If you’re not keen on giving up all of the carbohydrates in your life, the Paleolithic diet (paleo) is probably for you. You won’t lose weight as quickly as with keto, especially if you choose to eat lots of carbs on this diet, however, at the very least, you’re guaranteed to improve your overall health if you follow it.
I recommend that you take up some form of fasting if you choose paleo because you’ll see better and faster results.
What is it?
Here’s the premise: Thousands of years ago, long before agriculture became the norm, people ate what they could find or kill as hunter-gatherers: meats, fish, fruits, nuts, etc.
There was no way to mass produce and harvest grains and vegetables. Fruits were much more scarce. Sugar in the raw form was also non-existent.
Paleo is eating according to what evolution prepared us to eat.
The most important element of paleo is removing all grains (wheat, barley, corn, rice, etc) from your diet. Despite what you hear every day, grains are not required in your diet and contribute very little to your health.
Wheat, the most basic grain, must be highly processed to even be edible. Even still, it contains some anti-nutrients that make it more difficult for your body to absorb micronutrients from the other foods that you eat.
A processed food is any type of engineered or man-made food. Anything that doesn’t come directly from nature is something you should steer clear of on Paleo.
Processed foods contain added sugars, sodium, preservatives, fillers, colors, flavor enhancers, artificial sweeteners, bulking agents, anti-caking agents, acids, and unnatural other stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. There are many benign food additives, and I encourage you to do your own research if you continue eating lightly processed foods. (Strict paleo says that you should avoid all processed foods, but educate yourself and do what makes the most sense for you.)
Sugar, Candy, Soda
Sugar in its raw form was not readily available thousands of years ago. Eliminate anything containing added sugar from your diet. Candy, soda, sauces, sugar in coffee/tea, etc. This includes juice, since juice is technically pre-processed fruit.
If you want something sweet, eat fruit or sweet vegetables in moderation.
Many of these are completely unnatural as they require special tools for extraction, and some over require additional refinement just to be edible. Replace them with animal fats like ghee, tallow, and lard.
Some vegetable fats are okay. Because of their fat profiles and methods of extraction, coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter are acceptable.
Soy is another popular food that isn’t really that good for you, especially if you’re a male. (Soy contains high concentrations of estrogen, the primary female hormone.)
Eliminating soy shouldn’t be too difficult since you’re already eliminating processed foods.
Depending on what you choose to eat, you may have issues with eliminating soy lecithin, a common emulsifier found in many foods. If extracted properly, the lecithin shouldn’t contain any residual soy. It’s your call on that one.
The rationale is that we had no farms, therefore no cows to get milk from regularly. The nutritional benefits of dairy are frequently overstated since you can get the micronutrients provided by dairy from other food groups.
Another simple question: why are humans drinking milk intended for baby cows?
Dairy includes milk and milk products, cheese, butter, and cream. Ghee (clarified butter) is technically paleo since almost all of the dairy solids are removed in the clarification process.
Peanuts, beans, chickpeas, and lentils are disallowed since they contain anti-nutrients that make it more difficult for the body to absorb micronutrients.
Foods You Should Eat in Moderation
There are other foods that our ancestors ate, but in smaller quantities since they were not readily available.
Eat nuts, tubers (potatoes and other root vegetables), and fruits in moderation.
A Note on Fat Profiles
One last thing. If you’re really dedicated, you could choose to eat grass-fed meats as they contain better omega-3 to omega-6 ratios. All you really need to understand about these fat profiles is that humans originally ate more omega-3 fats than omega-6 fats, but since we started grain-feeding animals, their meat contains more 6’s than 3’s. Fish naturally contain more omega-3s, so it’s a good idea to eat more fish.
I’ve covered all of the highlights, but if you’re unsure if a food is paleo or not or you want a better explanation of why, just do a quick Google search.
Notice that your carbohydrate consumption will likely be lower on this diet since you’re eating naturally occurring foods and removing sources of carbs like grains, milk, and legumes. As long as you’re eating a reasonable amount of naturally occurring “carby” foods, you should see a fat loss progression.
Next, we’ll look at one final, more extreme diet, the zero-carb diet.