What’s the Paleo Diet and Can It Help You Lose Weight?

Paleo diet breakfast featuring salmon, tomatoes, vegetables, and eggs

A Paleo diet is what our caveman ancestors allegedly ate. The caveman diet consisted of what our ancestors could hunt and gather successfully without getting eaten themselves.

As the old saying goes, “you only have to be faster than the slowest runner when you are being chased by a dangerous animal.”

Note: You may see references to the Palo diet. It is just me fat-fingering the word “Paleo” with my family name of “Palo” and not catching the mistake either with proofreading or spell check. I did not invent the Paleo diet.

In other words they ate fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts, and seeds.

Anthropological and nutritional research indicates hunter-gatherer ate predominately large quantities of animal foods and lesser amounts of plant foods. This means cavemen ate more protein and less carbohydrates.

Anthropologists and nutritionists also believe the diets of modern-day hunter-gatherers may represent a reference standard for modern human nutrition.  This may be a model for defense against certain diseases of affluence.

Today, the Paleo diet focuses on the qualitative nature of largely or minimally processed foods (meat, seafood, fish, fowl, fruits, vegetables, roots, tubers, nuts and seeds).

Followers of the Paleo diet only eat what the caveman ate. In other words, only minimally processed foods. And no grains or dairy.

4 levels of food processing

Robb Wolf, a former research biochemist is the New York Times Best Selling author of The Paleo Solution – The Original Human Diet says,

“The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility.”

Note: While Robb Wolf states degenerative diseases, some of the diseases listed are metabolic-related diseases (diabetes and cognitive ones like Alzheimer’s).

What is the Paleo diet about anyway?

cavemanThe Paleo diet is about eating more like our ancient ancestors eliminating the foods that cause us to gain weight and suffer the consequences.

The Paleo diet is about eating more healthy proteins and less carbs. It is about deleting grains and dairy from our diets.

But why would I (or you) want to do that?

recently published study in the journal “Digestion” found that 86 percent of individuals who believed they were gluten sensitive could tolerate it. Individuals with celiac disease, a hereditary autoimmune condition that affects about 3 million Americans, or roughly 1 percent of the population, must avoid gluten. Those with extremely rare wheat allergies must also remove gluten from their diet. In addition, those with gluten sensitivity, a condition that affects 6 percent of the population (18 million individuals), should also avoid gluten.

For 93% of the population, eating grains should NOT be a problem. We have been encouraged to eat more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains by the federal government as part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We have also been told to:

  • Decrease consumption of:
    • refined and processed sugars and foods high in such sugars;
    • foods high in total fat and animal fat, and partially replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats;
    • eggs, butterfat, and other high-cholesterol foods;
    • salt and foods high in salt; and
  • Choose low-fat and non-fat dairy products instead of high-fat dairy products (except for young children).

The Dietary Guidelines is the result of the United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs work related to concerns about hunger and malnutrition in the United States led by Senator George McGovern.

Yet, the obesity rates in the United States have been increasing over the decades.

So, either the people are not following the guidelines or the guidelines are incorrect!

I, personally, believe it is a bit of both.

According to Kelly Brownell, a Yale psychologist,

we live in what is called a ”toxic food environment” of cheap fatty food, large portions, pervasive food advertising and sedentary lives. By this theory, we are at the Pavlovian mercy of the food industry, which spends nearly $10 billion a year advertising unwholesome junk food and fast food.

The Paleo diet takes us back to the basics of eating healthy, less or minimally processed food.

Paleo Diet Foods List

What are Paleo foods?  A few key food items: protein, vegetables or fruit, and some healthy fats.

  • Meat –  chicken, fish, pork, beef, turkey, duck, goat, lamb, game (deer, pheasant, etc). Should be grass-fed.
  • Fish (including shell fish) – wild caught preferably.
  • Eggs – chicken, duck, quail, etc.
  • Vegetables and/or fruits – all unless you are trying to lose weight. Then limit amount of fruit.
  • Healthy fats – almonds, avocados, walnuts, almond butter, cooking with things like olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, lard, and tallow.
  • Nuts and seeds – all including their butters. Coconut and almond flours are on this list. Peanuts are not. Peanuts are legumes. Eat nuts and seeds in moderation because of high caloric values.
  • Coconut products – milk, water, oil, aminos (substitute for soy sauce), coconut sugar, flour,
  • Tubers – sweet potatoes, yams, beets, parsnips, turnips, and carrots.
  • Beverages – water, tea, bone broth, coffee, freshly juiced vegetables and juices.

Avoid these foods

  • Grains – wheat, rice, corn, quinoa (technically a seed), rye, amaranth, buckwheat, wild rice, spelt, and oats including flours and other refined products.
  • Dairy – milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, fermented milk products (e.g. kefir) and whey protein powders. Note: The Neo-Paleo Diet includes dairy.
  • Legumes – beans, peanuts, lentils, and soy. Green beans and snap peas are considered vegetables and are acceptable because the bean part of each is small compared to the size of the pod they are in.
  • Sugar in all its forms including artificial sweeteners – fructose, high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, and any other form of sugar. The Paleo diet encourages eating fresh fruits, which include natural sugar.
  • Vegetable Oils – vegetable oils include corn, cottonseed, soy, sunflower, safflower, etc. These are not vegetables, but grains. They are highly processed grain products refined to the point of being liquid.

Eat these Paleo foods in moderation

  • Coffee
  • Caffeinated tea
  • Natural sugars such as raw honey, maple syrup, stevia
  • Dark chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Dried fruit

Are you ready to try a Paleo diet?

Talk to your doctor or nutritionist. Give it a try for 30 days.

If you are not committed to doing the Paleo diet, then eliminate all highly processed foods for 90 days. Cut out the fast foods and foods that come in a box, can, container, or bag. This means no snack foods, frozen entrees, ice cream, bottled fruit juices or sodas. You know what I mean. And it works. In the fall of 2015, I eliminated all highly processed foods and lost 25 pounds in 90 days.

If you have comments, any questions or wish to share your experience, please share by leaving a comment below.

Want to read more about the Paleo diet? good source The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet

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