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Paleo Diet – Beginner’s Guide with Important Tips
The idea behind the paleo diet also called the caveman diet is that anything that is not hunted or gathered should not be consumed. Paleo diet only allows you to eat food that was accessible in the Paleolithic era; around 10,000 years ago. People generally ate foods like fish, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds which can be easily hunted or gathered.
But 21st century modernized farming has transformed people’s way of eating; processed foods, grains, and dairy products are now part of their everyday diet. Paleo enthusiasts believe that the human body has not evolved to process these foods which have increased the risk of getting certain lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases.
Your health will improve drastically because of cutting down on processed and high-fat food. Although the paleo diet is not designed for weight loss purposes but eating these types foods along with exercise will keep you fuller for a longer time, helping you lose weight.
In this article, you will find general guidelines to follow regarding paleo diet if you have decided to change your eating lifestyle. They are not carved in stone so you can adapt them according to your personal needs and health.
Paleo Diet – Do’s
People who follow the paleo diet prefer to use natural foods, organic grass-fed meats, and natural fats as these are the least processed. Here are some general rules on which you can plan your meals.
- Lean cuts of meat like beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, and pork, if possible grass-fed, organic. This also includes game animals like bison, quail, and venison.
- Eggs; preferably free-range, pastured and omega 3 enriched. Don’t take more than six in a week.
- Fish and seafood; salmon, trout, shrimp, and shellfish, etc. preferably wild-caught and rich in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon and mackerel.
- Fruit; such as bananas, apples, avocados, strawberries, cantaloupe, mango, and figs.
- Non-starchy vegetables; such as asparagus, onions, carrots, peppers, kale, and pumpkin
- Nuts and seeds; including almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
- Salt and spices; sea salt, garlic, rosemary, turmeric.
- Healthy fats and oils; Olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and walnut oil, but all in moderation.
- Recommended drinks: when it comes to staying hydrated, drink plenty of water. Often people following paleo diet drink black coffee or green tea both of which are high in antioxidants and have many health benefits.
Paleo Diet – Don’ts
Foods and ingredients to avoid in the paleo diet:
- Sugar: Table sugar, candies, pastries, ice cream, and many others.
- Grains: Consist of wheat, oats, rye, and barley, etc.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils peas and many more.
- Dairy: Avoid most dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt. This also includes low-fat or diet products. But some versions of paleo diets are less restrictive and allow the use of full-fat dairy like cheese, butter, and also peanuts.
- Some vegetable oils and fats: Soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, and others. This also includes trans-fats which are usually found in margarine and many highly processed foods.
- Artificial sweeteners: sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, etc. Replace them with natural sweeteners.
- Highly processed foods: including artificial meal replacements, convenience meals like a microwave and ready meals, tinned vegetables, biscuits, breakfast cereals and food with additives.
- Refined sugar and grains: carbohydrates that include refined sugars and grains are stripped off of all nutrients and fiber-like white bread, pizza dough, pasta, white rice, sweet desserts, etc. It also includes soft drinks
- Sugary drinks: all soft drinks and fruit juices with added sugar should be avoided.
Modified Paleo Diets
Modified paleo diets follow the basic rules of the Paleo diet, but they are less restrictive which makes it easier for people to stick to it. Also, the modified versions are proved as one of the best ways to lose weight and restore healthy eating habits.
Many versions of the paleo diet now allow some modern foods that are considered healthy like grass-fed butter and some gluten-free grains like rice. You can also indulge sensibly in small amounts of red wine and dark chocolate.
Many believe that you can use the paleo diet as a starting point, and then add a few healthy food items according to your needs and health.
Pros and Cons of Paleo Diet
Potential Pros of the Paleo diet:
- Fruits and Vegetable diet – fruits and vegetable diets are rich in potassium which is very important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, kidneys and muscle function. Nutrients in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties and aid in recovering from exercise.
- Meat diet – Paleo diet is essentially a high protein diet and proteins are crucial for growth and development. So if you are eating more red meat then you are getting more iron. It will also give you the feeling of satiety or fullness between your meals because of the high intake of meat and fats.
- Clean diet– you are more likely to eat clean diet by eliminating processed food, additives, preservatives, and sugar and it will lower the risk of diseases like type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and a certain form of cancer. Also, it will improve your blood pressure and blood sugar level.
- Healthy fats – the Paleo diet allows you to consume reasonable amounts of unsaturated fats for the body to function properly. Fats help absorb vitamins, convert them into energy which is then used to support brain function.
The fats you need to avoid are trans-fats which can increase your risk for heart disease. Coconut oil is an example of one of the healthiest saturated fat that contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that has antifungal and antibacterial qualities. You can use it in cooking, baking and even add it to your coffee.
Potential Cons of the Paleo diet:
- Paleo diet restricts the use of carbohydrates which are an essential source of energy for the body. By eliminating entire food groups, the body would be deprived of essential nutrients and vitamins.
- Paleo limits the consumption of dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt which are a great source of calcium. By following the Paleo diet, we are at the risk of insufficient calcium intake and consequently low bone and tooth density.
- The diet does not allow the intake of legumes and whole grains, which are extremely useful to gut health.
- Paleo’s proponents believe that the real reason behind obesity is modern food, although highly processed easy meals may have contributed to some health problems, the real reason is the lack of activity or exercise.
Paleo Diet—Important Tips
Here are some quick tips to get the most out of your Paleo diet, including which foods you should include or avoid.
1.) You can easily overeat while following the paleo diet. Since the diet does not lay down the nitty-gritty of the allowed foods so, you might find yourself binging on some of them. If you are planning to lose weight, don’t overindulge.
2.) If you have decided to train for a marathon or any competitive sports then think again before starting this diet because basically its high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet, which means you might find yourself tired and exhausted while exercising as carbs are the main energy source for exercise and Paleo diet restricts the use of carbs.
3.) Try a 10-15 days trial period to see if the paleo diet is right for you or not. But first few days on the diet are going to be the hardest as your body began to detoxify, you will notice symptoms like headaches, fatigue and mood swings. But if you stick to the diet, the symptoms will eventually subside and within a few weeks, you will feel wonderful, more energetic and less moody.
4.) You can try the modified versions of the paleo diet if regular Paleo diet is too restrictive for you.
5.) Write a list of healthy food options in the Paleo diet and take it with you while you go for grocery shopping. Look for organic and unprocessed foods to ensure you’re getting the best quality.
6.) Purge your fridge and kitchen from all unhealthy food snacks to avoid that unnecessary craving.
7.) To get the most from the Paleo diet, go for lots of fruits and vegetables. But eat only when you feel hungry.
8.) If you find that you’re not losing weight, consider cutting back on high-fat foods such as nuts, seeds, and oils. While these foods are fine in moderation, they’re also high in calories that can contribute to weight gain.
9.) Exercise regularly, it reduces your stress levels.
10.) Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid unhealthy habits to achieve your goal.
Final Thoughts on Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet may support weight loss or reduce your blood pressure for the short term but this diet is not safe for everyone. So before you jump into this diet or make any significant dietary changes, consult your doctor or a dietitian.
-Shameka ReneeResults may vary. Information and statements made are for general purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Her Own Health does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Her Own Health are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.