They say the paleo diet is a lifestyle and I have two theories on why that is. First, once most people get into the routine of fueling your body with food/nutrients that make you feel and look better, most intelligent people want to keep it that way 😉
Second, I think if you do your homework and read up on the benefits of the diet, the banned foods start to look a lot less temping. They say ignorance is bliss, but it this case it could be costing you a long and healthy life.
There are many different “versions” of the paleo diet, but if you’ve decided you want to try it, I highly recommend doing it 100% for at least a month so you can maximize your results. When you start making exceptions and modifications it can be a very slippery slope (don’t say I didn’t warn you!).
I’ve included a beginners guide below. It may seem intimidating or unrealistic at first, but I promise you once you get the hang of it, it’s not all that hard!
I’ve only been eating paleo for about 5 weeks, but hopefully you can learn from my ”mishaps” and benefit from the research I’ve been doing.
The key to this diet is to keep it as simple as possible. Only eat what our paleolithic ancestors were able to hunt and gather: Lean Meats, Seafood, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Seeds and Healthy Fats. This means no Dairy, Grains, Processed Food, Legumes, Starches, Sugar and Alcohol. Most people are not willing to give up alcohol completely (including myself) so just make sure you stick with red wine since it is made from grapes (Note: Red wine is preferred over white wine because it is higher in antioxidants) and tequila since it is made from the agave plant.
If you need help determining what foods are paleo download the app “Paleo Central” or check out the list below:
Lastly, with any diet it’s important to make sure you exercising and get enough sleep. We’ve all heard it a million times, so I’m not going to beat a dead hourse. You should be doing your best to get at least 8 hours a night in a pitch black room and try to exercise at minimum of 3-4 times a week. I find it easiest to get in a routine and go everyday (1-2 days off a week with active recovery) and I highly recommend trying crossfit 😉
Absolutely No Grains and Take It Easy on the Snozberries (2)
One of my “mishaps” when I first started was I ate WAY too much fruit. One of the most important parts of the Paleo Diet is balancing your meals (protein, fat and carbohydrates) and making sure you are getting the right nutrients at the right time.
As you consume carbohydrates, they’re broken down into glucose. Glucose is a simple type of sugar and your body’s main source of fuel/energy. You might be thinking, if that’s the case then the more carbohydrates I eat the more energy I will have! WRONG. Unfortunately, our bodies are only able to use a certain amount of glucose at time, and whatever is not used will float around in our blood stream. When your body senses glucose in your blood stream it will then be stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver for later use. However, once your glycogen receptors reach their limit, any glucose left over will now be stored as saturated fat within the body (thus we gain weight from excess carbohydrates/sugar).
Glucose floating around in your body is toxic, so when our body senses there’s an overload, the pancreas will release insulin to signal the body to store the glucose as glycogen. We know that at this point the glycogen receptors are already full, but your body thinks your cells didn’t get the message and releases even more insulin. This process can go on and on. Since excess insulin is also toxic floating around in your bloodstream, the insulin will allow the glucose to access your fat cells. When this happens for an extended period of time, your body can lose it’s ability to burn stored fat and absorb amino acids (proteins), your chances of cancer and diabetes greatly increase and much more.
Don’t Let the Word “Paleo” Fool You
Sites like Pinterest can be a great resource for the Paleo diet. I get a lot of meal ideas from different people and I’m able to share mine. HOWEVER, there are a lot of “Paleo” treats and sweets out there that can sabotage your progress and results.
Just remember, the point of the Paleo Diet is to eat healthy nutrient rich foods like our Paleolithic Ancestors did. Although very tasty, substitutions and clever modifications should be an occasional treat and should not have a leading role in your everyday diet.
You Can Eat As Much As You Want!
This is partly true. Since everything you are consuming is natural, unprocessed and filled with nutrients, it is VERY hard to over eat. With that being said, the key is listening to your body and making sure you are balancing your meals with proteins, good fats and low-glycemic carbohydrates. If you’re hungry eat, if you’re not don’t. There are no specific guidelines on when to eat or how many times a day (with the exception of pre/post-workout nutrition), just making sure you are focusing on the quality of what you are eating. Although it can get expensive, try to stick with organic fruits/vegetables, grass-fed beef/butter/etc. and pastured chicken/eggs.
Since many of us cannot afford to buy everything organic, I’ve included the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen below. These are the 12 foods most likely to contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and other pesticides as well as the 15 foods that are least likely to be contaminated. So when and doubt, make sure you are at least shopping organic when it comes to the Dirty Dozen!
Good luck and feel free to post any questions below!
(1) Image 1 – The Food Lovers’ Primal Palate – www.primal-palate.com
(3) Section on Carbohydrates – http://wellnessmama.com/1117/guide-to-carbohydrates/