The Paleolithic Diet

The Paleolithic Diet, or otherwise known as the Paelo Diet, first became popular during the 1970’s by gastroenterologist Dr. Walter Voegtlin. Recently, Loren Cordain published a book based on research showing that if humans ate like our human ancestors, many health problems could be avoided. This diet helps individuals revert back to the hunter-gatherer eating habits.

The Premise

The Paleolithic Diet is based on research of what humans ate millions of years ago, prior to the abundance of grains. Grains probably were not part of prehistoric human diet and only appeared approximately 1000 years ago. Furthermore, in the past 200 years, our diets have changed again due to processed and artificial foods. All these issues have negatively impacted our health, and according to Cordain, are the reason for obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

The Diet

On the Paleolithic Diet, individuals will resume eating much like their human ancestors did. The diet is based on eating foods that require few tools or technology to eat.

Numerous foods are restricted on the Paleolithic Diet, including all processed foods, sugar, coffee, alcohol, salt, legumes, grains, dairy and refined carbohydrates. Recommended food include:

  • meat
  • fish
  • poultry
  • eggs
  • mushrooms
  • most vegetables
  • fruits
  • nuts

Dieters are allowed to eat natural oils, dried fruit and honey in small quantities. Dieters are recommended to eat six small meals a day, broken down into breakfast, AM snack, lunch, PM snack, dinner and an evening snack.

What to Get Excited About

While the Paleolithic Diet is considered low carbohydrate due to its elimination of grains and refined carbohydrates, this diet is less restrictive than Adkins or the South Beach Diet because most vegetables and fruits are allowed in unlimited portions.

This diet allows for individuals to eat a high protein diet that also includes fruit and vegetables, therefore allowing individuals to get a variety of nutrients and minerals, especially fiber. This should help dieters feel full longer and prevent boredom.

When on the Paleolithic Diet, individuals are not required to measure foods or count calories. This diet can be helpful for individuals who have a blood glucose imbalance or a heavy reliance on carbohydrates.

Things to Consider

This diet is extremely restrictive. The elimination of the entire grain food group may be difficult for some individuals. Eliminating pasta, bread, desserts and potatoes requires commitment.

It will be difficult to eat out, which may cause this diet to be socially disruptive. This diet is not suitable for a vegetarian or vegan due to the high reliance on meats. There is also no recommended exercise program for the Paleolithic Diet.


If dieters are dedicated to the restrictive meal plan of the Paleolithic Diet for the recommended six weeks, then they probably will experience some form of weight loss. Despite this, the Paleolithic Diet may be difficult to follow. Side effects reported with this diet include headaches, fatigue and hunger pains. There is no true maintenance plan for the Paleolithic Diet, which may make it difficult for dieters to revert back to normal eating and still maintain their weight loss.


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