The Paleo Diet: What it is, What to Eat & Benefits

Let’s start by understanding what paleo diet is?

Paleo diet, or caveman diet is a type of diet that resembles to what the early men used to eat. It dates back to human-hunters era, that is many and many years ago, when there was no availability of processed foods. Early men used to hunt their food and then eat it without any processing.

Paleo diet supports the idea of consumption of unprocessed food such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, roots and meat. It excludes all dairy products, sugar, grains, legumes, processed oils, coffee, salt and alcohol. The rule is to not consume any food item that is processed. So, it generally involves very simple cooking methods, and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Now, you might ask, why paleo diet?

Well, the evidence suggests that back in stone-age era, when there was no such technology and no availability of processed food and food products. Human ancestors survived on a whole-food based diet combined with rigorous physical activity. And it has been assumed that the prevalence of lifestyle related disorder such as obesity or other non-communicable lifestyle related disease were quite low.

No one can actually tell that what exactly the diet of early men would have looked. Because the diet would surely would have been based on the availability of food at that time. But some suggests that it would have revolved around whole foods. Furthermore, some studies suggest that paleo diet may aid in significant amount of weight loss and may also aid in improving overall health of an individual.

Paleo diet: What to eat and what to avoid

Everyone might have their different definition of right paleo diet in their minds. Because, as mentioned earlier as well, the diet of the cavemen would have entirely dependent on the availability of the food. Therefore, some may say that the diet should be high in proteins as the human hunters might have hunted the animals and then consumed the meat. Whereas, some might suggest it to revolve around fruits, vegetables and nuts.

What to eat:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and oilseeds
  • Lean meats
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Healthy fats and oils

What to avoid:

  • Grains, such as wheat, rice, oats
  • Legumes such as beans, peanuts, lentils
  • Dairy products
  • Sugar, artificial sweeteners
  • Processed foods, soft drinks
  • Vegetable oils

The best way to follow this diet is to just avoid any processed product. If the food item is processed and made in a factory or industry, you must avoid it because that will not be paleo friendly.

Sticking to all the natural sources of foods is the key.

You might come across various versions of paleo diet, because over the course of years, this diet has changed and people from around the world incorporated various changes in the diet. Some people consume rice, or even grass-fed butter during this diet.

Drinks during paleo diet:

  • Whenever you are thirsty, your go-to drink should be water. You can squeeze few drops of lemon in it to make the taste better.
  • But to satiate your thirst, you can opt for teas and coffees in beverages, though not a part of paleo, but can be consumed in moderation. As we mentioned earlier, there are variations in the paleo diet.

Many people don’t follow a strict format of this diet, they try and include food items and keep increasing the list. So, you may think it as a template of the diet.

Before starting with the sample menu plan for the diet, let’s discuss what researches have to say about this diet.

Researches and Paleo diet

Many clinical trials are performed taking a combination of diets such as Paleo diet along with Mediterranean diet and various other diets. It has been found that paleo diet results in more weight loss, improved glucose tolerance, lower lipid profiles, and better blood pressure management. But to come to a conclusive answer and evidence, more research in this area needs to be done.

Also learn what FODMAP diet is by following this link!

Sample Paleo diet:

A day in paleo diet should look like:

Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables. Along with a fruit. OR Sautéed vegetables with a fruit.

Along with handful of nuts

Lunch: Chicken salad loaded with vegetables OR Boiled fish with vegetables. OR Sandwich in a lettuce leaf or chicken

Dinner: steamed chicken with vegetables OR steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes with loaded vegetables. Strawberries

Snacks: Carrots, handful of nuts, Hard-boiled eggs, a bowl of berries.

Also, to give you a clearer picture of condiments: you can surely use salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, turmeric, chili powder etc.

It’s always better to get a side of lots of vegetables along with your main dish. Be it fish curry, or grilled chicken or you can also make a salad with walnuts and apples and strawberries.

The only drawback of this diet is that it might be a bit expensive for few, and if vegetarian, you might go less on proteins, calcium and other few micronutrients. Though fruits and vegetables are rich sources of micronutrients, few macros might go missing from your diet.

The bottom line:

Paleo diet is a diet that resembles with the dietary patterns of early men or cavemen. It suggests to avoid the intake of processed food and food products and consume only whole foods. The list includes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, roots and meats and fishes. Researches suggest that you can lose more weight by using this diet. But when the goal is weight loss, make sure to keep calories in check. Because paleo diet often does not keep track of calories.

Avoiding the processed foods and consuming only the whole foods is the key of the diet. Though the diet is rich in fruits and vegetables and nuts, but it restricts the consumption of milk and milk products and legumes which are one the major sources of protein and calcium.

The paleo diet has changed during years and you can always substitute few modern paleo options such as rice and grass-fed butter and even gluten-free grains (i.e., grains expect wheat, rye and barley).

Happy dieting!

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