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What is a Paleo Diet: A Beginner's Guide

For years we were subjected to fad diets that were not based on any kind of verifiable science. These kinds of diets were often ineffective and sometimes dangerous. In recent years, people have turned to medically and scientifically based ideas for dieting, and these have been shown to work. The paleo diet is a great example of a science-based diet. 

The idea behind the paleo diet is that your diet is geared toward the kinds of foods early humans ate and that this way of eating is more in line with our natural way of living. Early human cultures lived off simple foods that were healthy and varied. 

Obviously, early human societies had no access to things like processed foods. The paleo diet eliminates processed and junk foods altogether. The paleo diet tends to reduce the number of carbohydrates we eat since these also require more complex processes. The result of the paleo diet is that you can lose weight and keep the weight off.

The important thing about the paleo diet is that it is not based on pop culture ideas of how we should eat. The paleo diet is based on a scientific understanding of what early human culture ate, and the benefits of eating in this way. 

What is the paleo diet? What are the benefits of the paleo diet? And how can you get started on the paleo diet? This guide will give you the information you need to understand the paleo diet and get the benefits of the paleo diet.  


What is the Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet is a diet plan derived from an anthropological understanding of how humans ate during the paleolithic period of human development. The period, roughly 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago, is one of the earliest known periods of human civilization. 

The premise of the paleo diet is that since early humans during the paleolithic period had to have evolved to consume simple foods that did not include large amounts of carbohydrates and did not include any processed foods, this mode of eating is in line with our most natural states and systems. The paleo diet is the most fundamentally natural way of eating for humans.  

The paleo diet relies primarily on things like meat, fish, fruits and vegetable, nuts, and seeds. These are the kinds of foods readily available to early human hunter-gatherer societies. 

By relying on the kinds of foods associated with hunter-gatherer societies, the paleo diet reduces the kinds of foods believed to have come from later human societies such as the foods associated with farming cultures like bread and other more complex foods. 

The paleo diet is believed to provide the most natural mode of eating for humans and is, therefore, most likely to be the healthiest way of eating. In more immediate terms, the paleo diet does not include the kinds of foods that contribute to obesity and other modern health issues. 


Benefits of the Paleo Diet

The goal of the paleo diet is to return our eating habits to the ways people ate in our earliest societies. This involves eliminating all processed foods and consuming only those things that are naturally available for us to eat. 


One of the premises of the paleo diet is that humans evolved to eat certain types of foods, and we still retain the basic genetic dispositions to live off these kinds of foods. Our bodies are simply not made to eat the kinds of processed and complex foods we eat in modern times. 


Later farming cultures introduced things like dairy products, grains, and legumes, and it is believed that these kinds of foods are harder for our bodies to process. As a result, health problems have increased. These health problems include things like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Therefore, there are many health benefits to the paleo diet. These health benefits include: 


Balances blood sugar levels

Since one of the key features of the paleo diet is the elimination of refined sugars, you will necessarily even out blood sugar levels. The first effect of this benefit is that you will no longer feel the fatigue that comes with sugar lows. If you have not developed blood sugar problems the paleo diet could help you avoid developing these problems in the first place. 


Leaner muscles

The paleo diet relies heavily on meat. This is by nature a high protein diet and this contributes to the development of lean muscle. The paleo diet can contribute to a leaner physique. If you already do weight training or other strength training, the paleo diet will help build serious muscle. It is believed that the development of lean muscle also helps reduce stress. 


Eliminates wheat and gluten

Bread and just about any wheat or grain product are developments of farming culture. These things were not available to paleolithic people, and they are therefore not part of the paleo diet. The elimination of wheat and gluten is known to have immediate health benefits. Gluten can cause digestive problems even in people who do not suffer from Celiac disease which is a disease that causes damage to the small intestine due to sensitivity to gluten. In fact, one of the principal causes of Celiac disease is the over-reliance on processed wheat gluten that has become so prevalent in the modern diet. Reducing or cutting wheat and gluten products from your diet, can also have the benefit of helping lose weight, particularly around the waist where many of us tend to hold weight. 


Helps you feel full longer

Dieting is almost synonymous with living in a state of hunger. The simple fact of restricting what we eat leaves us feeling hungry. The paleo diet creates the opposite effect. Because the paleo diet is high in protein and fats it reduces the production of the hormones that make us feel full while simultaneously inhibiting the hormone that makes us feel hungry. The increase in fruits and vegetables easily takes the place of carbohydrates and sustains blood sugar levels. If you are considering paleo for losing weight it may be just about ideal for you. 


No counting calories or carbs

The paleo diet is as actually quite simple once you get the idea of what it includes. It is not limiting other than the exclusion of a few types of foods. With this in mind, you will not need to count every calorie or carb gram you eat. There is nothing more to the paleo diet than relying on simple unprocessed foods and eliminating carbs. Once you get this down, the results and benefits come with simply eating in this way. 


May prevent certain diseases

The paleo diet relies on foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory while it cuts foods that are known to cause inflammation. The decrease or elimination of sugar, alcohol, and gluten significantly reduces inflammation. The kinds of inflammation associated with dietary problems that come with sugars and carbs are primary causes of things like heart disease, arthritis, and other chronic illnesses. The increase in fruits and fresh vegetables also increases the levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients which all fight inflammation and reduce your risk of cancer. 

Cuts out fast foods

Our modern consumption and even reliance on fast food are known to be one of the leading causes of obesity. Obesity is a cause of everything from heart disease and diabetes to cancer and high blood pressure. By completely cutting out fast food you significantly lower your chances of falling into the problems of obesity and the serious health issues that result. The paleo diet and the complete elimination of fast food will also just help you feel better. 

Does Paleo Diet work for everyone?

The paleo diet is largely a healthy way of eating. Since the paleo diet necessarily reduces things like dairy products, it tends to be low in vitamin D and calcium. People living with conditions like osteoarthritis or other bone conditions may be at risk from the paleo diet. 


What can I eat with Fruit Paleo Diet?

Here is a list of the foods you can eat on the paleo diet:

  • Meat: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, and others.
  • Fish and seafood: Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, etc. Choose wild-caught if you can.
  • Eggs: Choose free-range, pastured, or omega-3 enriched eggs.
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados, strawberries, blueberries, and more.
  • Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and more.
  • Healthy fats and oils: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and others.
  • Salt and spices: Sea salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, etc.

As you can see, the paleo diet is pretty forgiving. There is a wide range of foods you can eat and still maintain the paleo diet.


Paleo Diet and weight loss

One of the main reasons people take on the paleo diet is to lose weight. Indeed, there is plenty of evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of the paleo diet for weight loss. The simple reduction or elimination of carbohydrates contributes to weight loss. 

One study of young adults who adhered to the paleo diet showed that these people lost over five pounds on average, and they lost this eight in about three weeks. 

Other studies that focused specifically on obese women over the age of 60 found that the paleo diet was more effective than other diets for sustained weight loss. Participants in these studies lost an average of 2.5 times more weight than control participants on other more traditional weight-loss diets. 

Paleo Diet Sample Menu

The paleo diet is fairly easy once you learn to eliminate the foods that do not belong in the diet. Below is a sample menu for one week. You can make any adjustments you like to this menu.


Monday

  • Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables
  • fried in olive oil. One piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive
  • oil. A handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Burgers (no bun) fried
  • in butter, with vegetables and some salsa.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs, with a
  • piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Leftover burgers from
  • the night before.
  • Dinner: Salmon fried in butter,
  • with vegetables.

Wed

  • Breakfast: Meat with vegetables
  • (leftovers from the night before).
  • Lunch: Sandwich in a lettuce
  • leaf, with meat and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Ground beef stir-fry
  • with vegetables. Some berries.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Eggs and a piece of
  • fruit.
  • Lunch: Leftover stir-fry from
  • the night before. A handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Fried pork with
  • vegetables.

Friday

  • Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables
  • fried in olive oil.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive
  • oil. A handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Steak with vegetables
  • and sweet potatoes.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs with a
  • piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Leftover steak and
  • vegetables from the night before.
  • Dinner: Baked salmon with
  • vegetables and avocado.

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Meat with vegetables
  • (leftovers from the night before).
  • Lunch: Sandwich in a lettuce
  • leaf, with meat and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken wings
  • with vegetables and salsa.

As a general rule, you do not need to count calories on the paleo diet. The main idea is to stick to the list of acceptable foods. 

Paleo Diet Cons

The paleo diet generally has no major cons because it does not present a significant change from what our bodies naturally require. However, the reduction in sugars and carbs can lead to issues for some people. Also, high protein diets can present problems for certain people. The cons of the paleo diet may include:

  • Low blood sugar in people who already take medications for lowering glucose levels. 
  • Low-carb flu. This is the feeling of being run-down that comes with the elimination of carbs. 
  • Food cravings
  • Lack of energy. This is usually only in the early days of being on the paleo diet. 
  • Change in bowel habits. 

Most of these issues are rare, and most people fair well on the paleo diet. 

Paleo Diet FAQs

What is the paleo diet? The paleo diet is a diet plan derived from an anthropological understanding of how humans ate during the paleolithic period of human development. The premise of the paleo diet is that since early humans during the paleolithic period had to have evolved to consume simple foods that did not include large amounts of carbohydrates and did not include any processed foods.  

What are some of the benefits of the paleo diet? The paleo diet can lead to significant weight loss. It can help balance blood sugar levels. And the paleo diet can help build lean muscle. 

What can I eat on the paleo diet? Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds.  

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