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VERIFIED CONTENTAuthor: Maciej Szukała

The Paleolithic Diet, also known as the Paleo Diet, is very popular with many different eating systems. It refers to the foods that our ancestors consumed, who were characterized by a high level of fitness, strength and disease resistance. Learn about the foods that make up the paleo diet and learn how to use it correctly.

The paleo dietbegan to take shape in the 1980s. Even then, the physiologist S. Boyd Eaton and the evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond preached that our genes and physiology were shaped in the Palaeolithic, when food was difficult to access and required constant physical activity to obtain.

Thepaleo dietis also based on the belief that the entire agricultural revolution and the start of food production on a large scale and in excess contribute to the gradual development of civilization diseases.

The next links in this chain are the consumption of processed foods and the inability of our genetics to adapt to ever-changing foods (as pointed out by Loren Cordain, a scientist specializing in sports nutrition and physiology).

What are the conclusions of these comments? To live a long, he althy life and to be able to train effectively for years, you need to eat as our ancestors did in the Paleolithic era. Discover the paleo diet and see that its assumptions will work both for people who do not play sports and for those who are active, who are looking for the best way to improve their form.

Main principles of the Paleolithic diet

The Palaeolithic diethad to nourish warriors, gatherers and travelers, so it consisted mostly of high-energy meat and plant products with a low intake of carbohydrates.

Its goal is to provide concentrated energy without causing constant fluctuations in insulin, which are responsible for the development of many civilization diseases, including atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases. What products can be found in the paleo diet:

  • meat (e.g. beef, veal, pork, poultry),
  • fish (e.g. halibut, salmon, mackerel, trout),
  • seafood (e.g.prawns, mussels, oysters),
  • eggs,
  • nuts and seeds (e.g. walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds),
  • sprouts,
  • vegetables and fruits (practically any, except those with a high starch content).

These are the ingredients that our ancestor did not have to (and could not) breed, but was able to hunt or harvest them. You can see at first glance that this is a diet:

  • high energy,
  • high protein.

However, it does not lack vitamins and microelements, although this nutritional system assumes the elimination of starchy products (e.g. potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes). In the case of meat, choose lean products (poultry, offal).

He althy fats should be obtained from seeds, olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, or avocado. Oily fish are also a good source of them. When looking for information about the paleo diet, you will also find thesis that oily fish is excluded from it. It seems, however, that in this way we are robbing ourselves of many valuable micro- and macroelements (Omega fatty acids).

Small amounts of carbohydrate come from vegetables and fruits, and are partly simple sugars. However, there are not enough of them to be considered "empty calories".

What should you absolutely not combine with the paleo diet? First of all, they will be processed products, based on simple sugars, refined fats, and also subjected to long-term thermal processing (but steaming is just right). There is no room for:

  • sweets,
  • fastfoody,
  • popular ready-made meals from the market.

Processed food also includes minced meat, sausages or popular cold cuts available in delicatessen stores.

Advantages of the paleo diet

There are many advantages to building a eating system based on how our ancestors ate. The main ones are:

  • easy weight regulation and muscle protection

The main advantage of the paleo diet is regular consumption of reasonably composed meals. In the long run, this translates into a stable weight loss while maintaining muscle. Thanks to the large supply of fiber and vitamins, you also do not have to worry about hunger pangs or deficiencies of individual micronutrients.

  • slowly accumulating adipose tissue

By eliminating processed products, such as refined sugars, from your diet, it is much easier to prevent sudden fluctuations in blood sugar, insulin resistance of cells and effectively fight excess kilograms. It's easy to build muscle on a Paleolithic diet. Additionallyhigh protein content in meals speeds up metabolism and provides a complete set of amino acids.

  • Suitable for people suffering from celiac disease and lactose intolerance

The paleo diet does not include dairy products or products containing gluten (e.g. pasta), so it is a good choice for those who struggle with food allergies.

  • supports the effects of physical activity

High content of animal protein, as well as unsaturated fats promote the improvement of sports form. The paleo diet works well in endurance, strength and mixed sports.

  • high in antioxidants

In foods accepted in the Palaeolithic diet you will find large amounts of antioxidants (e.g. beta-carotene, flavonoids). By combating free radicals, they have a positive effect on he alth, slow down the aging process of the skin and other tissues, and prevent cancer.

Disadvantages of the paleo diet

However, like other nutritional models, the Palaeolithic diet is not without its drawbacks. What do you need to remember when you decide to follow this meal regime?

People who are just beginning to follow paleo principles will find it difficult to eliminate grains and dairy products from their diets. Most of us regularly eat bread, drink milk, and oatmeal is a classic of sports cuisine. Give yourself time and implement changes gradually, then it will be much easier.

This is not a good solution for those athletes who feel bad in the kitchen. The inability to eat ready-made and highly processed products forces culinary inventiveness and inventing new recipes, the preparation of which is often time-consuming. Fortunately, you can easily find hundreds of them on the Internet.

It's also hard not to notice that the paleo diet is hard to digest. Large amounts of red meat and fats make it a bad solution for people suffering from gastrointestinal problems. Its main assumptions completely eliminate it from the menu of vegetarians and vegans.

Nutritionists also pay attention to a few issues regarding the balance of meals:

  • high content of red meat, and thus saturated fat, can put a strain on the liver,
  • in the paleo diet, due to the lack of dairy products, there is also too little calcium. It is a key ingredient for people who should rely on a balanced diet (e.g. children, pregnant women), and its chronic deficiency can even lead to osteoporosis,
  • incorrect composition of meals can cause too high concentrationoxalates or purine compounds in the body. The former put a strain on the kidneys, while the latter can lead to the appearance of gout.

It takes a bit of practice and practice to properly follow the Paleolithic diet. Contrary to appearances, the range of acceptable products that you can use in it is wide and it is worth changing them often to provide the body with all the necessary ingredients.

It is also worth paying attention to the costs of the Paleolithic diet. Ingredients such as meat, fish, seafood and nuts are not the cheapest. Keep this in mind if you plan to implement new solutions for a longer period of time.

How to compose meals for a paleo diet?

While it may seem complicated at first, making a diet almost without carbohydrates, it is actually not difficult at all. You can get rid of the bread from breakfast or dinner by making, for example, omelettes, salads or scrambled eggs with additives. Try to follow a few simple rules:

  • make every meal as complete as possible, contain animal proteins, unsaturated fat, vegetables and fruits,
  • in the post-workout meal, pay particular attention to the content of protein with high bioavailability and the portion of simple carbohydrates (e.g. from vegetables or fruit),
  • try to keep meat and eggs from organic farming. It will not always be possible and their price will certainly be higher than in the case of traditional products, but food labeled as BIO compensates for this with higher nutritional values, less pollutants, antibiotics and preservatives.

It is worth remembering that the paloeolytic diet, like any other dietary system, comes in more and less radical varieties. Of course, there is no place for fast food or sweets in any version, but some variants allow for e.g. potatoes (which, after all, contain large amounts of starch). Especially in winter, an additional portion of calories will certainly be useful.

If you are just starting your adventure with the nutrition of our ancestors, develop a few sample menus (with varying degrees of restrictiveness) and use them in rotation depending on the stage of the training cycle, season and he alth. Watch your body's reactions and find the best solution for you.

Paleolithic diet in sport. Does it work?

Solutions typical of the Paleolithic diet are an excellent nutritional model for active people. Meals planned according to the principles described above provide an injection of energy and support post-workout regeneration.

  • Before training

BeforeWith intense exercise, easily digestible protein and fruit (but devoid of large amounts of fiber, preferably in the form of mousse) will be perfect. During and after exercise, a high supply of branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) is very important. Remember this when you plan your next meals!

  • During training

During long endurance training (lasting more than an hour), it is worth reaching for sources of simple carbohydrates that will help you stay focused and an adequate level of energy during exercise. Eating fruit is impractical, but you can safely reach for energy gels or isotonic drinks. Look for the information on the packaging that they contain only natural ingredients.

During shorter training sessions, water is enough, but make sure that it has the right micronutrient profile.

  • After training

Hard training strongly strains the body's energy reserves, so they should be replenished as soon as possible. A portion of easily digestible protein will replenish the amino acids. In turn, vegetables and fruits will help restore glycogen. For example, raisins, bananas, and by way of derogation, also mentioned sweet potatoes or other starch sources will be perfect.

At this stage, you can limit your fat intake in favor of more carbohydrates. This will allow faster regeneration as lipids slow down the uptake of the remaining macronutrients.

In the run-up to a competition, you must consciously control the amount of calories consumed. At the stage of building muscle mass, there will be more of them, while "sculpting" or tapering (limiting the volume and intensity of exercises just before the competition), correspondingly less. When you want to increase your muscles, try to maximize your carbohydrate intake at the expense of fat.

In turn, when reducing, it is worth limiting some of the calories from carbohydrates and add 0.2-0.5 g of protein for each kilogram of body weight (for a person weighing 80 kg it will be more, about 16-40 g of protein per day. If you have no idea for meals, make up for deficiencies with a protein shake prepared on water.

The creators of the Paleo diet, Joe Friel and Loren Cordain, even emphasize that the paleo diet for athletes must undergo some modifications and its model form will not always be a good solution. This mainly applies to the consumption of legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, groats or rice in the post-training period.

This way you can effectively control the level of insulin in the blood - an anabolic hormone that increases exactly when we care about it. A good solution is definitely to go onone high-carbohydrate, starchy meal on training days and eliminate them completely on the remaining ones.

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