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Paleo Diet – Lose Weight The Healthy Way

by | Dec 4, 2012 | Blog

There are so many fad diets out there that claim they help lose weight quickly. The paleo diet differs from those because it is extremely easy to stick to. It is natural and healthy; and everything you need can be found at your local grocery store. You can also usually find something in a café or restaurant menu to suit this diet. With the paleo diet you won’t feel like you’re starving yourself! That is not something most diets can boast about.

A lot of research has been completed on the effects of the paleo diet and whether or not it does promote healthy eating and weight loss. One such study published by Dr Staffan Lindeberg of the University of Lund, Sweden, found that a paleo diet prevented heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer and was also beneficial in helping with weight loss and digestive problems.

Some people still insist that the research doesn’t support low carb diets like the paleo diet and that the old food pyramid with loads of grains at the bottom is the way to go. Unfortunately this is just perpetuating a myth. Many scientific studies support both the fact that low carb diets aid weight loss and reduce all major risk factors for heart disease. They also show that the kinds of fats and oils consumed on a paleo diet have not ever been found to be unhealthy or unsafe to eat. If you’re interested in the research, this page has loads of links to scientific articles about low carb / paleo diets.

The paleo diet—short for paleolithic diet—is one that tries to closely emulate what our ancestors would have eaten before agriculture provided grains and dairy for their meals.

According to the best available estimates, ancient humans got around 35% of their dietary energy from fats, 35% from carbohydrates and the rest (30%) from protein. Around 7.5% of their total energy came from saturated fats; but there were few harmful trans-fatty acids. Their diet was high in polyunsaturated fats, with a 2:1 ratio between omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. In contrast, a modern diet has a 10:1 fatty acids imbalance puts us at increased risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, cancers, inflammatory diseases and psychological disturbances.

Our ancestors also consumed a lot of cholesterol. Most of their carbohydrates came from wild fruits and vegetables, accounting for roughly half of their energy intake. Today, vegetables and fruits only account for around 16% of our energy intake. Processed fats and sugars are not part of the paleo diet. Honey contributed between 2% and 3% of the energy intake; so much less than the 15% added sugars contribute to our current diet. There was little by way of legumes, and no grains or dairy products.

A paleo diet is considered healthy eating because:  

  • Lots of fruit and vegetables, with little or no grains or dairy products is far less acidic; or base yielding.
  • It contains more fibre compared to a diet rich in grains and dairy; and poor in veggies or fruits.
  • Higher vitamin and mineral content; except for Sodium.
  • Lacks grains, many of which can raise blood sugar levels after a meal, have low levels of micronutrient density, high content of anti-nutrients and may trigger autoimmune diseases.
  • Lacks added sugars, salt and processed fat;
  • Better fatty acid balance reducing our risk of chronic disease;

This is not an exhaustive list.  There are so many other reasons that make it a sensible diet.

Benefits of the paleo diet

Changing the composition of food intake can have a big impact on our bodies and on our health and well being, not just in the short term, but in the long term. A paleo diet, if attempted even in moderate terms—as opposed to strict adherence—can lead us to a healthier lifestyle.

Here are some of the benefits that are attributed to the paleo diet:

  • Reduce risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduces risk of most chronic degenerative diseases.
  • Helps those who are overweight to lose weight.
  • Helps improve athletic performance.
  • Helps to slow down or reverse the progression of autoimmune disease.
  • Improves or eliminates acne.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Provides more energy throughout the day.
  • It can help increase libido.
  • Improves mental clarity and outlook.
  • Paves the way for a longer, healthier and more active life.

How practical is a paleo diet today using modern food?

Can we actually get close to the diet of our ancestors using modern food sources?

Yes. Research shows that it is possible to create a nutritionally balanced paleo diet using contemporary foods that mimics the food groups that were available to ancient humans. Vitamin D was the exception, which the hunter-gatherers may have got from sun exposure. Most importantly, the mimic paleo diet was able to reproduce both trace and macronutrients that help keep us safe, by reducing our risk of getting a variety of chronic diseases that are common in western populations.

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