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Why Go Paleo? Benefits of the Paleo Diet

Why Go Paleo? Benefits of the Paleo Diet

Various Paleo diet products

Are you tired of fad diets that promise quick results but leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied? Have you heard about the paleo diet yet?

The paleo diet is a lifestyle choice that focuses on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods that our ancestors consumed during the Paleolithic era.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the core principles of the paleo diet and debunk common myths associated with it. We’ll also discuss the potential benefits of going paleo, including increased energy, weight loss, and improved gut health. 

And the potential drawbacks as well. Lastly, we’ll touch on how exercise with a paleo lifestyle can be key to achieving optimal health.

Understanding the Paleo Diet

The paleo diet is a modern eating plan that takes inspiration from the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors. It focuses on whole, unprocessed foods while eliminating processed and refined foods. 

The diet emphasizes lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats. Advocates of the paleo diet believe that it is more nutritionally balanced and in line with the way humans ate during prehistoric times. 

If you’re interested in following the paleo diet, a holistic nutritionist can help create a personalized meal plan tailored to your needs. 

For the most part, if you focus on eating a variety of whole and unprocessed foods, you’d be following a paleo diet. The Whole30 and paleo diets are quite similar in that they both encourage you to eat (and avoid) similar food categories.

Core Principles of a Balanced Paleo Diet

The paleo diet focuses on eating whole foods. This means consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats. At the same time, you’d want to avoid grains, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and vegetable oils (aka, unhealthy oils).

Prioritizing high-quality, organic, and locally sourced ingredients can help ensure you’re getting the most nutritional bang for your buck. 

Strive for a healthy balance of macronutrients, such as healthy fats (avocados, eggs, olive oil, and real butter), high-quality proteins, and vegetable carbohydrates, which support good health and a healthy weight.

Foods to Enjoy and Avoid in the Paleo Diet

For protein, lean meats such as chicken, turkey, grass-fed beef, and wild-caught seafood are excellent choices.

Grass-fed meat is recommended on the paleo diet because it is leaner than grain-fed beef and has more omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats that protect your heart.

For a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, turn to fresh fruits, vegetables, and sweet potatoes. Healthy fats play a crucial role in this diet, so consider incorporating olive oil, avocado, eggs, butter, and coconut oil into your meals. 

Organic free-range eggs offer a higher omega-3 content than eggs from chickens raised in cages.

And good news! You can also enjoy dark chocolate! Dark chocolate is very high in antioxidants and important minerals, like magnesium and iron. Choose chocolate with 70% or more cocoa content.

On the flip side, steer clear of grains, processed foods, dairy, and sugar and artificial sweeteners. It’s also best to limit your consumption of legumes and alcohol. You’ll still have a lot of choices within the Paleo diet with many delicious and nutritious foods.

Happy adult couple having fun with iceskating.

The Health Benefits of Going Paleo

The paleo diet offers a range of health benefits that can positively impact your overall well-being. One of the key advantages is increased energy levels, weight loss, and optimized blood sugar. 

By its focus on whole foods and eliminating processed foods, the paleo diet promotes healthy weight management.

A paleo diet has also been shown to improve gut health. Eliminating grains, dairy, and processed foods and emphasizing whole, unprocessed foods, you can promote a healthier gut microbiome

This shift towards a cleaner, more natural diet promotes better digestion and improved overall gut health. Furthermore, the paleo diet has the potential to lower blood pressure, support a healthy heart, and reduce the risk of chronic conditions.

Research also suggests that following a paleo diet may improve insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control, and metabolic syndrome factors. 

Making these dietary changes can contribute to better gut health, making you feel more energetic and promoting overall well-being.

Debunking Common Myths About the Paleo Diet

Contrary to popular belief, the paleo diet is not overly restrictive. It allows for many food groups, including lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. With proper planning, it is possible to get all essential nutrients on a paleo diet.

Another common myth is that the paleo diet is a high-protein diet, but it actually emphasizes a healthy balance of macronutrients. The paleo diet may actually be one of the most flexible diets, allowing for personalization and adaptation to individual needs. 

Research supports the health benefits of the paleo diet, as well as the Mediterranean diet, debunking the myth of their inefficacy.

Healthy Photograph of a woman's hand cutting up beef and veggies for meal prep

Potential Drawbacks of the Paleo Diet

Strict adherence to the paleo diet can limit food choices, making it challenging to find suitable options when dining out. But many restaurants will allow you to substitute a veggie or salad for French fries. And if you ask to skip the bun you get a meat and veggie dinner. Paleo! 

To make sure you get enough calcium, include calcium-rich vegetables such as bok choy, spinach, turnip greens, kale, and broccoli. You should supplement with vitamin D in the winter, no matter what diet you’re on… unless you live in south Florida and get out in the sunshine every day.

The paleo diet may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain health conditions or dietary restrictions. Get guidance from a registered dietitian to mitigate potential drawbacks associated with the paleo diet.

Cost and Accessibility of Paleo Foods

Eating paleo can be on the expensive side, but there are ways to make it more affordable. 

And it could be argued that eating junk food is far more expensive. Junk food isn’t exactly cheap, especially when you factor in low nutrition and subsequent health problems it can bring.

Explore local farmers markets for fresh and affordable paleo foods. Plan your meals in advance to avoid impulse purchases and save money. Look for discounts and sales on paleo-friendly products. 

Consider growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs to save even more. Eat out less often, and you can compensate for a slightly higher grocery bill for home-cooked meals.                

Americans Spend Far Less on Food than Others

It’s also worth comparing the percentage of family income spent on food in the United States versus other countries. 

In 2020, the share of U.S. household budgets devoted to food was 7.1%, compared to European countries like the UK (9.4%), Germany (11.7%), France and Spain (15%), and Italy (16.5%), according to Euromonitor International.

In contrast to the low 7.1% U.S. food budget, higher income Latin American countries such as Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico, people spend 22.5% of household budgets on food.

Which is by no means the worst… According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the food percentage is 32% in India, 42% in the Ukraine, and close to 60% in countries such as Kenya and Nigeria.

Also, it’s hard to put a price tag on your health. As stated in our recent article on ultra-processed foods, eating “cheap” processed foods is a false economy that can end your life prematurely.                   

man and woman making a heart with hands

The Paleo Diet and Heart Health

The Paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet or the Paleolithic diet, emphasizes whole foods, lean meats, and healthy fats. This approach to eating can have a positive impact on heart health

Studies have shown that following the Paleo diet can lead to weight loss, improved blood pressure, and better blood lipid profiles. 

The Paleo diet should be combined with regular exercise for best results. As always, consult with your functional healthcare professional also.

Adjusting to a Low-Carb Lifestyle

Adjusting to a low-carb lifestyle can be a challenge especially if you’ve been eating a lot of carbs for a long time. With paleo’s natural focus on reducing carbohydrates, it may take some time for your body to adjust.

Gradually reduce your carb intake to minimize potential onboarding side effects such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability. Focus on incorporating high-quality fats, lean meats, and fresh vegetables in your meals. 

Stay hydrated and ensure you get enough electrolytes, especially during the transition phase. For personalized guidance and support, consult with a registered dietitian for valuable insights.

Group of young happy fit people doing exercises in gym

Incorporating Exercise into a Paleo Lifestyle

Exercise plays a key role in a paleo lifestyle, aiding overall health and well-being. To make the most of your exercise routine, engage in a variety of activities that include cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises. 

Find activities you enjoy, such as hiking, swimming, pickleball, or dancing, so you’ll be more motivated and compliant with your plan. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

Why Exercise is a Key Component of the Paleo Diet

Our paleo predecessors had to move to live! They couldn’t drive to the store and load up on junk food in front of the TV. 

Exercise helps you shed excess pounds and improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health. It helps you develop lean muscle mass, which enhances metabolism and promotes a healthy weight. 

Exercise also releases endorphins, and improves mood and an overall sense of well-being. Start slow, listen to your body, and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts to reap the full benefits of incorporating exercise into your paleo lifestyle.

Is the Paleo Diet for Everyone?

While the paleo diet has its benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone. Factors like pregnancy, breastfeeding, childhood, and athletic performance may require modifications. However, in the grand scheme of things, a paleo diet is one of the best options in today’s crazy world of fad diets, given its emphasis on whole, healthy, non-grain foods. Most people could vastly improve their health by focusing on such foods.

Conclusion

The paleo diet offers numerous benefits, including increased energy levels, weight loss, and improved gut health. 

Its focus on wholereal foods supports long-term overall health and a variety of attractive eating options. Exercise plays a key role in your paleo plan.

Question and Answers concept illustration template

Questions and Answers

Are keto and paleo the same?

No, the keto diet and paleo diet are not the same. While both diets involve limiting carbohydrate intake, the paleo diet focuses on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods that our ancestors would have consumed, such as meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits. 

The keto diet, on the other hand, emphasizes high fat intake to put the body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. 

While both diets can induce ketosis, weight loss, and improved health markers, they have distinct differences in their approach and recommended foods.

What does research say about the paleo diet?

Research on the Paleo diet has yielded mixed results. Some studies suggest it may lead to weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and reduced risk factors for heart conditions. 

However, limited long-term research exists on the Paleo diet’s effects on health markers.

Concerns have been raised about potential nutrient deficiencies due to the elimination of certain food groups, though they may be unfounded if those “missing” food groups are mostly high-carb grains that are internally processed like sugar.

Can a paleo be a vegetarian?

Yes, it is theoretically possible for someone to follow the paleo diet and be a vegetarian. But it’s not likely.

The paleo diet typically emphasizes consuming whole, unprocessed foods that would have been available to our ancestors, such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

However, it’s hard to imagine “hunting” and “gathering” blueberries in northern Canada in January. 

So in practice, that’s not really something our paleo ancestors would find themselves doing. Possibly if they lived at the equator, but certainly not universally applied.

What foods are not allowed on paleo?

The paleo diet allows foods that were available to our ancestors during the Paleolithic era, such as lean meats, fish, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. 

Foods not allowed include grains, legumes, dairy products, processed foods, refined sugars, and vegetable oils.                    

https://doi.org/10.1046%2Fj.1467-3010.2000.00019.x

https://doi.org/10.5325%2Futopianstudies.26.1.0101

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12469653

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23865796

THIS ENTRY WAS POSTED BY ADAM PAYNE

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Why Go Paleo? Benefits of the Paleo Diet

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