Paleo Diet Playbook

This diet promises drastic weight loss and the ability to ward off disease. The secret? Eating like our Stone Age ancestors.

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Gaining huge momentum and buzz, the Paleo Diet touts that it can help you drop unwanted pounds and ward off diseases like diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. The Diet is based on what humans ate during caveman times. Despite the plan’s popularity, there are many misperceptions about what it means to eat Paleo.

The diet has nothing to do with carving hunks of red meat off the bone – it’s about focusing on the connection between living off the land and longevity. The Paleo Diet is a lifestyle based on the idea that in the past 40,000 years, our DNA has changed very little. Therefore, eating processed foods like cereals, dairy products, and refined sugars invite disease and weight gain. The Paleo Diet simplifies your food and asserts that eating natural plants and animals is your prescription for optimum health.

Promising new research shows that the Paleo Diet is helpful for people in reducing cardiovascular risk factors. The diet includes foods like fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, bison, duck, assorted fruits and vegetables, nuts and olive oil. These choices provide a rich supply of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. Additionally, the diet focuses on foods that are low on the glycemic index, which prevents spikes in your blood sugar. Despite its focus on lean protein, the Paleo Diet is not a low-carb plan; it focuses on foods that will boost your metabolism and keep you satisfied. Women who have followed this diet claim to have lost up to 75 pounds in 6 months.

While most people try the Paleo Diet to lose weight, there is a large community of people who are using the program to treat symptoms of chronic disease. Women are finding the diet improves energy, alleviates pain, and even lessens dependency on certain medications. While you should never change your medications without talking to your doctor first, the benefits of a healthy diet cannot be understated.

Learn the rules of the Paleo Diet and use the strategies of the past to improve your future.

Rule #1: Build a “Paleo Plate” for Every Meal

On the Paleo Diet, two-thirds of your plate should be comprised of vegetables. The other one-third is a palm-sized portion of lean protein, one fruit and a dollop of healthy fat, like avocado.

Rule #2: Eliminate All “Inflammatory” Foods

The diet tries to mimic the foods our ancestors ate during the Stone Age, so it eliminates all items that come in bags or boxes. These processed foods can upset the immune system and create inflammation in the body. You’ll need to cut out all dairy and refined sugars.

The Paleo Diet also veers away from whole grains and legumes, some of Dr. Oz’s diet staples. Paleo proponents believe these foods are nutritional lightweights compared to nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, certain grains can be irritable to the intestines and lead to symptoms like bloating, swelling and IBS.

Rule #3: No Calorie Counting

This rule doesn’t give you permission binge eat whatever you want – it means that when you’re eating balanced meals comprised of whole foods without preservatives, your body runs efficiently. Paleo dieters maintain that without the blood sugar spikes and crashes, your energy will be through the roof. On this plan, you can eat until you’re satisfied and still lose weight.

Rule #4: Eat Dinner for Breakfast

The traditional American diet usually offers refined carbohydrates like bagels and cereals for breakfast and reserves proteins for lunch and dinner. On the Paleo Diet, this is not the case; you can have any protein on the table as part of breakfast. Grab your dinner leftovers like turkey, salmon, or even a burger – it will fuel your day!

Rule #5: Take 3 Cheat Meals a Week

You can still get the benefits of the Paleo Diet by following it 85% of the time. A full 100% commitment is ideal for 30 days but can be a difficult transition – which is why the plan allows for some cheat meals. Indulge three meals a week. Feel free to enjoy a glass of wine or a piece of cake. Paleo is a lifestyle, not a fad diet. Make it sustainable for you.

To get a better idea of what you can eat on the Paleo Diet, consult the sample meal plan below.

1. Breakfast

Busy people seldom think about eating first thing in the morning, but you can change your routine and jumpstart your metabolism with a Paleo meal. Start off your day with Eggs Over-Easy served with vegetables. If you prefer something lighter, make a smoothie. Throw in some tea, spinach, berries, coconut and ginger. This delicious drink is the perfect to-go option.

2. Lunch

Try the Paleo Cobb Salad or a Salmon Filet with a Colorful Salad. Alternatively, pair your salad with Breaded Turkey Cutlets. Instead of bread crumbs, coat the meat with a little bit of egg and crushed walnuts to add that comforting crunch. 

3. Dinner

Have Blackened Salmon With Mango Salsa or Flank Steak and Garlicky Broccoli. If you’re a fan of spaghetti and meatballs, try this Paleo-alternative: Meatballs and Marinara Over Spaghetti Squash.

4. Dessert

Don’t worry, the Paleo Diet will satisfy your sweet tooth! For dessert, try Paleo Truffles with cacao nibs or a Baked Cinnamon Apple.

Instead of cooking each day, take a few hours once or twice a week to make multiple meals at one time. Store your meals in the fridge, so they’re easy to take to work for lunch or grab after a long day. Once you’ve acclimated to the rules of the diet, you can find restaurants that offer Paleo-approved meals.