11 Myths about Paleo

myths about Paleo
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Almost everyone seems to offer an opinion or advice on Paleo, regardless of whether or not they are well-informed.  I am constantly reading myths floating around about the Paleo lifestyle and diet.  Here we will examine the main ones that appear on a regular basis and debunk them once and for all.

Myth 1: It’s Too Expensive

myths about Paleo
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People like to say that being Paleo is expensive because “all that meat and produce can add up.” Yet, compared to processed foods, real food is cheaper. When you spend $1 on a Mars bar weighing 50 grams, that equates to $20 per kilogram, whereas many cuts of beef, chicken, pork and lamb are significantly less than this price.  90% of fruit and vegetables are less than $10 per kilogram.

Processed meats will always equate to more per kilogram than a fresh alternative.

Comparing the nutrition in fresh meat, fresh fruits, vegetables compared to processed food and meat-like products is chalk and cheese. The sustainability of highly processed foods also needs to be considered. Crops and animals grazing in a field is more sustainable that factories that turn ingredients into processed foods of dubious nutritional value.

Think about:

  • Buy local. The produce usually costs less at farmers’ markets and local farms, and is certainly fresher.
  • Buy in bulk. The big-box retailers are coming out with more high-quality foods. Bring home extra when you see a good deal.
  • Stock up on sales. Buy the best cuts of meat you can find on sale and stock them in the freezer for later.

Myth 2:  Without dairy, I won’t get enough calcium.

Calcium can be derived from many sources apart from a dairy cow. Additionally, dairy products contribute to inflammation of the body in some people.  On the contrary, other sources of calcium work really well in the body and cause no inflammation whatsoever.  These include:

  • Fat sources such as
    • Nut butters
    • Nuts (almonds, cashews, chestnuts, Brazil nuts)
    • Dates
    • Figs
    • Olives
  • Plant sources such as:
    • Kale
    • Spinach
    • Leafy greens
    • Bok choy and cabbage
  • Seaweed such as kelp and dulse
  • Canned fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines (with bones is always better)

Myth 3: Eating grains make us healthy.

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You can live without breakfast cereals, bagels, breads, pasta and cakes. 

Medical research has shown that a lower-carb diet can actually prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes. The carbohydrate choices, from vegetables rather than grains, for Paleo are completely reasonable, nutrient-dense, and delicious without overstimulating our appetites causing us to over consume.

As an example, Sweet potatoes have only 90 mg of omega-6 per cup compared to the same amount of a wheat cereal delivering 452 mg. Grains are a big source of omega-6, the kind of inflammatory fats that should be consumed less, not more. 

Myth 4: Paleo diets have too much protein.

Paleo is not a high-protein diet. Eating a variety of proteins as a part of a well-balanced diet will keep you within a healthy range of protein. Nowhere in a well-planned Paleo diet do you find a recommendation to eat tons of protein all day; it’s simply not the Paleo way. Protein is the most satisfying macro-nutrient. The more protein you consume, the fuller you feel. Now, if you are trying to get more protein, here are the most efficient sources.

Meat is the most basic prehistoric food, and if you eat it in balance with your other macro-nutrients (carbohydrate and fat) and serve a decent potion size, your body will not have a problem. A healthy Paleo protein serving size is about the size of the palm of your hand, or 80 to 100 grams for women and 140 to 170 grams for men.

If we’re trying to eat more protein but fewer calories, which sources of protein are the best choices? It should also be noted that plant-based proteins are not as easily digested and do not contain the full amino acid profile.

Red meat itself is not the villain, it’s more likely to be the fries, family size soft drinks, and deep-fried apple pie that was consumed with it.

Myth 5: I can’t eat all those eggs without increasing my cholesterol!

myths about Paleo
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Unless you have an autoimmune issue that eggs may aggravate, you have no reason to limit your consumption of eggs; in fact, they provide you with better health and immunity than any daily supplement. One egg has 13 essential nutrients, all in the yolk. What’s important, though, is buying organic, pasture-raised eggs. Studies show that commercially raised eggs are higher in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Farmers’ markets are a great option to get pasture-raised eggs.

There is an assumption that if you eat cholesterol, you raise your blood levels of cholesterol. But that misconception just isn’t accurate. In fact, the B vitamin choline found in eggs actually acts as a transporter of cholesterol, keeping it from entering the bloodstream.

Myth 6: Paleo Followers are Trying to Recreate Cave Man Days

Nobody is saying literally that domesticated animals were around during hunter-gatherer times. Instead, these diets are simply looking back at what humans ate and adapt a more modern version of that diet. Yes, there is some evidence of a little grain consumption several tens of thousands of years ago, but generally humans evolved eating meat, roots, greens and seasonal fruits, and that diet seems to work great for those who have tried it. Paleo is simply a template for eating a diet mimicking the hunter-gatherer way of eating.

Myth 7: It’s Too Hard to Follow

Yes, it’s a lot easier to go into a drive through, takeaway or purchase pre-made meals full of ingredients like this:

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Nutrisystem Grilled Chicken Sandwich – from www.nutrisystem.com

Ingredients from Nutrisystem Grilled Chicken sandwich – NOTE – lettuce and tomato added as extras in picture!!

fully cooked flame broiled chicken breast patty with rib meat: chicken breast with rib meat, water, seasoning (corn syrup solids, brown sugar, dextrose, vinegar powder (maltodextrin, modified food starch, vinegar solids), garlic powder, onion powder, dehydrated cooked chicken), isolated oat product, natural salt enhancer (potassium chloride, flavouring, autolyzed yeast extract, maltodextrin), salt, sodium phosphates;

whole grain bun: water, whole wheat flour, enriched bleached wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzyme), sugar, yeast (yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid), contains 2% or less of: soybean oil, salt, monoglycerides with ascorbic acid and citric acid (antioxidants), calcium propionate (preservative), calcium sulfate, enzymes, wheat starch, ascorbic acid, microcrystalline cellulose, modified food starch. contains wheat

Convenient? Yes   Healthy?  Unlikely

What’s difficult to cook a small piece of pan fried chicken and serve with a simple salad of lettuce, tomato and some sautéed mushrooms on a plate and skip the bread?

The goal of the Paleo lifestyle is to help people eat food that is closer to its real form, to reset tastebuds and to stop eating junk food. It’s not necessary to spend excessive time in the kitchen. A quick Paleo meal can be made by picking up a plain roasted chicken, grabbing a few carrots and adding some salad. That’s pretty easy. Also, there is no weighing and measuring your food, because the idea is that if you eat real food, your body will self-regulate. Shouldn’t that be the goal of any weight loss program?

Myth 8: I won’t get all the nutrients I need eating Paleo.

Paleo is the perfect remedy for this situation because it floods the body with vitamins, minerals, and essential fats. As the good stuff floods in, toxins flood out.  Paleo foods naturally hold deep nutrition, which is what people’s bodies crave. One of the main reasons for the pandemic of suffering in the modern world is that so many people are nutrient-deficient.

Start redefining your idea of healthy eating. You can find more nutrition in grass-fed meats, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruit than anywhere else.  Grains, dairy, and beans are more damaging than rewarding and don’t add the value you need. Think about evolution when determining what you should and shouldn’t be eating.

Myth 9: Saturated fat?! I’ll develop heart disease.

myths about Paleo
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21 unique studies that included almost 350,000 people, tracked for an average of 14 years, concluded that no relationship exists between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease or stroke. 

If you want to prevent heart disease, don’t consume cheap vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and margarines or the packaged, processed foods made with them.

Stick with Paleo-approved fats and oils (like Olive oil, Coconut oil, Almond oil, Duck fat), and you’ll not only prevent heart disease but also get healthier with every bite.

Myth 10: I can never drink again.

Drinking alcohol under a Paleo lifestyle is up to you. If an occasional drink in moderation works in your program, it’s all yours.  Binge drinking is not satisfactory.

Note that if you are recovering from health issues, or are trying to lose weight, then drinking will slow your progress.

Stick with sparkling wines, dry red and white wines, potato-based vodka, rum, and tequila. Stay away from grain-based alcohol like beer, bourbon, gin, and grain-based vodka, which will make you feel bloated. Avoid juice, soft drink and tonic water as mixers in your spirits. Use soda water as the mixer with lime instead.

Myth 11: Paleo is just another low-carb diet.

As I discussed in my previous blog, Paleo is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle.  Show your friends how nutritious Paleo eating can be.  Paleo is naturally lower in carbohydrates, as nutrient-dense foods often are by nature. Paleo focuses on nutrient density, balance, and food quality as well as discovering how to gain an awareness of how food affects your body. The focus isn’t and never has been on carbohydrates.