Are you thinking of starting a diet? Have you considered the Paleo diet? Okay, great, so you now you want to know more about the diet. That’s good, and it’s even better that you got here, because we will cover all the paleo diet basics you need to know to start your diet today, not tomorrow.
Paleo Diet Basics
If you are like me, struggling with diets because you keep forgetting what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat, then it’s a good thing you are considering the Paleo Diet.
Why? Because once you actually know the basic rules and guidelines of the Paleo diet, you can start your diet basically on the same day. It’s dead simple and very straightforward, you don’t need any kind of plan to start, you can simply .. start.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet is a diet that includes only foods that the hunter-gatherer humans ate thousands of years ago. On the paleo diet, you are allowed to only eat foods that our ancestors could eat in the Paleothilic ear – which is where the name ‘paleo diet’ comes from.
If you think that this seems very simple, you are correct. This is a simple diet based on a simple concept. In fact, you can stop reading here and just go start your diet.
Seriously, you can just go and ask yourself in every meal ‘Could I hunt or gather this in nature?’ and if the answer is yes, you can eat it.
However, I would advise you to continue reading, as I’m going to cover all the paleo diet basics in this article and answer all your questions, so I promise it will be worth it.
Why the Paleo Diet?
The concept behind the Paleo diet is a simple one; our diets have evolved faster than our bodies did in the last ten thousand years or so.
This is true, the move from whole grains, wild berries, and the meats of hunted animals to processed and fast food was very sudden when you look at it from an evolutionary point of view. Remember, evolution takes thousands of years to change things and help us adapt, it’s a slow process, but the changes in our diets are anything but slow.
This sudden change in diet is, as the followers of the Paleo diet believe, the cause in most of the health issues of modern humans. Our bodies simply can’t process these new foods as well and as efficiently as they can with whole foods that we ate thousands of years prior.
By following the paleo diet, you should reduce your risk of modern health issues like diabetes and obesity. In fact, several studies (find sources at the end) suggest that the paleo diet can lead to significant weight loss and major improvements in health overall without the need to do any calorie counting.
By the way, the Carnivore diet is based on very similar principles. Discover the Carnivore diet here.
What to eat on the Paleo diet?
If we’re gonna discuss the Paleo diet basics, then this is the most important Paleo diet basics we need to mention.
You can basically eat anything nature produces on its own. You can’t eat anything that we farm or create. Here are the basic foods you can eat.
No processed meats allowed. You can eat as much steak and chicken as you want, but no bacon. You can enjoy beef, lamb turkey, and pork as well
Veggies are your friends now. Learn to love them. broccoli, tomatoes, and onions will be ingredients in most of your meals from now on.
Seafood, in general, is a great source for so many macronutrients and even though you don’t need to make any calculations for the macronutrients you eat, you still need to include a variety of foods in your diet.
A cheap and delicious source of proteins. Eggs from the free-range chicken will be better and more true to the spirit of the diet.
Nature’s candy are sweet, but our tongues got so desensitized to them from all the artificial sweeteners and sugar we consume. They will start testing absolutely delicious again in no time.
- Healthy fats and oils
- Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, walnut, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts are all allowed, but you should eat them in moderation. Just because they are allowed doesn’t mean you should just eat as much of them as you want. Nuts, in particular, can make you gain weight easily, which defeats the whole purpose of the diet.
As a general guideline to follow, you should only eat whole, unprocessed foods like meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, and potatoes. And although they may be more expensive, you should choose grass-fed and organic products when possible.
What to drink on the Paleo Diet?
Surprisingly enough, they didn’t have Starbucks or bars in the Paleolithic era ( I know, how did they handle Mondays, right?). This means your options for drinks are pretty limited.
- Tea: Green tea is best preferred, but you can also drink other types of tea if you like.
- Coffee: Yes! You can, in fact, drink coffee. It’s also very good for you as it is high in antioxidants and good for your heart.
What to Avoid on the Paleo Diet?
It really is surprising how many foods we eat today that we didn’t even have just a couple of thousands of years ago. The foods to avoid is one of the main paleo diet basics you should know and know very well since if you what you can’t eat, anything else is a fair game, right?
Foods to Avoid on the Paleo Diet:
You can’t eat or drink anything with added sugar. This includes ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, and pastries.
Beans, lentils, and anything that humans started eating after they started farming is off the paleo diet menu.
We started eating grains after we started farming, and farming started after the Paleolithic era, so no bread, pasta, rye, barley, or anything with grains is allowed on the Paleo diet.
You should avoid most dairy, but there are some modified versions of the paleo diet that includes full-fat dairy like butter and cheese. You can also make your butter paleo-compatible, find out how here.
- Artificial Sweeteners
You can’t eat anything with artificial sweeteners like sucralose in it. you can use natural sweeteners instead.
- Highly Processed foods
If it looks like it was made in a factory, you can’t eat it. This is a simple enough guideline to follow at all times.
- Trans fats
If you find anything with the words “hydrogenated” – even if accompanied by some marketing term like “partially”, then it’s off the table.
You can’t drink beer or any other alcoholic drink (with one exception that will be discussed later). I know this will make your nights out a bit difficult to tolerate, but it will be worth it at the end.
Indulgences on the Paleo Diet
Just because you’re on the Paleo diet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still treat yourself every once in a while. There are two indulgences you can enjoy on the Paleo diet as long as they are in moderation, and moderation is one of the most important paleo diet basics.
- Wine: High-quality red wine is full of beneficial nutrients.
- Dark Chocolate: You should choose dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Quality dark chocolate is also nutritious and allowed in most diets.
3 Paleo Diet Basics to Remember
There are some very important paleo diet basics you must remember, and they are also the answers to the questions you have in your mind, so let’s answer them one by one.
- What about calories in the Paleo Diet?
You don’t need to do any calories counting when you are on the Paleo Diet. You should eat when you feel hungry and stop eating when you are full. You don’t need to worry about how many calories does your specific body needs, and you will still lose weight.
- When Should I eat on the Paleo Diet?
Unlike diets such as intermittent fasting, you don’t need to set specific times for eating while on the Paleo diet. You just eat when you feel like you need to eat, and please pay attention to my use of ‘need’.
I feel this is one of the most important points that need to be discussed when someone is about to get into this diet.
We now eat more because food is everywhere. There is a mac or a subway after every turn, so it’s really easy to just get food at any time. This wasn’t the case for Paleolithic humans. They had to go hunt and gather their foods when they felt hungry, they couldn’t just pick up the phone and order groceries.
Here is one of the most important paleo diet basics to follow; you need to listen to your body when following the Paleo Diet and don’t follow your old habits. You don’t need to eat three meals a day. You can eat three, or you can eat one, or five, as long as that’s what your body needs.
- How much should I eat?
You should eat in moderation. I’m not going to tell you to eat until you’re full because our body is kind of stupid when it comes to feeling full.
The signal your stomach sends to your brain that it’s full takes about 20 minutes to reach it, so you can be eating for an extra 20 minutes before you find out that you have been overeating this whole time.
So, you should feel when you’re hungry, and eat till you feel full.
- What about Macronutrients?
You don’t need to worry about that, either. As long as you include something of everything in your meals, you should be fine. You can try to go low-carb with animal foods and high-carb with lots of plants and figure out what works for your body best.
As long as you feel good and look good, it means your health is getting better. Don’t worry about the scale much, especially if you’re going to be combining the diet with working out.
How to Make A Basic Paleo Diet Meal Plan
Since this is a diet based on general guidelines and not strict plans that you need to follow for every single second of every day for the following couple of months, you can actually create your own diet meal plan yourself, and as you go.
It’s also important to remember that Paleolithic humans didn’t really follow a plan, they just ate what was available at the time and where in the world did they live. The same should go for you.
What should be in your meals: Meat, Fish, Eggs, vegetables, nuts, spices, herbs, healthy fats, and oils.
What shouldn’t be in your meals: Processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, legumes, vegetable oils, trans fats, and most dairy products.
Can You Lose weight on the Paleolithic Diet?
Yes, you can lose weight on the Paleolithic diet. In fact, you can lose weight by simply following the pale diet basics we’ve discussed here without doing any kind of calorie or macronutrient calculations.
However, if you really want to shed off a few pounds, I would advise keeping your meals low-carb, or you can even combine the Paleo diet with another low-carb diet like the Keto Diet for the best results.
You can check this Paleo VS Keto Diet comparison to see which one fits your lifestyle more and which one will help you get to your goals faster and more easily.
These are some questions that you may have right now that you will need to be answered, so let’s answer them right away. If you have more questions, feel free to contact us.
How to order in Restaurants On Paleo Diet?
It is actually quite easy to order in Restaurants paleo meals. You will want to order the main dish to be meat- or fish-based one and get some extra vegetables or a salad instead of the bread or rice, and simply ask for the food to be cooked in olive or coconut oil.
Is peanut butter Paleo?
No, Peanut butter is not paleo. since Peanuts are technically legumes, they shouldn’t be included in the Paleo diet. However, there are some options available that you can find that will make you forget about peanut butter altogether.
Is Quinoa Paleo?
No, Quinoa is not paleo and shouldn’t be included in your meals.
Does The Paleo Diet put you in Ketosis?
No, unless you eliminate carbs altogether from your diet. The Paleo Diet is different than the Keto diet in that it does contain some high-carb foods, so it won’t put you into ketosis the same way the Keto diet does.
However, some people like to go on a modified Paleo Diet where they eliminate carbs altogether to put their bodies in Ketosis state. If you are looking to lose weight, you might want to try this.
Are Dates Paleo?
Dates are not only Paleo, but they are also an absolutely essential go-to for Paleo-friendly deserts. While ordering in a restaurant on the Paleo diet is easy, baking is definitely not.
With no sugar, no flour, and no grains, you are very limited in your options, but thankfully, dates can make your deserts sweet and delicious.
Are Bananas Paleo?
Yes, Bananas are paleo. Even though bananas are fruits and so automatically should be considered paleo, many followers of the diet prefer to avoid bananas because of the higher sugar content in them.
However, Bananas are still an excellent source of many nutrients like Potassium, so they should be a part of your meal plan.
Lindeberg S, et al. A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease.Trusted Source Diabetologia, 2007.
Jonsson T, et al. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study.Trusted Source Cardiovascular Diabetology, 2009.
Frassetto, et al. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet.Trusted Source European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009.