In the past few decades, our diets have changed dramatically. Processed foods are more common than fruits and vegetables, and it is impossible to go more than a few kilometers down the road without detecting a dozen new fast food chains that have emerged. Discover the Paleo diet plan, a diet that seeks to abandon modern convenience foods in favor of the foods consumed by our ancestors.
The Paleo diet has been linked to many health benefits, with better blood sugar levels and reduced inflammation. Considered one of the best diet plans for weight loss, as it is rich in proteins and fats and emphasizes nutrient-rich foods, it can also increase satiety and help correct nutritional deficiencies. Still, the diet continues to be the subject of much controversy in recent years.
Despite this, the Paleo diet plan remains one of the most popular diets today, and there is a massive community of people who swear by it, claiming it can be a convenient, easy to follow and effective way to achieve better health.
So, how is the Paleo diet and does it work? Here is the complete beginner’s guide to your Paleo diet, explaining what exactly the Paleo diet is, how it came about, its profound health benefits, Paleo foods to eat versus avoid, Paleo recipes and meal planning, how it compares the popular keto diet, and more.
What is a Paleo Diet?
The definition of the Paleo diet is simple: eat only foods that were available to our ancestral hunters and gatherers thousands of years ago, during the Paleolithic Era.
This means that things like processed foods, refined grains and cereals are off the table, and instead your plate should be full of fruits and vegetables, meat, nuts and seeds.
The idea is that these are the foods that our bodies were designed to eat, while many of the highly processed modern foods that fill our diets today contribute to chronic illnesses and health problems.
Proponents of the diet suggest that a well-planned Paleo diet can lead to improvements in many aspects of health, such as increased weight loss and reduced inflammation.
Because it is essentially a grain-free diet, it tends to be lower in carbohydrates and more in protein and fat than some other diets.
However, it also eliminates several groups of foods that contain beneficial nutrients, such as legumes and dairy products, which has made this diet a subject of much debate among experts.
History of the Paleo diet
The Paleo diet dates back to gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin, who came up with the idea of eating like our ancestors in 1975 in his book “ The Stone Age Diet “.
A decade later, researchers Melvin Konner and Stanley Boyd Eaton published an article on the Paleo diet in the New England Journal of Medicine , which is considered one of the foundations of the Paleo diet as we know it today.
However, scientist Dr. Loren Cordain is most often credited with having founded the modern Paleo movement when he wrote “ The Paleo Diet ” in 2002, along with several other books on the Paleo diet in the following years.
Only in the last five or six years has the Paleo diet really started to recover. In 2013, it was ranked as the most searched weight loss method on Google.
Today, the Paleo diet remains one of the most popular diets and has a huge base of dedicated fans who enjoy the flexibility and health benefits it offers.
Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of the Paleo diet, as well as how to follow it to help maximize the possible results of the Paleo diet.
Different versions of the Paleo diet
There are several different variations of Paleo, each with its own set of Paleo diet rules, regulations and guidelines. Here are some of the most common options to consider when using Paleo:
Standard Paleo Diet: This version follows all the rules of a traditional Paleo diet. Grains, vegetables and processed foods are off the table and the focus is on whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts and seeds.
Autoimmune Paleo diet: Also known as the AIP diet, this variation involves cutting out the foods that trigger inflammation and slowly reintroducing them to determine which one you are able to tolerate. This diet is best suited for people with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Paleo 80/20 diet: if you can’t give up grains, it may be the right fit for you. The 80/20 diet involves following a strict Paleo diet 80% of the time and enjoying your favorite non-Paleo foods for the remaining 20%.
Pegan Diet: Combining the principles of the vegan diet and the Paleo diet, the “Pegan diet” focuses on whole plant-based foods and completely excludes animal products. This diet remains somewhat controversial, as some claim that the inclusion of products of animal origin is crucial to achieve results while following the Paleo diet.
Primal Diet: Much like the Paleo diet, the Primal diet is centered on following a diet similar to our ancestors. However, in the Primal diet, raw and high-fat dairy products are allowed and also allow the consumption of certain types of vegetables and fermented soy products.
Health Benefits of the Paleo Diet
1 – Promotes weight loss
Is the Paleo diet good for weight loss? While the results can vary widely, following the Paleo diet can cause a substantial amount of weight loss for many people. By exchanging processed foods and refined sugars for proteins rich in nutrients and healthy fats, you can reduce calories and accelerate weight loss.
The specific foods included in the Paleo diet plan can also increase weight loss. The plan encourages fruits and vegetables rich in slow-digesting fibers, as well as healthy fats and proteins, which increase satiety and reduce appetite.
Remember that the amount of weight loss on the Paleo diet can vary depending on several factors, such as what your diet was like. While some people may see inches and pounds slip after starting the Paleo diet, others may not have such dramatic results.
2 – Rich in proteins
Getting enough protein in your diet is essential for maintaining overall health. Protein is vital for repairing and rebuilding tissue cells, maintaining normal blood sugar, transporting oxygen, healing wounds and increasing muscle mass.
A protein deficiency can lead to a number of negative side effects, including low energy levels, lower immunity, low concentration and slow wound healing.
Protein is one of the staples of the Paleo diet plan. In fact, the plan encourages filling your plate with many protein foods, such as beef, poultry and seafood.
3 – Reduces inflammation
Inflammation is a normal bodily response triggered by the immune system to protect against foreign invaders. Prolonged or chronic inflammation, however, is at the root of most illnesses, including chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
The Paleo diet plan encourages the intake of many anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants , which help to neutralize harmful free radicals that contribute to inflammation in the body. Meanwhile, nuts and seeds tend to be rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
Reducing inflammation can also be beneficial in reducing symptoms of inflammatory or autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or ulcerative colitis.
4 – Increases satiety
The Paleo diet plan emphasizes the amount of heart-healthy proteins and fats in your diet, which can help support satiety and reduce appetite.
Fat is digested very slowly, so it stays in the stomach longer and maintains the feeling of satiety. Meanwhile, a protein-rich diet can lower levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, to reduce appetite. It has also been shown that protein boosts your metabolism and decreases caloric intake.
In addition, the Paleo diet plan limits foods such as refined grains and processed foods that are normally digested very quickly, leading to spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, as well as an increase in hunger levels.
5 – Corrects nutritional deficiencies
One of the biggest benefits of the Paleo diet is that it prioritizes nutrient-rich foods over highly processed or refined foods.
These foods can provide important micronutrients that may be lacking in your diet, helping to reduce a wide range of symptoms, from brain fog to chronic fatigue.
Increasing your intake of red meat, for example, can provide more iron, while adding more nuts and seeds to your diet can increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
If you have a nutrient deficiency and are currently consuming a “empty calorie” diet of low-nutrient foods such as junk food, switching to a Paleo diet can help you include more nutrients in your diet.
6 – Regulates blood sugar
Although not as extreme as a low- or no-carbohydrate diet, the Paleo diet restricts many types of carbohydrates, such as cereal grains . This can positively affect your blood sugar levels. The diet also emphasizes nutrients such as fat and protein, which are digested slowly, keeping blood sugar levels stable.
A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the benefits of following a Paleo diet versus a diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association in 24 participants with diabetes. After two weeks, the researchers found that the Paleo diet led to greater improvements in blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity than the conventional diabetes diet.
Obviously, lifestyle factors also play an important role in preventing diabetes. In addition to making dietary changes, exercising regularly, reducing stress levels, and drinking lots of water can also help keep blood sugar normal.
7 – Supports heart health
Promising research shows that the Paleo diet can be beneficial for heart health. In fact, it has been shown to reduce several heart disease risk factors to help keep your heart healthy and strong.
In a study outside Sweden, following a Paleo diet for just five weeks produced a significant reduction in blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women. Another study showed that the Paleo diet was effective in increasing levels of good HDL cholesterol, which moves through the fatty plaque that clears the bloodstream to help prevent atherosclerosis.
Paleo diet plan
Looking for a resource on the Paleo diet for beginners? Look no further. In this beginner’s guide to the Paleo diet plan, you’ll find more information on the basics of the Paleo diet, some quick tips to maximize your success with the Paleo diet, which Paleo diet foods you should include or avoid in the plan, and some tasty recipes to get you started.
- Trying a 30-day Paleo meal plan can help you decide whether the Paleo diet is right for you and whether it can help you achieve your goals – including weight loss, increased energy or simply better overall health.
- If the regular Paleo diet seems overly restrictive or difficult to follow, try a modified version . There are many options available, making it easy to find something that works for you.
- Print a list of healthy Paleo foods and take them with you to the supermarket for easy reference. Look for organic fruits and vegetables and unprocessed foods with minimal added ingredients to ensure the best quality.
- As a simple rule , opt for whole foods that have been minimally processed whenever possible. Foods with long ingredient lists are often full of preservatives, additives and artificial sweeteners, which it is best to do without.
- One of the best ways to avoid unhealthy cravings and snacks is to simply keep them out of your kitchen . Be sure to keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand and kick the junk foods to the curb.
- While there are many Paleo meal plan delivery sites out there, making your own purchases and preparing your meals at home can give you more control over your meals and help you get the most out of the potential benefits of the Paleo diet.
- It can be easy to load your diet with fried bacon and butter and still technically follow a Paleo diet plan. However, to make the most of the Paleo diet, opt for lots of fruits and vegetables , unprocessed meats, poultry and seafood and heart-healthy fats, plus a few servings of seafood a week.
- Eat when you’re hungry and don’t worry about counting calories or macronutrients . The idea is to do what seems most natural to you and listen to your body.
- If you feel you are not losing weight, consider reducing foods that are high in carbohydrates and fats , such as nuts, seeds and oils. While these foods are good in moderation, they are also rich in calories that can contribute to weight gain.
- Any diet must be combined with a healthy lifestyle to maximize results. Exercise regularly , reduce your stress levels , stay well hydrated and avoid harmful habits and you are much more likely to reach your health goals with the Paleo diet plan.
So, what can you eat on the Paleo diet? If you’re curious about what the typical Paleo breakfast, lunch and dinner is like, you’re in luck. Check out this sample of the Paleo diet meal plan for some inspiration to help plan your weekly Paleo diet menu:
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with fruit salad
- Lunch: Chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves
- Dinner: Grilled salmon with roasted broccoli
- Breakfast: grain-free oats
- Lunch: fry with grass-fed meat and mixed vegetables
- Dinner: Salad with chicken, avocado, tomato, spinach and almonds
- Breakfast: vegetarian omelet
- Lunch: Fish with cauliflower rice, tomato, avocado, lettuce and cilantro
- Dinner: grilled lamb chops with sweet potato slices
Even after starting the Paleo diet, you can still enjoy most – if not all – of your favorite foods with a healthy, complete touch.
Try swapping regular burgers for lettuce burgers, pizza dough for cauliflower dough and wheat flour for coconut flour to give your diet a nutritious makeover that is compatible with the Paleo diet.
Want to know what a typical day on a Paleo diet looks like? There are many recipes available, from Paleo desserts to dinners, but here are some simple Paleo diet recipes to get you started:
- Paleo banana egg pancakes
- Collardpot Crockpot Greens with Cajun Spices
- Turkey Wonton Soup
- Braised pork ribs
- Tropical Acai Bowl with Mango and Hemp Seeds
- Paleo zucchini brownies with dark chocolate chips
- Gluten-free lemon and meringue pie
List of Paleo Diet Foods
Following the Paleo diet plan can be a little tricky, as it can be challenging to know which foods you should include in your diet and which foods you should avoid. Here is a list of healthy foods from the Paleo diet with some foods that you should include in your diet:
- Meat: beef, lamb, goat, etc.
- Seafood: salmon, trout, mackerel, haddock, etc.
- Poultry: free-range chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
- Fresh fruits: apples , oranges , fruits, melons, pears, etc.
- Fresh vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, tomato, carrot, kale, asparagus, cucumber, etc.
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, etc.
- Seeds: flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Unrefined heart-healthy oils: olive oil, coconut oil , flaxseed, nuts and avocado
- Spices: turmeric , cumin, garlic powder, basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.
Foods to Avoid in the Paleo Diet
As important as knowing which food groups on the Paleo diet you can appreciate is knowing which ones you should cut out of your diet. Here are the foods you should avoid when following a Paleo diet plan:
- Legumes (including beans and peanuts)
- Dairy products
- Refined sugar
- Refined vegetable oils
- Processed food
- white potatoes
- Cereal grains
- Sugary or caffeinated drinks
How to Stay on the Paleo Diet When Eating Out
Creating the perfect Paleo diet shopping list is one thing, but what about when it comes to eating out? Adhering to a Paleo diet menu at social events and restaurants can be a little more challenging, but you don’t have to. The next time you leave, follow these simple Paleo diet rules to relieve stress from your order:
- Order a meat-based main dish, such as chicken, beef or fish.
- Change any starch; try swapping breads for lettuce wraps, rice for cauliflower rice and french fries for sweet potatoes.
- Ask for a vegetarian dish as an accompaniment; most restaurants offer steamed broccoli, side salads or other vegetables as a substitute at no additional cost.
- Ask if it is possible to cook your food with coconut oil or olive oil instead of canola or vegetable oil.
- Skip the sugary desserts and grab a bowl of mixed fruits. This can not only maximize your results as part of a Paleo weight loss diet, but it also reduces your sugar intake.
Paleo diet vs. Keto
A diet that surpassed Paleo in popularity? The ketogenic diet, with more than 1.2 million searches per month on Google. So which one to choose: the Paleo diet or the ketogenic diet?
Both low-carbohydrate and low-sugar diets, which tend to be nutrient-dense, Paleo and keto eliminate most sources of “empty calories” in the typical Western diet. In addition, both can lead to weight loss, better blood sugar management and more.
The main differences between the Paleo diet and the keto diet are that the keto diet is richer in fat, while the Paleo diet tends to be richer in protein.
While the Paleo diet still includes a variety of healthy fats , the keto diet is very high in fat, since keto fats provide about 75% or more of the daily calories.
While the Paleo diet eliminates added sugar, grains, beans / legumes and dairy products, the keto diet eliminates basically all sources of sugar and that includes fruits and the Paleo starch sweet potato.
In fact, the ketological diet allows only about 20 to 30 grams of “liquid carbohydrates” (total grams of carbohydrates minus grams of fiber) per day in order to enter nutritional ketosis.
On the other hand, in the Paleo diet, the goal is not to go into ketosis, but simply to eat a healthy and balanced diet . Most people on the Paleo diet do not intend to eat a very specific amount of carbohydrates, unless they are also “counting macros” (the amount of carbohydrates, fat and protein in the diet).
Is the Paleo Diet Safe?
Although the Paleo diet plan can have several health benefits, there are also some disadvantages that must also be taken into account.
First of all, it is not clear whether he can actually fulfill his claim to improve overall health by following the diet of our ancestors.
While we can all benefit from reduced intake of processed foods and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, many dispute whether our ancestors were actually much healthier than they are today, due to their significantly shorter shelf life.
In fact, one study even showed that they may have increased rates of atherosclerosis or hardened arteries.
The Paleo diet also restricts many foods that are loaded with beneficial nutrients. Legumes, for example, are rich in fiber and protein, as well as micronutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and folate. The dairy products also can be a positive dietary addition, they provide calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D .
In addition, the Paleo diet places a strong emphasis on meat products. For this reason, the Paleo diet may not be suitable for everyone, and you are unlikely to find a modified Paleo diet for vegetarians or vegans.
As the Paleo diet cuts out certain food groups widely, it is not suitable for vegans, vegetarians or people with greater dietary restrictions, as it can be challenging to meet nutrient needs.
While meat in moderation is perfectly healthy, excessive meat consumption may not be. A high intake of red meat, for example, has been associated with an increased risk of mortality and colorectal cancer.
There are also certain foods from the Paleo diet allowed in the plan that are not good for your health. Pork, for example, has a higher risk of parasites, while shrimp often contains additives and unhealthy chemicals. These foods are allowed on the Paleo diet without restriction, but their intake should be moderate on a health-promoting diet.
Likewise, while fried bacon and conventional butter can be friendly to Paleo, include these foods only in moderation. AND
Instead, fill your diet with lots of vegetables and fruits, along with moderate amounts of nuts, seeds, lean sources of protein and heart-healthy fats to get the most out of the Paleo diet.
However, if you have diabetes, consult your doctor before making any major dietary changes.
Reducing your carbohydrate intake in the Paleo diet may require you to change your diabetes medication dosage to avoid fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Finally, listen to your body. If you experience any prolonged negative symptoms after switching to a Paleo diet, talk to your doctor or nutritionist to make sure you don’t have any nutritional gaps that need to be filled in your diet.
- What is the Paleo diet? This popular diet is based on eating the same foods that were available to our ancestors in the Paleolithic era.
- Legumes, dairy products, cereals and processed foods are the main food groups eliminated from the Paleo diet. Instead, it emphasizes meats, poultry and seafood, fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and heart-healthy fats.
- Potential health benefits of the diet plan include increased weight loss, reduced inflammation, increased satiety and stable blood sugar levels. It also promotes foods rich in protein and rich in nutrients, which can improve health.
- There are also some negative aspects of the diet. It is not only difficult to follow the Paleo diet if you have any dietary restrictions, but the Paleo diet also eliminates several nutrient-rich food groups, allowing for various unhealthy foods.
- There are many healthy Paleo diet recipes out there, including snacks, meals and Paleo desserts, making it easier than ever to follow the diet plan.