What Is The Paleo Diet?
What is the Paleo diet? This is the diet that helped me drop 14 pounds in 2 months, and I only weighed about 170 at the time. It also allowed me to feel more lively throughout the day because I had more energy, and I not only needed less sleep, I slept better as well.
Sounds pretty cool hey? It is!
So what’s the Paleo diet all about? It is a diet that focuses on eating the same types of foods our prehistoric ancestors ate. What the heck does this mean? It means we want to eat the same kinds of foods that a caveman hunted and gathered. In the prehistoric times (roughly 2.5 million – 10 000 years ago), food was killed with spears and arrows and picked off trees and dug up from the ground. And you can bet that these foods were 100% natural and healthy. So the Paleo diet is about eating these same types of foods.
But, Why Should I Eat This Way?
Great question! It’s a simple answer too. Basically, our human genes have evolved and survived on these types of foods for a few million of years. Our genetic make up has been programmed to eat these kinds of foods. Why would you want to eat any other kinds of foods? Well, that’s what we started to do roughly 10 000 years ago when agriculture forever changed with the agricultural revolution. We developed technology to mass produce foods. The days of hunting for bison and plucking berries from the wild were beginning to decline. With the agricultural revolution, we introduce a variety of new types of foods. These food ingredients were typically rich in carbohydrates like grains, wheats, and anything high in sugar.
I’ll say it right here in case it’s not becoming apparent. Carbohydrates are bad for you! (Note: there are “good carbs”, like the ones naturally occurring in foods like fruits)
So these carbohydrate rich foods (pizza, cereal, pasta, donuts, ice cream, soft drinks, etc) is what’s causing a lot of diseases and problems we face today. Our genetic make up is not well suited for these kinds of foods, and as such we are suffering from many diseases that NEVER EXISTED for millions of years. Obesity is right at the top of the list.
Didn’t Cave People Have Short Lifespans? Why Would I Want To Eat Their Way?
It’s true paleolithic people lived a shorter time. But It isn’t because of what they ate. They didn’t have nice warm houses and a grocery store. They had to constantly fight the elements and hunt food. If your tribe had difficulties hunting animals then you probably would have died. If you suffered an injury and could not heal, you would probably die. If your tribe was smaller and inferior, another tribe could kill you for your resources. It was a different world and the shorter lifespan prehistoric people had was largely due to these types of reasons.
But…. I Need Carbs For Energy!
No, you don’t.
Many people tell me this when I tell them about my diet. I don’t blame them. It’s what you were told you were supposed to eat and you probably grew up eating this way your whole life. You were told to eat pasta 2 hours before your football game because it will give you energy! Well, it’s true, it will.
Your body prefers to use carbohydrates as energy over anything else because it’s the easiest type of nutrient for your body to process.
But this doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
And as you can probably guess, it’s the overconsumption of these carbohydrate rich foods that is deteriorating our health. Head over to any food court in any mall. It’s a carbohydrate outlet! Honestly, you will not find any food outlet that has a low carb option for anything. No wonder why we are getting so overweight.
The other important point I want to make here is that these carbohydrate rich foods did not exist in prehistoric times. You didn’t see a caveman eating a burger or a klondike bar. Our bodies are not used to these foods and that’s another reason why we should limit our consumption of it.
The beautiful thing about the Paleo diet is that you will have A LOT OF ENERGY simply by eating natural foods. Uhh…. but carbs gives me energy, what are you saying?? Yes they do, but carbohydrates gives you energy in spikes. Your energy levels go up and down depending on what you eat. This can cause fatigue and tiredness throughout the day. Ever ate a sandwich for lunch and felt like you need a nap soon after? I hated that when it happened at work!
The Paleo diet will give you energy throughout the day that is steady and lasting. This is because you are not eating any foods that will spike your energy levels. On the Paleo diet, you eat when you are hungry and stop eating when satisfied. This leaves you with a steady flow of nutrients,, keeping you lively!
The Paleo Diet Sounds Cool! Who Is It For?
If you are human, this diet is for you!! Really, this diet is for everyone. It’s the way you were intended to eat. As tasty as ice cream and gourmet Italian pizza is, you are risking your health if these types of food are the staple of your diet.
If you want to lose fat, this diet is a blessing! It is everything you want in a great weight loss diet. Very simply, losing or gaining weight is a matter of controlling insulin levels. When you eat carbohydrate rich foods, your insulin levels spike and this promotes fat storage. When you do not eat carbohydrate rich foods, there is no insulin spiking and this promotes fat reduction.
If you want to lose fat, all you have to do is limit your carbohydrate consumption. Mark Sisson (from The Primal Blueprint) says 100grams of carbs or less is the optimal zone to lose fat. The less carbs your consume the more fat you can expect to lose. Mark says that 80% of your weight is determined by what you eat, and the other 20% is from other factors such as staying fit. I’ll talk more about down below a little!
A quick tip for those who want to lose fat: Don’t eat fruits or really limit the amount of fruits you eat, because fruits are higher in carbohydrates (though they are naturally occurring ones and healthy). They are still carbs and you want to limit them to lose weight. Consider taking multivitamins and eating a wide range of vegetables as a replacement.
So, What Can I Eat On The Paleo Diet Then?
I have created The Ultimate Paleo Diet Food List to answer this popular question. Make sure you check it out. In short, you can eat meats (chicken, beef, pork, etc), Vegetables, fruits, seafood, nuts & seeds, fish, eggs, low carb beverages. These foods seem a bit healthier than most of the stuff you find in restaurants and food courts hey?
What About Fats? Are The Bad On The Paleo Diet?
It’s low fat, it’s healthier…… right? NOPE!
Not that long ago, fats were vilified for their major role is causing obesity. “If you eat fat you will get fat” is what they said. This is what I though too…. I mean, everyone was saying it, they even said it on TV! Haha. Well, here’s the scoop on fat. There are bad fats and good fats. And the fats in Paleo type foods are the good fats. Yes, the naturally occurring fats you find in animal meats and nuts and seeds. The bad fats are the stuff they put in pretty much everything else. Like potato chips, candy bars, and pizza.
Another really important point about fats is that this is where you will get most of your energy from. Yes, it sounds a bit nutty, but your body will turn the fat into energy. If you consume a high amount of carbohydrates, your body will use this first as energy and store the rest if it cannot be used right away. But in the absence of carbohydrates, your body will use the fat primarily for energy. So if you like bacon, you go right ahead and enjoy it!
So in short, fat is not only good for you, it is extremely important for your diet.
How Much Should I Be Eating And How Often?
Well, the one rule that is pretty certain from all the literature I’ve read is that you can eat whenever you want and you want to eat until you are satisfied. As far as how much of each nutrient you should be eating (protein, fats, carbs), there have been a variety of opinions on that. Personally, I found what worked best for me was to eat meat with veggies at most meals and snack on other Paleo foods like nuts or a hard boiled egg throughout the day. This kept me feeling great and I never felt deprived of energy.
I would say the best answer to this question is eat a variety of Paleo foods and you should be great. Your body will tell you if it’s ideal or not and you can adjust as you go along.
I wanted to note that at one point I was eating a high protein diet, maybe 80% protein and still felt great. So It’s more evidence that the optimal division of nutrition will be different for everyone.
This Diet Sounds Great, But I Think It’s Too Hard
Yea, I would have to say it’s not an easy diet. I have talked to a lot of people about it and they tell me it sounds difficult. I also have friends who have tried it and in about 2 weeks they reverted back to their previous diet.
This diet is going to require you to learn how to prepare and cook food. You’re going to have to bring a lunch to work and take the initial steps to gather the required resources that will teach you more about the Paleo diet and what foods you can consume (I’ll point you in the right direction at the bottom of this post). Basically, It’s going to take work. Most of all, it’s going to take A LOT OF FOCUS AND DEDICATION. It really isn’t easy to trade eating french fries and potato chips for snacking on raw carrots and and an apple.
But it is your health we are talking about here. It can have amazing effects on you. Imagine not feeling tired anymore and having more time in the day to get stuff done because you need less sleep? You’ll also greatly increase your chances of living longer. I think the VERY BEST BENEFIT of the Paleo diet is how you will feel ever day. “Vibrant” is the word I would use to describe it.
How Do I Begin This Diet?
Personally, I started this diet by completely eliminating the carbs in my diet. I don’t suggest this for everyone as it can be too stressful for some. It worked completely fine for me and my body was able to adjust to it. I didn’t have any side effects……. well, besides the massive cravings for fried chicken and chocolate.
I would suggest dropping the carbohydrates to 100grams – 150grams for a week and see how you feel. If you feel fine, drop the carbs to 50grams – 100grams the following week. And if you feel fine, you can drop it to 0grams – 50grams if fat loss is your goal. Otherwise, from 50grams – 150grams is a nice place to live a healthy Paleo lifestyle.
The other thing I want to say is the Paleo diet is lifestyle choice and not a fad weight loss diet. While you can treat it as a quick weigh loss scheme, and it will work, this diet is more about changing the way you eat for the long run so you can live a long and healthy life. A life that is low in diseases and full of energy.
I Am A Little Skeptic About This Diet
That’s fine and understandable. It’s weird that someone is telling you that carbs are bad for you and that you don’t need any of it to be in tip top health. It’s weird to eat a diet that has a lot of meat, I mean, a lot of meat is bad isn’t it? My parents ate rice all their life and they lived to 90 which is a lot longer than the average person. They were happy too.
These are just some of the thoughts you may be thinking. Hey, I totally can relate. I started the diet with some skepticism of my own. But you know what, I read some stuff about this topic and it made sense to me. I wanted to lose some weight before my vacation so I tried this diet. And as you can see from my first sentence in this article, I had AMAZING results.
And that’s all I would suggest to you, is that if you are looking for ways to have more energy, lose weight, and feel more vibrant, give the Paleo diet a try. I would try the diet for a minimum of a month before you can adequately judge it’s effectiveness. While everyone will see different results, you should expect some changes that will put a nice smile on your face.
I want to wish you strength while you take this journey to a healthier lifestyle. It’s always a choice you can make, and I hope you find a lot of success with it
Check out the Paleo diet resources below to get you started!
Paleo Diet Resources
First, I want to note a few prominent leaders in the Low Carb Eating arena. These guys are experts in this field and I highly recommend their website.
marksdailyapple.com – Mark Sisson from The Primal Blueprint
robbwolf.com – Robb Wolf from The Paleo Solution
thepaleodiet.com – Loren Cordain from The Paleo Diets
A very complete Paleo diet food list. Make sure to check it out to get an idea of what foods are and are not allowed in this diet.
My favourite book to get recipes for all occasions and most used recipe book. I recommend this book to most people for its large volume of recipes and the quality of them.