The Basics of the Paleo Diet

Palio pyramid

The Paleo diet is simply a nutritional guideline based on the natural eating habits of humans in the Paleolithic period. This is often referred to as the ‘Old Stone Age’ and dates back roughly two million years. The era ended at different times by region, but it finished worldwide approximately 10,000 years ago.

The History behind the Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet is a more recent creation, but it formed based on old eating habits from the Paleo period.

This was a time when humans weren’t completely evolved yet. Think about the human evolution picture, you know the one where a gorilla grows to become a human. Well this was an era where humans had animalistic traits. It was necessary for them to survive. This played a very important role in eating, because they had to hunt animals for meat to eat.

Surprisingly, the ‘hunt to eat’ ideology has played on for a lot longer than many think. As little as 50 years ago, people in lesser developed countries (ex. Belize) would hunt for meat, and even climb trees for fruit. They would go out and kill a pig, just the right way to make its blood spill out without ruining the meat. Then they would boil the blood and use it to make a stew with the pig’s intestines. Meanwhile, the pig would be getting gutted for any other usable meat.

In today’s world, there is a tremendous focus on eating organic and staying natural. It is viewed as the healthy way to live. So many have tried to follow suit with their ancestors. This isn’t exactly easy though, because it’s no longer a ‘civilized thing’ to go out every day to hunt down animals for food.

So people now focus on making the groceries they buy as natural as possible. This is easier said than done as many farm animals grown for meat have artificial diets. It’s essential to get meat from quality sources in order to get the full benefits. In most cases, this means finding meat that came from pasture-fed animals.

What Foods Are Allowed on the Paleo Diet?

As you would guess, the menu of foods that one can eat while on the Paleo diet is very similar to what humans would have available in the Paleo period.

As a result, the following foods are allowed on the Paleo diet:

  • Pasture-raised meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Eggs
  • Healthy oils (ex. Coconut, olive, and avocado)

That’s not to say any food that falls into one of these categories will be allowed on the Paleo diet. This is just the simplest breakdown available.

What Foods Are Not Allowed on the Paleo Diet?

By taking the list of allowed foods and cross-referencing it with the list of foods that aren’t allowed, it should give you a pretty good idea on whether a particular food is okay to eat.

The foods that are not acceptable for the Paleo diet include:

  • Candy
  • Junk food
  • Processed food
  • Refined sugar
  • Potatoes
  • Legumes (yes, peanuts too)
  • Cereal grains
  • Dairy
  • Salt

There are a few that may come as a bit of a shock, such as peanuts and potatoes.

The complete prohibition of dairy while on the Paleo diet is also something that catches many by surprise. This diet does not allow for any type of dairy at all – no milk, cheese, yogurt, or butter. The only exception is that grass-fed butter is acceptable to use in place of healthy oils.

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet is very interesting and it is currently catching the attention of everyone scavenging the dieting scene to find the next big thing. However, that doesn’t mean it comes without any issues.

The Paleo diet is great because…

  • It consists of only healthy, nutritionally balanced foods.
  • It allows for high protein intake, proving useful for weightlifters.
  • It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibers, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants.
  • It doesn’t require counting calories or any other lucrative factors, you just have to eat right.
  • It provides an increase in energy levels due to the lack of processed food, refined sugar, etc.
  • It supports an attempt to lose weight due to the low calorie density of most allowed foods.

The issues with the Paleo diet are…

  • The majority of Paleo-friendly foods are pretty expensive.
  • The diet depends a lot on meat, which isn’t as lean as it was in the Paleolithic days.
  • The average life expectancy was maybe 20 years when this way of eating was the norm.
  • The calcium and vitamin D levels in most foods is a little low, which may cause a deficiency.

Ultimately, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. There may be some little adjustments that have to be made to make it an ideal diet for you. It’s not like other diets where you have to precisely follow the rules to get the results. For example, the keto diet relies on zero to trace carb intake so the body enters ketosis. With the Paleo diet, you just eat healthier and avoid the stuff that drags your body down.

Conclusion: Is the Paleo Diet Here to Stay?

The Paleo diet is pretty new and many are already screaming that it is nothing more than a fad diet. In a sense, it is a fad diet. It has an alluring appeal because it’s themed on something that gives an immediate sense of healthiness.

However, that alluring appeal is just what will get people to notice what this diet has to offer. It is a very healthy approach towards dieting that can be used for anyone, even a professional athlete or bodybuilder. The fundamentals are there and it’s hard to argue with a diet that tells you to eat good food and to avoid bad food.

To conclude, the attention surrounding the Paleo diet may fade off with time but there is not turning the world against this diet because it isn’t flawed. This doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect diet, but it’s just as good as a number of other healthy balanced diets that people follow.

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