The Paleo Diet – also known as the Paleolithic Diet, the Stone Age Diet, the Caveman Diet or the Hunter-Gatherer Diet – was created to provide a lifestyle strategy to overcome illness associated with the way we live our modern lives.

Who Created the Paleo Diet?

That said, since it was first created, it has become better known as a highly popular weight loss plan. It is based on a method that restricts or even eliminates certain food types and individual foods. It has been followed by certain top celebrities from Matthew McConaughey to Megan Fox and Ray Mears.

Still, just because a diet is popular, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily effective or that it is appropriate for everyone even if it can be effective.

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to take a closer look at any diet, including this one, and to speak with your doctor before making any major changes to what you eat or how you prepare it.

What is the Paleolithic Diet?

To follow the Paleo Diet, you will need to start focusing on foods that may have been the top choices of our Paleolithic ancestors around a thousand years ago. According to the creators of this diet, this was a time before agriculture.  Therefore, our ancestors from that time ate essentially anything they could hunt or gather.

Some of the foods they ate included:

  • Meat,
  • Fish,
  • Fruit,
  • Vegetables,
  • Nuts, and
  • Roots.

On the other hand, the foods you will not be consuming on the Paleo Diet include:

  • Grains,
  • Legumes,
  • Dairy,
  • Processed oils,
  • Refined sugar, and
  • Salt

The reason those foods aren’t permitted on the Paleo Diet is because the creators of the diet believed that those became available only after agriculture became a part of the average human life.

Watching Your Macros

In terms of macronutrient balance, Paleo encourages a low carbohydrate and high protein eating strategy. It does not have any specific recommendation for calorie counting and makes no mention regarding the type of exercise that should be followed.

In terms of its macronutrient balance, Paleolithic dieting can reflect many other lower carb and high protein diets.  What makes it unique is the justification for balancing the macros this way.  The claim is that the foods are selected because they are what the body evolved to process first. It’s what the body naturally digests the best as opposed to being forced to cope with it.

Paleo Controversy

As popular as this diet may be, it is also quite controversial. The idea behind it is that by choosing the options our ancestors ate, we are more likely to opt for foods that the body is actually prepared to properly digest and use. The hunter-gatherer body could digest precisely what Paleolithic people could find on the land around them. That didn’t include chips, fries or cakes.

The claim is that by living this way, we can become more fit and healthy and can reduce the risk of degenerative disease, certain cancers, arthritis and heart disease. The belief is that many of those conditions came about as a result of more modern lifestyles following the development of agriculture. Moreover, the idea is that if a Paleolithic person died young, it wasn’t because of disease – particularly chronic illness – but was rather because of having to live in a harsh environment where accidents were commonplace.

Furthermore, in recent years, a large and growing body of evidence has shown that the Palaeolithic people did not eat in the way the creators of this diet claimed.  Instead, they did eat grains.  Substantial evidence revealed that oats and many more grains were a regular part of our ancestors’ diets.

Caveman Diet Drawbacks

That said, this more “natural” way of living does have certain drawbacks, such as being low on soluble fiber consumption and can risk an inadequate intake of antioxidant vitamins (such as A, E and C), phytochemicals, monosaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, and many other low-glycemic index carbohydrates. Weight can indeed be lost on this diet, but it remains rare for a dieter to keep it up over the very long term, leading to potential nutrition, metabolism and weight issues.