The paleo diet is designed to resemble the paleolithic diets of human hunter-gatherers that lived thousands of years ago. It is believed that they consumed a diet that consisted of mainly whole foods.
By following a whole-food-based diet and leading physically active lives, hunter-gatherers presumably had much lower rates of lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
The main concept of the paleo diet is to return to a way of eating that is closer to what early humans ate, in an attempt to increase overall wellness and reduce disease risk. This entails eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods.
The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods including vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and animal protein such as eggs, meat, fish, and poultry. Try to choose grass-fed, pasture-raised, and organic wherever possible.
Foods to Eat
- Sweet Potatoes
- Free Range, Pastured, or Omega-3 Enriched Eggs
Nuts & Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Macadamia Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
Healthy Fats & Oils
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Avocado Oil
The basic premise of the diet is to eat mainly whole, unprocessed foods.
What are the Benefits?
By consuming mainly whole foods, the diet can improve your health by eliminating high-fat and processed foods that have little nutritional value and too many calories.
Switching to a Paleo Diet will mean an increase in vegetable and fiber intake, which are both important for gastrointestinal health and overall inflammation levels. In addition to this, many people experience improved health and well-being. Lastly, preliminary studies have had positive results regarding blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Foods to Avoid
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Soft Drinks
- Fruit juices
- Table Sugar
- Ice Cream
- Avoid Most Dairy
- Especially Low-Fat
- Some Paleo Diets Allow Full-Fat Dairy Like Cheese & Butter
- Processed Foods
- Hydrogenated Oils
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils
- Soybean Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Corn Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Acesulfame Potassium
Avoid processed foods as much as possible when following the paleo diet.
The Paleo Diet Meal Plan
Potential health benefits of the Paleo Diet include:
- Improved digestion and gut health
- Increased satiety from meals
- Weight management
- Improved blood glucose levels
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved cholesterol balance
- Lower chronic disease risk
What do you eat for breakfast on the Paleo diet?
Breakfasts can be based around proteins such as eggs and meats; vegetables of a wide variety; and healthy fats including avocado and olive oil.
Some ideas include: breakfast casseroles, smoothies, and paleo energy bars.
Do you lose weight on Paleo?
Although it is not designed as a weight loss diet, the Paleo Diet can help you lose weight as it is high in protein, and is filling. It also eliminates calorically-dense processed foods.
Can you drink alcohol on the Paleo diet?
Technically alcohol is not included as part of the Paleo Diet, as it is both processed and a toxin. As with any sustainable diet, flexibility is common and therefore an occasional glass of wine can be included as a moderate approach.
Modern food that is heavily processed is linked with a high rate of chronic health concerns. Following a more whole-food diet may be a possible solution and lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Paleo-friendly foods include meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit, along with healthy fats and oils. Limit processed foods, grains, and added sugar as much as possible.
As with any significant dietary change, it’s best to consult with a medical professional before beginning this diet.
Kristen Kuminski, RD, CDN
Kristen is a consultant Dietitian with experience working with a variety of individuals and populations. Kristen has experience counseling/ coaching clients in eating disorders, pediatrics, weight management, mental health nutrition and other chronic health conditions.