What is a paleo diet?
The focus of the paleo diet is on eating foods that might have been available in the Paleolithic era. The paleo diet is also known as the stone age diet, hunter-gatherer diet, or caveman diet.
Before modern agriculture developed around 10,000 years ago, people typically ate foods that they could hunt or gather, such as fish, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The development of modern farming changed how people ate. Dairy products, legumes, and grains became part of people’s diets. Proponents of the paleo diet believe that the human body has not evolved to process dairy, legumes, and grains and that eating these foods could increase the risk of certain health conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
The Paleolithic diet aims to return to the diet of our ancestors, before the industrial era. The paleo diet would, in fact, be more adapted to our physiobiological needs. Thus, it would allow the body to function at full capacity and improve its physical and intellectual capacities on a daily basis.
How does the Paleo diet work?
Renowned for helping to lose weight and act beneficially on the body, the Paleo method is based on the principle that our ancestors lived better, longer and healthier. In a paper published in 1985, Dr. S. Boyd Eaton unveiled the theory that the diet of our forefathers is perfectly in line with our current nutritional needs. To follow this diet, one must first be ready to remove several food families. The program recommends consuming only well-defined foods that are as close as possible to the eating habits used in prehistoric times.
Not allowing all food families to be consumed, the Paleo diet can be difficult to follow on a daily basis. And even if it is designed to cover all our needs and act on satiety, it is still restrictive and little varied. For example, it is forbidden to consume most side dishes, dairy products, sauces and many desserts. The positive point is that the number of calories per day is not limited, the goal is to eat until satiety. All associated of course with regular physical activity.
Be careful it is not a question of running a marathon once every two days but rather of moving slowly but daily thanks to brisk walking or cycling.
How to start the Paleo diet?
As in the past, it is therefore necessary to eat enough protein, limit the carbohydrate intake to 50 to 100g per day maximum and consume good fats to have energy. Sources of protein and fat must be found primarily in quality meats, some fish and eggs. Carbohydrates in fresh fruits and vegetables and fats in animal fats, oils, nuts, avocado… These foods must be chosen organic as much as possible. To carry out this program, it is essential to listen to your feelings. There is no point in having 3 meals a day at set times if you are not hungry.
It is also recommended but not mandatory during the diet, to practice intermittent fasting because it also reduces calories. Once a week, you can therefore take the side of skipping a meal even if we do not recommend it because this process is not manageable in the long term.
The Paleolithic diet achieves the following objectives:
- Weight loss
- Muscle mass gain for athletes
- Improvement of the state of health in general
- Reduced fatigue
- Reduction of digestion problems and acid reflux
- Sinus clearance, disappearance of morning stiffness, normalization of intestinal functions (in some people)
- Supposed prevention of several diseases: cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome (type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, obesity)
- Possible relief of certain autoimmune diseases: celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Gougerot-Sjögren syndrome
How does the Paleolithic diet lead to weight loss?
The removal of starchy foods and processed foods is responsible for weight loss in the first place. At the same time, satiety is filled by the significant presence of protein from lean meats and fiber from plants. At the transit level, it is the large amount of fruits and vegetables consumed that will cover the fiber needs and thus promote good digestion and intestinal transit. The prevention of cardiovascular disease with the Paleolithic diet results from the consumption of oilseeds rich in omega 3 (such as nuts) as well as cold-pressed vegetable oils.
How long does the paleo diet last?
The Paleolithic diet should, ideally, be practiced for life. Its positive effects are seen as soon as the diet is followed. As a result, its followers usually adopt this lifestyle in the very long term.
Advantages and disadvantages
The positive points of the paleo diet
- Rapid weight loss
- Decreased fat mass
- Better physical and intellectual performance
- energy boost
- Good fiber and protein intake
- Possibility to adapt the diet to his tastes
The negative points of the Paleolithic diet
- Restrictive and potentially frustrating regime in the long term
- Monotonous, risk of weariness
- Requires cooking to avoid monotony
- Hardly compatible with an active social life
- Risk of nutritional deficiencies
- Weight regain when the diet is stopped
Recommendations and precautions to be taken
Are there any risks?
Many meats frequently consumed in France are rich in fats and especially saturated fatty acids, if they are poorly chosen and consumed often, they can be responsible for an increase in cholesterol levels and cardiovascular pathologies. Red meats are also responsible for the occurrence of digestive cancers. In addition, with completely eliminated food groups (dairy products and starches), the Paleolithic diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies, especially in vitamin D (and calcium if one is not careful to consume many vegetables) and lead to drug supplementation.
Is this a diet for you?
If you want to change your lifestyle to feel fitter on a daily basis, you can take inspiration from a few principles of the paleo diet: more frequent consumption of raw vegetables, oilseeds and elimination of sweet and processed products. However, the rather restrictive nature of this diet makes it a diet that is not recommendable for everyone. It is recommended to consult a nutrition professional before starting this type of diet.
Is it a diet compatible with sport?
Absolutely, it is also very popular among great sportsmen. Physical activity works in synergy with the paleo diet to significantly decrease fat mass and simultaneously increase muscle mass. Following the paleo diet would improve performance, reduce recovery time and have more energy around sports sessions.
How not to regain weight?
When the paleo diet is interrupted, it is common to notice a weight gain. Indeed, stopping the diet often goes with the reintroduction of sweet and industrial products. To avoid regaining weight, care must be taken to maintain a predominantly plant-based diet rich in quality lean protein.
What are the before/after results?
People who follow the Paleolithic diet usually see significant weight loss, reduced fat mass, and energy boost. Other benefits are often described by followers of the paleo diet: reduction of seasonal diseases, digestive well-being, better complexion, etc. The benefits vary enormously depending on the person and their context.
Dietician’s opinion on the Paleolithic diet
The Paleolithic diet is relatively popular for weight loss and the muscle mass gain it entails. Yet for these two objectives, the presence of starchy foods of good nutritional quality would optimize the results in the long term. The Paleolithic diet is, in my opinion, a little too restrictive and risks generating significant frustrations. Nor should we lose sight of the fact that food today no longer necessarily has the same nutritional quality as in the Paleolithic era.
An overconsumption of red meat and deli meats at present can therefore have significant consequences for long-term health. In conclusion, I think it may be interesting to draw inspiration from some of the main principles of this regime, without going to the extreme.
Foods For Paleo Diet : Paleo Diet Food List
Foods that a person can eat on the paleo diet include:
- lean meat
- oils that come from fruit or nuts, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil
People following a paleo diet tend to choose grass-fed, organic meats because these are the least processed.
Foods to avoid on the paleo diet include:
- grains, including wheat, oats, and barley
- legumes, such as beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts
- trans fats (hydrogenated oils)
- refined sugars
- artificial sweeteners
- low-fat or diet products
Example of a typical paleo diet menu
- Grilled salmon
- Grilled lean pork tenderloin
- Salad (Romaine, carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, nuts and lemon juice vinaigrette)
- An orange
- Carrot or celery sticks
- Mixture of flaxseed and cashew nuts
- Lean roast beef
- Steamed broccoli or sweet potato fries
- Salad: a mixture of greens, tomatoes, avocado, onions, chickpeas (chickpeas are rich in vegetable protein, starch, vitamins and minerals), almonds and lemon juice vinaigrette.
- Strawberries for dessert
7-day paleo diet meal plan
We have created a 7-day paleo diet meal plan with the intention of providing a guide for people who want to try this way of eating.
People can make changes to each meal according to their personal preference. Fruits, nuts, and seeds make excellent snacks or desserts.
On the first day, a person could eat the following:
- Breakfast: Avocado, kale, banana, and apple smoothie with almond milk.
- Lunch: Mixed salad leaves with fried seabass, pumpkin seeds, and an olive oil dressing.
- Dinner: Roast chicken with a stuffing of onions, carrots, and rosemary.
On the second day, use the leftovers for lunch and enjoy fish for dinner:
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with wilted spinach, grilled tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds.
- Lunch: Mixed salad leaves with leftover roast chicken and an olive oil dressing.
- Dinner: Oven-baked salmon with asparagus and broccoli fried in coconut oil.
On day 3, use any leftover salmon from the previous day:
- Breakfast: Chopped bananas with blueberries and almonds.
- Lunch: Mixed salad leaves with leftover salmon and an olive oil dressing.
- Dinner: Beef stir-fry with mixed peppers, using coconut oil to fry.
On the fourth day, start with a protein-packed egg:
- Breakfast: Broccoli fried in coconut oil with toasted almonds and a poached egg.
- Lunch: Mixed salad with tuna, boiled eggs, seeds, and olive oil.
- Dinner: Harissa-baked chicken wings with steamed broccoli.
On day 5, a person could prepare the following:
- Breakfast: Coconut milk, mixed berries, and spinach smoothie.
- Lunch: Butternut squash, broccoli, and tomato omelet with mixed salad.
- Dinner: Red pepper, broccoli, baby corn, and salmon stir-fry.
On the sixth day, start with a savoury breakfast:
- Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, and tomatoes fried in olive oil.
- Lunch: Mixed vegetable and chicken soup with turmeric.
- Dinner: Grilled lamb chops with wilted spinach and spiced red cabbage.
On day 7, add healthful fats by using avocado:
- Breakfast: Spring onion, tomato, and mushroom omelet.
- Lunch: Mixed salad with chicken, avocado, seeds, and olive oil.
- Dinner: Slow-cooked beef stew with mixed vegetables.
Is Paleo or Keto the better diet?
Keto Diet Vs Paleo Diet: BOTH KIZER and Yurechko agree that Paleo is the better option in terms of overall health, simply because it’s less restrictive and includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
“Paleo is a little bit easier to have that balanced, moderate approach
Paleo Diet To Lose Weight
Why follow the paleo diet? How many pounds lost? The authors claim that this type of diet, exemplified in many forms of the paleo folk diet, is not recommended. Especially for people who are already overweight and lead a sedentary lifestyle (with little physical activity).
The hype around these diets promotes weight loss and leads more people to try fad diets backed by insufficient evidence.
In people with prediabetes or diabetes, the low-carb, low-fat diet could be particularly risky. Low-carb and high-fat diets are becoming increasingly popular, but there is no scientific evidence that these diets work. In fact, if you put an inactive person into this type of diet, there is a good chance that this person will gain weight.
There is a very important public health message here: you should be very careful with fad diets, stop the diet as soon as you notice any troubles, always seek professional advice for weight management and aim for diets supported by scientific evidence.
Finally, the researchers tested whether high-fat, low-carb foods would be beneficial to the health of pre-diabetic people. After eight weeks, they noticed weight gain, worsened glucose intolerance, and high insulin levels.
Clearly, according to the authors, a 100-kilogram person who practices this diet can have a weight gain of 15 kilograms in two months. This level of weight gain increases blood pressure, the risk of anxiety and depression and can cause bone problems and arthritis.
So, for someone who is already overweight, this diet would only further increase blood sugar and insulin levels and could actually predispose them to diabetes.
Another study published in December 2019 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, focuses on intermittent fasting (IF), the paleo diet and the Mediterranean diet.
These diets lead to weight loss in controlled trials, but there is little evidence regarding long-term efficacy in living conditions without intense dietary support.
The analysis looked at adherence, food intake, weight loss and metabolic outcomes in overweight adults who might choose to follow a Mediterranean, IF or paleo diet, and standard exercise or high-intensity interval training programs. The randomised controlled trial lasted 12 months (with 250 overweight and healthy adults) examining how different monitoring strategies influence weight loss (control, daily self-weighing, exercise, support, etc.).
According to the results, after 12 months, “the average weight loss was 4.0 kg for those who chose intermittent fasting, 2.8 kg for the Mediterranean diet and 1.8 kg for the paleo diet”.
A decrease in systolic blood pressure was observed in people participating in the IF and Mediterranean diets, as well as a reduction in blood sugar in the Mediterranean diet.
Note that classic paleo diets strictly exclude all legumes, dairy products and grains, this study used a modified version including dairy products as well as up to one serving per day of legumes and cereal-based foods.