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Paleo diet: What is it and why is it so popular?
Paleo diet: What is it and why is it so popular?
Is the Paleo diet, an eating plan modeled on prehistoric human diets, right for modern humans?
By Mayo Clinic Staff
A paleo diet is a dietary plan based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era, which dates from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago.
A paleo diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago. These foods include dairy products, legumes and grains.
Other names for a paleo diet include Paleolithic diet, Stone Age diet, hunter-gatherer diet and caveman diet.
The aim of a paleo diet is to return to a way of eating that’s more like what early humans ate. The diet’s reasoning is that the human body is genetically mismatched to the modern diet that emerged with farming practices — an idea known as the discordance hypothesis.
Farming changed what people ate and established dairy, grains and legumes as additional staples in the human diet. This relatively late and rapid change in diet, according to the hypothesis, outpaced the body’s ability to adapt. This mismatch is believed to be a contributing factor to the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease today.
Why you might follow a paleo diet
You might choose to follow a paleo diet because you:
- Want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Want help planning meals
Details of a paleo diet
Recommendations vary among commercial paleo diets, and some diet plans have stricter guidelines than others. In general, paleo diets follow these guidelines.
What to eat
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean meats, especially grass-fed animals or wild game
- Fish, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna
- Oils from fruits and nuts, such as olive oil or walnut oil
What to avoid
- Grains, such as wheat, oats and barley
- Legumes, such as beans, lentils, peanuts and peas
- Dairy products
- Refined sugar
- Highly processed foods in general
A typical day’s menu
Here’s a look at what you might eat during a typical day following a paleo diet:
- Breakfast. Broiled salmon and cantaloupe.
- Lunch. Broiled lean pork loin and salad (romaine, carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, walnuts and lemon juice dressing).
- Dinner. Lean beef sirloin tip roast, steamed broccoli, salad (mixed greens, tomatoes, avocado, onions, almonds and lemon juice dressing), and strawberries for dessert.
- Snacks. An orange, carrot sticks or celery sticks.
The diet also emphasizes drinking water and being physically active every day.
A number of randomized clinical trials have compared the paleo diet to other eating plans, such as the Mediterranean Diet or the Diabetes Diet. Overall, these trials suggest that a paleo diet may provide some benefits when compared with diets of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy products. These benefits may include:
- More weight loss
- Improved glucose tolerance
- Better blood pressure control
- Lower triglycerides
- Better appetite management
However, longer trials with large groups of people randomly assigned to different diets are needed to understand the long-term, overall health benefits and possible risks of a paleo diet.
Questions about paleo diets
Concerns or questions about the paleo diet include both food selection and the underlying hypothesis.
A paleo diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and nuts — all elements of a healthy diet.
The primary difference between the paleo diet and other healthy diets is the absence of whole grains and legumes, which are considered good sources of fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Also absent from the diet are dairy products, which are good sources of protein and calcium.
These foods not only are considered healthy but also are generally more affordable and accessible than such foods as wild game, grass-fed animals and nuts. For some people, a paleo diet may be too expensive.
Questions about the paleo diet hypothesis
Researchers have argued that the underlying hypothesis of the paleo diet may oversimplify the story of how humans adapted to changes in diet. Arguments for a more-complex understanding of the evolution of human nutritional needs include the following:
- Variations in diet based on geography, climate and food availability — not only the transition to farming — also would have shaped the evolution of nutritional needs.
- Archaeological research has demonstrated that early human diets may have included wild grains as much as 30,000 years ago — well before the introduction of farming.
- Genetic research has shown that notable evolutionary changes continued after the Paleolithic era, including diet-related changes, such as an increase in the number of genes related to the breakdown of dietary starches.
The bottom line
A paleo diet may help you lose weight or maintain your weight. It may also have other beneficial health effects. However, there are no long-term clinical studies about the benefits and potential risks of the diet.
You might be able to achieve the same health benefits by getting enough exercise and eating a balanced, healthy diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables.
Aug. 25, 2020
- Tarantino G, et al. Hype or reality: Should patients with metabolic syndrome-related NAFLD be on the Hunter-Gatherer (Paleo) Diet to decrease morbidity? Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 2015;24:359.
- Should we eat like our caveman ancestors? Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/should-we-eat-like-our-caveman-ancestors. Accessed March 17, 2017.
- Manheimer EW, et al. Paleolithic nutrition for metabolic syndrome: Systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015;102:922.
- Beals KA. Is a paleolithic diet the key to achieving optimal health and athletic performance? American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal. 2016;20:18.
- Wang C, et al. Macro-process of past plant subsistence from the Upper Paleolithic to Middle Neolithic in China: A quantitative analysis of multi-archaeobotanical data. Plos One. 2016;11:e0148136.
- Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/. Accessed May 28, 2017.
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20 Healthiest Paleo Approved Foods
When you’re trying to zero in on the top healthiest foods you can eat while following Paleo, you need to sort out the top producers as far as nutrition goes. We’ve helped sort through all of the Paleo-approved foods you can have to bring you the best foods ounce for ounce you can put in your body. In no specific order, here they are:
Spinach is a superfood and is one of the best foods you can eat, no matter what diet you’re on. It has a special place on the Paleo menu because it’s packed with phytonutrients, fiber, extra minerals, and just plain helps the body. You’ll be eating your fair share of meat on this diet so it’s a good idea to pile on veggies like spinach to help with digestion and create a broad nutritional profile. Eat it fresh whenever you can, and frozen when you can’t. Organic spinach is highly preferred over conventional since spinach leaves are very absorbent.
The main benefits you’re getting from spinach have to to be its anti-cancer benefits, as well as how it contributes to overall heart health so you’re avoiding many types of heart disease. It contains a mix of antioxidants and phytonutrients that help battle the free radicals that enter the body from our modern lifestyle. It helps your overall well-being, gives you energy, and helps stabilize blood glucose levels.
Vitamin Breakdown per Cup
Vitamin A – 56% – Helps with vision and overall health.
Vitamin C – 14% – A surprising source of Vitamin C.
Magnesium – 6% – An important mineral for avoiding osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems.
Potassium – 4% – Good for the heart and blood sugar levels.
Your mother probably told you to eat your broccoli, and as it turns out she was right on this one. It’s a paleo-approved food that also ranks as one of the healthiest foods you can eat, period. It’s also readily available year round, and you can find it fresh or frozen. There’s almost always broccoli in the organic section of the produce department, and if there isn’t there’s usually an organic brand in the frozen veggies aisle.
Perhaps the biggest reason to be eating broccoli is because its fiber content will help keep you regular. It’s important to keep the digestive system moving because meat can fester in the intestines if you aren’t getting enough fiber to help it along. In addition to this the levels of Vitamin C are through the roof, and this is one of the most popular antioxidants that most know helps the immune system and can help you ward off colds and flus.
Vitamin Breakdown per Cup, chopped.
Vitamin C – 135% – Wow! Your whole day knocked out with one serving.
Vitamin A – 11% – A good source to help round out your other meals and snacks.
Vitamin B-6 – 10% Gives you energy to kill dinosaurs or knock out your email inbox.
Fiber – 9% – Helps all of those animals through your digestive system.
Avocado is a Paleo food that you need to have a ready supply of. That’s because it goes well with just about anything, and you can even eat it all by itself to hold you over until your next meal. Packed with healthy fats and potassium, avocadoes show up in many recipes, especially Mexican or Tex-Mex fare. Try adding them to any meal with chicken as your meat and you’ll get a flavor upgrade.
It’s the healthy fats that steal the show when it comes to avocados, with 14g of monounsaturated fat in a one cup serving. But equal attention should be paid to the high fiber content and large amount of potassium, as these will help you feel lighter and give you more energy that you can use throughout the day. For these reasons an avocado a day might not be a bad way to go.
Vitamin Breakdown per avocado
Potassium – 27% – Good for calming you down.
Fiber – 56% – Necessary for a clean digestive tract.
Vitamin B-6 – 25% – Part of the B Vitamin family, gives you energy.
Vitamin C – 33% – Everyone’s favorite antioxidant.
Watermelon may taste best during the summer, but you can find it all year long, and it’s worth seeking out. It’s one of the few sweet fruits that’s allowed on Paleo, so you don’t want to go overboard with your portions, something that’s easy to do with watermelon. It contains high amounts of lycopene, the same thing that gives tomatoes their healthy food title. It has plenty of potassium and is even recommended as a heart-healthy food by the AHA.
Lycopene often makes the news in relation to its anti-cancer properties and its ability to help prevent heart disease. Most of the time at the end of the news story they end up recommended you eat more tomatoes, but you can and should get a broad range of food and eating more watermelon on a more frequent basis may be a way to help ward off diseases of all types.
Vitamin C – 37% – This is plenty of Vitamin C and will have you feeling good.
Vitamin A – 31% – An excellent source of Vitamin A.
Potassium – 8% – A decent source of Potassium, not a banana but it’s still pretty good.
Fat – 0.4g – It’s super low in fat, but you’ll want to watch your intake because of the sugar.
You may have heard about kale recently, as it’s quickly gaining in the ranks as one of the healthiest veggies you can eat, right up there with spinach. In fact in some areas it even outdoes spinach. You can have as much of it as you want, and a good rule of thumb when eating Paleo is to eat to match your meat intake with a vegetable so you’re getting plenty of both. Kale can be cooked and holds up to the heat much better than spinach, which ends up wilting and shrinking when cooked.
The benefits of eating leafy greens like kale is that they contain phytonutrients, special antioxidants that help the body fend of things like inflammation, and basically make you feel better both now and over the long term if eaten consistently.
Vitamin Breakdown per Cup, chopped
Vitamin A – 133% – Blows spinach out of the water!
Vitamin C – 134% – More Vitamin C than you even need in a day.
Vitamin B-6 – 10% – Plenty of energy to get you to your next meal.
Calcium – 10% – A plant source of calcium, important because you won’t be having dairy.
A handful of almonds will help fuel you for several hours if you need it to. You can also add slivered almonds to many veggies and meat dishes to make it look more fancy, add a bit of crunch, and add more nutrients. Almonds are one food that has almost no disagreement as to whether or not it’s a Paleo food, and almond flour is used as a substitute for regular flour in many Paleo baked goods.
The fiber in almonds can’t be overlooked, as this is one of your main concerns while following the Paleo way of eating. They’re also big on calcium, which you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough of because you’ll be passing on the dairy. Magnesium is an important mineral for the body and you need adequate amounts of it daily. You won’t be running a protein shortage on Paleo, and almonds help see to that.
Vitamin Breakdown per Cup
Calcium – 24% – A substantial amount of calcium in just one cup.
Magnesium – 61% – Over half the day’s need in just a snack-sized portion.
Fiber – 44% – Plenty of fiber for a non-fruit and non-veggie source.
Protein – 40% – Lots of protein to add to all the other protein you’re getting from meat.
For many Paleo eaters chicken becomes a staple on their daily menu, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s one of the most common dishes in restaurants across the country, making it easier to stick with your Paleo plan even when you’re out to dinner with friends. It’s also easy to cook, and versatile, and there are plenty of recipes for how to make different chicken dishes, so you never run out of ideas.
The main benefit to be had from chicken is that it’s a quality protein, and if you buy organic free-range chicken you’re going to be closely replicating the kind of food a caveman might have eaten. Of course they’re actually nothing like what prehistoric man would have eaten, but we’re trying to make do with what we have.
Vitamin Breakdown per 100g
Vitamin B-6 – 25% – Gives you energy and helps you stay alert.
Protein – 42% – Takes a big chunk out of your daily protein requirement.
Magnesium – 6% – this is an important mineral for overall body function.
Vitamin B-12 – 5% – Increased energy levels.
They say eggs are good because it’s like you’re eating an entire animal, without having to eat an entire animal. They provide a good amount of protein, and other vitamins and minerals, so you can feel free to eat eggs daily. They make up the main part of a breakfast meal, or you can eat them anytime during the day. Try not to eat them with meats because early man would have used them as sustenance all by themselves between hunts.
For years the American Egg Board ran public awareness commercials trying to get people to eat more eggs. Many diet programs out there try to clear the question of whether you should eat the entire egg or just the whites. Paleolithic man would definitely have eaten the entire thing, not stopping to separate the yolk from the white. The yolk is where the majority of the nutrients are.
Vitamin Breakdown per Large Egg
Protein – 12% – A respectable amount of protein, considering that’s just one egg.
Vitamin B-12 – 10% – This is an important vitamin for healthy hair and nails.
Vitamin A – 5% – Not as much as some of the veggies on our list, but not bad either.
Vitamin B-6 – 5% – Eggs will give you energy to power through your workday.
Basically, you need to start eating more salmon. It may be one of the pricier seafood options, especially when you buy the wild caught kind, but it’s packed with so much protein, omega-3s, and other vitamins and minerals that there’s really not much else that ranks near it. Our fishing abilities is what helped us beat out rival Neanderthals, so it’s clear that Paleo man would have eaten their fair share of fish, especially fish that don’t try to eat you.
The omega-3s in salmon will help to battle inflammation, while the protein is going to help build a lean physique. It actually has a fair amount of other vitamins and minerals, so it has a broader nutritional profile than just being a big source of protein and omega-3s. When you eat salmon on a consistent basis, like every other day or every 3 days you are setting yourself up for both immediate benefits as well as long-term avoidance of inflammation-based conditions.
Vitamin Breakdown per 100g
Protein – 40% – In one meal you’re getting almost half of what you need.
Vitamin B-12 – 53% – Plenty of B12 to make your skin glow.
Vitamin B-6 – 30% – Energy to spare.
Potassium – 10% – Along with avocados and bananas you should be covered.
The main thing you want to keep in mind when eating asparagus is that it’s not just a healthy Paleo food, it makes the list of some of the mo most healthy foods around period. It has fiber in it to help with your digestion, and you might not know but you can totally eat it fresh and raw and it tastes amazing. Steaming them is perhaps the fastest way to get them to the table, but grilling them is a flavorful way to make them taste great.
Eating asparagus benefits you in several ways rather than just tasting good. You’ll be helping to keep things running smoothly as far as your digestion goes. With meat having no fiber in it, it’s important to eat plenty of vegetables. There is also a nice assortment of vitamins and minerals that are different than many other veggies, so eat asparagus regularly.
Vitamin Breakdown per Cup
Fiber – 11% – Fiber is essential to the Paleo way of eating.
Vitamin A – 20% – One of the most importants vitamins to keep topped up on.
Iron – 16% – A non-meat source of iron. Bonus!
Vitamin C – 12% – Plenty of immune boosting power.
Cabbage is a food that you can have while on the Paleo Diet, and one that you should have no matter what diet you’re following. They even have cabbage soup diets out there for weight loss. Cabbage finds its way onto all sorts of diet programs, even ones that are recommended by doctors after various surgeries. Cabbage is great for the digestive system, and therefore a fantastic food to enjoy while cavemanning it up.
One great thing about cabbage is that it’s cheap. You can buy a head of it for a song and it will provide you with sustenance all day long. It’s also versatile, you can make a go-to Paleo soup using it, or you can simply steam it until it’s easy to chew up and use it as a side dish alongside a meat. it’s going to provide anti-cancer benefits and help you get to your ideal weight.
Vitamin Breakdown per Cup, chopped
Vitamin C – 54% – Plenty of Vitamin C from a veggie source and not a fruit.
Fiber – 8% – A good source of fiber. Eat until you feel full.
Vitamin B-6 – 5% – Great for steady levels of energy.
Calcium – 3% – Get a bit of calcium, every little bit helps.
You can’t go wrong with cucumber as a cool and crisp snack or side while following the Paleo plan. Buy organic and eat the peel for maximum benefit and to replicate a caveman diet as much as possible. They are packed with water, so this is a hydrating vegetable that will make sure your body is getting enough water. It also makes a great salad topper, and when cut into slices makes a good dipping utensil.
Cucumbers don’t score off the charts in regards to vitamins and minerals, and you’re basically looking at them as a way to stay hydrated, to have a flushing effect on the body in regards to toxins, and can even be a way to help thwart cancer. What’s most important is to make sure that you’re having cucumbers on a regular basis. Add them to a smoothie or incorporate them into your daily or weekly menu as a snack.
Vitamin Breakdown per 100g
Vitamin C – 4% – Not a ton, but it’s better than nothing.
Vitamin A – 2% – Not a lot but you’re looking for a cumulative effect.
Magnesium – 3% – An important mineral found in many Paleo foods.
Fiber – 2% – Between the fiber and water content you’re all set digestively.
Tomatoes make the news regularly for their health benegits, and the more they are studied the more is found out about how healthy they are. Almost every nutritionist on the planet is in sync with saying that we should eat more tomatoes, and they’re not too picky about what form it takes. You can cook them up or eat them raw depending on what you’re in the mood for, and in fact cooked tomatoes are said to be healthier for you.
The lycopene in tomatoes is what is responsible for most of the healthy benefits it provides. These includes helping to fighting off cancer, helping to prevent heart disease, helping you to maintain a healthy weight, and being an anti-inflammatory food. It also supplies good levels of Vitamin C to support your immune system, and calcium for healthy bones and teeth.
Vitamin Breakdown per Cup
Vitamin C – 37% – A great deal of Vitamin C, showing off its fruit nature.
Vitamin B-6 – 15% – Plenty of energy from this wonderfood.
Iron – 12% – A surprising source of iron, which you probably won’t be short of.
Calcium – 7% – A respectable amount of calcium, not from a dairy source.
Nothing will give you the Stone Age feel besides all the meat you’ll be eating than chomping on some fresh celery sticks. This is another highly hydrating vegetable which means it’s great in green smoothies to add some water to the mix. But it also cooks up well in soups and makes a great snack in stalk form that you can bring just about anywhere and eat anytime you need to.
Celery acts as a diuretic, so it’s going to help your body rid itself of excess fluids, which also helps to expel any built up toxins. It’s good for regulating blood pressure levels, and has even been shown to have anti-cancer properties. The
Vitamin Breakdown per Cup
Vitamin C – 5% – This will help contribute to your Vitamin C needs.
Vitamin A – 9% – The second most popular vitamin after C.
Vitamin B-6 – 5% – Not a huge source, but still it’s something.
Fiber – 6% – Getting your fiber intake up is crucial when eating so much meat.
Beets have been called “the new spinach” by none other than the New York Times, and they have been making quite a splash in recent years as more is discovered about just how good they are. As a Paleo follower you’ll want to buy fresh beats and either grill them or steam them in order to soften them up. Avoid the pickled beets you find on salad bars and in jars at the store.
There’s a specific nutrient in beets called betalains and there aren’t found in too many other vegetables, so beets get an almost exclusive status. That’s why it’s important to put them in your diet at least weekly, or more often if you like the taste. Betalains have been shown to have a strong detoxifying effect on the body, and would have contributed nicely to our early ancestor’s overall well-being.
Vitamin Breakdown per 100g
Vitamin C – 6% – Not a giant source, but still worth eating them.
Calcium – 2% – Just a little calcium, but we’ll take it.
Iron – 4% – No iron-fortification needed, it’s already got it handled.
Fiber – 8% – Another great source of fiber to round out your other fruits and veggies.
16. Lean Beef
Meat is a big part of the Paleo diet, and there’s perhaps no more meatier meat than beef. You want to be sure that you’re eating lean cuts of organic beef. Organic is important here because it means the cows would have been grass that hasn’t been treated with a lot of chemicals, nor would the cows have been injected with antibiotics and other chemicals to keep them “healthy”. You’re trying to get meat as close as natural as possible and this is the best our modern world can provide.
By opting for lean beef you will be cutting down on the amount of saturated fat, and making sure that you’re getting quality protein. The protein will help you build strong muscles, as well as help you feel full for several hours afterward. Try to mix up the meat you eat, as early man would have been forced into eating an array of animals, whatever they would have happened upon on any given day.
Vitamin Breakdown per 100g, 95% lean
Protein – 52% – A whopping supply of high quality protein.
Fiber – 0g – Gotta eat your veggies!
Vitamin B-6 – 20% – Energy to spare.
Vitamin B-12 – 41% – Great for your hair.
You don’t have to eat wild turkey, although that would be closer in makeup to what Paleo man would have feasted on. The best way to go is to buy a whole roasted turkey breast. This helps cut down on the amount of processing the bird has gone through. Likewise you’ll want to avoid turkey breast in cold cut form because this has added nitrates and sodium during the curing process.
Lean roasted turkey breast will give you a good supply of quality protein, but it also has some vitamin and mineral content that makes it a smart choice for Paleo followers. It’s a decent source of iron, and is a food that you could consume regularly if needed. Many Paleo dieters use chicken as their go-to source of protein but turkey is just as healthy and provides many of the same benefits.
Vitamin Breakdown per 100g
Vitamin C – 10% – Did you know that turkey contains Vitamin C?
Iron – 10% – Iron is one mineral you likely won’t come up short on.
Protein – 17g – Here’s where turkey fits into the grand Paleo scheme.
Fat – 2g – Get lean cuts and it’s low in fat and high in protein.
It’s important to make sure that you’re getting at least some fruit while on the Paleo diet, and grapefruit makes for a good choice. You can start your morning off with some grapefruit to get a boost to your day. It also serves as a good snack for when you’re between meals and just need a snack with a nutritional punch.
The Vitamin C in grapefruit is going to go a long way in providing you energy, but this is also a great fruit for revving up your metabolism and helping you reach the weight you should be at naturally. It can also help prevent cancer and it has been shown to help get cholesterol levels to a healthy level, which is important because many of the foods you eat on Paleo contain cholesterol.
Vitamin Breakdown per 100g
Vitamin C – 52% – You can give your C levels a big boost with grapefruit.
Vitamin A – 23% – Vitamin A lags behind a bit, but still tons of it.
Vitamin B-6 – 5% – Provides a bit of energy, great for a pick-me-up.
Magnesium – 2% – Only a little, but it goes a long way towards a healthy body.
This is one food that ends up on plenty of diet lists. Some have even said that you burn more calories eating and digesting it than it contains. If that’s true or not is not really important to a Paleo dieter, what’s more important is that it’s a melon that was no doubt popular even way back in the day. Today you can find them in just about every supermarket all year long so it’s an easy fruit to enjoy consistently.
The main benefit to eating cantaloupe, besides its awesome flavor, is that it provides a lot of nutrition in the form of vitamins and minerals. When you consider that you’re getting a full day’s supply of key antioxidants from just one serving of cantaloupe it’s easy to see why this is a fruit you should be eating regularly, either as part of a meal or by itself as a snack.
Vitamin Breakdown per Cup, diced
Vitamin C – 95% – Call it a day, you’ve got all you need.
Vitamin A – 105% – More than what is needed for the day.
Vitamin B-6 – 5% – Provides a small amount of energy as well.
Fiber – 5% – Anything that helps get your fiber numbers up is a good thing.
Apples are one of those stereotypical healthy foods that actual is really healthy for you. It’s also one of the few fruits that is allowed on the Paleo diet. Apples are handy because they travel well and an apple all by itself is quite filling and can serve as a great snack. It can also be used in many Paleo-friendly recipes found online, so don’t be surprised if it becomes a big part of your eating life.
The fiber in an apple is going to help with your digestion and help all of the animal products through. But there are also plenty of other benefits, like helping to prevent cancer, and even helping to prevent degenerative diseases like Alzheimers. But don’t be scared into eating apples, simply eat them because that’s what man has always done throughout the ages. Go organic on this one, for sure, as apples have a knack at absorbing all sorts of chemicals and holding them in the peel.
Vitamin C – 7% – Not a lot compared to other fruits, but that’s OK.
Fat – 0.2g – Essentially fat free but watch out for sugar spikes.
Fiber – 9% – Fruits and vegetables should get your fiber to 100% daily.
Potassium – 3% – A great mineral to have for added energy.
Paleo Diet Basics: Food List, Rules, & Meal Plan
Much of the food you see out in restaurants or grocery store chains today is overly processed food containing additives and other unnecessary ingredients.
The progress nutritional research has made over the last few decades has helped demonstrate just how much our diets have changed over time. One of the more popular diets that have come to surface over the last few years is the paleo diet. This diet brings us back to our roots, including what our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to eat.
The paleo diet is associated with a number of health benefits from decreased inflammation to improved blood sugar. The paleo diet is even considered one of the best diet plans for improved weight loss due to the high protein, high fat and low carb intake.
In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of the Paleo diet including:
- The rules of the paleo diet
- Paleo-friendly foods
- Foods to avoid on the paleo diet
- Paleo-friendly beverages
- Paleo-friendly snacks
- Health benefits of the paleo diet
- Paleo diet meal plan
- Paleo diet recipes
The Rules of the Paleo Diet
“If a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you.” This is the general guideline when following a paleo diet.
The paleo diet includes foods that were only available to our hunter and gatherer ancestors. This means that the processed foods, refined grains, and cereals we see in the store today are off-limits. Instead, you should be consuming foods such as meats, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
The paleo diet is based around the idea that these foods are what our bodies were meant to eat, not the processed foods and additives you see today. It’s thought that a planned Paleo diet can lead to improvements in all aspects of health.
While there’s no real way to know exactly what paleolithic humans were eating at the time, you can make a pretty educated guess. It really comes down to thwart was available to them at the time and their location.
Some paleolithic humans ate a diet higher in animal fats and lower in carbs, while others survived off of mainly plants and carbs.
So what are some paleo-friendly foods?
If you’re wondering if a food is paleo-friendly or not, it’s pretty simple. Could our ancestors hunt or gather it? If the answer is yes, it’s paleo-friendly.
Some of these foods include:
- Grass-fed meat
- Wild-caught fish and seafood
- Fresh fruits (apples, berries, melon, grapes, bananas, lemons, oranges, limes, peaches, plums)
- Fresh vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cabbage, spinach)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed)
- Oils (including coconut, avocado, macadamia, flaxseed, olive, walnut)
Foods to Avoid on the Paleo Diet
When it comes to foods you should avoid on the paleo diet, you want to ask yourself the same question from above, “could our ancestors hunt or gather it?”. However, this question might cause slight confusion.
Foods you should avoid on the paleo diet include:
- Grains (bread, rice, oats, pasta, quinoa)
- White potatoes
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
- Legumes (peanuts, beans, lentils, tofu)
- Refined sugar
- Processed foods
- Soda & sweetened beverages
- Refined vegetable oils
- Artificial sweeteners
You know what foods to eat and avoid on the paleo diet, but what about beverages? Paleo beverages include a variety of beverages including different versions of water. Different types of water you can include in your paleo diet are beverages such as sparkling water, sparkling mineral water, club soda, soda water, seltzer, or other types of carbonated water.
However, if you’re looking for a non-water option, you’re in luck.
Some other options for paleo beverages include:
- Herbal, caffeine-free teas
- Coffee and other caffeinated drinks
- Coconut water
- Freshly-juiced fruits and vegetables when consumed with their pulp
- Drinks containing natural sweeteners such as raw honey, stevia, etc.
- Drinks sweetened with stevia or sugar alcohols
The paleo diet excludes many popular snack foods, so finding paleo-friendly snacks might seem like a challenge. However, you can enjoy many store-bought and homemade snacks on the paleo diet.
Some of these snacks include:
- Whole fruit: Fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas, pears, and clementines make the perfect go-to portable snack if you follow the paleo diet.
- Turkey sticks: Many stores carry different types of jerky including turkey sticks made from turkey, spices, and more. Be sure to check the ingredients list to be aware of any additives or artificial ingredients you might otherwise be trying to avoid on the paleo diet.
- Roasted almonds: Almonds and other nuts are a simple yet effective portable and highly nutritious paleo-friendly snack.
- Paleo-friendly protein bars: Finding paleo-friendly protein bars can be difficult, but not impossible. Be sure to read the nutrition label before purchasing protein bars at your local grocery store. Or you can make your own paleo-friendly protein bars at home.
- Sweet potato avocado toast: Thin slices of sweet potato are a great substitute for bread. Slice 1/2-inch pieces of sweet potato and roast them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven for 20 minutes. Top these slices of sweet potato with avocado and enjoy.
Health Benefits of the Paleo Diet
Research has shown the paleo diet is capable of providing a number of different health benefits. By following a whole food-based diet such as the Paleo diet and increasing your physical activity (much like our hunter-gatherer ancestors), it’s thought that individuals can avoid a number of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Some health benefits of the paleo diet include[*]:
1. Improves Weight Loss
While every individual is different, following the paleo diet could be very helpful in the process of weight loss. Swapping out processed foods and artificial ingredients for nutrient-dense foods can easily cut calories and help you lose those pounds.
The specific foods consumed on the paleo diet plan can also increase weight loss. However, it’s important to note that the amount the Paleo diet will impact your weight loss can depend on a number of different things such as how many calories you’re consuming, how much you’re sleeping, and what other nutrient deficiencies and pre-existing hormone imbalances you might have.
2. Helps Increase Protein Intake
One of the biggest issues with most diets today is the lack of protein. Getting enough protein in your diet with the paleo diet is key to maintaining proper health. Why? Protein plays a huge role in repairing and building muscle tissue, maintaining blood sugar levels, building muscle mass, and transferring messages to different cells[*][*]. It also helps keep you satiated for longer periods of time, helping reduce your cravings and hunger pains.
3. Reduces Inflammation
While inflammation is a natural defense mechanism by the body, chronic inflammation is what you want to avoid. Chronic inflammation is at the root of most diseases you see today such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes[*]. The paleo diet is abundant in a number of anti-inflammatory foods including different fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
4. Helps Improve Nutritional Deficiencies
The paleo diet is known to improve health markers. But why is that? One reason is that it cuts out all heavily processed or refined foods and prioritizes nutrient-dense foods. These foods are key as they provide a number of essential vitamins and minerals your diet might otherwise be lacking.
For example, adding more red meat to your diet can help improve your iron levels while adding more fatty fish and nuts can increase your levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
The paleo diet doesn’t include many types of carbs. In fact, it restricts a number of different grains that have been thought to play a role in high blood sugar levels. The paleo diet is mainly made up of protein and healthy fats which are both slowly digested, keeping blood sugar levels stable. This avoids the spike in blood sugar you would otherwise see in a meal full of grains.
One study showed the benefits of following a paleo diet versus a diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association in subjects with diabetes. The researchers found that this caveman diet led to improved blood sugar levels vs. the conventional diabetes diet[*].
Paleo Diet Meal Plan
Planning a paleo meal plan for yourself or family members might be difficult at first if you’re used to eating grains, beans, or processed foods. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow this simple weekly meal plan to start yourself off.
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon
- Lunch: Grilled chicken lettuce wraps
- Dinner: Grilled salmon with roasted broccoli
- Breakfast: Grain-free oatmeal
- Lunch: Stir fry with grass-fed beef and mixed veggies
- Dinner: Salad with baked chicken, avocado, tomatoes, spinach and walnuts
- Breakfast: Veggie omelet
- Lunch: Salmon taco bowl with cauliflower rice, tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce
- Dinner: Grilled pork chops with sweet potato wedges
- Breakfast: Egg casserole with sausage and avocado
- Lunch: Beef taco bowl with cauliflower rice, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce and cilantro
- Dinner: Lamb chops with cauliflower rice
- Breakfast: Onions, mushrooms, and spinach roasted up with bacon or sausages
- Lunch: Shrimp stir fry with asparagus, tomatoes, snap peas, avocado, lettuce and cilantro
- Dinner: Mediterranean grilled lamb chops with sweet potato wedges
Paleo Diet Recipes
Following a diet doesn’t have to be boring and the Paleo diet proves that. No matter what you’re in the mood for, chances are you can find a dish you’ll love from these simple and easy paleo recipes.
Paleo Power Pancakes
One of our “in-house” favorites here… the perfect sweet and savory meal for breakfast, brunch, or post-workout!
- Chomps sea salt beef stick
- Birchbender’s paleo pancake mix
- Strawberries and blueberries
- optional: pure maple syrup, almond butter, or topping of choice
- Following the instructions on the Birchbender’s Paleo Pancake mix, make your desired amount of pancake mix.
- While pancakes are cooking, chop up Chomps stick and saute until warm.
- Top pancakes with Chomps, strawberries, and blueberries, and pure maple syrup, almond butter, or your topping of choice.
Get the recipe from Chomps.
This is a super simple go-to recipe that’s high in protein, moderate in healthy fat, and contains almost zero carbs.
- 4 (4-oz.) salmon fillets
- 1 tbsp. grainy mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp. finely minced shallots
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon slices, for serving
- Heat broiler and line a baking sheet with parchment. In a small bowl, mix together mustard, garlic, shallot, thyme, rosemary, and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture all over salmon fillets and broil 7 to 8 minutes.
- Garnish with more thyme and lemon slices and serve.
Get the recipe from Delish.
Who doesn’t love a hearty bowl of chili in the Winter? This recipe is full of healthy vegetables and tastes great reheated throughout the week.
- 3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ strips
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lb. lean ground beef
- 2 tbsp. chili powder
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 2 tbsp. smoked paprika
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (28-oz.) can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
- Sliced jalapeños, for garnish
- Sliced avocado, for garnish
- Freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish
- In a large pot over medium heat, cook bacon. When bacon is crisp, remove from pot with a slotted spoon. Add onion, celery, and peppers to pot and cook until soft, 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
- Push vegetables to one side of the pan and add beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, until no pink remains. Drain fat and return to heat.
- Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and paprika and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a simmer. Let cook 10 to 15 more minutes, until chili has thickened slightly.
- Ladle into bowls and top with reserved bacon, jalapeños, cilantro, and avocado.
Get the recipe from Delish.
Slow-Cooker Paleo Meatballs
Need a slow-cooker recipe? This Slow-Cooker Paleo Meatballs recipe will have the whole family in love.
- 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 1/4 c. freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1 large egg
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
- 1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, mix together beef, parsley, egg, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes until combined.
- Form mixture into 24 meatballs and place in a slow cooker.
- In another large bowl, stir together crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, oregano, and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour sauce over meatballs.
- Cook, covered, on low until meatballs are cooked through, 5 to 5 1/2 hours.
- Garnish with parsley before serving.
Get the recipe from Delish.
The paleo diet is the perfect option for individuals looking to revamp their diet with whole, natural foods while improving their health at the same time. While there is no one “right way” to follow the paleo diet, the idea of this diet is to avoid artificial and process foods while focusing on healthy, whole foods.
Pick up some paleo-friendly foods from the store such as meat, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats and oils and be sure to avoid processed foods, grains and sugar. If you follow these simple rules, you’ll be on your way to a Paleo-lifestyle in no time.
Surprising Things You Can’t Eat on a Paleo Diet
The premise of the Paleo diet seems simple enough: if the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either. Hello meat, fish, poultry, fruits, and veggies. Goodbye refined sugar, dairy, grains, and beans. It sounds so easy, you can’t possibly screw it up. But you can and probably are. (See The Athlete’s Plan for the Paleo Diet.)
What many Paleo followers fail to understand is that certain Paleo food categories include foods that aren’t really “Paleo.” These foods, when consumed in excess, may actually reverse any benefits derived from a grain-free, ancestral-type diet. (Oops. Should you even be eating Paleo? See The Paleo Diet Leaves Athletes Powerless.)
Paleo Diet Know-How
Before farming and organized agriculture, humans ate few grains and no sugar. They consumed only what they could hunt or gather. Their “Paleo foods” consisted mainly of wild vegetation, game, and fish, with very little fruit or sugar (save for the occasional berry, raw honey, or tree sap).
In a nutshell, a Paleo diet is one that abstains from all grains (wheat, rye, corn), processed foods and refined sugar—and most high-sugar fruits like bananas and melons.
Refined sugar, processed foods and restaurants did not exist during this time in human history. Perhaps not surprisingly, some vegetables that we eat today were not around in the Paleolithic era. In fact, if you look at a detailed Paleo diet food list, you will see that some of the most popular vegetables consumed in today’s society are “forbidden,” or at least dramatically restricted.
Surprising Foods That Aren’t Considered “Paleo”
To get a better handle on a true Paleo food diet—what it is and what it isn’t—let’s take a detailed look at the Paleo food list. By examining all Paleo food categories, we can break them down to determine which ones contains foods that aren’t considered Paleo and why.
Vegetables: Potatoes and Corn
Our ancestors were highly adept at eating large amounts of leafy greens, which provided bulk and sustenance when other foods became sparse. Many of the vegetables they consumed resemble the green, leafy, fibrous vegetables we eat today, like lettuce, spinach, kale and broccoli.
These are generally low-starch vegetables, which are also low on the glycemic index. Vegetables that were not consumed in amounts like they are today include potatoes and corn. These are high on the glycemic index (they raise blood sugar quickly) and actually are considered grains. They were relatively sparse during the Paleolithic era.
Meat: Processed Meats (Sausage) and Lunch Meats
Most meat is considered Paleo—as long as it is grass-fed beef, lamb, or free-range poultry. Processed meats, such as lunch meats and processed pork, are not true Paleo foods. They did not exist in the diets of our Paleo ancestors. These foods often contain sodium nitrates and other unnatural preservatives. Many Paleo enthusiasts find a way around this, especially when it comes to bacon, by finding nitrate-free varieties of their favorite processed meats.
Nuts and Seeds: Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Nuts and seeds were consumed sparingly during the Paleolithic era. Yet since they are low in carbohydrates and high in energy, they are often consumed by individuals following the Paleo diet. Nut and seed butters are not true Paleo foods, yet are often considered Paleo in our modern society. Peanuts and peanut butter are categorized as legumes, and are not considered Paleo.
Fruits: Banana and Melon
Low-sugar fruit, such as the fatty avocado, are considered Paleo. Again, the majority of fruit consumption during the Paleolithic era consisted of small berries, and only when they were in season. Berries are lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants than other sweet fruits. Bananas and melon are not considered true Paleo foods; however, many people who follow the Paleo lifestyle consume them in moderation. Paleo diets seem to vary based on each individual’s needs and taste preferences.
Despite the limited number of categories in this Paleo diet food list, there really is an abundance of things you can eat! Simply put, to avoid confusion, the next time you are making out your Paleo shopping list, avoid processed foods and unpronounceable ingredients. Steer clear of sugar, grains, and high-sugar products. In other words, think like a caveman. (See also How to Customize A Diet Plan to Meet Your Specific Needs.)
Why Fruit is a Good Source of Carbohydrates ~ The Paleo Mom
With mounting research suggesting fructose is a major player in our chronic disease epidemics (see Why is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad For Us? and Is Fructose a Key Player in the Rise of Chronic Health Problems?), fruit’s health-food status has diminished in some people’s minds (with “safe starches” like sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and even rice gaining a more positive reputation for their low fructose content and resistant starch). The resulting fruit-phobia has caused some of us to trade in (or severely limit) fruit in favor of other carbohydrate sources (or not enough carbs altogether, see How Many Carbs Should We Eat?), all in the name of staying healthier.
But, the fears surrounding fruit are almost all unfounded! Far from being a fructose bomb, fruit delivers a wide spectrum of micronutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber, making it a uniquely valuable (not to mention delicious!) addition to our diets.
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Fruit is Associated with Health Benefits
Although “fruit and vegetables” are often lumped together when talking about the health benefits of plant foods (see The Importance of Vegetables), fruit are independently beneficial! That means that we benefit from adding fruit to our diet even if we’re eating tons of veggies!
Health benefits attributed to specifically fruit include improved gastrointestinal health (including protection from IBS, IBD, diverticular disease, constipation, and colorectal cancer), reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, long-term weight management, protection against lung cancer, improved bone mineral density, reduced asthma severity, reduced risk of depression and other psychological conditions, reduced severity of autism spectrum disorders, reduced risk of seborrheic dermatitis, and reduced severity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Eating at least 3 servings per day is associated with these health benefits.
The combination of prebiotic fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals in fruit are behind these wide-ranging benefits.
Fruit Is Far From Empty Calories!
Most of us know that oranges are good source of vitamin C and bananas are loaded with potassium, but that’s just scratching the surface of fruit’s micronutrient bounty! For example, blueberries are rich in vitamin K, manganese, and copper; cantaloupes are sky-high in beta-carotene and vitamin C; pomegranates are great sources of copper, thiamin, and vitamin K; and mangoes have a decent amount of vitamin E, vitamin B6, and potassium.
Each type of fruit has its own micronutrient profile, but generally speaking, fruit is a fantastic source of vitamins and a pretty good source of many minerals.
Fruit Is Full of Phytochemicals
A major reason fruit shows up as beneficial in many studies is because it’s teeming with phytochemicals (nonessential compounds that play wide-ranging roles in warding off disease and keeping us healthy). Along with giving fruit (and other plant foods!) their distinctive scents and colors, phytochemicals have the potential to protect against a variety of chronic diseases. (Check out “The Amazing World of Plant Phytochemicals” and “Polyphenols: Magic Bullet or Health Hype?” for more on these amazing compounds!) Some of the most important phytochemicals in fruit include:
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- Anthocyanidins (which give some fruits a blue, purple, or deep red color) have anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, and neuroprotective effects. These are found in blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, plums, red and black grapes, cherries, and raspberries.
- Flavanones have the ability to reduce inflammation, reduce blood lipids, reduce hypertension, exert antioxidant activity, improve insulin sensitivity, and potentially protect against heart disease. And, they’re found abundantly in citrus fruit like oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and lemons!
- Flavonols (including kaempferol, myricetin, and quercetin) can increase plasma antioxidant capacity, decrease DNA damage in lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell), interrupt the growth of certain cancers, reduce diabetes risk, protect neurons from oxidative damage, and suppress inflammation in the brain. They’re abundant in apples, cherries, and pears.
- Flavan-3-ols help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels (improving blood flow) and potentially reducing our risk of certain cancers and heart disease. They’re found in dark-skinned fruits like elderberries, cranberries, black currants, and grapes, as well as apples, bananas, peaches, pears, and strawberries.
- Tannins act as antioxidants and can reduce blood pressure, protect against harmful microbes, and improve blood lipids. They’re found in pomegranates, persimmons, and berries.
- Lycopene is famous for supporting prostate health and potentially reducing the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It’s found in reddish or pinkish fruits like apricots, papaya, watermelon, guava, mango, pink grapefruit, and peaches.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin support eye health (they’re highly concentrated in the retina, and help filter out damaging blue light rays) and can help prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. These phytochemicals are found in kiwi fruit, oranges, grapes, honeydew melons, mangoes, peaches, nectarines, and apples.
- Stilbenes (including resveratrol, rhapontigenin, pterostilbene, and pinosylvin) are powerful antioxidants that can interfere with all stages of cancer development, as well as potentially protect against neurological diseases (including Alzheimer’s), cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Stilbenes are highly concentrated in grape skins, cranberries, and blueberries.
One Word… Fiber!
Have I mentioned lately how awesome fiber is? No? Well, here it is: fiber is fan-freakin’-tastic! Found exclusively in the cell wall of plants, fiber provides bulk to stool (making it easier to pass) and feeds the probiotic bacteria living in our guts. The types of fiber found in fruit can not only promote regularity, but also reduce inflammation, reduce risk of heart disease, improve blood sugar control, slow down the absorption of simple sugars (hence why fruit tends to have a low glycemic load, despite having a relatively high sugar content), bind to substances in the digestive tract (such as bile salts and toxins), protect against colorectal cancer, and help our gut critters flourish and produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids.
More specifically, pectin (which makes up an average of 35% of the cell wall content of fruit fiber) is a potent prebiotic, encouraging the growth of butyrate-producing bacteria belonging to Clostridium cluster XIV and Sutterella (see also The Fiber Manifesto-Part 2 of 5: The Many Types of Fiber and What Is the Gut Microbiome? And Why Should We Care About It?). Likewise, pectin appears to enhance the survival of Lactobacillus (including Lactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus reuteri) in the stomach and small intestine, boosting its ability to reach the colon. In some cases, such as with unripe bananas and plantains, resistant starch also confers significant prebiotic potential.
Not the Only Sugar in Fruit
Contrary to popular belief, fructose isn’t the only type of sugar in fruit—and in some cases, it’s not even the main sugar in fruit! All fruit contains a mixture of fructose, glucose, and sucrose (which metabolizes into equal parts fructose and glucose in our bodies). And, each type of fruit has a slightly (or significantly) different proportion of these sugars.
For example, papayas, grapes, and most berries are about half fructose and half glucose. Grapefruit is about a quarter fructose and a quarter glucose, with the rest coming from sucrose. And, when we calculate total metabolic fructose (the fructose in the fruit when we eat it, plus the fructose that gets cleaved from sucrose molecules during digestion), we see that most fruit yields roughly equal parts fructose and glucose. Which is great news! While fructose has to get processed in the liver, glucose is used directly by our cells for energy, and doesn’t pose the same metabolic consequences as extremely high fructose intakes (nonalcoholic fatty liver, lipogenesis, and inflammation). Combined with the fact that fresh fruit is bulky (rich in fiber and water) and takes up plenty of stomach space, it’s extremely hard to eat enough fruit to ingest the levels of fructose shown to cause harm in rodent studies and epidemiology. In other words, eating multiple servings of fruit each day is nowhere near comparable to downing fast-digesting HFCS-sweetened sodas, eating packaged foods loaded with fructose-rich sweeteners, and otherwise getting most of our fructose intake from processed foods.
Can We Eat Too Much Fruit?
Well, yes, but it takes more than you think. First, high-fructose consumption (in the 75 to 100 grams per day range) is associated obesity, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and cardiovascular disease. But, these effects are all exacerbated by co-occurrence of vitamin D deficiency, inactivity, and high fat intake (see also Fructose and Vitamin D Deficiency: The Perfect Storm?). Population studies show that fructose consumption (from all sources, including soda) is not associated with obesity below 40 grams daily. It’s unknown how high fructose consumption can be tolerated if we’re only getting it from whole fruit, but there are examples of hunter-gatherers who eat tons of fruit and who are extremely healthy. And, studies show that fruit is definitely not the same as refined sources like high-fructose corn syrup. One recent study that compared the impact on metabolic markers of a high-fructose diet (100 grams daily!), achieved either by eating fruit or high-fructose corn syrup showed that, while both high-fructose diets caused detriments to metabolism compared to the low-fructose diet (<10 grams daily), the high-fructose corn syrup diet was worse than the fruit diet, and the effect was magnified in obese people compared to people who were a healthy weight.
All in all, the scientific evidence supports staying below about 40 grams per day of fructose from all sources. For reference, that translates for 4 to 8 servings of fruit per day, depending on the fruit! (Berries, for example are quite low in fructose, whereas mango is quite high.)
This is confirmed by a 2017 systemic review and meta analysis, which looked at how all-cause morality (a general measure of health and longevity) was impacted by varying intakes of 12 different food groups: whole grains and cereals, refined grains and cereals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy products, fish, red meat, processed meat, and sugar-sweetened beverages. This analysis revealed non-linear relationships between how much of a particular food group we eat and how it impacts our health. For example, an egg per day on average had no significant effect on all-cause mortality, but when intake was higher than two eggs per day on average, there was a strong effect and the more eggs eaten, the higher all-cause mortality (an argument for moderate egg consumption and alternate proteins sources for breakfast!). In the case of fruit, increasing fruit consumption daily lowered mortality risk up to about 300 grams of fruit per day (a serving is 80 grams, so this is just under 4 servings) beyond which there was no additional benefit. Intakes over 400 grams per day were not as beneficial as the 300-gram sweet spot, but the good news, even intakes of 600 grams of fruits per day (7.5 servings) was superior to no fruit at all!
There’s no reason to avoid fruit on account of it being unhealthy, nutrient-poor, “nature’s candy”, or worthless on the disease protection front. And while we probably don’t want to be eating more than 7 or 8 servings of fruit per day, it’s a fantastic carbohydrate source that deserves more love than it’s been getting lately!
Aron PM & Kennedy JA. “Flavan-3-ols: nature, occurrence and biological activity.” Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Jan;52(1):79-104.
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Bavaresco L, et al. “Stilbene compounds: from the grapevine to wine.” Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1999;25(2-3):57-63.
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Gonzalez-Granda A, et al. Changes in Plasma Acylcarnitine and Lysophosphatidylcholine Levels Following a High-Fructose Diet: A Targeted Metabolomics Study in Healthy Women. Nutrients. 2018;10(9):1254. Published 2018 Sep 6. doi:10.3390/nu10091254
Grooms KN, et al. “Dietary Fiber Intake and Cardiometabolic Risks among US Adults, NHANES 1999-2010.” Am J Med. 2013 Oct 9. pii: S0002-9343(13)00631-1.
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Paleo Diet Food List (What To Eat & Avoid)
In this article, I cover Paleo diet foods with a handy list of what to eat, what to avoid and what to enjoy occasionally. Plus, you can use this paleo food pyramid for quick, visual reference. Below you will find overview paleo diet rules: which foods to eat, which foods to avoid, what to consume in moderation.
ABOUT THE PALEO DIET
Paleo diet and lifestyle take inspiration and cues from our ancestors and the way we used to eat and live. It’s not about re-enacting the caveman era; nobody runs around in loincloths and sets fires to cook their food (only occasionally). Paleo is about learning from ancestors but it is mostly fuelled by modern science and some common sense.
The paleo diet focuses on unprocessed, whole foods: healthy fats including saturated fat, grass-fed, free-range meat and eggs, lots of fish and seafood, even more vegetables, some fruit, berries, nuts, seeds and natural sweeteners.
It excludes grains, legumes, processed sugar and most dairy. Some people include healthy dairy foods like kefir, full-fat natural yoghurt, aged cheese and butter. That, of course, really depends on your sensitivities.
I love this way of eating because it also focuses on local, organic produce and good farming practices.
The paleo lifestyle also promotes healthier, more natural living: better sleeping habits, stress reduction and management, functional fitness and movement, adequate sun exposure, spending more time outdoors, avoiding environmental toxins and so on.
Above all, it’s not a set of strict paleo diet rules. It’s more of a framework that you can adapt based on your own goals, health, gender, age, location and current lifestyle. It’s a very holistic approach to wellbeing. You can learn more about the paleo diet basics here.
Here is a summary of paleo diet foods (well, more like my personal Paleo food list):
Foods to eat on the paleo diet
- Meat and poultry (including offal) – grass-fed, free-range meat is not only a kinder and more ethical way to consume animal products but it is also much higher in nutrients because of the way the cattle were fed and raised.
- Fish and seafood – try to choose sustainable, wild fish and seafood when possible.
- Eggs – free-range, pasture-raised whenever possible.
- Vegetables – all non-starchy and starchy tubers and root vegetables. A caveat should be made about white potatoes, which some of you might want to eliminate for a period of time due to the high glycaemic index and some sensitivities you might have to nightshade vegetables. Having said that, it is real food and very nutritious so don’t snub the spud.
- Fruit and berries – stick to low-sugar fruit and berries and keep high-sugar fruit like bananas and mangos for days when you need a higher carbohydrate intake or when in season and tasting delicious. For me personally, I eat most fruits and don’t worry about the fructose because I am fairly active but there are days when I don’t eat any fruit at all, so it balances out.
- Nuts and seeds – these guys are very nutritious but many nuts and seeds are high in omega-6 fatty acids which can be pro-inflammatory if consumed in large quantities and when your diet is not balanced by an equal amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon and sardines, eggs and leafy greens. Basically, don’t gorge on buckets of nuts and seeds every day. The same goes for nut meals and flours such as an almond meal. Whenever possible, try to activate nuts and seeds by soaking and then dehydrating them back, which makes them easier to digest.
- Spices and herbs – go to town, the more the better! As for salt, use good quality sea salt or Celtic salt to get beneficial minerals and be sensible with it. I love spices and herbs so much, I wrote an e-Book about it.
- Healthy fats – coconut oil, coconut milk and cream, ghee (suitable for Whole30), butter (it’s mostly fat so no big problems with lactose but might have to be out for some of you), duck fat, olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, fish oil, sesame oil as well as from grass-fed meats, poultry and fish.
- Condiments – mustard, fish good, quality vinegar such as apple cider, aged Balsamic, olive oil mayonnaise, low-sugar tomato sauces and paste, anchovies, olives, gherkins, capers, salsas and pestos – are all fine, just make sure no nasty chemicals and preservatives are added. Wheat-free soy sauce such as Tamari and naturally derived oyster sauce are okay every now and again but it’s better to try something like coconut aminos. You can make a lot of your own paleo sugar-free salad dressing and try my go-to paleo stir-fry sauce.
- For baking – nut meals, coconut flour, tapioca and arrowroot flour, sweet potato flour, chestnut flour, hemp seed flour, banana flour – use in moderation as some of these guys are either still high in carbohydrates or may contain high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.
- Protein powder can be added in a form of a smoothie or as a post-workout snack, especially if you can’t or don’t want to consume too much meat or fish. I have a handy guide to paleo protein powders here.
Foods to avoid on the paleo diet
- Grains – especially wheat and anything with gluten. White rice is the least harmful of all grains and is added to dishes on occasions or for variety. It’s also part of the Perfect Health Diet protocol, which is what I follow. Rice is very high in carbohydrates and if you’re not active or trying to lose weight, it should be kept to ‘occasional’ use. Read more about the paleo diet and white rice here. And, learn more about why grains are avoided in the paleo diet here. Many people ask about oats and oatmeal, read about them here.
- Legumes – beans, lentils, chickpeas and so on. Cashews are not legumes! There are some debates over whether some legumes are safe to consume in moderation if prepared properly (soaked for 12 hours and then cooked really well to remove the phytic acid and make them easier to digest). You can read this article by Dr. Chris Kresser and this article by Dr. Loren Cordain and make up your own mind as I do. I include green beans and peas but avoid the rest.
- Refined sugars and carbohydrates – bread, pasta, cookies, white sugar, artificial sugar, high-fructose syrup, sodas, fruit juices and so on.
- Dairy – especially milk and low-fat dairy, and for those with damaged gut or gluten/lactose intolerances. If you’re concerned about calcium intake on a paleo diet read this post.
- Processed vegetable oils and fats such as canola oil (rapeseed), soybean oil, vegetable (Is it really made from vegetables? We don’t think so), and sunflower oils, as well as margarine and spreads made with such oils. Read this post on healthy cooking fats and oils here.
- Gluten-containing products
Consume on occasion & if tolerated
- Dairy should mainly be avoided, especially if you suffer from gut problems and gluten intolerances, but if you’re in good health and have no sensitivities to lactose (sugars in milk) or casein (protein in milk) then a little healthy dairy can go a long way. Avoid cow’s milk as it has a high glycaemic Index, unlike cheese or yoghurt. Better options are goat’s and sheep’s milk products, A2 cow’s milk and cow’s milk fermented products like kefir, unsweetened yoghurt, aged cheeses, full-fat cream, butter, and ricotta.
- Natural sweeteners – honey, maple syrup, molasses, dried fruit, dark chocolate, palm sugar, rice malt syrup for those avoiding fructose.
- Alcohol – dry wines, clean non-grain based spirits.
- Fermented soy such miso, tempeh in small amounts, wheat-free soy sauce
- Pseudograins like quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are less harmful but they are still dense sources of carbohydrates and contain similar antinutrients to grains. They should be prepared carefully to remove some of the anti-nutrients such as phytic acid. Soak such grains in salted water for 8-12 hours, rinse and then cook well before consuming. Chia seeds also fall in this category. Buckwheat is the safest out of these, read about it here.
- Fresh corn, green beans and green peas fall into grain/legume category but in my eyes, they are totally fine to use every now and then and especially when in season and local. Read whether you could include green peas in the paleo diet here.
- White rice is often added back in as it seems to be the least problematic grain for most people. Find out if you should add white rice to your paleo diet here.
Need some help with paleo shopping? Check out our ultimate paleo shopping list here. Not sure what Paleo is all about? Read about the paleo diet here.
Feel like you still don’t know where or how to start? Looking for a plan or program to help you reset and recharge? Check out my free paleo program here.
Additional reading on Paleo nutrition
Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook by Irena Macri
Optimal Health The Paleo Way by Claire Yates
The Perfect Health Diet by Paul Jaminet & Shou-Ching Jaminet
The Paleo Cure by Chriss Kresser
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, a must-read!
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
The Complete Paleo Food List
Here at PaleoPlan, we believe that you should have a simple guide to help you easily say “yes” or “no” to certain foods. In addition to our Paleo diet food list, you should also consider using our free Paleo recipes, or try our Paleo Meal Plan free for 14 days.
The PaleoPlan meal plan makes following a Paleo diet really easy, since your menus, recipes, shopping lists, and even prep notes are all laid out for you.
In general, eating Paleo means eating veggies, fruits, meats, fish, certain fats, nuts, and seeds. It means removing grains (breads, pastas, rice, etc), beans, soy, dairy, certain vegetable oils, and refined sugar from your diet. But you probably want more details than that, right?
Below, you’ll find our complete Paleo Food List. This is a list of foods and to what extent they are accepted as Paleo. Our guidelines are created using a mixture of all of the Paleo gurus’ philosophies and research, our own beliefs, and what is realistic to implement in your daily life.
For all of the foods listed, our hope is that you choose the highest quality that you can afford, i.e. grass-fed and pastured meats when available instead of conventional meats, as well as organic and local produce when it is an option.
Quick-Start Paleo Food List
While we go into more detail below, here is a quick rundown of the basics:
- Meats: most kinds, ideally pasture-raised or grass-fed, including organ meats
- Seafood: most kinds, ideally wild-caught
- Vegetables: any kind, ideally organic and local
- Eggs: any kind, ideally pasture-raised or free-range
- Fruit: any kind, all in moderation, ideally organic
- Nuts and seeds: all kinds, in moderation, ideally organic and with no added oils
- Certain oils and fats: mainly saturated and monounsaturated fats (few polyunsaturated fats), ideally organic and unrefined
Foods to Avoid
Before we dive into the enormous list of food that you can enjoy on a Paleo diet, here are the basics of what you should avoid.
No grains are Paleo, even gluten-free grains. All grains should be eliminated when adopting a Paleo diet. This includes, but not limited to:
This includes all products made with these ingredients such as flours, pastas, breads, cakes, cookies, bagels, muffins, tortillas, chips, and the like.
Learn more: Why No Grains and Legumes
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes aren’t Paleo because they’re difficult to digest, similar to grains. Beans and legumes include, but are not limited to:
- Soy (tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, soy lecithin)
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
- Red beans
- White beans
- Garbanzo beans
Peas and green beans are acceptable, even though sometimes they’re categorized as legumes.
Learn more: Are Green Beans and Snow Peas Paleo?
We know it’s a bummer for most to hear that dairy isn’t Paleo, but most people struggle to digest it but don’t notice till they actually take a step away from it.
These forms of dairy are not Paleo, including:
- Cottage cheese
- Ice cream
- Sour cream
- Dairy creamer
- Powdered milk
The only exceptions that are allowable on most Paleo diets are butter and ghee. However, these should still only be consumed if you know you’re not sensitive to them. If you’re brand new to Paleo, we recommend at least 30 days away from all forms of dairy, including butter and ghee.
Learn more: Is Grass-Fed Butter Paleo?
High Omega-6 Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils aren’t really made from vegetables, which is why we’re still really confused how they came upon that name. They are usually made from junk oils that really aren’t fit for human consumption. These oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids, which promote inflammation (as opposed to omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory). They are debatably one of the major causes of heart disease, and are basically junk oils. While saturated fat remains demonized by mainstream nutrition, it really isn’t the culprit in poor health. These omega-6, junky oils are far more devastating for long-term health.
Vegetable oils to avoid include, but are not limited to:
- Butter alternatives
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Palm oil
- Peanut oil
- Safflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Sunflower oil
- Vegetable oil
Learn more: The Complete Guide to Saturated Fat
Refined Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners
Basically, on a Paleo diet, you want to avoid all added sugars except for the few that are Paleo friendly. Sugar doesn’t refer to naturally occurring sugar found in fruits, but rather added sugars that are found in many processed foods.
Added sugars and sweeteners to avoid include, but are not limited to:
- Cane sugar
- Cane syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- White sugar
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup (in any form, including high-fructose)
- Glucose syrup (another name for corn syrup)
- Dextrose or anything ending in “-ose”
- Malt syrup
Too much sugar can make you gain weight and feel lethargic, but it can also strongly affect your mood and wellbeing. It’s not fun to take it out of your diet, and you will have cravings for it. But if you can make it through the first few days, it will get better every day from there.
Learn more: 6 Reasons Why You Should Stop Eating Sugar for 30 Days (or Longer)
Iodized Table Salt
Table salt is common, but it is actually a highly refined product that is missing its natural nutrients. Instead of iodized table salt, eat sea salt instead.
Many types of table salt contain preservatives, anti-caking agents, and other chemicals. Avoid refined salts and regular table salts, because the refining process removes precious trace minerals while introducing chemical additives. Instead, opt for a natural, unrefined salt for a more intense flavor as well as extra trace minerals.
In contrast, unrefined salts are essential for good health and include all varieties of rock and sea salt that have not been stripped of minerals or had other ingredients added. Natural, unrefined sea salt provides a number of nutrients and minerals, in a form that the body recognizes and can use.
Learn more: The Detailed Guide to Dietary Salt
Processed, Hydrogenated, and Refined Foods
There’s a lot of gray area here, but in general, if you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce an ingredient on the label of a food, it’s probably not Paleo. Avoid all foods containing “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” ingredients.
Learn more: 22 Swaps to Make Your Next Meal More Paleo
All species of seafood are totally Paleo, but you will want to avoid certain kinds of larger predatory fish because they have been alive for many years and accumulate heavy metals, like mercury, in their bodies. These primarily include:
- King mackerel
Learn more: Is Fish Paleo?
Foods to Eat on a Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet is rich in nutrients and plenty of variety, so you don’t ever have to be bored or hungry! While it does take some getting used to, with the right tools, you’ll be a Paleo pro in no time.
Shellfish, all kinds
Learn more: Paleo Cooking 101: How to Cook Meat Like a Pro
Vegetables and Fruits
Apples, all kinds
Herbs, all kinds
Lettuces, all kinds
Onions, all kinds
Sea vegetables, all kinds
Squash, all kinds
Sugar snap peas
Learn more: How to Start Eating Vegetables (When You Don’t Like Them)
Nuts and Seeds and Their Products
Almond butter (unsweetened)
Almond milk (unsweetened)
Cashew butter (unsweetened)
Sunflower butter (unsweetened)
Learn more: The Food Lover’s Guide to Paleo Snacks
Fats and Oils
Coconut milk, full fat
Olive oil, extra virgin
Learn more: Have a Change of Heart About Cholesterol: Cholesterol Is Healthy
Maple syrup, grade B
Stevia leaf, pure
Learn more: Paleo Sweeteners 101
Paleo Baking Flours
Learn more: What Is the Best Paleo Baking Flour?
Condiments and Cooking Ingredients
Apple cider vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Worcestershire sauce (corn-free)
Learn more: The Complete Guide to Shopping Paleo
Black coffee (in moderation)
Black tea (in moderation)
Sparkling water (without artificial ingredients)
Water, filtered or spring
Wine (in moderation)
White tea (in moderation)
Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Paleo Drinks
Basically, it all comes down to eating real food. Our bodies are engineered to utilize the nutrients found in whole foods in their natural form. The same cannot be said for the man-made chemicals that are now abundantly found in our food supply. Our bodies don’t know what to do with these foreign chemicals and altered foods.
Longterm results of following a highly processed diet are not good, and in fact, is largely why chronic conditions are rampant in our modern world. These processed and refined ingredients make our immune systems overly sensitive and can trigger countless disease states.
There is a time and a place for being really strict with your diet, like when you have food intolerance, allergy, or sensitivity, or when you’re facing other chronic health problems. Elite athletes and other high-performing people will also need to stay strict with a diet.
For everyone else who’s just trying to live a healthy lifestyle and have fun while doing it, give yourself a break sometimes and focus on what feeds your body as well as your soul.
90,000 Paleo diet – what is it? Food List – What Can You Eat?
The paleo diet is a diet that eliminates common food allergens from the diet. First of all, we are talking about gluten-containing wheat and milk lactose and casein. In addition, legumes are prohibited – they are also capable of disrupting the intestines.
In fact, the paleo diet means avoiding cereals, bread, baked goods, any dairy products – and even peanuts and soybeans (they belong to legumes).What are the benefits of the paleo diet for the body – and what foods are you allowed to eat?
// Paleo diet – what is it?
The paleo diet is a rejection of “modern” food and the transition to traditional food. The name “paleo” refers to the Paleolithic period, which lasted 2.5 million years and ended 13 thousand years BC. Essentially, this diet puts an attempt to eat like a caveman.
The paleo diet is based on the fact that most of the food we are used to have appeared literally in the last hundred years.At the same time, scientific research confirms that a diet rich in refined carbohydrates disrupts the metabolism in general, and the brain in particular.
From a practical point of view, paleo is an effective diet for losing weight and maintaining a stable body weight. Since such a diet involves avoiding grains (wheat, rye, oats, rice), paleo can be an example of a carbohydrate-free keto diet.
// Paleo Diet – In Brief:
- Avoiding Modern Food
- Switching to Traditional Food
- Suitable for Food Allergies
// Read More:
What’s the Benefit?
The paleo diet has the advantage of being suitable for nutrition in the presence of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.Often, it is the unsuitable food that becomes the cause of the exacerbation of such diseases. The body reacts to it with a sharp reaction of the immune system.
The Paleo-Autoimmune Protocol, abbreviated as AIP, introduces diet and lifestyle choices to optimize gastrointestinal function. Recall that the intestine is the main organ of the immune system. Unlike the regular paleo diet, there is a more restrictive list of allowed foods.
Paleo – permitted foods
The Paleo diet allows you to eat any meat, eggs and seafood – beef, pork, lamb, chicken, sea and river fish, shrimp and so on.It is only required to refuse from semi-finished meat products (sausages, pates, sausages, crab sticks, and so on).
Note that paleo experts differ as to whether it is possible to eat fish. Only fish of ordinary catch is allowed – but not salmon raised on fish farms. In this case, the fish could eat corn, which is prohibited on the paleo.
// Paleo – what you can:
- fish, poultry, meat
- fruits and dried fruits
- mushrooms and nuts
// Read more:
Vegetables and fruits
Although the paleo diet permits vegetables (including tomatoes, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, various peppers, cabbage), legumes (beans, peas, peanuts) are prohibited.White potatoes are allowed on paleo, but only in moderation2. Sweet potatoes (yams) are allowed because they contain less starch.
The Paleo Diet accepts fresh fruits with a low glycemic index, recommending a limited amount of fruit. In addition, it is preferable to use not exotic fruits from distant tropical countries, but seasonal fruits grown in your region.
// Read more:
Nuts and vegetable oils
The Paliodiet allows (and even welcomes!) Most of the list of nuts – almonds, cashews, walnuts and pine nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.At the same time, peanuts and any of their derivatives (for example, peanut butter) are strictly prohibited, since peanuts are a typical legume crop.
The oils of the aforementioned nuts are also recommended for consumption, as they contain a large amount of beneficial nutrients. Coconut and olive oils are allowed, but exclusively virgin (cold pressed without processing). Sunflower, palm, rapeseed and soybean oils are prohibited as refined oils.
// Read more:
Paleo diet – prohibited foods
The paleo diet prohibits the consumption of any grains and legumes, as well as brown rice.Quinoa, buckwheat and buckwheat flour are also generally not allowed in the paleo, as although these crops have been cultivated by humans not so long ago, they have been significantly modernized.
Nutritionists and paleo experts differ on white rice. Most of them recommend to completely eliminate it, but some still allow the use of rice varieties “Basmati” or “Jasmine” in minimal quantities, citing the fact that peeled rice is just pure starch.
Any milk, exactly like all kinds of dairy products in the form of butter, cheese, cottage cheese and yoghurts, is prohibited on the paleo. The main reason is the presence of a strong food allergen in dairy products – lactose. However, soy milk is also not allowed because soy is a legume.
Given the fact that most sports protein blends are made from whey, sports protein should also not be taken on paleo.
The Paleo diet allows for fish, poultry and meat (exclusively grass-fed), eggs, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and nuts. Any semi-finished products, grains, wheat flour and flour products, legumes, sugar, milk, dairy products and refined vegetable oils are prohibited.
- Paleo Diet Food List, source
- Are White Potatoes Paleo ?, source
- Is Buckwheat Paleo ?, source
- All About Rice, source
- What Drinks Are Allowed in the Paleo Diet ?, source
Continuing the topic
Date of the last update of the material – January 14, 2021
What is the paleo diet and how to sit on it
What is the essence of the paleo diet
The paleo diet prescribes to eat as our distant ancestors did in the Paleolithic era – a period that began about 2.5 million years ago and lasted until about 10 thousand years BC.
At that time, people led the lifestyle of hunters and gatherers, if meat and fish, as well as everything that can be found: vegetables and fruits, herbs, nuts. Diet proponents believe that since the modern human body has finished evolving during this period, the diet of hunters and gatherers is ideal for him.
But dairy products, cereals and legumes, which appeared in the diet much later – about 10 thousand years ago – did not have time to become a habitual food, and therefore contribute to the development of the obesity epidemic, cause diabetes, heart and vascular problems.
Opponents of this hypothesis argue that there is no evolutionarily correct diet, and that human nutrition is largely determined by the environment . Here are some arguments against:
- Genetic studies have shown that evolution did not stop in the Paleolithic: the body continued to adapt, including to changes in diet and lifestyle. For example, in humans, the number of genes associated with the breakdown of starches increased, and the evolution of lactose resistance continued.
- Archaeological research has shown that people in the Stone Age could eat wild grains 30 thousand years ago – long before they switched to agriculture.
- Dietary preferences are shaped by society. We learn what is tasty and what is not, what you can eat and what is not food and how to combine different products. This is not the kind of knowledge that is genetically inherent and given to us instinctively.
The topic is too complicated and confusing to make an unambiguous conclusion.However, the paleo diet was extremely popular in the 2010s, so there is a lot of research into its effectiveness and impact on health.
How quickly the paleo diet allows you to lose weight
It is impossible to say for sure how quickly you will be able to lose weight. It depends on many factors: the characteristics of the body, the calorie content of the diet and the amount of physical activity. However, one can at least roughly draw conclusions from research data.
On average, the paleo diet allows you to lose up to 3-5 kg in three months, up to 6.5 kg – in six months and up to 8.7 – in a year.
In addition, the paleo diet helps fight abdominal obesity. According to various sources, it can get rid of 1.5 cm in the waist in three weeks to 11 cm in six months.
However, when the body fully adapts to this type of diet, you can put on a few pounds again. For example, in a two-year study of women in the paleo lost an average of 8.7 kg during the year, held this weight for another 6 months, and by the end of the second year gained about 3-4 kg.
What problems can the paleo diet cause?
There is still no consensus in the scientific community whether it is good for health or, conversely, can harm. We can say for sure that such a diet is not suitable for all people. Moreover, this applies to both health and household factors.
This diet is believed to have cardiovascular health benefits. Paleo lowers blood pressure and improves lipid profile: reduces the amount of triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol, raises the level of “good” .But one 2019 study of raised doubts about its heart health benefits.
A team of scientists from Australia found elevated levels of trimethylamine oxide in people on the paleo diet, which is associated with atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
Trimethylamine oxide is produced in the liver from trimethylamine, which in turn is produced in the intestine under the influence of its flora. Scientists have suggested that because people on the Paleo diet do not eat grains rich in fiber, it negatively affects bowel function and may increase the risk of heart disease.
This is just one study, and the mechanism of action of trimethylamine oxide is not yet clear, but if you have heart problems, it is worth consulting a cardiologist and nutritionist before switching to a paleo diet.
Since cereals and bread are prohibited in the Paleo diet, meat and eggs are often the basis of the diet, and the amount of protein in the diet increases. High-protein diets can harm kidneys with pre-existing problems, and also contribute to stone formation.
However, the Paleo diet does not have to be high in protein. If you want, you can change your menu to fit into a safe level of protein – add more fruits and vegetables.
Reduced Bone Mineral Density
Since Paleo does not include dairy products (the main source of calcium in the modern human diet), a diet can lead to a deficiency of this trace element necessary for bone health. True, you can get calcium from permitted sources: sesame seeds, parsley and other foods rich in this element, or take nutritional supplements.
Increased spending on food
Eating the Paleo diet will result in about 10% more money spent than if you were on a regular diet. Meat, red fish, nuts and seeds, vegetables in winter – all this will cost much more than cereals, legumes or milk. Therefore, if money matters, first try to calculate how much money will be spent on a new diet.
Lack of opportunity to eat in cafes and restaurants
One of the problems of the paleo diet is the difficulty with ready meals.You are unlikely to be able to follow the rules when eating in a cafeteria or restaurant, so you will have to cook at home or replace meals with legal snacks like fruits, nuts and seeds.
You can cope with this, for example, if you order meat and vegetables in a restaurant and ask them to cook them in olive oil, but you will hardly be able to eat consistently and fully in public places.
What you can and cannot eat on the Paleo diet
The Paleo diet does not include restrictions on calories and the amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, but at the same time it has a clear list of permitted and prohibited foods.
What you can eat on the Paleo diet
- Meat : beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, game. Livestock and poultry should be free range, grass or grain fed, not special feed.
- Fish and seafood : salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish and others.
- Eggs : Choose from free-grazing hens or fortified with omega-3.
- Vegetables : broccoli, collard greens, peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes.
- Fruits and berries : apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados and others.
- Root crops : potatoes, yams, turnips.
- Nuts and seeds : almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and others.
- Certain vegetable oils : Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil.
- Salt and spices : sea salt, garlic, rosemary, turmeric and others.
- Drinks without sugar and caffeine : water, including mineral water, herbal teas without caffeine, berry fruit drinks without added sugar, vegetable juices.
What you can’t eat on the paleo diet
- Sweet foods : sugar, any sweets, ice cream.
- Cereals : including bread, pasta, wheat, spelled, rye, barley and others.
- Legumes : beans, beans, peas and others.
- Dairy products : milk, fermented milk products, cottage cheese.
- Some vegetable oils : soybean, sunflower, cottonseed, corn, grape seed, safflower and others.
- Trans Fat : Margarine and processed foods containing hydrogenated oils.
- Artificial sweeteners : aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium.
- Heavily processed foods : Diet and low fat foods with many additives.
- Beverages with sugar, alcohol and caffeine : alcohol, tea, coffee, fruit juices, energy and sports drinks, soda with sugar or sweetener.
What You Can Eat in Some Versions of the Paleo Diet
In some cases, people modify their diet and, in addition to the basic foods allowed, also add:
- Fatty dairy products : butter and cheese.
- Tea and coffee .
- Red wine in moderation.
- Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa.
These foods provide the body with nutrients and make life a little more enjoyable on a diet.
What the Paleo Diet Weekly Menu looks like
We have drawn up a rough meal plan for the week in accordance with the Paleo Diet principles. Some recipes contain cheese. If you choose to stick to a strict paleo diet, simply cut it out while cooking.
Photo: Anna Hoychuk / Shutterstock
Photo: Daria Polukarova / Lifehacker
Photo: Aleksei Isachenko / Shutterstock
Photo: Lesya Dolyuk / Shutterstock
Photo: Milosz_ / Depositphotos
Photo: DronG / Shutterstock
Photo: rezkrr / Depositphotos
Also, in addition to the main meals, you can freely add snacks and desserts in the form of nuts, fruits and berries.But remember that nuts are a high-calorie food, so don’t get carried away.
Would you decide on such a diet? Write in the comments!
Read also 🧐
Should we eat like cavemen – Wonderzine
Is it still possible to normalize weight and health on the paleo diet
There is currently no conclusive evidence that the Paleo diet is effective for weight loss.In 2014, a study of obese women was conducted: compared with the classic diet recommended for weight loss, people on the paleo diet lost more kilograms – but the effectiveness disappeared after completing the course, and the weight partially returned. In terms of health, the authors noted that the paleo diet was effective in controlling blood sugar and lipid levels. True, the publication separately noted that it was in the paleo diet group that the participants had problems with adherence to the instructions – which means that such a diet is not suitable for preventing diseases.
This combines paleo with other restrictive diets: complex rules and a narrow list of permitted foods lead to a host of problems. Such a diet is difficult to follow, it is expensive (especially in the case of organic products) and leads to isolation from society: it may turn out that a person invited to lunch and dinner, “nothing is allowed”.
Several advantages can still be found in the paleo diet: for example, recommendations for increasing the amount of vegetables and fruits in the diet and avoiding semi-finished products generally correspond to what doctors say.People who follow the Paleo diet should cook more at home, which helps control, for example, the amount of salt and sugar. It is also important to understand that the question of how much any diet is “healthier” than the current one is highly individual. A person whose diet consists entirely of processed foods, sweets and soda, and who does not eat fruits and vegetables at all, the Paleo diet is likely to be beneficial. But it is much easier to follow the classic dietary guidelines: they are easier to adhere to and they provide a much larger choice of foods.
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90,000 Paleo diet (excerpt from the book “Who to believe?”)
Can we trust what television and the Internet convince us? Are we not becoming victims of the pseudoscientific nonsense that the media imposes on us? Brian Clegg, a well-known popularizer of science from the UK, wrote the book Who Should We Believe? how to protect yourself from prejudice.To do this, it is necessary to include critical thinking and think in a scientific way, relying on knowledge and common sense. With the kind permission of the publishing house “Mann, Ivanov and Ferber”, we publish an excerpt from the book on the paleo diet, which is now popular.
Time and again, dietetics gurus try to bring us back to nature in order to nourish our body with the foods “for which it was created.” However, switching to a caveman diet is not the best option.
No one argues, in the life of each of us a situation may arise when a diet is indicated and absolutely necessary.Man as a species took shape about 200,000 years ago, and since then our body has not undergone significant changes. But our diet has changed dramatically over these long 200 millennia. And isn’t it an ingenious decision to return to the diet that our ancestors adhered to, that is, to the so-called paleo diet? After all, the notorious obesity epidemic, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many types of cancer may well be side effects of today’s “fake” diet!
The idea behind the Paleo diet is to return to the hunter-gatherer diet.We do not give up meat, but we eat only the meat of wild animals – venison, bear meat, game and the like.
Fish, fruits, certain types of vegetables and, of course, hazelnuts and berries are also allowed. But any homemade meat, dairy products, wheat, corn and other grains, peas and beans, sugar and processed butter are prohibited. Some products have been questioned.
Although the Paleo diet presupposes giving up eggs and salt, cavemen probably had the opportunity to get both eggs (it was probably easier to drag them from the nests than live chicks) and salt.But real salt marshes are a huge rarity, so our ancestors got the lion’s share of salt from the blood of killed animals (which brings blood sausage back to the table of the most ardent adherents of the Paleo diet!).
Unfortunately, this lyrical picture of a return to nature is not without some problems. First, the mere fact that cavemen ate in this way does not mean that this list of foods is ideal – both for our ancestors and for us. The availability of food during the Paleolithic does not mean its quality.Unfortunately, there is no magic connection between the ability to get a product on the table and its benefits for our health.
And the second. While the general statement that the species of Homo sapiens has remained unchanged for millennia is true, we should not be complacent about this. Because we are genetically different from our distant ancestors. And many of these changes that most of us experience (such as the ability to digest milk in adulthood) are directly related to the diet we are used to (the same, by the way, applies to genetic changes that allow us to better digest grains) …So does it make sense to engage in attempts to restore the diet “for which we were created” if we have long been “converted” to a diet that meets modern conditions?
A hunter-gatherer diet, coupled with an appropriate lifestyle, seems like a good way to maintain the health of the general population, at least for the adult population, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best. In addition, we have only a partial idea of what our ancestors could have eaten.But one thing we do know for sure: almost all food sources, even game and vegetables, have changed much more over the past 200,000 years (thanks in part to the most common selection) than you and me. This means that we are actually trying to put less changed people on more changed food, which in itself does not leave a stone unturned in the case for the paleo diet.
As for strict vegans, that is, adherents of a diet of raw vegetables that grow in the wild, then everything is completely bad here.Not only have they completely perverted the very concept of a “natural” diet: there is still indisputable evidence that
that the ancestors of man were omnivores – you will also have to devote most of your life to ungrateful gathering, getting and chewing rough food. Plus the inevitable supplements that will have to complement a clearly flawed diet. I think there is no need to explain further.
Brian Clegg’s Who Should Believe? on the website of the publishing house
90,000 Dug up: what is the paleo diet and what is it eaten with
How to follow the rule “Do not eat anything that was inaccessible to a caveman” in the modern world and is it necessary at all, Olga Bokhan understands
Losing weight people have a new fascinating diet called “paleo”.Although it would be a stretch to call it “new”. Firstly, a similar principle of nutrition was proposed back in the 70s, and secondly, it is based on the food preferences of a person of the Paleolithic era. Let’s try to figure out why such a gastronomic downshifting suddenly attracted the figure-watching community.
The Paleo Diet, in fact, belongs to the group of low-carb, however, it has a number of its own characteristics. The basic rule is: “Do not eat anything that was inaccessible to the caveman.”Our ancestors did not know the taste of hamburgers and cakes, did not cook oatmeal in the morning, and ate milk exclusively in infancy. All this, of course, is nothing more than a beautiful legend, the purpose of which is to distinguish a diet from a number of similar ones, but the harsh men who build their bodies in the gym liked it. Protein, which is the basis of the diet, is the main building block for muscles. Women also adopted it, because without much effort with its help, you can significantly reduce the percentage of body fat.
Adherents of the paleo movement believe that the emergence of agriculture and other benefits of civilization had a detrimental effect on human health.Cereals rich in gluten and lectins were eaten, and overall carbohydrate consumption increased dramatically, leading to most modern diseases, including obesity. Accordingly, in the paleo diet, all wheat-related products are banned due to the high glycemic index, all dairy products due to the lack of special processing enzymes in the body of most adults, as well as legumes due to the same high glycemic index. The basis of the diet should be vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruits and nuts.Sugar is also on the blacklist, enough of what is in the fruit. As planned, in conditions of carbohydrate deficiency, the body should start using its own fat reserves as fuel. Subject to all the rules, calorie counting is not at all necessary, as is the diet. You can eat when you want, and as much as you want. The trick is that overeating with such a set of products simply won’t work. However, if your goal is to lose weight, you should consume fruits and oils in moderation.
The Paleosociety does not consider these principles to be a time-limited diet, for many it is already a way of life. This is what the approximate diet of a modern “palehuman” looks like:
Breakfast: egg and sweet potato omelet.
Lunch: steak with vegetable salad.
Dinner: baked salmon with asparagus.
Snacks : nuts, fruits.
On the Web, you can find a huge variety of recipes for the right dishes (for example, paleogrubs.com), and special applications for iPhones (like Paleo Central) firmly answer the question “paleo / not paleo”, which allows you to navigate the store so as not to inadvertently leave the chosen path.
Of course, before trying on the skin of a caveman, you should consult with your doctor. Paleo, like any diet, has a number of contraindications and features. This is what the leading nutritionist of World Class Maria Bolshakova thinks about this: “A person can adhere to any restrictions for some time and get the desired results.But, returning to his usual diet, he notices that the weight is being restored and a set of additional kilograms occurs. Therefore, for a sustainable result, it is the nutrition system that is needed. If you think the paleo diet is right for you, then consult your dietitian. This diet provides a sufficient amount of vegetables, fruits and protein products, but there is no dairy – an excellent source of calcium, no cereals – an excellent source of the right carbohydrates for the body to work, and not all people have this system.Rational nutrition, which includes all the nutrients we need in combination with proper culinary processing, is ideal for a person throughout his life, giving the body everything it needs – without restrictions and complex formulas. ”
90,000 fashionable reading of the primitive diet – blog FITBAR.RU
The Paleolithic period ended about 100 thousand years ago, and lasted about 2.5 million years – this is the longest period of human existence.The Paleolithic diet is based on the diet of people who lived on earth at the same time when food was obtained through gathering and hunting, even before the advent of agriculture. We propose to return to the days of the caveman, along with the paleo diet, which today has become a real trend in nutrition around the world.
Paleo Diet: What You Can Eat
The Paleo Diet is based on the assertion that the healthiest diet for humans is a diet that completely excludes a number of modern foods.What is it proposed to eat? Organic food only:
– Meat: is the foundation of the Paleo diet. It should be as natural as possible, i.e. animals should be raised not on special feed, but on their natural food. Also an important condition is the absence of hormonal supplements and antibiotics in the process of raising animals. Non-fatty beefs are suitable, cooked without adding oil, grilled or steamed; pork tenderloin or sirloin without fat, as well as various game: hare, venison, wild boar, horse meat.
– poultry: chickens, ducks, turkeys consumed for food should be raised in the maximum natural conditions, without “fattening” and hormones. Mostly, such a bird is raised on eco – farms, pheasant and mallard can also be suitable.
– eggs: only those obtained from poultry that have been raised naturally.
– fish and seafood are also included in the paleo diet, but the menu should contain exclusively natural living, and not artificially grown trout, salmon, mackerel, cod, sardines, mussels, oysters.
– vegetables and fruits: only those grown naturally, without artificial fertilizers and hormones, are suitable. Vegetables include carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, turnips, garlic, spinach, celery, artichoke, all types of cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus. Fruits – apples, citrus fruits, pears, melons, apricots, coconuts, avocados, dates, and any berries, as long as it is all organic.
– oil: extra virgin olive, coconut and walnut, and avocado oil.
– Drinking: mostly pure water, but green and herbal teas are also allowed.
– spices: any natural, with the exception of salt.
Now let’s see what is strictly forbidden to eat during the Paleo diet.
Paleo diet: what not to eat
The paleotic diet involves the exclusion of a number of foods from the diet. The rationale for this is given as follows. Some of the foods that seem familiar to us, in fact, were not originally created by nature for human consumption. They are endowed with defense mechanisms that are triggered by the release of chemicals into the body.These include, for example, cereals, legumes, and tomatoes. The nutrients that they contain do not enter the body, because they are simply destroyed when they enter the digestive tract, and can even cause inflammation, as well as provoke problems with the immune system.
What is forbidden for those who adhere to the paleo diet?
– dairy products: any dairy products, without exception.
– sugar: not only a sweet substance, but also sugar-containing products, as well as sugar substitutes such as fructose.
– cereals: both refined wheat and whole grains in any form are prohibited: all confectionery, bread, pasta, corn, oats, rice, buckwheat. The gluten they contain has a damaging effect on the intestinal flora and can provoke bacterial and yeast infections.
– potatoes, tomatoes, any legumes, including soy and products that contain it.
– all types of vinegar, salt and yeast are prohibited to be consumed during the paleo diet, as well as products containing them .
– drinks: any alcohol, carbonated and sweetened drinks, vegetable and fruit juices, black tea, coffee.
– any instant products, semi-finished products and fast food.
– Dried fruits are prohibited due to the high concentration of sugar in them – almost the same as in sweets.
– products containing trans fats – most often these are vegetable oils, fried foods and baked goods.
– oils: sunflower oil, margarine, spread.
At the moment, the debate about whether it is possible to follow the paleo diet without harm to health is not abating, and scientists – nutritionists are divided into two camps. Some argue that the Paleo diet can cause energy shortages through low carbohydrates, loss of appetite, and intestinal upset. Others argue that the paleo diet is the future of humanity, since it completely excludes any artificial additives and foods harmful to the body.
The Paleotic Diet is suitable for those who want to take a step towards a healthy diet, but do not know where to start.However, do not follow it for too long, it is better to take the best from this nutrition system: eliminate the consumption of non-natural products from your diet.
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What is a paleo diet? – fresh articles and interesting information
Paleo diet is a gastronomic journey through time, a return to the nutrition of people who inhabited the earth tens of thousands of years ago. How can such a diet be useful for a modern person, and what can the rejection of all recently appeared products lead to? From this material, you will learn about the benefits and disadvantages of switching to traditional food, how it can help improve health, get rid of accumulated body fat and maintain a stable weight.
More than 40 years ago, gastroenterologist Walter Vogtlin put forward the idea that obesity and health problems in modern humans are related to the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. The findings of paleontologists confirm this hypothesis, the ancient people were not subject to obesity, did not suffer from heart and vascular diseases, caries and diabetes. Only ten thousand years have passed since the discovery of agriculture, according to experts, this time is very short for the body to completely rebuild to a new diet.
Nutritionist Lauren Cordain introduced the concept of the paleo diet, he is the author of this nutrition system. The principle of the paleo diet is a return to the diet of primitive people, that is, the rejection of cereals and flour, sugar and dairy products. The diet consists of lean meat, poultry and fish, vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts. Two-thirds of the diet should be from animal products, the remaining third – from plant foods, with this approach, the body receives a sufficient amount of protein and fiber without an excess of carbohydrates.
The Paleo diet is difficult to consider as a diet, it is a style of eating in which there are no restrictions on the number of meals and the volume of each meal. The diet is composed of the right foods, which allows you to get rid of five kilograms in just two weeks. The rules of the diet may seem strange, modern man has greatly moved away from his primitive origins. About 70% of the calories we eat are simple and easily digestible carbohydrates. They are a part of pasta, bread, baked goods.The body must receive all the necessary nutrients through food. The products we are used to eating every day are created by food technologists. This food is the cause of weight fluctuations and poor health. Therefore, it is necessary to choose wisely what we eat.
How does it work?
The essence of the paleo diet is to go back to basics, the nutrition of primitive people, and it works. Primitive people ate what they could get – animal meat, fish, herbs, seeds and other products of natural origin.There were no sweets and other sweets in their life, so they did not need to take measures to lose weight. Ancient people did not count calories, choosing a paleo diet, you can also forget about calories. Food will help burn fat and maintain muscle mass, the body becomes beautiful and healthy.
Fast food corporations don’t want you to know about this, but the genetics of modern humans are not very different from their primitive ancestors. The body is still designed for natural food, but many people replace healthy foods with disgusting food junk, which leads to obesity.
An ancient man who lived before the invention of agriculture is taken as a standard, he was well versed in hunting and gathering, and he ate at this expense. The choice in favor of meat, vegetables and fruits while giving up sweets, grains and all baked goods from it works not only for weight loss, such a diet reduces the likelihood of developing diabetes mellitus and heart disease.
A lot of controversy over the paleo diet has been around grains, with opponents of paleo arguing that grains are natural and not harmful.At the same time, our cave ancestors did not eat grain, and felt just fine. They did not face obesity and diabetes, did not know what indigestion and gout are.
Grains are not the most useful nutritional component, carbohydrates in their composition are quickly processed into glucose. Such a large amount of glucose cannot be processed into energy, the body has no choice but to conserve this glucose, so people get fat.
Pay attention to your friends, and you will understand that lovers of pastries and other grain products always suffer from excess weight.
Cereals contain gluten and lectins, most likely you are familiar with these names. Many people do not tolerate gluten and do not even know about it, they attribute their pain, poor health and other unpleasant symptoms to other diseases. Not as much is known about the dangers of lectins as about gluten, but some facts have been scientifically proven. The human digestive system cannot completely digest lectins, the use of foods with lectins disrupts the work of the gastrointestinal tract.
Paleo diet protects a person from what he created himself, that is, from unhealthy diet, obesity and related diseases. Processed foods, sugars, sweets, flour products have become everyday habits, so it will not be so easy to give up. But eating on a paleo diet has shown high efficiency, so you need to change your eating habits to healthy ones. In order to switch to a new diet without psychological difficulties, you should introduce good habits gradually, gradually replacing harmful foods with healthy ones.
5 principles of the paleo diet
You Have to Choose Healthy Fats
They say that a diet for weight loss means a complete rejection of fats, it is not. Healthy diets limit a person exclusively to unhealthy fats. Following the Paleo diet, you will have to choose healthy fats, get them from fish, vegetable oils, nuts and avocados. Unhealthy fats include saturated, unsaturated fats that aren’t just healthy, they’re essential.
You will get multiple health benefits
Before starting any diet, it is important to think about how it will affect your health.The paleo diet will be the right choice, it will stabilize blood sugar levels, get a stable energy level throughout the day, healthy sleep, reduce allergic reactions, clear beautiful skin and, of course, get rid of excess weight.
You will reduce the risk of diabetes, heart and vascular diseases
A paleo diet will be healthy and balanced and will help protect the body from disease. Following the paleo diet has a beneficial effect on insulin production, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes and diabetes.A combination of a healthy paleo diet and an active lifestyle supports cardiovascular health.
Many products will be available to you
There will be a wide variety of foods allowed on the Paleo diet. You will be able to eat lean meat, seafood, fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and other foods with healthy fats. You will be able to experiment and cook dozens of dishes, combine different products and get new flavor combinations.
You will have to give up some things
Like any other diet, the Paleo diet means avoiding certain foods.The prohibited list includes all processed foods, refined sugars and vegetable oils, potatoes and legumes, dairy products and fatty meats.
Paleo Diet Conditions
The name of the diet refers to the Paleolithic period, when they ate only traditional food. Such nutrition is not only useful, but also helps the food to be absorbed faster in the body. The whole point is to eat healthy and eat healthy foods. An exception may be flour and legumes.
Consumption of natural products
Ancient people did not eat canned food, they did not have sausages and other processed foods. They ate the meat of animals caught on the hunt and fish caught on fishing, as well as the products of gathering – vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries and herbs.
Ancient people were very active. Now we do not need to personally go hunting or picking berries, so we need to move in a different way – go to the gym, run in the morning, or at least go for a walk.
There is only with real hunger
For primitive man, food was not pleasure and entertainment, but a necessity, vital energy. Therefore, one of the main principles of the diet is not to eat if you do not feel hungry. You should not overeat, this was not typical of ancient people.
Refuse products that primitive people did not have
First of all, this is flour, cereals and sugar, that is, all products with these components in the composition – bread, confectionery, alcohol and dairy products also fall into the list of prohibitions.Before you buy any product, you should ask yourself if it was in the diet of a primitive man.
Benefits of the paleo diet
No hard limits
There is no need to count calories, limit yourself in fats and carbohydrates, you do not need to limit yourself in the amount of food you eat. Products from the permitted list can be consumed without restrictions, even if you eat something forbidden, then nothing terrible will happen, you will not have to return to the initial stage of the diet.However, if the breakdowns occur every couple of days, then the meaning of the diet will be lost.
High quality food
Preservatives and other harmful additives, which are intensively stuffed with a modern person, will go away from your diet. The diet will consist of meat and natural vegetables and fruits.
All foods for the Paleo diet are available and easy to prepare. You do not need to limit yourself to your usual dishes, you can cook soups, salads, rolls and stews from permitted products.
Compliance with the paleo diet helps to normalize blood sugar and blood pressure, lowers the level of bad cholesterol in the blood, and normalizes hormones. This diet will not be accompanied by stress and depressive moods.
Muscle Building Ability
The paleo diet is especially popular with CrossFit supporters, the diet is very high in protein, which is necessary for muscle growth. The body creates the best conditions for increasing the amount of muscle mass and reducing fat.
Effective weight loss without returning extra pounds
weight loss on the paleo diet is not due to a reduction in the calorie content of the diet. The combination of protein and fiber allows you to feel full and keep you full for a long time. In just two weeks, you can naturally lose from 3 to 5 extra pounds, and if you make the paleo diet your way of life, which will not be difficult, then it will not be difficult to maintain the resulting shape.
The diet of the caveman was not varied, but consisted of 70% animal products, the rest was carbohydrates.Therefore, such a diet was considered a low-carb diet. Residents ate only those vegetables or fruits that were inherent in the area. Therefore, fruits were not available to cavemen. Traditional food was easily digestible.
What can and cannot be eaten?
In simple terms, paleo is the exception of almost everything except meat and vegetables.
Grain and rice – prohibited category
As we said, paleo is the exclusion of legumes, grains, and brown rice.You can also not use corn, rice and rye. Those people who had buckwheat as the main food in their diet were also unlucky (this product is not “old”, and they began to plant it just recently). Regarding rice (white), paleo experts clearly differ. The fact is that this plant product contains starch (peeled rice), which in no way belongs to the prohibited categories.
Milk – can I?
Milk is never allowed if you are on a paleo diet.All those products that are obtained by processing milk (yoghurts, cottage cheese) are also prohibited. The main reason for the ban is the presence of lactose. There are also many questions about soy milk, but it is generally prohibited by nutritionists due to the presence of soy, which is already a legume culture.
Do you work out in the gym? Then you will have to sit on meat protein, and in no other way. The fact is that isolate and caseinate are made from whey, and they a priori cannot exist in the paleo diet.Moreover, these are products of the industrial world, and they are unacceptable in our case.
Sweet, carbonated drinks
As well as granulated sugar in its pure form, sweet juices, well-known brand drinks and other products that we love so much – aside. Interestingly, tea and coffee are allowed, including small amounts of alcohol. At this point, the course of nutritionists is not very clear, because vodka is an industrial product. If you want something sweet, honey will be your salvation, which existed long before our appearance with you.Only freshly squeezed juices are not recommended, due to the high concentration of sugar. It is better to eat small amounts of fruit.
Fruits and vegetables – you can, but not much
When choosing foods for your next paleo dish, be sure not to use legumes. But potato lovers can be calm, because this is allowed, albeit in small quantities. Potatoes cannot be fried in oil, and it is better to just boil them or come up with something else (bake over a fire, for example).
Fresh fruit – why not? Just be careful, sugary fruits contain enough sugar, so don’t overdo it. You can not live without fruits – eat them before training, and not in the evening, so that fast carbohydrates are not stocked up in the “depot” at night. It is better to pay attention to those fruits that are available on the counter of our stores, because exotic is not particularly useful in terms of the presented diet.
Walnut, vegetable oil
Regarding vegetable oil, do not use it in large quantities.Pay attention to animal fats, because they are closer to ancient traditions. When eating nuts, skip the legume peanuts (remember why?). If we take specifically oils from the above products, then they are completely allowed. They accordingly contain a variety of quality nutrients. Oil of coconut and olive origin is allowed only in the form of cold pressing, without being included in the heat treatment process. As mentioned, rapeseed and sunflower oil should not be used in a paleo diet.
Meat and Eggs
If we take into account meat, then it is allowed in the paleo, and absolutely any varieties can be present here, from chicken to wild venison. In refusal, you just need to write down semi-finished products – pates, sausages, crab meat in sticks, and so on). Now let’s look at the moment that modern factories and farms grow game on corn, and this product a priori cannot be included in the paleo diet. That is why, you will have to have your own chickens, pigs and cows to eat according to the desired scheme.
What is the difference between keto and paleo nutrition?
Due to the abundance of paleo meat products, food is often confused with the keto diet. The keto diet and the paleo diet are incredibly popular, both based on reducing carbohydrate intake, but with significant differences. There is no need to confuse keto and paleo nutrition, they are different systems.
The Keto and Paleo diets are both effective and affordable for weight loss, both of which are based on reducing carbohydrate intake, which is why many people confuse them. Keto and paleo nutrition have a number of significant differences; to achieve the result, you need to choose one of the methods and follow its rules.
The most significant difference is that most of the calorie intake on the keto diet is from fat, while on the paleo diet is from protein. Losing weight occurs due to the action of various mechanisms, the keto diet enters the body into a state of ketosis, when it is forced to take energy from fats instead of carbohydrates. From 60 to 80% of the calorie content of a keto diet comes from fats, the rest is from proteins and carbohydrates, but no more than 10% of calories should come from carbohydrates. With a standard balanced diet, carbohydrates account for 45 to 65% of the daily calories.
It is widely believed that on a keto diet you can eat cheese in unlimited quantities, but this is not the case. Cheese is made from milk, so it contains the milk sugar lactose, which is a carbohydrate. Whole dairy products are encouraged to be consumed as they contain fat, but the carbohydrate content must be taken into account when consuming them. Vegetable oils are preferred sources of fat as they do not contain carbohydrates.
The Paleo diet is more loyal than the keto diet, it can eat more fruits and vegetables, the diet becomes more varied.
Organization of paleo food is simpler, you do not need to disassemble each product by nutrients, you need to start from the list of permitted products, these are meat, vegetables and fruits, and prohibited products, these are grain and dairy products, as well as processed foods. On the paleo diet, you can eat all those products that were available to our distant ancestors before the agrarian revolution and animal husbandry.
It is impossible to unequivocally answer the question which diet is better – keto or paleo, since both perfectly help to lose weight in the short term.But in order to follow a diet in the long term, you need to build on which foods you like best and suit you personally. It is important that the chosen nutritional system satisfies not only physiological, but also psychological needs.
When viewed from a health perspective, the paleo diet looks more beneficial. The diet will be based on low-fat meat products and vegetables, the body will receive a balanced amount of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, it will not have to deal with the side effects of ketosis.Nutritionists and other nutritionists advocate for balance, healthy foods in the right proportions make the body healthier and lead to weight loss.
Is the paleo diet right for you?
The Paleo Diet is not just a nutritional system for weight loss, it is a way of life. The idea behind the Paleo Diet is impressive; it invites you to go back hundreds of years and organize your meals like our ancient ancestors. The body of a modern person is not very different from that of a primitive, it would be wrong to say the same about nutrition.The human body is not adapted to modern nutrition, so modern people often face health problems. A return to the roots will give the body what it needs, allow it to be active, like a primitive man who spent every day from dawn to sunset in continuous movement.
Nutrition on the Paleo diet assumes only those foods that the first people ate, these are meat, vegetables and fruits, eggs, seeds and nuts. The caveman did not have access to dairy products, legumes and grains, they were discovered much later, therefore, they are considered not the most useful food.All products with refined sugar, artificial additives, modern processing on the Paleo diet are not used.
Supporters of this nutritional system note that they have become more active and energetic, improved health, gained physical strength and emotional balance. Opponents of the Paleo diet call it too difficult and expensive. For objectivity, several large-scale studies have been carried out. According to the University of California, San Francisco, Paleo nutrition can help you lose weight by normalizing body composition, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.Their colleagues from Sweden have come to the same conclusion, supplementing it with the fact that the level of bad cholesterol is reduced and the natural protection against cardiovascular disease is increased.
Paleo diet forces you to give up all unhealthy foods and empty calories, for this reason, it definitely cannot be harmful to health. On the other hand, there is no scientific justification for avoiding dairy products, legumes and grains, each of which has some health benefits.For this reason, opponents of Paleo nutrition call it too complex.
In the absence of contraindications, the paleo diet will not be harmful. There are very few contraindications, this is how it differs from mono-diets and other food systems that deprive the body of the nutrients it needs. From the permitted products, you can build a full-fledged diet and lose weight without harm to health.
Contraindications to paleo diet
The Paleo diet is categorically contraindicated for people with kidney disease and gout, for pregnant and lactating women.Not every person can easily endure the rejection of dairy products, this can lead to a lack of iodine, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D. blood to determine the state of the body.
In order to understand whether the Paleo diet is right for you, whether you can organize such a diet and stick to it for a long period of time, whether it will not turn out to be too expensive, you need to try the diet personally.In the absence of contraindications, an attempt to return to the diet of a primitive person is not associated with a health risk, but requires a complete revision of one’s life principles. Not everyone can give up morning coffee in favor of plain water, completely abandon grains and all dairy products. But those people who have succeeded are very happy with their results.