The Paleo Diet – The Primal Feeding Definition
The paleo diet is both the oldest and one of the newest diet/lifestyles that people are turning to for various reasons. The diet/lifestyle is based off of the hunter/gatherer diet that our primal ancestors use to live based off of for their own survival.
Now, most people say you are completely basing your diet off of a caveman’s diet, but the truth is that the “paleo diet” just a marketing term used to make this diet sound catchy. It is a great diet to follow if you want to lose weight, gain muscle, or just feel healthier overall. There are parts of our everyday diet that have come post primal times that can be blamed for the poor health in a lot of our modern society.
Following the diet makes sure that you are eating only nutrient rich food and avoiding the processed food. Modern day processed foods as full of ingredients that are known to cause obesity, cancer, ADHD, diabetes…you get the point.
What do Paleo Dieters Eat
My easy way to follow this diet is to say if you can kill it or pluck it out of nature, you can probably eat it.
We make sure that our diet is mainly consisting of meat (preferably grass fed), vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats/oils.
If you like lists, then follow this for what to eat on the paleo diet:
- Grass-fed meats
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruit
- Nuts and seeds (NOT peanuts, they are legumes!)
- Healthful fats & oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)
What the Paleo Diet Avoids
First off, the bottom of the food pyramid is torn off. No more grains since they are usually not very nutrient dense and are full of calories that convert to fat too easily.
We need to avoid processed foods since the chemicals and fillers that companies add to these foods are either void of nutritional value or do actual harm to your body. These are unnatural ingredients made up of chemicals and other items put together in a lab.
Sugar is something that should be avoided in every diet. Sugar is a high calorie, high carb, low nutrient, addictive and cancer causing substance. Sure it tastes good, but you can find alternatives in things like honey, fruit, and maple syrup.
Gluten is a big no-no in the paleo community. Gluten is a protein found in cereal grains, like wheat, that our body has a hard time digesting. This is a widespread filler used in so a lot of foods you wouldn’t even think it would be added to like sausage, deli meat, alcohol, gum, and salad dressing, to name a few.
Lectins are also prevalent in the grains that we find in our everyday food. Lectins’ effects on our digestive systems is a defensive effect from the grain. These plants have evolved to make themselves non-digestible and prevent your digestive tract from being able to repair itself from normal wear and tear.
Again if you are a list person, here are some of the major things to avoid on the paleo diet:
- Cereal grains (wheat, barley, oats, quinoa, etc.)
- Legumes (including peanuts and soy)
- Refined sugar
- Potatoes (sweet potatoes are OK in moderation)
- Processed foods
- Refined vegetable oils
Where do you get Energy From?
You may have noticed that things like sugar and grains give you instant energy. Whole grains keep you energized a little longer. But you may have also noticed that you often crash after consuming a lot of sugar or go into a food coma after eating too much pasta or other grains.
Instead of using carbs as a fuel source, our bodies use stored fat as energy. One of the major reasons we have fat is to provide a fuel reserve in case we cannot find food to fuel us. Take away the abundance of carbs and our bodies will naturally pull from stored fat for energy through a process called ketosis.
Health Benefits of the Paleo Diet
Since the diet takes out the toxins of unprocessed foods and increases the amount of nutrients you consume through whole foods, you’ll notice a phenomenal amount of benefits to your health. The list can go on for a while, but I’ll just bullet point some of the most desired effects.
- Better absorption of nutrients from food
- Clearer skin and healthier looking hair
- Decreased gas
- General feeling of well being
- Healthier gut flora
- Higher immune function
- Improved glucose tolerance; decreased insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity
- Improved lipid profiles
- Improved mood and attitude
- Improved sleep
- Improvements in those suffering depression or anxieties
- Improvements respiratory problems such as asthma
- Less or no bloating
- Lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer
- Mental clarity
- Muscle growth
- Reduced allergies
- Reduction of pain associated with inflammation
- Stable energy levels
- Sustained weight loss
What You Will Notice on Paleo First
The first thing that you’ll probably notice is some cravings for sugars and other foods that you were eating before. This is because those are addictive ingredients. You actually go through withdrawls when you take them away. Some people will even get headaches and feel sick, but that is just your bodies natural reaction of ridding it of toxins.
After that phase, if you have that phase, you’ll probably start to have better sleep and more energy throughout the day. A lot of paleo dieters mention better mental clarity within a couple weeks on the diet. The weight you were looking to lose usually starts to come off within the first week or 2.
Exercise and the Paleo Lifestyle
Most people that I have heard having a problem with weight loss on paleo are those that don’t exercise. They eat bacon all day and other high calorie foods and wonder why they don’t lose any weight. You do need to have a somewhat active lifestyle to get the most out of this diet.
No, you don’t need to do Crossfit. Crossfit and paleo usually go hand in hand, but it is not necessary. Your exercise regime should just focus on plenty of strength training with a day or two of cardio per week.
Paleo Diet Recipes
That is what this blog is mainly about. I like to find foods that I used to eat pre-paleo, and try to put a paleo friendly twist on them. You can find plenty of paleo recipes around the web, but if you are looking for any particular paleo recipes feel free to browse this site, subscribe to my newsletter, or send me a request for me to whip something up.