Paleo Diet Plan

The paleo (short for paleolithic) diet plan is based on the idea that humans should eat food that closely resembles the diets of prehistoric humans. Early humans evolved as hunter-gatherers long before the invention of what we would recognize as modern-day agriculture. This diet plan attempts to recreate what humans ate from 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago, and eliminating foods that became popular after farming revolutionized what humans could eat.

Proponents of the paleo diet plan believe that it's healthier if humans ate more traditional staples of the human diet, such as meat, fruits and foraged vegetables, and less of the foods that only gained prominence after the emergence of agriculture about 10,000 years ago — so eating less grain, processed foods, legumes and the like. The appeal is that since the advent of agriculture there has been little time for core human metabolic processes to evolve — thus we should eat like cavemen.

As you can imagine, it's pretty difficult to know exactly what humans across the world ate on a daily basis in prehistoric times, before even the concept of a written language existed. However, based on what we know about technology levels and archeological records, we can make some educated guesses that it was probably a diet filled with a lot of natural, minimally processed foods.

Staple Foods and Snacks on a Paleo Diet Plan

So what are considered the core foods of a paleo diet plan? In a nutshell, simple but nutritious foods. Some basic categories include:

Some more specific examples of foods that are OK for the paleo diet include:

Foods to Avoid on a Paleo Diet Plan

The ingredients to avoid on a paleo diet plan are all the foods that would only have been available in recent history to humans. These include:

Benefits of the Paleo Diet Plan

Health experts like the paleo diet plan's reduction in highly processed foods and refined sugars, and like that it's high in fiber, potassium and antioxidants (such as found in vegetables, bananas, berries and fish).

The paleo diet plan has been found in some studies to be beneficial for those with or wanting to prevent Type 2 diabetes. One study found that a paleo diet planimproved blood-sugar levels and risk factors compared with a traditional diabetes diet plan. Another group of studies examined showed that a paleo diet plan compared similarly with other healthy, diabetic-friendly diet plans, such as the Mediterranean diet plan and a traditional diabetes diet plan. The paleo diet plan has also been found to be more satiating than other diet plans, meaning that people will consume fewer overall calories because they feel fuller and take longer to get hungry again.

One of the benefits of feeling satiated in a diet like the paleo diet plan is that it lessens the need for calorie counting and watching portion sizes. Some who follow the paleo diet plan also have a few "cheat" non-paleo meals each week.

Downsides of a Paleo Diet Plan

Some nutrition and health experts advise against eliminating entire categories of food from your diet, and say that the paleo diet plan's blanket exclusion of dairy could put someone at risk of calcium and vitamin D deficiency. They also point to the healthfulness of whole grains to fuel the body and brain.

It can be difficult to stay committed to diets that are too restrictive, and people with heart, kidney, liver or pancreatic disease have been recommended to follow a paleo diet plan under medical supervision. Despite a fair number of celebrity endorsements of the paleo diet plan (such as by Lebron James and the entire Miami Dolphins football team), researchers warn about blindly following the latest often commercialized fitness fads.

Nutrition on a Paleo Diet Plan

The first step in dieting to lose, maintain or gain weight is to calculate your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) based on your current weight and exercise level. If your body burns 2,000 calories a day, then consistently eating fewer calories than that will help you lose weight, and eating more calories will cause you to gain weight.

Food is divided into three main macronutrients, all of which contain calories: Protein, carbohydrates and fat. Every diet plan needs to have a suitable amount of each of these three macronutrients. According to a Harvard study of the paleo diet plan, a standard macronutrient ratio is 30% protein, 30% carbohydrates and 40% fat.

A standard Paleo Diet Plan includes nutrient-dense fresh foods and steers participants away from highly processed foods with lots of sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, which is definitely good, but it's important to make sure certain vitamins and chemicals normally obtained from whole grains, dairy and legumes are still consumed.

Browse Diet Plans

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