Paleo Diet Plan: Eating Like A Caveman

By:    Published: February 2, 2012

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The Paleo Diet Plan is a relatively new trend, but it's catching on quite quickly. Also known as the Stone Age, Warrior or Caveman Diet, it's based on what people were eating ages ago. While there are many potential health benefits associated with this diet, it also has very harsh food restrictions as far as what can be included in the Paleo Diet Plan. Read this article to learn more about how the Paleo Diet Plan was developed, what foods it includes and how you can benefit from it.

Principles Behind The Paleo Diet Plan

The Paleo Diet Plan, although just gaining in popularity in recent years, has really been around for centuries. In fact, the entire diet is based on what actual cavemen were eating around 40,000 years ago during the Paleolithic Era. That means it consists of fruits, vegetables, several types of fish and wild game meats like bison. Since wild game isn't readily available, many people focus on using lean, organic meats in their Paleo Diet Plan instead.

According to proponents of the diet, the foods that caveman ate were not only healthy, but easy for human bodies to digest. Although grains and dairy products have been around for thousands of years, these items were not available to cavemen. Many experts believe that the human body never fully adapted to these foods, making them harder for the digestive system to process.

The Paleo Diet Plan also stresses the use of natural, unprocessed foods. Ideally, the fruits and veggies included in the diet will be organic and the meats will be very lean. This is what provides so many of the health benefits associated with the diet. Many researchers agree that the epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes and heart disease can be contributed to modern processed foods and foods that contain excessive sugar, salt or fat. Because those on this caveman diet are eating healthier, more natural foods, the idea is that they will avoid developing these health conditions in the long run.

Foods To Eat

Although there are many types of foods which are restricted in this diet, there are still plenty of options from which to choose. The best foods to eat on a Paleo Diet Plan are:

  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Fruits
  • Berries
  • Vegetables
  • Roots
  • Tree Nuts
  • Eggs

Centuries ago, each of these foods were available to cavemen. Each of these foods also contain one of the two basic ingredients in the Paleo Diet Plan: carbohydrates and meat. Around 30 percent of the diet will consist of meat. This is much more than today's food recommendations, but as long as the meat contains much less saturated fat and more omega 3s, this ratio is suitable.

When choosing foods to eat on this caveman diet, it's important to look for those that contain no preservatives or gluten, neither of which were around when the cavemen were. Organic foods, wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat are also preferred options when available.

Food To Avoid

There are several foods that should be avoided if you're on the Paleo Diet Plan. These foods are based on what was not available during Paleolithic times. The foods to avoid include:

  • Grains: Rice, wheat, barley oats, corn.
  • Refined carbohydrates: Flour, white rice, cereals.
  • Dairy: Cow's milk, goat's milk, cheese.
  • Legumes: Beans, peanuts.
  • Salt: Do not add any extra salt to foods or choose foods with added salt.
  • Sugar: Do not add any extra sugar to foods or choose foods with added sugar.
  • Processed Foods: Hot dogs, sausage, margarine and other processed or refined foods.
  • Soda
  • Fruit Juice
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Health Benefits

There are many health benefits to eating according to the Paleo Diet Plan, including:

  • Lose weight: Cutting out excess fat, sugar, salt and refined carbs will help you shed pounds.
  • Build muscle: Lean meats will give you the protein you need to work out and build muscle effectively.
  • Increased energy: The natural carbs in fruits and vegetables are better for giving you a burst of energy, unlike refined carbs which can make you feel overly full or sleepy.

The Cavemen Diet may also help to prevent the following health conditions:

  • Obesity: Gaining excess weight is typically not a problem for those who follow this diet and exercise regularly.
  • Type 2 diabetes: The carbs in fruits and veggies are digested slowly, so your body doesn't have to develop an insulin resistance to deal with them. This helps prevent type 2 diabetes from developing over time.
  • Heart disease: The fruits and veggies in the Paleolithic diet contain high amounts of antioxidants which can help prevent heart disease.

Risks

Some nutritionists and health experts disagree on whether the Paleo Diet Plan is really that healthy. Some of the risks associated with this diet include:

  • Excess Fat: Even if a person eats lean meat, there is still a considerable amount of dietary fat in a caveman diet because few animals today have the fat levels of wild animals in the Paleolithic Era. Others add that cavemen probably didn't eat meat every day because it was not always available, so the high daily intake of meat associated with the diet may be off-base.
  • Lack of Nutrients: Because the types of food allowed in the Paleo Diet Plan are so limited, some nutritional gaps may develop. For instance, cavemen received little calcium in their diet, which could lead to weaker bones.
  • Disease: Some experts propose that the reason cavemen didn't have the diseases people have today was because they simply didn't live long enough to develop them. It may be presumptuous to assume that eating according to this diet means that these diseases will be prevented.

Talk to your doctor or to a licensed nutritionist if you have questions about whether the Paleo Diet Plan is right for you.

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