The Paleo diet is a way of eating that replicates the diet of our ancestors who lived in the wild as hunter-gatherers before the creation of modern agriculture some 10,000 years ago. The Paleo diet consists of eating foods that are unprocessed and from nature—any “real” food, basically.
Grains, oats, rye, barley, beans, lentils, legumes, and synthetics are prohibited. These foods cause health issues and require processing to be consumable for humans because they are not edible in their raw, natural form. Any food that causes a negative response in the human body—the gut for example—is not one we should eat. Many of the foods that are not recommended on a Paleo diet cause gut issues like leaky gut, indigestion, and inflammation. When you avoid these foods, you avoid the stress to your body that eating these foods elicit. Additionally, when you replace them with foods that heal, you are adding a double benefit to your health and body. This double whammy of awesomeness is why so many people get extraordinary results after “going Paleo.”
Preferred foods on a Paleo diet include healthy animals, vegetables, fruits, yams, nuts/seeds, and other editable raw foods from nature. These foods make up what really is the human diet. Eating real food from nature develops and repairs the human body while processed food negates health and causes internal damage. If a food requires processing, it is not human food—simple as that.
In a nutshell: Meat, leaves, and berries.
The bulk of calories on a Paleo diet come from eating animals. Healthy animals provide the most nutrition per oz than any other food on the planet. A colorful selection of in-season fruits and vegetables come next on the list. After that, we fill in the blanks with preferred starches such as yams, sweet potatoes, and squashes (white potatoes and white rice are considered Paleo but should be consumed in moderation because of their glycemic and carbohydrate loads).
The premise is: If it grew in nature, and has not been processed or altered, you can eat it.
Foods excluded from the Paleo diet include grains, legumes, dairy, refined salt and sugar, processed oils, and other processed and artificial ingredients. If you read the label of any typical junk food item you will find many of these junk ingredients:
- Brownie = Grains, Dairy, Refined salt/sugar, processed oil
- Candy = Refined salt/sugar, artificial colorings and chemicals
- Bread = Grains, Refined salt/sugar, processed oil, artificial colorings and chemicals
- Pasta = Grains, Refined salt/sugar, processed oil, artificial colorings and chemicals
- Most Restaurant Food = Grains, legumes, Refined salt/sugar, processed oil, artificial colorings and chemicals
So Do I Starve Myself? Nope…
As you can see below, you can eat pretty awesome. In fact, I often tell people I eat like a king. Sure, when traveling I might have a cheat meal if the occasion calls for it, but 95% of the time I eat a strict gluten-free Paleo/Primal diet.
The food pyramid according to Mark Sission. His version of the diet is called “Primal” and has slight differences over “Paleo” but they are essentially the same thing.
Ok I See What I Should Eat, But Why?
People are initially taken aback by the amount of options that aren’t OK to eat. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering most Americans follow a food pyramid that is completely backwards. Then, when I show them examples of the food I eat, they quickly realize that the options are plenty. The key to enjoying all that Paleo has to offer—and to staying consistent—is to avoid restaurants like the plague and focus on making home-cooked food using the best ingredients possible.
Why should I eat this way?Because your diet has made you sick and you are getting sicker; because our country is chronically sick, depressed, stressed, overworked, and missing out on a healthy life. And because the majority of these problems are rooted in our poor food choices.
There is BIG BUSINESS in making and keeping us fat. Consider what happens when you get fat: You eat more food, drink more soda, need more drugs, watch more TV, crave more sugar, buy more fat-loss pills, and so on.What better business model than to sell food to people, get them hooked on it, and sell them more and more and more of what they don’t need (looks a lot like the drug dealer business model, doesn’t it?).
McDonald’s is the largest fast-food chain in the world and they got that way using this exact formula. They use cheap-processed food to get millions addicted. Corporations such as Kraft, Monsanto, Tyson, and Perdue spend billions of dollars lobbying in Washington to ensure lax food regulations and encourage public misinformation through funding bias studies.
Cheap food comes with a price.
Pay a few extra dollars in the grocery store or you will pay much more on the operating table. Complaining that it’s too expense to eat healthy is pure ignorance. Food accounts for as high as 80% of a human beings health and longevity. How, please tell me, is it not the easiest, most clear-cut and obvious thing in the world to spend money on the best food possible and promote full-body health?
It’s a sick, stupid, and disgusting flip-flop of priorities we have grown accustomed to in this country. While other cultures sometimes spend half their paycheck on food or clean drinking water, we are so pathetically coddled that we complain about spending a few extra bucks on some grass-fed beef or organic veggies. Really?
The fact is it’s not that much more expensive to buy better food, we are talking a few bucks here and there. If you are pressed for budget you can get creative and stretch your dollar. There are a million ways to buy quality food in large quantities (Costco, online, buy a whole cow). You can also utilize batch cooking to save time and get the most bang for your buck.
Cheap food kills the environment and it kills us
The Paleo diet is based on eating real food. Eating real food improves your health, betters the environment, improves the treatment of animals, and adds years to your life. Yes, you should feel guilty eating that processed crap, it promotes death and decay and you are supporting the company that profits from it.
The next processed-bite you take should be coupled with a feeling of guilt, a feeling of weakness; a feeling that you are shaving years from your life and making the world a more terrible, pathetic, disgusting, and sick place. Is the temporary pleasure worth any or all of that? No, it isn’t. So start the change. Start taking your food choices seriously.
We are made to eat and thrive on NATURAL FOODS found in NATURE. When you process food through heat, chemical or other means, you are removing the nature. Some foods, such as grains, are not meant to be consumed in their raw state at all and must undergo major heat processing to be edible for humans. This is a sign we are not meant to eat them!
No Processed anything: Grains, Legumes, Flour, Rye, Barley, Candy, Cake, Battered, Fried, etc
All-Natural Nothing-Added: Meat, Seafood, Veggies, Fruit, Potatoes, Yams, Nuts/seeds
Benefits Of Paleo: You will lose weight. I have seen hundreds of clients in my gym adopt the Paleo way of eating and universally the following always happens:
- Lose weight
- lean up
- get ripped
- get stronger
- feel better
- sleep better
- increase energy
- have better sex
- cure disease (not joking).
There are thousands of success stories all saying the same thing: lives are changing. It has changed my life as well as my sister’s and mother’s.
I started my fitness journey on the typical bodybuilding protocol of whey protein, chicken breasts, sandwiches and no-xpldode-crap supplements. I thought I was eating mostly healthy but had no clue the damage I was doing to my health. It’s what the magazines like Men’s Health said to do. Why would I question their recommendations? Most people in the gym were doing the same exact things as well. Finding Paleo was like being saved
Before Paleo, I struggled hard in pursuit of my goals. I couldn’t rid the fat around my midsection and love handles. It was very frustrating to train in the gym for 3 or 4 hours a day and still not reach that ripped/six-pack look I was training for. I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Paleo way of eating is the answer to the question: What is the human diet? It has changed my life and I know it will change yours as well
We are made to eat natural food that is unprocessed. Period.
If you want to be ripped, improve your blood lipid profile, and feel and look better, than you must go as-Paleo-as-possible. I believe in it with every ounce of my being. It will change your life. A bit Paleo is better than zero-Paleo, so don’t fall into that ‘all or nothing’ mindset. You don’t have to go strict 100%-perfect Paleo to produce life-changing results. So don’t think like that.
If you fall ‘off the wagon’ just get right back on.
The more you eat Paleo the better you will be, while the less Paleo you eat, the worse you will be. The key is to keep improving. You won’t reach perfection and that’s fine. Just keep improving and eventually you will reach a place where you have excellent health, a sexy-fit body, and a bright future. Crazy what a little food can do, ey?
Paleo or Primal?
To further explain my personal eating style I would have to cite Mark Sisson at MarksDailyApple.com. Mark is the man and my go-to source on all things Paleo/Primal. I use some of his supplement products and have all of his books. For newbies, I can’t recommend this book enough:
This book is full of colorful pictures, big fonts, and simple advice. I bought this book after being pretty much an ‘expert’ on these topics and it’s still an awesome reference.
Mark has a common sense approach to evolutionary fitness. He recommends products such as pastured butter (Kerrygold is my favorite), red wine, pastured dairy, and has other more ‘open’ recommendations to food choices than traditional strict Paleo.
Many traditional Paleo die-hards are what we call “strict-Paleo.” Strict Paleo is only meat, leaves and berries, nuts and seeds and shuns all forms of dairy, legumes, grains, rice, etc. For most people, going strict Paleo would be too difficult to sustain.
For simplicity, I prefer the Primal way of eating rather than a Strict-Paleo diet. Because primal opens up food choices a bit more (like diary which I find to make eating this diet miles easier than going completely dairy-free), I find it to be perfect for myself and as a recommendation for others.
Regardless of which ‘brand’ you decide with, if you are cooking food for yourself and staying away from processed crap, you will see results. The more you do, the more results you will see. The less you do, the less results you will see. Simple as that.
You Are Not Seeking Perfection
The key is to take action on a day-to-day basis. The better you get at making proper food decisions, the easier it gets. The better you get at cooking, the easier it gets. The more you learn and remember, the easier it gets.
Eating Out Tips
Most of us eat out. Most restaurants we eat at use low quality, processed ingredients. Losing weight and being healthy in general is nearly impossible when eating out at restaurants.
Home Cooking And Why It’s Important
Because cooking is a main theme of this blog and my life, I have already compiled some good posts regarding home cooking. Check these links out for more help on preparing some awesome Paleo meals:
- Lose Weight With One-Pot Meals
- A Basic Cooking Course – How To Prepare Healthy Recipes At Home For The Beginner
Get Started Today!
I hope this will motivate you to start making changes in your diet. You don’t have to go “all out” to benefit from eating more Paleo. The more you do, the more results will show.
Here are some great ways to start:
- Raid your pantry and throw away the processed crap (pasta, grains, bread, cookies, etc)
- Say ‘NO’ to bread when eating out and make the waiter take it away when they bring it
- Stick with chicken, fish, steak, pork dishes for entree (skip the fried and breaded crap)
- Stop drinking sugar-filled toxins (including artificial sweetened drinks)
With each small change you make, you will see a small change in your body. The hardest part is getting started. Remember to take it slow, be patient, and improve your food decisions every chance you get. Each smart decision you make will repay you dividends in the future. Just as every bad decision you make will have a negative consequence later on.
Go as-Paleo-as-possible and you can reap the benefits of health, longevity, sexiness, and that good feeling of knowing you are doing something better for yourself and the world. There is nothing better!
Check this awesome infographic by the Greatist.com: