What is the Paleo Diet? {How and what cavemen ate}

Weight loss diet plan

A stone age caveman tribe after a successful hunting expedition enjoying a delicious barbecue roast meal. Is this the Paleo diet plan? Is it as healthy as the diet's pundits claim it to be?

The Paleo Diet Introduction

Typical Paleo Diet Meal Plan

In order to understand what the Paleo diet is all about, please put on your seat belt and let us take a quick time travel journey to a long way back in history to meet our cavemen ancestors. Here are the reasons why we are going to the Paleolithic era more commonly known as the stone age period. Say hello to the Flintstones for me while you are there, will you?

You see, the Paleolithic diet, usually and affectionately referred to as the Paleo diet (other names of this method of dieting include the caveman, neanderthal, primal, ancestral, evolutionary and the stone age diet) is a relatively simple eating plan. It just followed that whatever and whenever our hunter gatherer ancestors once ate and we simply follow suit. The thinking was that our stone age cavemen ancestors were fierce, strong, very fit hunters and powerful warriors and thus whatever they ate back then should be just as good or if not better for us.

 

So what did these ancient hunters and gatherers ate? Well, mainly whatever they could have gathered, plucked, dug for, hunted, trapped, scavenged and fished or whatever edibles they could get their hands on. So their diet consisted mainly of vegetables, fruits, insects, meat, worms, edible creepy crawlies, animals, birds, eggs, aquatic plants and algae, seafood, and nuts. 

This will mean that most, if not all the modern foodstuff are out. Therefore anything which are factory produced and that are processed or which comes along in a bag, plastic packaging, boxes, tins, foods that are tainted with alcohol and sweetened with sugar, preservatives, artificial coloring are to be avoided as these food products were not in existence way back then. Simply put, they were on a purely natural organic diet.

Even diary and soy products are frowned upon as there are chemicals, preservatives and artificial flavorings added into them. As such, fans of Paleo diet claim that this may perhaps be the most healthy diet program to be on.

However, naysayers to the diet do not agree at all. The detractors say that just because the cavemen were stronger, faster, leaner, more muscular, fitter and had less chronic diseases than that of the modern man, this did not necessarily mean that it was because of the food they ate as there could be other factors involved such as they were always on the move and physically carrying things all the time for the lack of tools, machinery and transportation and as such have much more physical exercise and activities than us as compared to the modern day sedentary living lifestyle. Also there were no harmful and toxic pollution in the environment during those days and as such, they were living in a very clean environment.

Furthermore, the ancient hunters and gatherers did not farm agriculturally nor do they keep domesticated animals such as cows, sheep, pigs and poultry and as such they hunted wild animals and gathered edibles in the wild and some of these animals, plants and fruits which may be already extinct or mutated, so we do not know exactly what they ate. Moreover, in different parts of the world, the plants and animal species were different. On top of that, there could be genetic and DNA differences between them, their food and ourselves as well and so the final verdict is still out there on this arguably big controversy. So what do you think?

Proponents like to insist that the Paleo diet is not just another typical weight loss diet, but is a permanent lifestyle habit of eating because the ancient folks ate this way permanently, didn't they? The problem of keeping up with this way of eating on a long term basis can be very difficult for many people because many of the foods that we are eating today are processed foods and chemicals are added for shelf life retention and other ingredients such as sugar, coloring and sodium for taste and presentation. As such, the temptation to stray away from the diet may be rather intense and real, don't you think so?

Also because of the very strict restrictions on what food to eat, Paleo dieters must usually prepare the food for themselves and it can be a very cumbersome everyday chore. If you do not prepare your own meals, then how else will you be able know if the food you bought or when eating out contains the restricted substances? Therefore if you are not a very disciplined type of person, the Paleo diet may not be suitable for you. If you are committed and determined enough, then read on. Otherwise try out this weight loss diet.


 






















































A typical Paleo meal should have a higher fat content, somewhat moderate protein and low to moderate carbohydrates. The foods our stone age ancestors ate were mainly animals and some fruits and seeds that they would find, so the foods they had were naturally high in animal fat and protein and since there were no agricultural cultivation those days, the foods then are naturally low in carbohydrate. There is no need to count calories nor restrict the amount of food that you eat. Perhaps, this is the easiest part of the diet plan.

When eating animal protein, they would eat the whole animal including the fatty cuts, internal organs and bone marrow as well, leaving out the bones to make weapons and tools. Can you hear the protesters screaming and protesting about high cholesterol now? Also you can eat plenty of vegetables as well since the cavemen also ate leaves and wild shrubs too.

The dieter should refrain from eating all forms of cereal, grains and legumes and also wheat, barley, oat, brown rice, soy products, peanuts, kidney beans, navy beans, corn and peas. This is a little bit strange and controversial because of the claims that beans and lentils should be excluded from the diet because they contain anti-nutrients. However this is just as high in nuts as they are in legumes and yet nuts are allowed to be consumed. Strange logic, don't you think so?

 

The diet also calls for the exclusion of all hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils as these oils are processed and also contain highly unhealthy trans-fat. Also to be eliminated is sugar and any food and beverages containing sugar including artificial sugar and sweeteners of all forms.

You don't have to eat when you are not hungry and just like in intermittent fasting, you can even skip a meal or two since the 3 meals a day a modern invention and not the way the cavemen ate. They only ate when there was food and go without it when there were none. That means that they ate only when food was available and they did not have the option of having three regular meals most of the time.

One more important thing you got to do is to keep to a regular exercise program, especially functional exercises, plenty of walking and weightlifting so that you can mimic our ancient ancestors since they did not have modern day transport or equipment, they moved around quite a lot and carried things manually and thus they were in a constant state of working out. 





As with any structured diet regimental plan, some people may experience certain side effects and here are just 5 of them. 

1) Hypothyroidism - Paleo diet is by nature low in carbohydrates. This could possibly in theory lead to hypothyroidism where the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. However, I have personally never encountered anyone who has experienced hypothyroidism when on the Paleo diet or any type of low carbohydrate diet for that matter.

Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain because the thyroid gland when reacting to the lack of carbohydrate tries to regulate the energy level of the body by curbing its metabolic rate. It does this by producing less thyroxine, resulting in hypothyroidism. 

2) Drop In Energy Level and Brain Fog - As with any low carb diet, some people may experience a drop of energy level, slight tremors, sluggishness, physical and mental fatigue. Others may feel a slight decline in their cognitive abilities such as in cohesive thinking and a slower memory in recalling things. These effects are only temporary in nature and once your body adapts to the diet, things will get back to normal.

3) Bad Breath - This is good news for those who want to lose body fat. The metallic like bad breath is caused by acetone, a by product of ketones and thus, the condition is sometimes referred to as the ketogenic breath. When the body produces ketones, it is in a state of ketosis. This means that the body is now burning body fat for energy as it no longer have stored carbohydrates (glycogen) to burn.

The ketogenic breath will usually go away in a week or two and can be overcome by taking care of your oral hygiene, drinking plenty of water regularly as well as using some oral breath fresheners.

4) Vitamin B Deficiency - Since the Paleo diet forbids or limits the consumption of grains which are usually vitamin B rich, then vitamin B deficiency may occur. This can easily be overcome by taking multi-vitamin or vitamin B complex health supplements.

5) Calcium Deficiency - Another deficiency which may occur is calcium deficiency. The mineral calcium is required for strong and healthy bones and teeth. The National Osteoporosis Foundation advised that women need to consume at least of 1000 mg of calcium each day for the prevention of osteoporosis.

Since the Paleo diet forbids the consumption of dairy products, which are rich sources of calcium, then calcium deficiency may be a possibility, right? A lack of calcium can bring forth high blood pressure and serious bone, hair and teeth deterioration.

In order to avoid calcium deficiency, the Paleo dieters are urged to eat more of the permissible calcium rich foods such as spinach, broccoli, sardines along with their bones and water-cress to make up for the restriction on dairy products calcium shortfall. If need be, take calcium supplements as well and get out under the sun more often for the absorption of vitamin D for the purpose of natural calcium synthesis.

If you find that The Paleo Diet is too cumbersome or restrictive, then you may want to try out The Three Week Diet Plan






1) How is this diet different from the other popular forms of diet for losing weight?

This stone age diet stands out from the crowded world of diet strategies as there is no calorie counting nor strict macro-nutrient restrictions such as the low carb diets since the low carb part comes naturally and as such is not as restrictive. Since our ancestors ate this way, then it goes to say that the Paleo diet which was not developed any doctor or nutritionist, is our natural heritage and we should be genetically adapted to it and as such, should not be too difficult to adhere to.


2) Can you point out some of the positive health benefits of eating this way?

Well, here are several of them. 

a) You will be eating a clean diet without preservatives, chemicals, additives and artificial food coloring. In other words, you are eating clean and organic food. It is thought that your body will clear out all the toxins when you are eating this way and that you may live longer and biologically aging slower by preventing the many negative health issues and diseases linked to these modern day artificial additions to the food that we eat. Make sense?

b) Since the Paleo diet's recommended the vast consumption of seeds, vegetables, nuts and fruits which are rich in beneficial nutrients, your body will reap powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects from these foods resulting in the prevention of diseases brought forth by inflammation and getting the youth enhancement benefits from the anti-aging effects.

c) For the weight watchers, some people may feel full most of the time because of the high fat and protein in the meals thus causing them to lose weight through eating less food. Although the Paleo diet is not a weight loss diet per se but supposedly a healthy eating lifestyle, many dieters do report losing weight when eating in this way though.

d) The permitted foods are of generally from the low-glycemic index and as such, your blood sugar and insulin level will be better controlled. High blood sugar and insulin levels can lead to a family of diseases known as the "Metabolic Syndrome" and these include higher level of bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high triglycerides, obesity and gout among others.

Furthermore, the high protein and high fiber meals along with the omega-3 fatty acids in many of the permitted foods will also also help to prevent the diseases mentioned above from developing and worse, taking root. Isn't it prevention is better than cure?

 

d) Since the Paleo diet calls for the consumption of unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables, your body will then be in a slightly alkaline condition thus will effectively fends off unwanted diseases deriving as a result of acid unbalances such as in osteoporosis, stroke, kidney stones, hypertension, arthritis etc. 


3) I have read somewhere that this diet can cause people to get cancer, is this true? 

This is a pure myth since there is not a shred of scientific evidence at all to even remotely suggests that the Paleo diet may cause cancer. They are all based on hypothesis, opinions and conjectures although some of them are arguably plausible if certain aspects of the diet are carried out to the extreme such as eating too much meat and too often, especially the roasted ones which may be carcinogenic. However isn't it also true that any form extreme eating will be unhealthy and thus not just exclusively pertaining to the Paleo diet, right?

On the contrary, by the strict exclusion of man made chemicals, preservatives and additives from the foods that you eat, you are more likely to prevent cancer rather than getting it. What irony, don't you think so?

Furthermore, the diet strategy include plenty of vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants from vegetables and fruits that have cancer preventing properties. On top of that, by eliminating refined sugar from your meals, you further lower the risks getting cancer since eating refined sugar has often been associated to certain forms of cancers. 

As with every weight loss diet plan out there, it is inevitable to find hardcore supporters who hail them as God's gift to losing weight and detractors who gleefully debunk them as the devil's menu. Therefore it is up to the dieters to carefully do their own research before choosing the one they think is suitable for them and is comfortable with it to embark on. Don't you think so?








 

Watch this video. The Paleolithic Diet explained by Dr. Loren Cordain himself, who was the founder of the Paleo Diet Movement and is greatly respected as the world’s leading authority on the subject of evolutionary basis of diet and diseases.

Food to eat and avoid while on Paleo diet meal plan chart.

 5 Side Effects Of Paleo Diet 

Learn how to lose 21 pounds in 21 days here.

Frequently Asked Questions And Answers (Q&A)
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About The Author - Chris Chew is the health, fitness and grooming consultant to the Mister International Organization, which is the owner and producer of the Mister International and Mister Singapore Pageants. He is presently sitting on the advisory panel of Personal Trainers In Singapore and is himself an experienced and certified Master Trainer.

Chris is also the Director of food health and hygiene for food and beverage establishments such as Kingdom Food Group of restaurants.

This article was researched and presented here by Chris and is meant to be helpful to the readers. It is not meant to diagnose or suggest any treatment in lieu of your medical professional's advise.

Chris is based in the cosmopolitan tropical island nation of Singapore and is still training his clients for fat loss, muscle building and general physical fitness in his free time and he can be contacted
here


 

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