The premise of the paleo diet is an easy one. It is a diet, and a way of life, based on what cavemen probably ate about 10,000 years ago during the Paleolithic period, mainly plants and animals. Some scientists debate the type of foods that were probably eaten at the time but most agree on the basics.
Also referred to as the Caveman, Primal, or Hunter-Gatherer diet, the paleo fitness plan is really about eating healthy foods and leading a healthy, pure life. Plenty of research validates the benefits of all natural, whole foods.
The paleo diet primarily includes these main types of foods:
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How to Eat Paleo
Vegetables – While the paleo diet generally includes types of food, there is a method to how to eat those permitted food types as well. Vegetables and fungi should be consumed raw. The reasoning is that cooked vegetables lose nutrients and canned vegetables have unhealthy additives and so for Paleo dieters the basic rule to follow is that if a vegetable can’t be eaten in its raw state it should not be included in the diet.
Fruits – As for fruits, fresh fruits of all types are usually allowed on most paleo diets. However, some fruits like grapes, melons, and dried fruits are higher in natural sugars and aren’t recommended for people who need to lose weight or limit their sugar intake. Fruit juices with added sugar should be avoided.
Eggs and Poultry – Eggs are allowed in a Paleo diet and are actuallyone of the most essential ingredients in a paleo diet. Since they come from animals, eggs are included in the meat group. In order for eggs to be appropriate for paleo dieting, however, the animals that produce the egg should ideally be fed all natural organic foods. For instance, chickens need to eat greens, grain, and insects.
Meat and Fish – Meats that are low in fat are considered more realistic of what Paleolithic man would have eaten but this is another area of disagreement among scientists. Today’s meats contain high amounts of saturated fats and that alone is reason to choose leaner cuts of meat. In order to be appropriate for a paleo diet, cattle should be grass fed in pasture and fish should be fresh and fed what fish in the wild eat. Breading is a grain and is not permitted on cooked meat or fish.
Nuts and Seeds – Healthy nuts and seeds are allowed but those who want to watch their weight would do well to limit nuts and seeds to about 4 oz. a day. Flaxseed is especially beneficial. Cashews can’t be eaten raw and therefore shouldn’t be considered for consumption. Peanuts are classified as legumes and are not allowed on a paleo diet.
Getting Reacquainted with Healthy Food Choices
Today packaged, processed, and canned foods are filled with artificial additives and ingredients which certainly did not exist in the Paleolithic era. But more importantly, they are not ideal for a healthy, pure way of living. A paleo diet re-introduces the body to the way human beings were meant to eat. All natural, low-fat, organic, and simple foods act as fuel that supports the optimum performance of the physical body, and this is one of the top reasons a person might opt to adopt a paleo diet and lifestyle.
Many people today love dairy, and rather than using it sparingly, you might find it on a daily diet for someone who is not paleo. But dairy products are one of the most fatty and processed food type available today, so it is certainly one to be wary of when seeking to live a healthy lifestyle. That said, dairy isn’t permitted on a paleo diet but coconut milk and unsweetened almond milk can be used as a healthy replacement for cow’s milk. Recommended beverages also include water, and lots of it, and natural teas, hot or cold.
There isn’t any way to determine exactly what type of foods were available in the Paleolithic era, but the common “don'ts” of a paleo diet revolve around foods that have to be cooked or processed before consumption, because that signals that it is a food type that became available and more popular after that point in time.Palio dieters don’t eat the following foods:
- Starchy tubers
- Processed Oils
- Refined sugar
- Refined salt
- Artificial sweeteners
Restricted Foods and Misconceptions
Most people think that peas and green beans are vegetables but they’re actually classified as legumes. Disagreements have arisen about whether tuber or root vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets and yams, should be included on the menu.
Also, studies revealed that the ash of some ancient fires contained wild grains and roasted kernels, but the belief is that a large amount of grain wouldn’t have been harvested at one time and therefore wouldn’t have been available in the Paleolithic time. This has made the use of grain, including corn, not permitted on a paleo diet.
Creative substitutions can be made for certain foods. For instance, butter can be replaced with coconut oil and almond flour can be used in place of white flour. Stevia is a great substitute for sugar and artificial sweeteners. Use honey and pure maple syrup sparingly.
The Paleo diet has truly become a massively popular type of diet in mainstream culture, and while it might seem like a fad, it is rooted in tried and true health-conscious facts about food and consumption. This leads us to believe that is here to stay.
It’s worthwhile to point out that Paleo diets are not all identical. Like different kinds of vegetarian diets, depending on the author of the paleo diet chosen, there will most likely be some deviations in foods that are allowed and others that are not. The important thing is to eat more all natural foods, especially in their raw forms, and to continually strive to lead a healthy life with full awareness of what you’re putting into your body. It's worth it to change poor eating habits and focus on the healthy benefits of a paleo diet.