Paleo diet basically means following the diet of the Paleolithic age. Most diseases and disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity come from modern processed food and lack of exercise. The solution to this is to stop having modern foods and start eating what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. That’s right; eat only what can be hunted and gathered.
Also known as the caveman’s diet, you need to exercise regularly alongside this diet to stay fit and healthy. It assumes that the ancient hunters were always on their feet, looking for food and trying to protect themselves from predators.
The Paleo diet improves your health tremendously as you stop consuming high-fat and processed foods that are low on nutrition and high on calories. Several studies show that the Paleo diet can cause significant weight loss and reduction in lifestyle diseases like heart disorders or obesity.
Here we give you a basic introduction to Paleo diet – what you can eat and what you can’t and other important information.
Foods you can eat on a Paleo diet
Your diet should consist of these whole unprocessed paleo foods:
- Meat – Any meat including chicken, mutton, turkey, beef, pork.
- Fish and seafood – Any wild-caught fish preferably. Salmon, trout, shellfish are some examples.
- Eggs – Free-range, pastured or Omega-3 enriched eggs.
- Nuts and seeds – Almonds, cashews, raisins, dates, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cucumber seeds, chia seeds and so on.
- Fats and oils – Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil are preferred in moderation
- Salt and spices – Sea salt, garlic, turmeric etc.
Foods you should avoid while on a Paleo diet
In general, you diet should exclude anything that is processed:
- Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup – Soft drinks, packed fruit juices, any form of sugar, candy, cakes and cookies, pastries, ice cream, jaggery and so on.
- Grains – This mainly includes any breads and pastas, wheat, rye, barley etc.
- Legumes – Beans, lentils
- Dairy – Avoid most dairy, specially the low-fat variety. You can include butter and cheese in moderation.
- Vegetable oils and trans fats – Some vegetable oils like soybean, sunflower, cottonseed, corn, grapeseed and safflower oils are to be avoided. Any processed food containing trans fats like margarine should be strictly avoided. These trans fats are usually labelled as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on food packs.
- Artificial sweeteners – Aspartame, saccharine, sucralose and any other form of artificial sweeteners should be avoided. You can use natural sweeteners instead.
- Highly processed food – Anything labelled as “diet” or “low-fat” or something that has too many additives.
Simply put, if it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it. You must make a habit of reading the ingredients list on food packets, even those labelled as health foods.
Modified Paleo diets
Paleo diets have evolved quite a bit over the years. They have diversified and have different versions. Some allow modern foods that are healthy for your body. Some also allow rice or butter. In fact, nowadays, a Paleo diet is a template on which you can base your diet, instead of being a strict set of rules.
All diets have cheat days. When following a Paleo diet, you can indulge in red wine and dark chocolate from time to time. Red wine is rich in antioxidants and good nutrients while dark chocolate that gas 70% or more cocoa content is very nutritious and healthy.
Water should be your first choice when you are thirsty. However tea and coffee are also recommended even if they are not paleo. Tea is very healthy and is full of antioxidants. Green tea is especially very healthy.
Coffee also is high in antioxidants. You must, however, have these beverages in moderation.
There is no one right way to follow the Paleo diet. People in the Paleolithic age are whatever was available in the part of the world they lived in. Some had low-carb foods while some had high-carb foods like plants. So these are just like a set of general guidelines you can incorporate in your diet easily and nothing rigid that is too difficult to follow. We hope we have given you a fair idea of what a Paleo diet is. Do you follow any diet? Do share your stories with us.