The Paleo Diet all about going back to our roots. While it isn’t possible to pinpoint exactly what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago, this diet aims to mimic it best as possible according to what fossil science reveals about their lives.
What is the Paleo Diet?
“Paleo” comes from the word “Paleolithic“, as this meal plan is derived from the eating habits of Paleolithic humans. Given the lack of technology back in the day, it is safe to assume that our ancestors satiated themselves on a whole food diet. It’s not like they could run to the store and pick up some processed foods.
This diet aims to recapture that kind of eating, as well as activity, as much as possible. By leading an active lifestyle and consuming unprocessed, whole foods, you can lower your risk of many diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more. As an added bonus, it can lead to weight loss!
How It Works
There is not a singular “correct” way to follow a paleolithic diet, as our ancestors’ diet was varied. It mostly was driven by what was available in their environment. Some consumed a high carbohydrate diet that was high in plant consumption, while others were on a low carbohydrate diet that was heavy on animal foods. Given that, the following list of foods is not concrete. You can alter it to your own preferences and needs.
Basically, the Paleo Diet is split up into foods that you SHOULD eat, and others that you should AVOID. Meal plans and recipes can be found in this book here.
Eat This: Whole foods, Meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, seeds, nuts, herbs, spices, healthy fats, oil.
Don’t Eat This: Processed foods, soft drinks, sugars, grains, most dairy, artificial sweeteners, legumes, margarine, vegetable oil, trans fats.
More or less, if the food product is not naturally occurring, it’s not something that you would have found in the paleolithic era, and not part of the Paleo Diet. If it has the words “low fat” or “diet” on the label, it’s highly processed and full of additives, and should be avoided. Simply put, if it was factory-made, don’t eat it.
For a visual representation of how this diet works, this video describes it better than I ever could:
What To Eat and Drink
Here is a sampling of foods that are acceptable in this diet. More information, including meal plans and recipes, can be found in this highly recommended book here.
In addition, you can indulge yourself a little bit as well. Red wine is high in nutrients and antioxidants and can be enjoyed in moderation. On top of that, dark chocolate makes the list! You want to find chocolate that is 70% cocoa content or higher. Click here to read about the many benefits of cacao.
As for drinks, focus on getting enough water. Tea and coffee can also be consumed, while they aren’t paleo, due to their high level of antioxidants. Just stay away from sodas, particularly.
While there isn’t one straightforward way to follow the Paleo Diet, I like the principle of avoiding processed foods. I like to go straight to the source for my nutrients, no fillers or additives. This satisfies that, and the food options are delicious. It may be a little more expensive than a regular diet, as you likely will be buying more organic foods, but the benefits are well worth it.
One thing I glossed over above, but is just as important, is getting enough exercise as part of this diet. Think about it – our paleolithic ancestors didn’t always have food at the ready. They had to go where the food source is. For hunters, that meant following migratory patterns. Similarly, our bodies need activity to keep our metabolism going and burning fat. You can switch over to whole foods as this diet describes, but the best results will be experienced by combining it with an exercise plan as well.
For more about this diet, this book is very well-received on Amazon.