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What food did people have for dinner hundreds of thousands of years ago? Many people who advocate for the Paleo diet will inform you that the plates of our ancestors were stuffed with meat and a low amount of carbohydrates. And the result is that evolution has allowed us to flourish on this kind of diet. 

In the 2021 Annual Review of Nutrition, Pontzer, along with his colleague Brian Wood of the University of California, Los Angeles, discussed the information we could gather about the eating habits of our ancestors.

There were studies about modern hunter-gatherer groups such as that of Hadza from northern Tanzania along with those of the Ache from Paraguay. Interview with Knowable Magazine, Pontzer explains why Hadza’s different seasonal diets differ from the popular conceptions of traditional meals.

This article will detail the Paleo diet, the best foods to eat in this diet, and related research.


The paleo-style diet is a diet that is based on the foods that humans may have consumed throughout time during the Paleolithic Era. This Paleolithic Era dates from around 2.5 million to 10,000 years.

The modern paleo diet consists of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds. These are all foods that people in the past could acquire through hunts and gathers. These are not the foods that became popular as small-scale farming was introduced around 10.000 years ago. They include legumes, grains, as well as dairy items.

Other names for a paleo diet include the Paleolithic diet, Stone Age diet, hunter-gatherer diet, and cave man diet.


The goal of the diet known as paleo is that it aims to get the same eating habits as the way that early humans consumed. The main reason behind the diet is that the human body does not genetically conform to the modern diet based on farming practices, referred to as the discord theory.

The way people eat and drink has changed the way they consume and how they use food at present. The consumption of legumes, milk, and grains complements our diet. According to the theory proposed by researchers, this diet change has outpaced the body’s ability to adjust.

Researchers believe the mismatch to be a factor in the rise in overweight, diabetes, and heart diseases today. The reason for using this diet plan is to lose weight or keep a healthy weight.


The recommendations vary between paleo diets outlined in both books and on the internet. The majority of paleo diets adhere to these guidelines.

3.1 What to eat

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Eggs
  • Lean meats, particularly wild game or animals fed on grass
  • Fish, particularly those that are high in omega-3 fats like mackerel, salmon, and albacore tuna
  • Oils from nuts and fruits include walnut oil or olive oil

3.2 What to NOT eat

  • Grains like wheat, oats, and barley
  • Legumes, like lentils, beans, peanuts
  • Dairy products include cheese and milk
  • Sugar that is refined and added
  • Add salt
  • Starchy vegetables, like corn, jicama, and peas, as well as white potatoes
  • Highly processed food items such as chips, cookies

3.3 A typical menu for a day.

Here’s an overview of what you could eat in a typical day if you follow the paleo diet:

  • Breakfast: Salmon broiled and cantaloupe.
  • Lunch: Salad with romaine, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, avocado, walnuts, avocado, a dressing of lemon juice.
  • Dinner: Sirloin steak tip, lean and tender, with steamed broccoli, a salad consisting of mixed greens, avocado, tomatoes, onions, almonds, onions, lemon juice dressing, and a dessert of strawberries.
  • Snacks: A carrot stick, orange, or celery stick.


A general paleo-style diets have numerous characteristics of healthy diets. The most common features of the paleo diet include the importance of vegetables, fruits, and lean meats and the restriction of processed food items. However, there needs to be more research on paleo diets in comparison to studies of balanced diets that include more diverse food categories.

Most studies on paleo diets involved small amounts of people. They also lasted between a few weeks and several months. It is important to note that the definitions used for diet differ from one study to another. Therefore, knowing the exact amount of food people should anticipate is challenging, particularly over time.

In general, short-term, small studies suggest a paleo diet might help manage the following:

  • Weight loss
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Triglycerides

A large-scale study examined the advantages of self-reported long-term diet patterns among young adults in Spain. Researchers discovered an association between the Paleo lifestyle and are linked to a decrease in heart disease or cardiovascular risk factors. The lower risk resulted from avoiding highly processed food items, like candy and chips, and eating many vegetables and fruits.

More extensive studies with large groups of participants randomly assigned to different diets are required to better understand the long-term general health benefits as well as the potential negative effects of a paleo diet.


Researchers have proposed that the fundamental idea behind the paleo diet can simplify how people adjust to changes in their diet. Dietary changes based on the climate, geography, and food availability are not only because of the shift towards farming but also influenced by changing nutritional requirements.

Archaeologists had proved that the first man’s diet likely comprised wild grains before the cultivation of grains began. Genetic studies have revealed that evolutionary changes were remarkable beyond the Paleolithic with changes in diet, including the increase in the number of genes involved in the breakdown of starches used in the diet.

The Paleo diet menu can help you lose weight or maintain weight. It can also have positive effects on your health. However, long-term studies have yet to be conducted regarding this particular diet’s possible advantages and dangers.

In reality, every diet has its advantages and drawbacks. If you choose to adhere to this Paleo eating plan, it must be carefully assessed, and you must carefully select the food sources. If needed, talk to nutritionists and doctors for recommendations for your specific condition.

Some question the notion humans did not change or adapt to the foods introduced by agriculture. Some are worried about the types of food that the paleo diet eliminates.

Food safety concerns

The most significant issue with paleo diets is that they are devoid of a lack of legumes and whole grains. These foods are great sources of vitamins, fiber, proteins, and other nutrients. Additionally, dairy products with low fat are excellent sources of calcium, protein, vitamins, and other nutrients. The risk of eating the paleo diet is that you will only obtain some of the recommended nutrients.

Whole cereals, legumes, and dairy are generally less expensive and accessible than other foods like grass-fed animals, wild game, and nuts. For some, the paleo diet could be expensive. Also, the expense of certain paleo food items could result in being unaware of a lack of some essential nutrients.

The long-term consequences of paleo diets still need to be fully understood. The results of numerous studies of popular diets revealed that the Mediterranean food plan was the sole one that had many advantages without the risk of harmful consequences. A Mediterranean diet comprises vegetables, fruits, seafood, lean meats, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy products.

Additionally, the advantages of a paleo diet could be greater than the advantages that other diets are healthiness. A study that tracked self-reported eating patterns revealed that adhering to the paleo diet or Mediterranean diet resulted in similar reductions in risk of cardiovascular factors.

Questions regarding the theory behind the paleo diet

Certain experts have suggested that the theory that the paleo lifestyle is built on is not the whole truth. Arguments for a more thorough understanding of how our dietary or nutritional requirements have evolved include:

  • A variety of factors (not just farming – affected the way that human nutrition requirements changed. The diets of early humans were diverse due to geography, climate, and food supply variations.
  • Archaeologists have found grinding tools at 30,000-year-old archaeological sites long before the advent of agriculture. Researchers also have examined the tiny fossils of plants discovered in the teeth of Paleolithic people and Neanderthals. These studies have revealed that their diets contained wild grains.
  • Genetic research has revealed that significant evolutionary changes continued to occur after the Paleolithic period. These include changes to genetic expression linked to the breakdown or digestion of starches found in grains, and lactose, a component of milk.

VI. DEBUNKING THE PALEO MYTH – By Christina Warinner,  PhD.

Christina Warinner, Ph.D. Co-director of the laboratory of molecular anthropology, microbiome research, and the assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma will dispel the myth of the Paleo diet during the Medical Committee’s International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine on the 29th and 30th of July 2016 on Washington, D.C.

Below, Dr. Warinner addresses a few of the questions she will answer in detail during the conference.

Paleolithic people are often depicted as ferocious hunters who ate large amounts of meat. Are they accurate?

It might surprise you that the clearest examples of modern dietary changes in humans are those of starch-rich plants. Instead of our hunting habits, the characteristic that stands out from our primate ancestors is our heightened habit of cooking. One of the fascinating aspects of our evolution in dietary habits is that we are effective “cookies.”

Contemporary “Paleo” diets do not include whole grains and legumes. Do you have evidence to prove that Paleolithic people did consume these types of food?

Microfossils of barley plants from the family have been discovered in the Neanderthal’s teeth as well as starches from grains and tubers have been discovered in Paleolithic grinding stones, which are older than 10,000 years. Humans did not find these food items until the Neolithic age and were already eating them in smaller amounts for a long time.

What are the differences between the foods we consume today and those Paleolithic people consumed?

Do not be fooled by the advertisements – there were no Paleo protein bars or flourless chocolate cakes in the Paleolithic. If you could travel back to the past, you would be unable to recognize the ancestors of the modern-day avocados, lettuces, carrots, bananas, and apricots. The real Paleolithic foods are different from what we think, which makes them more fascinating.


A paleo diet can aid you in weight-loss or maintaining your weight in a healthy range. Additionally, it could have beneficial health benefits. But there are no long-term studies that have proven the advantages and dangers of this diet.

Regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can reap similar health benefits. It will help if you consume plenty of vegetables and fruits as part of your healthy diet.

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