What is the Paleo Diet?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s no doubt you’ve heard the term “Paleo diet” floating around. But if you have been living under a rock, you’re already halfway on your way to living a Paleo lifestyle, anyway. Ever since arriving on the public scene in 2013, Paleo has boomed into the hottest dieting trend—or, as some would say, “lifestyle choice”--of the late 2000s. Celebrated as the “only nutritional choice that cooperates with the body’s natural genetics”, Paleo has helped thousands of people lose weight and, in doing so, earned itself a loyal following of believers. Whether you’re already a Paleo devotee, or just want to know what all the fuss is about, here’s a handy breakdown of the Paleo diet plan that can help you decide if it’s worth a try.
Paleo’s Core PhilosophyThe Paleo diet all boils down to one core philosophy: that it’s the modern diet, full of starchy carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods, that is at the core of degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Paleo devotees strive to eat like our Paleolithic ancestors, limiting themselves to things that can only be hunted or found in the wild. That means that bread, beer, sugar, and dairy are all out, while lean meats, fruits, and veggies are in. If a caveman couldn’t eat it, a Paleo dieter can’t, either. In order to understand why the Paleo diet is designed this way, take a look at human evolution. For about 200,000 years, humans thrived as hunter-gatherers. Then, about 11,000 years ago, farming was discovered. Animal domestication and the agricultural revolution allowed humans to settle down, form societies, and concentrate on stuff like writing and religion. According to Paleo advocates, the human digestive tract hasn’t had a long enough time period—a scant 11,000 years—to adjust to the changes brought about by the agricultural revolution. It certainly hasn’t had enough time to adjust to the manufacturing changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, a mere 200 years ago. In other words, our methods for processing wheat into bread and beer developed very quickly—and our organs haven’t quite caught up yet. At the time of this writing, 66% of Americans are classified as overweight or obese. There’s no doubt that with its population growing more unhealthy by the year, Americans are searching for a cause and a solution. Paleo supporters attribute most of our society’s ills to its dependency on grains like bread, pasta, rice, and corn, and claim that eliminating those foods can drastically improve a person’s health and longevity.
Paleo Diet Food ListSo what is the Paleo diet, and what foods can Paleo dieters eat? In a Paleo diet, you can eat:
- Meat (grass-fed only)
- Fish (wild-caught only)
- Vegetables, excluding legumes
- Fruits, especially berries
- Most nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts)
- Tubers (sweet potatoes and yams)
- Coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and macadamia oil
- Cereal grains (wheat, oats, barley, rye)
- Dairy, except butter
- All legumes, including soy
- Canola oils
- Partly-hydrogenated oils
- All sugars and sugary drinks/juices
- All processed foods
- Wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages