The Paleo diet has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years, although it served as the primary diet plan for our ancestors ten thousand years ago. While there are many individuals that decide on the Paleo diet as a way to improve their health and lifestyle, the most common reason why the Paleo diet is being used today is for the purposes of weight loss. It is true that the Paleo diet helps you lose weight, but can you assume how exactly? If not, stay with us and find out all the secrets behind the much popular Paleo diet.
The paleo diet – Its history and what it represents
The paleo diet focuses on eating whole, unprocessed foods that are both animal- and plant-based. It eliminates any use of processed foods, sugar, dairy, and grains, although there are some less strict alternatives to the paleo diet that allow the intake of rice and dairy (1).
Foods that a person following the Paleo diet is allowed to eat:
- Lean meat
- Natural spices
- Fruit and nut oils, including olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil
Foods that a person following the Paleo diet is not allowed to eat:
- Processed foods
- Legumes, including beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts
- Artificial sweeteners
- Refined sugars
- Some vegetables including soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, etc.
- Soft drinks
- Drinks with added sugar
Unlike most diets, the Paleo diet does not involve calorie counting, and so, the individual is allowed to consume all of the previously mentioned foods according to their daily needs. In addition, the Paleo diet strongly encourages its followers to include regular physical activity in their lifestyle. It is of vital importance to stay physically active each day, no matter if you are following the Paleo diet for the purposes of maintaining your good health or losing weight. The reason why the Paleo diet is so popular nowadays is because of its many beneficial effects, not only towards the process of losing weight in a sustainable and healthy matter but also beneficial effects towards our entire health.
And if you are wondering where the idea for the Paleo diet came from, here is a quick review of its history. The Paleo diet is often referred to as the Stone Age diet, cavemen diet, or hunter-gatherer diet. The idea for the Paleo diet came from analyzing the eating habits of the people who lived in the Paleolithic era. Because 10,000 years ago, modern agriculture was yet not developed, the people had to eat what they were able to gather or hunt down. That would include the animal- and plant-based foods that we mentioned earlier. The proponents of the paleo diet suggest that the human body has not evolved in order to process the unprocessed foods, legumes, and grains, which have become a regular part of our diet. And because of that, they believe that is increasing the risk of certain diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and many other health risks that are increasing the mortality rate nowadays (2).
How the Paleo diet can help you lose weight efficiently
One of the reasons why most people decide on the Paleo diet is because of its ability to guide us towards healthy, effective, and, most importantly, a sustainable weight loss. You will be amazed by how much your body is changing, your health is improving, and your self-confidence is growing because of the plain and simple Paleo diet. Let's discuss the mechanisms of action that the Paleo diet is using to help you lose weight efficiently.
It is a high-protein diet
If you ever have tried losing weight by adapting your diet, then you probably have read on how effective a high-protein diet really is. A high-protein diet has been found to serve as one of the best ways to lose weight in a healthy matter. It is because proteins are your friends that a high-protein diet fits so well in a weight loss program (3).
Eating lots of protein can help you boost your metabolism so you would burn more calories than ever while satisfying your hunger in the long run so that you would not have starved yourself for the purposes of losing weight. In addition, it will reduce your appetite and help regulate your weight a lot better (4, 5). So it is a good thing that the Paleo diet is based on 25-35% of the daily calorie intake from proteins. High-protein foods such as lean meat, fish, and eggs are encouraged to be included in at least two of your main meals throughout the day in order to ensure a high-protein intake on a daily basis.
It is low in carbs
Apart from introducing more proteins in your diet, another important weight loss mechanism is reducing your carbs intake. You probably know that there are three main energy sources that our body uses on a daily level – carbs, fats, and protein. The aim is to prevent proteins from being used as an energy source while trying to lose weight in order to prevent losing muscle mass. So by cutting down the carbs from your diet, you will be forcing your body to use fats instead as the primary energy source in the absence of carbs. This will allow your body to burn the fats around your belly, thigs, arms, etc. and with that, enhance the weight loss process.
A low carb diet is actually suggested to be more effective in the weight loss process as compared to a low-fat diet because of the mechanism of action that we mentioned earlier. And we have over 23 studies to support these findings (6). This is another concept that the good old Paleo diet is based on. We mentioned the Paleo diet eliminating some of the basic carbs sources such as bread, rice, potatoes, added sugars, and all processed foods, which means that the Paleo diet is allowing you to reduce your carbs intake without causing you to deal with extreme fatigue and starvation because you still have plenty of healthy food choices to satisfy your hunger with (7).
It eliminates the unhealthy foods that are causing weight gain in the first place
It is the modern diet that is filled with processed foods, added sugars, and empty calories that are to be blamed for the rapid increase of obesity on a worldwide level. These foods are low in the much-needed nutrients, and high in calories, which prevents them from satisfying your hunger properly while causing them to increase your daily calorie intake to a level that each day brings you closer and closer to weight gain and obesity (8, 9).
In the Paleo diet, there is no place for any added sugars, processed foods, sugary drinks, and anything that was not available during the Stone Age. Instead, by using the allowed fresh fruits and veggies, clean proteins, and healthy fats, the Paleo diet will help you satisfy your hunger and lose weight without even noticing.
It reduces calorie intake
In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories and reduce your daily calorie intake. This is one of the main principles that most diet plans are based on, including the Paleo diet. However, unlike most diet plans, the Paleo diet actually helps you reduce your calorie intake in a healthy matter – by introducing a long list of foods that are high in nutrients, low in calories, and high in satiety that encourages a healthy weight loss.
Compared to some more popular diets such as the Mediterranean diet and most diabetes diets, the Paleo diet has been found to be much more filling because of the high amounts of proteins and fiber that you intake on a daily level (10, 11). In addition, the Paleo diet has also been found to be able to enhance the production of hormones such as GLP-1, PYY, and GIP, which helps keep you full after a meal, as compared with the more traditional and popular diets (12).
It reduces belly fat
One of the biggest problem areas for most people, especially for women, is their belly. But belly fat is not only unpleasant to look at and guilty for causing our self-confidence to crash and burn, but it is also highly unhealthy. Stored belly fat has been linked to numerous health risks in the past, including the risk of diabetes and heart disease as the biggest ones (13).
That is why it is a good thing to know that the Paleo diet has been shown to help individuals reduce their belly fat. The Paleo diet has helped obese postmenopausal women to reduce their belly fat, their high cholesterol, and high triglycerides levels, thus promoting healthy weight loss (14). Another study from 2013 has shown that the Paleo diet has helped postmenopausal women experience an 8-cm reduction in their waist circumference, in addition to losing over 4.6 kg overall (15).
It helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity
You may have met the term insulin sensitivity, but do you know what it actually means? It is a term that refers to how easily are your cells able to respond to insulin. If you have low insulin sensitivity, thus having insulin resistance, you have a greater risk of developing diabetes. By improving your insulin sensitivity, you are reducing your risk of diabetes, but that is not all. High insulin sensitivity also points out a more effective sugar removal from the blood.
Scientists have compared the Paleo diet with the standard diet that is based on the recommendations from the American Diabetes Association among participants with diabetes type 2. What the results showed is that although both diet plans have efficiently helped the participants to manage their blood sugar levels and improve their insulin sensitivity, it is the Paleo diet that had stronger and more valuable effects among these individuals (16).
What does science tell us?
As if we did not share enough scientific proof about the positive effects of the Paleo diet on the weight loss process already. But here are some more, because there are hundreds of studies that talk about the many beneficial effects of the Paleo diet on the weight loss process and our general health.
A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has investigated the effects of the Paleo diet on 14 medical students over a period of three weeks. In the end, it was shown that the Paleo diet has helped the participants to lose around 2.3 kg, and reduce their waist circumference by 1.5 cm (17).
Another study from 2009 has investigated the effects of the Paleo diet within participants diagnosed with diabetes type 2 in order to compare its effects with the standard low-fat and low-carb diet. The results have shown that the participants following the Paleo diet managed to lose about 3 kg and more than 4 cm of their waist circumference as compared with the standard diet plan (18).
And a 2017 review showed that the Paleo diet could be used to achieve healthy weight loss in a short period of time (19). So instead of starving yourself for the purposes of fitting in your dress, perhaps you would like to try a healthy way to cut those extra body pounds.
Ten thousand years ago, the Paleo diet was the primary diet plan that our ancestors were used to survive. Today, we are using it to enhance our health and reduce our body weight. By introducing highly filling, healthy, and natural foods, the Paleo diet is helping us achieve our dream goal of staying healthy. And one of the ways to stay healthy is to get rid of those extra body pounds once and for all. Use the Paleo diet to improve your life, and you will never look back to another diet plan ever.