What is the Paleo diet?

The paleo diet is an eating plan that emphasizes whole foods and eliminates grains, legumes and most processed foods in order to improve health.

The primary focus of the Paleo diet is on food type, not the quantity consumed; cutting out the “unhealthy” and replacing it with the “healthy.”

Paleo Diet Meal Plan

There is no one “right” way to eat for everyone and Paleolithic humans thrived on a variety of diets, depending on what was available at the time and where in the world they lived. Important to note that this is a fad diet, not one that can be accurately documented. The foods that are or are not allowed are not evidenced based (for example there is ample evidence that Paleolithic humans consumed grains), which is why it is not recommended by most dietitians/nutrition professionals.

Basics:

What you can eat:

  • Meat and poultry (beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork)
  • Liver
  • Seafood
  • Eggs (choose free-range or pasteurized when possible)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Tubers (Sweet potato, yams, turnips)
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Coconut oil. Avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil

What you can’t eat:

  • Grains (whole grains, wheat, spelt, rye, barley, quinoa, oats, brown rice)
  • Legumes (beans, peanuts, lentils, soy)
  • Dairy (butter, cheese, yogurt, milk, ice cream)
  • Vegetable oil (soybean oil, grapeseed oil)
  • Hydrogenated oils (margarine)
  • Sugar and high-fructose syrup
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Processed foods

Advantages

  • The diet is rich in potassium: Eating a lot of fruit and vegetables increases potassium levels, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure and healthy kidney and muscle function.
  • The fats can be healthy: Consuming moderate amounts of unsaturated fats such as those found in nuts, avocado, and olive oil gives rise to a healthy lipid profile.
  • High protein content: Proteins are essential for growth and development of the skin, muscles, bone, and cartilage, adequate amounts of lean protein in the diet contribute to healthy body composition and a lowered insulin response.
  • Elimination of processed foods: The diet is comprised of whole foods, which means less salt and sugar is consumed. This improves blood sugar levels and blood pressure and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. As the diet has gained popularity, there have been more and more “paleo approved: processed foods to hit the market.

 Disadvantages

  • Food proportions: Food portions allowed by the diet may exceed the recommended daily allowances.
  • Excluding foods: Results in a decreased intake of fiber, which is beneficial to gut health, among many other things.
  • High meat intake: Several studies have shown that a high intake of red meat is linked to a higher risk of death, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
  • Paleolithic food: It is not possible to fully adopt the same diet as people did in the Paleolithic periods, simply because animals and plants have evolved since then and are different compared to what they have been for 10,000 years ago.

 

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