In an ever growing health and fitness conscious society, it is understandable that a number of ‘diets’ or ‘ways of eating and drinking’ are springing up all over the place. This can only be a good thing right, well you’d expect so yes, however there is a fine line between adopting a healthy diet and/ or eating plan and it being a success, or just turning out to be overly restrictive and nutrient limiting.
The Primal and Paleo Diet relationship
The Primal Diet is of a similar ilk to the very popular Paleo Diet that is trending around the world, both take their names from the Paleolithic era, a time when cavemen hunted and gathered the food they ate. The Paleo diet encourages a way of eating that was common more than 10,000 years ago, so pre the agricultural revolution. In other words, there were no grains grown in fields, there were no processed or mass manufactured foods, instead the human race had to eat what they could grow, pick or gather, and only ate meat when they made a successful hunt and kill.
What’s the Primal Diet all about?
The Primal Diet does the same, it focuses on a way of eating that allows meat and vegetables, but omits grains, legumes and processed foods. However, this differs to the strict Paleo way of eating in that it allows dieters to consume a little high fat, organic, and ideally grass fed dairy. One of the main food groups people miss when following a Paleo way of eating is dairy because of the popularity and value in the modern diet. Allowing dairy means the diet becomes much more varied with little to no negative implications (unless you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to whey or casein), plus it makes the diet far easier to stick to! Another differentiating factor between the Paleo and Primal way of eating is the rations the Primal diet places on carbohydrate. The Primal diet only permits enough carbohydrate to fuel training and glycogen repletion, as well as stabilising blood sugar levels, in turn controlling fat storage. Consequently the majority of your food intake comes from meat, fish and eggs, with one of the many benefits of this being increased satiety (feeling of fullness), optimised muscle recovery and protein synthesis, as well as an elevated metabolic rate. On top of this is a free intake of low- starch green vegetables that mainly include broccoli and curly kale.
Emphasis on lifestyle factors too
One of the strengths of the Primal diet is its emphasis on lifestyle factors including sleep and stress. If these areas are left uncontrolled, you run a far greater risk of storing fat, this is secondary to elevated levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. If stress levels are controlled, you are far less likely to binge eat and more likely to stick to the regime! It does seem fair to say that the Primal diet is less restrictive than the Paleo diet, and for this reason there is a reduced chance of you missing out on key vitamins and minerals, and feeling low in energy. Do I rate the Primal diet…well, maybe as much as the Paleo diet in the sense that they both provide a structure to your way of eating, and they both encourage a healthful lifestyle. If the Primal diet helps you to remain disciplined and motivated then it’s a winner, just be sure that you are not over restricting certain food groups because this could be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing.
Men’s Fitness, (2015). Primal Diet.