The Paleo Diet — A Beginners Guide + Meal Plan

A diet is designed to resemble what human hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago is known as the paleo diet. Although to know precisely what human ancestors ate in different parts of the world is not possible, researchers have believed that their diets consisted of whole foods. A whole food-based diet can be followed […]

A diet is designed to resemble what human hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago is known as the paleo diet.

Although to know precisely what human ancestors ate in different parts of the world is not possible, researchers have believed that their diets consisted of whole foods.

A whole food-based diet can be followed and leading physically active lives, lower rates of lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease were assumed to be had by hunter-gatherers.

In fact, it is suggested in various studies that this diet can lead to significant weight loss (without calorie counting) and considerable health improvements.

This article provides a basic introduction to the paleo diet, a simple meal plan and other essential information also provided.

Paleo Diet Meal Plan and Menu

 

One “right” way to eat for everyone is not there and Paleolithic humans thrived on different types of diets, depending on what was available at the time and where in the world they lived.

A low-carb diet which was high in animal foods was eaten by some people, while others followed a high-carb diet with lots of plants.

This should be considered as a general guideline, not something written in stone. All of this can be adapted to own personal needs and preferences.

Below are the basics:

To Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils.

To Avoid: Processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.

 

Foods and ingredients that should be avoided on the Paleo Diet are:

  • Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup: Soft drinks, fruit juices, table sugar, candy, pastries, ice cream and many others.
  • Grains: Includes breads and pastas, wheat, spelt, rye, barley, etc.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils and many more.
  • Dairy: Most dairy, especially low-fat (some versions of paleo do include full-fat dairy like butter and cheese) to be avoided.
  • Some vegetable oils: Soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil and others.
  • Trans fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods. Generally known as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium. natural sweeteners instead should be used.
  • Highly processed foods: Everything labeled “diet” or “low-fat” or that has many additives. Artificial meal replacements are included.

A simple guideline to follow would be that if it looks like it was produced in a factory, don’t eat it.

If these ingredients are to be avoided, ingredients lists must be read, even on foods that are labeled as “health foods.”

 

 

Foods to eat on the Paleo Diet basing the diet on whole, unprocessed foods are:

  • Meat: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork and others.
  • Fish and seafood: Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, etc. Choose wild-caught to be chosen if possible.
  • 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.

Grass-fed, pasture-raised and organic should be chosen if it is affordable. If not, for the least-processed option should always be gone for.

 

Modified Paleo Diets

Over the past few years, evolution of the paleo community has been quite a bit.

Several different versions of the paleo diet are now available. Some modern foods that science suggests are healthy are allowed by many of them which include quality grass-fed butter and even some gluten-free grains like rice.

Paleo as a template to base the diet on is now thought by many people, not necessarily a strict set of rules that must be followed.

 

 

Sensible Indulgences

Below mentioned foods and beverages are perfectly okay to consume in small amounts:

  • Wine: Quality red wine is high in antioxidants and beneficial nutrients.
  • Dark chocolate: Choose one that has 70% or higher cocoa content. Quality dark chocolate is very nutritious and extremely healthy.

 

 

 

 

What to Drink When Thirsty

Water should be the go-to beverage when talking about hydration.

The below mentioned drinks aren’t exactly paleo, but most people drink them anyway:

  • Tea: Tea is very healthy and loaded with antioxidants and many beneficial compounds. Green tea is best.
  • Coffee: Coffee is actually very high in antioxidants as well. Many health benefits are shown in studies

 

A Sample Paleo Menu for One Week

 

By all means, below menu can be adjusted based on own preferences.

Monday

  • Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables fried in coconut oil. One piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil. 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.

Wednesday

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

Calories or macronutrients (protein, carbs or fat) on the paleo diet are not generally required to track, at least not in the beginning.

However, if losing a lot of weight is needed, it is a good idea to cut carbs somewhat and intake of high-fat foods to be limited, such as nuts.

 

Simple Paleo Snacks

Eating more than three meals per day is not required, but if getting hungry, below are some paleo snacks that are simple and easily portable:

  • Baby carrots
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • A piece of fruit
  • A handful of nuts
  • Leftovers from the night before
  • Apple slices with some almond butter
  • A bowl of berries with some coconut cream
  • Homemade beef jerky

Simple Paleo Shopping List

An incredible variety of foods which can be eaten on the paleo diet are available.

Below is a simple shopping list to give an idea of how to get started:

  • Meat: Beef, lamb, pork, etc.
  • Poultry: Chicken, turkey, etc.
  • Fish: Salmon, trout, mackerel, etc.
  • Eggs
  • Fresh vegetables: Greens, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, etc.
  • Frozen vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, various vegetable mixes, etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, pears, oranges, avocado
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, etc.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts
  • Almond butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Condiments: Sea salt, pepper, turmeric, garlic, parsley, etc.

It is a good idea that all unhealthy temptations from home should be cleared, including sugary sodas, pastries, cookies, crackers, bread, ice cream and cereals.

Making Restaurant Meals Paleo

Making most restaurant meals which are paleo-friendly is fairly easy.

Below are some simple guidelines:

  1. A meat- or fish-based main dish should be ordered.
  2. Extra vegetables instead of bread or rice should be taken.
  3. Ask them to cook the food in olive oil or coconut oil.

The Bottom Line

The paleo diet is designed after the diets hunter-gatherers have likely to have followed. While to follow the paleo diet there is not one way, the basic idea is that processed foods should be avoided and healthy, whole foods should be focused on.

Meat, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, fruits and veggies, along with healthy fats and oils are included in paleo-friendly foods. Processed foods, grains and sugar should be avoided.

The diet can also be based on paleo foods, adding in a few modern healthy foods like grass-fed butter and gluten-free grains.

To begin with the paleo diet, sample menu should be checked and shopping list above. Kitchen and pantry should be stocked with these healthy, paleo-friendly foods.

 

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