The paleo diet, also known as Paleolithic or the caveman diet, is based on the idea that eating foods that our ancestors ate will enhance optimal health. It is based on the principle that processed foods like table salt and refined sugar are detrimental to human health, and dieters should avoid them. Unlike the modern man, early cave dwellers were forced to eat a diet composed of protein since they had limited access to greens and grains.
The paleo diet permits foods such as meat, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, selected fats like olive oil and coconut oil, and minimally processed sweeteners like raw honey. Practitioners of the Paleolithic diet emphasize on getting energy from animal products with a macronutrient breakdown of high protein and low carbohydrate. Let’s delve into the food categories and exactly what you should be eating.
What to Eat
Protein isn’t just meant for muscles, it is the basic building block of all cells. Not to mention, protein is very filling, so this can help cut down on carbs. In this diet, pretty much all meat and seafood fits. Here are some protein choices:
This list may look small, but remember the fish and seafood category can be expanded quite a bit. While all of these meats are okay to eat on this diet, one must remember that some meats are better than others. Beef and pork contain much higher levels of saturated and trans fat, so they are much worse for your health than poultry or fish. USDA recommends about 10oz of red meat a week in order to stay within a healthy lifestyle. This looks like two meals of red meat the size of your fist a week. You may realize that you are eating much more than this every week.
Try to look for grass-fed meat, chicken raised without antibiotics, and wild seafood. You may be surprised about how you will look and feel just by switching to these healthier alternatives.
There is little to say about the enormous health benefits of vegetables. They contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals which are essential for health and proper body function. Moreover, they are full of fiber which is absolutely essential for diets high in protein.
Just be wary of starchy vegetables like potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to this staple. Here is a list of some vegetables you should think about eating on this diet:
The daily recommendations for vegetables are at least five servings per day. Try to eat multiple types of vegetables to gain the best nutritional benefit.
Like vegetables, everyone knows fruits are great for you. However, like vegetables, there are some fruits you should watch out for. One example is a banana. Although it’s filling and provides a lot of energy, it is really high in sugar. So if you are trying to watch weight and blood sugar, eat this in moderation. Here are some fruits to eat on the diet:
The daily recommendations for fruits are five servings per day.
Nuts and Seeds
Although you shouldn’t eat too many nuts and seeds, they are full of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Studies have shown that a diet high in healthy fats is healthy and could actually lead to weight loss. Here are some nuts and seeds that are great to eat:
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Flax Seeds
Eggs are an amazing food. They’re high in protein, B vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Whether you are trying to lose weight or pack on muscle, eggs can do it all. Not only are they affordable, there are tons of ways to prepare eggs. If cholesterol is a concern, then aim for one or two egg yolks and the rest whites.
Foods to Avoid
- Processed Foods
- Sweetened Beverages
- Refined Oils
- Refined Sugar
- Most Dairy
The paleo diet brings us back to the hunter-gatherer era, focusing on foods coming from animals. Some might ask what to indulge in (we all need to indulge here and there). In order to lose weight on this diet, individuals should try to avoid processed indulgences. An example of a good indulgence is dark chocolate. Another is red wine, which has been observed to have health benefits. However, beer, liquor, and white wine are a no-no.
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