7 Things You Need to Know About the Paleo and Ketogenic Diets

paleo diet

7 Need-to-Know Things about the Ketogenic and Paleo Diets<

Weight loss is big news. Medical practitioners, health web sites, and the media alike stress the importance of taking off pounds and eliminating that spare tire. Cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, less stress on joints, and more energy are only a few reasons given for maintaining an acceptable weight.

In their quest to achieve their weight-loss goals, people often turn to one of the many diet plans out there. However, with such a large number of programs guaranteeing results, there is ample room for confusion. Safety, as well as effectiveness, is a valid concern.

Two weight-loss plans are especially gaining popularity among the population: the ketogenic diet and Paleo program. Before looking into essential things to know about these plans, it is important to take a close look at each one.

The Ketonegic Diet

This plan calls for a restrictive carbohydrate intake. When a dieter consumes fewer than 50 grams of carbs daily, the body depletes its readily-available fuel supply (blood sugar) within a few days. To replace this energy source, the body turns to protein and fat. The breakdown of these substances, a process known as ketosis, causes weight loss. The ketogenic diet achieves this result by calling for high fat and protein intake and a reduction in fluids in addition to the above-mentioned carb restriction.

The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet is a plan based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era. The theory behind this diet is that the human body is not genetically geared to consuming agricultural products. Proponents believe that the rapid alterations in people’s diets with the advent of farming outpaced their capacity to adjust to these changes, resulting in the predominance of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Lean meats (particularly grass-fed or wild animals), fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and fruit and nut oils are on the menu. Potatoes, dairy, legumes, grains, salt, cultivated sugar, and highly processed foods are taboo.

Here are seven need-to-know things before embarking on one of these weight-loss plans.

Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

  • Because more calories are necessary to transform fat to energy (as opposed to carbs), more weight loss is possible in the first few months.
  • Since the 1920s, this diet has played a role in seizure reduction in epilepsy patients. Other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, sleep disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and autism, may respond positively to a ketogenic plan.
  • Cyclists and runners in training benefit because the diet improves one’s muscle-to-fat ratio and increases the oxygen level available to the body during intense exercise.
  • Insulin, which is essential for sugar use and storage, is less necessary since the body rapidly burns sugar. Accordingly, a smaller amount of the hormone is produced. It is possible that less insulin is protective against some types of malignancies and retards malignant cell growth. (However, additional research is necessary.)
  • There is a strange paradox associated with this diet: its emphasis on more fat can actually elevate levels of “good” (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and reduce “bad” (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Less insulin can possibly prevent the body’s production of cholesterol.

Perks of a Paleo Diet

Some studies point to benefits of this plan over diets including legumes, reduced-fat dairy, and grains. The advantages include lower triglyceride levels, increased weight loss, less appetite, lower blood pressure, and better glucose level management. These results can lead to cardiovascular health, diabetes prevention, and less likelihood of malignant diseases.

Side Effects of the Ketogenic Diet

Since carbs provide energy, reduced intake can leave a person lethargic, sleepy, and suffering from cognitive problems—feelings of confusion and mental “fuzziness.” Mood swings and headaches are not uncommon.

Drawbacks to the Paleo Diet

Since the plan eschews legumes and whole grains, and dairy, dieters miss out on vital vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. Since lean meat and fish are more expensive than grains and legumes, followers find that their wallets are much lighter. In addition, there are questions about the validity of the diet.

Research shows that humans ate wild grain during the latter part of the Paleolithic era. On top of that, there is strong evidence that people have evolved since that time; alterations in genetic makeup began to allow starches to break down during digestion.

The Importance of Label Reading

This is important for everyone concerned about what goes into their bodies. It is especially essential for people on a ketogenic diet. Many foods, including dairy, some kinds of fruit, seeds, and nuts, contain “hidden” carbs.

Health Risks of the Ketogenic Diet

Hypoglycemia, gastric disturbances, and dehydration may occur at the beginning. People on the diet for a long time are at risk for gallstones, frequent infections, lower growth rates, problems with metabolism, reduced bone density, and other serious health issues. Careful monitoring by a medical professional knowledgeable about this diet is essential.

Health Risks of the Paleo Diet

Followers may find their diets are heavy in saturated fat. Some versions permit steak, bacon, and as much coconut oil as dieters want; this could be a recipe for major heart problems. In addition, the permitted sizes of portions are in excess of recommended allowances. As suggested above, cutting certain categories of food from the menu can result in nutritional deficiencies, which may have serious consequences.

According to research, humans living during the Paleolithic area usually did not live past 40, and child mortality was high. A modern-day society of hunter-gatherers, the Hiwi people of Venezuela, subsists on a diet similar to the Paleo plan. Their health is generally poor. Hunger is common, and individuals are often tired. Parasites are prevalent among the Hiwi. Even worse, half of the children do not survive to adulthood.

These important facts shed some light on two promising weight-loss plans. This information will help anyone interested in shedding some pounds determine if these diets are right for them.

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