What is a paleo diet? pros and cons.

What is a paleo diet? pros and cons.
  • PublishedApril 6, 2020

What is a paleo diet? According to the World Health Organization, obesity rates have currently nearly tripled since 1975 and it is affecting people across all social age groups in the first world, second world, and third world countries.

Obesity is the risk factor to a series of non-communicable diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. All this is attributed to the current sedentary lifestyle i.e. poor diet and inactivity.

History tells us that; in the ancient, Old Stone Age or Paleolithic era, people were never obese and neither were they faced with all those weird non-communicable diseases. Could this be attributed to the kind of diet or lifestyle they used to have? The Old Stone Age diet involved the active hunting of wild animals and gathering of food in the bushes, which is called the Paleolithic diet.

So what is the paleo diet?

This diet was founded by Walter Voegtlin in the 1970s. Walter believed that the diet of the ancient people who lived from 2.5m to 10000 years age could be emulated or incorporated in the modern-day diet, and teaches people how to eat healthily.

Therefore, the paleo diet by Walter is perceived as the eating of foods believed to have been used by humans during the Old Stone Age or the Paleolithic era i.e. 2.5million years ago. The diet is intended to promote healthy eating, bring about effective metabolism and weight loss.

What do you eat on the paleo diet?

what is a paleo diet
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According to Walter Voegtlin, the purpose of the paleo diet is to adhere to the mode of eating that is more like that of the Paleolithic era. The paleo diet, therefore, includes the following foods.

  1. Meat 

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork
  1. Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  1. Fruits

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Avocados
  • Straw berries
  1. Nuts and seeds

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Cashew nuts

      5. Fish and seafood

  • Shellfish
  • Shrimp
  • Salmon

      6. Healthy fats and oils

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil

Therefore by adhering to the whole-food-based diet and physically active lives like hunting, people of the Paleolithic era had much lower rates of lifestyle-related diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart diseases.

What do you not eat on the paleo diet?

what is a paleo diet

The foods to avoid according to paleo diet include;

  1. Dairy products

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Butter

      2. Legumes

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Lupin bean
  • Clover
  • Alfalfa
  1. Grains 

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Rice
  • Barley
  1. Trans fatscookies, cakes, coffee cream, frozen pizza

    5.Sugary drinks 

  • Soft drinks
  • Fruit juice
  • Table sugar
  • Pastries

   6.artificial sweeteners

  • sucralose
  • cyclamates
  • saccharin

What are the different types or versions of the paleo diet?

  According to the framers of the Paleolithic diet, an individual is not a slave to the paleo diet but rather the individual makes the paleo diet to work for him or her.

Therefore, the paleo diet can be customized to particular health needs and dietary requirements according to the individual in question.

 The different Paleolithic variations include;

  1. Normal paleo

 This eliminates dairy, soya, grains, processed and refined foods from the diet. You, therefore, eat meat, fish, eggs, fruits vegetables, nuts, and seeds.


This is similar to the normal paleo but a bit flexible because it includes more foods. It includes more veggies, protein, and healthy fats but eliminates gluten and artificial sweeteners.

       3. Autoimmune paleo

This is that which eliminates certain foods that bring about inflammatory responses for people suffering from chronic conditions like eczema, arthritis, and IBS. By eliminating certain foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, and others can help indigestion and other symptoms

        4.80/20 paleo

Here, you eat clean paleo foods 80-90% of the time and the rest of the 10-20% of the time you do non-paleo foods.

Having looked at the various versions of the paleo diet, let us now look at how the paleo diet works

The concept of the paleo diet by Walter was to compel individuals to whole foods that are to say; fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, and seafood rather than processed foods.

The paleo diet discourages foods that are high in calories like the carbohydrates. This is synonymous with weight loss since it creates a calorie deficit. That is to say, burn more calories than you take in.

The paleo diet also discourages sugary and high-fat foods but rather promotes high protein and low-fat foods. This helps to build lean muscles and eventually burn more calories and fat which promotes weight loss.

Should you exercise on a paleo diet? 

what is a paleo diet
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

As a matter of fact, exercising 3 times a week is healthy and 5 days of exercise a week is healthier. The more one exercise, the healthier they become.

Just like the cavemen, their lifestyle was full of exercises like hunting, running after animals, walking up hills for food, fighting and more. All these activities contributed to burning more calories which implied better health.

The framers of the paleo diet saw to it that regular exercise is a key to healthy living.

What are the benefits of the paleo diet?

In this article, having looked at the various forms of the paleo diet, let us now cast the net wider to discover other health benefits of the paleo diet.

 1. It helps diabetes

The diet improves the person’s sensitivity to insulin which decreases the likelihood to develop diabetes. This can help to reduce diabetic symptoms.

In one study to compare the effects of the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association to the type 2 diabetic and the paleo diet, it was found that the paleo diet was better at improving blood sugar control and insulin resistance.

2. Paleo diet lowers blood pressure

  Research shows that the paleo diet help to burn fat in the body. The burning of fat eventually reduces the lipid profile in your blood, which in turn reduces blood pressure.

3. Helps overweight

The paleo diet involves eating food high in proteins and less in carbs and fats as well as body activity. This builds lean muscles in the body to burn more calories and fat out of the body hence weight loss.

4. Paleo diet helps the body to manage appetite

The proteins recommended by the diet are more filling. This implies that an individual is likely to spend more hours without craving for food. In so doing, one manages the craving.

5. Increases body energy

Paleo encourages body activity. This is one way of increasing your heart rate, metabolic rate, and endurance. The higher metabolic rate implies high energy levels

6. Paleo reduces inflammation

Inflammation is the basis for many chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and more. By reducing inflammation, such conditions may be no more.

Will the Paleo diet help you lose weight?

This diet is believed to aid weight loss in various ways which include;

  1.   The diet emphasizes eating whole foods and limits processed foods which are high in calories this eventually leads to weight loss.
  2. It is also high in protein. The proteins help you feel full for longer hours thereby reducing food consumption this aid weight loss as well.
  3. The fruits and vegetables emphasized by the paleo diet are high in fiber which helps to build lean muscles. The lean muscles burn more fats for energy leading to weight loss.

Why is the paleo diet bad for you?

While several studies link the paleo diet to better health and weight loss, adhering to this it can bring potential downsides as well. Below are some of the reasons why we think the it may be bad.

1. It is very difficult to follow

As a matter of fact, it is not easy to commit to any new change in the form of diet. On another hand, the paleo diet is very restrictive. It prohibits you from eating a number of foods that may not be easy to adhere to.

2. This diet is expensive

Some of the foods recommended by the paleo diet are too expensive to acquire. Seafood, for example, is quite expensive to be included in the daily meal.

3.Dairy restriction

Dairy restriction may lead to a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium. These are very important when it comes to building strong bones and teeth.

4.Increased lipid intake over time

High-fat meat and saturated fat can increase bad cholesterol, which raises the risk of heart diseases.

5.Low carbohydrate intake

The low intake of carbohydrates is likely to bring about the stress on the body fats for energy or ketosis. High ketogenic levels are associated with dehydration and coma due to metabolic abnormalities.

What is the difference between the paleo and keto diets?

The difference between the paleo and keto diets is ideological.

Apart from following specific diets, the Paleo diet emphasizes lifestyle changes such as including regular exercises and yoga or mindfulness. Incorporating exercise in the daily routine supports the total wellness of the body and mind, leading to better health.

On the other hand, the keto diet does not include any lifestyle component. It only encourages healthy food choices, its main focus being macronutrient distribution. It only requires the individual to stay within a certain limit of carbs, proteins, and fats.

Here is what you should know about a ketogenic diet for weight loss.

Who should not do a paleo diet?

  1. According to Erin Dolin ski, RD, a clinical dietician specialist at Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, excessive intake of proteins could strain your kidneys, leading to failure. People with kidney disease should consult a doctor before using the diet

       2. People with weak bones such as women over the age of 50 should consult the doctor first. These require calcium and vitamin D from the dairy products; since born creation and strength lowers with age.

        3. The framers of this diet stressed that it can help type 2diabetes. Those who are on insulin medication should consult the doctor first. A drastic reduction in carb intake may lead to a drop in blood sugar to dangerous levels.

Bottom line

Despite the fact that the paleo diet may aid weight loss to a certain extent, research does not explain long term results.

It should be noted that the only effective way to a healthy weight is following a balanced diet and regular body exercise.



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