Origins Of The Paleo Diet
For many people, a paleo bar looks like any other snack bar on the market. Yet paleo bars are specifically designed to adhere to the paleo diet; a rather recent diet plan with a rich history. The paleo diet is simple to understand once its origins are explained. Simply put, the paleo diet is the eating pattern humans followed throughout most of their existence. Humans spent thousands of years as hunter-gatherers before the introduction of agriculture. These hunter-gatherers foraged for foods like leafy greens, berries, and vegetables, and hunted wild game. They lived a very mobile lifestyle, following the migration patterns of game animals and seeking shelter in favorable climates. They had little time to plant food, let alone care for and harvest crops. It wasn’t until about 12,000 years ago that hunter-gatherer culture gave way to agricultural societies.
Since then, modern hunter-gatherer numbers have dwindled. There are still hunting and gathering groups of people around the world, and we have learned a vital concept from them. The human digestive system has not changed much since ancient times. The digestive system of hunter gatherers behaves in much the same way as the modern digestive system. This is extremely important to understand, as it provides a link into the risks of agricultural society.
Foraging societies experienced nearly none of the health issues that plague Western societies. Their caloric intake was determined by what was available, and even the act of getting food expended energy. Most people think it is our lack of exercise that makes Western society more obese than hunter-gatherers. Yet a recent study comparing the modern Hadza foragers to Westerners found that the total energy expenditure between these cultures is relatively the same. This means that it is not simply a lack of activity that causes the rampant obesity in Western cultures. Researchers are beginning to understand that diet is the largest determining factor in health-related disorders such as obesity and its complications. Returning to a diet that closely mimics that of our foraging ancestors may be what helps cure many of these modern ailments. Food items like paleo bars are designed to easily bring this diet to the modern world.
Are Paleo Bars Healthy?
It is easy to understand any hesitation around things like paleo bars, as they may be misconstrued as diet foods. Western society gets more and more inundated with diet trends as obesity rates rise. The National Institutes of Health estimates over 66 percent of American adults are overweight. Step counters, the catalog of low calorie snacks and meals on the market , and modern workout and diet programs are all examples of diet culture at work in Western society. So, when a new diet or product like a paleo bar comes about, most people look at it with skepticism.
The great news is that paleo bars are not only for people adhering to the paleo diet. A paleo bar is a healthy, energizing snack for anyone. Typical snacks cannot compare to the nutritional content offered by paleo bars. For instance, fried potato chips have become synonymous with light snacking to hold a person over between mealtimes. A one ounce bag of fried potato chips contains about 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and over 150 milligrams of sodium. One ounce of potato chips will only contain one gram of dietary fiber and two grams of protein. The calorie- and carb-rich snack will provide a small boost of energy, though it is often short lived as the body quickly burns through this fuel.
On the other hand, paleo bars are created to provide the body with the long-lasting energy and nutrients it needs to thrive. The average paleo bar will contain around the same number of calories as a bag of chips, but it is what is in these calories that sets paleo bars apart. The average paleo bar will be very low in sodium, yet full of protein, healthy saturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fibers, and complex carbohydrates. Paleo bars will also typically provide the body with key nutrients, such as vitamin A, Iron, and B-vitamins. When compared to other snacks, paleo bars may be the healthiest option on the market.
What To Look For In A Paleo Bar
Advocates for the paleo diet believe humans would be better off if we stuck to the ingredients our ancestors lived on. As such, only certain ingredients make it into paleo bars. Luckily, these tend to be the most nutrient dense foods around, and many different ingredient combinations have appeared over the years. Choosing between them is in large part a matter of preference, though there is one thing to consider that may make the decision easier.
It is important to consider the purpose of the paleo bar before deciding to eat it. If the bar will be used for a quick boost of energy, consider the many fruit-heavy options. Fruit provides the body with nectar, which is a natural combination of sugars, soluble fibers, and nutrients. Eating a whole fruit bar instead of drinking fruit juice can decrease caloric intake while increasing fiber content. Eating fruits instead of fruit juices may also help prevent some disorders like diabetes in some people.
If the paleo bar is designed to replace a meal or keep the body full until the next mealtime, reach for a high protein option. Paleo bars are known for supplying clean protein from sources like buffalo, sunflower seeds, and even nutrient rich cricket flour. High protein options are meant to give the body slow, lasting energy and keep it satiated for longer than other bars. Anyone looking to cure a craving for sweets will be delighted to know that there is a paleo bar for this, as well. Many sweet options include ingredients like paleo-friendly chocolate, coconut, and organic almonds. There is truly a paleo bar for every type of hunger.