Paleo is simply the latest diet fad. In the past decade, there has been a tremendous increase in interest in low-carb diets. Unfortunately, there are some misconceptions about the Paleo diet that confuse the public about the principles and terminology of this weight loss plan. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about Paleo.
Most importantly, the biggest misconception is that the Paleo diet is high-fat, low-carb. This can be difficult to understand for a number of reasons. First, no dietary model, including the Paleo diet, is perfect, and as an example, low-fat diets do not address the issue of a hormone known as leptin, which is involved in satiety.
Second, the low-carb diet does not reduce insulin levels, but rather it prevents the body from storing carbohydrates as fat. A better approach is to increase the intake of high-fiber carbohydrates, which cause a slowing of the metabolism. With dieters, the key is finding the right balance between fiber and carbohydrate, which allows the body to absorb sugars faster and subsequently raises metabolism.
The second biggest misconception is that the Paleo term refers to only the Paleolithic Era, which had very little technology. The first foods to be domesticated were wild plants and animals. Even the earliest civilizations, such as those of the Minoans and Hittites, were plant-based.
Unlike the Western diet, which primarily derives from meat, the Paleo diet is based on plants. As a result, the Paleo diet doesn’t include breads, sweets, processed meats, cheese, and a number of other foods that were present in the Paleolithic diet. For a more detailed discussion of the Paleo diet, please review our other articles.
The third point to make on the nutrition perspective of Paleo is that the diet has not received consistent mainstream media attention. This is unfortunate because this diet addresses the very same factors as traditional diets, such as increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, decreased consumption of meat, and an increased consumption of whole grains. We also strongly recommend checking out the most current information available about this diet.
However, it is also important to emphasize that the Paleo diet is not necessarily the same as the Zone diet, which advocates a low-fat, high-protein health perspective. The main difference between the two diets is the emphasis on eating protein (especially lean, ground beef) as opposed to the emphasis on eating carbohydrates (which in some cases are omitted entirely). In fact, many Paleo practitioners go so far as to eat some portion of their meals as snacks instead of main meals.
From a nutritional perspective, the main goal of the Paleo diet is to encourage consumption of proteins and fats (particularly monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids), rather than carbohydrates. While carbohydrates are still found in many types of food, there is a greater emphasis on using non-starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds in one’s diet. Some Paleo adherents, however, have found that eating carbohydrate-rich meats can help them achieve weight loss.
When asked about the Paleo diet, the most popular response was, “Well, I don’t eat meat, so I’m not on the diet.” Although this answer is not definitive, it does provide a helpful insight into the broader picture of the diet.
There is no formal definition of Paleo that is officially endorsed by the nutrition community. However, several well-known Paleo authors, including the Paleo Diet, Robert Tauxe, and Stephen Phinney, have recommended that people take a broad approach to the terms and principles of the diet.
However, the broadest definition of Paleo that has gained traction is that it is a diet that emphasizes the consumption of foods of plant origin. In order to create a healthy diet that maximizes caloric intake, you should also ensure that you are consuming the right carbohydrates and fiber.