I’ve been doing the Paleo diet for about four months now and I get a lot of questions about what is it?
Broken down to its simplest form, the Paleo diet can be summed up like this; eat how our Paleolithic ancestors ate 12,000+ years ago.
So, what would our Paleolithic ancestors have eaten? Anything that you could have killed or picked; wild game, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and roots. No grains (agriculture didn’t exist), no dairy (you try and milk a wild animal ), nothing processed (there were no factories to combine the lips and assholes of a pig to make a hot dog) and no sugars (I have nothing clever for this one).
Let’s flash forward 14,000 years and tie this in to our every day lives in the 21st century. There isn’t much in the way of wild game available around big cities and even for someone like me who lives in an area with wild game, unless I’m hunting it myself, it’s expensive. So what do I eat?
What I eat:
- Chicken (breasts, legs, ground)
- Turkey (breasts, ground)
- Bison (ground, steak)
- Fish (salmon, trout, tuna)
- Beef (steak, roast)
- Pork (bacon, tenderloin, chops)
- Vegetables (carrots, avocado, peppers)
- Fruits (banana, apples, strawberries, blueberries)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans)
- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
- Seed oil (olive, avocado, coconut)
- Healthy fats (avocado, fish oil)
What I don’t eat:
- All Dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt)
- All Grains (wheat, corn, rice)
- Processed foods (deli meats)
- Starches (potatoes)
How to do the Paleo Diet
There are all kinds of forms and variations of how to be Paleo. I’ve heard of some people going as far as to eat everything, including their meat, raw. Personally, I like my food salmonella free, so I cook it. Some people eat nothing but the food that they believe is native to their region and don’t eat certain foods at certain times of the year as it wouldn’t be in season. I think that bananas are a great grab and go food and seeing as I’m in the sub-arctic, I don’t see many banana trees growing around here.
You can take this way of eating to the extreme or you can follow it to a minimum. I eat lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and avoid dairy, grains, sugars and processed foods. Those are my only rules.
I also have at least one cheat meal a week. It could be a burger with the bun, fries and a few beer or it could be something as simple as a bagel. Regardless, in my opinion, that cheat meal is necessary. If for no other reason, than to remind me as to why I don’t eat those foods.
The biggest thing to take away from this article is that you don’t have to eat exactly how our ancestors ate. You can mix and match your food. You can season it with spices. I use a lot of chili powder, garlic, hot sauce and sea salt. I also make my own salsa and sauces, but you can buy organic or clean salsa and spaghetti sauce. Be a label reader, it will help you out!
My Personal Exceptions to the Rules
I mentioned before that I eat legumes occasionally but I also use Soy protein instead of whey protein because I can’t do dairy due to the fact that I’m severely lactose intolerant. I also use GNC’s Egg Protein, which is pretty awesome as well, and is Paleo. I also supplement. I take a multi vitamin, fish oil, creatine, BCAAs, glutamine and glucosamine. None of these were available in the Paleolithic era, but their diet was completely organic and they weren’t doing CrossFit 5 times a week.
I also do eat legumes once in a while, usually black beans and kidney beans, in some chili or Mexican food.
Preparation is Key to Success
Having prepared snacks and meals ready was the biggest part of my success. I found the first week almost impossible because I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have enough food and grab and go meals for my busy lifestyle and I ended up grabbing protein bars or a sandwich. Now when I cook, I cook enough for at least two meals and I always have three or four chicken breasts ready to eat while I run out the door. Having grab and go options means you won’t cheat and you will be successful on this plan.
I’m lactose intolerant and have a gluten sensitivity, so going Paleo was a no-brainer for me to stop my internal suffering. What I didn’t see happening was me losing 4” around my waist in less than three months by doing nothing more than changing my diet. I’ve never felt or looked better than I do now, both inside and out.
If you doubt it, try it. If you have sensitivities to food like dairy or wheat, this is the plan for you. I strongly believe that eating this way will help a lot of people in their weight loss and in realizing they can feel better.