If you tell someone that you follow the Paleo diet, there is a good chance that they will look at you with confusion or ask you if it is the same as the Atkins’ diet, having heard only that it involves eating lots of meat and staying away from refined carbohydrates.
Many people misunderstand the rules of the Paleo diet, reducing it to the idea that meat is good and sugars are bad. This is unfortunate because the diet is actually incredibly simple once people learn to stop thinking about nutrients and start thinking about where they come from. Our caveman ancestors did not avoid eating oranges in Scotland during the winter because they didn’t want to get fat from eating too many fruit sugars. The fact is that they didn’t eat oranges because they simply were not there to be eaten.
Fruits Are Not Evil
Fruits can be a valuable part of the Paleo diet, as long as you follow two simple rules. Eat only fruits that are in season and eat them in moderation. Traditional summer fruits such as apples, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, grapes and plums are all nutritionally valuable and suitable for eating as part of a Paleo diet. If you’re looking for a tasty dessert, then a summer fruits platter is certainly a more Paleo-friendly option than a chocolate cake and will give you something sweet but nutritious to enjoy as a treat at your next party.
Eating fruits and berries in moderation ensures that you enjoy the fibre and anti-oxidant benefits of the fruit, while avoiding the downsides of a sugar overdose. Fibre helps to regulate the gut, while antioxidants help to stave off the effects of ageing and are thought to have some anti-cancer properties.
The Paleo diet is not designed to be low-carb in the way that the Atkins’ or Keto diets are. Instead, Paleo eating follows a cyclic low-carb pattern. During the winter months, you follow a ketogenic diet, eating high-protein, high-fat foods, just like your ancestors would have because their sources of other foods were so limited during the cold weather. When summer comes around and you have a wider range of foods available to you, you modify your diet to reflect that.
Cyclic low-carb eating ensures that your body has plenty of time to adjust. During the winter, you are in a ketogenic state and burn fat for fuel. During the summer, you eat a high-carb diet and use glycogen for fuel. It makes sense to give your body time to adjust to this pattern. Short-term “carb cycling”, as seen in many other diets, doesn’t make sense and doesn’t give your body time to adapt to burning one particular fuel source. If you find yourself feeling lethargic each time you start a low-carb diet, why keep yourself in limbo for a couple of days every week?
Summer fruits have their place in the Paleo diet, along with nuts, berries and meats. Avoid grains and wheat and focus on eating fresh, organic foods for the best results.