If you haven’t heard of the “Paleo Diet” then you’ve probably been under a rock for the last year or so… or at least you’ve gone totally off grid – in which case you are likely more paleo than most without even trying!
It’s no secret, at least here on the blog, that our household is follows a mostly paleo lifestyle. I say mostly as we have the occassional dairy – though less than we did. And the occassional wine – though again less than we did. And I’m pretty sure hubby sneaks in the occassional bit of bread. But yes – less than he did.
For us the motivation was that we just didn’t feel great with the food we were eating. I mean, we weren’t eating pizza all the time or burgers and chips, and thought we were “relatively” healthy. So why didn’t we feel great?
Well after a fair amount of research, some nutrition courses of varying quality we started to understand the chemical make up of our food and how it affects our bodies. Not just in terms of weightloss, but every aspect of our health we could think of.
I’m not going to delve too much into this in this post but if you are interested in reading more there are a couple of really good books I recommend.
Dr David Perlmutter: Grain Brain: The Suprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, Sugar and You
Dr David Perlmutter: Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life
If you are new to starting with the Paleo diet, the easiest way to break it down is that it is about eating natural food with no or little processing. In simple terms, paleo diet lays emphasis on eating in a way in which Mother Nature has intended for us to eat.
Unfortunately the lable “Paleo” seems to have brought with it negative connotations. I get much less resistance if I tell people I’m on a whole foods diet, with no refined sugars or processed foods. That, they all seem to get!
When starting with paleo living, a lot of experts recommend taking the 85/15 approach after the very first month. It means 85 percent of the time you can stick to Paleo diet strictly while 15 percent you can have the non paleo items. When doing this, you need to pay close attention to the way you feel as you reintroduce such things in your diet. Other’s such as Pete Evans from The Paleo Way, and Melissa Hartwig of Whole 30 advocate starting off quite strict – to give your body time to heal from years of eating badly – or at least not eating optimally. Some people are better to go cold turkey and remove all temptation in order to get used to the new way of eating and adjust their palates. At the end of the day you need to find what works for you if you are going to sustain it. Remeber, you will be changing your mind-set and the way you view food as well.
In a way, the paleo diet helps in removing simple carbohydrates from the diet. And when this happens, our body can no longer be healthy with cheap carbs as they need energy and so the body is forced to make use of the fat stores.
Without constant flow of cheap carbs that the body would generally turn into sugar, the blood sugar falls to normal and insulin level starts regulating. And so, regulated insulin level allows lipolysis to take place. Lipolysis is basically the process where your body releases fat stores to be then burned in the form of energy. So, by lowering down the cheap carbs in your body, paleo diet helps the body to start burning fat in no time. See this already sounds great!
The diet works through focusing mainly on the unprocessed and real foods which have been there for thousands and thousands of years.
Below is a quick guide to what foods are allowed on paleo diet.
These are the foods that our ancestors had access to.
- Lean meats – beef, veal, venison, lamb, chicken, bison etc (try eating grass-fed version of these)
- Wild caught fish – salmon, tilapia, bass, etc.
- Berries and the less sugary fruits
- Nuts – not too much (avoid peanuts)
- Natural oils – olive, coconut and avocado oils
So, keep in mind that you can eat such foods when on the paleo diet. Make your diet plan accordingly and enjoy paleo living effortlessly.
In general a paleo diet should be high in good fats, contain a moderate amount of protein and generous amounts of vegetables. The great thing is there is no need to calorie count – in fact it is discouraged. Portion control is genreally not an issue – the increase in good fats keeps you feeling fuller longer and you naturally eat smaller portions and less often.
Many times it is clear what paleo is. Beef is found naturally and so it is paleo but ice cream is not paleo as it is manufactured by the humans. But there are certain times when you cannot judge between paleo and non paleo food. Like you may think that peanuts are paleo as nuts are considered to be so but you may be surprised to know that peanuts are legumes and so are not paleo.
Here’s a commonlist of what is not found in a paleo diet
- Refined Sugar
- Dairy – though some will keep in butter and heavy cream – or try fermented milk or yogurt such as kefir – where most of the sugar has been consumed during fermentation. If you are having dairy – don’t, don’t don’t use low fat – it’s pumped full of added sugar
- Grains and cereals
- Sugary fruit
- Vegetable oils
For a quick guide you can print out go here