Could You Live Like a Cavewoman? Find Out!

Amy Grimes December 22, 2014 2

Paleo and low-carb diets have recently been taking the world by storm. They both have their merits and it’s quite likely that you have a friend or two who just can’t stop raving about how great one is. However before embarking on a life-changing diet it’s important to look at the options so before you try either, read on for more.

low carb list

Low Carb Food Pyramid

Low Carb Diet

A low carb diet will be more familiar to many readers. Popularized by the likes of the Atkins diet which had a big moment in the early 2000s, low carb diets are exactly what you would assume. It’s simple – carbohydrates such as sugar and starches convert to fat when stored in the body. An excess of carbs in the diet means that they cannot be adequately burned off and so weight is gained. By cutting back on sugars and starches it is possible to not only lose weight, but to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight.

Low carb diets also take blood sugar into account. Carbs cause our blood sugar to fluctuate, resulting in highs and lows that can cause snacking, cravings and other unhealthy eating habits. So a stable level of blood sugars is key in order to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent illnesses like diabetes.

Unlike the Paleo diet on a low carb diet you can consume dairy and grains, just in small amounts. If you are to consume grains then they should be wholegrain as these have less effect on fluctuating levels of insulin and blood sugar.

In general, on a low carb diet you can consume: fruits, vegetables, high-fat dairy, fish, eggs, legumes, healthy fats, certain grains such as brown rice. Just as with Paleo and healthy eating as a whole, it is a good idea to avoid processed foods and refined sugars.

There are many low carb diet plans out there and they each have their own rules. A commonality that many focus on is eating well-spaced meals throughout the day. This is yet another tactic to maintain stable sugar, improve the metabolism and assist in weight loss.

paleo pyramid

Paleo Food Pyramid

Paleo Diet

The Paleolithic Diet, or Paleo, is also known as the Caveman Diet, the Stone Age Diet, and the Hunter-gatherer Diet. It is so named because the diet is purported to be a modern version of what people who were alive during the Paleolithic area would have eaten. This era occurred before the invention of agriculture as we know it and the founding rule is this:

If a caveman wouldn’t have been able to eat it, then neither can you. If you could have hunted it or foraged for it, then it can be eaten.

It is thought that cavemen (and women!) were fitter and healthier and by eating as they would have, we are eating as we are genetically supposed to. People who follow a Paleo diet believe the human body was not designed to go along with the advances of agriculture, farming, and food production. In essence, it is a desire to return to a simpler life.

Here is what can be consumed when eating Paleo: Meat, fish, seafood, and vegetables with low amounts of starch.

Here is what cannot be eaten: Dairy, refined sugars, fruit juices, grains, legumes such as peas and beans, processed meats, fatty meats.

Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes should be consumed only in small amounts and salt intake should also be minimized.

The Paleo diet is basically a ‘no-carb’ diet. That is, no high-starch foods or grains can be consumed. However some carbohydrate is taken in through vegetables, just not in forms one would traditionally associate with carbs. The focus is on unrefined food that is as close to nature as possible. As with any diet that is high in fresh fruit and veg, this diet is chock full of vitamins and minerals.

The high-protein, high-fiber diet with healthy fats is thought to prevent diseases such as diabetes. The diet states that dairy and grains are unnecessary because the human body is not equipped to deal with them – this is evidenced in the large number of people who are lactose intolerant.

This diet not only dictates the type of food that can and cannot be eaten, there is also a guide for how often meals should be consumed. You should only eat when hungry, although the amount you eat is up to you and there is less of a specific focus on portion control. By following the body’s own hunger signals Paleo dieters believe that they are following natural hunter-gatherer diet patterns because back then food was not a regular occurrence.

low carb food on a plate

Low Carb Dishes can be Delicious

So which diet is better?

Frankly, a low carb diet is the more realistic choice of the two. Paleo may not necessarily be worse but it is a lifestyle in itself and that can be problematic. Many people choose to live a Paleo lifestyle 80% of the time which has enough beneficial effects that it is worth it but a low carb diet is more accessible for most of the population. This is because eating Paleo has many dietary limitations that do not prove quite so easy to achieve in reality.

As well as this, shunning the invention of agricultural practices is an unnecessarily convoluted approach to healthy eating. Cavemen didn’t exactly have an enviable quality of life and it is not something that should be aspired to – there’s a reason humans strove to successfully cultivate plants and breed livestock! There’s simply no need to do away with thousands of years of progress to lose weight. It’s just not that complicated – cut back on sugars and starches and you can see results.

We all know that a diet that is relatively easy to keep is one where you will succeed and it’s just too easy to fall off the Paleo bandwagon. It is expensive to exclusively eat specific meats and vegetables and unlike vegetarianism or veganism, most restaurants do not cater to Paleo diets. You can either choose to cut yourself off from many social activities or ‘cheat’ on your diet and we all know which the more appealing choice in that scenario is. Eating a diet low in carbs is more adaptable and there is a greater likelihood that you will succeed and that’s what counts.

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2 Comments »

  1. Emily December 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm -

    My boyfriend did the Paleo diet and was quite successful at it. He wasn’t trying to lose weight but, rather reduce fat and build muscle. I couldn’t believe his will power because the diet looks really tough – but he looks better than ever.

  2. Kim Rawks December 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm -

    THAT diet is tough but wow! It really works. I’ve known people who really got ripped bodies combining this with a good workout plan.

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