I’m sure you have heard about the paleo diet, but what is it?
The paleo diet or paleolithic diet, at the most basic level, is eating the kind of foods that paleolithic humans would have eaten.
The premise of the paleo diet is that for optimal health we should eat real, whole unprocessed foods that are more healthful than harmful to our bodies. The kind of food that was available to early humans.
The paleo diet isnt specifically a weight loss diet, although you may lose weight following it, but more of a lifestyle change. The paleo diet is about improving overall health.
It is a diet that is more concerned with food choices rather than calories, nutrient timing, carb cycling, detoxing, etc.
In theory, the paleo diet is simple. Eat these foods and avoid these other foods.
In practice, however, the paleo diet can be extremely difficult in the beginning because it involves sacrifice. And nobody likes that.
What Can You Eat On The Paleo Diet?
The diet is based around these simple unprocessed paleo foods:
- Meats: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork and others.
- Fish and Seafood: Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, etc. The fresher the better!
- Eggs: Choose free-range eggs.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados, strawberries, blueberries and more.
- Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, etc.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more.
- Healthy Fats and Oils: Lard, tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil and others.
- Salt and Spices: Sea salt, himalayan salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, etc.
Ensure the food you choose to purchase has not been processed. Always check the labels on pre-packaged “fresh” produce, as it will often contain preservatives and even added sugar. If your budget allows buy grass fed and organic.
What Not To Eat On The Paleo Diet
Below are the kind of foods that you should not eat if you choose to eat paleo:
- Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup: Soft drinks, fruit juices, table sugar, candy, pastries, ice cream and many others.
- Grains: Includes breads and pastas, wheat, spelt, rye, barley, etc.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils and many more.
- Dairy: Avoid most dairy, especially low-fat (some versions of paleo do include full-fat dairy like butter and cheese).
- Vegetable Oils: Soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil and others.
- Trans Fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods. Usually referred to as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
- Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, Sucralose, Cyclamates, Saccharin, Acesulfame Potassium. Use natural sweeteners instead.
- Highly Processed Foods: Everything labelled “diet” or “low-fat” or has many weird ingredients. Includes artificial meal replacements.
The food items listed above have become part of everyday eating for a lot of people, which can often be a deal breaker for people considering going paleo.
You will need to weigh up the pros and cons of eating paleo when considering if it is for you.
Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet
Lots of people think the paleo lifestyle is awesome but is it for you?
People have lost weight, reduced allergies, gained control of health issues like diabetes, cholesterol, etc. and much more through eating paleo.
However, no diet is perfect and the paleo diet is no different. It has its pros and cons.
You eat less bad stuff. The diet eliminates processed and junk foods, added sugars, and refined grains—empty calories that most of us are consuming in excessive quantities. The modern day rise in obesity can be attributed to many of the foods eating paleo eliminates.
You eat more good stuff. Comprised of meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, and healthy, natural fats, the Paleo diet is super nutritious, and an enormous improvement over the standard “American diet”.
Despite the paleo diet not strictly being a “fad” diet you still need to monitor what you are eating. You need to make sure your meals are not too protein rich and lacking in carbohydrates.
If you don’t balance your meals properly too much protein can be consumed which can lead to protein toxicity. Eating too much protein can put unnecessary stress on your liver and kidneys, as they struggle to convert the protein into a useful form of energy.
You will need to cut out a lot of the foods you have become accustom to eating. This alone is a deal breaker for many and is also why others are not able to stick to eating paleo for long.
The Bottom Line
You will need to assess your goals and weigh your options.
Eating paleo is not primarily a weight loss diet but a way of improving overall health.
If you’re willing and able to make the sacrifices the paleo diet has many health benefits when compared to the standard “American diet”.