The Paleo Diet is also known as the Stone Age Diet, Hunter-Gatherer Diet, Caveman Diet or Primal Diet. This diet was first promoted in 1975 by Dr. Walter L Voegtlin through his book, The Stone Age Diet. It has regained a lot of popularity in recent years as it has been talked about by many health and fitness personalities and social media influencers.
In a nutshell, The Paleo Diet is eating what a caveman would eat. The Paleo Diet, in its purest form, recommends that you only eat what humans ate when they first roamed the earth millions of years ago – food that can be hunted or gathered.
What’s on the menu for Paleo dieters?
The Paleolithic Era is Pre-Agricultural. Our cavemen ancestors did not raise livestock or take care of their own crops. Foods that are exposed to chemicals such as pesticides or antibiotics are replaced with grass-fed and organic varieties. Pre-packaged food – anything that comes in a box or in a plastic bag – is highly discouraged.
Many health and fitness enthusiasts approve of the Paleo Diet and celebrate its benefits. If you are looking to try the Paleo Diet for yourself, here are the food groups that you’ll want to add to your meal plan:
- Diverse proteins such as lean cuts of pork, beef, and poultry. Eat a wide variety of proteins from as many animal sources as possible. Make sure to choose the grass-fed and free-range options. Eggs are also a protein-rich addition to your diet. When buying eggs, choose the free-range, pasteurized, and omega-3 enriched variety.
- Fruits and vegetables. Fruits such as strawberries, cantaloupe, and mango are delicious additions to your diet. Non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, onions, and peppers are very popular among Paleo dieters. Adding fruits and vegetables to your meals will help you improve your overall health whether you are on the Paleo Diet or not. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients which help you avoid a number of diseases including diabetes and cancer.
- Healthy fats and oils. Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are common additions to Paleo recipes. They are rich in monounsaturated fats and Omega-3. These fats can reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
- Fish and other seafood. Shellfish, salmon, trout, haddock, and shrimp are just some of the delicious seafood that can be added to your diet. When buying your seafood, choose wild-caught and avoid the processed options.
Foods that are off the table for Paleo eaters
Paleo experts advise that food that was not available to Paleolithic humans should be avoided. Our cavemen ancestors did not have processed food such as butter, sugar, or dairy. Paleo dieters also believe that legumes should be avoided since they are not easily digestible by the body.
Other foods that Paleo dieters avoid are sweets and anything that contains artificial sweeteners. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, cereal grains, and all types of processed foods including processed meats are also off the Paleo menu.
When planning for your Paleo meals, keep in mind that there are several versions to this diet. Some are less strict than others. For example, some versions allow dairy products and legumes.
It’s impossible to follow the diet of our ancestors to a tee. They hunted game, antelope, buffalo, and other animals that no longer exist in the present day. They also consumed fruits and vegetables that are now extinct.
Ready for the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet has many benefits which include reducing your risk of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Knowing as much as you can about the Paleo Diet is the best way to prepare for it. If you are interested in trying the Paleo lifestyle out, here are some things that you should know:
- Community is important
When going through a major lifestyle change such as going on a diet, it is always best not to go at it alone. Being part of a community for accountability, support, and to have an information resource, is important to Paleo eaters. Nowadays, it is easy to find online forums, Facebook groups, and even Meetup events dedicated to the Paleo lifestyle.
- Paleo is a lifestyle
Paleo is not a temporary diet. A lot of people mistake it as a temporary solution that they can use to lose weight and then quit once they have achieved their desired result. The Paleo Diet is a lifestyle change that is meant to be for the long haul.
It also goes beyond the food you eat. One of the reasons why Paleo is popular with health and fitness experts is that it emphasizes the importance of exercise. Surviving the Stone Age meant paleolithic humans had to be constantly on the go. With the Paleo Diet, the driving principle is that food is used as fuel for exercise.
- Cutting out processed food is good for you
A Public Health Nutrition Study has found that people who cook at least 5 times in a week are 47% more likely to be alive after 10 years compared to those who subsist mainly on processed food. Whether you are going on a Paleo Diet or not, eating whole, organic food is always healthier for you than consuming the processed options.
- The Paleo Diet can be costly
Going on the Paleo diet can be costly in terms of time and money. Going on the Paleo Diet requires some planning and shopping for food may not be cheap. For example, soy and beans which are both inexpensive protein substitutes are off-limits. Lean meat cuts and skinless chicken breasts are pricier than other cuts. Buying Paleo-Approved almond butter instead of the regular peanut butter can set you back a few dollars.
Succeeding in the Paleo lifestyle will take a lot of mental resolve and commitment. Taking time out of your week to plan and prep your meals is something that can be hard for someone who is used to settling for fast food. Researching less expensive but Paleo-Approved options may take a lot of time at first.