When you think about time travel, diets are not something that spring to mind. But that’s exactly what the paleo diet does! It takes dieters back to the distant past to help them lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle. But how does this epoch-spanning diet do this, and what should a paleo diet shopping list look like?
The Diet That Time Almost Forgot
The paleo, or Paleolithic Diet to give it it’s full name, has been around for a while. But it is based on eating habits that are a lot older than you think. The idea of such a diet can actually be traced back to the 1880s where Dr. Emmet Densmore proclaimed that “bread is the staff of death” and said that a more primitive diet was healthier. However, the diet, as we know it today, was developed and popularized by Dr. Loren Cordain in 2002.
But what is the paleo diet?
The idea behind it is that we eat like our early ancestors. The food selected is supposed to mimic what was available to prehistoric humans who followed a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. For this reason, the diet is also sometimes referred to as the “Stone Age Diet” or even the “Caveman Diet”.
So, what are the benefits of going paleo eating like this?
Weight loss and healthier living.
If more than just your historical interest has been piqued, let us answer a few questions you may have about the diet. Then we’ll provide you with a paleo shopping list template for you to use in your very modern grocery store. However, you can time-warp forward straight to list if you want.
Paleo Diet FAQs
Do people lose weight on the diet?
They certainly seem to.
There have been many short-term studies into the diet and they all tend to conclude that it does aid weight loss.
However, one study concluded that this is because of a general calorie deficit created by the diet rather than the specific properties of any of the food or food combination eaten.
Therefore, to be sure to lose weight, you should look into making sure you’re maintaining a calorie deficit whilst you are on the diet, despite the fact that this may well happen naturally.
Is the diet healthy?
Because there’s still an emphasis on eating a good amount of fruit and vegetables, it’s not unhealthy. But there are concerns some dieticians have.
Cutting out dairy, legumes, and grains means that there are nutrients specific to those groups that you won’t be getting. Some also have concerns about reduced fiber intake, which could cause bowel-cancer. But as you’re still eating a good range of vegetables this isn’t as risky as on the keto or carnivore diets.
There are concerns about people unwittingly raising their saturated fat intake whilst on the diet. The diet very clearly promotes the eating of lean meat with low saturated fat content. But, if you’re not being meticulous about this point, you could see your saturated fat intake increase dramatically, leading to an increased risk of heart disease.
However, if you do stick to lean meat, especially grass-fed meat, and fish, you’ll find you will increase your “healthy fat” intake, such as monounsaturated fat and Omega-3 fatty acids.
The diet is very good for those looking for a diet that helps with type-2 diabetes prevention and control. This is because of the very low starch and sugar intake inherent in the food allowed on the diet. It’s also great for those who are gluten intolerant because the complete eradication of grains makes the diet gluten-free.
But, there hasn’t been any study yet into the long-term effects of the diet. Because of this, the diet actually ranks a low #33 out of 41 on US New’s definitive list of 2019’s best diets.
Is it expensive?
Remember, you’re supposed to be buying lean meat and fish. Fish is generally quite an expensive food item, and lean meat, particularly the grass-fed varieties that the diet champions, even more so. Even something as humdrum as ground beef can suddenly become quite pricey. Even things like healthier free range eggs add extra pennies to your bill.
When you consider that you’ll be eating more of these that you usually would, you can see how the costs ramp up. Add to that some health food products that you might have to buy, and your groceries become quite costly.
Fresh fruit and veg can also be quite pricey. But savings can be made here by buying frozen and canned varieties, especially as research shows that they can be just as nutritious as those bought fresh.
Is the diet easy to follow?
It’s not too difficult.
There are plenty of websites with comprehensive beginner’s guides, definite paleo foods lists, paleo recipes, and paleo diet meal plans that can help you transition into leading a paleo lifestyle without having to think too much about what you should and shouldn’t be eating.
However, cutting major food groups such as dairy, grains, refined sugar, and legumes out of your diet can be a bit shocking at first. This can make the diet difficult to stick to if you start craving food from these categories.
But there’s plenty of support and information out there on the internet, due to the diets huge popularity, that can really assist.
What does a day on the diet look like?
A paleo meal plan might look a little like the following:
Breakfast: eggs with vegetables, fried in coconut oil
Lunch: chicken salad with nuts, dressed with olive oil
Dinner: steak and mixed vegetables with sweet potato
What should I drink?
A lot of water.
However, many versions of the diet allow tea and coffee. Green tea is certainly a good option due to its high amount of antioxidants. But you should definitely not be using any refined sugar, sweeteners, or milk with these.
You should also completely avoid soft drinks/soda and fruit juice because of their high sugar content.
What and What Not to Eat
So what does a prehistoric hunter-gather diet involve?
The main thing about the diet is that you will be eating a lot of meat. Founder Dr. Cordain states that a paleo diet meal should consist of up to 35% protein. Then, up to another 45% should be made up of fresh vegetables allowed on the diet. Given that the average modern-day person’s diet consists of only 15% protein, it’s actually quite a leap.
But because the diet does stress eating a lot of fresh vegetables, it’s not a total meat-fest. But these can’t be any old veg. The idea is that they’re specifically things that could be easily picked and eaten back in prehistoric times, and do not require farming or processing techniques.
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Paleo Diet Shopping List
Now that we’ve covered an entire era of information, you can now uncover our free downloadable paleo food shopping list to use as you wish. Add and delete items on this list to make it as unique as you are.
Paleo Food ListCopy to clipboard
Lean Meat, Fish, & Eggs
- Grass-fed beef
- Coconut oil
- Linseed/flaxseed oil
- Olive oil
- Rapeseed oil
- Almond milk
- Green tea
Nuts and Seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Almond butter
- Almond milk
- Dark chocolate
- Herbs & spices
- Bell Peppers
- Brussel’s sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
Do you think this is a good diet? Do you think this is what prehistoric humans ate like? What paleo-friendly sweet-treat recipes do you have to share? Let us know in the comments.