Beginner’s Guide to Paleo Diet
The name “paleo” is from the “paleolithic” time when earlier humans (thousands of years ago) were hunters and gatherers. It is thought to represent the era of nutrition before agriculture.
The Paleo Diet was the world’s most popular diet in 2013. Scientist and “Paleo Mom” Sarah Ballentyne, Ph.D. defines it as:
“The Paleo Diet is a nutrient-dense whole foods diet based on eating a variety of quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. It improves health by providing balanced and complete nutrition while avoiding most processed and refined foods and empty calories.”
But do you know what is it? Is it a fad? Is Paleo Diet right for you?
Who is it for?
Individuals with food intolerances or autoimmune diseases may consider this type ofdiet. Those at high risk for heart disease or diabetes may also be good candidates to give the Paleo Diet a try.
If you react to gluten or lactose, this diet removes them both by eliminating all grains and dairy.
Even if you don’t choose to go Paleo, the elimination of added sugars, processed and refined foods can (should?) be a goal to move toward.
Several clinical studies have been done to find out whether there are health benefits of eating this way.
Some of the research has shown that the Paleo Diet can help with weight loss and belly fat. That alone may be reason enough to give it a try.
Not to mention its effect on several modern-day chronic diseases. For example, it can improve risk factors for heart disease. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, and even reduce symptoms of some autoimmune diseases.
It’s also thought to be “gut-friendly” because it includes a lot of high-fiber foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds), fermented foods (which contain gut-friendly probiotics), as well as being full of nutritious natural foods.
What to eat and not to eat while on the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet is rich in whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods with low amounts of gut-disrupting, hormone-disrupting, and inflammatory foods.
But this doesn’t mean there are only a couple of foods to choose from! There is a pretty wide variety of food to choose from in the Paleo Diet.
You can include fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat (including organ meats), seafood, healthy fats, fermented foods, herbs, and spices.
The Paleo Diet excludes processed and refined foods (e.g. sugar, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, etc.), grains (e.g. wheat, oats, rice, etc.), dairy, and most legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, peanuts, etc.).
The Paleo Diet can be thought of as more of a “template,” rather than a strict set of rules.
It’s a diet that seems to be easy to maintain, and with little to no negative side effects. There is no measuring or counting of calories or carbs. And there are plenty of delicious and nutritious foods to choose from.
Many proponents of the Paleo Diet even encourage experimentation by adding in a few of the (healthy whole) foods on their list of exclusions. High-quality dairy, white rice or potatoes may be added to less restrictive forms of the Paleo Diet.
The Paleo Diet is based on what hunters and gatherers ate thousands of years ago. It is a whole-food based, nutrient-dense diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood, and fermented foods.
Science has shown that it can help some people to lose weight, reduce risks of heart disease, improve glucose tolerance, and reduce inflammation.
At the very least, eliminating added sugars, processed, and refined foods are a great goal, even if you decide not to “go paleo.”
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In the meanwhile, here’s a delicious Paleo recipe:
Banana Muffins (Serves 12)
- 5 mashed bananas
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup almond butter
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a food processor or stand mixer, blend eggs, bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla.
- In a large bowl mix coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add blended wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Spoon batter into muffin tins, ¾ full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can top muffins with walnuts before baking.
- What is the Paleo Diet? https://www.thepaleomom.com/start-here/paleo-diet/
- The Paleo Diet – A Beginner’s Guide Plus Meal Plan. https://authoritynutrition.com/paleo-diet-meal-plan-and-menu/
- 5 Studies on The Paleo Diet – Does it Actually Work? https://authoritynutrition.com/5-studies-on-the-paleo-diet/