First week of paleo diet is so far, so good

LAST week we announced our plan to bring you the real-life experiences behind the five most popular diets in Australia.

For the next six months we will trial the paleo, Atkins, no sugar, 5:2, and HCG diets and pit them against a balanced diet and exercise in the final month.

The paleo diet is first, and one week into it I can report that things are slow and steady but still on course.

Of course, we are all excited and motivated during the first seven days of a diet.

The thought of lost kilos and loose clothes is enough to spur us on as we opt for fruit over chocolate cake and a salad over a toasted sandwich.

It is the days that follow the initial euphoria that are the hardest bit - sticking to your regime when all around you people are dancing, partying and making merry.

It is those days that I am most interested in, the difficult days that make people stumble and those impossible days that finally cause you to abandon your best-laid plans.

For the uninitiated - although I doubt there is anyone out there who hasn't heard of it by now - the paleolithic or paleo diet first raised its head in the 1970s.

But it wasn't until it was modernised and turned into a movement by Dr Loren Cordain in recent years that it really grew in popularity.

Also known as the caveman or stone age diet, it encourages a diet of lean meats, vegetables and some fruit, and expects participants to exclude saturated fats, grains, legumes and dairy.

The theory is that our bodies have never really adjusted to the foods that came with the agricultural revolution, and our poor overall health is a result of this.

Followers of this diet point to therapeutic effects such as reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic and degenerative diseases as well as weight loss.

But critics point to evidence that suggests that paleolithic man did in fact eat grains and legumes, the adaptability of the human body and since the paleolithic period was very long, it saw a variety of human settlements and nutritional landscapes.

The lowdown

Foods to eat: lean grass-fed meats, fish, pasture-raised poultry, organic vegetables (except potatoes), nuts (not peanuts), seeds, berries, limited fruit, unsweetened tea, coconut oil, macadamia oil, ghee and olive oil.

Foods to avoid: processed foods, grains and grain-based products, legumes, dairy, saturated fats, processed and seed oils, sugar, preservatives, gluten and colours.

Some people include full-fat milk, parmesan cheese, goats and sheep's milk and cheese as well as small amounts of honey and coconut sugar.

So, Week 1 has been largely bearable. Salads have figured as a staple, as has a fair bit of fish and nuts.

Ordinarily, we are not a big meat-eating family, so I have struggled a bit in increasing my protein intake from 15% to the recommended 35% a day, and doing without things like yogurt, chickpeas and couscous.

I haven't lost any weight but I do feel like I have more energy and I am certainly not hungry.

I did eat a couple of chips on a family day out at an amusement park, when the only other alternatives were deep-fried junk or burgers made from meat from more than one animal from more than one country.



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