Paleo diet: Health benefits, What to eat, Is it for athletes?

Paleo diet: Health benefits, What to eat, Is it for athletes?

The Caveman Diet or Paleolithic Diet, or better known as the Paleo Diet, consists of an “effort” to eat as our ancestors did.

That’s to say, we try to maintain the eating habits of the early man who lived in caves, did not have a refrigerator or microwave, did not work or pay a mortgage… a diet from the past for the future.

At least it sounds funny…

What is the Paleo Diet?

According to certain research, this way of eating is considered “more natural or healthier” .

Some experts argue that it would be best to eat according to the Stone Age, just as our ancestors did, to promote the best state of health.

We are going to eat what is genetically most beneficial to us, that is, a evolutionary nutritional approach

What is the paleo diet?

Our genome is not fully adapted to the current diet (this is what supports the Paleo diet), so that both our eating style and our behaviour should prevail.

Is it viable today? What can we do to adapt today’s way of life to that of the prehistoric era?

The premise is clear: our body is genetically programmed to eat as it would have in the Paleolithic period. If you do it this way, your body will naturally know how to respond: Self-regulation

Differences between Cavemen and The present day

Would you like a diet in which you don’t worry about counting calories, and at the same time maintain a balanced state of health, combined with a body in good shape? It sounds pretentious at the very least, but it is what you get following this type of eating habit (not diet, since from my point of view it does not really match this term).

If we look (imagine) at the characteristics of a person from thousands of years ago, we can observe:
  • Athletic appearance, that is, low fat percentage
  • Quite muscular
  • Agile, versatile, strong …


This could be attributed today to an elite athlete

For a “modern” man, without doing much physical activity, the composition changes a lot, and generally tends to be:
  • Overweight
  • Weak form and physical condition
  • Difficulty sleeping, and resting
  • Certain risk of suffering from any type of disease (diabetes, cardiovascular type …)

Modern man

In the first case, these qualities, in a way, have been imposed, since they were vital for survival. However, in our time, in which we live with all the comforts of the world and our lifestyle, it is precisely what leads to that state of health and physical appearance.

What did a “Paleolithic Man” eat?

We try to give an idea of what our ancestors were supposed to have eaten.

The food approach of past eras is very different from the current one. At that time man was predisposed to need to hunt to eat. Their diet consisted practically of meat (of which they hunted or could even find from the scraps of another hunter). So, a first approach to this type of diet would be what is now called “low carb” , since the fat was ingested from the meat itself.

Quality proteins

In addition, these animals would not have been fed with animal feed, as is often the case today, but would have eaten from what was around and their instinct and ability allowed them, in addition to being continuously moving freely.

For those populations established in the vicinity of a river, seashore, water …, it could be presumed that they would also consume fish .

So they would maintain the high ratio of protein and fat

Paleo proteins

They did not skimp by removing any piece, indeed, practically the entire animal was used: meat, organs, bone marrow, tongue, eyes …, where said parts contained fat, but that would be much less saturated than what a beef fillet can carry today …

What about Carbohydrates?

Regarding whether they ate some type of carbohydrate, the most common were seasonal fruits (and of course from their area), such as: berries, forest fruits (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, …).

With respect to today, the main difference is that the largest amount of fruit consumed has a high sugar content, such as oranges, bananas, … and is also exported from other parts of the world to our country.Paleo honey

The most daring caveman, after discovering it, would surely go to the bee’s nest on more than one occasion and savour the sweet honey, and after doing so, would probably run away faster than Usain Bolt; P

Sources of Fat

With regard to fats, perhaps some seeds could be eaten in the form of a “snack”, nuts that were “caught” when passing near a tree, the same that was ingested from game meat, where it where everything was included ( organs, fatty cuts…).

Plant roots, some vegetables such as carrots (if you could find them…) were usually consumed, but not as the central axis of food.


Tree nuts were other “delicacies” back then, including various types of nuts …

Basically, food consumption was limited according to the caveman’s zone of movement, and it’s fair to say, they ate whatever they could “catch”. Not many 24h supermarkets existed then…

Introduction of Agriculture

As evolution became evident, but slow, together with the development of the brain itself and other cognitive qualities (this would lead to another topic …), diet would begin to take a new turn.

It was the introduction of agriculture what would mean the biggest change in this aspect (was the introduction of this a supposed cognitive evolution or vice versa…?).


In this sense, instead of continuing to eat mostly meats, vegetables, fruits…, we started to focus as an axis of the diet on those products for which we were never designed to do so, as is the case of bread, pasta, rice, corn, … and of course, creating a decrease in the “effort” to get food.

The passage of hunter-gatherer men to farmers motivated this process of “abandoning” ancestral customs. Together with the fact of having a land (orchard) which was prosperous for food, it induced the establishment of the population, the formation of societies, and the human race continued to advance to how we know it today.

Paleo Diet Today

In order to maintain eating behaviours as similar as possible, a current diet “adapted” to what our ancestors ate would have the following considerations.

One of the most important in this regard is to try to balance the diet in terms of essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s, EPA and DHA .

In current diets, especially western ones, there is a strong trend in favour of foods whose omega-6 content is higher several times than it would be healthy to maintain the correct balance…

To put that another way reducing the consumption of the latter…

Paleo food

Here, I’m going to present you a list of foods that you should consume to be as close as possible to the way our ancestors ate:


  • Meat : If possible from grass-fed animals, no grains, that have been raised naturally, freely…
  • Poultry : Chicken, duck, turkey, hen, pterodactyl, oops this is from a bit further back in history…
  • Fish : Wild fish, salmon, tuna, … These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids


  • Fruits and Vegetables: Regarding vegetables, you can eat practically any, and in the amount that you want, except that nothing is grilled, better steamed to maintain their properties. And regarding fruits, those with the highest number of antioxidants and micronutrients, and the least sugar: berries such as blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, … Due to their high fructose content, forget about pineapple, banana, custard apple, …
  • Tubers: Among these are potatoes and sweet potatoes, which were the first cultivated products… Better to take them post-training and replenish glycogen levels.


  • Oils: The “kings” are extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil… sunflower oil, don’t even think about smelling it.
  • Fruits and Nuts: You can eat practically any type, although among the “paleo community” the most popular are nuts. Olives would also be the best options
  • Eggs: A key ingredient in the paleo diet, above all, make sure they come from free-range chickens. They are an excellent supply of protein and fat.
  • Avocados: They are a delicacy, rich in antioxidants and other micronutrients and are a source of monounsaturated fatty acids.

Paleo diet, what foods are forbidden?

If you are willing to follow this diet, you should know what it restricts.

You may shed some tears when you hear some of the following:


The reasoning given is that a large part of the population is intolerant or shows a certain aversion towards lactose (the sugar in milk). Why could this be?

Well,some arguments state that this is due to the fact that humans are the only animal that after the lactation period continues to drink milk, and does so from another animal, instead of their own species.

During the Paleolithic period, livestock farming was still unknown, so the art of milking was unknown…


There are many allergies with respect to certain cereals, such as wheat, promoting the “activation” of known autoimmune diseases. That means any type of food that is made from this ingredient, such as pasta, bread, cereals…

Gluten and Lectins: what are they and why are they bad for us?
  • Gluten is a protein that can be found among other foods in rye, wheat, and barley. A part of the population shows symptoms of intolerance to gluten, we are allergic to this substance. Those who are intolerant to gluten, if they consume it, can develop various pathologies, such as dermatitis, inflammation, problems for the reproductive system, problems for the digestive system, …
  • Lectins are natural toxins present within grains, and whose function is to protect against pollutants. The grains are wrapped to keep them safe from possible contamination dangers or for us to eat them … In addition, these lectins are not “friends” of our gastrointestinal tract, preventing the said organ from repairing itself due to wear and tear. .


In a way, the Paleo diet can be considered as a type of “low carb” diet (although we have seen that tubers would also be allowed ), whereas the consumption of sugar is avoided, except for the content naturally found in fruit.

Forbidden foods paleo diet

The defenders of this claim that sugar can cause damage to our body, as well as promoting fat gain if said energy is not used, and a series of metabolic disorders…

Processed foods

It goes without saying that prepared and frozen meals that are sold have no place in the paleo diet!

They contain a large amount of preservatives, sodium, sugars, trans fats, … the opposite of what the paleo diet promotes

But not only to follow this diet, but to promote any nutritional plan of healthy life habits, this category of foods should be left out.

On the other hand, there is something that makes me wonder: if an ancestor whose last hunt did not go well was wandering aimlessly through the prairie and he came across a package of cookies with chocolate chips, what do you think he would do?

Paleo Diet Pyramid

Here is what would be the recommendation to carry out this diet, where levels are shown from lowest to highest degree of restriction :

Paleo diet pyramid

Benefits of the Paleo Diet

  • Better energy levels during the day
  • Improved sleep and rest
  • Better skin appearance and shinier hair
  • Mental clarity
  • Promotes good mood
  • Improvement of depression symptoms
  • Reduction of swelling and fluid retention
  • Fat loss
  • Improved insulin response
  • Better absorption of nutrients from food
  • Reduction of allergies
  • Reduction of stomach problems
  • Reduction of pain as a result of decreased inflammation
  • Decreased risk of heart attack
  • Improvement for people with asthma problems

Paleo diet benefits

As we have observed in the prohibited foods, by eliminating the consumption of dairy, grain foods, and mostly processed foods, many studies support, several problems of current society, referring to health issues, could be improved and even reversed.

Paleo diet, how can you start?

The reduction of carbohydrates, especially those from grains, corn, and legumes, causes states of fatigue, lethargy and irritability in some people…

This is because going from a life where the central axis of eating was practically this type of food, leads to the body not tending to adapt to such suppression. Normally, this event will occur when changing habits, and therefore, we should do it progressively.

The decrease in carbohydrate intake leads to the use of ketogenics, or ketones.

That is, we use fat as the primary energy source, and therefore, the process called ketosis is carried out. In certain people, this change does not suit them entirely, especially if we consider the large amounts of carbohydrates that they used to eat, and that they do not now. The change can be somewhat complicated at first, until you reach the adaptation (Very strict Paleo diet …)

In the same way, people who establish diets reduced in carbohydrates can show cases of hypothyroidism, and symptoms such as fatigue, slowness, sensitivity to cold, …

Low-carb diets tend to suppress appetite, which causes the body to go into starvation mode. If you lose a lot of weight, quickly, the body will regulate this deficit by “saving” energy… It can be solved by eating large amounts of carbohydrates permitted in the Paleo diet, such as vegetables, but I do not know how effective this is…

Paleo Diet for Athletes

It may sound that if we are athletes, and we are limiting carbohydrates , which is the main source of energy, we will therefore be lacking that energy to practice our activity.

However, our bodies were created to work with a tiny amount of carbohydrates (or even function without them)

Low Carb is not Ketogenic

Although I seem to be making it clear that the Paleo Diet is low carb per se , it is not ketogenic. However, it is true that the reduction of most sources of carbohydrates that anyone can eat, greatly limits the daily amount.


In the case of demanding sports activities, the Paleo Diet is viable, since it offers the amount of proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and fibre that our body requires, in addition to providing enough calories.

Paleo diet athletes

The evolutionary approach promoting the use of fat to support energy demands will cost up front, but in no time, you’ll be in awe of what your body is capable of and “putting up with.” This shows that the human body is one of the most perfect machines in creation, because it is capable of adapting to any condition.

Benefits of the Paleo Diet for Athletes

The benefits with respect to sports, according to testimonies of athletes who follow this type of diet, are, at the very least, amazing.

Once adapted to this system, and even more so, when sports practice is carried out in a fasting state (similar to a caveman looking for food through hunting), the performance is very high, even greater than if he trained after eating.

CrossFit and the Paleo Diet

The emergence of CrossFit has been a change in mindset as far as sport is concerned, especially in the methodology used.

And those entering this discipline in turn observed what type of diet was being promoted, precisely the Paleo Diet, as one of most relevant (also the Zone Diet … ).

Crossfit paleo diet

Truly amazing changes for sedentary people who began doing this activity together with these eating habits were captured by social networks, such as gaining quality of life

The main problem could happen when a CrossFit athlete starts their preparations for championships. Since the routine of a crossfitter covers multiple disciplines, caloric expenditure increases, making the use of external aids (supplements and food supplements) necessary in practically all cases, therefore leaving aside the possibility for this type of diet

Personal Opinion on the Paleo Diet

The typical caveman, from what we can generally see in anthropological studies, did not use to live more than 30-40 years, compared to the 80 that modern man can currently manage to live.

Which period is healthier? What quality of life do you get? Emotional problems?

Meat paleo

Lower Life Expectancy?

The causes of death of the ancestors could be related to the attack of a predator, virus, bacteria, long periods of famine and lack of energy, …

Despite this, they possibly did not have any of the “problems of the modern era”, such as the diseases that a large part of the world’s population are currently suffering, including mental disorders, hormonal and metabolic disorders or autoimmune diseases.

Paleo life

Imitating the Paleolithic period?

As science shows, trying to imitate the habits of our ancestors could have a beneficial impact on health.

However, we do not live in those times…

If the natural thing is to eat as they did back then, in that case, we will not be able to achieve this, since our own habits do not correspond at all with theirs, we can just try to get close to their habits and unfortunately, industry seems to intervene so that the naturally healthy is the most expensive and inaccessible…

Ritmo de vida

The rhythm of life that belongs to us at this time induces another type of diet, but that should not be an excuse, since if we fall back on this excuse, we would be digging our own grave…

In favour of the Paleo Diet

The positive changes that a person experiences, or can do, by modifying their current diet to a Paleolithic feeding approach , can be argued in that they will be consuming a practically ideal nutritional base:

fresh vegetables, quality meat and fish, seeds, nuts…

Eliminating processed foods

In reality, the base of the Paleo Diet, should be that of any diet …

However the fact of eliminating processed foods, which includes refined sugars, meats stuffed full of nitrates and “junk food”, is something that no one can miss, and that could be called the Paleo Diet or The Correct Diet, focusing on reducing the risk associated with practicing these bad habits, and causing the appearance of heart disease and certain cancers, helping to control the blood sugar, prevent overweight, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome…


I think that for most people, especially sedentary people, the Paleo Diet could be a plus in boosting health and improving body composition. However, if we refer to active people or athletes, I think it can be somewhat “complex”, especially in those with high energy demands or in competition phase.

I tend towards a balanced diet, where all foods have a place, excluding none, and always looking for the healthiest and most natural options available. And in that case, the “diet mode” that most closely matches the way I do it is called IIFYM


  • “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet”; Robb Wolf; 2010
  • Sebastien Noel; Paleo Diet Lifestyle; Gatineau, Quebec
  • “Everyday Paleo”; Sarah Fragoso and Robb Wolf; 2011

Related Entries

Review Paleo Diet

Ease of Practice - 85%

Improved Health - 100%

Helps in Fat Loss - 100%

Muscle Mass Gain - 80%

Ideal for Sedentary People - 100%

Ideal for Sportspeople in General - 100%

Ideal for Athletes - 85%


HSN Evaluation: 5 /5
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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
"Knowledge Makes Stronger", Javier Colomer's motto, sets out his clearest statement of intentions expressing his knowledge and fitness experience.
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