There are many different diets on the market that promote holistic health. One such diet that you might have heard of is the paleo diet. Many other healthy eating tactics such as calorie counting, macro tracking, and food journaling can frankly complicate the process of eating, and the paleo diet is one way to alleviate that pressure. This approach is popular in the wellness industry and has a diverse following that includes bodybuilders, professional athletes, and yogis. 

What is the paleo diet? 

Short for “Paleolithic,” the paleo diet seeks to replicate the eating habits of our ancestors, the Neanderthals, colloquially known as cavemen. Advocates for this diet say that this hunter-gatherer style of eating promotes health and fitness more than other diets because it eschews processed foods. 

What can you eat on the paleo diet?

The simplest way to think of the paleo diet is to think like a hunter-gatherer: if you couldn’t make, harvest, or hunt it on your own in the wild, don’t eat it. Think of the paleo diet as a very strict, whole-food diet. The foundation of this diet is the assumption that ancestral humans existed on whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, and meat. The rules aren’t as clear cut as something like the keto diet, and there are many iterations of going paleo, ranging from super strict to a little laxer. 

What you can and can’t eat depends on how close you want your diet to be to a Neanderthal’s. The strictest version of this diet consists only of water, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, meat, and fish. It excludes some common whole foods such as rolled oats, beans, and legumes. Other paleo dieters are okay with healthy oils, eggs, milk, some grains, and legumes okay.

The most widely accepted guidelines suggest: 

Do eat: meat, fish, seafood, eggs, healthy oils (olive, coconut, and avocado), fruit, vegetables, seeds, and nuts

Don’t eat: dairy products, beans, legumes, grains, sugar (except fruit), sauces, condiments, some vegetable oils (mixed, canola, soybean, grapeseed, cottonseed), artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and processed foods 

Benefits of going paleo

There are numerous benefits to following the paleo diet because it avoids foods that are commonly linked to health problems such as processed foods rich in sugar, refined grains, and foods high in trans fats. If you decide to try the paleo diet, you may notice weight loss, a reduction in blood fats and cholesterol, improved heart health, among other benefits.

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