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If you’ve read the famous book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari or other popular ancient history books, you know that humans were once hunter-gatherers. That’s exactly what the Paleo diet is based on. Research suggests that the diet of our ancestors consisted mainly of whole foods even though it’s virtually impossible to know exactly what they ate around different areas in the world.
Following a whole foods diet along with being physically active lowers the rate of lifestyle-based diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Numerous dietary studies suggest that diet plays an important role in weight management.
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As the classification suggests, the hunter-gatherers or our human ancestors thrived on a variety of foods depending on availability and geographies. This means that there is no right or wrong when it comes to the Paleo diet. While some ate a low-carb diet that included animal foods, others consumed a lot of crabs on plants. The best thing about the Paleo diet meal plan is that you can adapt it to your personal needs and preferences.
Weight loss and muscle growth are common benefits experienced by the people who follow the Paleo Diet. It is known to improve gut health and metabolic processes, aid sleep, reduce stress, and replenish the body with Vitamin-D and fatty acids.
- Improved and stable energy levels
- Healthier hair and clear skin
- Mental clarity and improved mood & attitude
- Reduced depression and anxiety
- Reduced gas and bloating
- Improved immune functions
- Reduced allergies
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Better absorption of nutrients
- Reduced respiratory problems
The idea is to consume organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised foods and products. Always go for the unprocessed or the least processed options for the best results.
- Vegetables – there is almost no diet on the planet that does not include vegetables. Unless the doctor advises you against it, you can eat just about every vegetable including broccoli, peppers, kale, carrots, onions, tomatoes, etc.
- Fruits – the same with fruits, you can and should have a few servings of different fruits every day. Have apples, pears, bananas, oranges, avocado, and other tropical fruits
- Tubers – potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams should be a part of your daily meals
- Meat – chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, and pork in limited portions
- Fish & Seafood – fish is the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids that have several benefits for the body. Eat salmon, shrimp, trout, shellfish, and haddock (preferably wild-caught)
- Nuts & Seeds – also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids; they contain high amounts of fiber and protein. Add a handful of nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and macadamia nuts to your diet
- Healthy oils – Use healthy oil variants like virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil for cooking
- Eggs – have omega-3 enriched eggs if you can find them. Regular eggs are fine too.
- Salt & spices – a moderation of salts and spices is recommended. Include sea salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, etc.
- Grains – certain grains aren’t healthy no matter the diet. Avoid bread, wheat, rye, and barley.
- Sugary products – limit or avoid fruit juices, pastries, candies, soft drinks, and ice cream
- Legumes – Although many diets encourage consuming beans, lentils, etc., you should avoid them on the Paleo Diet
- Vegetable Oil – avoid certain vegetable oils like sunflower oil, grape seed oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil among others
- Dairy – Most types of dairy products must be avoided. Full-fat dairy like butter and cheese are included in some variations of Paleo diet but low-fat dairy is always excluded
- Processed Foods – several products labeled ‘diet’ or ‘low-fat’ include additives. Don’t consume these products
- Artificial Sweeteners – always use natural sweeteners instead of cyclamates, potassium, aspartame, sucralose, etc.
- Trans fats – processed foods contain margarine. Hydrogenated oils, full or partial, should be avoided
Our body can make do with 3 meals a day but if you feel hungry in between, you can have the following snacks:
- Nuts (handful)
- Baby carrots
- Eggs (hard-boiled)
- Berries (a small bowl)
- Apple (with peanut butter)
Water is an obvious choice; you should have at least 2-3 liters of water every day without fail. It flushes out toxins from the body and maintains organ health. Apart from water, you can have tea. It contains essential antioxidants. Check out Green Tea benefits if you like to have tea a couple of times a day. For that matter, the benefits of coffee are something to consider as well. It contains antioxidants and caffeine lifts the energy levels. Coconut water is also advisable.
Alcoholic drinks are usually allowed in the Paleo diet but in moderation – no more than 1-3 drinks a day. Consider having moderate quantities of quality red wine. It has many benefits for the human body in addition to antioxidants and other nutrients. Vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila, and other spirits are fine as long as they’re not produced from sugar or grain residue.