The Paleolithic diet, Paleo diet, caveman diet or stone-age diet is a modern fad diet requiring the sole or predominant eating of foods presumed to have been available to humans during the Paleolithic era.
The Paleo diet emphasises the nutrient-dense, whole foods that our bodies were designed to function on and eliminates the highly processed, inflammatory foods that have become the mainstay of the industrialised diet. According to experts, this can help us avoid many of the diseases and health problems that have become more common off the back of the typical Western diet and its inflammatory effects.
What to eat on the Paleo diet:
Vegetables, some fruit, tubers (such as sweet potato), high-quality meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds make up the bulk of a typical Paleo diet.
In short, you’re loading up on whole foods that will help you to feel full. And that means you don’t need to calorie count and you’ll probably still maintain a healthy weight.
Confused about how to shape your meals from these food sources? Having protein as a staple in most meals gives you a great base to work from. You can vary between different meats, fish, eggs to give some choice and reap the health benefits of these foods. Alongside this, pack your plate with plenty of veggies.
If you still feel hungry, it could be a sign that you need to add some healthy fats into the equation. Avocado, olives, nuts, nut butters and seeds are perfect for this.
What foods to exclude on the Paleo diet:
Wheat, grains, soy, dairy, legumes and sugar are all a big no-no on the Paleo diet. Alcohol and any liquid that is processed or is high in sugar is excluded as well.
By eating Paleo, you’re automatically cutting out wheat products, which gets rid of the gluten, so in essence, you’re following a gluten-free diet at the same time. There is plenty of evidence that suggests that gluten is problematic for the digestive system and for weight gain, even for those that don’t have Coeliac disease or do not have a sensitivity to gluten.
Grains weren’t part of our diet back in the “caveman” days. These days, we eat plenty of grains which can lead to them being stored as fat. There’s also the added problem that our bodies may not be able to handle grains in the quantities we consume them in, which experts believe to be a factor in many health problems.
Dairy is another excluded item on the Paleo diet. According to experts, our ancestors didn’t drink a lot of milk, especially as they got older. The thinking from a Paleo mindset is that our bodies haven’t evolved to handle dairy in large amounts so it’s best avoided.
Let’s look at some of the cons of the Paleo Diet:
High protein intake:
There can be a fair amount of protein on the Paleo diet, especially if you have meat and fish for most meals. This can be a problem if your kidneys aren’t able to handle this much protein. If you’ve got any concerns about how healthy your kidneys are, speak to your doctor about whether the Paleo diet will be a safe idea for you.
Because the Paleo diet excludes some food groups, it raises the risk of becoming deficient in some nutrients. Eliminating dairy can lead to calcium and vitamin D deficiencies and put you at greater risk of bone loss. Calcium can be found in leafy greens such as kale and spinach so you’ll definitely want to eat plenty of these if you go Paleo. With a balanced Paleo diet, you can get plenty of antioxidants, fibre and healthy fats in your diet.
What are some of the pros of eating Paleo?
Balances blood glucose levels:
Because you’re avoiding refined sugar it’s easier to avoid spikes in your blood glucose levels and also helps you avoid the feelings of fatigue you get from sugar crashes.
Keeps you feeling fuller for longer:
Most diets keep you in a constant state of hunger, but with a Paleo diet you’re focused on feeling full which means that it’s easier to follow and has lower instances of diet crashes and cheating because you’re encouraged to eat when you feel hungry. It also contains a fair amount of healthy fats, helping you keep that full feeling and avoid food cravings. If you’re eating the right mix of proteins from meat, as well as vegetables that help you to feel full and fruits that give just the right amount of fibre and carbohydrates, you’ll have no problem making it from meal to meal without the need to snack in between.
Could prevent diseases:
By following a Paleo diet you are automatically eating more anti-inflammatory foods and cutting out a lot of foods that are known to cause inflammation which contributes to many diseases. You are also eating more foods that contain antioxidants and phytonutrients which are often in the news because of scientific evidence that points to them helping to ward off or battle cancer as well as prevent heart disease. You’re also naturally avoiding a lot of the culprits responsible for disease and illness, like fast food and junk food which opens the doors for healing and well-being.
Only you will know if eating paleo will suit your bodies requirements. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body as we are all unique and what works for one person may not work for another.
Whether you choose to go completely Paleo or not, the basic premise of eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and healthy fats and cutting out processed and sugary foods is something you can incorporate into a healthy lifestyle which your body will be grateful for.
Medical Disclaimer: All information contained in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent health problems. For all serious health issues, please contact a medical or nutrition practitioner. The information provided in this blog is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing and we do not assume liability for the information within this blog, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.