The caveman diet. The Stone Age diet. Whatever you call it, the paleolithic diet is the high-protein eating plan that’s got a lot of people excited. Based on foods that were available to our ancient ancestors, the Paleo plan is credited with weight loss, reduced cholesterol levels, stabilized blood pressure and an increased sense of overall well-being. If you think the Paleo diet is super restrictive, you’re right. If you think this means you cannot tuck into a tasty dessert once in a while, please think again. As long as you make it with Paleo approved ingredients, you can end your evening meal with a decadently sweet treat.
What is the Paleo diet?
The paleolithic diet plan comprises all kinds of meats, fish and other healthful food stuffs that are likely similar to the edibles obtained by our hunter-gatherer ancestors more than a million years ago. Foods that are farmed, such as wheat, legumes, certain produce and modern grains, are not allowed on the Paleo plan. Dairy farms were unheard of in caveman days and for this reason they are also not allowed on the strict albeit healthful paleolithic eating plan.
Perhaps it’s easier to focus on what you can eat on the Paleo diet instead of what you can’t. Adherents to the paleolithic eating plan enjoy a remarkably wide assortment of fragrant fruits, a variety of vegetables and plenty of healthful nuts. Meats, especially grass-fed beef and humanely raised lamb and veal are protein-rich favorites of Paleo dieters. Wild game such as pheasant and quail as well as fowl including chicken and turkey provide plentiful protein to Paleo followers. Fish and seafood that are high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as mackerel and albacore tuna are another popular part of the Paleo plan, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What can’t you eat on the Paleo plan?
As mentioned above, the Paleo plan severely restricts farm-raised foods as well as any sort of processed foodstuffs. Legumes, peas, peanuts and potatoes are not allowed on the Paleo plan. Salt is quite restricted and used only in minuscule amounts. Refined sugars are forbidden on the Paleo plan, as well. WebMD recommends that followers of the Paleo plan boost their daily diet with vitamin B, folate and calcium supplements.
Decadent desserts that are Paleo approved
Most people find the Paleo diet diet very satisfying and feel uncomfortable hunger pangs infrequently, if ever. The only time Paleo is really a problem may be when it comes to dessert. Fortunately, chefs who understand the way to substitute Paleo-approved ingredients for wheat flour and sugar can whip up super tasty treats that are as good or even better than their full fat, full sugar counterparts.
Dark chocolate, which is allowed on the Paleo plan as long as it contains no sugar, is a wonderful and delicious ingredient with which one can create decadent, caveman-approved dessert treats. One of our favorites is a sweet and tasty chocolate bark that incorporates melted dark chocolate, chopped pecans, dried cranberries and a dash of coarse sea salt for flavor.
If cinnamon and apples are what you crave, try this from Paleo Hacks. Combine almond flour, coconut flour and sea salt in a bowl. Mix with eggs, chopped dates, vanilla extract, coconut oil, golden raisins and sweet apple chunks and bake in a medium-hot oven to create yummy “cookies” that are low-fat and high flavor.
Paleo is a diet plan you can live with
Because the plan zeroes in on fresh fish and lean meats, you can expect to pay more for groceries for the Paleo plan than you would were you eating a typical American diet. But, because the plan is so beneficial to health, you may find that this added expense is offset by a reduced number of doctor visits and far fewer sick days at work.
Because the Paleo plan requires no calorie counting, many adherents find it one of the easiest weight loss plans around. During the first week of the plan, three “anything you want” meals are allowed. If you’re like most people, the plan is pretty easy to follow, once you get used to it.
As with any diet plan, moderation is the key to success. If you wish to ramp up your weight loss while on the Paleo plan, increase your exercise levels to at least twenty minutes five times a week.
Joshua James works as a dietitian and loves coming home after work to cook up a healthy storm in the kitchen. He shares his food tips, recipes and nutritional advice in his articles.