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Paleo Diet: Benefits, Foods To Eat And Meal Plan

Paleo diet, also known as the Palaeolithic diet, stone age diet, caveman diet or hunter-gatherer diet is a modern day fad diet that includes foods that have been thought to be eaten during the Palaeolithic era that dates back to 2.5 million years ago [1].

The foods that are eaten in a paleo diet are similar to what early human hunter-gatherers ate in different parts of the world. The paleo diet is basically a modern interpretation of the diet that hunter-gatherers ate during the Palaeolithic era.

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In the 1970s, the paleo diet concept was introduced and gradually it started becoming popular after the book 'The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat' by Loren Cordain was published in 2001. After that several cookbooks which claimed to have Palaeolithic recipes were published.

In this article we will cover what a paleo diet is, what are its benefits and foods to eat and avoid in a paleo diet and also a diet meal plan.

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What Is The Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet is a dietary meal plan that includes foods that human ancestors ate during the Palaeolithic era. Fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, lean meat, nuts and seeds are the foods that they obtained by hunting and gathering.

The paleo diet limits foods such as dairy products, legumes and grains that have become a part of everyone's diet after the development of modern farming. [1]

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Benefits Of The Paleo Diet

1. Aids in weight loss

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that healthy volunteers who were on a paleo diet for three weeks had a decrease in body weight and waist circumference [2].

Another 2014 study showed that obese postmenopausal women who followed a paleo diet lost weight after six months as compared to a diet that adheres to Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) [3].

These kinds of fad diets will help you lose weight in the short-term. However, further research is needed before doctors recommend the paleo diet for weight loss.

2. Decreases diabetes risk

According to a study, people with type 2 diabetes who were on paleo diet for short-term had a significant improvement in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance compared to a diet based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association which consisted of moderate salt intake, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy [4].

Another study pointed out that patients with type 2 diabetes who followed a paleo diet showed a remarkable improvement in controlling blood glucose levels and lowering the risk factors for heart disease [5].

However, more research studies are needed to show the association between paleo diet and diabetes [6].

3. Lowers heart disease risk

Following a paleo diet can lower the risk of heart disease according to a study. The study revealed that paleo diet significantly lowered blood pressure and increased HDL (good) cholesterol and decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol, which are major risk factors for heart disease [7]. However, more research studies are still needed in this aspect.

4. Reduces blood pressure

High blood pressure elevates the risk of heart disease. A 2008 study showed that 14 healthy participants who were on a paleo diet for three weeks improved their systolic blood pressure levels [8].

Another study also found that paleo diet reduced systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure along with an increase in HDL cholesterol [9].

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Foods To Eat On A Paleo Diet

  • Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, avocados, strawberries.
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, kale, etc.
  • Seafood like fish, shrimp, shellfish, etc.
  • Eggs
  • Lean meat
  • Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, to name a few.
  • Tubers such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams.
  • Healthy fats and oil such as olive oil, avocado oil and others.
  • Herbs and spices [1].
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Foods To Avoid On A Paleo Diet

  • Legumes such as beans, lentils and peas.
  • Cereal grains like wheat, barley, spelt, rye, etc.
  • Dairy products
  • Trans fat.
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Vegetable oils
  • High-sugar foods.
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Healthy Snacks To Eat On A Paleo Diet

  • Boiled eggs
  • A handful of nuts
  • Apple slices with almond butter
  • A bowl of berries
  • A piece of fruit
  • Baby carrots

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What To Expect If You Try The Paleo Diet

If you are trying to lose weight by following a paleo diet, then it is a good choice, but if you are looking to lose weight for long-term, paleo diet may not be the right choice for you.

Also, if you are following this diet, you will be eating more fruits, vegetables and healthy fats and eliminating trans fat and high-sugar foods as these foods are harmful to your health.

The paleo diet avoids foods such as dairy products and grains so you might miss out on some important nutrients. So, it is recommended to consult a nutritionist before you start any fad diets including the paleo diet.

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Sample Meal Plan Of The Paleo Diet

Here is a sample meal plan for people who want to try the paleo diet. Make changes to each meal according to your own personal preferences.

1st day - Monday

  • Breakfast: Boiled eggs, stir-fried veggies in olive oil and fruit smoothie
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil dressing and a handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Lean meat roast with steamed vegetables.

2nd day - Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with boiled spinach, grilled tomatoes and pumpkin seeds.
  • Lunch: Mixed salad leaves with roast meat and olive oil dressing.
  • Dinner: Baked salmon with veggies fried in olive oil.

3rd day - Wednesday

  • Breakfast: A bowl of fruits (of your choice) with almonds.
  • Lunch: Sandwich with meat and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Chicken stir-fry with veggies.

4th day - Thursday

  • Breakfast: Eggs, a piece of fruit and a handful of almonds.
  • Lunch: Mixed salad with tuna, boiled eggs, seeds with olive oil dressing.
  • Dinner: Baked chicken with steamed veggies.

5th day - Friday

  • Breakfast: Stir-fried veggies, eggs and spinach smoothie.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil.
  • Dinner: Stir-fry salmon with broccoli, bell peppers and baby corn.

6th day - Saturday

  • Breakfast: Fried bacon and eggs and a piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Baked salmon with vegetables and avocado.
  • Dinner: Chicken soup with veggies.

7th day - Sunday

  • Breakfast: Egg, mushroom and tomato omelette.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with avocado, seeds and olive oil dressing.
  • Dinner: Beef stew with mixed vegetables.
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Healthy Paleo Diet Recipes

1. Paleo roasted fall vegetable salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large diced butternut squash
  • 2 delicata squash
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts
  • 3 sliced sweet onions
  • 5 carrots
  • ½ pecans
  • 1 ½ cup avocado oil
  • 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme and rosemary
  • ½ cup white balsamic vinegar

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Slice the delicata squash.
  • In a bowl, add Brussels sprouts, onions, carrots, delicata squash and ¼ cup of avocado oil. Toss the ingredients well.
  • Spread the vegetable mixture in a large sheet pan and place it into the oven for 25-35 minutes.
  • To make the dressing, in a bowl add the zest and juice of the orange, thyme, rosemary, white balsamic vinegar and 1 cup avocado oil. Whisk it until the mixture blends well.
  • Take out the vegetable mixture from the oven and combine with toasted pecans.
  • Pour the dressing over it and toss it well [10].
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Pumpkin pie recovery smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 banana
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 pitted date
  • ½ tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp chopped pecans for garnishing (optional)

Method

  • In a blender, add all the ingredients and blend until smooth.
  • Garnish with chopped pecans.[11]
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