Paleo 101

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Paleo 101

A great quote from the late fitness expert Jack LaLanne: “If man made it, don’t eat it.” This mantra might well be the rallying cry of the paleo movement. If you’re intrigued by the concept of what was good for Grok (the imaginary caveman who serves as the unofficial mascot of paleo eaters) is good for you, then paleo eating might be for you.

What is a Paleo Diet?

The goal of the Paleolithic Diet (a.k.a. Paleo or Primal Diet) is to consume only foods cavemen would have eaten millions of years ago, before the cultivation of grains and legumes, and well before the invention of processed, packaged foods. It’s rooted in the idea that eating natural foods, including game meat, fish, vegetables, wild fruits, eggs, and nuts, leads to optimal health. If a caveman didn’t eat it, it does not exist on this diet! Foods included in most plans: coconut oil, avocados, butter, olives, vegetables, red meat, poultry, pork, eggs and organs (pasture-raised and grass-fed when possible), some fruits, and nuts. Foods that don’t make the cut: refined sugars, fruit juices, cereals, grains, legumes, and dairy (exceptions are made for butter and cream).

Upsides to a Paleo Diet

The paleo diet is rich in soluble fiber, antioxidant vitamins, phytochemicals, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fat, and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Numerous studies and articles have appeared in recent years touting the benefits of eating the way our ancestors did. Eliminating refined sugars, fruit juices, and processed and packaged foods can have a positive impact on your waistline, and the emphasis on vegetables makes the paleo diet higher in fiber and potassium and lower in sodium that most modern diets.

Potential Downsides to a Paleo Diet

The paleo diet relies heavily on high-quality animal sources of protein. Finding grass-fed, pasture raised meat, poultry, eggs, and wild game might be a challenge in some areas. Balanced meal planning is also important, as some variations of the paleo diet fall short on calcium and vitamin D.

Online Paleo Resources



  • Evgeni

    Well, at least we got steak today.

  • km

    TL;DR: a high-cholesterol diet made for rich privileged white people who don’t know a thing about nutrition or science.

    • Lisa

      racist much? Class warfare much? Ignorant much? Wow. Whether one follows the diet or not, whether it is valid or not– your comments say more about you than paleo.

      • Cardigirl

        It is a fairly expensive way to eat.

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    • KissA

      Aren’t you cute. Do some actual research before spouting such ignorance.

  • maggatron

    Easiest diet to follow ever and it works, to be honest I wouldn’t worry too much about the grass fed animals, you will still get good results buying lean meats etc, just don’t be buying none of that ice land processed meat.

  • Lizfofo

    Me and my boyfriend are starting this today and it works out well for us since we hunt and fish here in NY. So we will get our food from the wild as best we can 🙂

  • UTBH

    At least its an attempt at being unbiased. *rolls eyes* Seriously though, why are butter and cream made an exception, but a glass of milk is off limits? Seems hypocritical…

    • J

      Because lactose, I’d guess.

    • Mary Kay Powledge Pfister

      Some who can tolerate dairy do add it back after the first 30 days. It is the lactose in milk that’s the problem. Contrary to what some people think… It’s not a high fat, Atkins type diet. It’s just about avoiding processed foods and making better choices.
      Really why are people afraid of fish, nest, vegetables and fruit?

      • J

        I’m afraid to eat nest. Never really acquired a taste for it.

        • Maryk

          :-). Darn auto correct. Bt hey, at least those nests aren’t full of artificial stuff. 😉

  • Kevin Pippen

    AKA Adkins Diet or Low Carb what’s new.

    • J

      If you believe Paleo is the same as Adkins (sic) diet, then you clearly don’t understand one of them. Also, while it is easy to eat lower carb with it, Paleo is not necessarily low carb.

      There are plenty of nits to pick about Paleo, but it’s a lot more effective if you actually understand what it is and isn’t first.

      • km

        What it is: a fad diet
        What it isn’t: a fad diet that should be taken seriously

        • J

          What parts of the diet do you believe are faddish or unhealthy?

  • Ron

    How long did cavemen live?

    • sfjazz

      Caveman did not live long, but is had much (much) more do with medical care then anything else.

  • Dasha Filippova

    So is anyone concerned that average lifespan for paleolithic man eating the paleo diet was about 35 years? :)))

    • JofJLTNCB6

      What do you think caused this? What is the life expectancy if you adjust for infant mortality, lethal injuries, illnesses, and other relevant factors?

  • C. Corynne

    Ugh!! This paleo propaganda drives me crazy! While one would agree that eating less processed crap is likely beneficial, the premise is ridiculous. Historically, the lifespan of a Paleolithic human was at best 30-35 years. Why? Because due to their lack of technology at the time they were highly susceptible to death from disease, injury and childbirth. If they were “skinny” it was because they likely had a parasite and/or had to work extremely hard to forage and hunt for food. Ask any anthropologist and they will tell you that we as modern humans are born far healthier and remain so, despite the crap we eat, than any Paleolithic human ever was….

  • Sam M

    I don’t think it’s about how long cavemen lived – as previous commentators have mentioned, there were other issues at the time that affected lifespan. No caveman would have died from complications from morbid obesity for example. One thing that doesn’t seem to have been considered on this thread is that the human gut evolved in parallel with the foods available at the time and so the Paleo diet is therefore considered by some to be the closest match to the digestive processes we have today. It may be why so many people seem to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or gluten intolerances. (btw – I don’t follow the paleo diet myself, I’m just interested in it).

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