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Paleo for Dummies: Were Cavemen Really THAT Healthy?

You’ve probably been hearing about the Paleo Diet for a while now – perhaps even know a few friends who are on it. The Paleo, or the “Caveman” diet is popular in some circles, but with any diet, it is important to ask if it is safe.  So, the big question in this Paleo Diet review is, “Is it healthy to eat like a Caveman?” Let’s take a look.

paleo for beginners

What is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo Diet is built on the premise that the human body is better designed to process foods in the way that we did as hunters and gatherers – over 10,0000 years ago. With the Paleo Diet, you eat lots of meat and fish, fresh veggies and fruits, eggs and nuts. Any foods that came into our diets through agriculture are excluded from the diet. This means that foods from grains, dairy products and legumes are not included, and of course no processed foods.

paleo diet foods

The diet claims that eating in the same manner as we did over 10,000 years ago is more nutritionally balanced and healthier than the current modern diet which is full of refined, heavily processed and unhealthy foods. With the modern diet being a primary contributor to numerous health problems including heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes, it would stand to reason that going back to a more primitive diet would be considerably healthier.

Primary foods included in the Paleo Diet are fruits, vegetables, lean grass fed meats, seafood, fish, nuts and seeds, healthy oils and fats. Foods to avoid in the Paleo Diet are diary, grains, processed foods and sugars, legumes, starches and alcohol (although tequila is allowed in moderation…seriously). The abundance of fiber from fruits and vegetables along with a high protein diet is said to help you feel fuller while consuming fewer calories which will lead to weight loss.

The diet makes a number of health claims, including stabilizing blood sugar, reducing allergies, better heart health, burning excess fat, improved sleep, and boosted immune system. The right diet can make the difference between having a flat belly and extra flab around your midsection.

As a beginner on the Paleo Diet, it does allow for ‘cheat meals’ which can make it easier to adjust to the otherwise ridged diet, especially in social settings.

I’m Hungry All The Time!

One thing you may notice when you start to cut out a lot of carbohydrates from you diet is that you need to eat more to feel satisfied. You will find yourself still hungry if all you do is eat your regular portions and remove the rice, bread or pasta. You’ll most likely need to double up on the veggies. That is where the bulk of your “fullness” will come from, along with the healthy fats.

paleo saladA great meal would be a large salad with mixed greens, chicken, avocado, cucumber tomatoes, carrots, and slivered almonds. You could make a dressing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The fiber from the vegetables and fat from the avocado, almonds and olive oil will keep you full. Not to mention the protein from the chicken. You’ll need a pretty large portion to fill you up so remember to go heavy on the veggies.

There are a ton of Paleo cookbooks at the store and Paleo recipes online if you want to try different recipes out.

Is the Paleo Diet Healthy?

Here, Dr.Oz breaks down the Paleo Diet.

Given the nature of the Paleo Diet, it has garnered some opposition and criticism, as well as a lot of avid supporters.  Is it truly healthier for humans to eat the way that they did over 10,000 years ago?

First, given the abundance of food available to us, you are not actually eating like a cavemen. For one, domesticated animals came about with agriculture.  Before that, cavemen were out hunting.  Very few Paleo Dieters are out hunting down their meals or fishing for them. They are not eating wild game, but rather meats bought at the local grocery store.

Grass fed and organic is a little closer to nature, but nothing like wild game. Same for the fruits and vegetables – all of which are farmed and purchased at local stores – or farmed at home. The variety of foods available for each meal, along with the array of spices and oils are far more abundant than someone would get if they went out each day to hunt and gather their food.

paleo hunting and gathering

Aside from the amount of exercise the Paleo dieter would get from this, the fact that an abundance of fruits, vegetables and meats are available is certainly a health benefit of this diet. Without that, the diet would likely be much more nutritionally deficient than it currently is. As long as they have the money to buy all of the fresh, whole foods needed, along with the time to prepare each meal, the average Paleo dieter can come up with some tasty and well-rounded meals

Removing highly processed foods, chemical packed and refined sugars from your diet has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Those elements are much greater contributors to disease than simply moving from hunting and gathering to an agriculture based diet. Agriculture brought with it many health and lifestyle benefits – which clearly the Paleo Dieters are taking advantage of. Among those benefits includes access to a more varied, balanced and nutrient rich diet.

A major concern associated with the Paleo Diet is the removal of two major food groups and the elimination of legumes.  Legumes are a highly nutritious food and the staple of many diets around the world. Diary and grains also provide essential nutrients that are lacking in the Paleo Diet. Without taking supplements, the Paleo Dieter will not be getting some key essential ingredients. Make sure your grocery list for weight loss includes some of these important items.

Gluten is a big topic these days and numerous people have a sensitivity, however not all grains have gluten, and not everyone has a sensitivity.  Removing processed grains (white breads, pastas, etc.) from the diet has shown to be highly beneficial in any diet.  Unless you have a sensitivity, eating healthy whole grains is part of maintaining a healthy diet.

If you’re looking for other healthy diets, you should also check out the Mediterranean Diet. For a lot of people this diet combines the best parts of a few different healthy eating ideas into an enjoyable way of eating.

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Health Coach Drew

HI, MY NAME IS DREW. I'm a certified health coach and nutrition expert. My goal is to take the confusion out of weight loss and healthy living and make it simple for everyone. Take The 21-Day Smoothie Diet Challenge
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