The Caveman diet (also known as the Paleo or Paleolithic Diet) refers to dietary and fitness guidelines that are based largely on what prehistoric humans ate. Just like the South Beach Diet, the Caveman Diet avoids all forms of starches and grains.
Akin to the Atkins Diet, the Paleo Diet strictly prohibits consumption of all dairy products. Rather, the Paleo / Caveman Diet urges people to eat fruits, vegetables, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised poultry.
Caveman Diet Basics (VIDEO)
On a more specific note, the basic principles of the Caveman Diet / Paleo (Paleolithic) Diet are the following:
- Avoid processed foods. Prepare your own meals instead of buying fast food and convenience-store takeouts. Meals bought from fast food chains and convenience stores may be delicious, fast and convenient, but they are also loaded with excess salt, sugar, cholesterol and preservatives. Moreover, they do not have enough nutrients which will help you carry out your daily activities effectively.
- Avoid all forms of grains and starches. If you really cannot avoid consuming grains, eat whole grains and starches (e.g. brown rice and whole wheat breads) instead of refined ones (e.g. white rice and white bread). In addition, consume grains sparingly—grains (even whole ones) inhibit nutrient absorption and attack enzymes necessary for digestion. When preparing grains, use preparation techniques that reduce the amount of toxins present in them (e.g. soaking and sprouting).
- Avoid most forms of sweets (e.g. sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup and artificial sweeteners). Sweets are not only nutrient-deficient; they likewise inhibit nutrient absorption. Worse, sweets have been proven to be one of the leading causes of obesity, diabetes, dental problems, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. If you must sweeten your dish, try a small amount of stevia (a sweet herb that belongs to the sunflower family) or raw honey. It has the same sweetness as table sugar, minus the calories and carbohydrates.
- Avoid grain- and seed-based modern oils (e.g. canola oil, corn oil and soy oil), as well as hydrogenated fats (vegetable oil fortified with hydrogen). When heated above 200 degrees Celsius, these types of fats and oils turn into trans-fat, a fat that has been proven to increase the risk of heart disease in both men and women. Healthier alternatives would be animal fats (e.g. butter, ghee, lard, and tallow), unrefined coconut and olive oil and saturated fat (e.g. whole-fat milk and cream).
- Eat non-starchy vegetables like onion, garlic, tomato, mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, zucchini and asparagus. These vegetables allow you to have your regular dose of vitamins and minerals minus the starch.
- Since all fruits contain fructose, and if your goal is to lose weight it would be best to stick to fruits that contain only small amounts of the latter. Examples of such fruits include apple, avocado, blackberries, papaya, peaches, plums, mango, lychee, blueberries and grapes.
- Eat grass-fed beef. Grass-fed beef contains higher amounts of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats than grain-fed beef. Moreover, grass-fed beef tastes better—it is not treated with antibiotics and hormones. Uncured bacon and other breakfast meats are also considered acceptable in the Paleo Diet.
- Eat pasture-raised poultry, as well as eggs that come from such chickens. Just like grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry is not treated with antibiotics and hormones (so they produce healthier and more delicious eggs). Eat more yolks than whites—the former has more nutrients.
- Toxins can be found not just in food, but also in cosmetics and household products. Non-stick pans contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or C8—a known carcinogenic. Some deodorants contain paraben—a chemical that has been identified as a cause of breast cancer. Fortunately, there are alternatives that can help reduce your exposure to hazardous chemicals. Instead of using non-stick pans, use stainless steel or cast-iron ones. Baking soda is an effective substitute for a commercial deodorant—just apply some to your underarms using a powder puff.
- Load up on water! Drinking water is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of losing weight. When you do not get enough water, impurities accumulate in your body, rendering you heavier than you actually are. But when you drink sufficient water, impurities are flushed out of your body, restoring you to your actual weight. Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water every day. Cool or cold water is best.