Through the years, there have been a ton of fad diets that have come and gone. Today, the Paleo Diet is extremely popular and more people than ever are jumping on the bandwagon. Paleo refers to the Paleolithic Era, i.e. when cavemen were still around. The overall idea of the Paleo Diet is to eat the way our ancestors ate, focusing on protein, vegetables and fruit, plus healthy fats.
What You Can’t Eat
Everyone who’s starting a diet is interested in what they won’t be able to eat. At first, it sounds like you have to give up a lot of food in order to go Paleo. On a strict Paleo diet, you can’t eat any processed foods, dairy, legumes or grains. Some Paleo programs even ban alcohol of all kinds. For most people, this means giving up their favorite comfort foods, shopping in a completely new way at the grocery store and maybe even forgoing nights out with friends.
What You Can Eat
At first, it may seem like your list of allowable foods is short. After all, you’re weeding out so much food, what could possibly be left? Truthfully, if you consider all of the protein, veggies, fruits and healthy fats you can eat, you still have a ton to choose from. On the Paleo Diet, you’re allowed most types of protein, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and even some processed meats, like bacon. You can also have practically any fruit or vegetable you can think of, with very few exceptions. For example, you can eat sweet potatoes but most programs want you to steer clear of white potatoes. You can also have a ton of healthy fats, like olive oil and avocado.
Making It Your Own
True Paleo followers find a way to really make the diet their own. It may sound like you can only eat whole, raw foods, but if you’re a person who likes to experiment in the kitchen, you can whip up a Paleo version of your favorite dish. From using spaghetti squash in place of pasta to making crusts from almond flour instead of regular flour, there’s a Paleo alternative for any meal you can think of.
Tiger Blood: Your Boost of Energy
Many people who are on the Paleo Diet talk about the “tiger blood,” which is when their body has adapted to the new way of eating and their higher level of energy has kicked in. While everyone responds differently to different diets, a huge amount of Paleo followers talk about how their energy skyrockets after a few weeks on the new eating plan.
Variations in the Paleo Diet
There’s really no hard-and-fast Paleo Diet outline. Some Paleo plans, like the Whole 30 program, are extremely strict, preventing you from drinking any alcohol and even saying “no” to recipes that mimic bad-for-you comfort foods. Other plans are much more loose, allowing red wine and liquor, and even saying it’s okay to eat some dairy and legumes, so long as your body responds favorably.
If you’re looking to lose weight, many people have had luck on a strict Paleo regime. However, most Paleo proponents clarify that this isn’t necessarily a weight-loss diet, although that is a positive side effect, but more of a way to lead a healthier lifestyle. It’s also a great plan for people who feel sluggish and who need a way to increase their energy. The key is to find a way to follow the Paleo Diet that’s sustainable for you. Some people need to be super strict on it while others have more luck when they can find delicious recipes to whip up.