In case you hadn’t noticed, fad diets are all the rage in Doha at the moment. The paleolithic one takes us way back to The Stone Age and focuses on only the foods that were available to mankind. It means eating everything that’s whole and as natural as possible.
And while there are arguments for and against most fad diets, for Anahi Brown, a paleo and keto mentor, and wellness consultant, the paleo diet has been vital. Four years ago she was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. Because of her knowledge of nutrition, epigenetics and microbiomes, she was advised by her doctor to use food as the main focus of her treatment. Brown has been in remission ever since, and she says she feels amazing. “The better I ate, the better I felt and unlike the original prognosis, my body kept healing and performing better. So I was hooked,” she says.
Here, Brown tells us more about paleo and keto diets and talks us through whether or not they are feasible during Ramadan.
What paleo actually is
Paleo is a lifestyle, more than just a diet. “It focuses on imitating the eating style of our ancestors in the Palaeolithic era, basically the last stage of biological evolution,” Brown explains. “So anything that a caveman can hunt or gather, goes.” Paleo foods include leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, meats and poultry, seafood, nuts and seeds and all healthy fats. The focus is on real food with minimal processing. “It ensures the best nutrients go into our bodies, eliminating toxins and anti-nutrients,” she says. “Once you cut highly processed, chemically enhanced foods out, what’s left to eat makes for the best nutrients to heal and repair our bodies.”
Paleo vs keto
Keto is all about macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and the approach is to go low on carbohydrates – between 20-70g per day, up the fat intake, making it the main macronutrient and moderate protein consumption, according to Brown. “The idea is that once our carbohydrate storages are depleted, the body starts to use adipose tissue (fat) to fuel itself in a process called ketosis,” Brown explains. “You can do the keto diet eating junk and bad-quality ingredients, easily. With paleo, the approach doesn’t focus on macronutrients, but more on the quality of ingredients and on real foods.”
The don’ts of paleo dieting
Grains, legumes, sugar, vegetable oils (except avocado and coconut), low-quality meats and poultry, and processed foods, are no-gos. “Right now, because I prefer a low carb diet, I also avoid fruits – but that’s a personal preference” Brown says.
Paleo diet when fasting
The reality is that fats are the macronutrients that bring the most satiation, which is why a keto programme would work better to start off with, preparing your body at least three weeks in advance. “If you’re fasting, I recommend starting the keto journey, and soon, so that you’re fuelled with fat and can face the long hours of fasting easily,” Brown says. “I’m easily fasting for 16 to 18 hours each day without any symptoms, thanks to ketosis.” As far as preparing food goes, Brown recommends focusing on great ingredients first. “Meat from
grass-fed animals, free-range poultry, organic vegetables and good-quality fats are important. Focus your time on conscious meal preparation to avoid food wastage and make a commitment to skip sweets and junk as part of your pledge during Ramadan,” she says.
Keeping cravings to a minimum
Brown says that sugar cravings come down to a mind-set. “If you start going from a glucose-burning diet to a fat-burning one such as the keto diet, sugar cravings are going to diminish greatly,” she says. “You should focus your attention on the beautiful and nourishing foods that you can eat and make a commitment to your health. It’s definitely possible.”
So, whichever diet you choose to follow, it’s clear that clean, healthy eating is key. Eat fresh good food and you can’t go wrong.
Tips for following a Paleo diet while fasting
When you break the fast, focus on hydration first.
Ingredients matter, so be sure to choose the best ones.
Avoid situations where your will power will be overstretched.
Plan your meal in advance whenever possible.