What is Paleo

The basic premise behind the paleo diet is that the foods our hunter gatherer ancestors ate are the foods we are best adapted to eating. I consider it a reasonable hypothesis but no hypothesis makes any claim true. Only scientific validation can do that. While some of the science is being done to test this hypothesis, many people who have adopted the paleo diet have had good success with it, myself included.

That doesn't mean that people's success with this diet is any sort of proof that it is true. I am certain that there are some paleo foods that are less likely to yield optimum health than certain neolithic foods. I also believe that there are significant variations on an individual level in terms of which foods work best for them. There are also many people who don't eat a paleo diet who are exceptionally healthy and I wouldn't presume to claim that paleo is right or necessary for everyone.

As a baseline, the paleo diet consists of meat, vegetables and starchy tubers. On top of that, you can include nuts, seeds and fruit. Certain specific foods like white rice and dairy are in a decidedly gray area. The top foods to avoid are refined sugars, gluten grains and seed oils. The primary focus is to prepare your meals from scratch using whole foods rather than obtaining processed foods from a box or a restaurant. Following these guidelines would result in what I consider a paleo diet.

Note that nothing about the paleo diet dictates any sort of macronutrient ratio nor the inclusion or exclusion of meat or any specific food. In general, if it's the kind of food you can acquire in nature with little more than a spear, knife and shovel. Just because I follow a relatively low carb approach using paleo foods doesn't mean that it's a more authentic interpretation, it just happens to be what works for me.

It only gets more complicated from there but all the hand wringing over the finer details is agonizing over the remaining 5%. If you want to geek out on that stuff, there are plenty of resources that explore it in excruciating detail. Some of my favorites include the following:

Perfect Health Diet
Mark's Daily Apple
Robb Wolf
The Bulletproof Executive

I hope that works as a useful starting point for people who aren't familiar with paleo. I'll try to fill this blog with useful information and practical advice that doesn't get bogged down in the science.

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