What did hunter gatherers eat thousands of years ago? Why is this diet designed to resemble that way of eating? Were they healthier than we are today? What about being overweight or even obese? Did they eat low-carb or high-carb food? Was food grown, or did they gather it and hunt for it?
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The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet is based on eating food that was available during the paleolithic period, which ended approximately 10 000 years ago. During that period, people didn’t grow their food and didn’t have farms to get meat that way, and food was gathered or hunted. The Paleo diet follows the same principle.
So, what did hunter gatherers eat? They were eating plants they could find and the meat of animals they could catch, which means you couldn’t have dairy products, legumes, and grains. Instead, it depended on availability and location, and it is based on whole foods. Processed food should be avoided entirely, similar to the Keto diet. You can check out the paleo diet recipes.
Why Eat The Paleo Way?
The goal of this diet is that we return to nutrition as it was during the paleolithic era. The reasoning is that the human body is not supposed to digest the food we eat today since that kind of food didn’t exist until 10 000 years ago. People have been on earth much longer than that, so you can see why that assumption makes sense. According to that idea, we are genetically defined to eat what we can hunt or gather.
When people started farming and growing crops, their nutrition changed. There was no need to hunt or gather food anymore. Grains, legumes, beans, other starchy food, and dairy products replaced the previous eating method. It was a sudden change of diet, and the human body didn’t have the ability to adapt.
Instead of adapting to it, we ended up with modern-era diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart, and cardiovascular diseases. If your goal is to lose weight, get rid of excess fat, or just keep your body healthy, this could be the proper diet for you. Excellent help in following this diet can be the paleo diet recipes.
Foods to Eat
- Eggs- free-range eggs rich with omega-3
- Fruits- bananas, pears, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, avocados, and other
- Meat- chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, wild game meat
- Fish- tuna, salmon, trout, shrimps, bass- preferable caught in nature
- Veggies- peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, button sprouts, and other preferable organic
- Nuts- Almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Fats and oils- olive oil, coconut oil
- Spices- Himalayan salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, etc…
- Hydration- in the paleolithic time, there was only water, so that should be the way to hydrate your body ( some people drink tea and coffee too)
Food to Avoid
- Sugar and corn syrup- sodas, soft drinks, fruit juices, sugar, cookies, pastries, chocolate, ice cream, candy…
- Grains- bread, pasta, barley, wheat, and others
- Sweeteners- aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium
- Processed foods- all fast food, snacks, all food labeled as diet, low-fat, no sugar, or zero sugar
- Trans fats- margarine, non-dairy coffee creamer, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, baked goods, fried foods…
- Legumes- beans, lentils, and many other
- Dairy- most dairy products, especially low-fat (full-fat dairy like butter and cheese are OK)
- Some oils- soy oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, rapeseed oil, and others.
If it doesn’t look like natural food and looks like something artificial and produced, don’t eat it. You can find guidelines and much more suitable food for this diet in the paleo diet recipes.
Benefits and Risks
Compared to some other diets, there are significant benefits like weight loss, improved glucose tolerance, better blood pressure control, lower triglycerides, and better appetite management. There is no need to count calories either. That by itself is a great thing to achieve with a diet, but there are some concerns as well.
The Paleo diet is rich in veggies, fruit, nuts, and quality meat which are all very healthy, but it lacks grains and legumes, the source of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients. There is also a lack of dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cream, and others crucial to getting enough calcium. In our modern era, these are considered to be healthy foods.
Experts say that we need about 600-800 mg of calcium daily. Since we can’t eat dairy products on the Paleo diet, we must get calcium from other sources. Leafy green vegetables and bone-in fish are excellent sources. For instance, a few cups of leafy greens and a can of bone-in fish like sardines can provide you with approximately 840 mg of calcium. That is more than enough. If you want more, like hitting 1000 mg, which is recommended by the government’s guidelines, you can add about 2 ounces of almonds, and there you have it.
The Bottom Line
The Paleo diet is not so hard to follow. It is the way our ancestors ate. This diet is excellent for losing weight (fat) or maintaining the desired weight. Many modern-day diseases and health issues can be put under control with the Paleo diet. It is low in carbs and high in protein, and it eliminates highly processed food, junk food, and added sugars.
No need to count calories is excellent because there aren’t many diets that don’t require that. But, be aware that it may not be for everyone. Because of some food restrictions, people could find it challenging to stick to it. Overall the Paleo diet has a lot of similarities to the Keto diet or Atkins diet with a few differences, some things are added and some removed. This is one of the most popular diets today and is worth trying if you can be disciplined. It’s also hard to follow any diet if you don’t know what and how to cook. Finding some of the paleo diet recipes can be a big help.