Most people dive into dieting when they want to shed some extra pounds. In this case, they turn to various weight loss plans to help them slim down. The problem is that, over time, numerous fad diets have been introduced. They lead to short-term results, making most people gain all their weight back after they return to their regular diet. Because of this, most people have become skeptical, even of effective weight loss diet plans such as the paleo meal plan.
Before delving into these simple paleo meal plans, it is crucial to understand what this diet plan entails. Remember that with knowledge of an eating plan, it becomes easier to implement and follow it. So, in this article, we will discuss what is there to know about the paleo diet. Could these simple paleo meal plan ideas aid in weight loss? Can these plans help keep off the weight and for the long haul? These are some of the questions that this article will answer.
What Is The Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet is one of the famous diet plans in today’s society. It has gained popularity from its link to weight loss. Some people may argue that they have never heard of this diet plan before. However, you probably have.
You might have heard other people refer to it as the paleolithic or caveman diet. Whichever term you use, they all refer to the same eating approach. Typically, this nutrition plan is associated with the eating habits that date back to the paleolithic era. It might shed light on why it is also referred to as the paleolithic diet plan.
This era existed about 2.5 million years ago (9). During this era, most of what people ate came from nature. It might explain why a lot of today’s fast food favorites and processed foods are not allowed on this eating plan.
So, the paleo diet ‘mimics’ all the kinds of foods that people from this era typically consumed (2). Remember that most of them were fishermen, hunters and gatherers (2). So, most of the foods will mostly fall under these 3 categories.
As mentioned earlier, this meal plan highly mimics what was eaten during the Paleolithic era. However, most commercial paleo diet plans have been highly changed to help meet various individual preferences and tastes. Nonetheless, a few strict diet plans still exist. In general, the essential paleo diet will ask you to consume the following (9):
- Plant-based foods. These include seeds, tubers, and nuts.
- Vegetables. This category includes vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus, and peppers.
- Fruits. These include apples, avocados, pineapples, and bananas.
- Nuts and seeds. Some examples include almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
- Lean meats. The diet emphasizes explicitly lean cuts of grass-fed animals or any wild game meat.
- Fish. Remember that most individuals in this era were fishermen. So, fish is a staple in this eating plan. Choose fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna (7).
- Healthy oils. These oils are attained from nuts as walnuts and fruits such as olives.
- Animal products. These include products such as eggs.
- Herbs and spices
The diet plan also restricts the consumption of a couple of foods. These include (7):
- Grains. You cannot have grains such as barley, oats, and wheat when following this diet plan.
- Legumes. Similarly, legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils are restricted in this nutrition plan.
- Refined sugar. This means that you must avoid sugary drinks such as soda, energy drinks, ice cream, and other foods with high added sugar content.
- Dairy products. These include products like cheese and ghee.
- Highly processed foods
When it comes to weight loss, most of us want to drop tremendous weight in a limited period. You will find someone who wants to lose 10 pounds in one week or two pounds in one night. We understand the frustrations that come with weight loss, but this is not healthy.
Despite it being deemed unhealthy, it does not take away the fact that people run to fad diets that promise such results. Such diets may work for a while but then prove futile. The idea is to settle for a long-lasting diet plan that has been proven effective for weight loss.
The question is, does the paleo diet rank among these healthy weight loss diets? It certainly does. According to Medicine Net, this diet can promote weight loss due to its dietary restrictions. It restricts the consumption of unhealthy processed foods, sugar, and salt, which all result in added calories (11).
By restricting these foods, the diet regulates your calorie intake and may help you maintain a healthy calorie deficit for weight loss. These findings concur with the inferences of another study that acknowledged the effectiveness of this eating plan on weight loss. According to the study, the paleo diet was linked to weight loss and reduced waist circumference (WC) and body mass index (BMI) (4).
In addition to helping promote weight loss, this diet plan can also help reduce diabetes risk. According to Medical News Today, the paleo diet helps improve insulin resistance and blood sugar control, which help reduce diabetes risk (6).
Similarly, Medical News Today acknowledges that this nutrition plan can help lower blood pressure and blood lipid profile (6). High blood pressure is one of the common risk factors for cardiovascular disease. So, following this eating plan can also help reduce the risk of heart diseases (6).
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Although experts acknowledge that this nutrition plan can help you shed pounds, they recognize other significant aspects of using the diet for this goal. These aspects are as follows:
It Is Least Successful Compared To Other Diet Plans
Health Harvard conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of the Mediterranean, Paleo, and Intermittent Fasting approaches to weight loss. The research discovered that the Mediterranean diet plan was the most effective in shedding pounds (3).
The meal plan was also linked to low blood pressure and reduced risk of health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, strokes, dementia, and cardiovascular diseases (3). As determined by the study, the second most effective diet approach to help lose weight was intermittent fasting (IF).
The study argues that this dieting approach is easy to incorporate and adjust according to your preferences and schedules (3). More so, it also helps you safely shed tremendous pounds. The least successful dieting approach, as per the study, was the paleo diet.
According to the health experts conducting this study, this eating approach was deemed the least effective due to its dietary restrictions and limitations (3). It cuts out essential food groups such as legumes and grains, yet they are known for increasing satiety and thereby helping with weight management (1).
It Is More Expensive To Follow
The paleo eating approach emphasizes the consumption of meat and animal products like eggs. Such products are pretty expensive to acquire daily when compared to cheaper alternatives such as grains and legumes.
Unfortunately, it restricts these alternatives. Adhering to such an eating approach can thereby prove to be more expensive down the line (3). Additionally, the daily consumption of meat and meat products may increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases (3).
It Is More Difficult To Follow
According to WebMD, this eating plan may prove challenging long term due to its strict dietary restrictions and limitations (10). Cutting out sugar, dairy products, and grains may not sit well with most people. In this case, most people might find themselves switching to another weight loss diet plan after a few months of following this nutrition plan.
Read More: What Should You Know About The Paleo Diet?
It would help if you only considered designing simple paleo meal plans after your doctor and dietitian acknowledge that it is safe for you. If they do not give you the go-ahead, then hold your horses until you get this confirmation.
Once you get the confirmation, the next step is to sit down with your dietitian and design a paleo meal plan for weight loss. You can choose to craft a basic paleo meal plan to last for different durations. It means that you can create a simple 7-day paleo meal plan or a 4-week paleo meal plan. It will depend on your goals and what your healthcare provider deems suitable.
To help avoid making nutritional mistakes, it is best to work with a nutritionist if it is your first time trying this diet plan. Typically, these professionals will recommend a simple beginner paleo meal plan such as the one below:
The first meal plan ideas are obtained from Medical News Today. They are as follows (6):
- Breakfast: A smoothie prepared with banana, kale, avocado, apple, and almond milk
- Lunch: Mixed salad leaves prepared with fried sea bass, pumpkin seeds, and an olive oil dressing
- Dinner: Roast chicken with carrots, onions, and rosemary stuffing
- Snack: A handful of olives
Like the first paleo meal plan ideas, those for the second day are also obtained from Medical News Today (6). They include:
- Breakfast: Broccoli fried in coconut oil with toasted almonds and a poached egg
- Lunch: Mixed salad with boiled eggs, tuna, seeds, and an olive oil dressing
- Dinner: Harissa-baked chicken wings with steamed broccoli
- Snack: A medium-sized banana with almond butter
On this day, you can experiment with mushrooms and other products such as bacon. Take a look at some meal plan ideas to have on this day:
- Breakfast: Onions, spinach, and mushrooms fried up with sausages or bacon
- Lunch: A salad prepared with canned salmon, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and mustard vinaigrette
- Dinner: Maple Braised Chuck Roast with roasted zucchini
- Snack: Celery sticks
On the fourth day, you can switch up your menu and enjoy some roast chicken. Here is a look at all your meals on this day (6):
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with grilled tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and wilted spinach
- Lunch: Mixed salad leaves with leftover roast chicken from the previous day and an olive oil dressing
- Dinner: Oven-baked salmon with broccoli and asparagus fried in coconut oil
- Snack: A handful of nuts
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On this day, you will utilize some roast chicken leftovers from the previous day. In case there is none, you can always roast some chicken to make the suggested meals. Take a look at the recipes of this day:
- Breakfast: Chopped bananas with almonds and blueberries
- Lunch: Mixed salad leaves, leftover salmon from the previous day, and an olive dressing
- Dinner: Beef-stir fry in coconut oil and some mixed peppers
- Snack: A piece of fruit such as an apple or pear
The meal plan ideas for this day have been obtained from Mayo Clinic. Here is a look at what is suggested (7):
- Breakfast: Broiled salmon and cantaloupe
- Lunch: Broiled lean pork loin and salad (prepared with cucumber, carrots, romaine lettuce, walnuts, tomatoes, and a lemon juice dressing)
- Dinner: Lean beef sirloin tip roast, steamed broccoli, and a salad (prepared with mixed greens, onions, tomatoes, almonds, avocado, and a lemon juice dressing). You can opt to have some strawberries for dessert
- Snacks: If you need to snack throughout the day, consider having an orange, carrot, or celery sticks
If you are designing a one-week paleo meal plan, you can choose to end the week on a high note. You can try out exciting recipes such as the one shown below:
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon
- Lunch: Greek-style meatballs on top of a salad (prepared with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, almond slivers, cucumber, and balsamic vinaigrette)
- Dinner: Beef cubes with roasted mushrooms and carrots
- Snack: Carrot sticks with mayonnaise (optional)
Although we have deemed this meal plan effective for weight loss, it is essential to mention that it comes with various risks. Most of these arise from the fact that it cuts out the consumption of different nutritious meals. As such, it increases your risk of nutritional efficiencies (9).
This is the most significant downside of using this eating plan for weight loss. You can attain the following nutritional deficiencies:
- Scurvy. Scurvy is a nutritional deficiency disorder caused by calcium deficiency (5). Since this diet excludes dairy products, it increases your risk of attaining scurvy.
- Thiamine and Riboflavin Deficiency. Like with dairy products, this nutrition plan also cuts out all legumes and grains. These two food sources are rich in several B vitamins, including thiamine and riboflavin (9). When you do not get enough of these vitamins, you get thiamine and riboflavin deficiency, respectively.
You must substitute these excluded foods with the recommended foods providing the same nutrients. For example, in the case of dairy products, opt for sardines or dark leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. They contain a decent amount of calcium, which can help minimize scurvy risk (9).
At no point should you substitute various foods or make dietary changes without consulting a licensed nutritionist or dietitian. Remember that you risk increasing your risk of nutritional deficiencies without enough knowledge of this diet or your nutritional needs.
Similarly, poor food choices may result in additional calories. The extra calories may hinder your weight loss efforts and lead to weight gain. So, always consult instead of blindly adding foods to this eating plan, even if the additions look nutritionally complete.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking to lose weight, you might be tempted to use the paleo diet plan. After all, it has been proven to help promote weight loss. As such, it might mean designing simple paleo meal plans. Feel free to use any of the suggested meal plan ideas or recipes.
However, remember that experts have noted three to four things about using this diet plan for weight loss. They acknowledge that it is short-term, more expensive, and more challenging to follow. They also state that it can result in nutritional deficiencies such as scurvy.
For safe weight loss, it is advisable to talk to your doctor for better and safer weight loss options. They will recommend better eating plans that do not put you at risk of nutritional deficiencies or any other health problem.
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 for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 9 Foods to Help You Lose Weight (2013, webmd.com)
- All About the Paleo Diet (2019, webmd.com)
- Go figure: A healthy eating approach helps people be healthy (2020, healthharvard.edu)
- Influence of Paleolithic diet on anthropometric markers in chronic diseases: systematic review and meta-analysis (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Malnutrition: What you need to know (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Paleo diet meal plan: A simple guide (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Paleo diet: What is it and why is it so popular? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Paleolithic Diet (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The “Paleo Diet” – Back to the Stone Age? (2015, healthharvard.edu)
- The Paleo Diet (2020, webmd.com)
- The Paleo Diet: Fad or Not So Fad? (2018, medicinenet.com)