What exactly IS Paleo?

I suppose I should take a step back … what is paleo? I am nowhere near an expert; I’m just starting on this journey myself. According to wikipedia:

The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman dietStone Age diet, and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years which ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture and grain-based diets.

But perhaps the best explanation of paleo comes from the Whole9 – something it calls “The Whole9 Nutrition Elevator Pitch

I eat “real” food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit.  I choose foods that are nutrient dense, with lots of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition.  And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat comes from, and buy produce locally and organically as often as possible.

It’s not a low calorie “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy and a healthy weight.  In fact, my diet is probably much higher in fat than you’d imagine.  Fat isn’t the enemy – it’s a great energy source when it comes from high quality foods like avocado, coconut and nuts. And I’m not trying to do a “low carb” thing, but since I’m eating vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal and pasta, it just happens to work out that way.

Eating like this is good for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and reducing inflammation within the body.  It’s been doing great things for my energy levels, body composition and performance in the gym.  It also helps to minimize my risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

Ok, so with a basic understanding of paleo, what are the rules? Depending upon your source, the dos and don’ts of paleo differ, but the basic premise is the same.

Do Eat natural (ideally organic) foods

  • Veggies
  • Meats
  • Fruit
  • Nuts and seeds (although avoid quinoa)

Do NOT Eat

  • Processed or artificial foods (including genetically modified foods (GMOs))
  • Grains (including corn)
  • Legumes (including all beans, chickpeas, peanuts)
  • Dairy products
  • Sugar (no, not just high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and no artificial sweeteners)
  • Soy-based products (including edamame, soy sauce)
  • High starch foods (sorry, potatoes need to go)
  • Alcohol

Some versions of paleo may permit

  • Limited quantities of whole, raw, unpasteurized dairy in the form of milk or cheese
  • Natural sweeteners, such as honey or agave
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