Blog Diets Paleo What Should You Know About The Paleo Diet?

What Should You Know About The Paleo Diet?

In a world that is inundated with dietary trends, the paleo diet stands as a testament to the way of life of our ancestors. Whether you’re a seasoned health enthusiast or just starting your journey toward wellness, understanding the ins and outs of the paleo diet can be a game-changer. So, let’s embark on a journey back to our roots and uncover what makes this ancient-inspired diet a modern-day phenomenon. 

What Is a Paleo Diet?

A paleo diet, short for Paleolithic diet, is a nutritional approach inspired by the dietary habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the Paleolithic era. The fundamental principle behind this diet is to consume foods that mimic those available to our prehistoric predecessors before the advent of agriculture and industrialization. 

Essentially, the paleo diet emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, seeds, and nuts (5), avoiding modern-day processed foods, grains, dairy, and refined sugars. You can also add unrefined oils (for example, olive oil or coconut oil) and eggs to your menu (6).

Claims about the health benefits of the paleo diet include weight loss and a lower risk of certain types of heart disease and other health conditions. So, one major potential upside of the paleo diet is effective weight loss without the need to frantically count your caloric intake or force your body to go into starvation mode. This dietary plan consists of high-fiber and high-protein foods that provide us with a longer-lasting energy boost (6).

The crux of the diet is to avoid processed and refined foods. Fiber and protein, which you can find on the daily menu, will fill you up faster and will help you stave off hunger for longer. However, it’s a restrictive diet that can make it more difficult to get in all the essential minerals and vitamins you need to stay in good health and feel energized.

If you tend to let yourself off the hook, raise the white flag when things get tougher than you expected, send yourself on an unconscious binge-eating trip – BetterMe app is here to help you leave all of these sabotaging habits in the past!

See also
Paleo-Friendly Grain-Free Pancakes To Enrich Your Diet

Is the Paleo Diet Good for Weight Loss?

As you’re limited in terms of food options, you’re likely to end up eating fewer calories, which can promote weight loss. Enriching your diet with protein-dense and high-fiber foods may result in greater satiety with lowered caloric intake. A calorie deficit, restful quality sleep, regular exercise, and adequate nutrition should lead to the weight loss you’re hoping for (1, 2).

In addition, one study found that diabetic participants who followed a paleo diet experienced better glycemic control, improved cardiovascular risk factors, and greater reductions in waist circumference and body weight than those who followed a traditional diabetes diet(7). 

However, it’s important to note that individual results may vary, and weight loss success on the paleo diet depends on various factors such as adherence, physical activity levels, and overall calorie consumption. If you have any health conditions or are taking any medications, it’s important that you talk to your healthcare provider before you make any major dietary changes such as starting a paleo diet. 

What Foods Are in the Paleo Diet?

  • Vegetables (except for starchy ones): Leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, peppers, onions, and more.
  • Fruits: Berries, apples, bananas, oranges, and other fresh fruits. 
  • Healthy fats (in moderation): Avocado, olive oil, nut oils, nuts and seeds.
  • Lean meats: Grass-fed beef, poultry, pork, lamb, and game meats.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.
  • Fish (shellfish is also allowed): Salmon, trout, sardines, shrimp, and other wild-caught varieties. 
  • Eggs: Free-range or pasture-raised eggs are preferred. 

These foods are rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats, which makes them integral components of a balanced paleo diet. 

See also
Paleo Lunch Ideas For Weight Loss And Other Health Benefits

Dive into the world of sustainable seafood and plant-based delights with our guide to the pescatarian diet, which offers a balanced approach to nutrition.

What Is Not Allowed on the Paleo Diet?

Although this diet offers some healthy options, there are certain restrictions:

    • Dairy: Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are excluded, as they weren’t consumed by Paleolithic humans (8). 
    • Legumes: Beans, lentils, peanuts, and soybeans are avoided.  
    • Grains: Wheat, rice, oats, barley, and other grains are excluded. 
    • Some vegetable oils: Soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, and others.
    • Added sugars and artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium
    • Highly processed foods: Processed meats, “diet” or “low fat” foods, and preservatives are prohibited.
    • Added Salt

By eliminating these modern-day staples, the paleo diet claims to reduce inflammation, improve gut health, and promote overall well-being. 

Read More: Different Types of Diets: The Lowdown on the Most Talked-About Weight Loss Strategies

Paleo Diet Vs Keto Diet

In the realm of dietary strategies, the paleo diet and keto diet offer distinct yet compelling paths toward weight loss or other wellness goals. As you already know, at its core, the paleo diet prioritizes nutrient-dense foods while eschewing modern-day processed foods, grains, dairy, and refined sugars. 

In contrast, the keto diet, which is short for a ketogenic diet, takes a markedly different approach by manipulating macronutrient ratios to induce a state of metabolic ketosis. This high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet restricts carbohydrate intake to a minimum, which prompts the body to shift from relying on glucose for fuel to burning fat for energy in the form of ketones (15). The keto diet typically consists of high-fat foods such as avocados, olive oil, butter, and fatty cuts of meat, together with moderate amounts of protein and minimal carbohydrates. By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake, proponents of the keto diet claim it promotes fat loss, enhances cognitive function, and regulates blood sugar levels. 

See also
Paleo Chicken Pot Pie Recipe For Cold-Weather Comfort

Discover the transformative power of the keto diet, where high-fat, low-carb meals fuel your body and mind for peak performance.

Paleo Diet  

Key Differences and Considerations 

While both the paleo and keto diets claim to offer potential benefits for weight loss, metabolic health, and overall well-being, they differ in several key aspects: 

  • Macronutrient Composition: The paleo diet doesn’t prescribe specific macronutrient ratios but emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods. In contrast, the keto diet requires strict adherence to a high-fat, low-carbohydrate protocol to achieve and maintain ketosis. 
  • Food Choices: While both diets prioritize whole foods, the paleo diet allows for a broader range of food choices, including fruits, vegetables, and certain starchy tubers, which are restricted on the keto diet due to their carbohydrate content. 
  • Philosophical Underpinnings: The paleo diet is rooted in the concept of returning to ancestral dietary patterns, while the keto diet is based on manipulating metabolic pathways in order to achieve specific physiological outcomes. 
  • Long-term Sustainability: Some individuals may find the paleo diet to be more sustainable in the long term due to its greater flexibility and emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods. The strict carbohydrate restrictions of the keto diet may pose challenges to adherence over time, but so may the restrictions of the paleo diet. 

Ultimately, the most effective diet is one you can sustainably adhere to while prioritizing nutrient density, metabolic health, and overall well-being. By approaching dietary choices with intelligence, mindfulness, and a willingness to experiment, you can embark on a journey toward optimal health that honors tradition and innovation. 

BetterMe app is a foolproof way to go from zero to a weight loss hero in a safe and sustainable way! What are you waiting for? Start transforming your body now!

Pros and Cons of the Diet

Before you trade in your pasta for a plate of prehistoric fare, let’s look at the pros and cons of this ancestral diet plan. As with any dietary approach such as a keto diet or a pescatarian diet, the paleo diet has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look.

See also
12 Benefits Of The Paleo Diet That Will Make You Reconsider Your Current Eating Habits

Pros of Going Paleo 

Nutrient-Dense Fare 

The paleo diet encourages the consumption of nutrient-dense foods just like those that were enjoyed by our ancient ancestors. Think lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds — all packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to fuel your body and build a rich balanced meal (11). 

Embark on a journey of detoxification with our 14-Day Fruit Diet, which is designed to cleanse your system while indulging in nature’s sweetest offerings.

Weight Loss Potential 

For many individuals, shedding excess pounds is a primary goal, and the paleo diet may offer a promising path to weight loss success. By focusing on protein-rich foods and healthy fats while minimizing refined sugars and carbohydrates, followers may experience greater satiety and reduced calorie intake, which makes weight maintenance easier. 

Improved Blood Sugar Control 

Another notable benefit of the paleo diet is the potential it has to improve blood sugar control. By eliminating added sugars and refined carbohydrates, followers may experience more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. Low-carbohydrate diets can lead to improvements in glycemic control and insulin sensitivity in individuals with diabetes (10). However, if you have diabetes or are on medication that lowers blood sugar levels, you should talk to your doctor before you make any major dietary changes such as starting a paleo diet. 

Paleo Diet

Cons of the Paleo Diet 

Restrictive Nature 

While the paleo diet promotes the consumption of nutrient-dense foods, it also restricts several food groups, including grains, legumes, and dairy. This restrictive nature can make it challenging for some people to adhere to the diet long-term. 

See also
12 Benefits Of The Paleo Diet That Will Make You Reconsider Your Current Eating Habits

Potential Nutrient Deficiencies 

Excluding food groups such as dairy and grains from your diet may lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and certain B vitamins. Individuals who follow a paleo diet may be at risk of inadequate calcium intake, which could negatively impact their bone health over time (13).

Cost Considerations 

The emphasis on high-quality, organic meats, and produce in the paleo diet may increase grocery costs for some people. This increased cost may pose a barrier to adoption for those with limited financial resources. 

Social Challenges 

Dining out and social gatherings may present challenges for those who follow the paleo diet, as many restaurants and events may not offer paleo-friendly options. Social factors such as peer pressure and cultural norms can influence dietary choices and adherence to specific eating patterns. 

Read more: Unlocking Relaxation: The Magic of Restorative Chair Yoga

Paleo Diet  

FAQs

  • What is a paleo diet?

A paleo diet, short for Paleolithic diet, is a nutritional approach inspired by the dietary habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the Paleolithic era. It emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts, and seeds while excluding grains, legumes, dairy, and refined sugars. 

  • Does the paleo diet reduce belly fat?

The emphasis of the paleo diet on nutrient-dense foods that are high in protein and fiber may contribute to weight loss, including a reduction in belly fat. One study found that diabetic participants who followed a paleo diet experienced a greater reduction in waist circumference and body weight than those who followed a traditional diabetic diet. 

  • What fruits can I eat on the paleo diet?

On the paleo diet, you can enjoy a variety of fruits, including berries, apples, bananas, oranges, and more. These fruits provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which makes them integral components of a balanced paleo diet. 

  • What is the main difference between a keto diet and a paleo diet?

The paleo diet emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods inspired by our ancestral heritage, while the keto diet focuses on manipulating macronutrient ratios to induce a state of metabolic ketosis. While both diets prioritize nutrient-rich foods, they differ in their approach to carbohydrate intake, food choices, and philosophical underpinnings. 

  • Can you drink coffee on the paleo diet?

While the paleo diet doesn’t specifically restrict coffee, some proponents advise limiting or avoiding it due to its modern cultivation and processing methods. However, many individuals on the paleo diet choose to enjoy coffee in moderation, preferably without added sugars or artificial sweeteners. It’s important to listen to your body and consider how coffee affects your overall health and well-being while you follow the paleo diet. 

  • Is it necessary to consult a healthcare professional before you start the paleo diet?

Yes, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before you embark on any new diet, including the paleo diet. They can provide personalized guidance based on your individual health status, dietary preferences, and goals, which will ensure that the diet is safe and suitable for you. 

  • Can I follow the paleo diet if I’m vegetarian or vegan?

While the paleo diet primarily emphasizes animal-based foods such as meat and fish, there are ways to adapt it for vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. Focus on incorporating plant-based protein sources such as tofu, tempeh, legumes (as exceptions to the diet’s traditional rules), nuts, and seeds while emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Consulting a dietitian can help tailor the paleo diet to your specific dietary needs and preferences. 

  • Will the paleo diet help improve skin conditions such as acne?

Some individuals may experience improvements in skin conditions such as acne on the paleo diet due to the emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods and the elimination of potential dietary triggers such as added sugars, potentially inflammatory foods, and dairy (14). However, individual responses may vary, and consulting a dermatologist or skincare professional is recommended for personalized advice and treatment options. 

  • How can I manage social challenges while following the paleo diet?

Managing social challenges while following the paleo diet can be achieved by planning ahead and communicating your dietary preferences with friends, family, and restaurant staff. Look for paleo-friendly options when dining out or offer to bring a dish to social gatherings to ensure there’s something suitable that you can enjoy. Remember that flexibility and moderation are the keys to navigating social situations while staying true to your dietary goals. 

The Bottom Line

The paleo diet is one of the more popular nutrition plans. As previously mentioned, it can help with weight loss and some believe it may enhance physical and mental well-being. In addition, the vitamins and minerals you’ll get from fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and healthy oils will help you meet your nutritional needs.

However, you should remember that every person is different and what works for one person may not work as effectively for another. It’s also important to discuss any dietary changes with your physician, particularly if you’re receiving treatment for any conditions that may be impacted. That’s why it is highly recommended to consult a healthcare professional before you embark on any diet. As you weigh up the pros and cons of the paleo diet, you should remember to approach your dietary journey with curiosity, mindfulness, and a willingness to explore what works best for your own body and well-being. 

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES: 

  1. Balance Food and Activity (2013, nhlbi.nih.gov)
  2. Dietary intakes associated with successful weight loss and maintenance during the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  3. Metabolic and physiologic effects from consuming a hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic)-type diet in type 2 diabetes (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Paleo diet still lacks evidence (2016, academic.oup.com)
  5. Paleo diet: What is it and why is it so popular? (2017, mayoclinic.org)
  6. The Paleo Diet (2018, webmd.com)
  7. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study (2009, ncbi,nlm.nih.gov)
  8. The Paleo Diet — A Beginner’s Guide Plus Meal Plan (2023, healthline.com)
  9. Paleo Diet: Pros and Cons (news-medical.net)
  10. Effect of low carbohydrate diets on insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  11. Diet Review: Paleo Diet for Weight Loss (hsph.harvard.edu)
  12. Can the Paleo Diet Help Fight Autoimmune Diseases? (2022, everydayhealth.com)
  13. Paleo diet: What it is and why it’s not for everyone (2022, health.ucdavis.edu)
  14. Exploring the Paleo Diet: Unearthing Its Impact on Acne (clinikally.com)
  15. What’s A Ketogenic Diet? (2023, webmd.com)