What is the Paleo Diet?
Is the Paleo Diet just the latest passing fad? Or is it the ultimate nutrition program we should all be following? With a name as old as the cavemen, it’s easy to understand why the Paleo Diet could just be the best thing since sliced bread.
But with so many food fads coming and going over the years, what is this one really about?
So, What Is The Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet is based on the idea that our bodies developed to digest and benefit from certain foods, and not others. Specifically, our bodies were developed to digest foods that were available to us before we started farming. That’s why the Paleo diet is also sometimes referred to as the “hunter-gatherer diet”.
This means foods that could have been found in the wild, or hunted and gathered, are thought to be the best for us. These food groups include animal protein (both meat and eggs, but not milk or milk products), fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The foods the avoided include dairy and milk, beans and legumes (even peanuts), and all grains.
The theory behind the diet is that our genes have not changed enough in the last 10,000 years to adapt to the changes in our food supply. Because our digestive systems developed before agriculture, only foods that could be found in the wild are included in the diet. Essentially, the Paleo Diet is based on the idea that if humans were to eat the way they were designed to eat, they would be healthier.
The diet first became popular in the 1970s when Dr. Walter L. Voegtlin wrote a book about it. He argued that the modern diet caused diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Paleo has become popular again in recent years. Loren Cordain is an American professor of health and exercise science and the founder of the modern Paleolithic diet movement. Cordain’s research indicates that following a paleo diet is healthier than the traditional Western diet, and can help prevent or reverse diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes.
What can you eat on the Paleo Diet?
Because the Paleo Diet mimics the way our ancestors ate, it consists of only eating foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, which actually makes Paleo simple and easy to follow!
First, processed foods, grains, dairy, legumes (beans), and refined sugar are not considered Paleo. While this may seem like a limiting framework, there are many healthy and delicious foods that you can eat like:
- lean protein (grass-fed beef, wild salmon, eggs)
- healthy fats
- nuts and seeds
A typical meal could look like 2 eggs, half an avocado, and sauteed kale; or it could be a char-grilled porterhouse steak with roasted root vegetables and a side salad. Take your pick
What are the benefits of the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet has been proven to be a healthier diet than the traditional Western diet. Research has shown that people on this diet have lower levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and higher levels of HDL (good cholesterol). There is some debate over whether or not the Paleo Diet is actually healthier than other diets (like the Mediterranean Diet, for example), but research has shown that people on the Paleo diet have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
By eliminating room for processed carbohydrates, you’re cutting out some of the fastest growing causes of disease in the world. Some other health improvements the diet has been shown to support are:
- Weight Loss
- Increased Energy
- Improved Digestion
- Healthier Skin
- Better Sleep
- Reduced Stress
Is the Paleo Diet too restrictive?
It’s not super restrictive in my book, but it does place some restrictions on which foods you can eat like I’ve mentioned above. Making these dietary changes may feel restrictive at first, but they can be very effective in the long run.
I am also a firm believer that the Paleo diet is not an all-or-nothing approach. It can be used as a guide to get you started on the right track, but if you don’t feel like you are getting enough of certain foods, you can always just add some more of that food to your diet. The Paleo diet is a great way to start eating right, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. It is a good jumping-off point.
Who should try it?
Now that you know what the Paleo Diet is all about and all the benefits associated with eating this way, here are five things to consider before trying the Paleo Diet:
- It’s not as restrictive as you might think. A lot of people think that eating Paleo means giving up all carbs or sugar, but that’s not the case. There are plenty of recipes that incorporate healthy carbs and natural sugars into a Paleo meal plan.
- You can still enjoy your favorite foods. One of the best things about the Paleo Diet and its popularity is the availability of all your favorite foods made using whole, unprocessed, Paleo-friendly ingredients. Check out these cookbooks for recipes and meal plans!
- It might be a little bit overwhelming to find compliant foods at first. It’s important that you stick with it, and make sure to check the labels of all your food to make sure there are no added sugars or other unhealthy ingredients in them.
- The Paleo Diet is not something that you need to follow forever. It’s a way of eating, and it can be a great way to lose weight and improve your overall health. However, you can adjust the diet to meet your own needs as you go along.
- If you have food sensitivities, the Paleo Diet can be a great way to structure your diet. The format of the Paleo Diet can be used by people who have problems with digestive issues, food allergies, or celiac disease to alleviate or even eliminate symptoms.
The Paleo Diet has completely changed my life and my health, so I truly believe that food is one of the easiest ways to transform your life and your health when you have the right resources. Our ancestors ate paleo for thousands of years and that’s still the way our bodies want us to eat. And when you do, you’ll look better and feel better too!
And if you want to start incorporating more healthy, Paleo-friendly foods into your diet, make sure to download my free 101 Gut Healing Foods list.
With this list of 101 foods, you’ll know exactly what to focus on to feel better and more comfortable and confident in your body. Download it now!