Are you a paleo diet beginner and have all sorts of questions occupying your head like…
“What exactly is a paleo diet? What should I eat on paleo diet i.e what paleo diet foods are allowed and what not? What are paleo diet rules? What are its benefits?…
And these questions does not end here! They go on further like these…
What are some pros and cons of a paleo diet? How paleo diet is different from a vegan diet?, and even you might wonder if paleo diet results( as you might have come across online testimonials) are true actually?”
If you are looking for answers to all your questions, then the next 5-10 minutes of your time on this post are very important.
So let’s dive in and put together A-Z about the paleo diet in detail in front of you just in the language of a beginner.
What is a Paleo diet?
First thing: What does a paleo diet mean?
The ideology of the paleo diet is to “go back to the future” i.e go back to the times when the human hasn’t developed modern means of eating i.e what human hunters used to eat thousands of years ago.
So the food of ancient humans was “whole food” and by leading relatively high physical active lives and they were able to maintain lower rates of diseases like diabetes, obesity and fewer health issues.
Foods to eat on a paleo diet
On paleo, your whole food menu should be based on unprocessed, whole foods like these
- Meat: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, and others.
- Fish and seafood: Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish(preferably caught with your own hands)
- Eggs: Choose free-range, pastured eggs.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados, strawberries, blueberries and more.
- Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more.
- Healthy fats and oils: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and others.
- Salt and spices: Sea salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, etc.
Foods to avoid on a paleo diet
On paleo, avoid these foods at all
- Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup: Soft drinks, fruit juices, table sugar, candy, pastries, ice cream, etc.
- Grains: Includes bread and pasta, wheat, spelled, rye, barley, etc.
- Legumes: lentils, beans, and much more.
- Low-fat Dairy: Avoid low-fat (some paleo diets do contain high fat)
- vegetable oils: sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, and others.
- Trans fats: also called “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils. Mostly found in processed foods
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium.
- High processed foods: Everything labeled “diet” or “low-fat”. It also Includes artificial meal replacements.
Foods allowed in limited quantity on a paleo diet
- Red wine
- Dark chocolate
Paleo diet benefits
The following are the popular benefits of a paleo diet that paleo lovers swear by.
1. Paleo diet can help in weight loss too
Paleo diet can be a source of weight loss as it completely removes processed carbs off the dining table because the paleo diet means natural carbs which automatically excludes grains since they are not processed.
If this is coupled with avoiding high carb foods sources, it easily can reduce body fat levels and ultimately weight loss.
A study in 2014 was found to support the idea of beneficial effects of the paleo diet on reducing fat mass, obesity, and triglyceride hormones levels in women
Similarly, a 2016 study found that healthy women who consumed a paleo diet were able to lose more weight compared to those following a typical low-fat diet to lose weight.
However, there are studies that don’t support the idea of the paleo diet is effective in weight loss efforts; in fact, it can cause weight gain. So be cautious and ate a balanced diet instead.
2. Paleo increase your insulin sensitivity to avoid diabetes
This is simple to understand; since your paleo diet contains fewer carbs, so it suppresses the demand on your pancreas to produce more insulin. As a result, the insulin levels in your blood drop.
Researchers have also found that it can lower the quantity of insulin secretion which can indirectly lead to an improvement in the effectiveness of insulin. This helps suppress insulin resistance which is the primary driver of diabetes type 2.
3. Paleo diet can improve your heart health
As described above, since the paleo diet can suppress insulin levels and hence diabetes type 2 risk. This, in turn, can benefit your heart because diabetes often accompanies heart issues.
Moreover, it also helps to significantly reduce total cholesterol levels in your blood which often chokes your arteries resulting in a heart attack.
A study conducted in 2015 found that the paleo diet was helpful in lowering the overall cholesterol levels of your body. Moreover, it also helped lower your LDL, triglycerides levels, and increase healthy HDL levels, on the other hand.
4. Paleo diet gives your more energy
Since the diets included in the paleo menu includes foods low on overall GI(glycemic index ), which means that your body will never experience the drop in your energy levels which can occur if you are taking sugary content more often.
5. Paleo diet can fight inflammation in your body
Since too much inflammation in your body increases the risk of serious health problems like type 2 diabetes, a paleo diet menu like low carb foods, low GI foods like eggs contains omega fatty acids that have been known to fight inflammation.
Further, plant foods like fruits, vegetables, oils, and seeds, etc also offer solid anti-inflammation properties.
According to a study made in 2016 found that adopting a paleo diet can fight the causes of inflammation. However, more evidence is required to confirm this fact.
6. Paleo diet is a clean diet
You always have a clean, purely natural food on your table which is free from any artificial flavors
7. Paleo diet can suppress hunger
Since in the paleo diet your natural protein intake is higher, which is naturally appetite suppressor, you are very likely to remain full for extended periods of time.
So this has the potential to help you in weight loss since your body will be craving fewer calories and relying on your body fat stores for energy
Common risks associated with a paleo diet
With all its amazing benefits, however, the paleo diet can bear some problems. So what are these risks/cons/harms attached to the paleo diet? Let’s find out.
1. Paleo diet can get costly – Due to its high protein and organic nature of foods, you have to spend some money to buy and enjoy
2. Paleo diet can reduce your fiber intake – Since paleo restricts intake of whole grains and legumes, your body fiber levels can decrease.
3. Not entirely fit for modern humans – the Paleo diet is not easy to adopt because modern humans are different from their ancestors.
Sample paleo diet menu
I will be giving you the menu for only 3 days as an example which will help you in understanding what foods to eat at different meals time.
- Breakfast: Eggs and a piece of fruit.
- Lunch: A little beef fry and a handful of nuts.
- Dinner: Fried pork with vegetables.
- Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables fried in coconut oil.
- Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil.
- Dinner: Steak with vegetables and sweet potatoes.
- Breakfast: Bacon and eggs.
- Lunch: Leftover steak and some vegetables.
- Dinner: Baked salmon with avocado.
Popular Paleo Myths Debunked
While Paleo has its lovers and haters, the basics seem simple enough: no processed foods, grains, or legumes, and plenty of meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit at all.
But even in its simplicity, there is still some room for confusion about why Paleo is or isn’t good for you.
Here are three most common myths about Paleo.
Myth 1. Paleo means “No Cancer”!
While many blame our modern-day diets of refined sugar, processed snacks, and alcohol for contributing to complications like cancer, medical professionals have recently discovered that early men actually suffered from the disease, too.
According to researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, they actually found a 1.7 million-year-old foot bone with clear evidence of cancer in it.
Moreover, study author and paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, Ph.D. said, “while there been an assumption that these cancers and tumors are diseases of modernity, but these fossils clearly show they are not, but in fact, we as modern humans exhibit them as a consequence of living longer, yet this rare tumor is prevalent in a young child.”
Myth 2. Cave people didn’t eat grains
According to research from the University of Florence in Italy, our Stone Age ancestors may have used oats to make oatmeal or even basic flour thing.
Moreover, the scientists studied a stone pestle, a tool used to grind food, found in the Paglicci Cave in southern Italy, and established that it had the remains of starch from wild oat plants.
This tool is almost 32,600 years old which makes it the oldest piece of evidence that humans actually consumed oats way before the development of agriculture.
While researchers don’t know exactly how these early men used the ground oats, it does suggest that they likely ate more grains than we thought.
Myth 3. Paleo doesn’t have any processed foods
This might seem counter-intuitive, but it isn’t exactly true that the Paleo Diet doesn’t include any processed foods in its list.
In fact, avocado, coconut, and extra-virgin olive oils are popular staples in the meal plan which do require some processing.
Moreover, paleo protein powders and bars have also hit store shelves, and while many are made up of very few ingredients, they have still some sort of processed.
At the end of the day, a paleo diet is all about a diet is that you can have minimally processed foods.