Over recent years the Paleo Diet has gained significant momentum and interest in the health community. And as with most fad diets, there is always a great debate among experts as to their effectiveness and safety. To date, the Paleo Diet has not disappointed in this regards.
The philosophy of the Paleo Diet is based upon our ancestors’ dietary habits during Paleolithic times which date back approximately 750,000 to 15,000 years ago. Depending upon which variation of the Paleo Diet you study, you will be told that the dietary habits of our ancestors featured either:
- Low to moderate amounts of animal protein combined with an abundance of plant-based foods.
- Or, high amounts of animal based protein with low to moderate amounts of fresh plant-based foods.
The public’s curiosity surrounding the Paleo Diet has propelled it to one the most searched diets on the internet during 2013. However, the attention it gathered has been far from favorable. In December 2013, the respected US News compared 32 popular diets and ranked the Paleo Diet last. US News stated that the Paleo Diet “should go back to where it came from.”
The major criticism of the Paleo Diet tends to center around two talking points, the second of which I find laughable. First, experts are critical of the high protein version of the Paleo Diet that promotes a high intake of red meats. In this case, I do see their point. However, my contention is that the true Paleo Diet is not a predominately animal based, high protein diet.
The second talking point of experts focuses on the obvious fact that we no longer have access to the same foods our ancestors consumed 750,000 years ago and therefore the Paleo Diet is useless since we can’t duplicate these foods. With that said, I believe they are completely missing the true intent of the Paleo Diet.
The Paleo Diet that I have come to know and respect is a diet that is very clean and features an abundance of nutrient dense foods combined with lean, high-quality protein in modest amounts. My interpretation of Paleolithic times centers on the hunter/gatherer concept. Our ancestors spent most of their time gathering and eating foods that were within an arm’s reach. On occasion, they were able to successfully trap wild game which provided the body with high-quality, animal protein.
The intent of the modern-day Paleo Diet isn’t to reintroduce foods that are no longer available to the planet or promote the over consumption of animal protein. The goal is to help people enjoy a lifestyle that features all-natural, high-quality foods that are grown locally without the use of harmful chemicals. And while the intake of animal protein is limited in quantity, it certainly makes up for it in quality.
Paleo followers are encouraged to consume moderate amounts of meats that are raised humanly, fed natural diets, and free of harmful chemicals. These practices help ensure that the nutritional profile of the meat stays more balanced and in line with the body’s need for nutrients.
In the end, we will never be able to eat the exact foods our ancestors enjoyed 750,000 years ago—this point is not even debatable. However, we can choose to eat the best available food that are grown locally. Eating an abundance of nutrient dense, plant-based foods while enjoying modest amounts of lean, high-quality free-range animal protein in my opinion is the Paleo Diet and most closely resembles the hunter/gatherer lifestyle our ancestors had 750,000 years ago.
Ryan Mace resides in Tampa, FL and possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and a minor in Natural Medicine as well as comprehensive training in strength and conditioning. Ryan Mace serves as a health consultant and sales professional. Ryan is passionate about empowering individuals with the necessary knowledge to take control of their health, simplifying the complexities of the human body, and guiding people through their quest for optimal health.