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The Science Behind The Paleo Diet

8/17 14:51:17

The Science Behind the Paleo Diet

The Paleolithic or Paleo Diet, as it is commonly referred to, has gained popularity in recent years mainly due to its simplicity. All you have to remember to eat is lots of lean meat, fruits and vegetables. As boring as that might sound the diet can actually contain an enormous amount of variety and surprisingly delicious choices which make it easier to stay on then your typical fad diet. Actually it’s not a diet at all it’s a completely new way of eating.

Pioneers of the Paleo Diet

First introduced by gastroenterologist Walter Vogetlin during the 1970s, the diet has been peer reviewed and promoted by several doctors of evolutionary medicine. Included among them, is Dr. S Boyd Eaton and Melvin Conner who together published a landmark paper on Paleolithic nutrition in the New England journal of Medicine in 1985. Ever since then numerous scientists, such as Dr. Loren Cordian of Colorado State University and Dr. Arthur De Vany a leading expert on Paleo nutrition, have examined the nutritional benefits and authored several books which have further popularized the diet.

Paleo Diet Fundamentals

Based upon the premise that today’s humans are not genetically different than people who lived over 10 thousand years ago, it has been suggested by the pioneers of the diet that our bodies are genetically tuned toward a pre-agricultural and pre-industrial revolutionary way of eating. Due to the advances in technology for food production, we are now able to create foods that our bodies simply aren’t designed to eat. Foods like refined sugar, breads, dairy products and pre-packaged meals. Based on this premise, proponents of the Paleo Diet recommend a diet high in animal protiens, a healthy balance of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, a low to moderate consumption of meat high in saturated fat and lots of vegetables and fruit.

Here’s why the Paleo Diet Works

The diet works because not all calories are created equal. Because of the amount of protein in the diet, you actually lose weight faster. Few people know that eating lean animal protein, in fairly large amounts, cause your body to burn calories more intensely due to an effect called Dietary Induced Thermogenesis (DIT). You see in order to get energy out of the food that you eat; your body has to spend some energy. In other words, your body has to use calories to break down the protein or anything else you eat. It turns out that it takes three times more energy to digest protein then it does carbohydrates or fat. This is a key factor for the success of this diet.

Why too many Carbs is bad for you

An over indulgence in foods high in sugar or high-glycemic carbohydrates causes something called insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone created by your pancreas whose job it is to get rid of all of the excess sugar (glucose) from your blood stream. When you bombard your body with sugar you cause your pancreas to go into insulin overdrive and over time your body becomes resistant to the insulin. Becoming resistant to insulin is a very bad thing. It creates the conditions to contract, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. But it gets even more complicated than that. Carbohydrates high in glucose lower you good cholesterol (HDL) and increase your triglycerides. To top it off these types of carbs increase a special type of cholesterol called small-dense LDL cholesterol. Even if you have a normal total cholesterol reading, the presence of small-dense LDL cholesterol can still put you at risk for heart disease and other complications. The excess high glycemic sugar in your blood stream is stored as fat and if you’re fat, that’s why. Ask your doctor about this on your next visit.

How the Paleo Diet Improves Metabolism

It’s almost miraculous. Two things happen when you’re on a Paleo Diet. First, your body works extra hard trying to break down the large amount of proteins you keep feeding it. Secondly, the vegetables and fruits, you are now eating, slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates as they pass through your intestine. You’re blood sugar lowers as a result and you decrease your sensitivity to insulin. You also begin to notice that you are hungry less often. Protein has a very satisfying metabolic effect on your appetite. Your brain gets the signal that you’re full more effectively when you eat protein. Sugar has the opposite effect. You find yourself craving more food much sooner then you should after you’ve eating foods high in sugar.


Our bodies are designed to react to what we put in them. If we put poison, dangerous bacteria or viruses in them the side effects can be deadly. It also reacts to substances that are less toxic but still bad for us none the less. Gaining excessive weight, contracting diabetes or numerous of other side effects from a bad diet is a signal from your body that you need to change course. The effects of not changing are not immediate in most cases; but over time they can become just as deadly as eating poision. Take action and prevent the side effects of bad eating habits.

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