I’ve been on the paleo diet for a little over a month now. Despite my initial fears about not being able to find anything on the menu at restaurants, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is to modify most entrees to work. The core idea behind the paleo diet stems from the observation that for 2.5 million years human beings evolved eating a very specific set of foods. Our digestive system and metabolism evolved around that diet. However, in the last 10,000 years or so modern agriculture has changed our diets significantly, introducing dairy, grains, and more recently many chemicals that we aren’t equipped to process. The premise is that our bodies have not been able to adapt to these dietary changes and as a result we’re having difficulty processing all of the new types of food we eat.
The paleo diet suggests that we return to the original food our ancestors ate and therefore the foods that our bodies are predisposed to work with best. Specifically paleo suggests a diet of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Since I’m already lactose intolerant, cutting out dairy was no problem. I changed out breakfast by switching from shredded wheat cereal to fruit; typically bananas, red grapefruit, and oranges. At restaurants I try to find a steak or chicken option and beef up the portion of vegetables. At Chipotle I’ve cut out the rice from the burrito and double up on the steak meat. It’s not perfectly adherent, but one of the best parts of the paleo diet is that following it 80% of the time works out beautifully. When you modify your diet to lean meats, fruits, and vegetables, the occasional grain, legume, or french fry don’t really tip the scales out of balance.
So far I’ve found my energy levels are through the roof. I don’t get any of the typically blood sugar energy lows that occur after a carb-heavy lunch or dinner. I still don’t drink any caffeine or soda (clean three years now) and find I have more energy than most of the people I know who drink coffee, soda, or energy drinks. I’ve lost about 6 lbs total in the month that I’ve been on the diet, and feel much fitter and healthier than I have for years. I’m going to wait until I’ve been on the diet for at least three months before deciding if this is a permanent change that I can make, but so far all of the signs are really positive. This is the first diet I’ve ever encountered that makes scientific sense to me, and really the only diet I’ve ever taken seriously. I never got caught up in the Atkins or South Beach craze because, while the results promised weight loss, the idea of cutting out fruits never made any sense to me. I’m really hopeful that this diet will help me stay in shape and maintain high energy levels.