The Paleo Diet

The Paleolithic Diet is based upon a simple theory - our genes determine our nutritional needs, and they developed in relation to the environment in which we evolved. For millions of years our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate combinations of lean meat, seafood, plants, fruit, and nuts. But today, more than 70% of our dietary calories come from foods that our Paleolithic (Stone Age) ancestors rarely if ever ate... and that modern humans are not genetically adapted to eat. These are the foods that are recommended to approximate a Paleo Diet.

Meats (including seafood) and eggs are perhaps the most important components of the Paleolithic Diet.

Vegetables are encouraged, although some versions of the diet except green beans and peas as they are legumes. Some versions simply say that if it can't be eaten raw, don't eat it (though this doesn't mean that it must be eaten raw, only that it should be able to be eaten raw). Potatoes and other starchy tubers (e.g. cassava) are not allowed.

Fruits are generally allowed. Only people who need to lose weight should limit consumption of high sugar fruits. Juices should be consumed in limited quantities.

Nuts and seeds are generally allowed, people who want to lose weight should limit them to four ounces per day. Note that peanuts are legumes and NOT allowed. Unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk are often used as substitutes for dairy.

Sample Diet Plan

Breakfast Omelet with spinach and mushroom
Lunch Grilled salmon
Large mixed vegetable salad and flax oil dressing
Dinner Grilled chicken
Steamed broccoli
Tomato salad

Pros ans cons of the Paleo Diet

Pros

  • Higher intakes of protein reduce appetite and increase metabolism. High protein also prevents loss of lean muscle.
  • Emphasizes fruit and vegetables.
  • Intake of essential fatty acids will be high on this diet.
  • May be beneficial for dieters who have difficulty with carbohydrate cravings and blood glucose imbalances.
  • Will improve and reduce the risk of developing many diseases and disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  • Produces a net alkaline load on the kidneys, which helps to reduce the loss of calcium and preserve bone tissue, which may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Provides six weeks of sample menus.
  • Does not require counting or measuring.

Cons

  • Highly restrictive and will require a great deal of commitment from the dieter. Eliminates many favorite foods such as pasta, bread, potatoes and desserts.
  • May be socially disruptive. Difficult to eat out or at social occasions.
  • May be an initial withdrawal period when dieters commence the diet due to eliminating coffee, sugar, alcohol and refined carbohydrates.
  • Diet is based on speculation to some degree, as it is impossible to be certain what exactly our Paleolithic ancestors ate.
  • Recommends diet soda, which is contradictory to the philosophy of the diet.
  • Will require careful planning to ensure that calcium is adequately supplied due to the absence of dairy products.
  • Not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.

Conclusions

If dieters commit to this program it can certainly be very effective for weight loss and will reduce the risk of diseases that are associated with obesity and the modern western diet. However it may be difficult to follow especially in the initial stages and many people will experience unpleasant reactions such as fatigue, headaches and cravings. Usually these disappear after several weeks and from that point on the diet is generally very easy for the majority of dieters to adhere to.

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