Walter Voegtlin, M.D. created “The Paleo diet” in the 1970’s. Dr. Voegtlin came up with the original paleo meal list. He was the first scientist of record to publicly comment that if we ate like our Paleolithic ancestors, we would all be healthier.
According to Dr. Voegtlin, this particular diet plan could reduce the incidences of diabetes and obesity as well as disorders found in his sub-specialty (GI Medicine); Crohn’s disease, indigestion and much more.
The Paleo diet does indeed have much in common with what the actual Paleolithic man would have eaten. The diet consists mainly of meats and fish that could very well have been hunted by prehistoric man.
It also contains foods that could have been gathered, including seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruits.
More support for the Paleo diet:
Dr. Loren Cordain is the author of The Paleo Diet and one of the leading experts on Paleolithic nutrition. Now, you can predict that an author of a book about a diet will be in favor of it, but his opinion is still that of an expert. This is a pretty benign quote from his book:
By severely reducing or eliminating these foods a nd replacing them with a more healthful cuisine, possessing nutrient qualities more in line with the foods our ancestors consumed, it is possible to improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.”
In contrast, the criticism of the Paleo diet is due to its restriction of dairy and grains. However, to be honest, most of the grains we eat are not healthy, anyway. Also, the dairy we consume is ultra-pasteurized which is another controversial topic. I’ll get into some super-quick pros and cons after I give you the paleo meal list of foods you can “eat” and “not eat.
The Paleo Meal list of foods you can eat:
Paleo Meal list of meats:
Before I give you this list, let me tell you I’m personally not a real carnivore.
To be honest, some of these food choices having me running the other way. So if you, a “normal” meat-eater, find a few of these choices to be, um, unsavory, just remember that I am being thorough and pressing through my own biases.
I want to be sure to give you all the information you need as well as an entirely complete list. I’ll list the meats in alphabetical order for easy reference. Remember optimal health means choosing wild, grass-fed, antibiotic and growth hormone free.
Bacon: I just saw a specialty candy store chocolate bar that had potato chips and bacon in it. I’m not kidding. I think this has become our national food. However, it’s fatty and full of calories so take it easy on this one.
Note: I’ll try to keep the editorializing to a minimum other than to try to amuse you. 🙂
Bear: Again, I’m just the messenger. How exactly would you procure this “meat?” No one has lived to tell us whether or not it “tastes like chicken.”
Beef: (grass fed) chuck steak, jerky, ground, and steaks
Bison: jerky, rib eye, sirloin, and steaks
Chicken: breast, thigh, legs, wings
Eggs:(duck, chicken, goose eggs)
Emu: O.K. My rule is if you do not know what an animal looks like you cannot eat it.
Kangaroo: You MUST be kidding me if this makes you salivate. This is me petting one with a baby on board. See? I’m probably tastier.
Lamb: chops, rack of lamb
Pork: in general, pork chops, ribs, and tenderloin
Rattlesnake: Be my guest. Unless you are stranded in the desert, starving to death, I see no need for this to be on the paleo meal list either.
Reindeer: Oh no, think of Santa!
Paleo Meal List of Seafood:
Now I can calm down and do this part without thinking “yuk” at every turn. You’re on your own for laughs unless you contact me and request a joke. Anyway, let’s return to the list.To point out, remember you always want wild caught seafood.
Here I’ll give you a few things to watch out for that you might not know.
Tilapia is almost always farmed and is generally imported. The majority of imported tilapia is farmed in conditions where there are sea lice, and DDT is used to get rid of them. Shrimp is also farmed in unhealthy ways, so you want wild caught shrimp only from the U.S.
Next, a popular newspaper ran an undercover story about salmon revealing in restaurants and grocery stores, a full 50% of what you think is salmon is pink-colored farmed white fish-not salmon at all.
Be sure to select real, wild-caught Pacific salmon. Further, there is no wild Atlantic salmon in case someone tries to sell it to you.
Related: Best Canned Salmon Buying Guide
Lastly, watch the tuna. It’s quite high in mercury along with shark and swordfish. The tuna used for sushi is especially high in mercury. That is it for the bad news. To clarify, remember I’m just trying to keep you safe, not scare you away from this diet. So, here we go with the paleo meal list:
Anchovies, Bass, Clams, Crab, Crawfish, Crayfish.
Halibut, Lobster, Mackerel, Oysters, Red Snapper.
Salmon, Sardines, Scallops, Shark, Shrimp, Sunfish, Swordfish, Tilapia, Trout, Tuna.
Paleo Meal List: Vegetables:
If you’re someone who works out frequently, you can add in the vegetables or fruits listed below in bold italic. These fruits and veggies have higher starch contents than the non-italicized ones and can cause weight gain if you are not physically active enough.
Acorn Squash, Artichoke Hearts, Asparagus, Avocado, Beets, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash.
Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Cucumber, Eggplant, Garlic, Kale.
Lettuce, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsley, Parsnips, Peppers, Plantains, Radishes, Spinach, Sweet Potato.
Turnips, Watercress, Water Chestnuts, Zucchini
Paleo Meal list: Fruits
Fruits are high in the sugar fructose, which can also cause weight gain if you eat an unlimited amount. On the Paleo diet, it’s acceptable to have 1-3 servings of fruit per day. Some authorities push that to 5 if you’re active.
Dark berries are the healthiest fruits, in general. Blueberries, in particular, are incredibly “brain-healthy.”
Apple, Apricot, Banana, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Coconut (raw, shredded, no additives).
Dates, Figs, Grapefruit, Grapes, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Nectarine, Orange, Papaya, Peach, Pear, Pineapple.
Plum, Pomegranate, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tangerine, Watermelon.
Paleo Meal List: Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts contain good, healthy fats but as with fruits, you can’t eat unlimited amounts-this time due to calories. Even though nuts and seeds are on the Paleo meal list, nuts and (more commonly) seeds contain phytates. These can be hard on your GI tract and cause less nutrient absorption as well.
The good news is if you purchase carefully or prepare them correctly, you can extract most of them. (How? Soaking, fermenting, sprouting and cooking). Here’s the list:
Almonds, Cashews, Chestnuts, Flax, Hazelnuts, Macadamia, Pecans, Pine Nuts.
Pistachios, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Tapioca, Walnuts. Walnuts are the healthiest nut and recall that blueberries are the healthiest fruit. Try combining them-it’s yummy!
Paleo Meal List: Oils and Fats
Avocado oil, Butter, Coconut Oil, Ghee (clarified butter), Macadamia Oil and Olive Oil.
What you cannot eat on a Paleo diet:
Dairy: Dairy foods are not a part of the Paleo Diet Food List for multiple reasons. In fact, dairy products will rapidly increase (spike) your insulin levels. That will make you hungry and, as a result, crave more food.
Perhaps, most important is what I call the “Paleo folklore.” The creators of the Paleo diet cite the facts that ancient “man” didn’t drink milk, no other species drinks milk past infancy and therefore, neither should we. Now, I should mention bodybuilders here.
Many bodybuilders drink whey protein shakes and at the same time “want to go Paleo.” Whey is derived from milk so isn’t technically “allowed.” However, some companies put out “paleo” or beef-derived protein powders which can be made into shakes and smoothies.
From another health standpoint:
The casein in dairy may be linkable to several cancers including prostate and ovarian cancer.
What about your sweet tooth?
Sugar is everywhere. It’s in just about every processed food from candy bars to spaghetti sauce. Sugar activates dopamine release, making it an addictive substance.
The addictive quality is good for the food industry business but awful for your health. Sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more. It’s something everyone should try to limit.
What about the Paleo aficionados? Limited amounts of 70-85% chocolate, raw honey, and real maple syrup are acceptable splurges on the Paleo diet. Also, Stevia is fine.
Here are the forbidden sweeteners:
Agave Nectar, Brown sugar, Candy, Corn Syrups, White sugar, and all artificial sweeteners other than Stevia
ALL! (Remember, I’m just the messenger!) Apple, Grape, Green smoothies, Mango, Orange, Pomegranate, Strawberry. Fruit juices are chock-full of fructose. They all raise blood sugar, spike up insulin and cause internal inflammation.
On the paleo diet, you need to forego the juice and just eat the fruit. If you want juice, take whole fruits and “juice them” or use them in a smoothie. Are you happy now?
Here’s why they are forbidden. Remember phytates? Beans are full of them, and they cannot be gotten rid of. Beans contain lectin as well. These lectins bind with tissues in your intestines, increase permeability and can cause diarrhea.
In some people, this can even turn into what is called leaky gut syndrome.
No way: Black-Eyed Peas, Chickpeas, Lentils, Miso, Peas, Peanuts, Peanut Butter, Soy (all forms), Snowpeas, Sugar Snap peas.
Paleo doctrine states grains have very little nutrients and are entirely unsuitable for a human GI tract.
They have a point here. Gluten does disrupt insulin signaling and has been implicated in many intolerance syndromes. It might even be harmful to our brains.
All grains could technically lead to carbohydrate=sugar addiction. Our body processes grains as if they are sugar because of the large “carbohydrate load” relative to the amount of nutrients.
No way: Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, Hominy, Oats, Quinoa, Rice, Rye, Wheat.
Snacks and Energy drinks:
Energy drinks are full of sugar and have abnormally high doses of caffeine, making them a no-go on any healthy diet. It goes without saying that THAT includes the Paleo diet.
The forbidden snack list includes, but is not limited to:
Alcohol, Chips, Cookies, Crackers, French Fries, Hot Dogs, Pastries, Pretzels, Sausages* (*due to grains/gluten).
Scientific research and epidemiological studies show diets rich in Monounsaturated and Omega-3 fats dramatically reduce the instances of obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and decline in cognition.
Cutting out fructose and grains from your diet effectively eliminates one of the underlying causes of numerous health problems, including overweight/obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, high triglycerides and high cholesterol.
Those who claim a loss of nutrients from lack of grains and dairy are incorrect. These nutrients are attainable through fruits, vegetables, root vegetables (beets, sweet potatoes) and supplemental vitamin D.
Some experts feel it is too high in protein which shows to be harmful if you have existing kidney disease, but so far, there is no proof it is harmful to those with normal kidney function. It is also high in inflammatory omega-6 acids, from meat.
In my opinion, quality omega-3 supplements will counteract the effects of the excess omega-6s. Also, the jury is still out on what the ideal amount of fat we should consume in our diets. We do know we should eat healthy fats, paleo or not.
Those fats are avocados, butter, coconut oil, nuts, and eggs. Lastly, some literature shows meat consumption exceeding three times weekly has a correlation with an increase in the incidence of colon cancer. However, studies have not been performed on those eating a Paleo diet.
Eating paleo meals are a “lifestyle, ” and there are plenty of recipes and discussion boards “out there.” You can easily learn how to choose foods to eat out “safely.” If you want to try eating “gluten-free” or “dairy-free,” this does all of that for you.
In addition, you need to learn to read labels for hidden gluten and whey or casein. Lastly, please don’t eat kangaroo.