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Should I go Paleo?

More and more clients are trying out the paleo diet. Some are hoping for easier weight loss or maintenance; others are hoping for health benefits.

Paleo involves eating what our ancestors supposedly ate: meats, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and that's pretty much it. Some include potatoes in various forms. However, grains, beans and legumes, sugars, and dairy are not allowed (unless it's completely raw).

There are many benefits to eating this way.

1. The diet naturally reduces inflammation. When inflammation gets out of control, disease, illness and pain tend to follow.

2. It is difficult to overeat on this diet. Because of the nature of the foods allowed, counting calories tends to not be necessary.

3. This diet is very rich in nutrients.

4. It's fairly easy to eat out on this diet, as long as you order wisely, asking for substitutions when necessary.

5. It's not a complicated diet to follow. You don't have to count calories or fat grams.


There are also a few challenges to 'going paleo.'

1. Typical foods that are eaten socially from time to time such as birthday cake or pizza are strictly off limits.

2. Alcohol is off limits.

3. Almost all processed foods are out of the question, which entails either purchasing special paleo-approved bars etc, or simply always eating fresh food, which isn't always convenient.

4. The diet can be expensive, since consuming more produce and more meat costs more than consuming a lot of grain-based foods.

5. It may be difficult to obtain sufficient calories and carbohydrates for your activity level. Sometimes unwanted weight loss occurs.


In the end, going paleo just might be a great choice for you and/or your family. However, I find that clients tend to do best using the 80/20 rule when it comes to paleo: Choose paleo foods 80% of the time, but allow yourself to go 'off' a little as well. This just is a more realistic long-term lifestyle plan, and it makes you less likely to want to 'quit' paleo due to all the restrictions.

If you find yourself feeling better just being 100% paleo, that's fine, but at that point you will be so 'addicted' to feeling great that the 'regular' foods will no longer tempt you. Either way, giving yourself the freedom to be 80/20 will allow you to feel like you still have choices to eat what you crave. And this helps with adherence to the diet in tremendous ways. Some folks also go paleo for a month or so to get a jump start, and then they transition into a more moderate lifestyle.

One thing to keep in mind is that just going paleo in and of itself does not guarantee weight loss. Calories and portion sizes still do matter! 

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