What is a Paleo Diet: A Beginner’s Guide

What is a Paleo Diet: A Beginner’s Guide

What is a Paleo Diet:

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. Also called the Caveman Diet or the Stone Age diet, it’s basically a high-protein, high-fiber diet that helps you loose weight without cutting calories. Loren Cordain, PhD, who wrote the book on The Paleo Diet, claims that by eating like our prehistoric ancestors, we’ll be leaner and less likely to get diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.

Why you should follow a Paleo 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.

You might choose to follow a paleo diet if you:

  • Want to lose weight
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Want to loose weight without exercising
  • Want help planning meals

What You Can Eat on a Paleo Diet

Paleo diet is a diet which our ancestors followed. And since our ancestors were hunters and food gatherers, we are going to eat unprocessed paleo foods:

  • Meat: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork and others.
  • Fish and seafood: Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, etc. Choose wild-caught if you can.
  • Eggs: Choose free-range, pastured or omega-3 enriched 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: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and others.
  • Salt and spices: Sea salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, etc.

Try to choose grass-fed, pasture-raised and organic if you can afford it. If not, just make sure to always go for the least-processed option.

What you can’t eat

On a Paleo diet one must say goodbye to wheat and dairy, along with other grains and legumes (such as peanuts and beans). Other foods to avoid:

  • Dairy: Milk, cheese, Butter, low fat dairy products etc.
  • Refined sugar: Sugar that is made from sugar cane or sugar beets
  • Potatoes: Potatoes and products containg potatoes like chips, french fries, pan cakes
  • Salt: Any kind of salt should be avoided
  • Refined vegetable oils: Canola or rapeseed oil, soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil,safflower oil, and peanut oil should be avoided
  • 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.
  • Some 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 labeled “diet” or “low-fat” or that has many additives. Includes artificial meal replacements.
    A simple guideline: If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it.

A Sample Paleo Menu for One Week

This sample menu contains a balanced amount of paleo-friendly foods.

By all means, adjust this menu based on your own preferences.

Monday

  • Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables fried in coconut oil. One piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil. Handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Burgers (no bun) fried in butter, with vegetables and some salsa.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs, with a piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Leftover burgers from the night before.
  • Dinner: Salmon fried in butter, with vegetables.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Meat with vegetables (leftovers from night before).
  • Lunch: Sandwich in a lettuce leaf, with meat and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Ground beef stir-fry with vegetables. Some berries.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Eggs and a piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Leftover stir-fry from the night before. A handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Fried pork with vegetables.

Friday

  • Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables fried in coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil. Handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Steak with vegetables and sweet potatoes.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs with a piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Leftover steak and vegetables from the night before.
  • Dinner: Baked salmon with vegetables and avocado.

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Meat with vegetables (leftovers from night before).
  • Lunch: Sandwich in a lettuce leaf, with meat and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken wings with vegetables and salsa.

Clinical Results

A number of randomized clinical trials have compared the paleo diet to other poupular diets, such as the Mediterranean Diet, Keto diet, Vegan 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.

The Final Word

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  • If you’re able to spend the money buying more whole, unprocessed foods and are willing to dedicate the time in the kitchen to preparing them, then this plan may help you lose weight.
  • To fill in the nutrient gaps, talk to your doctor about supplementing the plan with folate, B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D.
  • If you prefer a more flexible approach to weight loss that’s less focused on meat and offers a wider variety of foods, look for another plan.

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