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What is the Paleo Diet? The Truth About Paleo | Evolution Nutrition

Tens of thousands of years ago, before agriculture and McDonalds, humans thrived as hunter-gatherers. The diet of the ancient human consisted of mainly meat, fish, and certain fruits and vegetables.  Since the discovery of agriculture, the average diet branched out and began to include more grains, beans, dairy, and potatoes.

For a long time since then, this diverse way of eating was the norm. But one paper published in 1985 by Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner changed the perception of nutrition for many. 

The paper, named, “Paleolithic Nutrition — A Consideration of Its Nature and Current Implications” gained the attention of Loren Cordain - the founder of the modern Paleo movement. This simple find sparked a movement intending to find out what impact this style of eating could have on culture’s issues with nutrition and health.

What Is The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet is designed to resemble what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago. Although it’s impossible to know precisely what our ancestors ate in different parts of the world, researchers believe their diets consisted of whole foods.

By following a whole-food-based diet and leading physically-active lives, our ancestors presumably had much lower rates of lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The Paleo Food List

  • Allowed - fresh meats and organs, marrows, fish, eggs, vegetables, oils (olive, coconut, and avocado), fruits, animal fats (lard, ghee, and other types), and nuts. Sweet potatoes and yams are also allowed because of their nutrient density.
  • Not allowed - whole grains, cereals, refined grains and sugars, dairy products, beans, while potatoes, legumes (peanuts, beans, lentils), alcohol, coffee, salt, refined vegetable oils such as canola and corn, and processed foods (candy, cookies, cake, etc.) in general.

Benefits of the Paleo Diet

The most apparent benefit of the paleo diet is that you are much more likely to eat wholesome foods and completely cut out additives, preservatives, and the many chemicals found in processed and canned foods. There are also anti-inflammatory benefits from the plant nutrients we get from fruits, vegetables, oils, nuts, and seeds. You are also very likely to experience improved satiety and overall diet satisfaction due to the higher intake of protein, fats, and fiber. 

Most notably, the paleo diet often leads to more effortless weight loss and improved health markers. This is primarily because you cut out foods that do more harm than good - processed goods, refined vegetable oils, and refined grains. Focusing on a wholesome diet would create this effect on its own.

Drawbacks of the Caveman Diet

One of the first unexpected issues people have when adopting the paleo diet aka the caveman diet, is that it is their first experience with actual meal planning. Because the diet relies heavily on fresh foods, you have to expect a time commitment to plan out, purchase, prepare, and cook your meals.

With the preparation and focus on fresh foods and vegetables, there may be a financial impact, if proper planning is not applied. Fresh meats, fish, and produce tend to be pricier than their processed counterparts (frozen, canned, etc.); But with knowing the right local resources, the financial burden would be very minimal if a factor at all.  

The paleo diet also becomes much more difficult if your eating lifestyle is already ‘alternative,’ such as following a vegetarian or vegan diet.  Also, the lack of grains and dairy can have an impact on one’s energy levels, especially if your body is used to having them daily. So, a gradual transition to the paleo diet is recommended. 

Finally, athletes or competitors may have trouble meeting their carbohydrate requirements (3-6 g/lb of bodyweight) if they primarily get them from sources such as fruits and vegetables. Special paleo-friendly sources of carbohydrates that will help the athletes meet their requirements, will help them maintain their heightened level of training and commitments.

 

If you want to eat like a modern age caveman, login to Evolution Nutrition for a comprehensive compilation of paleo meal plans and recipes.