What is Paleo Diet? Is it Good For You?

The Paleo diet is becoming popular among health-conscious people. The word “Paleo” has come from the ‘Paleolithic‘ era. This is the stone-age diet that our ancestors used to eat a million of years ago. This was the time when processed food and grains were non-existent. The principle of this diet is to eat like your ancestors to shed excess weight and get a leaner body.

The diet has become very popular in the health and wellness industry as it helps treat diabetes and various other types of degenerative ailments like cancer, heart ailment and several other health related complications. In this article, we will tell you the benefits of the Paleo diet and how to design this diet for maximum benefits.

What Is The Principle Of Paleo Diet?

Paleo diet is to eat like your ancestors. This implies that you have to eat only unprocessed and natural food. These includes organ meat, eggs, chicken, root vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, oils, and healthy fats. In this diet, you need to avoid all types of processed and packaged sugar, refined flour, legumes, cold and hard drinks, potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetable oils, dairy products, added sweeteners, and trans fats.

When including eggs, meat, ghee and butter, in your diet, you should ensure that it is obtained from the animal that is ‘grass fed’. In other words, the animal should not be treated with chemicals, or fed on grains.

What Foods Are Allowed On A Paleo Diet?

1. Vegetables

All types of vegetables are allowed in the Paleo Diet. Vegetables are a good source of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibers. They are given a lot of importance in the diet to achieve good health. You can eat them in any amount. If you are implementing the diet for weight loss reasons then you should avoid high carbs vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes.

2.Fruits

Just like vegetables, you can eat fruits in generous amounts. They are also packed with essential minerals, vitamins, and plenty of antioxidants that help fight against harmful free radicals in the body. If your objective is to lose weight, then you should limit the consumption of high sugar and high carb fruits like banana.

3. Fish

Fishes are one of the best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids that serves as a potent antioxidant in the body. It is very beneficial for maintaining your heart in the best condition. Fishes are also a rich source of protein that stimulates metabolism and aids in weight management.

4. Meat

Meat is also a Paleo food. Our ancestors have relied on it to fulfill their nutritional needs. Meat has an abundance of protein that is needed for the development of healthy and dense muscles. This nutrient boosts metabolism and promotes the healthy functioning of the body. Types of meat that are Paleo are:  chicken, beef, turkey, pork, goat, buffalo and lamb.

5. Nuts

Nuts are a healthy snack. They provide good amounts of dietary fiber, healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins in the body. Due to their nutritional composition, they keep you fuller for a longer time and aids in weight loss. Nuts like cashew nuts have more amount of fats so you should keep its consumption low.

6. Oils and Fats

Our body needs oils and fats for the proper functioning of the body. It is also needed to cook different types of dishes. Include only healthy oils and fats such as coconut oil, butter, extra virgin olive oil, ghee, and butter in your diet. Refrain from saturated oils and trans fats.

7. Eggs

Eggs are unprocessed and rich in nutrition. People who have a sedentary lifestyle or want to reduce weight should not eat egg yolk and restrict their consumption of eggs to only one or two a day.

Other permissible items on Paleo ingredients:

  • Regular tea and detox green tea in moderate amounts
  • Pure, organic and unadulterated honey in limited amounts
  • Coconut water once a while
  • Black coffee or coffee with very less amount of milk in moderation.

What Foods Are Not Allowed On A Paleo Diet?

The following are the ingredients that do not meet the criteria of a paleo diet.

1. Grains

People started cultivating grains after the introduction of agriculture. The diet disallows eating grains as they are high in carbs and highly crossbred. Rice, gram flour, bajra, millets, wheat, corns, oats should not be consumed. The restriction goes for all those products that are made from it.

2. Beans or Legumes

Both these foods are against the principle of the Paleo diet. Our ancestors did not use to cultivate and eat them. Another reason to discard these foods is that they can cause some health issues.

All types of beans such as black beans, Rajma or kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, moong, and soya beans, are not allowed to consume on the Paleo diet. This is because they have high amounts of Phytic acid that can contribute to several health disorders.

Processed Items

All types of unnatural and processed foods are not allowed on the diet.

Foods that Fall In the Grey Zone

1. Salt

Salt is a good source of sodium that your body needs in some amounts. So, you can consume it in your meals in moderate amounts.

2. Dairy

To include or exclude milk in the Paleo diet is again a debatable topic. Our ancient infants used to consume milk but adults did not. So, milk is kept in the grey zone. As milk has lactose in it and some people are intolerant to it, it is not completely safe to include in the diet. Those who are lactose intolerant can experience allergies in the form of indigestion, leaky gut, and more. They should avoid its intake.

Before you include milk and milk products in your diet, ensure that it is obtained from only grass-fed animals. Eliminate all unhealthy food products derived from milk such as ice-creams, puddings, candies, sweets, pastries, chocolates, breads and more.

A Sample One Week Paleo Diet

Here is how you can design a Paleo diet. You can make modifications to this sample diet. While doing it, should ensure that you include Paleo foods that give you the necessary nutrients in proper amounts.

Day 1

Breakfast– boiled eggs, a handful of soaked almonds, stir-fried vegetables cooked in olive oil, and one fruit.

Lunch– chicken salad with a combination of nuts.

Dinner– grilled or steamed fish with stir fry seasonal vegetables.

Day 2

Breakfast– scrambled egg with plenty of vegetables.

Lunch– chicken salad and Fish Salad.

Dinner– a dry roasted chicken, stir-fried vegetables, and a freshly prepared homemade mushroom soup.

Day 3

Breakfast– omelet, one bowl of fruits and half a teaspoon of flax seeds.

Lunch– grilled chicken with green beans salad.

Dinner– a bowl of cauliflower soup and baked fish

Day 4

Breakfast– baked broccoli and egg

Lunch– healthy wraps made from fish, lettuce and avocado

Dinner– stir fried vegetables with meat

Day 5

Breakfast: omelet seasoned with stir fried bell pepper

Lunch: stir fried spicy pepper chicken

Dinner: grilled chicken with sauteed vegetables

Day 6

Breakfast: Scrambled egg with sweet potato

Lunch: Citrus and herb chicken

Dinner: Baked fish with lemon and thyme

Day 7

Breakfast: boiled egg with chopped onions, and tomatoes

Lunch: grilled chicken with dry roasted tomatoes

Dinner: keema with seasoned stir-fried veggies and coconut curry

Permissible Mid-Day Snacks

Indians mostly follow a three-meal per day pattern that comprises of breakfast, lunch and dinner. All these three meals are heavy, and that is not considered healthy. The right way to design a Paleo diet is to prepare three moderate meals and incorporate two light mid-day snack meals in between. So, in addition to your main meals, you can also eat some snacks in mid-morning and evening. Here are a few easy, nutritious and easily accessible snacks to consume on this diet.

  • Vegetable salad, or clear vegetable soup without heavy dressing and creamy sauces. You can season it with your choice of herbs to make it flavorful.
  • Boiled eggs
  • A couple of seeds, and nuts
  • Seasonal fruits

What To Eat At A Restaurant While On Paleo Diet?

Here are a few Paleo-friendly dishes that you can order at a restaurant:

  • Chicken or a grilled fish with plenty of side vegetables
  • Vegetable soup without creamy sauces and dressing
  • In place of extra bread and rice, go for extra vegetables.
  • Prefer dishes that are cooked in healthy fats like olive oil.

What Are The Limitations Of Paleo Diet?

No doubt Paleo diet is one of the healthiest diets but its implementation is quite challenging for people especially vegetarians. Grains are the main element in any vegetarian diet and the diet does not permit it. It is hard to give up on chapatis and rice that are the main constituents of a vegetarian diet. It is also observed that the Paleo diet promotes the consumption of lean sources of meat, eggs, and fish. As vegetarians do not eat these foods, it poses challenges for them.

If we look at vegetarian food items that are allowed on a paleo diet, we will find that the diet is deficient in protein. This is because the exclusion of legumes, pulses and grain implies the exclusion of vital sources of protein from the vegetarian version of the Paleo diet. Prolonged deficiency of this nutrient can cause a lot of long-term health issues in the body.

Also, the diet bars dairy products that are dense sources of vitamin D and essential minerals like phosphorus and calcium. The deficiency of these nutrients can also adversely impact the functioning of the body. This shows that the Paleo diet is not ideal for a vegetarian.

Furthermore, grass-fed dairy, meat and fishes are expensive and may not suit the budget of people, especially Indians.

Benefits of Paleo Diet

A Paleo diet has the potential to treat various types of chronic ailments in the body. By staying away from unhealthy foods and eating a balanced diet, you can treat existing issues and prevent the development of health issues in the future. It boosts the performance of your body and keeps it in the best shape. By implementing a Paleo diet, you can benefit your body in the following ways:

1. Boost Cardiovascular Health

The major reason for cardiovascular health issues is the consumption of junk foods, oily foods, processed foods etc., that are rich in unhealthy fats like saturated fats and trans fats.  The Paleo Diet encourages you to consume healthy fats and oils that keep your circulatory system in the best condition. In this way, it prevents bad cholesterol to rise in the blood and cause f blood and heart-related ailments.

2. Treats Autoimmune Disorders

An autoimmune disorder is where the immune system in the body attacks healthy cells of the body thinking them as foreign elements. A majority of healthy foods that you eat on the Paleo diet exhibits anti-inflammatory nature. They are completely natural and free from processing that helps prevent autoimmune disorders.

3. Effectively Treat Diabetes

A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet are the major reasons that contribute to diabetes. Paleo diet is effective in treating diabetes. It comprises of low-GI foods that are rich in protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin. Intake of these foods does not cause a spike in blood sugar. In this way, the Paleo diet manages blood sugar and diabetes in a person.

4. Cures Degenerative Diseases

The reason for degenerative illnesses is due to the inferior functioning of the organ or breakdown of the cells in the organ in the body. Parkinson and Alzheimer’s are the two commonly occurring degenerative diseases in the body. The foods you consume in this diet helps protect from these ailments naturally.

Frequently Asked Questions about Paleo Diet

We have compiled a list of commonly asked questions on the Paleo Diet.

1. Does the Paleo diet make one healthy?

The Paleo diet is nutritious and healthy. It is devoid of processed foods, over-cooked, unnatural and empty calorie foods. The diet only comprises of natural foods that are derived from only grass-fed animals. It includes more of low-Gi foods, healthy fats and protein to keep you energetic and nourished. Paleo diet followers have reported that with passing time, their desire for salt and sweets foods reduce.

2. Is Paleo Diet really effective in weight loss?

Yes. Paleo diet focusses on eliminating all types of processed foods, unhealthy foods and fast-digesting high carb foods from the diet. It focusses on proteins, slow-digesting carbs, and fiber-rich fruits, and vegetables, that give you satiety and keeps you fuller for a longer time. In this way, it curbs appetite. By managing your calorie intake, the diet helps manage weight in the body.

3. Who are the most suitable candidates for this diet?

This diet does not meet the nutritional requirements of a vegetarian, so it is not ideal for them. If they want to follow it, they can consume supplements for calcium, vitamin D, folate, and protein to meet their nutritional needs. Always check with your doctor before you consume any supplements.

Unprocessed, organic and whole foods are expensive. If you are okay to spend a few more bucks on these foods, and dedicate time in the kitchen to prepare healthy meals then this diet is for you. If you are a non-vegetarian, then the Paleo diet can be the healthiest. It can do wonders for your health.

4. What type of medical conditions can a Paleo diet treat?

Paleo diet is made from antioxidants that exhibits anti-inflammatory effects on the body. It helps reduce high blood pressure, promotes heart health, treats inflammation and acne in the body. It is also a potent and natural way to promote weight loss in the body.

Conclusion

The Paleo diet is purported to be the best diet to get a healthy and fit body. By focusing on unprocessed and whole foods, this diet is a safe and natural way to manage body weight. For some people, this diet can require a drastic change in their existing diet.

It is advised to be at ease with yourself and slowly reduce the intake of processed and carb foods. The Paleo diet is not just a diet, it is a healthy way to live life. When you consistently follow this diet, you will notice gradual improvements in your health and wellness.

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