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What is the Paleo diet?

paleo diet

I seem to be hearing a lot lately about the “The Paleolithic Diet” and since it is popping up everywhere I thought you might want to know what it’s all about.  This diet is sometimes called the caveman diet, stone age diet, or hunter-gatherer diet.  It is a modern diet plan based on the presumed prehistoric diet including plants, animals and lack of grains in the era not long after the dinosaurs roamed the earth.  The Paleo diet was first popularized in the mid-1970s and has had a recent comeback with a slew of new books published over the past couple of years.

The basic premise is to emulate the way our ancient ancestors ate back when there was no such thing as obesity, cancer, cardiovascular or autoimmune diseases.  The diet includes meat, fish, fowl, vegetables, fruits, roots, tubers and nuts and excludes grains, legumes and dairy.  However there are a few different approaches ranging from very low carbohydrate to a more moderate and balanced approach.  Experts argue on the efficacy and safety of this diet.

One of the biggest changes to the way we eat was the industrial revolution.  Increase in consumption of fast food and processed high salt and sugar foods have dominated our diets ever since.  The Paleo diet recommends avoiding processed food and limiting sugar.  The Paelo diet, as compared to the average American diet, is lower in energy dense foods, allowing people to feel full with less calories.  It is high in fish, fruits and vegetables and a great source of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals.  Despite the low carbohydrate nature of the diet, it’s fiber content is high from the fruits and vegetables and it’s low in sodium.  When you eliminate processed food it is easy to lower your salt intake.

If you are considering going Paleo, you should be aware that the diet is restrictive and hard to stick to, especially when there is no scientific evidence about its purported benefits.  You will likely lose weight at first, restrictions help limit the amount of calories.  For the long term, make sure you are getting enough calcium, exercise regularly and check periodically with your physician to make sure you are getting what your body needs.

For some different approaches to the Paleo diet, see: