The Paleolithic diet is a healthy weight loss plan in which it was possible to eat all kinds of vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, shellfish, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats, excluding flours, legumes, dairy, and processed and refined products.
For many nutritionists who endorse the Paleolithic diet as more than a healthy weight loss plan, it is a lifestyle based on our ancestors’ diet in the Paleolithic period when man evolved from Homo Habilis, the first hominid, to Homo Sapiens.
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What is the Paleolithic Diet
A healthier style of eating, the Paleolithic diet has a nutritional focus that helps those who follow it lose weight and stay fit and full of energy. It is a modern diet that allows you to lose weight gradually without starving and with a lot of energy to face the day.
The Paleolithic Diet isn’t just a diet; it’s a return to the roots of our evolutionary culinary journey, reminding us that sometimes, looking back can pave the way for a healthier future.
Today, most people in the world eat a very high carbohydrate diet. The problem is that the body can only store a small number of fast-energy carbohydrates, but if they are not consumed in their entirety, they are stored in the form of fat.
And here comes the interesting thing about this Paleolithic diet: our ancestors only ate animals and plants, obtaining the nutrients they needed from them if we review the history of man. On the other hand, they ate sporadically because they could not provide food, and that was how the body adapted to store energy in the form of fat to use in times of scarcity.
Today, most people consume an excessive amount of carbohydrates and store more than they can spend daily, so by having a proper diet, it is possible to change this unhealthy situation and have eating habits that allow maintaining an optimal level of body fat. , a stabilized appetite, and good energy levels.
The Paleolithic diet proposes a healthier way of eating by reducing the consumption of processed carbohydrates such as sugar and cultivated or whole grains, generating a moderating effect on insulin production, a simple change that helps you lose weight and prevent health problems.
It is a low-carbohydrate regimen in which it is unnecessary to count calories and has as a fundamental principle to stop eating when you feel satisfied.
Evolutionary Perspective: The Paleolithic era spanned approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. During this time, humans were hunter-gatherers, and their diet was based on what was available in their environment. This means that the Paleolithic diet is based on foods humans have been consuming for the longest period of our evolutionary history, which some argue might be more in tune with our biology.(1)
How the Paleolithic Diet is made
A straightforward diet regimen, on the Paleolithic diet, a healthy weight loss plan allows you to eat vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, oils, herbs, and spices daily.
Eating fewer tubers, other roots, and sugar is also allowed; processed grains (flour, wheat, corn, cereals, pasta, and bread) are prohibited.
For those who want to start doing the Paleolithic diet, a healthy weight loss plan is essential to do it gradually because the objective is to follow a healthy meal plan. It will be necessary to eliminate or restrict all those foods that intoxicate the body.
Also, it will be necessary to prevent a poor diet from attacking the immune system, thus obtaining adequate and complete nutrition such as that offered by some regimens such as the Mediterranean Diet. For this, it will be necessary to consume foods rich in nutrients, little processed or refined, eliminating as much as possible of sugars and gluten present in cereals and processed foods, especially those that contain trans fats.
In addition to the above, the Paleolithic diet requires physical activity that includes resistance and aerobic exercises that provide health benefits and improve mood.
What to Eat on the Paleolithic Diet
In the Paleolithic diet, some foods were allowed, others should be eaten in moderation, and foods that are prohibited, so it is necessary to take note of them and organize daily meals from them.
Meat and fish
- Beef: Always use lean cuts.
- Chicken: All chicken parts can be used, including the breasts, thighs, legs, and wings. Chicken breast contains lean protein and is an excellent staple for Paleo fans.
- Eggs: Of all kinds, they are an excellent source of food that man has always used.
Lamb meat is slightly fattier than other meats but is considered “Paleo-friendly” (paleo-friendly).
- Pork: Pork is an excellent option and can be prepared in different ways to increase the menu of the Paleolithic diet.
- Turkey: Another excellent option instead of sausages, the best is the turkey breast.
- Game meat: All types of game meat are allowed and will surely be free of chemicals and antibiotics.
- Mackerel: A great choice, too, as it lowers bad cholesterol and helps strengthen the immune system. It is a blue fish that can be used in many recipes for healthy dishes.
- Salmon: An ideal option that can be included in the weekly menu of the Paleolithic diet, as it is an excellent source of quality protein, providing a good amount of Omega3.
- Sardines: Excellent source of protein and a good source of vitamin D.
- Shrimp: A seafood to have in the freezer almost always; they are easy to prepare and can be consumed without cooking.
- Tuna: It is a good way to ensure an excellent available protein source and can be served with raw or cooked vegetables.
- Artichokes: They are a delicious addition to any salad.
- Asparagus: Ideal to accompany a fish dish and can be eaten raw, steamed, and even grilled.
- Broccoli: It is suitable for health, and in the Paleolithic diet, it is essential because it is a good source of fiber that helps digestion.
- Brussels sprouts can be steamed and are tasty to accompany meat or fish.
- Carrots are good food and a fresh snack you can enjoy anytime.
- Cauliflower: It is a versatile vegetable used in countless recipes and very useful in trying to replicate some favorite dishes that are not Paleo.
- Celery: Contains a lot of water and a good amount of phytonutrients that the body needs.
- Green Vegetables: Spinach, Swiss chard, and green cabbage leaves can be used steamed or in raw salads.
- Cucumbers: Very healthy option. They provide water and help to stay hydrated; they can be eaten alone or used in salad or other recipes.
- Eggplant: It has a good flavor and can be used in various recipes.
- Green onions: They are often used as a garnish.
- Onion: It improves the flavor of beef, chicken, and pork.
- Peppers: Of any type, red greens and jalapeños add color and flavor to any dish and have good nutritional properties.
- Pumpkin: Very nutritious, and even the seeds can be used.
- Lettuce: Always having it on hand is ideal for salads and garnishes.
- Spinach can be used in salads and smoothies, eaten raw or cooked, and is the cornerstone of green smoothies.
- Chard: Another excellent green leafy vegetable that goes well with countless dishes and can be eaten raw or cooked.
- Tomato: Although technically a fruit, it is often counted as a vegetable; it has the advantage that it is easily digested by the body and is used to prepare natural tomato sauce.
- Zucchini: Often used as a garnish and to prepare many vegetarian recipes, it can also be eaten raw.
Most carbohydrates in the Paleolithic diet come from fruits, like some recommended below but always consume them in moderation.
- Apple: With a tremendous nutritional contribution, you can choose green or red and consume it raw or cooked.
- Avocado: It is a fruit that can be added to almost any meal, provides more potassium than a banana, and contains many healthy fats that are essential to this Paleolithic diet.
- Banana: Provides energy and is rich in potassium and other vitamins and minerals, but should be consumed in moderation.
- Blackberries and blueberries: These red fruits are rich in antioxidants; they can be added to coconut milk yogurt for breakfast or an excellent snack or dessert; they provide vitamin C.
- Melon: Rich in vitamins A and C.
- Cherries: Rich in antioxidants, they are an excellent source of energy.
- Grapefruit: Healthy food has low sugar content and a lot of vitamin C.
- Kiwi: Another source of vitamin C that can be eaten on its own and works great in a smoothie.
- Lemon: Provides a lot of vitamin C. You can enjoy a few slices of lemon in the water or use lemon juice to sprinkle on meat, fish, and salads.
- Orange: It also has good levels of vitamin C, both alone and in juices or smoothies.
- Pears: They provide fiber and help keep the intestines clean.
- Pineapple: A delicious fruit, but it is necessary not to eat it in excess since it contains a lot of sugar.
- Raspberries and strawberries go very well with other berries or can be eaten independently.
- Tangerines taste sweeter than an orange but do not have much sugar.
- Watermelon is a superfood because it provides antioxidants that help fight free radicals.
Foods to eat in moderation
- Cold squeezed oils.
- Alcoholic drinks.
- Dairy products.
- It is processed or preserved products.
- Fatty meats, salty foods, sugar, and carbonated drinks.
This paleolithic diet allows you to eat one, two, or three meals a week in which “forbidden” foods are used, as this would facilitate adaptation to this new eating rhythm.
The base of the Paleolithic diet should be vegetables, then meat, fish and eggs, and finally fruits, seeds, spices, herbs, and olive or coconut oils, something that in the Paleolithic was a plant-based diet and animal products such as meat, fish, and eggs.
Vegetables, fruits, and herbs provide few calories and are the primary source of carbohydrates and the few that will be consumed. At the same time, some nuts, seeds, meat, fish, and other derivative products are responsible for stimulating insulin production, and They are also a source of healthy fats and protein.
The idea is to eat plenty of raw, boiled, stewed, or baked vegetables, avoiding sugars, flour and eating. The idea is to eat a few meals throughout the day, and if the goal is a significant reduction in body fat, foods such as coffee, alcohol, and legumes should be eliminated.
As for drinks for the Paleolithic diet, it is essential to drink plenty of water and avoid artificial or sugary soft drinks. It is allowed to drink tea, especially green tea, which contains antioxidants.
Sample Weekly Menu of the Paleolithic Diet
|1 Egg cooked with spinach using coconut oil
|Chicken salad with olive oil and a handful of almonds
|Baked tuna with lemon
|One egg omelet, one piece of fruit
|Tuna salad with walnuts
|Baked salmon with spinach
|1 Portion of cold roast beef with avocado
|Sandwich using lettuce as bread and stuffed with chicken and tomato
|Ground beef with vegetables
|One boiled egg, one glass of coconut milk yogurt with berries
|One beef steak, green leafy salad and tomato slices
|Baked tuna with tomato
|Steamed vegetables with coconut oil and lemon juice, one piece of fruit
|Meat with avocado and vegetables
|Chicken and almond salad
|One boiled egg, one glass of coconut milk yogurt
|Chicken salad with flax seeds
|1 Fish fillet, 1 Green leafy salad
|1 Paleo chicken burger, one glass of coconut milk yogurt
|Onion soup, Veal burger
|Pork tenderloin with plums and pineapple, 1 Serving of steamed vegetables
Variants of the Paleolithic Diet, a healthy weight loss plan
One of the variants is the Paleo Diet for athletes. It is an adaptation to get the most out of the original Paleolithic diet plan with all its benefits and apply them to an athlete’s daily routine.
Thus, in the paleo diet for athletes, it is essential to increase the consumption of carbohydrates and proteins before training, eating potatoes, white rice, pumpkin, and bananas. At the same time, the rest of the days, you can continue with the Paleolithic diet regularly.
The paleo athlete diet should include the following:
- White rice (not whole grain).
- Whole milk, aged cheese, natural yogurt.
- Tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Legumes such as chickpeas, peas, and lentils.
- Vegetables and vegetables, such as carrots, squash, and beets, are high in carbohydrates.
- High-carbohydrate fruits such as bananas, strawberries, and cherries.
This paleo diet for athletes should be done progressively each week, eliminating some “prohibited” foods. Still, it is always advisable to consult with the nutritionist if fatigue or tiredness is noticed due to the lack of sugar.
Contraindications of the Paleolithic Diet
Just as there are arguments in favor, there are also various arguments against the Paleolithic diet, as some nutritionists claim that it is a hyperprotein diet and could cause a slow heart rate and discomfort, among other side effects.
The main drawbacks or contraindications of the Paleolithic diet include:
- Short-term vitamin D deficiency.
- It takes a lot of discipline and control.
- Suffering “yo-yo effect” due to rapid weight loss in the first few weeks.
- It is monotonous and difficult to follow long term.
- It has some nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of dairy and legumes.
- Excess protein causes the kidneys to work harder to eliminate toxins.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Paleolithic Diet
Although during the first six months, the Paleolithic diet can generate a more significant weight loss than traditional low-fat and high-carbohydrate diets, after that time, there is a tendency to regain more weight than with other low-fat diets.
Bone Health: While the Paleolithic diet excludes dairy products, a primary source of calcium in many modern diets, proponents argue that the increased consumption of green leafy vegetables and fish can provide adequate calcium. Additionally, excluding grains and processed foods can reduce the intake of substances like phytic acid, inhibiting calcium absorption.(2)
Advantages of the Paleolithic Diet
- Prioritize protein consumption, which quickly brings a feeling of fullness.
- It proposes a diet that is easy to follow based on meat, poultry, fish, eggs, seafood, fruits, and vegetables.
- Change your eating habits, especially consuming a lot of processed foods that, in the long run, cause harm to your health.
Gut Health: The Paleolithic diet can positively impact gut health. The emphasis on whole foods and excluding processed foods can lead to a more diverse gut microbiome. A diverse gut microbiome is often associated with better digestive health and a reduced risk of gut-related diseases.(3)
Disadvantages of the Paleolithic Diet
- The Paleolithic diet covers all nutritional needs except sufficient vitamin D intake. Therefore it is necessary to compensate for the deficit with a supplement.
- It requires a lot of discipline and control.
- It has some nutritional deficiencies and deficiencies.
Paleolithic Diet Recipes
Having good recipes to follow the Paleolithic diet and a healthy weight loss plan is essential to avoid boredom and, consequently, abandon the regime shortly after starting to lose weight.
Here, we share some recipes of the Paleolithic diet that, in addition to being tasty, are easy to prepare and give good ideas to expand the daily menu.
Pork tenderloin with plums and pineapple
This is an easy recipe to prepare that includes essential ingredients of the Paleolithic diet and can be incorporated into the daily menu of the weight loss plan.
- One pork tenderloin.
- One hundred twenty-five grams of pitted prunes.
- 6 Large pineapple slices from a can.
- One medium onion.
- 80 ml of pineapple juice
- 80 ml of beef broth.
- One red pepper.
Start by seasoning the sirloin, placing it in a pan greased with oil, and sealing the meat.
Cut the onion into slices, thin strips, and small dice the red pepper; add the sirloin that will have been placed in a baking dish.
Add the meat broth and a splash of wine if desired.
Cook in a preheated oven at 180º C for about 20 minutes, turning the piece halfway through cooking and then adding the pineapple juice, plums, and sliced pineapple.
When the pineapple is golden, remove the sirloin from the oven.
Serve the sirloin with a mixed salad.
Paleo chicken burgers
Most people like hamburgers and homemade ones that do not contain preservatives are always healthier and can be prepared with lean meat, either veal or, in this case, chicken.
Easy to prepare, these hamburgers are ideal to always have on hand when following the Paleolithic diet.
- Three hundred fifty grams of chicken breast.
- Spices to taste, gluten-free, and without additives.
Chop the chicken breast in the processor or meat grinder, adding the spices, salt, and pepper.
Transfer this paste to a bowl and mix well, taking portions of the desired size, which can be about 100 grams. That would give three burgers.
We are heating, over low heat, the grill where we will put the hamburgers.
Each portion must be squashed with your hands into hamburgers.
Cook the chicken burgers on the grill or frying pan with a drizzle of coconut oil to avoid burning.
Brown and cook on both sides, and when ready, remove and serve accompanied by a green leafy salad or a portion of steamed vegetables.
Coconut milk yogurt
To avoid dairy in the Paleolithic diet, this coconut milk yogurt recipe is an excellent option for those who miss this food for breakfast.
A simple recipe that also has several combinations, such as adding seeds or fresh fruit cut into small cubes.
- 250 ml of coconut milk.
- One package of unflavored gelatin powder or in sheets.
- Two tablespoons of juice from 1 lemon.
- One tablespoon of honey.
- Raisins (optional).
- Cinnamon (optional).
Place 125 ml of coconut milk in a bowl and sprinkle with the powdered gelatin, mixing until it forms a creamy paste.
Heat the rest of the coconut milk over low heat, and when it is hot, add the lemon juice, honey, and the coconut milk mixture with unflavored jellies.
Mix all the ingredients well, constantly beating until the preparation is warm.
Place the coconut yogurt obtained in a jar with a tight lid and store it in the refrigerator until used.
It can be whipped with warm water to make it lighter if you want a creamier yogurt.
Serve a portion of coconut milk yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon powder, or be served with berries.
Video of the Paleolithic Diet
We share a video of the obesity and metabolism specialist Frank Suárez, writer of the Best-Seller “The Power of Metabolism,” a plan to lose weight healthily where the Paleolithic diet is focused.
Sources and References:
- T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies
The Paleo Diet: What’s the Story?
Genetic selection programmed our diet. Should we go back to the food of Paleolithic man?
- Medical Bulletin of the Children’s Hospital of Mexico
Diet in the evolution of man: Its relationship with the risk of chronic degenerative diseases
The Paleolithic Diet, often considered more than just a weight loss plan, aims to emulate the eating habits of our ancestors from the Paleolithic era. This diet is rich in unprocessed food, including meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, while excluding flours, legumes, dairy, and processed products. Advocates argue that this diet can help manage chronic diseases, stabilize blood sugar levels, and promote a healthy heart, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Unlike fad diets, the Paleolithic Diet focuses on long-term lifestyle changes, emphasizing the consumption of plant foods and healthy fats. However, critics point out potential health conditions that could arise, such as vitamin D deficiency and increased strain on the kidneys due to high protein intake. Overall, the Paleolithic Diet offers a holistic approach to a healthy diet, aiming to combat modern-day health issues like heart disease by returning to ancestral eating habits.
My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.