Paleo Diet Overview
Paleo, short for paleolithic, is an aggregate term describing a collection of dietary and fitness guidelines that are developed based on theories of human evolution. It covers names like Caveman Diet, Stone Age Diet, Evolutionary Fitness, Primal Blueprint, and Ancestral Health. A Paleo diet, being relatively low in carbohydrates, is in some regards similar to the Atkins Diet or the South Beach Diet.
Different people have developed somewhat different versions of Paleo over time. Some of the better known specific regimes include The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson, Protein Power by Michael and Mary Dan Eades, and The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain.
Benefits of Paleo Diets
The adherents of Paleo diets have reported the following improvements in their health markers:
- Reduction of body fat percentage and increase in muscle mass with no change in exercise.
- Reduction of fasting blood glucose levels, in some cases allowing for the elimination of diabetes medication.
- Reduction in triglyceride levels and increase in HDL levels, in some cases allowing for the elimination of cholesterol medication.
- Reduction in blood pressure, in some cases allowing for the elimination of blood pressure medication.
These health markers are the key predictors of chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. This is why it is important for us to share the Paleo wisdom with the public, and help combat the chronic disease epidemic that is sweeping the industrialized world today.
Principles of Paleo Diets
Even though there are many variations on the Paleo theme, at a high level all Paleo diets agree on a few key principles: only eat foods that can be picked or hunted in nature, avoid foods that cannot be eaten raw, and prefer meat products from animals fed their natural food. In practice, this translates into the following:
- Avoid sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and refined seed and vegetable oils as these are not available in nature, and only become available after heavy industrial processing.
- Avoid grains (particularly wheat), legumes (particularly soy), and starchy tubers (such as potatoes) as these foods cannot be eaten raw.
- Prefer grass-fed and grass-finished beef over grain-fed beef.
- Prefer pasture-raised poultry over conventionally raised poultry.
- Natural fats like butter, coconut oil, lard, and tallow are generally considered neutral but superior to refined seed and vegetable oils.
Different variations of Paleo diets have differing philosophies on topics like saturated fat and dairy products. Each individual is recommended to study the respective dietary guidelines and see which one works best for him or her.
Note that Paleo diets do not prescribe that all foods be eaten raw. Foods that cannot be eaten raw should be avoided, but remaining foods may be eaten either cooked or raw.