What is the Paleo diet?
Article date: 21 May 2014
Going back to basics with your diet is a concept that some people would never dream of, as many of us rely heavily on the power of carbohydrates and processed foods for a quick and easy energy fix.
However, despite the popularity of cereals and potatoes in the modern diet, a rising number of people are choosing to adopt the eating habits of their ancestors with the aptly titled caveman diet - or Paleo, as it is officially known.
What is Paleo?
Finding its roots in a 1985 scientific study entitled Paleolithic Nutrition, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followers of the Paleo diet argue that primal eating habits allow individuals to revert back to the way humans were really designed to consume.
In layman's terms, this means cutting all processed ingredients from your diet, so no more cereals, refined sugar or salt, as well as saying goodbye to legumes, dairy products, potatoes and refined vegetable oils.
According to dietary experts, consuming too many grains - which are composed of carbohydrates - can lead to weight gain if we do not burn off our food through exercise.
What's more, with so many people now intolerant to gluten, it's possible we may be putting ourselves at risk of various health conditions such as acid reflux, dermatitis and joint pain if we continue to consume the ingredient.
What are the benefits?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Paleo diet comes with a number of benefits, thanks to its nutrient-heavy and natural ingredients. Those following this strict eating plan can expect to enjoy the advantages of an unprocessed diet, which could lead to improved energy levels and a breakdown of body fat.
It has also been claimed that Paleo can help people enjoy sustained weight loss and muscle growth, as well as reduced bloating, thanks to its high levels of fibre.
As if that wasn't enough, followers of the eating plan have also said the caveman diet helped them to enjoy better quality sleep, improved mental state and higher immune function, and a better overall wellbeing.
What does it involve?
The Paleo diet basically demands that followers take a more primal approach to their eating habits, which means adopting a "would a caveman eat this?" mentality. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?
Here are the main rules for this increasingly popular eating plan:
Meat and fish: Red meat is a favourite among Paleo followers, as well as fatty fish including salmon. It's important to seek out fresh, naturally raised and grass-fed produce with this diet. Experts claim that a higher level of fat from meats trains the body that it does not need to rely on carbohydrates for energy.
Fruit and veg: Alongside meat, cavemen got most of their energy from leafy vegetables and fruit, so stock up on these if you are adopting a more basic approach to your diet. However, steer clear of high-carb legumes such as peas, beans, chickpeas and peanuts, as this diet suggests they are a no-go.
Healthy fats: Healthy fats are a must with Paleo. This means olive oil, nuts and avocados are a major part of this eating plan. Also, avoid processed meat and butter, which are higher in bloating omega-6 fatty acids.