The theory is our bodies were designed, and still optimized, to eat what our Paleolithic ancestors ate. Like your hunger-gatherer forefathers, on Paleo you get all the meat from wild animals and unlimited fruits and vegetables you can eat. But no starchy vegetables (like potatoes), no legumes (like lentils or beans), no wheat, and no grains (like quinoa or corn) because those plants were invented by human beings during the agricultural revolution after our Paleolithic ancestors left the planet. You get one cheat day where you can eat whatever you want (“Occasional cheating and digressions may be just what you need to help you stick to the diet.”) No oil because it puts omega 6 and omega 3 ratios out of whack which should never exceed 2:1, except olive oil if you must. Dairy is also prohibited. And meat must come from animals that weren’t fed grains (like corn) because grains lead to inflammation and increased fat.
Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style. Courtney writes the popular creative lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs- a site devoted to delicious everyday recipes, home decor, crafts, DIY inspiration, and photography tips to help make your every day extraordinary.
A great question to ask is “Does the Paleo diet work?” Here we have a head to head comparison between the Paleo diet and Mediterranean diet in insulin resistant Type 2 Diabetics. The results? The Paleo diet group REVERSED the signs and symptoms of insulin resistant, Type 2 diabetes. The Mediterranean diet showed little if any improvements. It is worth noting that the Mediterranean diet is generally held up by our government as “the diet to emulate” despite better alternatives. You can find an abstract and the complete paper here.
It all started in the Palaeolithic era, something you probably haven’t heard much about. And why should you? It was close to three million years ago, after all. Our Paleolithic ancestors had a balanced diet of meats, quality fats, and fibrous vegetables. But more than just the food they ate, they moved their bodies daily, hunting and gathering, and thriving for nearly three million years.
I went on Saturday morning and I excitedly told the young girl about finding your blog. The owner was out at the farmers market. I got the chicken salad wrap….delish! I purchases the paleo wraps and can’t wait to make my own this week. I am new paleo….I’ve tried many ways of eating…from raw to lord knows what. I’m 56 in pretty good health but have a bad hip. I need to loose about 20 pounds and want to do it healthfully and have the weight stay off and this be a lifestyle. I’ll be following your blog and maybe I’ll see you at Vive!
Joel Runyon is the founder of Ultimate Paleo Guide and CEO of Paleo Meal Plans. He's a precision nutrition, and Gym Jones Level 1 certified, and helped millions of people get healthy and lose weight since 2012. Joel is also an ultra runner and endurance athlete - and in 2017, he became the the youngest person to run an ultra marathon on every continent in the world to build 7 schools with Pencils of Promise in developing countries.Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Athlinks and read his full bio here.
Kirsty, with animal protein I’m a pretty picky. I buy at butchers where I trust in the quality. In my opinion there is a huge difference in taste and quality when it comes to animal protein. Grains and veggies I’m more lenient but never with animal protein. The cheapest way to get high quality meat is share a whole animal with friends or neighbors. The bacon we eat is from a pig I share with another 2 families. Once a year I get 1/3 and freeze it all. The bacon is incomparable to any grocery store bacon. I’d rather it less often.
Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes expounds on his 2002 article in the NY Times (What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?) and then in Science Magazine (see below). He shows how public health data has been misinterpreted to mark dietary fat and cholesterol as the primary causes of coronary heart disease. Deeper examination, he says, shows that heart disease and other diseases of civilization appear to result from increased consumption of refined carbohydrates: sugar, white flour and white rice. Or in other words, without using the word Paleolithic, he justifies the paleo diet. Here is an excellent chapter by chapter summary of the book [archive.org].
The aspects of the Paleo diet that advise eating fewer processed foods and less sugar and salt are consistent with mainstream advice about diet. Diets with a paleo nutrition pattern have some similarities to traditional ethnic diets such as the Mediterranean diet that have been found to be healthier than the Western diet. Following the Paleo diet, however, can lead to nutritional deficiencies such as those of vitamin D and calcium, which in turn could lead to compromised bone health; it can also lead to an increased risk of ingesting toxins from high fish consumption.
Jan Engvald has studied food and health thoroughly in the literature. In Unexpected facts on... food he shows that today's health advice (more or less unchanged for more than 30 years) is a direct cause to the increase in national diseases like coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, adult-onset diabetes, allergy, eye diseases, etc. His findings are low-carb and high-fat, close to paleo, though he allows high fat dairy.
For many people, switching over to Paleo isn’t easy. Due to the sudden drop-off in dietary carbohydrates, folks who are used to mainlining pasta and sugar often report that they feel terrible for the first couple of weeks after going Paleo. (Some call this the “Paleo flu.”) But if you can make it through this initial period of sluggishness (which can last two or three weeks), you’ll come through the other end feeling like a million bucks. Trust me. I’ve been there.
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith is against industrial farming. She spent 20 years as a vegan, and now reveals the risks of a vegan diet, and explains why animals belong on ecologically sound farms. And as all the neolithic foods we avoid are produced on industrial farms, she is against the foods we avoid. Here's a well thought out review by Eric Wargo: Clubbing Vegetarians Over the Head With the Truth.
In the long term, you have to be sure you’re getting calcium and other nutrients you’re missing by not having dairy products and certain grains. Some paleo-approved foods, such as salmon and spinach, contain calcium, so you have to be sure you’re including them in your diet. It would be a good idea to check with a registered dietitian, too, to make sure you’re meeting your calcium and other nutrient needs.
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For example, although white potatoes were recorded as being available during the Paleolithic era, they are usually avoided on the Paleo diet because of their high glycemic index. Processed foods are also technically off limits due to an emphasis on fresh foods, but some Paleo diets allow frozen fruits and vegetables because the freezing process preserves most nutrients.
Cordain explains that high intake of fruits and vegetables is one of best ways to reduce chances of cancer and heart disease. He notes that protein has twice the calorie burning effect of fat and carbs and is more satiating than both. He explains that starch, fats, sugars, and salts together cause us to keep eating. So if we limit our diet to fruits and vegetables and/or meat, we’ll stop eating when we’re full. And if you stop eating when you’re full, you’ll lose weight and won’t get fat. And as you lose weight, your cholesterol will improve (regardless of what you eat). This all makes sense and can’t really be disputed. If you want to lose weight, the Paleo diet will get you there and probably quickly. But Cordain’s hypothesis applied to long-term health falls short.
NeanderThin: Eat Like a Caveman to Achieve a Lean, Strong, Healthy Body (Hardcover) by Ray Audette, with Troy Gilchrist, was one of the early paleo diet authors. His home page NeanderThin [now restored from archive.org] has a diet based on the ideas of paleolithic nutrition. The diet can be followed as a low-carb, moderate or high carb diet, depending upon whether and how much fruit is used. You can read up through page 19 of the book at Google Books. The original press release from 1999. [The webmaster has an extra copy with the author's signature for sale. It has the original lime-purple cover. Pristine new condition. $60 (shipping included). Paypal only. Use e-mail link at page bottom.]
Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking in a Gluten-Free Kitchen by Julie Sullivan Mayfield and Charles Mayfield. Implementing paleo guidelines and principles in this book (no grains, no gluten, no legumes, no dairy), the Mayfields give you 100+ recipes and full color photos with entertaining stories throughout. The recipes in Paleo Comfort Foods can help individuals and families alike lose weight, eat healthy and achieve optimum fitness, making this way of eating sustainable, tasty and fun. The many reviews at Amazon are basically flawless. The sole complaint is over the lack of nutritional information. But there is no counting on the paleo diet and its inclusion would have been inappropriate. Published September 10, 2011.
They say that low-fat weight-loss diets have proved in clinical trials and real life to be dismal failures, and that on top of it all, the percentage of fat in the American diet has been decreasing for two decades. Our cholesterol levels have been declining, and we have been smoking less, and yet the incidence of heart disease has not declined as would be expected. ”That is very disconcerting,” Willett says. ”It suggests that something else bad is happening.”
We cannot time travel and join our Paleo ancestors by the campfire as they prepare to eat; likewise, shards of ancient pottery and fossilized teeth can tell us only so much. If we compare the diets of so-called modern hunter-gatherers, however, we see just how difficult it is to find meaningful commonalities and extract useful dietary guidelines from their disparate lives (see infographic). Which hunter–gatherer tribe are we supposed to mimic, exactly? How do we reconcile the Inuit diet—mostly the flesh of sea mammals—with the more varied plant and land animal diet of the Hadza or !Kung? Chucking the many different hunter–gather diets into a blender to come up with some kind of quintessential smoothie is a little ridiculous. "Too often modern health problems are portrayed as the result of eating 'bad' foods that are departures from the natural human diet…This is a fundamentally flawed approach to assessing human nutritional needs," Leonard wrote. "Our species was not designed to subsist on a single, optimal diet. What is remarkable about human beings is the extraordinary variety of what we eat. We have been able to thrive in almost every ecosystem on the Earth, consuming diets ranging from almost all animal foods among populations of the Arctic to primarily tubers and cereal grains among populations in the high Andes.”
5. Cassava Pizza Crust: Speaking of Italian comfort foods, you can still have pizza Fridays. This pizza crust is made of mashed cassava (also called yuca), which crisps up nicely (as our Caribbean friends who traditionally cook with yuca already know). Top it with your favorite veggies and nut cheese and you’re good to go. (via Predominantly Paleo)
Diet has been an important part of our evolution—as it is for every species—and we have inherited many adaptations from our Paleo predecessors. Understanding how we evolved could, in principle, help us make smarter dietary choices today. But the logic behind the Paleo diet fails in several ways: by making apotheosis of one particular slice of our evolutionary history; by insisting that we are biologically identical to stone age humans; and by denying the benefits of some of our more modern methods of eating.
Paul Burke's Neo-Dieter's Handbook: When We Lost Our Nutritional Roots; Where to Find These Foods Today by Paul Burke M. Ed. The book focuses on nutrition, the right nutrition to enhance health, exercise, weight training, and fitness. The diet consists of lean protein, vegetables, nuts, and fruit. He is opposed to grains. He wants you to stay away from grain-fed meat. The single review at Amazon.com gives the book 5 stars. Published August 21, 2009.
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We love nuts and they are decidedly paleo diet friendly. Be careful though, as cashews are high in fat and, for some reason, it’s incredibly easy to eat an entire jar of them in one sitting (that’s not just us, is it?). If you’re trying to lose weight, limit the amount of nuts you’re consuming. Otherwise, have at it. I mean, you can’t beat a good almond/pecan/walnut mix, can you?
But the Paleo diet bans more than just highly processed junk foods—in its most traditional form, it prohibits any kind of food unavailable to stone age hunter–gatherers, including dairy rich in calcium, grains replete with fiber, and vitamins and legumes packed with protein. The rationale for such constraint—in fact the entire premise of the Paleo diet—is, at best, only half correct. Because the human body adapted to life in the stone age, Paleo dieters argue—and because our genetics and anatomy have changed very little since then, they say—we should emulate the diets of our Paleo predecessors as closely as possible in order to be healthy. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other "modern" diseases, the reasoning goes, result primarily from the incompatibility of our stone age anatomy with our contemporary way of eating.
I wrote a book called The Paleo Solution which went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. This book incorporates the latest, cutting edge research from genetics, biochemistry and anthropology to help you look, feel and perform your best. I am a research biochemist who traded in his lab coat and pocket protector for a whistle and a stopwatch to become one of the most sought after strength and conditioning coaches in the world. With my unique perspective as both scientist and coach you will learn how simple nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes can radically change your appearance and health for the better.
Contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat; carbs do (and the Standard American Diet contains a ton of them!). Natural oils and fats are your body’s preferred sources of creating energy, so it’s best to give your body what it’s asking for. The following are some of the best types of paleo diet oils and fats that you can give your body if you’re in need of some additional energy.
In Cooked, Pollan describes how bread might have been first created: Thousands of years ago, someone probably in ancient Egypt discovered a bubbling mash of grains and water, the microbes busily fermenting what would become dough. And unbeknownst to those ancient Egyptians, the fluffy, delicious new substance had been transformed by those microbes. Suddenly the grains provided even more bang for the bite.
Cooking becomes an overwhelming chore when we get too wrapped up in complicated, time-consuming recipes. To be practical and sustainable, ancestral nutrition has to be easy. As a working mom, I’m always on the lookout for shortcuts in the kitchen, and often rely on modern conveniences that cavemen never enjoyed, like pressure cookers, slow cookers, and food processors. (I also appreciate indoor plumbing, for what it’s worth.)
With healing and restorative foods, such as stocks and broth, fermented veggies and kefirs, the dietary approach you will be following in this program is very oriented toward supporting high quality digestive health and minimizing exposure to irritating dietary antigens prone to triggering IBS symptoms. This program might just be the best thing you have ever done for your gut!
Paleo lays the foundations for a healthy diet – whole unprocessed foods, leafy greens, fresh pesticide-free vegetables, nuts, fruits on occasion, grass-fed meat, pastured free-range poultry and wild-caught fish – and lifestyle – moving your body every day and being mindful; a holistic approach to achieving a healthier and happier life and becoming the best version of you.
Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes: These are just a few of the health conditions that proponents of thePaleolithic diet, or caveman diet, blame on our sedentary lifestyles and modern diets, which are loaded with sugar, fat, and processed foods. Their proposed solution? Cut modern foods from our diet and return to the way our early hunter-gatherer ancestors ate.
New to the Paleo Diet? Experienced with Paleo but running out of recipe ideas? Below is our ultimate collection (the ENTIRE Paleohacks recipe archive) of all of our recipes for a tasty Paleo breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, desserts, side dishes, and condiments. This archive will be updated on a monthly basis as we publish new recipes, so make sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back!
Hidden danger: Paleo calls for the exclusion of cereal grains – wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn and brown rice, to name a few. These are great sources of fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium. Grains help our bodies control blood sugar, lower cholesterol and fight the risk of chronic diseases. Consistent low carbohydrate intake may lead to an overuse of fat for energy, also known as ketosis. Ketosis occurs when by-products of fat breakdown, called ketones, build up in the bloodstream. High levels of ketones can lead to dehydration and eventually coma due to severe metabolic abnormalities.
If you have more questions on specific foods, we’ve included a comprehensive list of paleo diet foods below. We’ve provided a list of the foods that are allowed on the paleo diet. We’ve also broken this list down into the specific food groups, so you can see which meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fats are on the paleo diet. In addition to all of that, we’ve also included a comprehensive list of foods not allowed on the paleo diet.
Life Without Bread: How a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Can Save Your Life by Christian B. Allan, Wolfgang Lutz. It is based on Dr. Lutz's work with thousands of patients in Austria. It deals with the health issues connected to high carb consumption. It is basically an English version and update of Dr. Lutz's 1967 book with the same title: Leben ohne Brot. He recommends eating only 72 grams of carbohydrates, and an unlimited amount of fat. And provides evidence as to why this is the healthiest diet. Read the review at Amazon by Todd Moody (it will be first!). See excerpts from his earlier edition: Dismantling a Myth: The Role of Fat and Carbohydrates in our Diet
The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy by Mark Sisson is a journey through human evolution, comparing the life and robust health of our hunter-gatherer ancestors with a day in the life of a modern family. The author offers a solution in 10 empowering Blueprint Lifestyle Laws: eat lots of plants and animals, avoid poisonous things, move frequently at a slow pace, lift heavy things, sprint once in a while, get adequate sleep, play, get adequate sunlight, avoid stupid mistakes, and use your brain. The reader learns how the right high-fat diet can actually help one lose weight and how popular low-fat, grain-based diets might trigger illness, disease, and lifelong weight gain. The author presents a comprehensive, well thought out paleo style eating plan in a humorous and organized manner. He backs up all his work with research, natural wisdom, and historical timelines. He disputes the role of dietary saturated fat in causation of arteriosclerosis, the role of cholesterol in promotion of heart disease, and the costly over-promotion of expensive, potentially toxic statin drugs. He criticizes our massive overeating of refined carbohydrates and urges avoidance of grains, cereals, bread and sugar. There is specific recommendation for "primal" food including more natural healthy fats and meats, fruits, veggies, and nuts. Some reviewers consider this to be the best of the various paleo books. The many Amazon reviews average to 5 stars. The author's popular and worthwhile web site: Mark's Daily Apple. The 2nd Edition was published January 14, 2012.
We’ve spent most of our time adapting to the food we ate before the Agricultural Revolution: animal foods, wild vegetables, fruits in season, along with limited amounts of nuts & seeds. Our bodies are built to consume these foods, but this is not what our diets look like today. Paleo is based on the idea that this mismatch between our bodies and our diet might be the reason for modern health problems like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Just like any other animal, humans suffer when we stray from our natural diet, but when we return to it, everything changes. Food stops making us sick, and starts making us strong, energetic, and vibrant with health. More than just a diet, it’s a lifestyle!
The basic premise: we should eat how we’ve been biologically and genetically programmed. If our ancestors thrived on the food they hunted and gathered – high fat, animal protein, seafood and vegetables, for instance – we should too. And since they weren’t subject to today’s more diverse options – processed food, grains, carbohydrates, dairy products, salt, vegetable oil and refined sugar (among others) – then we should avoid those food groups as well.