Paleo Diet – A beginner’s guide

A picture containing fruits, vegetable, fresh meat and fish which a recommended to consume in a paleo diet

The Paleo diet has been around for thousands of years. It was initially developed by anthropologists to better understand how our ancient ancestors ate so that they could study the human diet from a scientific perspective.

The theory behind this diet is simple: our bodies have evolved over time and become accustomed to certain foods; therefore, it is best to eat them whenever possible.

This means eating only what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have consumed in their natural environments as opposed to eating other food that was not widely available until recently in human history. 

We try to provide a complete guide about the paleo diet in the article to clear the doubts.

What is Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, is a dietary plan based on foods similar to what had been eaten millions of years ago in the Paleolithic era.

Palaeolithic human meals were based on meat, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds.

So this diet plan encourages the consumption of lean meat, fish, fruits and vegetables while prohibiting the use of processed foods.

In fact, the main purpose of this diet is to return to the older way of eating that is more matched to humans.

Along with this, there are a few alternative versions of this diet plan, namely:

  • Normal paleo
  • Primal paleo
  • Strict paleo

These diets vary depending on the protein and fat content in the meal, providing people with a chance to choose their favourite diet.

Foods to eat 

The paleo diet doesn’t allow you to eat anything you want. Most of the meal options are fresh organic foods. For example:

  • Grass-fed meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds

Foods to avoid 

Like all other eating plans, this diet plan also restricts the use of some foods.

For example:

  • Sugary foods
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy products
  • High processed foods

Pros and cons

Although this diet plan is included among famous eating plans, still there are no long-term studies to back up its benefits. Because of this, the number of people following a strict paleo diet is decreasing.

However, health experts suggest some common pros and cons of the diet plan listed below.

The pros of the paleo diet are:

  • Enriched with nutrients and minerals.
  • Eliminates all unhealthy foods, thus decreasing the chance of health issues.
  • Mainly helps people lose weight in a natural way.
  • Promote a healthy heart and reduce the risk of diabetes mellitus.
  • Helps meet the daily iron requirement, eventually balancing the haemoglobin levels in the blood.
  • Helps improve the satiety levels, consequently reducing body fat percentage.

The cons of the paleo diet are:

  • This diet is a bit expensive and time-consuming compared to other eating plans
  • Eliminates certain food groups yet causes nutrient deficiency
  • Very small studies back up the benefits of the paleo diet, which makes it difficult to follow this diet plan
  • Ultra-restrictive, therefore, sticking to this diet for long-term is very difficult
  • Unclear effects on the microbial ecology of the gut
  • Difficult to follow for vegetarians
  • Daily use of meat can cause some diseases and is taxing on the environment

What are the risks of following the paleo diet?

As we know that this meal plan restricts the use of certain food groups that can undoubtedly help lose weight.

But long-term use of the paleo diet can cause some health risks. For example, in this diet paln cuts the dairy products such as milk, butter, and cream from the diet. This can reduce the vitamin D and calcium levels in the body, resulting in bone weakness.

Experts suggest that the consumption of large amounts of red meat can increase LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. In addition, red meat also increases the risk of bowel cancer.

Furthermore, this meal plan can cause severe vitamin B complex, magnesium, and selenium deficiencies.

Who can practice the paleo diet?

One question that is often asked is who can practice this type of meal plan? It should be noted that not everyone can perform it. Therefore, it is essential to consult your nutritionist before starting this diet plan.

Switching directly to this type of meal plan is not a good option for those who have irregular eating habits.

Also, people who have any nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D and are on medication need to consult the family physician before starting.

The Bottom Line

The paleo diet is an eating plan based on foods similar to what has been used by our ancestors.

People following the paleo diet use only meat, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Sugary foods, grains, legumes, and processed foods are avoided in this meal plan.

This meal plan is good for weight loss and offers several other positive health benefits. However, there are no long-term clinical studies to back the paleo diet.

People experiencing nutritional deficiencies, having irregular eating habits, or being on medication need to consult their physician before starting a paleo diet.

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