The terms paleo diet and vegetarianism used in combination may raise doubts in some of your minds. Paleo diet mimics the eating pattern of early human ancestors and the concept gained increased acceptance after 2002 when scientist Loren Cordain published a book advocating the diet. The diet includes nothing other than the foods that were available to early hunter-gatherers, which means legumes, processed foods, dairy products, and added sugar aren’t allowed in a strict paleo diet. The diet is entirely based on whole foods like poultry, vegetables, fish, fruits, and meat. However, vegetarians following the paleo diet cannot eat any animal foods.
What Are The Benefits Of Paleo Diet?
Paleo diet is known to have several benefits:
One of the reasons that motivate people to choose the paleo diet is its weight loss benefits. Paleo dieters avoid eating processed foods that are generally high in calories and lead to weight gain. Paleo diet is also rich in protein that contributes to reducing the levels of ghrelin – the hunger hormone. Hence you will feel fuller for longer and eat less food. Some recent studies have suggested the weight loss benefits of the paleo diet.
For example, a study conducted in 70 women found that following a paleo diet for 6 months led to a loss of 14 pounds of fat on an average. Another review of 11 studies noted that the participants lost about 8 pounds on average and hence concluded that the diet was helpful in weight loss.
Helps Control Blood Sugar
Some research has suggested that the paleo diet can reduce blood sugar levels. Also in patients diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, it can maximize their insulin sensitivity. It is the pancreas that secrete this hormone. It converts glucose in our body to glycogen. Increasing insulin sensitivity helps our body to use insulin effectively and healthily manage blood sugar. A study conducted on 32 type-2 diabetes patients revealed that by following a paleo diet for 12 weeks improved their insulin sensitivity.
Improves Heart Health
Globally, heart disease is a major cause of death. One-third of all deaths in the world are caused by heart disease. Research suggests that the paleo diets reduce the risk of developing a heart disease and thereby improve heart health. In a study involving 20 people with high blood cholesterol levels, researchers observed that the percentage of HDL (good) cholesterol improved in the participants and they also had lowered triglyceride levels. The levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol were also low. Another study involving 34 participants also led to similar findings.
Food Choices You Have As A Vegetarian On A Paleo Diet
There is no denying that following a paleo diet as a vegetarian is not at all easy. The diet is mainly based on foods like meat that completes a major part of the calorie requirement of the paleo dieters. However, vegetarians too have paleo options.
This option is for the ovo-vegetarians. It doesn’t suit vegetarians that avoid all animal foods as well as vegans. Eating a lot of eggs can help meet the protein requirements of paleo dieters.
One can get about 6 grams of protein from an egg. If you are making eggs as your primary source of protein, then you would have to take about a dozen eggs every day.
Eat Sprouted Beans And Legumes
Beans and legumes provide us with protein. However, beans weren’t part of the diet of pre-agricultural man. However, that isn’t the major issue paleos have with beans. The anti-nutrients in beans and other legumes are enzyme inhibitors that make the foods inedible in raw form. They may also interfere with digestion even after cooking. Soaking and sprouting the legumes will reduce the amounts of anti-nutrients in them. In addition to reducing the number of enzyme inhibitors, sprouting helps convert starches into sugars and proteins into amino acids.
Hemp Seeds And Grain-Like Seeds
The greater resemblance of grain-like seeds including amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa with grains is used as an argument against including them in a paleo diet. While seeds like sunflower seeds contain more fats and proteins and minimal carbohydrates; the aforementioned grain-like seeds mostly contain carbohydrates.
However, adding the grain-like seeds to your diet will still be useful in meeting your protein requirements. Hemp seed is also a good choice for paleos because it is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. When its macronutrient content is analyzed, hemp seed is more “nut-like”.
Does Paleo Diet Have Downsides?
Although the paleo diet is well known for its benefits, it has a few downsides as well.
Firstly it excludes a variety of food groups that are high in nutrients. For example, people who completely avoid legumes in a strict paleo diet will lose rich sources of fiber, protein, zinc, copper, and iron.
The pros and cons of any diet choice you make have to be evaluated carefully before you decide to adopt the diet. If you realize you will lack some nutrients by switching to that diet, you might have to take supplements.