now I am not all about the craze of things, nor am I one to go with this-or-that fad. BUT I must admit, I have seen some pretty dramatic results with this particular diet. Not just physique-wise, what with the drool-worthy sculpted abs of Paleo advocates, but physically – health wise –as well. So, at the very least, my curiosity is piqued.
Lean, mean Paleo machines
The Paleo diet is just one stretcher on the bigger umbrella; the Paleo lifestyle. The diet is quite possibly the most pursued aspect of this lifestyle, given its numerous benefits and the promise of a healthy, lean, and strong physique. One look at the chiseled stomach muscles and enviable, toned bodies of lean, mean Paleo machines – in the guise of men and women – is enough to convince most. Delving deeper into the matter reveals not only body beautiful on the outside, but health, on the inside.
It has been called many things, this Paleo diet: Caveman diet, the Primal Diet, or the Hunter-Gatherer diet. It has also inaccurately been confused as the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Mediterranean Diet, or Zone Diet.
It has also “given birth” to different offspring; variations of the diet, it would seem, such as the Whole30 Program, which is almost equally popular.
First off, it is not really a “diet;” at least, not in the traditional sense of the word.
In the simplest sense, it is a lifestyle adjustment, founded largely on the early origins of the human diet. It has been touted as the “world’s healthiest diet,” and is based on the straightforward understanding that the best human diet is the one to which we are most genetically adapted and suited.
“It has been touted as the “world’s healthiest diet,” and is based on the straightforward understanding that the best human diet is the one to which we are most genetically adapted and suited”
The times, they are a-changing
At the very core of the principles of Paleo is this: Based on scientific research, human genetics, paleontology, archaeology, and anthropology, human composition and the human genome has remained 99.99 percent the same as human make-up 15,000 years ago. Furthermore, we also know that agriculture has been around since 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, as well. Highly processed foods, on the other hand, began only 200 years ago. Human existence, however, dates back 8 million years. From these facts, we see that despite human genetic composition remaining predominantly the same, lifestyle and diets have change dramatically with the changing times. They have, in fact, radically changed since 15,000 years ago; and even more radically – almost completely – since the dawn of the first man and woman.
The human race has gone from hunting and gathering (like Paleolithic men and women) to agriculture and farming; but our bodies have not adjusted quite as well as we’d like to think they have to this change. Unfortunately, this shift – and other changes that have come as a result of it – has not necessarily been for the better. Health and overall well-being have been sacrificed at the altars of modernity and industrialization.
It is no secret that people today consume way too much of the wrong kinds of fat, sugar, carbohydrates, and processed food; resulting in countless issues of weight and well-being.
Razor’s edge (and some scientific facts)
Athlete-turned-Paleo-freak-cum-advocate, Greg “Caveman” Parham, applies Occam’s Razor (the process which states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected) to delineate specific scientific points that build the foundations for the Paleo diet:
1. Refined carbohydrates rapidly elevate blood sugar.
2.In order to counteract this high blood sugar, your body releases insulin.
3.Your body can only store so many carbohydrates. You have unlimited fat storage; however, insulin tells your body to store any excess carbs as fat,
4.Protein, fat, and micronutrients do not spike blood sugar. They do raise it, but not to the extent that muscles and organs can’t absorb them.
5.A diet high in processed carbohydrates promotes an acidic environment in your body-plant foods promote an alkaline environment.
6.A diet high in grains increases systemic inflammation. Healthy fats and plant food reduce inflammation.
So, in English, a diet high grains, and refined /processed carbohydrates and sugars = NOT good. A diet high in protein, micronutrients and natural fat = GOOD.
In a nutshell (for the in-depth study of these principles would fill the pages of a medical or health journal, just about), here’s what you CAN and CAN’T eat, if you choose to try the Paleo way. Those to-die-for sculpted beach-ready abs come at a price, you know.
The good news is… Bacon, believe it or not, is allowed as a Paleo meat! As long as it is naturally cured, that is. Just thought I’d throw that in there, for some cheer and comfort for those planning to embark on this journey.
This is not to say that you should go all-out Paleo, as in, RIGHT NOW. Be sensible. Know what’s best for YOU. And, as with any major lifestyle or dietary change, it is always best to consult with your family practitioner, nutritionist, or doctor. These are just some tips and tricks to keep in mind as you dream of abdominal muscles to come, while grilling that grass-fed slab of meat, on a bright, warm summer’s day.
•Healthy oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)
•Legumes (including peanuts – shock of shocks! Peanuts are legumes, not nuts!)
•Processed foods and meats
•Refined vegetable oils
•Candy / Junk / Processed Food
By ANGIE DUARTE