What is The Primal Diet? How’s It Different from Paleo and Keto?
The primal diet is a way of eating in which you eliminate all processed foods and grains and eat the way your ancestors did; it is similar to paleo, and it can be paired with keto. When we were hunters and gatherers, we ate mostly meat, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. It can be argued that it is more ancestrally appropriate to eat this way. It is very similar to the popular paleo diet, except:
The paleo diet is dairy-free, while on the primal diet, you can have full-fat dairy like butter, cream, or cheese.
On the primal diet, coffee is allowed, while paleo discourages it.
The paleo diet discourages the intake of nightshade vegetables, such as tomatoes, chilli, and bell peppers.
Both diets are free of grains, refined sugars, and vegetable oils. They both also focus on natural, high-quality foods, and can serve as a foundation for other diets like going on the keto diet, the Mediterranean diet, or even a plant-based diet. A lot of people argue about how much carbohydrates you can eat and be healthy, how much protein you need to consume, and whether or not saturated and animal products are good or bad for you, but we can all agree that processed foods and sugar do not belong in a healthy diet.
With the invention of agriculture around 10 000 years ago, we started eating grains, high-fructose corn syrup, and a lot more carbohydrates than we ate in the past. We used to mostly eat protein and fat, but now people mostly consume carbohydrates. The body loves carbs, but it can only use a certain amount of carbs and sugar at a time and stores the excess as fat.
Our ancestors also went through times of fasting. It gives the body a chance to burn its excess fat and clear out damaged cells.
Some of The Benefits of Going on a Primal Diet Are:
Cutting Out Processed Foods. Going primal or paleo forces you to finally cut out bad foods, and you automatically stop following the type of diet that most people follow. The unhealthy foods stop becoming options.
Training the body to become fat adapted. On the primal and paleo diets, if you do the keto diet at times, you can develop metabolic flexibility, and train your body to burn fat for energy, so that when you run out of carbs, you will start burning your stored fat for energy by turning fat into ketones.
Getting to a point where you can go longer without food without starving.
The body is getting best-quality foods, and you are cutting out harmful foods.
It is a nutrient-dense diet, as your nutrients come from a variety of whole foods and not processed foods. You are ensuring that your body has the lowest possible chance of developing nutrient deficiencies.
Less inflammation thanks to the reduction of inflammatory foods like sugar, gluten, trans fats, and grains.
Great for your gut health, as you eat a lot of fibre-rich vegetables, and hopefully fermented foods that feed your gut bacteria and promote gut health.
You can still eat carbs, just not refined ones or grains.
You can still design your own diet. After applying the basic principles of following a primal diet, which is basically just cutting out grains, processed sugar, and processed foods, then you can further decide how you want to eat, whether it is the vegan diet, Mediterranean diet, keto diet, carnivore diet, paleo diet, low-carb diet with a higher protein intake, etc.
A Few Guidelines for Following the Primal Diet (And Even A Paleo Diet) Are:
On the primal and paleo diets, you should aim to eat meals that are satisfying and nutrient-dense.
Stick to a low- to medium-carbohydrate intake to avoid insulin spikes. Stick to a low-carb diet at first if you want to become fat-adapted and lose fat.
Eat a moderate amount of protein. Eating too much protein is not ideal, as the body can only absorb certain amounts at a time, depending on the amount of muscle you have.
Eat enough healthy fat, and from different sources to get a balance of saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and omega-3 fatty acids. Eat avocados, avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, cacao, dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, fatty cuts of meat, fatty fish, chia seeds, and coconut.
Consume a variety of brightly coloured vegetables, except ones that may not agree with you. This ensures that you get a variety of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs.
Stop eating for periods of time. In the hunter-gatherer times, humans went for periods of times without eating. They were in ketosis at times, when their bodies started converting stored fat into ketone bodies for energy. Perhaps they only had the opportunity to eat once a day at times, or had days where they did not find food. They only started eating when the sun came up, and stopped when the sun went down. You can start by just limiting your eating window to eat within 12 hours a day. If you start eating at 08:00 in the morning, then stop at 20:00 at night. You can fast for longer. Many people fast for 14, 16, 18, 21, or 23 hours (and only eat once a day), or even do longer fasts of three days or longer. Do not eat between meals, and eat a maximum amount of three times a day.
Do carb cycling on the primal or paleo diet if you really want to eat the way your ancestors did. As mentioned before, hunter-gatherers were in ketosis at times when fruits and carbs were scarce, and when fruit was in season and they managed to find sources of sugar and carbohydrates, they would eat more of them.
They cycled between following a type of ketogenic diet and eating carbohydrates. Following a cyclical ketogenic diet is a good way to incorporate a primal way of eating into your life, and to get your body to follow a similar pattern to your ancestors. All you do is follow a keto diet for a few months until you are fat adapted, and then you start cycling between periods of eating keto and periods of eating carbs. You can also eat keto during the week and go off the keto diet on the weekend.
Whether you want to eat primal or paleo, switching to a whole-foods that free of grains, sugar, gluten, and processed foods will greatly improve your health and is something worth considering if you want to become healthier and become your best self.