The Paleo diet is one of the easiest diets to understand, but hardest to maintain. This review is going to provide you with everything you need to know about it, from which foods you’re allowed to eat, to guidelines to help you get better results from it.
Understanding the Paleo Diet & how it works:
If there was one way to explain the Paleo diet, it would be this: Its basically adopting the same eating habits of the caveman. That’s it. We’re talking pre-agriculture days which means: No bread, grains, sugar, salt, flour (as well as foods made from those ingredients), pasta, condiments, artificial sweeteners.
Instead you focus on all natural foods you could basically hunt & gather, which equats to basically fruits, vegetables, meat and drinking water. This is the broad idea, but I’ll provide a specific food list further down below to clarify.
This plan goes by other names, most commonly:
- The Caveman diet
- Stone Age diet
- Paleolithic diet
- Hunter gatherer diet
Either way, the basic rule of thumb when on this plan is this: If the food you want to eat is something cavemen would have eaten, then you’re good to go. If you have doubts of the food you chose is not something that existed in those days, then don’t eat/drink it.
Paleo Diet Criticism:
There are basically 3 arguments naysayers of the Paleo diet pose:
1. It is nearly impossible to adopt this kind of lifestyle especially in today’s world where non Paleo foods are all around us. This is for the most part true. This is a lot and by that I mean most people who do this diet, only try it for a short amount of time to lose the weight, then return back to their regular eating habits. Honestly, this varies based on individuals. If you feel that there’s no way you’ll be able to eat the way cavemen did, then the Paleo diet isn’t the plan for you. A lot of people don’t go over 30 days when doing it.
2. Cavemen didn’t live very long. A lot of critics claim that because they didn’t live very long, the main reason was their diet. This is probably not true since back in those days most of the time they died early because of 2 main reasons:
- Threat of being killed by other cavemen, animals.
- Harsh environments. We’re talking cold, hot, difficulty finding food, ect…
I’d venture to say those 2 reasons are more so the cause for a short life in cavemen. Whereas the diet is something that is actually quite healthy. You’re basically eating everything natural intended you to eat, which is quite logical if you think about it.
3. There aren’t enough carbs! As you’ll find out below, most of your foods will not provide you with enough carbs. But it is said that because you don’t consume too many carbs (which leads to weight gain eventually), your body will burn stored fat in your body to make up for the difference, meaning you will lose weight.
The good thing about the Paleo diet is that there is portion control or calorie counting involved. This is because the cavemen never worried about what they ate and many of the foods on their list were very high satiety foods, meaning they kept them full for longer than others.
But as a basic guideline, you can eat as much as you want, but it’s recommended to never get to a 100%. It’s actually one of the 5 most important rules to losing weight right now that’s listed on this website. See the other 4.
What about cheat days? It’s going to happen sooner or later and the basic rule here is if you’re doing the Paleo diet for the short term which is anywhere from a week to a month, then you shouldn’t have any cheat days so as not to inhibit results.
But if you’re someone who is adopting the Paleo diet and doing it for the long haul and even for the rest of your life, then you can cheat a day a week, although it’s not recommended.
Paleo Diet Meal Plans & Food List:
- Meat: Turkey, chicken, duck, pig. Note: Make sure it’s grass fed.
- Fish: Any kind of fish as long as it’s not raised on the farm. A lot of fish today have artificial additives to their foods and even color.
- Vegetables: Eat any vegetables you want. Nothing fried though. As an addition: Sweet potatoes & yam are also allowed.
- Oils: Coconut, olive and even avocado, hazelnut, walnut oil.
- Nuts: Technically you can eat any kind of nuts, but I personally recommend walnuts as they carry the most benefits.
- Fruits: Ok this is important since this is where you’ll be getting your sugar from. Anything organic will do.
- What about other sweets? Raw honey, organic maple syrup, but very rarely allowed. Maybe once a week.
Any room for dairy? This is a tricky question. Some Paleo users say it’s ok since milk was technically available in the stone age, but others advise against it. If you can’t go without any dairy, use only milk and make sure it’s organic.
What about drinks?
As with the dairy question, drinks also become a tricky question to answer. In theory only water is allowed, but if you can also add:
- Herbal tea.
- Any fruit drinks as long as it’s organic/fresh squeezed.
- People ask about wine since it is technically berries. Most Paleo people would say no.
- Very healthy approach to dieting.
- Provides weight loss & health benefits.
- More energy & stamina.
- Short/long term weight loss results.
- This plan is utilized in many fitness diets and helps get lean results.
- Not easy to complete.
- Difficult to maintain especially in western world.
- Not a lot of carbs allowed.
Paleo Diet Score:
3.5 stars out of 5. Very healthy diet, but not easy to adjust to in the long run. See #1 rated diet.
Personal experiences & conclusions with the Paleo Diet:
Though I’ve never done it, I have 2 friends who have. Both saw results, but in the end it was difficult to maintain. For them it was a month long experience, after which they got back into the regular way of eating.
One of my friends weighed nearly 400 pounds. After doing the Paleo diet, he lost nearly 50 pounds and this was over the course of 3 months. Unfortunately he went right back into the old habit of things.
The other friend only did it for a month and looked great. She didn’t weight a lot to begin with, but after the diet, the difference was VERY noticeable. She too went back to a regular way of eating after she was done.
This isn’t uncommon in people who try this plan. The truth is it works, very well, but maintenance is difficult especially if you live in the western world where we are dominated by unhealthy foods/habits. This isn’t an excuse to not try Paleo, but it’s just something to keep in mind. Not many people are able to keep at this diet for the long run, but it can deliver some incredible health & weight loss benefits if you do.
I would certainly recommend this diet to anyone simply because it works and is very healthy. But on the flip side be prepared for difficulty maintaining it in the long run. My personal advice would be to try the #1 rated diet on this website as an alternative.
It also uses many of the foods in Paleo but is a lot more flexible because it allows many foods which would otherwise be a no-no in not just Paleo but other diets to be used. It’s also a lot short (11 days) and allows for 3 cheat days after each time you do it and results are long term. Learn more.
If you’ve been on the Paleo diet or have any questions, simply leave a comment below.