There’s paleo anything and everything these days; restaurants, magazines, Facebook groups, meet ups, meal delivery services, not to mention an endless selection of Paleo inspired recipe books! Ocado has even launched its Paleo shopping aisle, enabling you to order Paleo granola, cookies or cake mix in true cave man style at the click of a button!
As the Paleo Diet becomes more mainstream (and subsequently less paleo) than ever, many people are asking what is behind its continued surge in popularity? Particularly given that question marks still remain over its definition, efficacy and sustainability. Many paleo claims and principles are yet to be subjected to controlled scientific trials and the research is still in its infancy, yet the caveman tribe grows year on year building its successful reputation on a global level.
All new diets have their moment and rejecting the bread basket and its villainous associates – cereal and pasta – have been En Vogue since the Atkin’s Revolution. However, the paleo diet takes it to another level with annual conventions, retreats and certifications to become an ‘expert’. The paleo crowd go way beyond instagramming courgetti and cauliflower rice, many are smart, science-based, serious individuals who mean business when it comes to health and longevity.
We were recently asked why we believed Paleo was so popular, here are a few reasons we believe it still continues to storm the health and fitness industry!
The Science Stacks Up… So Far
Despite the limited range of studies available those completed thus far offer a promising insight into the effectiveness of the paleo diet as a nutritional intervention to support weight loss, diabetes management and a reduction in the risk factors for heart disease. A study by Lindeberg et al. published in Diabetologia (2007) observed the paleo diet as more effective than a Mediterranean style diet in improving the glucose control of individuals with heart disease. Whilst most of scientific studies conducted so far have covered a small number of participants over a limited time span, one cannot also ignore the fact that the nutritional foundation advocated by the paleo approach has been the basis of human nutrition for over 10,000 years.
Fat Loss Feasting
With poached eggs, butter, steak and sweet potato chips on the menu it’s easy to understand the appeal of the paleo diet. There’s no denying some delicious meals can be enjoyed whilst the pounds continue to drop off. The rise of paleo inspired chefs, bloggers and foodies provide a continual newsfeed of creative, bordering on genius, mouthwatering recipes. It’s also increasingly easy to follow the principles whilst eating out with the occasional clause of ‘sauce on the side’ or ‘without the ciabatta’. If you’ve ever subjected yourself to a meal replacement diet, strict calorie counting or a miserable low fat existence you’ll know there’s absolutely no comparison to using the paleo approach to hit your fat loss goals.
No Fuss Nutrition
Our lifestyles today are busy, complex and fraught with stress. We’re all feeling a little overwhelmed as technology advances the pace of life beyond what our minds can cope with. As a result we’re constantly on the hunt for simplicity, quick fixes and any means of making life easier. The quicker and more effortless a dietary approach can be, the more likely we can sustain it on a daily basis and create attachments to the healthy habits involved. This applies more than ever to our health and wellbeing, we don’t have time to overthink the needs or methods, we just want to get stuck in. The paleo diet, in its simplest form, really fits this need. Abstaining from modern day, processed foods by default eliminates a number of nutritional nasties including refined sugar, flour, additives, preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Implementing straight forward principles about eating things that grow in the ground, swim in the sea or have a face takes the thinking out of the process. This simple framework makes it accessible for many people, not to mention meals can be as simple as an omelette or pan fried steak and salad. No culinary skills or nutrition degree is required to become an expert at paleo living.
Paleo foods are also naturally high in protein and healthy fats that will naturally satiate and energise you, balancing hormones and appetite in this way negates the need for calorie counting, weighing or logging meals. In fact an interesting outcome of the study in Diabetologia was the fact the paleo group ate an average 451 fewer calories per day without even trying to restrict calories or reduce portion sizes.
Weight Lifting Watchers
Due to its roots in the fitness industry, a powerful and aspirational paleo community exist and are leading a universal desire for a paleo lifestyle not just a diet. This community, similar to a weight loss group, offers success stories, shared experiences, a sense of identity and daily motivation with it’s six packs and steak. In a world where our sense of belonging and friendly human interaction is sadly declining this community engages us away from the stresses and strains of the daily grind back towards a more attractive lifestyle appreciating the simple things in life like walking barefoot, lying in the sun, sleeping in a dark cave and having an infectious enthusiasm for nut butter.
It’s Really The Paleo-Ish Diet
We’ve always described Fitter Food as “Paleo-ish”. As much as we might like to think we’ve magically transported our biochemistry back 10,000 years to a time the human body thrived eating the diet we were genetically designed for, it’s inconceivable to believe we are truly enjoying the health of our ancestors as the food, how it’s sourced, eaten and digested is actually worlds apart. However, the contrasting lifestyle and stressful existence we lead today actually makes for an even greater need to eat the most nutritious foods on the planet most of which come under the paleo banner. Meat, fish, eggs, poultry, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables contain protein, healthy fats, natural sugars, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, basically the key ingredients for a healthy body composition and disease prevention.
If you follow the principles of paleo and make it the basis of 80% of your nutritional intake whilst not taking the process too seriously you can justify adding in some newly discovered, modern day gems that also offer medicinal benefits including tea (catechins), coffee (flavonoids), chocolate (polyphenols) and red wine (reseveratrol) that any sensible caveman would have hunted down given the chance.
Celebrity Cavemen & Women
Unless you’ve been living in a cave you’ll be fully aware that celebrities are exerting a profound influence on health and fitness trends. Their stardom is now a product of what they ate for breakfast, how many rounds of HIIT they do each week and which brand of extortionately priced gym gear they were wearing at the time. With half the cast of Coronation Street not to mention some of Hollywood hottest bodies including Megan Fox and Matthew McConaughey attributing their perfectly toned physique to the Paleo diet, it’s only natural that curiosity and cave man instinct would take hold and we all contemplate ditching the museli for muscles like McConaughey.