What You Need to Know If You Follow a Paleo Diet

Top10.com Staff
What You Need to Know If You Follow a Paleo Diet
The word Paleo might not mean much to you, and Paleolithic probably brings up memories of Earth science and dinosaurs from elementary school. You wouldn’t be wrong if you thought this popular diet had something to do with the Stone Age. It does. In fact, it’s sometimes called the caveman diet.

The aim of a Peleo diet is to turn back to a dietary routine that’s closer to human history, reasoning that modern farming has corrupted our diets, creating discord in our bodies. If we eat like hunter-gatherers, with lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds and limit our dairy, grain and legume consumption, we lessen the physical strain we put on our digestive systems. 

What Does a Paleo Diet Entail? 

Here is a list of foods to eat and avoid on a daily basis according to the paleo diet. 

Eat
Don't Eat
Fruits
Grains, like wheat, oats, barley, and spelt
Vegetables
Legumes, like beans, lentils, and peas
Nuts and seeds
Dairy, like milk, cheese, yogurt
Lean, grass-fed meat or wild game
Refined sugar
Fish, especially salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna
Salt 
Olive and walnut oil, or other nut and fruit-based oils
Potatoes

Processed foods

Paleo diets also encourage drinking water and exercising every day. The thing is that hunter-gatherer cultures worldwide did have diverse diets, with some eating high amounts of animal protein and others mostly eating fruits, nuts and vegetables. The critical point in a modern paleo diet is not to eat packaged and manufactured foods, and to stick with meat, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, and healthy oils. Some versions of the paleo diet do include full fat butter and some cheeses, as well as small amounts of red wine and chocolate, tea and coffee. Did the cavemen have those? Probably not. As a rule of thumb, if it was made in a factory, don’t eat it if you’ve gone paleo. 

A Sample Paleo Daily Diet

Breakfast

Option 1: Fruit, eggs and veggies cooked in olive oil

Option 2: Broiled salmon, grapefruit

Option 3: Bacon and eggs with avocado

Lunch

Option 1: Chicken salad and a handful of nuts

Option 2: Lettuce wraps with sliced turkey

Option 3: Ground beef stir fry

Dinner

Option 1: Burger (without the bun) with veggies and homemade salsa

Option 2: Salmon fillets, fried in coconut oil with asparagus

Option 3: Grilled chicken wings with roasted red peppers

Snacks

Baby carrots, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, nuts, apple slices with almond butter, berries with coconut cream, homemade beef jerky. 

Why Adopt a Paleo Diet? 

Several randomized clinical trials have compared the paleo diet to other popular diet plans, like the Mediterranean Diet or the diabetes diet. Overall, it seems that a Paleo diet does provide some benefits compared with diets of fruits, lean meats, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy. Longer-term trials are still needed, but subjects showed more weight loss, improved glucose tolerance, better blood pressure, lower triglycerides, and better appetite control. 

Researchers argue that you may get these same benefits over a long period of time by exercising, reducing processed foods, and eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. The primary difference between Paleo and other low-processed-food diets is the notable absence of legumes and whole grains, as well as dairy products. Any time you restrict food groups, like those just listed, you’ll be more likely to lose weight, burn more calories and reduce your caloric intake. Paleo isn’t intended to be a weight loss plan though--simply a healthy lifestyle choice.

Proponents of paleo diets say that they’ve witnessed this diet improve IBS, psoriasis, eczema, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It’s said to reduce inflammation, increase energy, and improve aging. Be sure to consult your doctor before using any diet for medicinal purposes though, as it may not be right for your medical needs.

Paleo Diet Tips

Nutritionists consider paleo a good option because of the reduction in processed foods and emphasis on fruits and vegetables. It does cut out whole food groups though, like legumes, grains, and dairy, which makes this diet a bit of an adjustment if you typically eat those foods, not to mention things from a package. Here are some things you can do to get the most out of the diet:

  • Start with cutting out processed foods, such as jared sauces, hydrogenated oils, and added sugars. 
  • Eat when you’re hungry. 
  • Once you feel comfortable, try to cut each remaining food group that doesn’t belong on the list one at a time. 

There are paleo meal plans that help you jump right in, if you’re ready to go. Take things as fast as you’re comfortable with and familiarize yourself with good meat and vegetable recipes.

Are You Ready? 

Now that you understand a bit about the high-animal protein, low processed food stone-age paleo diet, you can look into the top paleo diet plans and find the one that works for you. There are no hard and fast rules, no calorie counting, and a lot of delicious options to help you invest in your long term health. If you’re not ready for the full paleo lifestyle, consider cutting processed sugar and exercising daily. You can find alternative milks if you’re ready to cut dairy and cheese, and opt for some healthy time outdoors. Mostly? Feel great about your diet choices and get back to human roots with paleo. 

Top10.com Staff
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