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Paleo diet: how it works

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 363 views

“Paleo” stands for Paleolithic, the Old Stone Age. Accordingly, the idea behind the Paleo diet is to eat like Stone Age people, that is: as natural as possible, no grain, no legumes, no dairy products. This stone age diet is not a diet in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a form of nutrition intended to keep you healthy. Learn how the Paleo diet works here.

What’s the Paleo diet?

The gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin coined the term Stone Age diet in the 1970s. Fish, meat and eggs instead of grain and sugar: supporters of the Stone Age diet assume that people today do not eat “species-appropriate”. Our digestive tract is still adjusted to the Stone Age diet (Paleo diet). From the point of view of the supporters, this stands for all-round natural food .

The Paleo diet eats what the hunter-gatherers had at their disposal, or what comes closest to it. The goal is usually not the desire to lose weight, but to eat healthily.

These foods are allowed on the Paleo diet

The Stone Age diet includes:

  • unprocessed meat (game, poultry) and fish
  • vegetables
  • Owner
  • Salat
  • nuts
  • Together
  • (animal fat
  • homemade nut drinks
  • fruit (especially berries)

These foods are forbidden on the Paleo diet

Modern and processed foods are not part of the Paleo diet. Legumes are also forbidden, as they consist of short-chain carbohydrates that are not easy to digest. Against milk, Paleo supporters argue that conditions such as lactose intolerance and allergies draw attention to the fact that humans are not made for it. Cereals such as wheat or rye were first cultivated by modern societies.

Here is a selection of foods that are off-limits to the Stone Age diet:

  • Zucker
  • processed foods such as ground beef or sausage
  • Grain products such as breads and pasta
  • Pseudo grains like amaranth and quinoa
  • legumes
  • Durum wheat products (bulgur, couscous)
  • vegetable fat
  • ready meals
  • Limited amount of fruit (due to sugar content)
  • milk and milkproducts
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Note fatty acid ratio (less omega-6 fatty acids, more omega-3 fatty acids to prevent inflammation and insulin resistance)

This is how the Paleo diet works

A gradual introduction to the Paleo diet is usually recommended. You can gradually implement the changes. If you want, you can plan a certain period of time in which you can try to live according to the principles of the Stone Age diet. Nico Richter, author and one of the first representatives who made this form of nutrition known in Germany, recommends a test phase of 30 days, for example.

During this time, many foods are dispensed with that are standard on the plate today – such as bread, pasta and yoghurt. An ideal Paleo meal, on the other hand, consists of lots of vegetables, protein (egg, fish, meat), sufficient fat and possibly some fruit.

For example, a Paleo breakfast might consist of a fruit salad and scrambled eggs. At lunchtime there are peppers stuffed with minced meat, in the evening there is fish with vegetables. Paleo-friendly snacks are fruit or nuts.

Great attention is paid to the quality of the meat, factory farming is frowned upon.

That brings the Paleo diet

Since sugar and grains, including white flour, are banned from the menu, weight loss using the Paleo diet is quite likely. In a two-year study, it was compared to a Nordic Nutrition Recommendation (NNR) diet : In the first six months, body fat mass decreased sharply in both groups, especially on the Paleo diet. This difference decreased subsequently (after 24 months) however. The waist circumference of the participants decreased particularly sharply after six months as a result of the paleo diet.

In a study with only a few participants, however, the values ​​for blood lipids (total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides) were significantly lower in participants in a paleo diet group than in those in a control group, and HDL increased. Other studies have also found an improvement in glucose and lipid levels.

The high protein content of the Stone Age diet is also rated as favourable: According to studies, a protein-rich diet helps with weight loss because the feeling of satiety lasts longer.

The other components of the Paleo diet, i.e. lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and mushrooms, are also healthy from a nutritional point of view. Another plus: The fact that you have to deal with what you eat leads to a more conscious handling of food and consequently a certain learning effect.

Many people who try the Paleo diet hope that they will also encounter ailments such as neurodermatitis, allergies or the like. There are also isolated success stories. So far, however, there is no scientific evidence for such an effect.

Anyone suffering from lactose or gluten intolerance has no restrictions on the Paleo diet.

Risks of the Paleo Diet

Health risks are not to be feared with the Paleo diet – as long as you don’t eat too much meat. Then there is a risk that uric acid will build up in the body, which can cause kidney stones or gout in the long term. You should also keep an eye on the iodine supply: the lack of salt and milk products in the Paleo diet leads to a reduction in the iodine concentration. Experts therefore advise followers of the Paleo diet to take iodine. The trace element is important for the production of thyroid hormones.

But even if the Paleo diet is not unhealthy in general, it is questionable whether one should orientate oneself to the diet of people who, on the one hand, were much more active than we are today and rarely lived to be older than 40 years – apart from the fact that an avocado or an apple looks and tastes very different today than it did in the Stone Age. From a scientific point of view, dieting according to the theory of evolution is not necessary at all.

The argument of the Paleo supporters that humans have not yet genetically adapted to the “new products” is not tenable on closer inspection. On the contrary: According to studies, the human genome has changed even faster over the last 10,000 to 20,000 years and adapted to new forms of nutrition.

Take milk, for example: Originally, humans could only digest lactose in the first few years of life, after weaning they lost this ability. However, the situation changed when people started keeping cows. A genetic mutation spread within comparatively few generations, thanks to which the body continues to produce the milk sugar-splitting enzyme lactase even after weaning.

Paleo Diet: Conclusion

Anyone who wants to lose weight will certainly do so because, thanks to the Paleo diet, they avoid fast food, pizza, white flour and sugar and eat fish and vegetables instead. It makes sense to eat as naturally as possible.

But: The radical change that is necessary with the Paleo diet requires willpower, time and money to buy the high-quality foods and prepare them according to Paleo rules. Above all, it can be difficult to do without cereals – including breakfast rolls or pasta dishes.

People who have food intolerances (which they have not yet noticed) may benefit from the Paleo diet. However, the Paleo diet is not a universal recommendation.

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