The paleo diet is an ancestral approach to eating, meaning that the intention is to eat foods that are similar to what our ancestors might have eaten during the Paleolithic era. The paleolithic era covers anywhere from 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago and refers to a time before humans adopted farming practices. Some people refer to paleo as a caveman or hunter-gatherer diet.
While that might sound a little funky, the idea is to eat real, whole foods that our bodies naturally evolved to digest and thrive on. The paleo diet is a call to return to a time before things like processed foods, grain-heavy diets, and unhealthy oils.
What can you eat on the paleo diet?
The paleo diet allows for a wide variety of delicious and nutritious foods. It includes all types of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. People eating a paleo diet tend to focus on eating a lot of high-quality protein balanced with a lot of nutrient-dense vegetables, with occasional fruit, seeds, and nuts to supplement their diet.
What can you not eat on the paleo diet?
Those following a paleo diet do not consume grains (like wheat and rice), legumes (beans, peanuts, soy products, etc.), dairy products, refined sugars, white potatoes, or processed and refined seed and vegetable oils.
The paleo diet restricts these foods because they may cause inflammation and all kinds of negative side effects for many people. These categories of foods were not available for much of human evolutionary history so the theory is that they might be difficult or unhealthy for us to consume.
Will the paleo diet help you lose weight?
While not originally developed as a weight loss diet, eating paleo can certainly help you lose weight. For many people, cutting out processed foods and focusing on eating high-quality meats, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts can lead to less snacking, fewer calories consumed, more nutrition, less inflammation—and therefore weight loss.
Benefits of eating a paleo diet
While paleo can be used for weight loss, many people who try paleo end up eating paleo as part of their long-term lifestyle. Eating paleo can have many great health benefits that help people feel great and want to eat paleo all the time. Here are some of our favorite health benefits of the paleo diet.
Relieves digestive distress
Avoiding foods such as grains and dairy can help relieve digestive distress in a lot of people. Since the diet does not include grains like wheat, the paleo diet is also a gluten-free diet, which is known to alleviate digestive discomfort and improve digestion for many people.
On a similar note, cutting out inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, processed oils, and sugars can greatly reduce inflammation in the body. Additionally, eating lots of nutrient-dense foods like whole fruits and vegetables can supply essential nutrients and antioxidants to the body that help fight inflammation.
Boosts energy levels
Eating a well-balanced nutrient-dense diet like paleo that focuses on eating high-quality foods and reducing inflammation can have great effect on your energy levels. People eating paleo tend to report feeling more energized throughout their day and stronger in the gym and other athletic pursuits.
Naturally detoxes the body
Cutting harmful things out of your diet like trans fats, refined sugar, and gluten and replacing them with antioxidants and phytonutrients from whole fruits and vegetables helps your body eliminate waste products and toxins. Rather than following a strict protocol like fasting or juicing, eating a paleo diet can be an easy and natural way to detox the body and get the same positive effects.
Improves blood sugar regulation
On the paleo diet, you do not consume refined sugars and therefore consume a diet very low in sugar overall. This results in fewer blood sugar spikes and better blood sugar regulation. You also eat a lot of healthy protein and fiber, which help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Improved body composition
In addition to promoting healthy weight loss, the high protein content in the paleo diet from meat helps build healthy muscle and may create a toned, lean physique.
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