What Is The Paleo Diet?
If your ancestors could hunt it or gather it thousands of years ago, it is included in the paleo diet. Although we don’t know for sure what our ancestors had for dinner across different parts of the world, researchers are of the opinion that their diet must have included whole foods and fresh produce. By leading physically active lives and following a whole food-based diet, hunter-gatherers were at a much lower risk for lifestyle diseases, such as cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and obesity.
In fact, we have numerous reports to show that this diet can cause significant weight loss, while improving your health. While no one is asking you to chase down a wildebeest or plough a farm, proponents of paleo eat as natural as possible, stocking up on wholefoods like seeds and nuts, an abundance of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, and grass-fed meats.
The premise behind this dietary trend is that the current Western diet is giving birth to a plethora of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart ailments, and obesity. Paleo diet claims to help you ward off the risk of chronic diseases, stabilize blood sugar, help with weight loss, boost energy, improve workouts, and reduce inflammation.
The best part of Paleo is that it promotes the intake of healthy fats, lean protein, whole foods, fruits and vegetables, and chucks out salt, sugar, and processed foods. Even if you are just looking to eat a more well-rounded diet, these healthy guidelines are just the thing for you. However, the only downside of paleo is that it advocates cutting out legumes, dairy, and grains, which has caused quite a stir in the medical community. Despite what the paleo proponents say, these foods are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
Nutritionist Kerry Torrens says,
The paleo diet shouldn’t be construed as a quick fix weight loss diet, but as more of a “lifetime program”. It encourages a more natural and primitive way of eating with foods devoid of sugar, Salt, and refined foods. The idea behind this diet de-jour is that it is in tune with how our bodies have evolved and how we have kept our bodies fueled over the centuries. This is why the diet swaps sugar, starchy vegetables, cereal grains, and dairy, for honey, non-starchy fruits and vegetables and lean meats. The diet also leans in favor of healthy, unsaturated fats such as avocado, walnut, and olive flax.
What Can You Eat On The Paleo Diet?
- Meat: Beef, Pork, Turkey, lamb, ground beef, bacon, veal, steal, pork chops, pork tenderloin, chicken breast, Lobster, shrimp, lamb rack, chicken wings, chicken legs, thighs, grass-fed beef, venison steaks, salmon, clams, Bison, Buffalo, New York Steak, Goose, Elk, goat, and quail.
- Fish and seafood: Walleye, Trout, Tilapia, Swordfish, Sunfish, shark, Red Snapper, Tuna, Sardines, Mackerel, Halibut, Salmon, bass, oysters, scallops, lobster, clams, shrimp, crayfish, and crab.
- Vegetables: Mushrooms, Green onions, Eggplant, parsley, Cauliflower, Peppers, Cabbage, Zucchini, broccoli, celery, spinach, carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Artichoke hearts, Avocado, and Asparagus. Starchy vegetables like Beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, acorn squash and Butternut squash can only be consumed in moderation.
- Fruits: Oranges, figs, Tangerines, Cantaloupes, raspberries, lime, pineapple guava, watermelon, strawberries, lemon, grapes, blueberries, lychee, mango, plums, peaches, papaya, blackberries, avocado, and apples. Bananas can only be eaten in moderation.
- Nuts and Seeds: Chia seeds, walnuts, Macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, and almonds.
- Eggs: Go for omega-3 enriched, pastured, or free-range eggs.
- Salt and spices: Sea salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, etc.
What Not To Eat On The Paleo?
- All dairy products, including butter, yogurt, cheese, milk, and cream
- Cereal grains, such as barley, rice, rye, wheat
- Legumes, like peas, peanuts, and beans
- Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and yams
- Sweets, including all forms of candy, sweeteners, sauces and condiments with added sugars
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugary soft drinks and fruit juices
- Processed and cured meats, such as hot dogs, deli meats, and hot dogs
- Highly processed foods, even bread, cakes, packaged foods
Healthy Paleo Snacks
- Smoked Almonds
- Trail mix
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Meat jerky
- Seaweed snacks
- Fresh vegetable sticks with hummus dip
- Fruit sticks
- Carrot fries
- Guacamole with paleo friendly tortilla chips
- Banana pudding
- Zucchini bread bars
- Fruit sorbets
- Protein bars
- Banana boats with almond butter
- Apple and cashew butter paleo-friendly sandwiches
- Tuna salad
- Paleo energy bars
7 Day Paleo Meal Plan
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with smoked Salmon
Lunch: tuna and Avocodo salad, with greens, oil and vinegar dressing
Dinner: Meatballs with Roasted Cauliflower
Breakfast: Egg and vegetable Muffin
Lunch: Butterfly roasted chicken with mushroom soup
Dinner: Beef, ginger, broccoli stir fry
Breakfast: Italian spaghetti squash breakfast casserole with tomatoes, eggs, olives, and salami
Lunch: Paleo friendly vegetable soup
Dinner: Grilled lamb chops with wilted spinach and spiced red cabbage.
Breakfast: Egg and broccoli bake
Lunch: Cauliflower rice with herb chicken
Dinner: Spaghetti squash with shrimp scampi
Breakfast: mushroom, sausage, onion, and spinach omelet
Lunch: Chipotle chicken lettuce wraps
Dinner: Maple braised chuck roast with roasted zucchini
Breakfast: Chorizo breakfast scramble with eggs, gluten-free chorizo sausage, veggies, and herbs.
Lunch: Roasted sweet potato vegetable salad with crumbled bacon and chicken
Dinner: Breakfast Burritos
Breakfast: Coconut flour pancakes topped with berries
Lunch: Shrimp Fried Cauliflower rice with honey balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts
Dinner: Thai red curry with Squash
Will Paleo Diet Help You Lose Weight?
Paleo diet is excellent for weight loss. High-protein diets like Paleo can positively affect your weight loss plans as protein rich foods curb your appetite and help you feel fuller for long. But if you are looking to shed pounds while on the Paleo diet, you should watch your calorie intake. Try to incorporate a “calorie deficit” into your diet to shed a few pounds, for instance burn off any extra calories or eat fewer than recommended calories per day. Not to mention, once you have lost weight, it falls on you to maintain it.
A study published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Liver Diseases in 2015 concluded that the Paleo diet is a healthy solution to the unhealthy Western diet, after unequivocal results from meta-analysis and randomized controlled trials. Similarly, another diet published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in the same year studies 76 people who had followed the diet for 60 days and concluded that they showed an improvement in their blood pressure and lost an average of 9 pounds.
The best results showed in people who followed the diet strictly without any breaks. Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2014, followed 148 obese dieters over a period of one year, and discovered that those who trimmed their fat intake lost 8 pounds lesser weight as compared to those who curbed their carb intake.
Another study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 compared the effects of a standard low-fa diet to a Paleo plan on 70 obese, postmenopausal women. After 6 months, the former group only lost 6 pounds, while those on the Paleo lost an average of 14 pounds. After a year, those on the low-fat diet had lost a total of 10 pounds, while the Paleo group showed a promising average of 19 pounds.
Paleo Diet During Pregnancy
As of yet, we do not have ample research to assess the benefits and risks of the paleo diet during pregnancy. However, experts stress the importance of eating a variety of nutritious foods until you deliver. If you want to continue your paleo diet during pregnancy, it is better to introduce flexibility in your diet, and try to eat a variety of healthy items from the basic food groups at each meal, including:
- proteins and legumes
- dairy, or calcium-rich nondairy alternatives
- healthy fats
Even though you may be prone to pregnancy cravings, stave off all unhealthy foods and sweets from your diet. You and your baby will benefit from a healthy diet incorporating:
- healthy fats
- vitamins/ minerals
- folic acid
Carbohydrates are an important source of energy during pregnancy. They provide you with the energy you need, in addition to refueling your stock of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, what you can do is to replace processed carbs with:
- whole-grain cereals, pastas, and bread
- A variety of legumes and beans
- Yams, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables
- Quinoa, cous-cous, brown rice other whole grains
Not to mention, dairy should make up a significant portion of a healthy pregnancy diet. They are your main calcium source, which your baby-to-be needs for healthy development of their bones and teeth. If you harbor a milk allergy or are lactose-intolerant, or refrain from consuming dairy by choice, you should swap it with other calcium-rich foods daily such as broccoli, sardines with bones, kale, legumes, and dark leafy greens. If you’re worried you aren’t getting enough calcium on the Paleo, talk to your doctor about a pregnancy-safe supplement.