Everyone's talking about the Paleo diet (otherwise known as the palaeolithic or caveman diet). It's the latest diet craze, promising to help you lose weight, spruce up your digestive system and give you boundless energy in a matter of weeks and boost your immune system long term.
So what exactly is the Paleo/caveman diet?
The theory behind the palaeolithic diet is that we are biologically designed to thrive on the hunter-gatherer diet. During the palaeolithic era, humans evolved to be highly efficient animals on the only available sustenance - meat, fish, nuts and berries. After the introduction of farming and industrial food production, foods like dairy, grains, processed sugar, pulses, potatoes and processed fats became a huge part of our diets - but our bodies have not evolved quickly enough to be able to properly process them. Our modern is also very high in processed 'convenience' foods, preservatives and additives. As a result, the human race is plagued with modern diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
The aim of the Paleo diet is to eat foods that your body is biologically designed to eat, a simple protein rich, gluten free and low GI diet of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.
If the Paleo diet sounds restrictive to you, Daniel Green, author of 'The Paleo Diet: Food your body is designed to eat,' advises you to try thinking about the huge variety of different foods and dishes that you can eat - there are no limits within those food groups, and you can eat as much as you like.
Advocates of the Paleo diet say it a lifestyle choice, not just a quick fix weight loss solution and Green reiterates that the feeling of well being and energy after two weeks of following the diet mean you'll be unlikely to want to return to your old habits.
However, the diet ignores several food groups that are extremely beneficial for the human body, namely beans, legumes, grains like oats and brown rice, and vegetables high in starch like sweet potato, parsnip and carrots. Restrictive diets can also result in fatigue and dizziness and withdrawal, especially if you are dramatically cutting out your carbohydrate and sugar intake. A healthy diet should increase your physical performance so if you are going to try the Paleo diet, keep this in mind.
That said, the diet has become a lifestyle for many people and some variations do include pulses and root vegetables.