The Paleolithic diet is a dietary system. Its supporters argue that since human genetics have scarcely changed since the stone age an ideal diet would be a reconstructed stone age diet, such as the one humans and proto-humans used before the Neolithic Revolution. Therefore through studying archeology and modern hunter gatherers we can learn what a healthy diet looks like. Interest in the paleolithic diet has grown in recent years as low-carbohydrate diets in general have become more popular.
This diet is concerned primarily with health issues, as opposed to ethical or economic concerns. Advocates of paleolithic nutrition believe that the best foods for the human body are those that humans are best adapted to eat. Proponents argue that dietary related diseases are caused by straying from this approach.
Foods which are not edible raw and unprocessed are excluded from the diet. The foods falling into this category are mainly starchy vegetables (e.g. cereals, beans and potatoes). Foods which are included in the diet are meat, fish, fruits, vegetables which are edible raw, mushrooms, nuts, eggs and honey. The single exception to this rule is dairy products. Dairy products are excluded despite being edible raw since they are nevertheless a post agricultural food.
Some closely related diets, such as that recommended by the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Evolution Diet, are more lenient: they mainly exclude foods developed in the last few centuries, and claim to improve upon the Paleo-diet by studying specific factors that contribute to health and longevity. Dairy, whole grains, legumes, and potatoes are therefore encouraged insofar as one's specific ancestry allows them to be tolerated, and culturing of foods is encouraged.
The non-animal foods available on the diet are the same as those available in raw veganism. However, there are two fundamental differences between raw veganism and the paleodiet: Firstly, paleodieters consume meat and other animal products (in fact usually more is consumed than on a standard modern diet, in some cases substantially more). Secondly, any and all food can be cooked if desired.
The generally prescribed proportions of protein, fat, and carbohydrate are approximately 20-35%, 30-60%, and 20-35% by calories. By calories the diet is commonly around 45-65% animal products and 35-55% plant products. Alternatively, because of the large amount of water in fruits and vegetables, the diet is, by weight, roughly 2/3 plant products and 1/3 animal products.
The vitamin and mineral content of the diet is very high compared to a standard diet, in many cases a multiple of the RDA.