October 2, 2017

Why Paleo Doesn’t (always) Work.

The Paleo diet is a force to be reckoned with.

It is hitting national news, and the movement is spreading all over the world.

I just came back from the Paleo F(x) Conference, and the reach of people is amazing. There were Paleo people from Germany, the U.K., and South America.

But one thing worth noting was not everyone “looked” healthy. There were Paleo people who still had the spare tire around their waistline, and others who looked like they needed to eat a few extra steaks.

So if this diet is supposed to be so effective—what gives?

The Paleo diet has also been called “the caveman diet” because it centers around consuming foods that were eaten by our ancestors in the Paleolithic era, such as meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, and small amounts of fruits. In simple terms, it focuses on eliminating processed food, gluten, dairy, and grains while incorporating more naturally occurring whole foods.

Don’t get me wrong, I personally love Paleo. In fact, I recommend it to my clients all the time, but generally as a foundation for finding recipes that are gluten, dairy, sugar, and soy-free. It’s a great starting point and guide for eating a whole-foods diet.

Most people experience great results in terms of weight loss and overall health once they start on a Paleo diet. Here are just some of the benefits that most people report experiencing:

>> Reduction in fat and an increase in muscle mass.

>> Balanced appetite and energy levels.

>> Decreases in cholesterol, inflammation, and other chronic conditions.

One of the topics not often discussed, however, is why Paleo doesn’t always work.

With all the diet trends out there, Paleo has proven to be supreme in healing conditions such as Muscular Sclerosis, fighting cancer, reversing the effects of autoimmune disorders, clearing up brain fog, aiding in weight loss, and so many other health issues. In fact, Dr. Terry Wahls has an inspiring story about how she beat MS with a version of the Paleo diet and is now sharing her protocols for clinical trials with the Mayo Clinic.

But Paleo doesn’t always work for everyone. Why is that?

The reason it is so effective for so many people is that it focuses on eliminating inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and alcohol. But you don’t have to be Paleo to do that. It also works because it focuses on eating leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables that are ultra high in nutrients, and it centers around healthy fats and proteins needed for essential body functions.

However, if you’ve tried Paleo or know someone who has and it hasn’t worked, then let me tell you where Paleo can go wrong:

Too Many Non-organic Foods.

The purpose of Paleo is to go back to eating nutrient-dense foods. This is completely counterproductive if they aren’t organic. Non-organic foods contain herbicides and pesticides, which are toxic to our body. These toxins can alter hormones and the distribution of fat in the body.

If you’re eating a non-organic Paleo diet, then you’re just loading up on toxins that fuel inflammation and disease. The goal of Paleo is to eat more naturally and to avoid processed or toxic foods. For Paleo to work right, it has to be organic.

Taking it Too Literally.

There is no one-size-fits-all diet. We have to take this with a grain of salt and figure out what works best for our own, unique bodies.

Our bodies all have individual needs for the ideal balance of carbs, protein, and fats. Think of it like a sliding scale between the balance of carbs and proteins. Some might feel best with super high protein, others need more carbs, and some are right in the middle.

Listen to your body. If you find yourself feeling sleepy after a Paleo meal, it could mean it was too rich in fat and protein and too light on carbohydrates. If you feel anxious after a Paleo meal, it could mean it was too light on protein and fat and too heavy on carbohydrates. When your ratio of proteins, fat, and carbs are just right for you in a meal, your energy should be even and you should be able to go three to five hours or more between meals without getting hungry.

Living Too Low-carb.

This isn’t the Atkins diet, let’s get that straight first. In fact, there is such thing as Vegan/Vegetarian Paleo. Carbs are essential for brain function, adrenal and thyroid gland health, and metabolism. Restricting too many carbs on the Paleo diet can actually cause more internal hormone dysfunction and prevent weight loss for some people. Tossing in some gluten-free grains and good starches like potatoes can make Paleo meals more balanced for those who need more carbohydrates to feel balanced.

Cavemen didn’t Eat Dessert.

Just because it’s Paleo, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Even too many Paleo desserts and approved sweeteners can be a bad thing. After all, they still have an impact on your blood sugar levels, so eating them frequently can cause an imbalance. If you find yourself craving Paleo desserts frequently, there’s something out of balance with your protein, carb, and fat ratios, or you have something deeper going on in your gut like a parasite or fungal overgrowth.

Incorrect dietary ratios of fats, carbs, and proteins in a meal can lead to imbalances in blood sugar, and blood sugar cravings will kick in as the body is searching for quick fuel to bring blood sugar back up. Take a look at your food ratios first and try adjusting the mix of protein, fat, and carbs to kick the cravings. If that doesn’t work, parasites, bacteria, or fungus might be at play, as they love sweets—it’s their number one favorite food to keep them growing.

Like most diets—and things in life—it is smart to take them with a grain of salt and look within ourselves to find what is best for us.

Going Paleo is a move in the right direction. When you do it, make sure that you do it right by listening to your body’s needs, not over-thinking or forcing it to work within strict limitations.

You and your body are unique, and your diet should mirror that and be unique too.


Author: Jenn Malecha
Image: Google Images for Reuse
Editor: Emily Bartran
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron

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 Jenn Malecha