The Paleo diet has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years and for good reason!
It is one of the healthiest diets out there since it focuses on whole, natural foods that are high in protein and healthy fats. The best part about the Paleo diet is that you will see results quickly as long as you stick to it!
The paleo diet is based off of eating like our ancestors did thousands of years ago. You know, before we ate processed food and filled our bodies with foods we weren’t meant to digest. By going back to what we were meant to eat, we can enjoy better health, weight loss and even increased energy levels!
It’s also the most recommended diet for those suffering from autoimmune conditions!
This blog post will talk about some amazing benefits the paleo diet can offer so read on if you want to learn more!
The Paleo Diet in a Nutshell
Before we continue, I want to define the word “diet.” In this post, diet refers to a certain style of eating, not the restriction of calories for the purpose of weight loss.
The Paleo Diet is a nutritional plan based on the diet of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors in the Paleolithic era. The theory is our bodies are genetically programmed to thrive on the same food sources as our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The reasoning behind this diet is that humans were meant to consume certain types of foods and developed metabolic systems suited for the digestion of those foods. Our genetics and anatomy have changed very little since the Stone age, so eating in such a way that our bodies were designed, allows the metabolic processes of the body to just fall in place.
The Paleo diet is one high in protein, moderate in fat, low to moderate in carbohydrates, high in fiber, low in sodium, and low in refined sugars.
Below, I go over specific foods and even some meal examples if you are looking to go on the paleo diet!
Benefits of the Paleo Diet
More research is needed to determine the effect of staying on the paleo diet long term (at least 24 months). Many studies have concluded several health benefits at just the 6-month mark. These include:
- Weight loss
- Reduced waist circumference
- Decreased blood pressure
- Increase insulin sensitivity
- Improved cholesterol
- Help in rebalancing hormones
- Perfect diet for those suffering from autoimmune conditions
- Increased immunity
- Does not involve calorie counting or being concerned about portion sizes
Disadvantages of the Paleo Diet
Just as there are benefits to the paleo diet, it isn’t perfect. You’ll need to weigh out the pros and cons for yourself.
- It isn’t long term. For many, weight loss is only short term and often comes back after coming off the diet.
- It can be more expensive due to the need of fresher meats, fruits, and vegetables
- For most of us, it’s hard to exclude foods we’re used too
- There is a risk in deficiency of certain necessary vitamins and minerals, due to reduced consumption of whole grains. This leads to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- A higher intake of red meat is linked to cardiovascular disease.
Don’t let these deter you though! With enough knowledge and education, this can be a very rewarding way of eating!
What does the Paleo Diet do?
The Paleo diet was designed to mimic the way our ancestors ate, before the days of modern food processing and industrial agriculture with harmful pesticides. The idea is, if we feed ourselves whole, natural foods that our bodies were designed to eat and digest, everything else will fall into place.
The society we live in pushes so many toxins in our bodies, it’s no wonder many people are having hormonal imbalances or digestion issues.
- The Paleo diet balances hormones by focusing on real foods. Hormones are created from proteins and fats. The quality hormone produced depends on the quality of protein or fat consumed.
- The Paleo diet focuses on nutrient dense foods. Whole foods with nutritional value, giving your body what it craves and needs to function optimally. No empty calories or false hunger signals from sugar and processed foods.
- Inflammation is the leading cause of many chronic illnesses and diseases. The Paleo diet eliminates these foods.
- The Paleo diet takes away sources of potential synthetic hormones that lead to hormone issues.
What do you eat on the Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet advocates eating whole, unprocessed foods, including meat (mostly from animals that are grass fed), fish, vegetables, fruit (in limited quantities) nuts and seeds. Paleolithic people didn’t eat dairy products or grains like wheat or rice; they only ate what was available through hunting wild game and gathering fruits/vegetables/nuts/seeds in their natural state.
Foods to Eat on Paleo
- Lean meats (grass fed beef, no hormones added)
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and Vegetables (low glycemic)
- Unrefined oils (olive oil and coconut)
- Honey (in small amounts)
- Certain root vegetables
Foods to Avoid on Paleo
- White Potatoes (even though these did exist during the Paleolithic era, these are high glycemic)
- Processed foods
- Whole Grains
- Refined grains
- Artificial sugar and sweeteners
- Legumes, to include beans, peanuts, and lentils
- Coffee (though depending on who you talk too, it’s allowed on some Paleo diets with no sugar)
- Refined vegetable oils such as Canola
The Paleo Debate
There is no one true Paleo diet today.
- There is some debate on what foods actually existed during the Paleolithic era.
- The foods that were available by region. In the Arctic, people would’ve been more inclined to eat fish. In the Tropics, more fruits and vegetables would’ve been consumed.
- Modern day fruits and vegetables are different from their prehistoric predecessors.
- What exactly is included and not included is up to debate based on the expert you work with.
- Whole grains are well known to not be included on the paleo diet, however new evidence is emerging that our ancestors did eat grains. Grains today, especially refined, have no nutritional value. Many of the grain and wheat products today have been mutated and have different characteristics than ancient grains.
Why is the Paleo Diet Unhealthy?
When going on the Paleo Diet there are many things to watch out for! Overall, the paleo diet can do wonder for your health, but if not taken seriously, can pose some risks.
- Vitamin D and Calcium deficiencies due to not consuming any dairy
- Eating too many saturated fats from red meats
What Can I Eat for Breakfast on the Paleo Diet?
The common breakfast on the typical American diet includes processed meats like sausage and bacon, biscuits, or cereal.
On Paleo, try this breakfast:
Roasted Pepper & Sausage Omelet
1/2 cup sweet potatoes sauteed in coconut oil
What Can I Eat for Lunch on the Paleo Diet?
Instead of filling up on fast food, try this Paleo Lunch.
What Can I Eat for Dinner on the Paleo Diet?
Try this Pan Roasted Chicken with Vegetables for dinner!
Paleo for Autoimmune Conditions
Around 50 million Americans suffer from Autoimmune illness such as, but not limited too
- Hypo/Hyper Thyroidism
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Celiac disease
- And more
What causes these autoimmune conditions?
- Food allergies and sensitivities, like wheat and gluten. Modern day wheat is not comparable to prehistoric wheat.
- Toxins in the environment that are known to be endocrine disruptors. These toxins come from everyday cleaning products, hair and skin products, GMO foods, herbicides and pesticides, and pollution in the environment.
- Microbiome imbalances aka an unhealthy gut
The Paleo diet removes many of the foods that cause inflammation and sensitivities in people with autoimmune conditions. This results in lower inflammation and creating a hormonal balance in the body from taking away the GMO and foods with added hormones.
Is almond milk allowed on paleo
Yes! While dairy should not be consumed on paleo, there are many non-dairy milks to choose from and almond is one of them! Be sure to get unsweetened though!
Are sweet potatoes paleo?
Yes, sweet potatoes are paleo approved. This is mainly due to being low on the glycemic scale and a low impact on insulin and blood sugar. White Potatoes, however, should be avoided on the paleo diet.
Can you eat oatmeal on paleo?
Oatmeal is not allowed on the Paleolithic diet. No grains of any kind should be consumed while on the paleo diet
Can you eat popcorn on paleo?
Great question. Generally, popcorn is not considered appropriate for the paleo diet since it’s a grain. However, many experts agree it’s not the worst snack in the world to have while on the diet. Keep in mind that things like butter, salt and sugar should be avoided on a paleo diet, so lightly sprinkle some sea salt or mix with melted coconut oil for a tastier treat.
Is honey paleo friendly
Yes, honey is 100% paleo friendly. As long as you are using raw, unfiltered honey it’s a totally healthy addition to your diet. It should be noted though, honey should be included in small amounts, since it’s still a natural sugar.
Can you drink coffee on the paleo diet?
The answer is yes. You do not need to give up coffee while following the paleo diet. Some will argue that it’s not paleo, however, you should be aware that certain additives and products found in your cup of Joe might not align with your new way of eating.