Finding it harder and harder to lose weight with each passing year? Then help is here! When scientists at Umea University in Sweden put weight-loss-resistant older women on different diets, they found one popular plan actually turned back the clock on metabolism. On the Paleo Diet, women shed 20 pounds with ease, even while consuming unlimited portions. How? The Paleo Diet plan, which uses modern food to mimic the eating habits of cavewomen, targeted age-related belly fat in postmenopausal test subjects, reprograming their bodies to stay lean for years ahead. American scientists aren't surprised.
The number of women following the Paleo Diet is growing rapidly for a very simple reason: "It works!" says Sarah Ballantyne, PhD. At 41, she's 120 pounds slimmer and has authored Paleo Principles ($34.18, Amazon). "The results are truly amazing." How much weight can you lose on a Paleo Diet in 30 days? For some, Paleo Diet results 30 days later include shedding up to 25 pounds. Sounds fabulous, right? We've gathered everything you need to know to find out more.
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Paleo Diet Basics: Weight loss is inevitable.
"Human genes were shaped in the Paleolithic Era, and we're still genetically programmed to respond best to the types of food that allowed ancient humans to survive and thrive," insists Colorado State University researcher Loren Cordain, PhD, author of The Paleo Diet ($12.61, Amazon) and the world's leading authority on the approach. "There's now extensive evidence that these foods move us toward optimal health, which includes an optimal weight." He adds that while many diets work best for younger folks, Paleo has proven incredibly effective "at any age and every age."
What you eat: Foods similar to those a cavewoman would have hunted or gathered. That means "tons of vegetables plus fruit, nuts, seeds, eggs, seafood, and high-quality meat," Ballantyne says. Sweet potato and small amounts of honey are on the menu; most other sweet and starchy foods — including sugar, white potatoes, beans and grains — were scarce in the days before farming and aren't part of the plan.
Why Paleo slims: Paleo-style meals provide up to nine times more nutrients than a typical diet. So yes, you can follow the Paleo Diet to lose 20 pounds, but Paleo also heals your body from the inside out. "We're talking about vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, essential amino acids, and fatty acids," Ballantyne says. These nutrients trigger hormonal shifts that slash hunger by 400 calories a day, eliminate most cravings, accelerate metabolism, and help the body rid itself of dangerous belly fat.
How it turns back the clock: The Swedish study found Paleo is far better than a typical diet at reducing a type of inflammation in our bodies that tends to worsen as we age, slowing thyroid function and causing a host of other problems. Paleo's ability to quickly relieve this inflammation is key to jumpstarting thyroid and "reversing age-related weight gain," Ballantyne adds.
Why weight stays off: The newest research shows Paleo works far better than a typical diet at neutralizing enzymes linked to fat storage, leading to Paleo's superior "long-term beneficial effects," says University of Umea's Caroline Blomquist, PhD. Paleo is also higher in protein than a typical diet, and per a research breakthrough at the University of Arkansas, increasing protein intake is crucial to keeping metabolisms up — and waists trim — in our 40s and beyond.
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Your Paleo Diet Meal Plan
On the Paleo Diet, weight loss doesn't have to come at the expense of taste. Our nutrition team worked with Paleo experts to create these no-fuss summer menus for you to try. While using this plan, be sure to drink plenty of water. Portions are unlimited; simply eat as much or as little as you need to feel satisfied. Tweak meals to your liking with any Paleo-friendly ingredients, including herbs, spices, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. Note: As always, get a doctor's OK before trying any new plan.
Breakfast (Enjoy one daily.)
Option 1: Paleo cereal, such as Purely Elizabeth or Kitchfix grain-free granola (both sold on Amazon) with coconut or almond milk.
Option 2: Eggs any style, nitrate-free bacon or sausage (optional), and cubed baked sweet potato or any veggie sautéed in coconut oil.
Snacks (Enjoy any or all as needed to control hunger.)
Nuts, fruit, hard-cooked eggs, grass-fed jerky, veggies with guacamole
Lunch & Dinner (Enjoy one option at each sitting; add a side salad with vinaigrette, as desired.)
Option 1: Turkey Cobb Salad: Sliced turkey, hard-boiled egg, bacon, avocado, tomatoes, chives, and walnuts over chopped lettuce with vinaigrette
Option 2: Paleo Shrimp Scampi: Melt 2 Tbsp. grass-fed butter in skillet and stir in 2 cloves minced garlic; add 2 lbs. peeled and deveined shrimp and sear 1 to 2 minutes per side; stir in the juice of two lemons, 1 Tbsp. minced parsley, salt and red pepper flakes to taste; enjoy over steamed spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash; serves 4
Option 3: Nitrate-free Italian chicken sausage links with sautéed peppers and onions
Option 4: Burger, any variety, with Paleo-friendly toppings such as grilled onion, mushrooms, bacon, avocado, tomato; serve wrapped in a large lettuce leaf with sweet potato chips cooked in coconut oil, such as Jackson's Honest brand
Option 5: Honey-baked Salmon: Whisk together 2 tsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. honey, 1 crushed clove garlic, salt and pepper. Spread over salmon fillet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until flaky. Serve with steamed or sautéed sugar snap peas.
Option 6: Caribbean Chicken Thighs: In blender, puree 1/2 cup pineapple, 1/2 cup mango, juice of 1 lemon, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and pinch of cayenne; pour in ziplock plastic bag with boneless chicken thighs; chill 30-60 minutes; grill until cooked through. Serve with steamed riced cauliflower and herbs.
If desired, enjoy fruit with coconut cream, a few squares of dark chocolate, or Paleo Peach Crisp (recipe below) after dinner.
Make your own menus.
Whip up Paleo staples — including all nonstarchy vegetables, sweet potatoes, fruit, herbs, spices, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, seafood, poultry, and grass-fed meat — in any combinations you like. Enjoy as many meals and/or snacks as you wish. For best results, listen to your body and stop eating as soon as you begin to feel full. Want more inspiration? We love the tips and recipes you'll find at ThePaleoDiet.com, ThePaleoMom.com, and GrassfedGirl.com.
Paleo Peach Crisp
Everybody goes crazy for this scrumptious recipe from ElanasPantry.com, which is as simple as it is delicious.
- 2 lbs. peaches, sliced
- 1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
- 1/8 tsp. sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Place peaches in an 8x8-inch baking dish.
- In a food processor, combine almond flour and salt.
- Pulse in butter, maple syrup, and vanilla.
- Sprinkle topping over fruit.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 to 45 minutes.
- Cool and enjoy.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.