With all of the diets floating around out there, it can be hard to keep up with what’s what. One of the most popular diets recently has been the paleolithic, or paleo, diet. Its proponents say that this diet can aid weight loss and help support the health of the human gut microbiome.
But just what is the paleo approach? What is a strict paleo diet? Is it a plant-based diet? How does it compare to the popular Keto diet? Read on to find out the paleo definition and more about the paleolithic way of eating.
Paleo Definition And Other Information You Should Know: What Is A Strict Paleo Diet Without Processed Foods?
The definition of a paleo diet is a diet that only includes foods that can be hunted or gathered. The theory behind it is that agriculture developed too quickly for the human body to adapt. Therefore, food raised on farms isn’t food that the body can process. According to this diet plan, grains, legumes, and dairy products are off-limits, as they supposedly cannot be tolerated well by the human body.
Additionally, sugar, processed foods, vegetable oils, white potatoes, pasta, and rice are all no-nos for paleo eating. Unlike keto, this is not considered to be a low-carb diet, as eating a wide variety of fresh fruit is encouraged.
Avoiding the foods listed above may lead to weight loss because unhealthy foods are being cut out. Generally, when refined sugars and processed foods are eliminated from the diet, calorie consumption goes down. Reduced calorie consumption is linked to weight loss in most people. Paleo is considered to be a strict diet that some people find difficult to follow because of how restrictive it is.1
History Of The Paleolithic Diet: Eating Food That Ancient Man Consumed With The Paleo Approach
The paleo diet is also known as the Caveman Diet, which gives you a frame of reference for how long ago this diet was supposedly around. The paleo diet focuses on eating food that is not farmed or processed. The Paleolithic people lived between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago. The prevailing theory behind the paleo approach is that human DNA was established before the advent of agriculture.
Therefore, paleo people ate things they could hunt, such as meat and fish, as well as things they could gather, such as vegetables, sweet potatoes, fruits, nuts, and roots.
The modern paleo diet has made allowances to include free-range eggs, grass-fed butter, and grass-fed beef. The ancient paleo people did not have access to dairy, grains, sugar, or processed foods, so someone following a strict paleo diet would not eat these things.2
What Healthy Paleo Foods Are A Part Of This Diet? Wild-Caught Fish, Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, And More
Someone following the paleo diet can eat a wide variety of healthy foods. Free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and other organic, unprocessed meats fit right into the paleolithic way of eating. Wild-caught fish are also a healthy part of the paleo diet and provide key nutrients and healthy fats.
Healthy fats can also be incorporated into this way of eating through olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are strongly encouraged. Eating these paleo foods, focusing on cutting out processed foods, and eliminating sugar and dairy can be part of a healthy diet and aid weight loss.3
Combining The Principles Of The Paleo Diet And Veganism: What Is A Pegan Diet?
You may have heard of a vegan diet, which is a plant-based diet. People following a vegan diet eat only foods derived from plants. How would a diet like this work with a diet like paleo, where a significant amount of meat is consumed? There is a name for this way of eating: the pegan diet.
However, this diet isn’t strict paleo plus strict vegan. This would result in a diet made up of fruits, vegetables, and little else. Rather, the pegan diet takes principles from both the vegan and paleo diets and combines them.
The main tenets of both diet plans are cutting out sugar, refined grains, and processed foods, so these principles are central to the pegan diet. From there, many people following the pegan diet make fruits and vegetables about seventy-five percent of their diet. Meat is treated as a topping or a side dish instead of the main course. This line of thinking lends itself more toward a plant-based way of eating and can help people cut calories and lose weight. While it may be healthy, the pegan diet can be extremely restrictive, especially with the elimination of dairy, legumes, and whole grains.4
Is It Healthy? Criticisms Of The Paleo Diet
While looking at the paleo diet, it can seem like a healthy diet focused on eating healthy fats and good carbs, eliminating sugar, and consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. However, some experts believe that following the paleo diet long-term can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies.
Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that are good sources of riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, and magnesium. They are also good sources of fiber, which can support healthy cholesterol levels.
There are also concerns that too much fat in the diet can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease. Experts suggest that people who are at risk for heart disease, have kidney problems, or have Type 1 diabetes should not try the paleo diet.5
Is The Paleo Diet Right For You?
The jury is still out on exactly how healthy the paleo diet is. On one hand, it eliminates unhealthy processed foods and sugar, which may lead to weight loss. On the other hand, the elimination of foods like legumes, grains, and dairy takes away vital nutrients that have major health benefits.
If you are curious about whether or not the paleo diet will work for you, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor can point you in the right direction when it comes to trying a new diet, losing weight, or just generally getting healthy.