First things first – let's discuss the prevalence of fad diets and what they mean for your health. The Raw Food Diet, the Alkaline Diet, or the Blood Type Diet are just a few examples of current fads that encourage dieters to adopt a particular way of eating to promote weight loss. Unfortunately, many of these diets are unsustainable, and as soon as you return to your regular eating habits, weight gain is inevitable. In fact, most people will not only return to their original weight but will gain an extra few pounds.
So, when we talk about diet from a health perspective, we're not talking about short-term changes for long-term success. Instead, you need to think about your "diet" as the foods you consume every day. Your diet is your lifestyle, and in order to achieve a healthy, sustainable weight loss, your goal should be lifelong dietary changes.
Anytime we say "lifelong" or "permanent," people get scared. But they shouldn't. Ultimately, whatever our chosen path, there are going to be deviations. When your goal is bigger than any given moment, it's easier to correct for these deviations. Think big picture, forgive minor transgressions, and keep your eye on the prize. You can do it!
The Paleo Diet
Now that we're on the same page about diet; let's talk a little bit about the Paleo Diet. What is it, exactly? Essentially, the Paleo Diet is based on the principle that we return to the diet of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors. Ultimately, we evolved according to a particular diet, and modern processed, sugar-filled foods were not part of that diet.
Some of the key principles of the Paleo Diet include eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates. We should also avoid foods with higher glycemic index while increasing our intake of high-fibre foods. Under the Paleo Diet, we want to increase our consumption of healthy fats – such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. Finally, we should look to increase potassium, decrease sodium, and increase vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and plant phytochemical intake.
Perhaps the primary benefit of a Paleo Diet is satiety. Folks who follow a Paleo regime usually feel more satisfied (i.e. full) from their food sources compared to other diets, even when the number of calories is the same. This is incredibly important for weight loss because you'll spend less time feeling hungry. Moreover, there is a growing body of research that shows a wide variety of people find success with the Paleo diet including post-menopausal women, people with type-2 diabetes, and Aboriginal Australians.
Ultimately, success on a Paleo diet is also linked to the fact that it can be adopted for the long term. As a part of a healthy lifestyle, this diet ensures you get all the nutrients you need to be healthy, and you don't have to spend a lot of time counting calories or restricting your food choices. Once you adopt the principles of the diet, you're on your way to weight loss success! Now let's turn our attention to some tips for weight loss success with a Paleo Diet.
Tips for Weight Loss Success
1. Keep It Simple
Don't overcomplicate your food choices. The Paleo Diet is effective because it helps you eliminate unnecessary calories without restricting your diet. But make your meals simple – aim for a protein, lots of vegetables with a low glycemic index (i.e. non-starchy vegetables), healthy carbs from root vegetables and fruit, and healthy fat.
2. Eat Enough
If you're hungry, eat. You're not trying to starve yourself. Make healthy choices, and follow the principles of a Paleo lifestyle, but make sure you're getting enough food for your activity level.
3. Don't Eliminate Carbohydrates
Listen, carbs have gotten a bad rap in the past decade – but you need them for a healthy lifestyle. It's not that you have to eliminate carbohydrates, you just need to choose healthy ones. You need to make sure that you're getting enough carbs for your activity level and choose options such as apples, sweet potatoes, or carrots.
4. Find a Partner
Lifestyle changes are always easier if you have a buddy to keep you motivated. Your spouse, a friend, or a colleague can all benefit from a balanced Paleo Diet regardless of their weight loss goals. Having a buddy can help you keep focused on your long-term goal, provide encouragement, and even help you maintain focus when you're feeling overwhelmed by your lifestyle changes.
5. Think Big Picture
Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are important for your overall health, but there are other factors to consider. Make sure you get enough sleep, avoid stress and develop healthy coping strategies, and enjoy your life! When you feel positive and energized, you'll find it easier to make healthier choices.