The Paleo Diet

4Obesity, heart disease, diabetes: These are just a few of the health conditions that proponents of the Paleolithic Diet or Caveman Diet blame on our sedentary lifestyles and modern diets, which are loaded with sugars, fats, and processed foods. The solution? Cut “modern” foods from our diets and return to the way our early hunter-gatherer ancestors ate.

To get an idea of what that means, we turned to Loren Cordain, PhD, a professor in the department of health and exercise science at Colorado State University and author of The Paleo Diet. To be and stay healthy, Cordain says, exercise regularly and follow a strict diet of only foods that can be hunted and gathered.

The Paleo Diet: What Is It?
In its purest form, the Paleo Diet allows only those foods that man ate when he first roamed the planet millions of years ago.

Foods to eat on the Paleo Diet:

Lean cuts of beef, pork, and poultry, preferably grass-fed, organic, or free-range.
Game animals, such as quail, venison, and bison.
Eggs (no more than six a week).
Fish, including shellfish.
Fruit, such as strawberries, cantaloupe, mango, and figs.
Nonstarchy vegetables, such as asparagus, onions, peppers, and pumpkin.
Nuts and seeds, including almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Olive oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil (in moderation).
Foods to avoid on the Paleo Diet:

All dairy products, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter.
Cereal grains, such as wheat, rye, rice, and barley.
Legumes (beans, peanuts, peas).
Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Sweets — all forms of candy as well as honey and sugar.
Sugary soft drinks and fruit juices.
Processed and cured meats, such as bacon, deli meats, and hot dogs.
The Paleo Diet: How Does It Work?
The diet can improve your health by eliminating high-fat and processed foods that have little nutritional value and too many calories. It emphasizes loading up on fruits and vegetables that are bursting with healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which fills you up faster so you eat less.

You’ll lose weight because any time you restrict whole food groups, your calorie intake is lower, says Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Whenever you burn more calories than you consume, this equals out to weight loss, she says. The focus on lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables over sodium-rich processed foods can also contribute to weight loss, though she also points out that the Paleo Diet wasn’t created to be a weight-loss diet.

Note that though nuts and seeds are allowed on this diet, they can be high in calories, and people who want to lose weight will have to limit consumption of them.

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