If you are looking to change your life by changing your diet than you have undoubtedly heard about the paleo diet. The paleo diet can not only help you lose weight but it can also help you have more energy and just be a more healthy person.
The idea behind the paleo diet is that we should be eating the same foods that were available to paleolithic humans, back when we were hunter gatherers. The concept of this diet was developed by Loren Cordain, PhD, who wrote the book “The Paleo Diet” back in 2002. The book has been a smash hit and is of course the basis one of the most popular diets in the world.
Loren Cordain is an expert in evolutionary diets and his theory is that humans’ dietary needs were formed by our natural environments. He believes that human inventions, like farming and processing foods, disturbs our natural diets.
In a hurry? Click a topic below to skip further down…
What can and can’t you eat on the paleo diet?
Just like early man, you do want to eat lots of fresh, lean meats and fish. You will want to make sure that the meat you choose grass fed and not pumped up with chemicals. The point is to try and eat like a caveman and meats at that time would have been very lean and fed on grass.
Fruits and vegetables also would have been eaten by early man and are a great thing to eat on the paleo diet. The natural sugars in fruits are where you will be getting your sugar intake from.
You will want to eat healthy fats on the paleo diet like Omega 3’s that you might find in fish or grass fed beef. Avocados are another great source of healthy fat.
Eggs would of course have been a staple in the caveman’s diet. Eggs are also a great source of protein, which you will be eating a lot of on the paleo diet.
Nuts and seeds are one thing that our gatherer ancestors would have eating and are an important part of the paleo diet.
Healthful oils are a part of the paleo diet. Oils like olive oil and coconut oil would have been available to early man and are great alternatives to refined vegetable oils.
Do not eat:
Dairy is off the list because farming didn’t exist during hunter and gatherer times.
Refined Sugar shouldn’t be eaten while on the paleo diet. Don’t worry though, you can still get your sugar from delicious sweet fruits.
Do not eat potatoes or legumes, like peanuts, which only became popular from farming.
Salt is off the table for the paleo diet
And refined vegetable oils, like canola oil, should not be eaten on the paleo diet.
Once you get the hang of it the paleo diet isn’t very hard to follow. After doing some initial research at your local grocery store, you should be able to do your paleo grocery shopping with ease.
One of the best attractions of the paleo diet is that it doesn’t require you to count calories. Counting calories is a big part of most diets and can be very tiresome and time consuming. Counting calories can even take more time to do than it takes to actually make your food!
All that is required on the paleo diet is that you eat what’s on the list and that you stay away from things that aren’t on the list. It’s a pretty simple philosophy to follow.
The ease with which the paleo diet fits into an average person’s life has made it more than just a diet for many people, for them it’s a lifestyle.
Paleo Diet Success Stories
You may or may not believe Loren Cordain’s ideas about dietary evolution but it is hard to argue with the success and popularity of the diet. Lot’s of celebrities and athletes use the paleo diet and aren’t afraid to admit it!
Matthew McConaughey, famous for being muscular and never wearing a shirt, uses the paleo diet and I think his results speak for themselves.
Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers uses the paleo diet to help with his athletic performance. Aaron was even spotted reading his copy of “The Paleo Diet” before his victorious Super Bowl performance in 2011.
Famous celebrity women like Jessica Biel and Uma Thurman are also on the paleo diet. Of course being a beautiful actress requires you to be healthy and the paleo diet works for them.
Sometimes people will only adopt certain aspects of the paleo diet to help with specific problems they may be having. Like rock star Hayley Williams who no longer eats dairy. Hayley says that cutting dairy from her diet has improved her vocals and allows her to reach notes that she was never able to hit.
Of course, you don’t need to be a famous celebrity to use the paleo diet, and the paleo diet is so popular that you likely already know people that are doing it.
There is Katie, who had been overweight her whole life, and then lost 85 pounds and became an avid runner thanks to the paleo diet. Katie had this to say about it.
“I ran for about eight months, but would always hit a wall at 2.5 miles. I couldn’t even run that extra half mile to get to a 5k. Two weeks after I started Paleo, I ran my first 5k. I literally thought I was going to cry when I walked into my apartment afterward I was so excited. Last year, I did three half marathons.”
Katie’s life has been changed so much by the paleo diet that she started a blog called personallypaleo.com.
There is also Jennifer, a 27 year old mother of 3, who used the paleo diet to finally do something just for herself.
“The first week, I told myself, “Eat as much as you want, as long as it’s Paleo.” I still lost nine pounds that first week. The second week, I lost five. I spent those first two weeks cooking every night.”
There are even people out there with who have incredible life altering stories about the paleo diet like Anthony D’Amato. Anthony lost 200 pounds in one year by doing the paleo diet and without working out!
“I found that I could eat, and then not eat, because I was so fulfilled by the things I was eating. I played around with carbs, and knew how to adjust my food intake based on my activity level. The easiest thing for me was to lose the weight. I was on a path, and had it down. I got up every morning and walked anywhere from 1-5 miles. By one year, I had lost 200 lbs. It’s shocking. I went from 375 to as low as 160 at 5’11.”
With stories like Anthony’s it’s easy to see why so many people swear by the paleo diet.
A Few Recipes for you to Try
The great thing about the paleo diet is that you can still eat delicious foods that are familiar and taste great. Here are 3 different recipes that meet the requirements of the paleo diet.
Crispy grilled chicken in orange sauce
Chicken is a staple meat that is a part of just about everyone’s diet. There is no need to pass on delicious chicken in the paleo diet.
This recipe is perfect entertaining guests who will love the garlic orange sauce.
6 bone on chicken thighs, skinned
8-10 large cloves of garlic, chopped into fine bits
1-2 cups parsley, chopped into fine bits
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 oranges, peeled and diced
1 Tbs dried oregano (or 3 Tbs, fresh)
2 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1. Grill the chicken thighs over very high heat and close to the heat source in either an oven broiler or on the grill.
2.Without reducing the heat, proceed to cook over the flame to ensure moist center on the inside and crispy and blackened on the outside.
3. In a large mixing bowl mix the chopped garlic, parsley, olive oil, diced oranges, red and black pepper, and oregano. Mix well.
4. Add the grilled thighs to the mixture and stir like you would a salad until the chicken is coated in the oil, garlic, and orange sauce.
5. Let it soak for several minutes in the mixture.
6. Best served with a large salad.
Salmon with orange and bacon
Salmon is one of my favorite meals and is perfect for the summer time. Be sure to use fresh wild salmon and not the frozen processed stuff. It’s all part of the paleo diet!
2 ½ – 3 lbs of fresh wild-caught salmon filets
12 oz. nitrate-free pork bacon, thick cut, cut into half-inch strips
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed, root removed and white parts sliced thin
6 Tbsp fresh chopped tarragon, divided
Fresh ground white pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into ½” dice
¼ cup dry white wine, can substitute fish stock or spring water
Utensils: 12″ heavy stainless sauteuse with oven-proof handle and tight-fitting lid, 4 large heated shallow soup bowls for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 450° F
2. Cut the salmon filets into 4 eight-ounce pieces with skin on; remove any bones with small pliers. Season each filet with about half a teaspoon of coarse sea salt (or two teaspoons total) and fresh white pepper. Save any leftover salmon for other paleo recipes.
3. Place the sauteuse over medium heat and add the bacon, onion and garlic, cook for about 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add the sliced fennel and oranges.
4.Bring the heat to medium-low and slowly sweat the vegetables and bacon, stir occasionally for about 15 minutes until the bacon is rendered and the vegetables are lightly browned and firm.
5. Raise the heat to medium-high and deglaze with the wine or other liquid, cover the sauteuse and steam the vegetables for 3 to 4 minutes or until they are tender.
6.Remove the lid and lower the heat to medium and allow any liquid to evaporate, stirring occasionally. When the pan is nearly dry, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped tarragon. Arrange the four salmon filets on top of the vegetables and oranges and place the pan on the top rack of the pre-heated oven and roast about 4 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness until the filets are cooked to about medium.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and use a spatula to transfer one salmon portion into the middle of each soup bowl. Use the spatula to divide the vegetables and oranges all around both sides of each salmon.
8. Use an oven mitt to put the pan back over medium heat and reduce any pan juices to form a thin glaze and divide this sauce evenly among the four portions. Drizzle each serving with some olive oil and sprinkle the remaining chopped tarragon over the four salmon portions. Garnish with some additional sprigs of fresh tarragon and wedges of orange.
9. Serve the bowls on large plates with a soup spoon and some of the same wine used to deglaze if desired.
Cranberry avocado salad
Even though the paleo diet involves eating a lot of meat and protein, there is still room for delicious salads.
12 oz. of baby mixed greens, spinach, and/or arugula
2 medium sized avocados, sliced
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup roasted almonds
Ingredients for the salad dressing
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
½ tsp paprika
1 Tbsp minced sweet onion
2 tsp dried mustard
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup raw honey (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing, season to taste, and mix well.
Place the greens in a large bowl. Add the avocado and dried cranberries.
Pour ¼ cup of the dressing over the salad and toss gently.
Scatter the almonds evenly over the salad.
Serve with some extra dressing on the side.