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What Is The Paleo Diet?

Regardless of whether your goal is to melt fat off your body or build up higher amounts of muscle mass and gain definition, diet is a key element necessary for success.

Regardless of whether your goal is to melt fat off your body or build up higher amounts of muscle mass and gain definition, you've likely done your research and realize that diet is a key element necessary for success.

There's no getting around the fact that the foods you put into your body on an everyday basis are going to be the largest determining factor in what you look like. If poor food choices go in, a poor body image will result. Likewise, if you're only choosing to put in the highest quality of nutrients, you can be sure that it's going to reflect upon your results.

One diet design that you might have come across either in a book or magazine, or have heard someone else raving about is the Paleo Diet. What does this diet consist of and will it really bring good results? By understanding the concepts behind the Paleo Diet approach, you can gain a clear picture of whether this diet is right for you. Let's take a look at what you need to know.

If You're Choosing To Put In The Highest Quality Of Nutrients, You Can Be Sure That It's Going To Reflect Upon Your Results.

The Paleo Approach

The Paleo Diet, shortened from the true name of the Paleolithic Diet approach, is one that takes us back to the ancient years and essentially tries to create a diet that the cavemen would have eaten.

There's no debating that as time has moved onwards, modern technology and cooking processes have changed significantly from our ancestor's years. While they would have had to go out and hunt for the foods they were going to serve up for dinner, today we just take a simple trip to the grocery store where we're greeted with rows and rows of prepared and processed foods to choose from.

The problem with this is that through all these changes that have occurred, we've degraded the nutrition content of our daily diet and have moved further and further away from eating as Mother Nature intended.

While They Would Have Had To Go Out And Hunt For Food, Today We Just Take A Simple Trip To The Grocery Store.

The concept of the Paleolithic Diet then is to get back to ancient times. When adopting this dietary approach, you're going to forgo all the processed foods you find at the supermarket and instead focus on foods that either occur in the wild or come straight from the ground.

Essentially, if it was available thousands of years ago, it's going to have a place in your meal plan. This means that your daily diet will primarily consist of meat and fish, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. Oils are typically allowed in moderation and foods to be avoided included dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, fatty meats, and foods that are very high in salt content (such as processed meat products and salted nuts).

Legumes Are One Of The Foods To Be Avoided When Trying The Paleo Diet.

Pro's Of Paleo

So what are the pros of eating Paleo? Is this a diet you should adopt?

Right off the start you can see how well this diet is going to control blood sugar levels. In a world where many of us experience rollercoaster-like blood sugar fluctuations, this aspect alone proves to be an extremely beneficial aspect of the set-up.

The more stabilized your blood sugar levels are, the less likely you're going to be to experience food cravings, to battle ongoing fatigue, and to be at the potential risk of developing diabetes down the road.

Since the Paleo Diet is also chalk full of healthy fats from all the seeds and nuts that are being consumed while also being low in saturated fat due to the restriction of dairy and high fat meat sources, this is also going to work to improve your cholesterol profile and help to reduce the risk of heart disease.

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When using the Paleo Diet you shouldn't find you have any issue getting enough protein in either, which is something that's critical for both the fat loss and muscle building process as you'll be including lean meat sources with each meal. By choosing to incorporate a wide spectrum of fruits and vegetables in your menu, you're also going to help to keep calorie intake on the lower side, so this will be beneficial from a fat loss point of view.

If you are someone who happens to actively looking to build muscle and thus require that higher calorie surplus, you can simply add larger doses of nuts and seeds into the plan to help boost your calorie and healthy fat intake up higher.

Since the Paleo Diet has you moving away from all forms of processed and refined carbohydrates, most individuals will find this naturally lowers their calorie intake as well as less food choices are available. Without ten different flavors of chips to choose from or eight different types of cereals lining your pantry, you're going to have a much easier time sticking with your meal plan and getting the results you're looking for.

Problems Associated With Paleo

So what are the drawbacks to the Paleo Diet, if any?

The biggest issue that you may run into that can easily be overcome with proper planning is the fact that if you are a very active individual doing high volume workout sessions, you may find it harder to get in the complex carbohydrates that you need. While you'll definitely get in carbohydrates from the fruits and vegetables you consume, you'll be hard pressed to get in hundreds of calories worth without walking around feeling bloated all day long. The body can only handle so much fiber at once and if you're aiming for a calorie intake of 4000+ per day, with 2000 calories coming from carbohydrates, you may begin to struggle. Since high intensity exercise can only utilize glucose as a fuel source (as fat will not support this intensity of activity), therein lies the potential issue that must be dealt with.

The way to get around this problem is to focus on eating the highest carbohydrate-rich fruits available including bananas, cherries, and pineapples. At over 100 calories per cup or large fruit, this will add up quickly.

You Will Want To Focus On Eating Carbohydrate Rich Fruits Such As Bananas.

Additionally, some athletes will choose to also include the most wholesome grains such as brown rice and steel-cut oats, so that's another consideration. While eating these will move away from the diet being a true, authentic Paleo Diet, if you keep the carbohydrates limited to just these highly natural sources, you'll still receive the same benefits that the approach has to offer while getting in those necessary carbohydrates for energy and muscle glycogen restoration purposes.

The second limitation that you may run into with this approach is that those who choose to use a vegetarian lifestyle will find it very difficult to get in the necessary protein they need to meet their needs. Since most vegetarian protein sources such as quinoa, soy, lentils, chickpeas, and all other legumes are restricted on the plan, there aren't many options left.

Those who are vegetarian who do want to pursue this diet may want to consider adding a protein powder to their diet to help meet their protein intake and then following the plan as outlined within the foods they are okay eating. Just keep in mind in doing so they won't be using a pure Paleo Diet either as dairy products and egg related products are not permitted.

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Putting Paleo Into Action In Your Lifestyle

So if you've decided to implement the Paleolithic Diet into your lifestyle, start by removing all the processed and starchy carbs first. This is the biggest type of food that will have to be eliminated from the picture and from there, you can begin cutting out dairy products, fattier cuts of meats, and legumes.

Phasing those foods out in this manner should make it much easier to adapt to the diet than doing a complete diet overhaul. Below you'll find a sample day's menu on the Paleo Diet to give you an idea of what your diet should include as well as a food chart illustrating which foods are and aren't allowed on the plan.

Allowed Eat In Moderation Not Allowed
Lean Beef Olive Oil Butter
Lean Pork Avocado Oil Cheese
Lean Poultry Walnut Oil Eggs
Venison Flaxseed Oil Milk
Rabbit Meat Canola Oil Yogurt
Liver Meat Diet Soda Whey Products
Game Meat Coffee Barley
Low sodium Jerky Tea Corn
All varieties of Fish Wine Millet
Clams Beer Oats
Crab Any other Alcohol Rice
Crayfish Dried Fruits Rye
Lobster Trail Mix Wheat
Mussels White Rice
Oysters Buckwheat
Shrimp Quinoa
All Fruits (except Dried) Beans
All Vegetables (except Root Vegetables) Black-Eyed Peas
Almonds Chickpeas
Pine Nuts Peanuts
Brazil Nuts Lentils
Pistachios Snowpeas
Cashews Sugar Snap Peas
Flaxseeds Peanut Butter
Pumpkin Seeds Soybeans and Soybean related products
Chestnuts Sweet Potatoes
Sesame Seeds Yams
Pecans Potatoes
Walnuts Bacon
Macadamia Nuts Processed Meats (Hotdogs included)
Sunflower Seeds Pickled Foods
Ketchup
Salted Nuts
Smoked Meat
Canned Meats
Bacon
Lamb Chops
Pork Ribs and Sausage
Turkey Legs and Skin
Fatty Roast Beef
Honey
Sugar

Typical Menu

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Snack

Conclusion

So there you have the facts about the Paleo Diet. While it cannot be classified as a very low carb diet like the Atkins plan as it does contain those fruits and vegetables in abundance, it's a diet variation that is going to offer numerous health benefits that both support a well-functioning system and help you easily reach and maintain your goal weight.

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About The Author

I’ve been working in the field of exercise science for the last 8 years. I’ve written a number of online and print articles.

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firefly157

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firefly157

This is not a correct representation of the Paleo Diet. The diet fully supports the consumption of eggs, sweet potatoes/yams, peas and green beans, and definitely bacon. Those who follow a site called Mark's Daily Apple call themselves "Primal," and allow themselves limited dairy.

The diet represented in this article is extremely limiting and I'm not sure how anyone could maintain it. Even the hardcore Paleo peeps don't do that. For a better understanding of what Paleo really is, google the Whole30. That's an extreme version that doesn't allow for any type of sugar outside of fruit, but there are many that allow natural sugars like honey, molasses, and truvia/stevia.

The Paleo Diet isn't easy, but it also isn't represented well by this article.

Dec 8, 2011 7:55am | report
 
AshleysBS

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AshleysBS

Paleo diet doesnt actually support lentils or legumes (peas falling into that catergory). Robb Wolf is fully accessible if there is anything you have questions about; robbwolf@norcalsc.com. His book is also a great source of information.

Jul 3, 2012 9:26am | report
mark9691

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mark9691

I was about to say the same. I see eggs at the top!

Oct 30, 2012 4:46pm | report
MrFloydAF

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MrFloydAF

i remember bacon consumption being my favorite thing about it! haha

Sep 26, 2013 12:34am | report
naturalhench

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naturalhench

Can't eat eggs or bacon? Very surprising. I'm sure chickens laid eggs even in the paleothic era...

Jan 7, 2012 5:03pm | report
 
KikeDiaz

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KikeDiaz

Men you are a genious!

You have resolved the equation, chiken came before egg acording to this article. Nice!

Btw, have you try this diet? Seems good for leaning out but bad for bulking up.

Apr 4, 2012 4:52pm | report
ubermitch

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ubermitch

this is not an accurate representation of Paleo. if you eat that much fruit your insulin is going to be as high as the Himalayas! On Paleo you are supposed to burn fat as your main energy source not carbohydrates!

For an accurate Paleo description read The Primal Blueprint or The Paleo Solution.

Feb 3, 2012 10:38am | report
 
Tiggers83

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Tiggers83

True! I read this article and things looked funny. It doesn't line up with what ive ready about the Paleo or with what I've eaten while on the Paleo for a while. I ate a lot of fatty meats as well as lean cuts and bacon

Jun 12, 2012 12:10am | report
Tiggers83

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Tiggers83

on the other hand, i may have been a bit more primal in my paleo diet...

Jun 12, 2012 12:11am | report
miles_kailburn

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miles_kailburn

The article is a bit off. Good starting points would be justpaleo.com, Whole30, Primal Blueprint.

Feb 7, 2012 8:21pm | report
 
casglos

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casglos

I don't agree with all who say the article is off. There is a difference between primal and paleo. Paleo does tend to restrict more, and the article said it's expalining a paleo diet. Most people who follow a paleo diet don't eat eggs or bacon. I think it was an informative article for what it was representing and some people just seem to have the terms paleo and primal mixed up a little. Both types of diets are based on most of the same principles but there are differences.

Feb 14, 2012 1:46pm | report
 
ZaneMMA

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ZaneMMA

I'm amazed this mainstream of a site would have a Paleo Diet and not Primal One.

I like my Bacon, Eggs, Dairy, Whey, Sweet Potatoes, Bacon, and assorted meats. (yeah, bacon is on my list twice. Same with the one above.)

Paleo is illogical, Primal can make sense in some situations.

Mar 2, 2012 10:19am | report
 
Demonikos

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Demonikos

I tried this diet and it made me so much weaker at the gym. I lost a lot of weight but it is hard to stick to, i don't think this diet is meant to last longer than 3 months. Not a recommended diet.

Mar 22, 2012 10:18am | report
 
Tiggers83

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Tiggers83

Are you doing a lot of cardio? Cardio isn't recommended with this diet. Focus on boosting metabolism and muscle mass. You shouldn't have to spend more than 45 min, 3x's a week in the gym.

Jun 12, 2012 12:12am | report
homeopathic

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homeopathic

PaleoDiet Best? Yes, the Paleo Diet will require adding some healthier and more natural foods (although I personally recommend eggs- they are a superior protein source) into our daily life, it can also look and feel a whole lot stronger, with lean muscle mass and reduce excess bodyfat without chemicals or dangerous weight loss pills. Back to nature with common sense is just what the holistic doctor ordered! http://thepaleodiet.biz

May 31, 2012 8:16pm | report
 
gorana

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gorana

interesting but I could not survive without milk, eggs and oats :)

Jun 14, 2012 1:32am | report
 
AshleysBS

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AshleysBS

TO clairify, there is no lentils or legumes in a Paleo diet.(although im aware they aren't mentioned in the meal plan, they are mentioned above) I have read Marks Daily Apple but the Guru of Paleo is Robb Wolf. I have emailed him this aritcle for review.

There is a book out by Robbs Teacher Lorin Conrad, called Paleo Diet for Athletes, it helps explain a little more if anyone is interested.

Jul 3, 2012 9:23am | report
 
mjmachado

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mjmachado

plus 1 for Robb Wolf and Lorin Conrad, excellent resources. This is not a "diet" to use for 30 days to slim out. It is a lifestyle, a way of eating. Just like vegan and vegetarian. Many go Paleo and stick with it indefinitely.

Jul 15, 2012 8:07pm | report
CorbenT

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CorbenT

His mentor is Loren Cordain. Mr. Cordain has written several books about the Paleo Diet. This is a whole foods nutrient dense diet, void of processed crap. Basically if you can kill it, gather it, or eat it raw, it is fair game. Fatty meats are prized because of the caloric density of them. You need fat to survive and thrive. Google Rabbit Starvation.

Sep 4, 2012 12:55pm | report
mjmachado

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mjmachado

Even within the paleo community, there are many variations and debates about what is acceptable. This article is extremely restrictive. What I have learned is:

- eat nuts and seeds in moderation
- eat fresh fruit in moderation
- eat many veggies
- eat a lot of lean meats and fish
- eggs and bacon are allowed, though limit the latter
- Eat no dairy, wheat, grains, or legumes (that means no peanut butter)
- drink only water and green tea, coffee in moderation
- protein powder is "officially" frowned upon in favour of whole foods, though many take it anyways.
- Sweet potatoes are on the border of acceptable. Some eat them, others don't.

A great place to start is by googling Robb Wolf, and checking out "The Paleo Solution". If you search, there are some more technical and scientific books out there as well.

Jul 15, 2012 8:01pm | report
 
colourfadeout

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colourfadeout

Not a very good interpretation of the paleo diet!

I almost died on the inside reading this ha ha as I am about to start the paleo lifestyle

Aug 13, 2012 3:20am | report
 
paulski45

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paulski45

I've been doing very well with Paleo, it really is the best and easiest eating lifestyle plan to follow. What I do is follow it as a guideline to healthy eating as opposed to a rigid standard , I allow myself the occasional treat, but stick to it best I can. I find the food is what I really like and it's not a challenge to eat this way - I dropped good weight while gaining good muscle - love it.

Oct 4, 2012 5:41am | report
 
BrianWalpole

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BrianWalpole

The paleo diet trend has been inspired by the very relevant yet challenging question about whether human kind has progressed in the true sense of the word or whether modern lifestyles have taken us away from the way nature had designed us to be. Modern genetics has proven that the human genome matches that of his counterpart 15000 years ago by 99.9% but the diet consumed has undergone close to an 80% change since that time. This discrepancy may have led to the imbalances and health problems that we are widely experiencing in the modern age. The proponents of the paleo theory believe that by reverting to the natural diet of our ancestors, we would be able to reverse this trend and restore our health and happiness. As with all trends that come and go, it would make sense to take the gist of the matter and leave out the bit that sounds impractical. For more details on the foods recommended and forbidden in the paleo diet please refer to http://lovefitnesseducation.com/2012/09/26/what%E2%80%99s-up-with-this-new-paleo-diet-trend/

Oct 10, 2012 4:25am | report
 
PeeraJ

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PeeraJ

This is not a good representation of Paleo. Too much fruit and plus eggs are allowed.

Oct 23, 2012 4:05pm | report
 
WaynesWorld

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WaynesWorld

Why can't cheese be added? Isn't that an animal source as well?

Feb 6, 2013 9:32am | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 28 Comments

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