The Paleo diet has picked up quite a lot of interest and you could say it’s going mainstream, or it’s definitely headed there. I myself began this way of eating back in January of 2011 after reading the book “The Paleo Diet” by Robb Wolf. My world has not been the same since. But the Paleo diet does have a lot of interpretations depending on where you get your information from. This will be an introduction and a quick start beginner’s guide for the Paleo diet.
For starters, Paleo is short for Paleolithic. Which was an era of time known as the Paleolithic Era. Dates range from 15,000-10,000 BC. The practice of the diet is to eat like we did back then. The Palio way of eating is also referred to as caveman eating, or primal eating. Whatever you want to call it, you basically want to avoid eating the things that were introduced into our diets at the dawn of the Agriculture era which started about 10,000 years ago.
So What Are You Going To Eat on The Paleo Diet?
Meats. This can include lean and fatty. And the organs. In United States, we have gotten away from organ eating and it’s a shame because that’s where you will find the super nutrition. The liver of most animals is usually the most nutritious of all. But I’m super thankful because that drives the price down for organ meats. I can usually get my liver for less than $1.50 a pound.
Good fats. This will include things like egg yolks, the fat of animals, cooking fats that come from animals (like bacon grease and lard), grass-fed oils, coconut (all forms), avocado, nuts and seeds. Fat is the most essential nutrient. You do not need to eat as much protein if your levels of fat are adequate.
A lot of people fear fat and especially saturated fat which comes from animals for the most part. But understand that saturated fat is the most essential fat needed by the body. Every cell requires it and so does your brain. The real fear came when the medical community believed that saturated fat raised cholesterol levels. They then believed that cholesterol causes coronary heart disease. They were wrong!
There hasn’t been one study linking cholesterol to heart disease. Every cell in your body can make it on its own and requires it. Cholesterol has been and still is one of the greatest lies being told. Don’t fear fat and don’t fear cholesterol. Your body prefers to use fat as a fuel source rather than carbs. The transition is short, but you will feel amazing.
Vegetables. The majority of your vegetables (about 90%) will be made up of green or non-starchy vegetables. Almost all of the top nutritional programs on the market suggest vegetables and lots of them! And for good reason. They are so good for you. Vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber, and phytonutrients. Without minerals in your body, your enzymes don’t work. And without your enzymes, your hormones don’t work. Hormones control everything that goes on in your body from how you feel, to how you perform and to how you look. You can’t look better naked without minerals, and vegetables are a great, tasty and easy way to get them.
Fruit. This is last on the spectrum and should be consumed minimally, especially if you’re trying to lose body fat. Fruit is another great source of vitamins and minerals but it also contains sugar and fructose. Granted it is natural sugar and fructose, so it doesn’t have the same effect on your body or blood sugar levels like a donut or a can of soda would since that type of sugar usually goes straight towards your fat cells.
The best and most nutritious fruits are the berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc). 1-3 servings a day of all types of fruit should be fine, but focus more towards the lower end if you’re trying to lose body fat. I always suggest eating all of your fruit in the beginning of your day and then switch over to more green vegetables later in the day.
What Not To Eat on The Paleo Diet and Why
Grains. This includes whole wheat, whole grain, rye, oats, quinoa, rice, corn and flour. The main reasons for this are anti-nutrients and blood sugar levels. Anti-nutrients are things inside foods that protect that food. Remember that food was all once a living thing. We, being the dominate species, conquer food to eat and survive and thrive. We all have a defense mechanism. If someone were to start punching you in the face, you either fight back or run away. This is the same with a lot of our food and plants are the same way.
With grains, this equates to phytic acid which leeches out minerals from our body and blood stream, making them unusable. Remember when I said minerals control enzymes and enzymes control hormones? This means that when you eat whole wheat bread with some Omega-3 rich salmon and nutritious broccoli, a lot of those nutrients are not going to be absorbed. Eat this way once and you will probably be fine. Eat this way every day at every meal, which the average American usually does, and you’re going to have issues. Just look at the number of growing problems we have which include obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, metabolic disease, heart disease, cancer, etc.
The second reason is high blood sugar. When a person eats grains, it raises blood sugar levels. Insulin gets released to help put that sugar back into the cells where we can use it. It will go into liver cells and the muscle cells first, but once that fills up then all the excess gets pushed into the fat cells. If you are constantly consuming grains or carbs during the day then you are constantly following this pattern all day long. The liver and muscle cells can only hold so much (it varies from person to person), so the fat cells are constantly being added to. High blood sugar levels also affect your brain. They are now calling it Alzheimer’s Disease or Type 3 Diabetes. Yes, it is nutritional. So it is preventable as is all forms of cognitive decline.
Dairy. Dairy is one of those Paleo grey zones. On a true Paleo diet no dairy is allowed. But some practitioners will allow dairy if it is either grass-fed or raw or both. I tend to be in the latter group. I consume grass-fed whey protein and butter, as well as raw cheeses when I can. Raw milk is illegal where I live. They regulate raw milk in my state more than they do narcotics. It’s ridiculous!
The main reason dairy is off the list is because of pasteurization. With pasteurization, things are heated up, so it destroys all of the healthy enzymes, bacteria, vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are usually added back in, but then they are synthetic, and your body cannot process them. Your body will usually treat them as a toxin which will lead to inflammation which opens you up to every acute and chronic disease and sickness.
Legumes. Legumes are things like soy, peanuts, beans, lentils, and the like. They are avoided due to many of the same reasons for grains. They have anti-nutrients and raise blood sugar levels. Soy is usually a GMO (genetically modified) food and it will also increase estrogen levels. Both men and women have estrogen and it needs to be in balance with testosterone and progesterone. If not, bad things will happen.
So there you have it in a nut shell, the beginner’s guide to the Paleo diet. There is a lot more information and details I could go into depth about with this type of nutrition but the basics are here for you to get a solid understanding about this way of eating.