If your eating habits need to change, it might be time to find your inner caveman, says Shishira Sreenivas
It has been over 10,000 years since it went out of fashion but this century is seeing the Paleolithic diet, better known as the caveman diet, making something of a comeback in dieting trends. Followers of the meaty plan claim benefits include reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic degenerative diseases, improved skin and, more importantly, a sure-fire way to shed some stubborn pounds.
The caveman diet started achieving popularity when Loren Cordain, an American scientist, published The Paleo Diet back in 2001. It didn’t take long for the protein-heavy, low-carb diet to garner a celebrity fan base, with Hollywood actress Uma Thurman and singer Miley Cyrus among those to endorse it.
Just as the name suggests, a paleo diet includes eating a lot of meat, I – mean a lot. Tons of the stuff. With piles of veggies, fruits, seeds and nuts on the side.
Although no longer having to gnaw on a bison leg for supper, those following the diet mimick the eating habits of our prehistoric ancestors before the advent of agriculture.
This means that grains, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), sugar, dairy and any form of processed foods are off the table.
If it sounds a bit harsh, it could have its compensations.
Dubai-based nutrition and inch-loss expert, Rashi Chowdhary, says that going paleo for those who have experienced food intolerances might actually be a good idea.
“Around 80 per cent of us are sensitive to gluten and dairy, which may not be evident in an allergy test. So keeping off these and finding out first hand is a great idea for anyone trying to get on a healthier lifestyle,” says Chowdhary.
A paleo diet can be especially effective for certain conditions such as digestive problems, food sensitivities or insulin resistance.
On the other hand, consuming large quantities or red meat everyday doesn’t sound too healthy.
Chowdhary says that while red meat does have a bed reputation, it’s not all bad.
“Saturated fat from meat, poultry and butter and cholesterol from egg yolks are all good fats actually. In fact, they’re essential for our hormonal well-being,” she insists.
“Fat is also an essential component required for production of hormones in our body. Without sufficient amounts, our endocrine system will be running on empty. Good fats do not make us fat.”
Not everyone is convinced, however. In her 2012 Ted Talk – ‘Debunking the paleo diet’ – Christina Warinner said that every bit of food consumed today is drastically different from those consumed by our Neanderthal ancestors. She argues that diversity in the food groups consumed is what makes for a balanced healthy meal plan, not by excluding vital food groups.
Arguments aside, there is one thing on which both paleo dieters and its critics mutually agree – that’s to stop the consumption of processed food and refined sugar. Whether you choose to go paleo or not, Chowdhary says it isn’t a quick fix.
“To be honest, it’s not losing weight that’s tough. It’s about what method helps you keep it off.”