BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After King Cake season, there's no better time than now to lose those extra Mardi Gras pounds and a diet that promises to help you lose weight without going hungry may be the right one for you.
The Paleo Diet, also called the Caveman Diet, allows you to eat whenever you want and eat until you are full. Fad diets come and go. This one first became popular in the 60s, but it's been around for 2.5 million years.
One woman shared her story about how this particular diet has changed her life.
"I remember sitting in the parking lot for 20 minutes crying," said Bethany France.
She can laugh about it now, but 11 months ago, those tears spurred this self-proclaimed fat mom to take the first steps on her journey to a new life.
"The people going into the gym didn't look like me. They were fit. They looked like athletes," she explained.
France was anything but that. Severely overweight, borderline diabetic and with high cholesterol, she was approaching the health crisis tri-fecta.
"I've been on a diet off-and-on easily since high school, middle school even," she added.
Cabbage soup, Atkins, grapefruit - you name it and France said she tried it. However, nothing worked for long. That's why she was crying in the parking lot of Geaux Crossfit last March. A friend had told her of a new diet program that might help her make the change she needed. The Paleo Diet isn't actually new. It's named after the Paleolithic period, a time when we were hunters and gatherers.
"Basically, we eat things that are abundant in nature: meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit," said Amber Leonard, a food and fitness trainer. "We avoid things like legumes, sugar, grains and processed foods."
It's a recipe that would seem to make sense. Feed your body the food it was meant to run on, like proteins and saturated fats, and stay away from those foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.
"The introduction of sugar into our diet has been the worst thing we have ever done to ourselves," Leonard explained.
The Paleo Diet has worked for France and others like her. So far, she's lost 85 pounds by eating like a caveman, or cavewoman.
"Before Paleo, I was relying on things like Hamburger Helper and processed foods in a box that made cooking quicker," France admitted.
Today, her kitchen is a mecca to fresh produce. It has squash, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage and anything else she can find at the local farmer's market. And, she's traded spice for salt and pepper. The other thing France noticed after she stared the Paleo Diet is it was easy for her.
"The reason, I think, it's been easier than other diets is because I'm never hungry," she said.
That's because, as Leonard puts it, cavemen ate when they were hungry. And, that's the other tenant of the diet.
"You wait 'til you're hungry and you eat 'til you're satisfied. It's very simple. There's nothing wrong with eating. It's just eating the right things," she explained.
There are no points, no counting calories and no hunger. Does it seem too good to be true? Maybe, but certified nutritionist and wellness consultant Audrey Horn said the diet works.
"But, it's not really sustainable for everyone," she added.
For that reason, Leonard said most Paleo dieters strictly follow the plan for 30 days, and then relax to what she calls the 80/20 lifestyle, slowly introducing small treats into their diet across the next two to three months. She said they will repeat the cycle three to four times a year.
And, there's one more catch.
"This is meant for people who are active," Horn said. "I wouldn't recommend it for people who are sedentary."
She explained because eating like a caveman is a little higher in saturated fats, Paleo dieters also need to sweat like a caveman. For France, that means Cross Fit training. When she first started, she couldn't run the 200 meters around the building. Now, 85 pounds lighter and still losing weight, she's training for her first 5K race. She credits it all to her trainers and eating like a caveman.
And, she sings the praises of Paleo to anyone who will listen, whether it's on her Fat Mom blog, or in person.
"It's really hard for me now, to see people that are where I was 100 pounds ago. It's really difficult to see people struggling with their weight and I know they're unhappy. I know they're uncomfortable. I know they can't sleep at night. I know they have no energy because I was there. And, not beg them to try it for 30 days," France added.