The paleo diet is based on the foods men and women would have consumed during the Paleolithic Period, which was between 20,000 and 2.5 million years ago. It's a diet that focuses on all-natural ingredients that are high in fiber and protein, which help build lean muscle mass and keep the digestive system moving optimally. Fiber and protein are also highly satiating, which means you'll feel full longer between meals, making this a popular diet with athletes, bodybuilders and those looking to lose weight.
If you're interested in trying the paleo diet, it may mean leaving behind several foods you're used to consuming on a regular basis. But one thing's for sure, this diet isn't about starvation from tiny portions. Follow this guide and you'll be on your way to making satisfying, healthy paleo meals in no time.
What Foods to Avoid
Before you stock your shelves full of paleo essentials, you may need to do some purging. These are the foods that aren't considered part of a paleo diet, both for their nutritional value but mainly for the simple fact they wouldn't have been available during the Paleolithic Period:
- Dairy -- Milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, etc.
- Potatoes -- Any variety
- Legumes and Beans -- Lentils, black beans, kidney beans, alfalfa, peas, clover, soybeans, peanuts, etc.
- Cereal Grains -- The edible seeds of grasses used to make cereal, such as wheat, rice and millet.
Eliminating these foods from your diet may seem challenging at first, but trust us, the list of what you do eat is much longer.
What Foods to Buy
Now it's time to go shopping. The paleo way of eating is all about fresh foods that will give you the nutrients you need for optimal health as well as lasting energy to get you through your day. This, again, makes the paleo diet ideal for anyone who is active, be it regular exercise at a moderate intensity or more rigorous training. These are the main types of food to have on hand in your home to make cooking the paleo way simple:
More Paleo Tips
- Meat -- The leaner the better, but beef and poultry are both permitted for their protein. Organ meats are also popular in the diet. Grilling and roasting are the preferred methods of cooking.
- Seafood -- Both whole fish and shellfish should be consumed as part of the paleo diet both for protein as well as healthy fats. As with meat, avoid less healthy preparations, like frying.
- Fruits -- Go crazy on these, anything and everything.
- Vegetables -- Vegetables should make up a big portion of your diet, so include lots of them with each meal. Don't forget sea vegetables like seaweed either.
- Good Fats -- Choose your oils wisely like avocados, olive oil and nut oils.
- Nuts and Seeds -- Almonds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, etc.
- Herbs and Spices -- Go for both fresh herbs and dried spices to season your food, no limits there, since you'll be eliminating added salt. A tip: Lemon juice (or any acidity) can easily take the place of salt for better flavor.
Once you have the right foods, you need to get in the kitchen and start making your own food from scratch. Here are some additional guidelines to follow that are a part of the paleo diet -- don't worry, they're all really good for you:
- No processed foods
- No refined sugars
- No refined oils
- No artificial ingredients
- Replace sugar-filled sports drinks and sodas with herbal tea and plenty of good old fashioned water.
- Start making the switch gradually to make sure you aren't overwhelmed, staggering the elimination of food groups.
- Plan meals and snacks ahead of time and do one big shopping/cooking/prep day a week.
- Don't be afraid to ask for changes or substitutions at restaurants.
- Know that making a big change is tough and you may fall off the wagon from time to time.
We carry lots of paleo-friendly items at eVitamins to make the switch to the paleo diet easier for you. Shop today and check back tomorrow for more tips and health news.