Does Adopting a Paleo Diet in College Improve Your Academic Performance?
When in college, students often look for anything that will give them an extra edge. What’s the best way to have energy everyday? Can this be done through a path that is healthy and nourishing for the body?
One option that might come up is a paleo diet. Is this a diet that’s good for you, though? Will it help improve your academic performance?
Can Any Diet Help Academic Performance?
The utilization of diet in academic performance is a little different than traditional studying.
When students study, they are directly working on learning, understanding, and memorizing information. There are tools that can help them in this such as tutoring services or the ability to buy an essay.
Diet, on the other hand, offers indirect help. It helps students to stay at the top of their game physically so that they can focus and learn. However, not every diet is the same and not every diet has the same safety and effectiveness.
Anymore, it’s important to make sure the diet that someone adopting is actually a good idea. The idea behind a healthy diet is to help someone stay healthy while making sure they are getting all the nutrients they need. Here, we will take a look at whether a paleo diet is a good idea to keep students in top shape to keep learning.
What Is a Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet – or paleolithic diet, in full – is also often referred to as a Stone Age diet, hunter-gatherer diet, or, most commonly, the caveman diet.
These names come from the fact that the point of a paleo diet is to eat as an early human might. There are some arguments among what is allowed and not allowed in a paleo diet as there can be small differences in what cavemen ate. It also sometimes allows for more modern foods that offer certain health benefits. We’ll take a closer look at what can be eaten and what should be avoided on a paleo diet later.
The paleo diet is meant to help address parts of the modern lifestyle that are detrimental to a person’s health. For instance, sedentary lifestyles and processed foods can lead to problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and, of course, obesity.
A paleo diet claims to be the answer to these problems. With this “more natural” diet, many proponents of paleo diets promise a healthier lifestyle that isn’t always promoted in today’s age.
What Should Individuals on a Paleo Diet Eat?
When switching diets, it’s important to understand what is included in the diet. What can you eat? There are some discrepancies between specific guidelines of one paleo diet suggestion to the next, but there are a variety of agreed upon rules. These are some of the general options one has when building their paleo meals.
Meat and Eggs
The most obvious thing that early humans ate is meat. It’s most often recommended that individuals on a paleo diet stick to lean meat. The most frequently recommended meats include;
- Turkey, and;
Most other meats are acceptable on this diet as well. To go the extra mile, try to find proteins that are ethically sourced – for example, free-range chicken or grass-fed beef – and organic with no antibiotics.
Alongside eating chicken, paleo diets allow for the consumption of eggs. Try to focus on finding free-range or pastured eggs. Omega-3 enriched eggs are also encouraged.
Similar to meat, students on a paleo diet are free to eat seafood from salmon to shellfish. Just like many look for extra conditions on meat, the ideal individual on a paleo diet would try to tend to eat wild-caught seafood specifically.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are also in the clear for a paleo diet. Fresh produce is always welcome in a paleo meal.
Tubers are another welcome choice. This includes foods such as potatoes, yams, turnips, and other underground edible plants.
Seeds and Nuts
While on a paleo diet, you are also welcome to grab a handful of almonds, macadamia nuts, or walnuts as a midday snack. Seeds such as sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds are also an open option.
Certain Fats and Oils
As long as they are healthy, you are also welcome to use oils and fats when cooking. Coconut oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, etc. can stay in your diet. There are some oils to be avoided, but that will be addressed later.
Don’t Give Up Salts and Spices
The problem with many diets is that people are intimidated by how bland the diet might be. In a paleo diet, food can be elevated with the use of salt and spices.
What Should Be Avoided on a Paleo Diet?
It’s also helpful to know what should be avoided when on a paleo diet. Again, there are some exceptions depending on the exact paleo diet being followed. These are the main ingredients to avoid while on this diet.
Sweets, Sugars, and High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Natural sweeteners are okay in a paleo diet but these aren’t what are often used in everyday treats. Juices, soda, and regular table sugar are all off limits. In the same vein, sweets such as candies and pastries are to be avoided as well.
On the topic of sugars, it’s a good tip to avoid artificial sweeteners. The aspartame in a diet soda or other unnatural sugars including sucralose, saccharin, cyclamates, and acesulfame potassium are all to barred from paleo diets. Instead, try to use natural sweeteners like Stevia products or yacon syrup.
Legumes and Grains
Legumes such as beans and lentils are often avoided alongside grains. This comes from the idea that paleo humans didn’t farm in the modern sense. There is some argument over the consumption of grains that will be discussed later.
Following the idea that cavemen weren’t skilled farmers, they weren’t milking cows. Because of this, dairy is avoided in some paleo diets. In other forms of paleo diets, individuals only avoid low-fat dairy but consume full-fat dairy which includes products like butter and cheese.
Trans fats are another ingredient that is unique to the modern, processed world. Avoid anything that contains hydrogenated or even partially hydrogenated oils.
Highly Processed Products
Generally, it’s important to avoid anything that is overly processed. If it says “low-fat” or “diet”, it probably doesn’t fit a paleo lifestyle.
As noted earlier, grains are usually considered a no-go in paleo diets because they are a result of organized farming.
On the contrary, some archaeologists have noted that wild grains might have been in early human diets. There is evidence that these wild grains might have been a part of the human diet as early as 30,000 years ago. Chronologically, this is far before the introduction of traditional farming.
Are There Dangers to a Paleo Diet?
There are a few concerns that are brought up by a paleo diet. These are important to understand before making the decision to switch to this diet plan.
Red and High-Fat Meat
One concern is the heightened intake of red and high-fat meat which can lead to a variety of problems. This is, in part, due to the overconsumption of saturated fat. According to the American Heart Association, the average adult should only consume around 13 grams a day. On a paleo diet, this consumption can be heightened to as much as 50 grams a day.
This can lead to problems such as high “bad” cholesterol. It can also increase a person’s risk of bowel cancer.
In a similar problem, paleo diets also suggest higher-than-recommended amounts of saturated fats. This can lend itself to higher risks of heart and kidney disease. The risk of some cancers also increases.
Alternatively, a paleo diet usually leads to an underconsumption of carbohydrates. This is because these diets might prohibit the intake of cereal grains. Without these, individuals aren’t getting some of the crucial components these grains give the human body, such as;
- Magnesium, and;
- B vitamins
These components are important because they help your body regulate blood sugar, lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, and decrease risk of chronic disease. Without carbohydrates, the body can also face ketosis which can lead to metabolic problems and dehydration.
When a paleo diet cuts out all dairy, they are lending themselves to problems with calcium and vitamin D deficiencies.
Nothing Is One Size Fits All
To handle the risks and benefits of a paleo diet, it’s important to consider what your body needs. Diets, in their best form, are guides rather than hard rules. These guidelines should be adjusted to ensure that you are doing what is best and safest for your body.
For students who are trying to stay healthy and stay on the top of their studies, paleo diet guidelines can be a good choice. Using these guidelines, students can tailor a diet that works for them and keep their physical performance high.