Generally, people define the Paleo diet as consuming food that Paleolithic people may have eaten. This means that the paleo diet consists of food that contains only completely natural ingredients. These ingredients can be meats, fish, various seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables, natural fats and oils. What this diet tries to avoid are the most is processed foods, grains, refined sugar and of course everything that is artificial. You can eat anything that people could have hunted or collected in the Paleolithic age. Experts also claim that following a paleo diet can help you lose weight and control body functions such as blood sugar, blood pressure, digestion or metabolism. So how does this work in reality? Let's get into it!
What is the Paleo diet?
The Paleo diet is a very simple lifestyle, the essence of which is to ban certain types of food from our diet. In the Paleolithic age, there was no agriculture or animal husbandry yet, so only cooked meat, fish, mussels, eggs, nuts, vegetables, roots, fruits, berries and mushrooms were consumed by mankind. The human body has also adapted perfectly to these foods, so digestion is not a problem for us. Later, however, Neolithic foods also appeared with the development of agriculture: various dairy products, beans and legumes, potatoes, sugar, and other “fake” foods.
According to optimum nutrition theories, our ancestors usually ate foods that they could locally obtain through hunting and gathering. These are called "A" quality foods. And on top of that, it’s not hard to get these foods, as it’s mostly meat as well as fruits and vegetables.
It is said that whoever follows the paleo diet will be able to perform at maximum sports performance and will also have excellent health. So many athletes and groups have started to follow this diet and more and more books have been published on the subject. Though, it is preferred not only by athletes but also by those who want to avoid foreign proteins and the resulting diseases of civilization (cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, acne, gastrointestinal diseases, depression, migraine headaches, and autoimmune diseases).
Proponents of the trend say the human genome has not changed anything for more than 2.5 million years, and our bodies are genetically programmed for the lifestyles of our Paleolithic ancestors, and biologically this diet is best for our body as it naturally provides the right balance of nutrients and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
According to Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University and the best-known proponent of the paleo diet, clinical research has shown that the paleo diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in the long run, normalizes blood pressure, eliminates inflammation in the body, helps lose weight, and eliminates acne, also provides excellent physical-mental performance.
According to Cordain, the typically unhealthy Western lifestyle is responsible for the spread of illnesses such as obesity or heart and diabetes, among other things.
The Western world, so today’s civilization, suffers from a number of diseases that are completely unknown to the indigenous peoples still alive today, as well as among those who lived in the Paleolithic age. All this is due to the fact that the human body was not able to fully genetically adapt to the nutrient sources introduced 5-10 thousand years ago by the agriculture.
Of course, there are plenty of deniers who question the theory above, and argue that the diet cannot be sustained in the long run due to limited diet, high cost of healthy nutrients and possible vitamin deficiencies due to the exclusion of certain food groups (grains, dairy products, legumes). However, Cordain said the mentioned nutrient sources are seemingly healthy, although can cause inflammation at the cellular level and contribute to the development of various diseases.
According to Cordain, maximum compliance with the mentioned rules is not mandatory (and is not realistically possible), it is enough if we approximately follow the recommendations at a rate of 80%. Let’s try the diet for 15 days, exercise alongside it regularly, and experience the beneficial effects yourself.
What can we eat according to the Paleolithic diet?
The diet primarily allows for foods that were already available to the people of the Paleolithic age, i.e. meat, fish, mussels, eggs, nuts, roots, mushrooms, vegetables, and fruits. In these modern conditions, we should eat the meat of animals fed on grass and eat a lot of whitewater fish. Sugar is strictly forbidden, but sweet-mouthed people can replace it to a limited extent with birch sugar or raw honey. Proponents of the diet say we should drink primarily water (some also recommend coconut milk and organic green tea), but alcohol and fermented beverages are prohibited.
According to the regulations, the nutrient intake should be 50-60% of animal origin and 50-40% of plant origin (vegetables, fruits), and all this should be accompanied by a high protein and low carbohydrate content.
List of foods that you can eat
- Lean meats, fats
- Fish, seafood, shellfish
- Oily seeds, stone fruits (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chestnuts, etc.)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Cold pressed vegetable oils (olive oil, coconut fat)
Protein from lean meats results in strong muscles, strong bones and an optimal immune system, in addition, protein intake also reduces hunger.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that reduce the risk of developing many degenerative diseases (such as cancer, diabetes, and dementia in old age).
Healthy fats (single unsaturated and Omega-3 fatty acids) from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of obesity, cancer and heart disease.
What can we NOT eat according to the Paleolithic diet?
Due to their inflammatory and allergenic effects, the paleo diet excludes the consumption of foods with a high glycemic index and saturation (such as fast-absorbing carbohydrates). For example:
- Sugars (beet sugar, cane sugar, fructose)
- Grains (wheat, barley, mousse, oats, rice, wild rice, rye, maize, sorghum, etc.)
- Vegetables high in starch (potatoes)
- Milk and dairy
- Legumes (beans, peas, soy, American hazelnuts, etc.)
- Vegetable oils (hydrogenated vegetable oil, trans fat, margarine)
- Ready meals
There are several nutritional problems with grains:
They produce refined carbohydrates, which is the main cause of diseases in civilization. In addition to starch, it contains gluten, opiates and lectin.
Gluten and fast-absorbable carbohydrates
Gluten is a protein found only in grain that the human body cannot process properly. Humans have not consumed grain for millions of years.
Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat, barley, rye.
Gluten-containing grains and flours contain substances that inhibit the absorption of nutrients and damage the intestinal walls. There is a high chance that a detrimental autoimmune response is provoked by foreign proteins entering the bloodstream through the intestinal wall.
Genes that cause gluten sensitivity can be activated at any time, at any stage of our lives.
It is not the fats but the rapidly absorbed refined carbs (with their high glycemic index) that cause the risk of cardiovascular disease as they put a heavy strain on the pancreas.
Grains to avoid:
What paleo product should we consume to replace grain in the diet?
Paleo flours, Paleolithic flour mixtures:
- Flaxseed flour,
- Coconut flour,
- Plantain flour,
- Sesame flour,
- Almond flour,
- Chestnut flour,
- Poppy flour,
- Amaranth flour,
- Hazelnut flour,
- Arrowroot flour
Paleo flours and Paleolithic flour mixtures can be used in a gluten-free diet, they can also be consumed by gluten-sensitive people. They can be used for those following the paleo diet.
The dangers of eating potato
As the glycemic index of potatoes is the highest among carbohydrates, it greatly helps in the development of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cancer.
What should we eat in a paleo diet instead of potatoes?
- Brussels sprout,
Milk and dairy are forbidden
In adulthood, the enzyme needed to break down milk sugar, aka the enzyme that breaks down lactose is inactivated. Milk is one of the most common foods that can cause allergies. Regular consumption increases insulin resistance, so it aggravates the metabolic syndrome. In a country, the more milk consumed, the more common type I diabetes is.
With what should we replace milk and dairy products in paleo diet?
Paleo, Paleolithic dairy substitutes:
- Coconut milk,
- Coconut cream,
- Coconut milk powder,
- TOTU egg curd,
- plant based milk to replace regular milk,
- Cocomas coconut water
- Birch sugar,
- Organic Date Syrup
Sugar is also forbidden
Consumption of refined sugar is associated with the rapid absorption of sugar. High levels of sugar overstimulate pancreatic function, causing a sudden increase in insulin production.
Paleolithic sugar substitutes:
Fats and oils in the paleo diet
The cholesterol theory is a hoax, as cholesterol is not the cause of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
Based on observations and statistics, the more vegetable oil and trans fat we consume, the greater the risk of cardiovascular disease is.
Vegetable oils are decomposed by heat and toxic substances are released in the process.
What should we use to replace fats and oils in Paleo diet?
Paleo, Paleolithic oils:
- Coconut oil,
- Sesame oil,
- Flaxseed oil,
- Almond oil,
- Poppy seed oil,
- Walnut oil,
- Avocado oil
Sooo will you try it or not?
I think it's definitely worth a try, you won't lose anything. The fact that the paleo lifestyle excludes certain foods from your diet can lead to vitamin deficiencies, but this can easily be offset by planning in advance and with continuous intake of multivitamins and minerals. Proponents of the paleo diet, by the way, strongly recommend the inclusion of vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and fish oil (Omega-3 fatty acids) in your daily diet.
The advantage of the diet is that it prefers casein- and gluten-free nutrient sources. Casein and gluten are also proteins (casein is in dairy products, gluten is in grains), and since milk and grains are responsible for 90 percent of food allergic reactions, eliminating them guarantees a high degree of allergen freedom during the Paleo diet.
High-fiber, wholesome foods are essential to a healthy diet: fiber prevents constipation, normalizes cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes.
Last but not least, the paleo diet helps us to lose weight easily: low carb and high fiber diet is more effective in the short term than classic low calorie / fat diets anyway. In the longer term, it plays a key role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
How did I find the Paleothic diet?
For me, my girlfriend drew my attention to the fact that my poor energy level, my constant fatigue, was due to my everyday diet. I thought I was living healthy. I go to the gym, run on the weekends and eat fruit. Then, after a long conversation and research, it turned out that my eating habit was actually really unhealthy. I’m not claiming to have mastered every part of this diet yet. For now, I have managed to get rid of milk and grains in my diet. I have to admit that I feel better. After a few weeks, I have already felt positive changes. Like I have more energy, and I generally feel better. At the suggestion of my girlfriend, we downloaded the Paleo Beginners Guide, which saved us a lot of time spent searching on the internet. Because you can read a lot of bullshit with the keyword paleo.
Paleo guide for beginners
This is a free ebook that will show you a lot of practical examples of how you can easily adjust the paleo diet into your life and why it would be important to you. It will make your lifestyle change easier for you with many interesting recipes and shopping lists. In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes, the book summarizes 15 healthy snacks and a number of delicious and properly prepared smoothie recipes. In my opinion, it is worth get on a healthy path as soon as possible. This book is for everyone, regardless of age, to read and use at least some of the easy-to-follow elements in their diet.
How can we stick to this diet?
If you often go out to eat with your friends or family, it also includes some tips to help you find paleo food at any restaurant. Speaking for myself, this is really helpful because you can still go out with your friends and dine together in a restaurant and eat something that is compatible with the paleo diet. Finally, with this book, you can learn a lot about food labels, and they also help you know what to look for on food labels and which foods to avoid in the supermarket because of the harmful ingredients.
This free ebook also includes two bonuses. As a first bonus, they offer paleo-courses that can help with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or inflammation. This can be extremely helpful if you or any member of your family has any of these problems. The second bonus is about seasonal food. This will help you learn how to make seasonal paleo dishes and which ingredients to use. It’s great, for example, if you’re trying to make something healthy for your family as a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.
If you have any, make a good use of your garden
If you are in the fortunate position of having your own garden then you can produce for yourself some of the most basic vegetables that you can be sure are chemical-free. You can have fresh tomatoes, onions, or even fruits like blueberries.
If you are more serious about exploiting the potential of your garden, I suggest you get a composting bin where you can recycle leftover food waste, leaves, and leftover plants. This maintains chemical-free gardening. You may want to supplement the garden with a greenhouse or foil tent to protect the crop and achieve better growth with it.
Some useful advice if you only apply this diet partially, as I do
If we choose the Paleolithic diet, it is important to pay attention to eating meat and vegetables as well as fruits every day. But what standards do we still have to pay attention to?
Do not add salt to foods. Cavemen did not use salt in their food either. Salt is very harmful because its taste-enhancing effect weakens the effectiveness of the taste buds and after a while, we will feel the flavors less. Without salt, however, we can feel the natural flavor of the food.
The only drink that the Paleolithic diet allows is none other than water, but we should only drink water when we are thirsty. The best is mineral water that is certified free of all kinds of additives, chlorine and fluorine. You should buy these in large PET bottles. If you crave caffeine, you can drink some organic green tea instead of coffee as it is the least processed. Coconut milk is also a very healthy paleo drink.
Avoid agave nectar as it is high in fructose and highly refined. Honey, stevia and birch sugar are considered Paleo sweeteners, but you should also consume only in limited quantities. Otherwise, after a while, we will feel that our body will crave a less sweet taste.
Alcoholic beverages should also be avoided in the paleo diet as we do not know that any of our ancestors ate the fermented fruits. Yeast is also a highly controversial substance, better to avoid.
Paleo foods are very high in nutrients, so no added vitamin supplementation is required. There is one exception to this: vitamin D. Vitamin D should be taken by those who do not stay in the sun all year or do not eat enough liver. If you don’t eat enough fish, then you should also take omega-3 capsules as well.
With the Paleolithic diet you should eat when you are hungry and not at certain times of the day.
The essence of the Paleolithic diet is therefore that the food you eat should be free of modern substances and micronutrients. We should also use oils that have been extracted from fruits or seeds (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, almond oil, peanut oil, etc.) to avoid over-artificial fats. Of the meats, game meat would be the most ideal, but this can be perfectly replaced by meat from grass-fed animals. (Grass feeding is important because it will contain the right proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the animal's meat.) Do not eat processed meats. Animal fats can also be consumed. It should be noted that our ancestors consumed nearly 300 plants (flowers, shoots of plants) that are still available today, but we don't eat them anymore. It is worth rediscovering these for ourselves! Take advantage of leafy vegetables, and broaden the range of herbs.