A few months ago, a friend of mine started dating a guy who swore by his Paleo lifestyle. Initially, we could not understand why anyone would choose to follow such a strict diet. Many questions arose even one as simple, and stupid, as “does he actually hunt and gather his food?” While this question may seem ridiculous, the hunter-gatherer methodology of our ancestors largely builds what the Paleo diet is all about. I have not tried the Paleo diet yet and do not in any way claim to be an expert. However, when I have attempted to look up what the Paleo diet consists of, I have found a bunch of different viewpoints, making it confusing and difficult for one to start their own Paleo venture. Between the above paleo infographic and the following post I’m going to simplify what Paleo is, why one should consider the diet, and how to get started. Consider this your go to guide for all the Paleo basics.
For more Paleo information and great Paleo recipes for the grill, check out our very own Whitney Bond on the San Diego 6 Morning News Show!
What is “Paleo”?
The Paleolithic (Paleo) diet craze, often called the caveman diet, began as early as the 1960’s shunning products of the agricultural revolution and the creation of the highly processed foods that exist today. The basic premises of the Paleo diet are simple, eat as if you were roaming the earth more than 10,000 years ago before junk food and heavy pasta meals existed.
What can I eat?
Foods allowed on the Paleo diet all mimic what would have existed in the Paleolithic period. This includes grass-fed meats, fish, seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and healthful oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut). Any type of food that was produced as a result of the agricultural revolution technically cannot be included. This includes grains, legumes, potatoes, refined sugar, dairy, salt, processed foods, refined vegetable oils, and alcohol. If it could not be hunted or gathered by our cavemen ancestors, don’t eat it! Sound too difficult? The leading specialist of this natural diet, Dr. Loren Cordain, offers three “levels” of Paleo in his book The Paleo Diet. These levels enable dieters to slowly transition to full Paleo or stop at whichever point works for them.
Why would I want to be Paleo?
The claims of the Paleo diet all surround themselves with the idea that you’ll live a healthier, fitter life. Paleo research claims it is the only nutritional approach that works with our genetics and ultimately prevents, and can often remedy, the ills and diseases caused by modern day food production. Through their research, Paleo enthusiasts blame refined foods, trans fat, and sugars as the root of many degenerative diseases including obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, and infertility. In terms of weight loss, the Paleo diet is much more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle rather than shedding pounds, but by ditching processed foods, many do lose weight as a result. This diet plan does not cater to vegetarians, although it can be modified. It is naturally gluten-free, satisfying another degree of healthy eating.
Is Paleo really the healthiest way to eat?
Critics of the Paleo lifestyle emphasize that humans have evolved to be able to eat modern day food. The wild game that existed during the Paleolithic period is not the same as the meats available today, and the sustainability of Paleo is currently not as realistic as it needs to be. Critics claim nearly every fruit, vegetable, and animal is drastically different from those that our cavemen predecessors consumed. Furthermore, our cavemen ancestors ate the way they did out of necessity, not out of want. There is little research on the actual proven benefits of the Paleo diet. These reasons aren’t necessarily an end all for Paleo, the diet is all about how you feel on it and responding to what your body tells you.
Interested in exploring what it means to be Paleo? Check out our most popular Little Leopard Book Paleo recipes including our Chipotle Lime Chicken Fajita Skewers, Grilled Pineapple Tomatillo Guacamole, and Caribbean Mango Avocado Ahi Lettuce Wraps or visit our Paleo page to explore more options!