How the Paleo Diet Works

About the Paleo Diet

While the Paleo Diet may start out for some people as a modification to their normal diet -- swapping one ingredient for a Paleo-friendly one or removing certain foods from the grocery list in an effort to lose a few pounds -- changing the way you eat this significantly will change the way you live.

Foods that are part of the Paleo diet are typically foods that are high in protein, soluble fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, phytochemicals and antioxidants, while low in refined sugars, empty carbs, bad fats and salt. A diet high in protein helps to keep hunger under control longer than refined carbs. How much is the right amount for you? There are different ways to figure how much protein you should eat every day, but one of our favorites is to divide your weight (pounds) by two and then subtract 10. A 140-pound (63.5-kilogram) woman should aim for about 60 grams of protein in her daily diet. This, along with foods packed full of slow-burning carbohydrates that won't spike your glucose levels (leaving you tired, hungry and at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes) are pros for the diet. It's a diet that's the antithesis of modern, Western eating habits -- the Western diet, along with a sedentary lifestyle, has been linked to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other chronic but largely preventable conditions.

A study published in 2009 in the journal "Cardiovascular Diabetology" found that people with Type 2 diabetes who followed the Paleo Diet for three months benefited more than those who followed a standard recommended diet for diabetics. They not only improved their blood sugar levels but also reduced their risk of developing heart disease [source: Jonsson et al]. This is important because an estimated 17 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes, and diabetics have seven times the risk of developing heart disease than those who aren't diabetic [source: Peck].

Now, let's look at specifically what types of foods are in and which are out on the Paleo Diet -- as well as some of the diet's disadvantages.