The Primal Diet is one of the latest attempts to make sense of why people gain weight and get sick, using evolutionary science to figure out how the body can be reprogrammed. For those in the nutrition community, it represents an interesting new approach to living – one that’s not just about eating, but rather about changing a lifestyle. It often draws comparison to the Paleo Diet, but it is really its own animal. Indeed, understanding Primal means taking the time to understand how every aspect of one’s life can impact nutrition, and how nutrition impacts one’s ability to stay health.
How Primal Diet Works
Primal works through bringing human nutrition back to basics. The core idea of Primal diet is that humans are genetically predisposed to eat certain foods, dating back to the earliest days of human history. The theory is that the human body is best designed to deal with those foods it could naturally find it its own environment, including meats, certain fruits, insects, and certain fruits and vegetables. This, combined with aerobic exercise, helps the body to stay in a more naturally healthy state, both fighting off certain types of disease and helping adherents to lose weight.
Primal’s core is protein, with most people being recommended to eat around half a gram of protein per pound of lean mass per day. Proteins like steak, chicken, and other meats are recommended here – those who follow the lifestyle want natural products like organic, free-range chicken or wild-caught fish. The diet is rounded out with colorful vegetables (carrots, etc) and limited fruit. Items like nuts, beans, and oils are not restricted on this diet – the major conceit is to cut carbs and to increase natural protein intake.
Is Primal Diet Healthy?
The big question is whether the Primal Diet is actually healthy, and there’s certainly a great deal to discuss here. The short version of the discussion is that yes, the diet can be healthy. There’s nothing wrong with eating protein, and the diet does recognize that carbohydrates are necessary for proper brain function. It’s possible to go too far with the lifestyle, of course, and those who have certain health conditions will likely need to take supplements if they wish to follow the program. With that said, there is little to fear from the diet and one’s health should not be endangered.
Does it Work?
In terms of weight loss goals, the primal diet absolutely works. Whether this is due to the philosophy behind the lifestyle or simply cutting down on sugars and carbs while increasing aerobic exercise is up to you, but there’s no doubt that many who start with the diet will find themselves losing weight and feeling better. Some of the health claims are a little tough to replicate (i.e., getting rid of diabetes), but there’s no doubt that choosing this diet can help you to get many different types of medical conditions under control if you follow every aspect of the program.
How Difficult is it to Follow?
A diet is only useful if you can follow it, and the truth is that Primal diet falls somewhere in the middle range of difficulty for most. On one hand, you do get to eat quite a bit of the foods that you likely enjoy. On the others, you will have to go out of your way to look for natural foods, and to cut out the breads and sugars that tend to define most of western cuisine. The diet is very doable, though, especially given that there are no restrictions that cause you to starve yourself – portion control matters, but you will eat well.
Pros and Cons
The pros of Primal diet are that the food is relatively easy to find and prepare, and that most people will see weight loss quickly. There are no huge costs associated with the program, and the exercise component that accompanies the plan is fantastic. As far as diets go, this is one of the better holistic plans.
On the other hand, it can be hard to avoid many of the foods proscribed by Primal, and going out can seem impossible to some. Primal can also get expensive, with its focus on organic meats. Finally, some individuals who need very specific vitamins and minerals may find themselves having to turn to supplements too often.
So, does the Primal Diet work? If you follow it to the letter, it definitely does. It’s one of those major lifestyle changes that requires a great deal of follow-through, though, and it may not be for the faint of heart. If you are willing to totally overhaul the way that you eat and stick to a simple, yet sometimes demanding, diet, you will find major changes in the way that you look and the way that you feel.