What Is the Paleo Diet?

In today’s society, dieting has become a way of life. With innumerable diets to choose from, it is important to understand the basics of each diet before choosing the one that is right for you. Many diets discourage large amounts of meat intake, restrict carbohydrates, or focus largely on fruits and vegetables. The Paleo diet, however, is unique because it is based on the diet of the very first humans.

Paleo is short for Paleolithic, which refers the to period in history known as the Stone Age. The Paleo Diet is also referred to as the ‘Hunter Gatherer Diet’ because it consists of food that can be hunted (such as meat or seafood) and gathered (such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.). Essentially, the Paleo diet takes the diet used by early humans prior to agriculture or animal husbandry and applies it to modern-day foods. The core principle of the Paleo Diet is that humans are genetically suited to eat the foods that our ancestors consumed. In short, the Paleo diet imitates the foods that every single human on earth consumed before the rise of agriculture.  The key is that the Paleo diet contains foods that have very high nutritional value, such as lean meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. The diet also shuns food ingredients that were created after the agriculture revolution, such as grains, dairy products, sugar, and salt because these products can lead to an increase in weight and a higher chance of developing health problems such as diabetes.

The Paleo diet has a large athlete following because of its high protein content. Some foods that are basic to the diet are meat, chicken, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. When choosing which vegetables to eat, you should look for root vegetables, but make sure to stay away from potatoes and sweet potatoes. One reason these foods are healthy for you is because they are free of additives, which are proven to be harmful to your health.

Now that you know the basics, you may find yourself asking why you should switch to the Paleo diet. There are many health benefits of going on a Paleo diet. For one, it can help you lose weight. Because the Paleo diet is naturally low in carbohydrates, it has a low caloric count. Low carbohydrates have also been proven to decrease the risk factors that lead to coronary heart disease. Another benefit is that the diet is naturally high in fiber. There are many benefits to fiber, some of which include lowering the risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease. Fiber also is a key component for weight loss.

Also, for people who suffer from allergies, the Paleo diet is naturally allergen free. Many foods that are manufactured by humans contain gluten and casein, which are two common causes of allergies. The Paleo diet, however, does not contain these ingredients and therefore can help people lead an allergy free life. Lastly, because the Paleo diet is based on foods that were consumed before the agricultural revolution, they do not contain additives such as sugar and salt, saturated fats, trans fats, or hydrogenated oils, all of which can lead to heart disease and other major health problems. By choosing to follow the Paleo diet, you are bettering your chance of a healthy, disease-free life.

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The Paleo Diet Food Lists

Following the Paleo diet is all about going back to the roots of our most ancient ancestors and adhering to their diet.  Back when cavemen walked the earth, they were hunters and gatherers eating the freshest of fruits, vegetables, and meats.  With all diets come strict instructions on what you can and cannot eat.  By following the list of foods set forth, you can gain optimal health and nutrition.

Understanding that the Paleo diet is based on the foods that the cavemen ate, you will need to stay away from all foods that are packaged or processed.  In addition, there are certain meats that are on the Paleo diet “do not eat” list because they are considered fatty.  Some of these meats include chicken wings, deli meats, pork sausage, salami, chicken skin, turkey skin, pepperoni, bacon, fatty pork chops, bologna, fatty lamb chops, breakfast sausage, and spam.

Cavemen lived before the age of agriculture. Therefore, they did not eat grains or wheat.  So these kinds of foods fall into the “do not eat” list of the Paleo diet.  Even the grains that claim to be “gluten-free” are not recommended for the Paleo diet.  Other grains on the “do not eat” list include, barley, corn, millet, oats, rice, rye, wheat, and wild rice.  Any foods that are made from these products can not be eaten as well.  These foods include amaranth, bread, buckwheat, cakes, cookies, corn chips, corn on the cob, corn starch, corn syrup, donuts, flat bread, muffins, pasta, pancakes, pita bread, pizza, quinoa, rice cakes, rice flour, rice noodles, rice pudding, rolled oats, rolls, rye crackers, and tortillas.

Many foods are listed on the Paleo diet “do not eat” list.  But there are also many foods that can be eaten and enjoyed.  Those who have experienced and stuck with the Paleo diet have found that there are a great variety of meals that they can eat.  Although cavemen did not eat dairy, they did eat eggs.  You can enjoy an omelet made with two eggs that contains fresh produce like mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, and onions.  You can also enjoy snacks of fresh fruits and vegetables such as berries, raw carrots, and celery.  You can even snack on guacamole.  However, when you are snacking on fruits and vegetables or enjoying them as a side dish to your meal, eat them without many condiments or sauces on them.  They are healthier this way.  Plus, there are many meats that you can eat.  Look for meats that come from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals.  If that is not possible, choose the leanest cuts of meat to fill your appetite.

The best part of the Paleo diet is that it will eventually slow your digestive process.  You will feel fuller for longer periods of time.  So when you are partaking in the Paleo diet, you should only eat when you are hungry.  Don’t worry if you skip the occasional meal.  Your body will let you know when you are hungry.

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Encouraged Paleo Foods

If you are new to the Paleo diet, you may have some difficulty determining what foods are acceptable and what foods you should avoid. In theory, if the people living in the Stone Age did not consume a certain food, then you shouldn’t, either. That being said, there are many foods available today that are nutritious and beneficial to your health that were not consumed by our ancestors. Whether you choose to strictly follow the Paleo diet, or follow it with a bit more liberty, there are core foods that are encouraged.

One of the basic foods in the Paleo diet is lean meat. Lean meats are high in protein, which promotes optimum growth. Some lean meats that are encouraged in the Paleo diet are lean beef, flank steak, London broil, lean pork, pork chops, and essentially any lean cut meat. Lean poultry, like chicken breast or turkey breast are encouraged too. Eggs are also a beneficial food to include in your diet, but make sure you limit yourself to 6 eggs a week.

Seafood lovers have no fear — fish is an essential part of the Paleo diet! There are many kinds of fish you can choose from, all of which are encouraged in the Paleo diet. Some of the encouraged fishes are bass, cod, eel, haddock, halibut, mackerel, red snapper, salmon, striped bass, and tuna. Note that basically any other commercially available fish is acceptable. You may also choose from a variety of shellfish such as clams, lobster, scallops, and shrimp.

Fruits and vegetables are also a core part of the Paleo diet. For the fruit portion of your diet, most fruits are encouraged. You have the liberty to choose anything from an apricot to a papaya to a star fruit! Basically, if it’s a fruit, then it’s included in the diet. To fulfill the vegetable portion of your diet, there are many vegetables to choose from. Root vegetables, aside from potatoes, are especially encouraged. Some vegetables you may want to try are artichokes, beets, broccoli, celery, mushrooms, onions, pumpkin, squash, and all kinds of peppers.

The last category of encouraged Paleo diet foods are nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are very healthy for you and also serve as a great snack. There are various kinds of nuts and seeds to choose from. Some nuts you may want to consider incorporating into your diet are almonds, cashews, chestnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and unsalted pistachios.  Some seeds you can choose from are pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. Remember, when picking out which nuts and seeds you like best, make sure that you choose the unsalted kind.

Lastly, there are a few categories of food you want to avoid. When choosing Paleo diet foods, steer away from dairy foods, cereal grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, salt-containing foods, fatty meats, soft drinks, and sweets.

There is a vast array of foods that are encouraged in the Paleo diet. You can use resources such as the Internet or books to check what foods are encouraged and what foods are not. You can also use these resources to find ways to turn the encouraged foods into delicious, Paleo-friendly meals!

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Eat Like a Caveman on the Paleolithic Diet

Typically when we think of cavemen, we think about clubs, animal skins, and long straggly hair.  But no one ever thinks about the caveman’s diet and how it mainly consisted of the healthy and pure foods.

The cavemen that lived before the agricultural age were, in many ways, extremely fit and athletic people.  They were hunters and gatherers forced to walk for long distances in search for large game animals, fruits, berries, and nuts.  Once food became scarce in one area, they relocated in order to find better provisions somewhere else.

The Paleolithic diet or Paleo diet is probably the oldest diet around.  Farming of wheat and other plants did not exist until about 10,000 years ago.  The Paleolithic Era ended about 20,000 years ago.  Because genes take hundreds of thousands of years to adapt a person’s metabolism and physiology to different lifestyles, it is easy to understand why people have such digestive problems with the grains, legumes, and dairy products that weren’t available during the Paleolithic Era.

The Paleolithic diet calls for eliminating all packaged and processed foods.  These types of foods include all wheat and cereal grains, bagels, breads, pastry, donuts, cookies, crackers, etc..  All of these kinds of foods were not available during the days of the caveman.  Since the caveman did not eat dairy products, the Paleolithic diet also eliminates foods like milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc.  However, that does not mean that you are out of food options.  Cavemen ate a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Plus, they ate a lot of animal protein.

However, the meat that cavemen ate consisted of lean cuts.  Plus, the animals that they ate were obviously not fed a diet of hormones.  On the Paleo diet, it is important to consume meats that come from animals that were grass and pasture fed.  Lean cuts of meat include chuck steak, London broil, lean pork, pork chops, pork loin, flank steak, top sirloin steak and lean beef as long as all of the visible fat is removed.  You can even eat extra-lean hamburgers as long as they contain no more than 7 percent fat.  You can also eat poultry like chicken breast, game-hem breast, and turkey breast.  In addition, you can eat some types of organ meats like beef, lamb, pork, and chicken livers.  Plus, if you’re up for it, try eating beef, lamb, and pork tongues.  Cavemen also ate eggs, so feel free to eat eggs as long as you limit yourself to a maximum of six eggs a week.

The Paleolithic diet gives your body a chance to absorb nutrients more effectively.  You are able to give your body a more balanced array of vitamins and minerals.  Plus, filling your diet with fresh plants and lean meat slows your body’s digestive process down.  This accomplishes two things.  One, a slow digestive process maintains a level blood sugar level.  Plus, a slower digestive process means that your appetite is regulated; you stay fuller longer, decreasing the amount that you eat and more importantly, how much you over eat.

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Delicious Paleo Meals

With many people shifting to a Paleo diet, there has been a growing desire for Paleo recipes. Paleo meals are relatively simple and easy to make. A basic Paleo meal contains a piece of meat that is baked, poached, stewed, or seared and a side of vegetables. There are many recipes readily available that help you take the basics and turn them into a flavorful meal.

One popular and easy Paleo meal to make is steak and eggs.  Steak and eggs are two important parts of Paleo diet, so by serving them together you can kill two birds with one stone. For this meal, you will need a large steak, 2 eggs, 2-3 tablespoons of tallow or ghee, and paprika (optional).  Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons of tallow or ghee over medium heat. Put paprika on the steak, place the steak in the pan, and cook 4 minutes on each side for a medium-rare steak. If you prefer your steak well done, then leave it in the pan until it is cooked to your liking. Once your steak is done, remove it from the pan. Then, crack the eggs into the pan and cook them until the whites are no longer transparent. When they are done, serve with the steak. For extra deliciousness, dip the steak in the yolk!

For people who enjoy seafood, a delicious and easy meal to make is grilled scallops in a red pepper sauce. You will need 12 large bay scallops, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, and 1 lemon.  To make the red pepper sauce, you will need 1 large roasted red pepper, 1 garlic clove, juice from half of a lemon, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. To begin, squeeze lemon juice over the scallops and let them sit. Put all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor and mix until you have created a smooth sauce. Then pour the sauce in a saucepan and place over medium heat. After you start to heat the sauce, heat a grill pan and brush with it with the coconut oil. Once the grill is hot, add the scallops and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side. When they’re done, place the scallops on a plate and pour the red pepper sauce over it.

Lastly, if you prefer chicken, chicken legs and angel hair cabbage is a very easy meal to make. For this recipe you will only need 3 ingredients: chicken legs, green onion, and angel hair cabbage. Start by cooking the chicken legs in a bit of water over medium-high heat. When they’re done, remove them from the pan. The water that the chicken was cooking in has now become a chicken broth. In the chicken broth, add the green onion and the angel hair cabbage. Cook over medium heat and make sure you cook the green onions and angel hair cabbage until they are soft but not mushy! Once you have done this, simply add the chicken back on top and enjoy.

There are a plethora of recipes that work with the Paleo diet. You can choose from meat, poultry, or seafood and a variety of vegetables. After you have chosen which recipe you enjoy the most, finish your meal off with fresh fruit for dessert!

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Paleo Diet Information

The Paleo diet is all about improving the quality of your modern diet.  It is based on the theory that today’s genes are actually the result of life conditions that were formed more than a million years ago in our evolution — the era of the caveman.

Since farming and the cultivation of plants like wheat have only been in existence for about 10,000 years, our bodies have not adapted to properly digest these food sources.  It takes far longer for humans to adapt their metabolism and physiology to different lifestyles.  Humans have not had enough time to adapt our genes to eating grains, legumes and dairy products, which is why so many people have had so many digestive issues with the typical diet of today’s society.

The Paleo diet is based around what the cavemen typically ate: fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.  This means staying away from processed foods.  In a nutshell, the Paleo diet teaches you that if it comes in a box, don’t eat it.  However, there are many foods that the Paleo diet is based around.  A key to the Paleo diet is eating lean cuts of meat.  You can also eat some kinds of organ meats like liver and tongues.  Although the cavemen did not indulge themselves in a diet of dairy products, they did eat eggs.  However, you should limit yourself to six eggs a week.  Nuts can also be enjoyed while following the Paleo diet.  They are great sources of monounsaturated fats which are the “good” kinds of fats.  Nuts help to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and are also credited with reducing the risk of some cancers like breast cancer.  However, if you are following the Paleo diet in order to loose weight, you should limit the amount of nuts that you eat.  Nuts also contain calories.  But as you stay on this diet, your metabolism will increase, which means that you can eat more nuts later on.

While a great guideline for the foods to stay away from is that if it comes in a box, don’t eat it, there are other off-limit foods in the Paleo diet that do not “come in a box.”  As you might guess, the cavemen did not have soda machines in their caves, so sugary drinks like soda are off limits.  Actually, sugar is off limits entirely.  That includes syrups and sweeteners.  Because grains are not consumed on the Paleo diet, all food products that are made with grains are off limits, as well including pancakes, cookies, pasta, rolls, etc.  Plus, because the cavemen did not eat dairy foods like butter, cheese, cream, etc., they are also off limits.

Although the Paleo diet limits many typical food choices, there are plenty of benefits to following this diet.  The Paleo diet is mainly made up of high-protein meals.  Research shows that if the average person eats a high-protein diet for six months, they could loose between ten to fifteen pounds.  That’s without increasing physical activity.  You could loose even more weight if you increased your physical activity, making the Paleo diet a great choice for anyone who wants to loose weight or who just wants to become overall healthier.

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