How the Paleo Diet Works

Grilled sirloin and vegetable kabobs doesn't seem much like diet food. But if you're on the Paleo Diet, it's common fare. See more weight loss tips pictures.

When you think processed food, what comes to mind? Twinkies, maybe, or a Big Mac. Refined white sugar. Genetically modified, big-breasted Thanksgiving turkeys.

Not all processed foods are bad, though. Take unsweetened applesauce, for instance. It's a convenience to buy it, but it could just as easily be made in your own kitchen with water, apples and a heat source. Try whipping up some mechanically-separated poultry and an anti-foaming agent for your homemade chicken nuggets -- you get the point. But the idea here isn't to debate which foods are processed and to what degree. Rather, it's to point out that we have lost our connection between what we eat and where our food comes from, and in turn, that loss has led us down the path of obesity and ill health.

To help lose some pounds or maintain a healthy weight, many people look for help. The food pyramid, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, makes recommendations to help Americans understand what we should and shouldn't eat to be healthy and to stay healthy. It's a guideline -- not a diet -- that suggests how many grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat and beans make up a nutritious food plan. Diet trends often focus on reducing fats, carbohydrates or calories to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight -- who doesn't remember the low-fat craze of the 1980s or the low-carb craze of the 2000s? Today, many of us are opting for foods that are local, foods that are organic and foods that are, to be blunt, real food.

The Paleo Diet, also called the Paleolithic Diet, the Caveman Diet and the Warrior Diet, is just what you think it might be: The diet focuses on the foods you do or do not eat, and the do's are those foods humans would have eaten during the Paleolithic era. What is that like, eating a diet based on that of our prehistoric ancestors? It goes beyond choosing foods that are local or organic; it goes beyond eating unprocessed foods. Let's find out more about the diet and its menu, next.