The paleo diet is focused on eating whole foods, as much as you want, that will nourish your body. Whole foods meaning anything a caveman could eat, you can eat. Here is your how-to guide for mastering the paleo diet (or just learning about it for fun, like me!)
Your first question is probably what is the Paleo Diet; you may have heard of it before but aren’t exactly sure what it entails. This diet is basically eating like a hunter and gatherer. There is no calorie counting or macronutrient counting, it is just simply eating foods that come from the Earth. Yes, you will have to get rid of dairy, cereal, candy, frozen dinners and chips…..sorry. And that doesn’t mean eating really small meals or going hungry, you can eat until you are actually satisfied and full?!
The diet dates back to our ancient ancestors when there was no grocery stores and vending machines…it was gathering in the fields and hunting in the woods.
The average human years ago: muscular, athletic, versatile, and no known diseases or illnesses.
The average human now: overweight, stressed, sleep deprived and dieing from many preventable diseases due to poor lifestyle choices.
The one thing that has changed overtime is agriculture! Once we discovered agriculture and became farmers (and then created the world we are living in today) the processing of food changed. It is no longer about eating food in its purest form, but instead mass producing it as cheap as possible in forms that “taste good”. So because our genetics haven’t changed, we are not adapted to this new way of eating. Being so dependent on refined grains like cereal, pizza, cookies, pasta etc. is wreaking havoc on our bodies because we don’t know how to properly break it down.
Some of you may also be wondering what the difference between the Paleo Diet and the Keto Diet (low-carb) is. Basically, the keto diet is focused on eating high amounts of healthy fats and very low carbohydrates. This means you typically need to track macronutrients (at least at the beginning) to find out how much fat you need to be eating to reap the benefits. This also means lowering your protein intake as some protein can be broken down into glucose if over consumed. And since we are trying to burn ketones and not glucose, we don’t want the extra protein. Paleo diet focuses on just eating foods from the Earth in any amount you want. This means meat, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. I can see where there may be some confusion because the paleo diet also includes a lot of omega 3 foods, high fat foods, into their “yes” list. The only difference is that the paleo diet eats fats in a more natural way, meaning just creating meals that have a healthy fat component. While the keto diets entire focus is high fat, basing all meals around your fat intake.
Remember, it’s not about counting macros (carbs, fats and proteins) here; it’s about whole foods that your body knows how to use!
Here is a complete paleo diet food list:
ο Grass-fed meats (grains do the same thing to animals that they do to humans)
ο Fish/seafood (wild caught, not farm-raised)
ο Oils (avocado, coconut, olive)
ο Nuts (all but peanuts)
Foods you cannot eat on Paleo Diet:
ο Potatoes (excluding sweet potatoes/yams)
ο Refined sugar
ο Processed foods
A whole break down of specific foods you can eat is available here.
Again, the paleo diet is all about eating whole foods and minimizing processed foods. It also has a little bit to do with limiting inflammatory foods. We know that cavemen might have had access to grains and potatoes, but those are taken off the list here due to the nature of them. Grains being highly inflammatory in the body, and potatoes having a high glycemic index and digesting fairly quickly. Again, doesn’t mean either is bad for you, just means this diet chooses to eliminate them. But, guess what…the best thing about our culture is that there are no rules. So if you want to “loosely” follow a paleo diet because that works best for you, you can do that! It’s all about finding what makes you feel good, while also helping you achieve your health goals.
Like any, the Paleo diet has pros and cons to it, although the pros seem to seriously outweigh the cons.
The only noted cons of the Paleo diet are:
• It can get expensive.
• Your body will react poorly to processed foods it’s not used to digesting (if you do indulge).
• Some people need more carbs to sustain daily activities and it is hard to achieve from just fruits and vegetables.
The pros of the Paleo diet are extraordinary and the best part, it isn’t an extreme diet. So if you need to tweek it to fit your lifestyle, you can! (as long as it is not “food” you are consuming). Paleo isn’t meant to be a short term diet, but rather a lifestyle!
Pros of the Paleo Diet:
• Weight loss (naturally reducing calories and no blood sugar spikes)
• Better sleep
• More energy
• Decreased inflammation
• Detoxing of the body and organs
Besides the great benefits i listed above, there is nothing you can lose. Trying a diet based on whole foods isn’t going to do any damage to your body. Other strict diets may cause you to form a poor food relationship, cause an imbalance in your hormones or even increase stress levels. The Paleo Diet is simply eating nutritious foods and finding the balance that works best for you. If you don’t like it or you can’t stick to it, then try adjusting it. Maybe adding in some dark chocolate or one of your favorite foods 1 time a week. Remember, this is based on a lifestyle approach, not a, lose 10 pounds in a week, approach.
“Setting aside the fact that there is no one true “Paleo Diet,” whenever I go full Paleo I tend to lose weight very quickly, dropping my body fat percentage down into the 7-8% range. Personally, my goals these days are to add size and muscle, and improve my athletic performance. In order for me to do that, I need to be putting ON weight, so I will mix in some non-Paleo foods like whole milk, rice, and oats depending on my training routine for that day.” Says Nerd Nation
“It’s still popular, especially with cross-fitters and fitness enthusiasts who do high-intensity training,” said Zarabi. But it limits anything processed or out of a box, making it challenging for busy people. “I think diets are more about how realistic they are for a person,” states Sharan Zarabi
“I don’t think that Paleo is an easy fix for losing weight or a lifestyle change that anyone can make quickly, but at the end of my experiment, I lost 3.2 pounds and was able to pull on my jeans without having to shimmy around my room. They were still a smidge tight, but I was happy to see that the waistband wasn’t cutting into my sides.” says Allison Berry
Check out Chris Kresser’s website for a few amazing transformations as well!
Again, diets aren’t for everyone. Some people feel trapped or restricted when following a “diet” while others thrive off of the schedule and rules. It is all about personal preference. If you are looking to learn more about the keto diet you can check out my blog here. Stay tuned for more diet reviews on the blog in the future, and make sure you share this on Pinterest and/or Facebook if you want to share some extra information with others.