The Paleo diet is a way of eating that is based on the diets of our “caveman” ancestors.
The main belief of the Paleo diet is that our human genetic code is much the same as it was 10,000 years ago. Yet we eat foods that are vastly different from our ancient ancestors. This means that our bodies are not always able to “deal” with “modern food.”
My goal with this article is to provide a beginner, bare-bones introduction to the Paleo diet. Perhaps you’re interested in trying it, or maybe you just want to know what the heck your co-workers are talking about. Either way, hopefully you’ll learn something from this article.
Please note, this is not medical advice for you. It is information. I believe food is a way to vastly improve your health (and medical conditions) but for medical advice speak to your doctor.
Table of Contents
- 1 What do you eat on the Paleo Diet?
- 2 What can’t you eat on a Paleo Diet?
- 3 What can I expect on a Paleo diet?
- 4 Will I lose weight on a Paleo diet?
- 5 Is a Paleo Diet the same as a Keto Diet?
- 6 Can a Paleo Diet be a Keto Diet?
- 7 Is the Paleo diet all Bacon?
- 8 Why are vegetables important on a Paleo diet?
- 9 Why should I “eat the rainbow” of veggies?
- 10 What are some good Paleo recipes?
- 11 Conclusion
What do you eat on the Paleo Diet?
The main foods you eat on a Paleo diet are vegetables, fruits, meat, seafood, nuts and seeds.
Just think, “What would our hunter-gatherer ancestors have eaten?” And you’ll likely have your answer as to what you can eat on a Paleo diet.
I know modern Paleo enthusiasts push this a bit…like Almond milk for instance. I’m not an anthropologist but would Stone Age people derive “milk” from Almonds?
I’m not sure, but you get the main idea behind the Paleo diet.
What can’t you eat on a Paleo Diet?
Well, “can’t” is a strong word.
But if you are on a strict Paleo diet then you will want to avoid all grains, legumes (beans, including peanuts and soy), dairy (yes, even cheese), and “industrial processed oils” (like canola oil and vegetable oil).
What can I expect on a Paleo diet?
Well, individual results may vary but if you start eliminating most of the crap you’re probably eating, then you’ll feel better.
Paleo at its core is based on eating whole, natural foods. There wasn’t any boxes back in the caveman days let alone the “food products” we now find in those boxes at the grocery store.
When you start providing your body with the natural building blocks for nutrition and health then a variety of changes may occur.
The Paleo diet eliminates many common food allergens such as gluten and dairy, and you can take it a step further if you want and minimize corn and eggs too.
This is why many people with autoimmune diseases see beneficial results on a Paleo diet. They aren’t bombarding their system with foods their body can’t handle.
Will I lose weight on a Paleo diet?
Individual results may vary, but I did. And that wasn’t even my goal. I’m what you’d call “skinny fat.” So I look skinny to people but my fat distribution occurs almost exclusively around my gut. So fat gut yet skinny arms. (Awesome combination!)
When I stuck to a strict 30 day Paleo diet challenge I did lose weight. In fact, I should have bought a new belt because my pants were falling down. I started seeing ab definition I’d never seen before.
Is a Paleo Diet the same as a Keto Diet?
Not exactly no. A “Keto” diet stands for Ketosis, which is a physical state of being.
It means your body is in a state of burning your stored fat as fuel instead of the carbohydrates you’re eating (because you’re not eating carbs on a Keto diet).
On a Keto diet your main restriction is limiting carbohydrates.
This means you can still eat low carb foods such as dairy.
But a Keto diet also means you have to limit the amount of fruits that you eat because fruits contain carbs.
Can a Paleo Diet be a Keto Diet?
Yes, a Paleo diet can be a Keto diet…so a Paleo diet can put you into Ketosis but it would require you to minimize the amount of carbohydrates you eat.
“But I’m not eating breads on a Paleo diet so how am I eating carbohydrates?” you may ask.
Well the answer is that all carbohydrates you eat – whether it is starches (called complex carbohydrates) or simple sugars – turn into sugar in the body.
The carbohydrate you eat from your bread gets converted to sugar. And the carbohydrate you eat in a root vegetable also gets converted to sugar.
So to be on a Paleo diet and get into Ketosis (“go Keto”) you’ll need to minimize your intake of fruit and root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.
But you can definitely go on a Keto diet without eating Paleo. Because as I mentioned above most Keto recipes call for dairy. (And often lots of it.)
What I like about Paleo is that there is no carb counting or even macronutrient calculating. You just eat the Paleo foods.
Is the Paleo diet all Bacon?
You’ll hear this kind of thing all the time. “Isn’t the Paleo diet just eating bacon all the time?”
No, and what you’ll probably find, is that on the Paleo diet you’ll probably eat more vegetables than you ever have in your life.
I probably eat more vegetables on Paleo than I even did when I was vegan for 1.5 years. And the reason is that you can’t load up on pasta and breads like you can when you’re vegan.
As you can see in the picture above you’ll find some clever ways to eat vegetables on a Paleo diet.
If you love pasta but now you can’t eat the noodles, well you can try making veggie noodles, like zucchini noodles. It may take some getting used to, but you’ll adapt. It isn’t only salad.
Why are vegetables important on a Paleo diet?
Well vegetables are important on every diet.
Plants and vegetables get their energy from the sun. They are exposed to the sun. This also means they have to deal with some of the harms of the sun.
And they do this by creating “anti-oxidants.” When a plant is exposed to the sun it can create “free radicals” (aka reactive oxygen species) which are molecules that can damage the plant cells.
The “anti-oxidants” help neutralize or “tame” the free radical molecules.
When humans are exposed to the sun we also create free radicals in our bodies. Over time exposure to free radical oxygen species can cause chronic conditions such as cancer and inflammation.
But humans don’t make their own anti-oxidants. We don’t make our own protective molecules to combat the dangerous free radical molecules.
And we don’t get anti-oxidants from eating meat.
We get protective anti-oxidants from eating vegetables and fruits (like the blueberries for instance).
This is why it is important to eat veggies on a Paleo diet.
Why should I “eat the rainbow” of veggies?
A colorful vegetable will have its color because of an abundance of a certain anti-oxidant.
Different anti-oxidants have different colors to them.
And different anti-oxidants help to neutralize or tame different free radicals.
That is why it is important to ‘eat the rainbow’ because it ensures you are consuming a multitude of protective anti-oxidants.
What are some good Paleo recipes?
Here is a link to a post I wrote about some good Paleo dinners. You can start there for some Paleo dinner ideas.
And here is a post I wrote about Paleo smoothies. They can be a good way to start your day or to “top-up” your nutrient intake.
The Paleo diet is based on eating meat, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds much like our hunter-gatherer ancestors did.
The idea is to eat the foods that our genetic code has evolved to eat.
They say our genetic code is much the same as it was thousands of year ago…we haven’t evolved much. Yet we’re eating foods that are vastly different from our ancestors that had the same genetic code.
On a Paleo diet you’ll avoid grains, beans (aka legumes), industrial food oils (like canola oil and vegetable oil) and dairy.
Individual results will vary but when you’re providing your body with nutritious building blocks that we have evolved to receive then you’ll change in ways that you may not even have guessed.