All of us find ourselves in a situation where we need to or wish to stick to a diet plan. This may be due to a variety of reasons; weight loss, health issues, or simply, to maintain a healthy weight and prevent any future health risks. When choosing a diet, we need to know what each diet is, what they aim at, and how they affect our body. The Paleo diet is one such diet that has gained popularity recently.
Here, we shall look into the paleo diet in detail, focusing on the main doubts that arise in your mind, all in an excellent read of under 10 minutes.
What Is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet focuses on consuming food the way the humans from the Paleolithic era had their food directly from nature. Loren Cordain is the originator of this diet. It is based on the belief that our body was built to consume the food that is available in nature, and not designed to cultivated and processed foods that we humans started using with development.
Therefore, the paleo diet, or the Paleolithic diet, aims to take us back to the roots of our eating habits, focusing more on proteins and less on carbs, in short, only consuming foods that early man could have obtained either by hunting, or gathering.
This means the aim is to bring back the hunter-gatherer eating habits into our modern lives. The notion that our body is not designed for modern and cultivated foods is known as the Discordance Hypothesis.
What Can I Eat on the Paleo Diet?
There are three different macronutrients; Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. A combination of these three makes up a healthy diet. The variations in their amounts in your daily meal plan constitute the various diet plans that are available today.
The paleo diet aims at eliminating/ reducing carbohydrates and focusing on healthy fats and proteins. The following food groups like meat, fish are permitted under the paleo eating plans, and they are also known as paleo-friendly foods:
- Meat: A good source of protein is needed for going on the paleo. It is suggested that Chicken, beef, mutton, pork, turkey, and many more such types of meat that have been steamed, smoked, or roasted should be consumed under the paleo diet. However, the meat that we consume must be free-range and grass-fed. This means the animal must be available in natural, instead of being caged and grown using various artificial technologies.
A common misconception is that since meat is allowed in the diet, we are free to have burgers, chicken tenders, or fried steak. However, this is not acceptable as it is not per our primary aim, returning to the eating habits of the Paleolithic human.
- Seafood: Salmon, shrimp, shellfish are all a part of the paleo diet.
- Eggs: Free-range, grass-fed eggs, they may be chicken, quail or duck eggs
- Vegetables: Carrots, peppers, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli. Keep in mind to avoid starchy vegetables. Sweet potatoes are advised.
- Fruits: The paleo diet considers Avocado as good fruit. Before adding other fruits to your diet, make sure you avoid sugar-containing fruits.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashew, and many more.
- Fats: You should use healthy fats and oils such as coconut oil and olive oil.
Serving Size/ Portions:
Before deciding the serving size, take into consideration your hunger level and how active you are in a day. It is recommended to exercise and workout when following the paleo to keep your body in shape and for overall health.
When choosing a plate of food, we need one serving of fat, another serving of protein, typically in the range of 70 grams fat, 20 grams protein, and 10 grams of carbs.
A serving of meat could be the size and thickness of your palm. It is said that the nuts could have the portion size of a fist. However, if weight loss is one of your goals, then it is advised to cut down on the serving size of nuts.
When assembling a plate of food, it will ideally consist of one serving of meat, and the rest of the plate will be filled by vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and maybe a serving of Avocado (the size of an egg).
For easy understanding of serving sizes and ideal portion, click here.
What Foods Do I Avoid?
Since the paleo requires us to switch to ancient eating habits, the eating plans must be devoid of all modern and cultivated foods. This means dairy, processed foods, refined sugars, soft drinks, grains, and legumes. All have to be excluded from your daily diet.
It is considered to be a strict diet as most of the foods that have to be avoided are consumed by us almost regularly, and it is difficult to fall out of habit.
A common misconception about the paleo diet is that you can have all the meat you want. The paleo diet requires you to use lean meat, which is healthy sources of fats, and any source of meat that is consumed must be free-range and grass-fed. This is yet another fact to be taken into account when considering the foods that need to be avoided.
For a detailed meal plan and list of foods that are allowed and foods to be avoided, visit.
How Does the Paleo Diet Affect My Body?
A typical meal plan consists of more carbohydrates and fats, and less of protein. In the paleo diet, we focus on increasing the intake of fats and proteins and reducing/ eliminating the carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are easily digested, thereby increasing hunger, intake of food, glucose, and blood sugar levels.
The paleo diet focuses on using fats as the energy source for the body. Fats are not easily digested, unlike carbs, and therefore gives a feeling of fullness for a longer time. This satiation of hunger prevents overeating and other causes of weight gain, thereby facilitating your efforts to lose weight.
The exclusion of processed foods, refined sugars, and other modern developments such as soft drinks result in many long term health benefits. However, the results of paleo on a long term basis have not been adequately studied yet.
One of the common concerns is that the paleo diet may cause a lack of certain nutrients and result in deficiencies. This is why it is always recommended for you to consult your doctor before going on any diet and getting the prescribed vitamin supplements necessary.
Is This a Suitable Diet for me? / What Is the Purpose of the Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet is designed to take us back to our ancient roots of food habits. This is done under the belief that cutting out processed and refined foods will help to prevent the occurrence of resulting ailments.
For example, the consumption of sugars and carbs in excess results in diabetes and other illnesses. This can be prevented by avoiding/ reducing the number of carbohydrates in your diet.
The Paleo diet may be beneficial to you if you are targeting for any of the following results:
- Healthier bowel movements- Due to the increase in consumption of vegetables and the subsequent increase in the fiber content of your meals, you are more likely to have healthier bowel movements by following this diet.
- Weight loss- Although the paleo diet is ranked only 23rd in terms of weight-loss diets, it is still an excellent option to get off those extra pounds. If you are considering the paleo for weight loss, you must note that the paleo was not designed to be a weight loss diet. However, the subsequent changes in lifestyle bring about changes in your body that may often result in loss of weight. This is only due to the exclusion of unhealthy fats and other processed items.
- Controlling Type II diabetes– The higher intake of fiber and a lower intake of sugars makes it a diabetes-friendly diet that has shown favorable results in type 2 diabetes patients.
- Controlling hypertension/blood pressure- Studies have shown that the paleo diet is safe for patients of high blood pressure due to better insulin control, reduction in intake of sodium, and higher levels of potassium due to higher consumption of vegetables.
- Prevention of heart diseases- The focus on healthy fats, instead of unhealthy alternatives (such as fast food, burgers) makes it beneficial for keeping a check on heart conditions.
- PCOD: The Paleo diet is also said to be beneficial to those with PCOD. This is because one of the reasons for PCOD is insulin resistance, which can be avoided due to the reduced level of carbs.
The paleo has been observed to cause lower energy levels in the initial stages due to a complete lack of energy-rich carbohydrates. However, the healthy fats that you consume will keep you full, reduce cravings, and also ensure better sleep and bowel movements. The paleo diet requires you to include regular exercise as a part of your daily lifestyle.
Another vital thing to keep in mind is the regular intake of water during the diet. Your diet plan must not compromise the level of water you consume per day.
What Are the Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet?
- Exclusion of processed foods: The elimination of processed foods implies a lower intake of sugar and salt. This is beneficial for maintaining blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of heart diseases.
- Consumption of healthy fats: The fats that are consumed in the paleo diet comprise of unsaturated fats that are obtained from nuts, olive oil, etc. This results in a healthy lipid profile.
- Nutrient-rich diet: The diet focuses on increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables. This increases the level of potassium in the body, and ensures healthy functioning of kidney, muscles and maintaining a healthy heart function.
- It is said that the diet always keeps hunger satiated. This is highly beneficial for those trying to cut off on those extra calories, as the paleo diet is a calorie deficit.
- It eliminates major food groups such as grains and dairy, along with legumes.
- Possible iodine deficiency: Iodized salt is a source of iodine, along with dairy. Since the paleo diet limits these two, those on it are at risk of iodine deficiency and the resulting impact on thyroid hormones. However, this can be eased by including seafood in your diet plan.
- More expensive: The paleo diet is more expensive to maintain due to its strict guidelines and restrictions (for example, only grass-fed lean meat is allowed). This may raise your grocery expenditures as we also cut out on many affordable options such as processed foods and grains.
- The paleo diet requires you to use lean meat strictly. In the circumstances where people, due to misconceptions, switch to or indulge in excessive use of fast foods such as burgers over the claim that they are under the required category, it may lead to the opposite effect of what we are expecting. Too much-saturated fats will result in complications for the heart.
These are a few of the basic pros and cons of the paleo diet. Click here to know more.
Before following any diet, be it paleo diet, keep in mind to drink lots of water, and incorporate exercise into your daily life. Any changes made in your dietary and eating habits must be with the consultation of a doctor or nutritionist. Any change that you wish to see in yourself begins with self-love, and it is vital for achieving the desired results.