The Paleo diet has been championed on The Pleasure Forecast before but it’s now time to look into exactly what it is, why people eat in this way and how it can benefit your health.
Paleo is all about going back to the way that Paleolithic man ate thousands of years ago. That means plenty of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.
The idea is that we go back to eating how our bodies evolved to eat. So many people have intolerances to gluten and dairy — even if it’s not severe — and we’re one of the few mammals that consume milk past infancy. The reason these health problems occur is because we’re not evolved to eat like this.
By eating a Paleo diet you can have more energy, fewer health problems and it can also help you to achieve fitness goals.
On top of all this, it’s very difficult to consume as many calories when eating Paleo. To consume the same calories as there are in a bag of crisps, you’d have to eat a huge amount of broccoli/strawberries/spinach/kale/apples. You’d be full before you even got near that kind of calorie count. This is why the Paleo diet is considered a great way to lose body fat.
Because the key is to eat like Paleolithic man, that means no grains, pulses, rice or dairy. Cavemen didn’t farm, these things came much later…
What you can eat
- Meat – You’ll need to get grass-fed meat as grain causes the same problems in animals as it does in us humans. Feel free to experiment with everything from those expensive cuts of steak to cheaper cuts of meat, offal, game and more.
- Fish – It doesn’t matter what kind as long as it’s wild. Farmed fish can contain mercury.
- Eggs – Get used to experimenting with eggs.
- Vegetables – Organic, preferably.
- Oils – These are so good for you. Don’t be afraid of these healthy fats. Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil – they’re all fantastic.
- Fruits – Perhaps don’t go overboard on fruit if you’re trying to lose weight (as they have natural sugars that cause insulin spikes and these can cause you to hold onto fat) but fruit is good in small amounts. Look for ones high in nutrients but low in sugar such as berries.
- Nuts – These make a great snack. Peanuts are off the menu, though, as they’re actually pulses.
- Tubers – Sweet potatoes and yams, these make a great alternative to white potatoes.
What you can’t eat
No grains, dairy, sugar or processed food. Think natural and wholesome.
How most people tackle the Paleo lifestyle
Very few people eat 100% Paleo all the time. In fact, some people still include small amounts of dairy in their diet. Some people will have the odd portion of chips, glass of wine or chocolate bar. These small things won’t ruin the effectiveness of your 80-90% Paleo lifestyle.
Don’t let the strictness of this diet put you off. It’s a way of life and it’s fine to treat yourself once in a while.
- Sweet potato and green leaf salad drizzled with a little olive oil (take a look at El Olivo for some delicious virgin olive oil)
- Grass-fed beef steak, broccoli and sweet potato wedges
- Many curry recipes are Paleo-friendly, try them with cauliflower rice
- There are loads of Paleo baking recipes out there, just take a look at Pinterest for inspiration
- Stews, casseroles and soups full of meat and vegetables
- Pulled pork with home made barbecue sauce, corn on the cob and sweet potato fries
- Cashew chicken
- Courgette noodles with a spicy tomato sauce
- Beef chilli with guacamole
- Bacon and avocado fritters
Some people hear the idea of Paleo and think that it’s going to be boring but I can say from experience that it’s anything but boring and the health benefits are huge, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
Take a look at this huge post on Nerd Fitness for more information on the benefits of the caveman way of life.