No refined grains, but a little feta never hurt anyone
In the world of yoga, modifying a difficult pose to suit your body’s needs is the sign of an advanced yogi.
In our view, the same can be said for the Paleo diet. Although it works for some, there are quite a few foods that are off limits. Now, if a digestive issue requires the total avoidance of some harder to digest plant foods, then so be it. Some people need to stay in this camp for the long haul. However, we find that the more common scenario are food sensitivities to a specific type of food, but not all of them across the board. Against this backdrop, we introduce the Modified Paleo diet.
This is not the Paleo diet of the blogosphere! Modified Paleo, while following a low glycemic, low sugar diet with a larger portion of macronutrient ratios devoted to healthy fats, can also count beans and high quality dairy products as a staple. The ability to incorporate high quality dairy into their diets, at least from a lactose intolerance standpoint, gives Modified paleo dieters a bit more wiggle room than their Paleo Plus brothers and sisters. Absence of lactose intolerance is not a guarantee of success with dairy, but nutrient rich foods like kefir and low sugar yogurts from grass fed sheep and goats can work with this diet. The addition of beans allows Modified Paleo genotypes the ability to get a chunk of their protein from plant sources as well.
Perhaps the hallmark of Paleo diets is an opposition to grains, and while Modified Paleo can add in low sugar pseudo grains, like properly prepared buckwheat and quinoa, they will largely want to stay grain free. These diet types are not well suited to refined grain and flour products as it’s more likely their blood sugar will stay elevated after eating meals centered around these foods.
What is the scientific basis for this diet? Recent studies from some of the best peer reviewed journals have shown nutrigenomic dietary interventions to be far superior to ketogenic and low carb diets for sustained weight loss, fasting glucose, and reductions in total cholesterol.
Further, the macronutrient breakdown of the Modified Paleo diet, at 40% fats, 40% carbohydrates, and 20% protein, a lot of which comes from plant sources, is close to the top level of the fat range recommended by the American Dietary Guidelines. We work in about 5% more fat than the upper range of the Dietary Guidelines due to research showing that people do not respond uniformly to dietary fat. For example, this peer reviewed 2018 study which found that people placed on a high fat diet (far greater than the fat intake recommended for Modified Paleo dieters) saw an increase of between 5-107% in LDL-C. Some of us can eat a little bit more dietary fat and not see dangerous upticks in LDL.
Most closely related diet: Paleo Plus
Primary difference with Paleo Plus: Modified Paleo dieters aren’t lactose intolerant, so at least in theory, dairy is on the menu. Of course, people struggle with dairy for reasons other than lactose, so this isn’t a slam dunk, but many Modified Paleo will likely be able to get away with at least some sheep and goat dairy products as long as they aren’t loaded with sugar.
Biggest challenge: Similar to Paleo Plus, the challenge for Modified Paleo is to take the best of the Paleo diet while discarding the rules that might not work for them. To this end, they can focus on low glycemic vegetables for adequate fiber and not overdo it with muscle meat protein. Just enough protein to maintain muscle mass is the goal, but it can be a tightrope in practice, hence the challenge.
Red meat friendly? Yes, in moderation. The Modified Paleo camp needs to be mindful of their heart health numbers and also should keep top of mind the fact that beef, while nutrient dense, is not a buffet item, it’s to be used strategically as a means to optimizing nutrition.
Keto friendly: Yes, in theory. Modified Paleo is thought to be a keto friendly diet because these genotypes have fat metabolism that is robust. Working with a physician to make sure the genetics are predictive of blood work is a key.
Carnivore diet friendly? Nope.
Does this diet type handle fermented foods? Green light! Modified Paleo can handle fermented foods as they are unlikely to have issues with histamine. Natto anyone? Yes, it smells terrible, and yes, it kind of tastes terrible, but we all need some vitamin K in our lives, right?
What about pancakes and refined grains: Modified Paleo might rejoice seeing gluten free pancakes on the menu at their favorite breakfast spot. That is until they remember they are a Modified Paleo diet type and they can’t eat that junk.
Go to breakfast: Eggs, greens black beans and grain free tortillas.