What’s the Paleo Diet?
What’s the Paleo Diet
You may have heard the Paleo diet referred to as the “caveman” diet or even the Stone Age diet.
This is because the basic premise of the Paleo diet is that we should try to replicate how our cavemen ancestors used to eat thousands of years ago.
In a nutshell, on the Paleo diet, if a food did not exist for the cavemen, then you should not eat it either.
The Origins of the Paleo Diet
Loren Cordain, PhD, is credited for starting the entire Paleo movement for healthier eating.
His interest in both Stone Age societies and nutrition was the perfect combination from which he started drawing comparisons about how our ancestors used to eat and how far our modern day society has strayed from those habits.
When comparing what we know about our cavemen ancestors and their physical shape to the obesity epidemic that is almost consuming modern society, it became obvious that there is a lot to gain from going back to our roots.
The aim of the Paleo diet is to become leaner and less prone to serious diseases by consuming a diet high in protein, plants and fiber.
What Foods Are Allowed on the Paleo Diet?
If you can imagine what a caveman would have had access to eat, then you can probably eat it on the Paleo diet.
This includes plenty of fish, fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and some healthy versions of fats.
A typical Paleo diet meal will likely include eggs, nuts, seeds, olive oil and coconut oil.
Our prehistoric ancestors were hunter-gatherers, so almost any food that can be found naturally in land could make it on the list of Paleo approved foods.
In general, nutritionists recommend that about 35 percent of the calories you consume on the Paleo diet come from fats, 35 percent from carbohydrates and 30 percent from protein.
It is important to remember to consume meat in moderation on the Paleo diet so that the proportion of fruits and vegetables to lean meats is not too far out of balance.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, it will be more difficult to conform to the Paleo diet because of the need to find protein from sources other than some nuts that vegetarians typically eat.
If you have any health conditions, you should definitely check with your doctor before trying out the Paleo diet.
The most obvious foods that are definitely off the menu on the Paleo diet are dairy, sugar, salt, vegetable oils, wheat, grains, legumes and salt.
The Paleo diet relies on the nutritional choices of our prehistoric ancestors way before they ever became farmers.
Also, there was no access to refrigeration during that time, so any type of frozen or pre-packed meal would be off limits on the Paleo diet.
An easy way to conceptualize the forbidden Paleo foods is to eliminate anything that requires preservatives or processing to prepare.
This means that if you buy it in a box or sealed bag, it is probably not in line with the Paleo diet plan.
What’s the Nutritional Benefits of the Paleo Diet
According to the tenets of the Paleo diet, by following its guidelines, you can lower your body’s glycemic load, increase your daily consumption of vitamins and minerals, and optimize your balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Because our ancestors did not suffer from many of the diseases and ailments that plague us today, the Paleo diet attempts to get our bodies back in line with our genetic roots and prevent the onset of many of these problems over time.
Some of the other benefits of sticking with the Paleo diet are that you will be building lean muscle and probably losing fat.
Because you will consume healthy proteins through lean animal meat, you will build muscle cells at a higher rate, which can improve your metabolism.
This means that less fat will be stored in your fat cells, and more energy will go to your muscle cells.
This powerful combination has been associated with weight loss on the Paleo diet as discussed below.
The Paleo diet may also reduce inflammation throughout your body by eliminating processed foods that can damage your intestinal tract.
Losing Weight on the Paleo Diet
Eating healthy and getting the right amount of exercise each day are equally important aspects of trying to replicate the healthier habits of our Stone Age ancestors.
One of the most important things to recognize about the Paleo diet is that this is more of a lifestyle change than a fad diet.
While it is certainly acceptable to stray slightly or cheat on the Paleo diet once in a while, it is meant to be followed well beyond any initial benefits you may experience.
This lifestyle approach is part of the reason why so many people experience weight loss on the Paleo diet.
By cutting out processed foods and refined sugars from your diet, you significantly decrease the amount of junk calories that you consume each day.
At its core, the Paleo diet teaches viewing food as fuel so that you are only putting into your body the things that fuel its daily functions and allow you to live well.
This naturally cuts out unhealthy calories. In fact, calorie counting is not a part of the Paleo diet at all.
The focus is supposed to be more on eating the required amount of nutrition each day to keep your body functioning at a high level.
Another reason why many people lose weight on the Paleo diet is that by consuming protein from lean meat sources, you are likely to feel fuller quicker. You will probably eat fewer calories because your cravings for high carb foods will decrease over time.
Because the Paleo diet has become such a popular lifestyle choice today, there are plenty of resources to consult to help you stay on track with your new healthy eating plan.
In addition, the community of Paleo dieters is very large, so you will not be alone in trying to join some obscure diet fad.
Many restaurants and grocery stores are now embracing this healthy trend, so shopping for food to make easy Paleo recipes is much easier than it used to be.
Because of the increased conveniences of sticking with the Paleo diet, many people find this lifestyle easier to maintain than super restrictive dieting.
This helps you stick with the plan for the long term, which eventually equates to longer term success and more consistent results.