Are you looking for new ways to lose weight or to give your metabolism a boost? You’ve probably encountered the paleo diet in your search for the most effective way to lose weight, but what is it exactly? In this article, we discuss everything you need to know, including paleo diet 30-day results, its health benefits, and whether it’s a long-term solution to weight loss.
Table of Contents
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleolithic (Paleo) diet, also known as the Neanderthal diet, Stone Age diet, or caveman diet, is a way of eating based on whole foods that humans during the Paleolithic era may have eaten. Before today’s agriculture existed, hunter-gatherers during this time would roam the land catching fish, hunting wild animals, and foraging for nuts, fruits, vegetables, and seeds.
Throughout the ages, humans have become industrialized and developed food items that are cheap and easy but are also ultra-processed. As such, a myriad of health issues appeared, which include cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and more. The aim of the paleo diet is to revert our eating habits back to what our ancestors may have eaten, helping to prevent some health problems that have risen from modern food.
The modern paleo diet includes various whole foods including the following:
- High-quality meat
- Fresh fruits
- Herbs and spices
According to paleo principles, consumers will need to avoid sugar, legumes, dairy products, and processed foods. Because of this, you won’t be able to enjoy what you would normally eat in your usual diet, such as cheese, desserts, and cocktails, so may need to undergo a big lifestyle change. Compared to other restrictive diets such as the keto diet, a paleo diet plan also boosts energy levels, which makes it a more viable option for achieving weight loss goals.
Scientific Evidence on the Paleo Diet
A study conducted by Sweden’s Umea University tested the effects of a 30-day paleo challenge on older women who were resistant to weight loss and found the results to be surprising. While undertaking the diet, the group was provided with real food without anything processed, which meant they consumed fewer calories. The results were astonishing; the group found that their metabolism was boosted and as a result, many were able to lose 20 pounds over the one-month period.
Even when they ate unlimited portions, the women were able to shed their weight as a result of eliminating entire food groups. By mimicking the eating habits of earlier humans, the paleo eating plan is able to target belly fat that’s accumulated through the years in these postmenopausal participants. Through the study, the women were able to reprogram their bodies to achieve paleo weight loss, which they can use to stay lean in the long run.
Why it Works
According to Loren Cordain, Ph.D., paleo dieters will inevitably experience weight loss because humans have been genetically programmed for the kinds of food that ancient humans ate. There’s also evidence to suggest that these types of foods can lead us to achieve optimal health. These meal plans are similar to what cavemen would’ve hunted and gathered in the past, which means there’s plenty of red meat, nutrient-dense foods, animal protein, and whole food groups in their diet.
A bit of honey and sweet potatoes are also allowed on this diet, but other starchy and sweet foods such as grains, beans, white potatoes, and sugar aren’t allowed. Compared to a person’s typical diet, the paleo option can provide you with a lot more nutrients. This includes essential amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, and fiber — nutrients that can cause a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss.
Paleo Diet Benefits
Most foods on the paleo diet are beneficial for the human body, which consists of healthy fats, and animal products while eliminating artificial sweeteners and processed foods. Because this plan encourages a permanent change in diet, you will be able to sustain your results for longer. Below are some of the other benefits that you can reap from a 30-day paleo meal plan.
Using paleo recipes has great potential to help you lose weight, mostly because you’ll be consuming a nutrient-dense and high-protein diet that’s a lot healthier than other low-carb diets. For instance, the diet encourages consumers to swap their vegetable oils for olive oil, which is a much healthier option and can work wonders when used during the 30-day challenge.
While more research is needed, there is evidence to suggest that the paleo diet can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Many hunter-gatherer tribes all over the world are less prone to it, leading scientists to believe that it’s because of their diet. Moreover, there’s also a link between this diet and improved blood pressure, body weight, and biomarkers which are the reason behind cardiovascular disease.
Trying out the paleo diet may also help to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes since it’s been linked to healthier blood sugar levels.
The paleo style of eating promotes the consumption of fruits and vegetables, along with lean proteins such as grass-fed beef. This is because these food items carry all the necessary nutrients needed by the body to thrive rather than survive.
Negative Effects of the Paleo Diet
While there are many advantages to this diet, there are also a few drawbacks that you’ll need to consider before you decide to take on your first challenge.
High in Saturated Fat
Because this diet plan requires that you eat a lot of protein from animals, it will also increase your consumption of high saturated fats. As a result, you could experience an increase in your cholesterol levels, which may lead to heart disease.
Restricts Your Favorite Foods
Going on the paleo diet means that you won’t be able to eat the food you love — that cheat meal is not going to cut it, even if you only have a little bit. This is especially true when you’re on the whole 30 diet (a stricter version of the paleo diet), so be ready to throw your favorite sour cream and ice cream away, while coffee privileges are restricted to black coffee.
Paleo diet basics call for the elimination of dairy and whole grains from your diet, which could mean you miss out on important nutrients such as:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D
While some people will agree that it’s the best diet, a lot of people will say that the paleo diet comes with a big price tag. Compared to frozen or canned goods, fresh meat and produce are much more expensive, and can quickly add up on your way to the checkout during your grocery shopping.
Hard for Vegetarians
Vegetarians doing the paleo diet for the first time might find it difficult to exclude beans and legumes which are a huge part of their diet since they’re a great source of fiber and protein.
Hard to Sustain
Proponents of the diet admit that their first few days of paleo can be hard due to the restrictive nature of this meal plan. The first month doesn’t get easier for many people either, and people can become burned out when eating the same kind of food each day. Eating at social events doesn’t help either, but for some, their second attempt was much easier to do and follow up on.
As discussed above, this diet consists of food that was available during the Paleolithic era, which includes the following.
1. Fruits And Vegetables
It’s true that the paleo diet doesn’t include foods that were made common when farming was invented around 10,000 years ago, vegetables and fruits aren’t in the same category. Many of today’s vegetables and fruits were also around the Paleolithic forests at the time, which cavemen would have consumed as a part of their diet.
Because hunting was part of a caveman’s daily life, meat should always be included in your meal plan. You have plenty of options to choose from, which include the following:
Be sure to look for lean options and eliminate fatty cuts to ensure that you don’t accumulate saturated fats. Meat is great for reducing your appetite, increasing your metabolism, and improving bone strength. Not only will it keep you full, but it will also help to take away inches from your waist circumference.
3. Dark Leafy Greens
These are low in sodium, carbohydrates, and cholesterol while also high in iron, fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins. Opt for these when you’re grocery shopping:
- Swiss chard
- Romaine lettuce
- Collard greens
4. Fatty Fish
These kinds of oily fish are rich in protein and omega-3 which can potentially reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of cancer, arthritis, and heart disease. But apart from fish, you can also eat other kinds of seafood; below is a list of all the great sources of omega-3:
5. Nuts And Seeds
Both nuts and seeds are great sources of fiber, healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They can also improve cholesterol, relax blood vessels, help you feel satiated, and reduce blood clotting. Seeds and nuts can also help to lower insulin and glucose levels in those who are prediabetic.
Much like meat, eggs play an important role in the paleo diet. Eggs can provide you with the nine essential amino acids that aren’t found naturally in the human body. They’re also low in calories, high in protein, and packed with nutrients, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. The amino acids inside them help grow muscle mass, boost metabolism, assist with protein synthesis, encourage enzyme and hormone production, and more.
7. Plant-Based Milk
While milk wasn’t a big thing during the stone age, you may still drink plant-based milk if it’s homemade. A few examples that you can enjoy include:
- Hazelnut milk
- Coconut milk
- Hemp milk
- Cashew milk
- Soy milk
- Almond milk
Rules to Follow on the Paleo Diet
If you’re sure that you want to try the paleo diet, there are a few rules that you’ll need to follow which are listed below.
Choose Whole Foods
Paleolithic people ate their food as they were in their natural state, which they gathered from hunting, fishing, or foraging, so you will need to eat food in the same way. While you don’t have to hunt and gather the food yourself, you will have to eat whole foods which are as natural as they can be.
Eat High-Quality Meats
Because you’ll end up eating a lot of meat on the paleo diet, be sure to look for grass-fed and organic meats. The whole diet doesn’t approve of grains, so steer clear of cows that have been fed with grains and you certainly don’t want meat that has added chemicals.
Avoid Processed Foods
These were definitely not around when cavemen roamed the earth and processed foods have been linked to many chronic diseases. All processed foods have been changed and altered from their original state, which includes freezing, cooking, and adding preservatives that weren’t available during the paleolithic era.
No Dairy Products
Back then, hunter-gatherers didn’t milk their cows, and agricultural products didn’t exist yet. As such, dairy products aren’t allowed in this diet, which includes milk, cheese, creams, and yogurts.
Just like dairy products, legumes aren’t allowed in this diet because hunter-gatherers didn’t have the modern farming methods needed to grow legumes.
Eating the right food will only do so much — if you have weight loss goals or other fitness goals you want to achieve, it’s up to you to decide how much work you want to put in. If this is your first time doing the paleo diet, make sure that you have everything you need apart from the right food, which includes your nutritionist, personal trainer, and a good support system to encourage you.
There’s no need to worry about calories or portion control with the paleo diet because cavemen didn’t. You just need to listen to your body, just as these early humans did. However, if you want to see results, make sure that you take the necessary steps to ensure that failure isn’t an option.
Should You Try the Paleo Diet?
Whether you’re looking to build muscle mass or lose weight, the paleo diet is a great option for people who want to see fast results. However, keep in mind that this diet shouldn’t be used as a long-term solution and it’s necessary to first speak to your dietitian or doctor to see if this plan will be suitable for you. Before you begin, make sure that you have alternatives to the food groups that aren’t included in this diet to ensure that you won’t miss out on nutrients and to ensure that you achieve your health goals.
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