There are so many diet plans out there that it can be hard to know which one is right for you.
The Paleo diet has become increasingly popular throughout the past decade, but is it really a healthy way to eat?
What Is The Paleo Diet?
The paleolithic diet, sometimes referred to as “the caveman diet”, is a way of eating that supposedly mimics the diet of our ancient ancestors during the Paleolithic era.
This includes foods such as:
- nuts and seeds
- beans and legumes
It also involves avoiding:
- processed snacks (chips, cookies, crackers, etc.)
- refined sugars (candy, soda, cake, bread, pasta, etc.)
- dairy (butter, milk, cheese)
- refined oils (vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.)
The core idea behind the Paleo diet is that by eating the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, you are eating the way nature intended and, as a result, will be healthier.
Is The Paleo Diet Healthy?
Although the underlying philosophical idea of “eating naturally, the way cavemen did” may be an oversimplification of paleolithic human behavior and nutrition, the Paleo diet does have some redeeming qualities.
For example, focusing on whole, unprocessed foods is good.
Modern grocery stores are full of processed, refined foods high in unhealthy ingredients like sugar, salt, and trans fats. If you were previously eating a lot of chips, cookies, and other ultra-processed meals and snacks, the Paleo diet would likely be a big improvement.
The Paleo diet is generally high in protein and fiber, which means it can potentially be helpful for weight loss and weight management. It also appears helpful for blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, and possibly even some forms of cancer.
The Paleo Diet Can Be a Good Rule of Thumb
The paleo diet doesn’t need to count calories or worry about portion sizes. It’s more about asking yourself, “is this something a caveman would have eaten?” Foods like apples, carrots, and salmon—sure, those foods are good. But a chocolate chip cookie or a cheesy slice of pizza? Probably not so much.
While the Paleo diet may not be perfect, it can be an easy and effective way to reset your eating habits and make healthier choices. It will generally point you in the right direction—away from unhealthy processed junk food and toward more whole, nutrient-rich meals.
But for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or other chronic health conditions, it’s important to speak with a doctor or registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet. They may recommend a different plan more tailored to your individual needs.