As many Americans know, dieting is a fad that will likely never go out of fashion. From purposely ingesting parasites to having surgery to remove fat, people will go to great lengths to achieve what they see as a perfect body. Multiple programs that cost varying amounts of money exist. Common diets include Weight Watchers, Atkins, and diets that only consist of expensive supplements. Many of these diets either do not work, or work temporarily. The weight sometimes returns as soon as said diet is ended. The Atkins diet was similar to the Paleo diet. It was low carb, and seemed to work. This persists to today with the rise in popularity in Paleo diets, or caveman diets. It can be considered a fad diet even though it has been around since the 1930’s.
The Paleo Diet: Fact or Fiction?
Paleo diets are diets where most of the food consumed is high in protein and has little to no carbs. This induces ketosis, and supposedly burns fat instead of carbs for energy. A typical Keto Paleo diet consists of “less than 50 grams of carbs” (Paleo FAQ 2). Foods that are usually eaten include meat, eggs, nuts, and oils. Vegetables that are high carb are not eaten because they are not seen as healthy compared to low carb options. Avoided foods include starch vegetables (potatoes), grains, dairy, high amounts of sodium, and processed food. Many vitamins and minerals must be consumed along with net alkaline food. Net alkaline foods present less of a job for the kidneys, which is good because the Paleo diet can cause strain on the kidneys. Most processed food is removed already due to the high amounts of carbs included. Some Paleo dieters eat only raw, unprocessed food.
For the more extreme Keto diet, the goal of the diet is to be in ketosis. Ketosis is when the body burns fat instead of carbs for energy. Signs of being in ketosis include “a funny taste in your mouth…or [being] incredibly thirsty” (Keto in a Nutshell 6). According to the Keto community, it is possible to burn “up to 100 calories in ketones per day” (Keto in a Nutshell 4). Avoiding foods that are very acidic and high in sugar is the goal to accomplish this. Once in ketosis, the body will continue to burn fat for energy until enough carbs are eaten to bring the body out of ketosis. It can take up to a week to re-enter ketosis.
The macronutrient ratios should be around 60 percent fat, 35 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs. These don’t always work, but it is possible to change them. There is no magic number that works for everyone. “1.5-1.75g of protein per kg of bodyweight, and the rest should be fat” in the Paleo diet when broken down more specifically (Paleo FAQ 5). Women need less protein in general and men need more. 50 percent fat, 45 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs were better for me when I did this diet. I usually didn’t reach that goal, but I aimed for it. Losing 25 pounds during summer was good enough for me.
This form of high protein/fat and low carb diet has been included in the medical community. It has been suggested and used as a treatment for children with epilepsy. Rates of success are “about one third” of people who start the diet (Epilepsy Foundation 3). Side effects include “dehydration, constipation, and kidney stones” (Epilepsy Foundation 4). Side effects such as these are minimal compared to uncontrolled seizures, so this is a good thing. Since this is used medically for something like seizure, does it really work to lose weight? The answer is yes, when protein is the main macronutrient along with fat. Carbs should be minimal to none.
Like most things in life, this diet has side effects. Short term effects are “nausea, headaches, dizziness, mental fog, and other flu like symptoms” (Keto in a Nutshell 6). This is caused by a lack of electrolytes after drinking more water. Drinking more water is another side effect. Another effect is craving carbs and processed food. Soda and chocolate are commonly craved. Long terms side effects include an even blood sugar level that can be interrupted easily by eating too many carbs, resulting in feeling sick and having to go through many negative side effects to get back in ketosis. Even if this is the case, many still swear by this diet.
Some things in life really are too good to be true. This diet may work for one person, but others may have it work for only a week or two. After the first weeks, the body stops losing weight. This may be blamed on said person not following the diet guidelines correctly, or having some kind of problem with their hormone levels. This is not the fault of the diet, and should be addressed by the person who is attempting to lose weight. Exercising is something the diet does not address on the website, but it is a necessity to losing significant amounts of weight.