The Paleo diet is short for Paleolithic diet, and it is an attempt to recover our ancestral eating habits, those that kept us away from chronic disease and metabolic problems during the Stone Age. It may sound outdated, but it is a very similar approach to the recommendations given by modern medicine.
But how does it work? What type of foods are you supposed to include and what do you need to avoid?
How does Paleo work?
As stated above, the Paleo diet brings to the modernity some eating habits our ancestors had in the Paleolithic era. They were lean and did not have chronic disease problems. Their usual cause of death were infections and acute health problems that we have covered with modern medicine. Thus, by adopting their diet and following with our medical practices, we would get the best of both worlds.
Paleo diet practitioners do not count calories or make very elaborated meal plans. It is actually very easy to follow if you cut back on processed food and everything that goes through heavy industrial processes. Your approach in Paleo diet should only be eating more fresh foods and cutting back on processed foods.
You might need to learn how to use some ingredients and foods. For example, fresh honey instead of sugar, or coconut flour instead of wheat.
Just look at the following lists of foods, and you will get a grasp of how a typical Paleo meal looks like.
List of allowed foods in the Paleo diet
In short, we should eat more fresh foods. This diet does not cut back in meat, eggs, and healthy fat sources, as you will see next. This is what you can eat in the Paleo diet:
- Green veggies: They are at the top of the list, especially spinach, but also cauliflower and broccoli, lettuce, and almost anything else with chlorophyll.
- Root veggies: You’re also encouraged to eat anything that grows inside the earth, including beets, onions, carrots, potatoes, and other starchy veggies.
- Fruits: Naturally, anything that grows on a tree is appropriate for the Paleo diet, including peaches, bananas, watermelon, apples, berries, and citrus fruits.
- Meat and poultry: You’re not forbidden to eat meat sources. However, if you can consume poultry and grass-fed beef, that would go even better for your Paleo diet.
- Fish: You’re also allowed to eat fish, especially salmon, sardines, trout, cod, and herring. Only eat fresh mackerel and tuna. Canned fish is not an option.
- Coconut oil and avocado: They are both healthy fat sources available in the Paleo diet
- Nuts and seeds: Everything from pumpkin seeds to almonds is encouraged in the Paleo diet, but try not to overdo.
List of forbidden foods in the Paleo diet
As you will see, forbidden foods mainly include processed foods. But you’re not supposed to eat certain fresh foods, either. So, keep an eye on this list, too. Here’s what you’re supposed to avoid in the Paleo diet:
- Processed and canned foods: That includes natural foods. If they are heavily processed or canned, they won’t be an option. Also stay away from all sources of processed sugar.
- Corn, sunflower, and soybean oil: You are not supposed to consume every type of oil. It is better to stay with coconut oil if you’re following the Paleo diet.
- Dairy: You can have eggs in the Paleo diet, but not dairy. However, you will find some variations of this diet that do include butter and cheese.
- Legumes: All legumes are forbidden, including every type of bean you can imagine, and lentils.
- Wheat: You’re not supposed to eat wheat flour. Similar products include quinoa, oats, and corn. They are all forbidden in the Paleo diet.
Surely, there should be a reason to start the Paleo diet despite of having a long list of forbidden foods. Many people found they have more energy and sleep better after starting with this diet. It is also associated with cardiovascular improvements, and a better gastrointestinal function. You can also adapt the paleo diet for weight loss, and it works even better if you combine it with exercise and an active lifestyle.