Get ready with your wooden tools, knife, and leopard skirt because the Paleo diet is about to take you back in time!
Research has proven that the food consumption of hunter-gatherers and cavemen thousands of years ago was beneficial for :
- Lowering cholesterol
- Losing weight
- Lowering blood pressure
- Controlling fasting blood sugar
And much more.
All of these were diseases our cavemen ancestors never had. What was their secret?
The secret lied in the absence of modern diets filled with excessive fats, sugar, and processed foods. Today, cutting down modern foods from your diet is categorized as the ‘Paleo diet’.
This article is a detailed introduction to the Paleo diet with Paleo diet meal plans, benefits, side-effects, and whether the Paleo diet is actually right for you or not?
Paleo diet definition
A paleo diet is a dietary plan designed to re-program one’s diet to that of hunter-gatherers and consequently reduce health complexities.
Also known as the hunter-gatherer diet, caveman diet, and stone-age diet, this video provides a comprehensive explanation of the Paleo Diet.
The three main components of the definition of a Paleo diet are:
Re-programming refers to habituating one’s body to consume more primitive and whole food items. For instance, you know that your body can digest processed cheese in no time. But what you don’t know is that digesting processed cheese leads to – obesity, hypertension, high blood pressure, and can disrupt your hormone system.
Therefore, it becomes important to teach your body to reject unhealthy foods like processed cheese and switch to paleo alternatives.
- Hunter-gatherers diet
“If the hunters didn’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t.” Paleolithic humans survived on a variety of foods that were available during their times. Since paleolithic times were before farming even began, their diet included – Meat, eggs, fish, fruits, berries, vegetables, nuts, herbs, seeds, oils from nuts, etc.
That might sound like all your general food items today. But look at what they didn’t eat – legumes, lentils, dairy products, sugar, processed foods, soft drinks, vegetable oils, margarine, etc.
- Reducing health complexities
Paleolithic humans had few to no health complexities. Today, we live in a world with an ocean of illnesses and diseases. A major reason for this difference is – diet.
Top researches on the reduction of health complexities through a Paleolithic diet are:
Paleo Diet For Beginners
A paleo diet aims to get back to the early humans’ way of eating. It’s based on the core principle of the discordance hypothesis, which states that –
The human body is genetically incompatible with the modern diet that emerged due to farming and later developments. The recent changes in our diet have been so late and rapid that our bodies never actually adapted to them.
This section provides a detailed description of foods allowed and restricted on a Paleo diet.
Paleo Diet Foods List
Recommendations of what to eat on a paleo diet and what to avoid on a paleo diet vary from expert to expert. Compiled from all top sources, here are the general food items that comprise a paleo diet:
Meat and eggs recommendations
- Grass-fed meat is recommended on a paleo diet as it reduces inflammation and protects your heart.
- Look for chicken raised without antibiotics or meat from a local farm instead of chain-retail stores.
- Try to get cage-free and organic eggs as they have a better Omega-3 intake than caged chicken eggs
- Look for wild-caught seafood as it increases your Omega-3 intake
A lot of people have wine and coffee on a paleo diet. Is that right? Does it have health benefits or side-effects?
You can read more about special recommendations for each food category in the free paleo diet plan PDF coming soon!
Benefits of a paleo diet
Paleo diet has been found to have numerous health benefits including losing weight, controlling diabetes, etc. But a paleo diet may help with weight loss for one person and lead to weight gain for another. Therefore, to better understand the health benefits of the paleo diet, here are analyses of studies conducted on paleo diets and their conclusions:
A paleo diet has shown substantial results in helping with efficient weight loss. The main reasons being:
- Minimal to no preservatives and added sugars
- Reduction of processed foods
- Low on carbohydrates
- Elimination of high-calorie foods
Since a Paleo diet closely resembles the food our cavemen and hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, it is known to be a high-protein diet. Research by the American Journal of clinical nutrition stated that high protein diets are one of the most effective strategies for preventing and treating obesity through bodyweight management.
Another study compared the effects of a paleo diet and a regular low-fat diet on weight loss. Over a period of 2 years, the participants following a paleo diet witnessed double the amount of weight loss as compared to the participants who followed a regular low-fat diet.
Waist circumference is used by medical health experst to assess potential weigh-related risks. A paleo diet is known to significantly reduce weight circumference.
A short-term study by the European journal of clinical nutrition gave the following results in just 3 weeks:
- Reduction in waist circumference by 0.5cm
- Reduction in weight by 2.3 kgs
- Decrease in BMI from 0.8 units
Therefore, the paleo diet certainly provides speedy and visible results on waist circumference even for the short-term.
Diabetes and Cardiovascular Health
Paleo isn’t just the solution to dropping pounds, but it is also effective for health ailments, especially diabetes and heart-related ailments.
A study by the nutrition research New York concluded that a paleolithic diet is a much butter for cardiovascular health than regular healthy-healthy and grain-heavy diets. The findings of the study on participants with pre-existing high cholesterol showed:
|Paleo diet||Regular heart-healthy grain diet|
|LDL cholesterol||Reduced dramatically||Little to no reduction|
|Triglycerides||Reduced by half||No change|
|HDL cholesterol||Increased significantly||Reduced significantly|
Overall it was concluded that a paleo diet based on lean protein, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and nuts helps in:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL)
- Lowering triglycerides
Side Effects of a Paleo Diet
Experts may highly recommend the Paleo diet for weight loss and reduction of unhealthy, processed, and sugar-rich foods, there may be some important nutrients you lose out on. The risks associated with the paleo diet are:
Absence of Important Nutrients
The biggest potential pitfall of a paleo diet is the absence of whole grains and legumes.. Grains and legumes are a source of energy and fiber which is important to maintain a healthy and energetic heart.
To compensate for this risk, you must make sure that you follow a well-researched paleo diet meal from a trusted source. In the case that you feel the loss of energy and fiber, you must switch to a more relaxed paleo diet meal plan.
The paleo diet eliminates all processed and ready-to-eat foods. Therefore, you have to invest a tad bit more time into preparation and shopping for a paleo lifestyle.
Buying ingredients from scratch can get more expensive than fast foods. Additionally, you cant switch to cheaper alternatives like grains and legumes because they are also prohibited from the paleo diet foods list.
Other than the absence of fiber, energy, and cost-insensitivity a few peripheral risks (not very major) are the risks of :
- Iodine deficiency
- Lack of anti-nutrients
Is The Paleo Diet Right For You?
The benefits of a paleo diet far overweigh the risks associated with it. But despite this, you must ascertain if this is the right diet for your body, mind, and soul.
To understand whether the paleo diet is the right choice for you here is the perfect guide to selecting a custom diet for your body.
After you understand how to select the right diet, you can match your goals, objectives, and costs with the paleo diet. You can read through the detailed meal plan PDF that will be up soon and the modified paleo diet PDF that will be up soon to make an informed decision exclusively for yourself.