The Paleolithic Diet, or as it’s more commonly known the Paleo Diet, is a diet that entirely revolves around eating only the foods that would have been available to the paleolithic humans. What this means in essence is that it is foods that would have been eaten before mankind began the use of agriculture. So not only are the modern processed foods of today excluded from the diet, but dairy products, legumes, sugar, and a large variety of other products are also excluded from it.
While the ideas of a paleolithic diet have been around since 1975, they were first introduced in a book written by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin. The idea was further worked on and developed by Stanley Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner in 1985, giving us the diet as it stands today. In 2002 it was first gaining some popularity through the book written by Loren Cordain. However it did not gain widespread recognition until 2012.
The commonly restricted foods for someone who’s on the Paleolithic diet is dairy, grains, processed foods, sugar, legumes, added salt, starches, alcohol, and coffee. As it was put by one dieter “You’ll be making a lot of chicken stirfry” as there’s also a heavy emphasis on lean proteins in the diet. Generally the daily food consumption is broken down to 55% seafood and lean meat, 15% fruits, 15% vegetables, and 15% nuts and seeds.
According to the 2002 book by Loren Cordain, grains were considered to be starvation food to the paleolithic humans so it should be avoided. The Paleolithic diet follows the standard of other low carbohydrate and high protein diets. It focuses heavily on the consumption of meats so that the eater feel full sooner. However there are counterpoints stating that the Paleo diet has a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium, as well as possible toxins from eating a surplus of fish.
Proponents of the Paleolithic diet state that it has many health benefits. According to one source there’s a whole list of things it can cure including stable blood sugar, reduced allergies, anti-inflammatory, better skin, better teeth, and improved sleep patterns. It also makes claims for a better work out and more consistent energy. The same site also makes claims that it was able to reduce and even reverse symptoms of insulin resistant type 2 diabetes.
However, upon investigation there is no definite medical documentation of these things. The few clinical trials as of 2016 show too small of a statistical significance to make any form of a generalization. However there was some better measures in cardiovascular and metabolic health than participants eating a standard diet.
While there are very few clinical trials available for reference on the Paleo diet it does seem to have an effect on health, though far smaller than what is claimed by staunch supporters of the diet. However it is a valid option for a weight loss diet, as it focuses on high protein and low carbohydrate. If one does the diet, especially in the long term, supplementation of Vitamin D and Calcium should be considered.