It does not matter, if your main goal is to eliminate excess weight or just become healthier, you probably already know that success can only be achieved by changing your lifestyle, following a healthy diet and being more active.
Everyone knows that the food we consume every day has a significant impact on our appearance and our health. If the food does not contain all the necessary nutrients for our body, then we should not expect to be healthy and look good.
On the contrary, if our food is enriched with all the elements required for the body, then this will have a positive effect on our appearance and health.
Undeniable is the fact that due to the development of modern technologies, the process of making various dishes today has dramatically changed from what our ancestors used to have.
They had to hunt and gather food for dinner, while we just have to walk to the nearest supermarket, where the shelves are packed with convenience foods and food ready to be consumed.
The whole problem is that due to such changes our nutrition has deteriorated very much, and we are consuming less and less of those products that do not have any additives or are not processed.
The whole essence of the paleo diet consists in turning to the origins because we are well aware of the fact that our ancestors were much healthier and stronger than we are. If they could do it back then, why can’t we do it now?
Following this diet, you will not eat processed and convenience food, which you buy in supermarkets, and you will put preference on food of exclusively natural origin. In this guide, you will learn more about paleo diet and how it works, as well as what you should and should not eat.
We also provided some guidelines to make the transition easier, which also includes a sample menu for a week and paleo recipes.
What is Paleo Diet and How Does It Work?
The very name "paleo diet" is a shortened version of "Paleolithic diet". Primitive people, who lived in the Paleolithic period, which ended 10,000 years ago, did not know what a microwave oven is and did not eat convenience foods.
In that era, agriculture was not yet developed and people practically did not eat dairy products and cereals. Bread, sugar and other "pleasures" of the modern diet were completely unknown to the ancient man!
They were hunters and gathers. Some modern nutritionists call the paleo diet the most natural food system, no matter what century we live in.
This diet consists of trying to return to our beginnings and develop a diet that is based on those foods that cavemen used to eat ages ago. To lose weight, get healthier and be completely transformed, scientists recommend to imitate our ancestors diet.
This means that your diet should mainly consist of fish and meat dishes, a considerable amount of fruits and vegetables in fresh form, in addition to mushrooms, seeds and nuts.
In reasonable quantities, it is permissible to consume vegetable oils. It is recommended to eliminate legumes, cereals, dairy products, fatty meats, vegetables rich in carbohydrates, and food with high salt content, like convenience foods and salted nuts because salt has negative effect on kidneys and leads to pain in the joints.
The fact is that in the primitive times, it was difficult to survive, so people tried to eat mostly the products that are easy to find and get. Moreover, they constantly hunted birds and small game, which in modern society is easily replaced by physical activity.
The main characteristic of paleo diet is that it does not impose certain restrictions on the amount of food consumed and on the ways of its preparation, the food you eat is just healthier. Meat, fish and vegetables can be boiled, stewed or fried. It is recommended to prioritize products of organic origin.
The creators of the paleo diet believe that the human digestive system is adapted specifically to food of the Paleolithic period. The human genome has been formed for several million years and those foods that appeared later on are contrary to the biological genetic essence.
Our digestive tract, during the course of evolution, has perfectly learned to digest food obtained from hunting and gathering. For 2.5 million years, mankind did not drink milk (with the exception of the breastfeeding period) and eat cereals, refined, canned foods, and completely went without them.
Agriculture and raising of stock appeared only about 10 thousand years ago, which by the standards of the evolutionary processes is like one moment and major changes just could not occur during this time. However, during this time our food has changed dramatically!
People have learned to grow cereals and bake bread, get sugar and cook jam, raise livestock, the fat content of which is several times higher than that of their wild relatives. This is not even mentioning all sorts of chemical additives and genetically modified products, the history of which is only a few decades!
Of course, our body cannot keep up with the progress of the food industry, and it is the irrational diet - the consumption of a large number of sweets, fatty foods, refined foods, and obvious overeating, is one of the main reasons for the development of excess weight and a variety of different diseases.
In modern nutrition, this group of products accounts for between 50 and 60% of the diet and is the cause of many diseases because at the genetic level, the person does not need them. Just bringing your diet back to normal, you can get rid of many health problems.
The adherents of paleo diet believe that the primitive people’s diet is most consistent with the human genome, so returning to our origins will allow us to forget about many contemporary diseases and normalize weight.
The human body receives the necessary amount of calories from meat. Consuming protein food, remember that it requires physical activity to be digested, which is what our ancestors did while hunting and gathering.
Fish contains a large number of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which provide the body with sufficient energy, satisfy hunger and help normalize the concentration of cholesterol and glucose in the blood. The amount of carbohydrates consumed is minimized, so this diet is low-carbohydrate.
Elimination of dairy products and sugar minimizes the likelihood of obesity, and also prevents the development of diabetes. Primitive people, who did not master agriculture, naturally did not raise cows, collect milk and prepare the corresponding products.
They gave preference to meat, rich in protein and amino acids. Also, milk is not consumed due to the fact that the adult human body does not produce enough enzymes for processing lactose, which can be digested only in infancy.
It is recommended to substitute salt with spices and herbs and sweet coffee and iced tea with plain water (at least 1.5 quarters should be consumed every day).
Residents of the island of Kitava (Papua New Guinea) are probably the most thoroughly studied settlement of hunter-gatherers and are a great example of the advantages of paleolithic diet in our days.
According to Dr. Staffan Lindeberg, who carefully studied their habits, the Kitavans consume exclusively:
Kitavans are healthy and strong, they do not have obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and acne, despite the fact that most of them smoke! They are a great prove that paleo diet is indeed effective.
The Paleo diet is a recreation of the diet of ancient people, but not a repetition of their way of life, as many mistakenly believe. There is no need to independently hunt animals, take a fishing pole and fish or wander through the woods in search of edible roots and berries.
All necessary products can be bought from farmers or in specialized organic stores. It is worth noting that this method of eating is not necessarily to be followed only for a short period of time. It can be followed for a long time and slightly adjusted according to personal needs and specifics of the digestive system.
We would really want to believe that there is some kind of inner wisdom that controls our dietary desire, so that we consume the most nutritious food from the point of view of nutrients. However, unfortunately, according to scientific research, in addition to craving for certain nutrients, such as salt, there is no such "wisdom" that would govern the choice of certain products.
Instead, the food that we like, to which we are drawn and which we choose, depends on social habits or is motivated by environmental factors such as stress and not instinct. Some of these factors include the following:
As you can see, the cravings for certain products are not motivated by instinct. The feeling of hunger is "stolen" by an extremely favorable to taste foods containing a large amount of fats and sugar and dietary preferences depend on many factors that our ancestors did not have.
This knowledge will help you develop a reliable diet plan, such as paleo diet, which allows you to avoid these shortcomings.
The Health Benefits of Paleo Diet
Paleo diet is very beneficial for the human body. Weight loss and external transformation are only consequences of the positive effect of paleo diet.
Paleo diet followers believe that the food system of primitive people has a number of advantages, the main of them being numerous health benefits.
In a Swedish study in 2009, scientists compared a paleo-style diet with a therapeutic low-fat diet for diabetics that included dairy products and cereals.
As a result, an improvement in glucose tolerance, a more pronounced weight loss (6.5 pounds more), and lower blood pressure were observed in the paleo diet group compared to participants in the diabetic diet group.
However, one of the first studies devoted to the nutrition of our ancestors was conducted back in 1984.
In the course of this work it was found that Australian aborigines, who suffered from diabetes and switched from a high-carbohydrate modern diet rich in processed foods to their "native" food (fresh food such as kangaroo meat, birds, crocodile, turtles, sweet potatoes, figs, honey and fish), managed to lose an average of 16 pounds, normalize cholesterol and get rid of diabetes. This experiment laid the foundation for research on paleo-nutrition.
Dr. Staffan Lindeberg, who studied Kitava islanders, also conducted a clinical trial of two diets. Volunteers were people with heart disease and diabetes.
They were divided into two groups, which for 12 weeks were fed on 2 different diets: Mediterranean (whole grains, low-fat dairy, vegetables, fruit, fish, oils, and margarine) and paleo diet. The results of the Mediterranean diet: volunteers lost weight, 4 out of 9 people normalized blood sugar by the end of the study.
Paleo diet resulted in volunteers losing 70% more fat than the "Mediterranean" group. All 10 participants in the group normalized blood sugar by the end of the study.
The paleo diet group ate much more protein compared to the other group. Protein food allows you to keep fit and strong muscle mass, stay thin and feel satisfaction from eating.
Without going further let’s go over them main benefits of paleo diet. Paleo diet has the following benefits:
What to Eat on Paleo Diet
The list of products you can eat on paleo diet is very extensive. Here it is:
- 1Meat: poultry, pork, veal, beef, lamb, bacon, rabbit, venison. The strictest followers use only meat of wild animals, birds or organic meat obtained by growing animals without the use of supplements, etc.
- 2Seafood and fish caught in the seas, oceans, rivers.
- 3Eggs of quails, ostriches, chickens, grown naturally.
- 4Vegetables: asparagus, zucchini, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, artichokes, spinach, celery, green onions, etc. grown without the use of fertilizers.
- 5Fruits: bananas, avocados, apricots, grapes, kiwi, lime, lemons, oranges, tangerines, pears, watermelon, melon, figs, mango, pineapple, passion fruit and papaya, etc. grown without the use of fertilizers.
- 6Berries: blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, etc. grown without the use of fertilizers.
- 7Allowed fats: walnut oil, linseed oil, olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil and coconut oil (only in small amounts).
- 9Sea salt, natural seasonings and spices.
- 10Apple cider vinegar and soy sauce (naturally fermented without addition of wheat)
- 11Nuts: hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, except for peanuts, as they are a representative of legumes.
- 12Water, infusions of herbs, coconut milk are allowed for drinks. Someinclude coffee and alcohol in small amounts.
- 13Despite the fact that in the Paleo Age gelatin was not present, the paleo adepts use it for cooking. In the latest versions of the diet, butter is also allowed.
What Not to Eat on Paleo Diet
The following products are not allowed in the paleo diet:
- 1All cereals without exception: cereals, grains, bread, flour and pasta. According to the creators of the diet, cereals at best do not do any good, at worst - they can only do much harm. Most grains contain gluten, which contributes to the destruction of the intestinal flora, provokes the emergence of bacterial infections, inhibits the absorption of vitamins. A certain group of lectins, contained in cereals and legumes, reduces intestinal absorbency and weakens the immune system.
- 2Legumes: peas, peanuts, beans, lentils, soybeans contain lectin and phytates, which slow down digestion or even completely remove such useful elements from the body as iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc.
- 3In the original version of Paleo diet there is no place for milk and dairy products. The human body is ill adapted to absorb milk, which is why lactose and casein intolerance is so often experienced. Coconut milk, nuts and cabbage can be considered as a source of calcium.
- 4Sugar, artificial sweeteners and the whole group of products with their content.
- 5The list of prohibited products also includes potatoes. Fans of this root can replace it with sweet potato.
- 6Vegetable oils: soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, etc.
- 7Salt, yeast, vinegar.
- 8Tea, coffee, alcohol, packaged juices, drinks.
- 9All products with soybean content.
- 10Artificial fats, margarine, spread, convenience foods, fast food and products in packages labeled "dietary", "fat-free".
- 11Artificial sweeteners: aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, sacharin, acesulfame potassium. Instead, use natural sweeteners, such as stevia.
Principles and Rules of Paleo Diet
There are several basic rules and principles that should be followed to achieve a final positive result with paleo diet.
How to Go on Paleo Diet
If you decide to change your way of life by going on the paleo diet, start by removing carbohydrate foods and convenience foods from your diet. You must give up these products right from the beginning.
After that, eliminate the dairy products, beans and fatty meat. If you eliminate food in this way, switching to this diet will not bring serious stress to the body, as it would be with the immediate rejection of all of these foods.
Scientists-nutritionists advise to adhere to paleo diet for at least two weeks, if you want to see the first positive results.
In the beginning, it is recommended to consult a doctor beforehand. Paleo diet has certain contraindications. This is due to the fact that the rejection of dairy products leads to a deficiency of calcium and iodine.
Also, the diet is contraindicated for people with kidney diseases, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. During the first week is quite difficult to adhere to the paleo diet, given the requirement to abandon salt, flour, cereals, legumes and dairy products.
But, as the testimonies show, health improves and so does the mood, work abilities and digestion also improve (due to an increase in the volume of consumed vegetable fiber).
Primitive people could not cook puddings and other delicious dishes, but modern supporters of paleo diet are not opposed to pampering themselves with a variety of culinary delights and among the recipes there are pancakes made from coconut shavings, spaghetti from a pumpkin, and coconut cottage cheese.
If you decide to try to live like your ancestors, below is how your menu may look in its simplest form. Of course, you can step away from it, you can alternate days of the week and replace some dishes with others - most importantly, use the right products.
Paleo diet does not oppose the consumption of the leftovers of yesterday's dishes (the ancestors, you know, also did not just throw the food away), so do not be surprised that this is taken into account in the menu.
With this menu, you do not have to count calories, but if your main goal is weight loss, do not consume too many nuts, as well as vegetables and fruits with a high starch content.
So, the daily paleo diet for a week may look something like this:
Breakfast: 10 ounces grams of omelet on olive oil or other oil, a cup of green tea with jasmine.
Morning snack: 2 ounces of dried pears.
Lunch: a plate of vegetable salad with cooked chicken breast and 1 ½ ounces of almonds, a glass of mineral water.
Afternoon snack: a handful of walnuts, 2 fresh carrots.
Dinner:10 ounces of cooked beef, 2 ounces of celery stalks, a cup of herbal tea.
Breakfast: a plate of salad from grated carrots, sliced apples, raisins and walnuts, a cup of green tea.
Morning snack: 1 1/2 pineapple candied fruits.
Lunch: 1 cooked sweet potato, 10 ounces of baked fish, a glass of any freshly squeezed juice.
Afternoon snack: 3 ounces of carrot sticks.
Dinner: 7 ounces of turkey meat, grilled, 4 ounces of broccoli broth, a cup of tea from dried fruits.
Breakfast: 2 poached eggs, a handful of pine nuts, a cup of green tea.
Morning snack: 3 apples.
Lunch: a plate of vegetable salad with tuna, a handful of hazelnuts, a glass of juice from berries.
Afternoon snack: 1 ½ ounces of dried apricots.
Dinner: 7 ounces roast beef meat, 4 ounces of stewed zucchini with cherry tomatoes, 2 peaches, a cup of green tea.
Breakfast: 7 ounces of scrambled eggs with bacon slices, 2 ounces of any berries (if not in season, then frozen), a glass of fresh orange juice.
Morning snack: 2 stalks of celery, a handful of cashew nuts, ½ cup of mineral water.
Lunch: a plate of cold tomato soup, 2 apples, a cup of green tea.
Afternoon snack: 2 ounces unsalted pistachios.
Dinner: 2 steaks of salmon, steamed, 5 ounces of boiled cauliflower, a cup of green tea.
Breakfast: a plate of fruit salad, a handful of almonds, a cup of chamomile tea.
Morning snack: 2 ounces dried beef, a glass of juice.
Lunch: 10 ounces of salad from Peking cabbage, boiled eggs and shrimps, 4 ounces of rabbit fried meat, a cup of green tea with lemon.
Afternoon snack: a handful of walnuts with raisins.
Dinner: 1 chicken of tobacco with ginger, a cup of black tea.
Breakfast: 7 ounces cooked chilled chicken breast, 2 cucumbers, 4 cherry tomatoes, a glass of apple juice.
Morning snack: 1 ripe banana and mango.
Lunch: a plate of vegetable soup, 5 ounces of beef stew with vegetables, 2 kiwis, a cup of green tea.
Afternoon snack: 2 ounces of prunes.
Dinner: 7 ounces of cooked fish, a plate of fresh salad with greens, a cup of tea.
Breakfast: 7 ounces of omelet with tomatoes and herbs, a handful of any berries, a cup of lime tea.
Morning snack: a plate of salad from apples and grated carrots, a glass of mineral water.
Lunch: 10 ounces of chicken fillet cooked in the oven, 4 cucumbers, a celery stalk, a cup of cranberry juice.
Afternoon snack: 2 eggs (hard-boiled).
Dinner: 7 ounces of turkey meat, 3 tomatoes, a handful of nuts, a glass of juice.
Important note: meals offered on the menu are planned to be consumed 5 times a day, but you can eat more often, including snacks like carrots, fresh vegetables, chilled cooked meat, eggs, berries or nuts in your meal plan. This will speed up the metabolism and at the same time reduce the volume of the main portions.
The Paleo Diet Disadvantages
So, is there really a flaw in the paleo diet?
A major drawback of paleo diet is the difficulty of purchasing products that meet the requirements of the diet. In addition, this type of diet is not very budget friendly. In a cold climate, an opportunity to purchase only fresh fruits and vegetables grown in a natural way all year round is not a cheap one.
For contemporary people, accustomed to eating fast food and using convenience foods, it is very difficult to give up these bad habits. For most people, a major drawback may seem to be the need to abandon conventional products, such as potatoes, cereals and dairy products.
The most serious problem that you can face, which though can be immediately easily eliminated with proper planning, may be the missing number of carbohydrates. This problem will arise if you are training in an intensive mode.
Carbohydrates that your body receives from fruits and vegetables will not be enough for you and the consequence of this will be a feeling of fatigue after training.
If you need to receive more than 4000 calories every day, 2000 of which from carbohydrates, in this case it will be too hard for you to follow the paleo diet. The only source of energy during the performance of intensive exercises is glucose (fat does not affect this process), therefore you need to look for a way out of this situation.
Luckily, it is quite easy to solve this problem. It will be necessary to increase the amount of fruits high in carbohydrates in your diet. For this purpose, cherries, pineapples, bananas are all good choices. You can get no more than 100 calories from 1 large-sized fruit.
If you are surprised and think how to not eat in the evening, then this diet will help you. In addition, some of the athletes can add to their own diet healthy cereals, for example, oatmeal and brown rice.
Undoubtedly, consuming these products, you will be stepping a little away from the paleo diet, but if only these products of natural origin are the source of your carbohydrates, then the effectiveness of the paleo diet will not decrease and your body will receive the required amount of carbohydrates to compensate for energy spending.
There is another problem with following the paleo diet, which may be faced by vegetarians. The protein source for vegetarians is mainly soy, quinoa, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes, and their consumption is not permissible in the paleo diet. That's why vegetarians need to find a different source of proteins.
So, vegetarians, who wish to adhere to this diet, can use the option of adding protein powder to their diet to provide their body with the required amount of proteins in addition to food, which is allowed, like almonds, avocado, broccoli, eggs, hemp seed, pistachios, spinach, spirulina and walnuts.
Also, the prohibited dairy products are not only suppliers of calcium (which can be substituted with nuts, cabbage and coconut milk), but also a source of useful bacteria for the intestinal microflora, good fatty lactic acids.
Many scientists disagree with the fact that the human digestive system is not adapted to the products of animal origin and farming and believe that the human body evolves and during the 10 thousand years was able to adapt to the new products. Also, there is not much scientific evidence that the paleo diet contributes to the prolongation of life and the prevention of a number of diseases.
Refusal of simple carbohydrates, harmful fats is a definite plus for health and weight loss. However, the exclusion from the diet of whole grains, legumes can provoke a severe shortage of micro and macro elements, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Grains are abundant in these elements and the restriction of their use requires their artificial replenishment. To do this, it is recommended to take vitamin complexes with microelements while on paleo diet. Another disadvantage is the elimination from the diet of starchy vegetables, in particular potatoes.
Of course, the root is very caloric, but at the same time, it is an indispensable source of potassium, which prevents muscle spasms, cramps, strengthens the walls of blood vessels and the heart. It is very important to pay attention to this and take additional supplements to fulfill the daily requirements of potassium.
To conclude, as you have learned that although paleo diets has some disadvantages, most of them are easy to overcome and you will get numerous benefits from adhering to a lifestyle and diet similar to our ancestors.
As the experience shows, the first week or two will be the hardest because you will have to drastically change your diet. If you are already leading a relatively healthy lifestyle, though, it will be easier for you to get rid of bad habit of eating processed food, sugar, and other non-paleo products.
Nonetheless, do not despair if you have a rough start and cannot strictly adhere to paleo principles. Make the transition gradual and follow the tips offered in this book to make it easy.
You will see that the delicious recipes given in this book will make it seem that you are not following any diet at all or missing out on something. Remember, the great outcomes that you will receive from adhering to a healthy diet and lifestyle that paleo is all about are well worth all the efforts you put in.
You will soon find yourself enjoying your new improved mood, health and maybe figure, if you wanted or needed to lose some extra pounds.
We wish you all the best in your beginning of being healthy and beautiful!