Paleo Diet: Eating Like Our Ancestors

paleo diet

A paleo diet has gained a lot of popularity over the last 10 years and many swear by its health promoting and fat burning effects.

However, is it the answer for everyone?

What is a Paleo Diet?

A paleo diet involves eating foods that our human ancestors from the Paleolithic Period (200,000 years ago) ate. This is also known as the Stone Age.

This was before humans farmed or cultivated grains, making their diets consist mainly of what these early humans could hunt or gather. The theory is that this is the way the human body and the human digestive system has evolved to acquire nutrients over millions of years.

A paleo diet believes that our modern diet is filled with foods that our bodies do not process very well because they have not evolved to digest such foods properly.

Basically, our bodies have not yet adapted to the modern foods we consume.

Non-Paleolithic Foods

There are 5 main food groups that the paleo diet believes aren't part of human evolution.

  1. Grains
  2. Legumes
  3. Dairy
  4. Refined sugars
  5. Refined oils

These foods have the most instances of causing health problems like allergies, food sensitivity, digestive issues, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Foods of the Caveman

While there is debate in the scientific community about exactly what the diets of Paleolithic humans consisted of, the paleo diet asserts that it was primarily a diet based on what these humans could hunt or gather.

  • Lean, natural meats
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Limited root vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Berries and some fruit

Weight Loss is a By-Product

The primary goal of the paleo diet is to increase health and wellbeing, but weight loss happens to be a by product of this dietary transformation.

By eliminating calorie-dense foods like grains, breads, pasta, potatoes, dairy, and processed foods; those on a paleo diet tend to naturally eat fewer calories daily, which leads to calorie deficit and therefore weight loss.

The paleo diet is also designed to reduce systemic inflammation, which can also be a contributing factor to weight gain.

Research shows that even short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improves blood pressure and glucose tolerance, decreases insulin secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and improves lipid profiles without weight loss in healthy sedentary humans

Those following a paleo diet can usually expect slow and steady weight loss.

Paleo Plans

There are several good plans to choose if you are wishing to try a caveman diet.

Following a prescribed eating plan is beneficial for new dieters as there are a lot of paleo diet concepts that can't be covered in this short review.

Here are a couple of plans to consider:

1. The Paleo Plan

Perhaps the best way to start paleo is via an online program.

Paleo Plan provides everything you need to get started. It's also the most economic (around $7.40 per month).

  • Weekly Meal Plans
  • Grocery lists and Recipes
  • Exercise advice
  • Latest Paleo Research and Support
Try a free 14-day Paleo Plan

2. The Paleo Diet Book

Written by Loren Cordain, who is considered one of the founders of the paleo diet. He has updated this book over the years as new research has become available.

It's available on Amazon here.

Some Swear By It, Others Struggle

Some swear by the Paleo diet and credit it for transforming their lives, others even follow these principles religiously in an almost cult-like fashion.

However, because of all the food restrictions some struggle with making the paleo lifestyle stick.

Paleotest.com has an easy free assesment that helps you determine if the Paleo Diet is a good fit.

This diet does have a lot of good points and any plan that teaches dieters to avoid processed foods, but choose low-calorie/nutrient dense foods is beneficial to not only a person's heath, but also to their wasteline.

Just give yourself the freedom to have that cinnamon roll every now and then as the paleo diet will still be beneficial even if you don't follow it religiously.

Try the Paleo Diet...

 

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References

  • Richardson, C. R., Newton, T. L., Abraham, J. J., Sen, A., Jimbo, M., & Swartz, A. M. (2008). A meta-analysis of pedometer-based walking interventions and weight loss. The Annals of Family Medicine, 6(1), 69-77. Link
  • Frassetto, L. A., Schloetter, M., Mietus-Synder, M., Morris, R. C., & Sebastian, A. (2009). Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. European journal of clinical nutrition, 63(8), 947-955. Link
  • Jönsson, T., Granfeldt, Y., Ahrén, B., Branell, U. C., Pålsson, G., Hansson, A., ... & Lindeberg, S. (2009). Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol, 8(35), 1-14 Link
  • Cordain, L. (2012). AARP The Paleo Diet Revised: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat. John Wiley & Sons.
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Last updated 30 May 2015