We often think of a steak dinner as a bit of an indulgence. Something to cap the week off and loosen the belt a little bit either at a restaurant or even at home but what if steak was a newfound super health food?
We’ve always known steak as a fantastic source of protein and many other macro and micronutrients but to me, it’s always been more of a treat than a staple. This may be true for some people in the 21st century but for our ancestors of a time long gone, prehistoric even, steak was an integral part of their diet without substitute.
This is what has led to the development of the “Paleo” diet. If you haven’t heard of the paleo diet then you most certainly would have heard of the keto diet. For all intents and purposes, these diets are the same sort of thing, but could they be the answer to enjoying our steak and meaty pleasures without the guilt of the next belt hole?
What are the Paleo and Keto diets?
Both the Paleo and Keto diets are the same in that they promote switching our modern carbohydrate-rich diets for a more protein-heavy meal plan but how they approach it is a little bit different.
Firstly, the paleo diet (sometimes referred to as the “caveman” diet, paleo -Palaeolithic gettit?) is all about getting back to our roots in terms of what we eat. Carbohydrates really only entered our diets en masse about 4,000 years ago with the advent of agriculture and while 4,000 years is a good amount of time, it’s nothing but a speck when it comes to evolutionary time.
Our bodies would not have changed very much if at all in a period of 4,000 years so devout Paleo followers hold the belief that modern processing methods and foods, namely carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, cereals, and pretty much anything processed, is bad for us. We should be eating things like steak, unprocessed fruits and veg, and a good helping of nuts and seeds.
Pretty much anything that would have been available to a caveman is fair game, anything beyond the reach of our cave-dwelling forefathers is off the cards.
Paleo is as much a lifestyle change as it is a diet so it could be the answer for cleaner overall living.
The ketogenic diet relies a little bit more on science and percentages of energy from food sources and macronutrients. No food is specifically excluded as long as your daily calorie intake is mainly from fat and protein with as little carbohydrates as possible.
On average, a Keto diet would look something like this as a percentage of your daily calories:
As long as most of your energy comes from fat and protein while keeping your carbohydrate intake as low as possible, your body will enter what is known as “ketosis” where it stops using carbohydrates as fuel (because there aren’t any coming in) and is forced to use fat as its main fuel source. Fat and protein are a lot more efficient energy sources for the body and you probably have some fat stored away which you’d be glad to use!
So they’re quite similar?
Both diets do share similarities with the main difference being paleo focusing on a change of lifestyle while Keto is more about watching and cataloguing your intake.
The similarities are numerous though as both diets encourage the eating of whole and unprocessed foods such as your favourite steak, they both encourage high protein, high fat, and low carbohydrate intake as you would find in a juicy piece of steak and both diets are very much against the intake of sugar (pro tip: there’s no sugar in steak)
Do the diets work?
So can you really tuck into a ribeye without the guilt? Can you really head to the steakhouse on a Sunday and chomp a Txuleta with no fear of going up a trouser size? Well, kind of.
Of course, any diets out there will always have drawbacks. If there were a diet that could guarantee results with ease then we’d all be walking around with six-packs, sadly this is not the case
Results from tests on obese subjects following keto and paleo style diets, namely high fat low carb, showed encouraging fat loss results in the short term however the results tend to trail off after the 24-month mark so whether it’s sustainable over the long term for fat loss is still up for debate.
What is true though is that a diet high in fat and protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer and helps to prevent overeating and snacking. Could this be the reason behind the fat loss? Perhaps.
While these diets aren’t a miracle pill for fat loss, the early research is definitely promising and, if we look beyond the cavemen and ketosis to see these diets as a way to eat less processed foods, less sugar, and more steak then how bad can they be really?