Many people who adopt a Paleo type diet, or lifestyle, end up losing weight. So, that leads me to ask why is that? Is it just because people are eating less crappy food, or is something else going on? Perhaps eating less processed food and sugar might play a part, but I think something more fundamental is going on.
While it is true the amount of carbohydrates differ from person to person, people on Paleo diets generally eat a lower level of carbs, and a higher amount of fat, though the protein amounts differ widely from person to person. So, losing weight on a higher fat diet flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But, so many people have lost weight this way, including myself, so it just can’t be a fluke.
The really strange thing about the conventional dietary wisdom of low-fat, high carbohydrate, is that it isn’t supported by the science. I find it really interesting that the science of how our bodies metabolise fat has been deemed irrelevant by science of obesity. I was completely blown away when I read about this in Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. I agree with him: how we metabolise fat and carbohydrate is fundamental.
When we eat carbohydrate, this raises our blood sugar. And, when our blood sugar is consistently high or even moderately high due to eating high carbohydrate foods on a frequent basis, then our bodies can’t burn either the fat in our food or the fat on our bodies. This is undisputed scientific fact. While it is true that Paleo diets aren’t no carb diets, the amount of carbohydrate in sweet potato or pumpkin is a lot lower than the amount found in grains.
So, essentially the reason why people lose weight after going on a Paleo diet is as follows: the amount of carbohydrate in the diet is lower, the fat content is higher, and blood sugar levels are kept consistently lower, thereby allowing your body to burn both the fat in your food and any excess fat on your body. So, by restricting the amount of carbs we consume, we unlock our bodies fat burning potential.
Some people also adopt a ketogenic diet, this is a state where your body produces ketones as fuel instead of glucose. Please note this is not the same as diabetic ketoacidosis. When you are in a ketogenic state your body produces a small amount of dietary ketones; whereas, when a diabetic enters ketoacidosis, their body produces thousands of ketones. While some Paleo diets are also ketogenic diets, not all Paleo diets are ketogenic. For instance, the GAPS diet only has around 50% fat; whereas true ketogenic diets are at least 70% fat. But, even if the diet you decide to adopt isn’t ketogenic, you will probably still lose weight. From what I’ve read, it appears that men do better on true ketogenic diets than women.
So, here’s the thing: if you’re looking to lose weight, a Paleo diet can help you. Of course, if you lose the weight, then decide to start eating a more conventional diet, you may end up in the same position. This is why I view Paleo diets as a lifestyle change, not a diet in the traditional sense. Rather than being a set of foods you restrict yourself to until you reach your weight loss goals, Paleo is more a way of living. Personally, I can’t imagine going back to a conventional diet. I do intend to eventually transition back to non-restrictive type of Paleo diet, as opposed to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol I’m currently eating.
Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Please note: using an affiliate link does not change the price of the product, instead the seller pays Paleo Sheila a small commission. My opinions or thoughts on any product are my own.