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Paleo Diet Basics – The Definitive Guide

Paleo Diet Basics
The Paleolithic diet, also called the Paleo diet or caveman diet is mainly comprised of food that were consumed by our caveman ancestors. Even though there exists a wide variety of interpretations as to what might be considered as ‘Paleo’, most nutritionists and experts consider it to be a diet including fruits, nuts, vegetables, meat, organ meats, and a variety of roots. This post covers some paleo diet basics.

The diet strictly forbids the consumption of certain foods. These include grains, sugar, processed oils, dairy products, salt, coffee or alcohol. This diet is not only based on avoiding processed food but rather the type of substances humans began to eat post the Neolithic Revolution when they transition from a hunter-gather a lifestyle to planned agriculture.

The Paleo diet can be seen as an effort to go back to how we are biologically meant to eat. This will allow us to reap the benefits of our genetic potential and switch to a healthier lifestyle immediately.

Why a Paleolithic diet?

Research in biochemistry, ophthalmology, biology, dermatology and many other disciplines have found out that our modern diet is full of unhealthy compounds. Things such as refined foods, sugar, and trans fats, often play the lead role in the development of degenerative diseases such as obesity, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, cancer, and even infertility.

Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD, author of The Paleo Diet, and Prof of health and exercise sciences at Colorado State University said that by following the paleo nutritional guidelines, we could put our diet more along the lines of the evolutionary pressures that shaped our current genetics, which in turn will positively influence our health and well-being.

He further says that this form of diet helps in reducing the body’s glycemic load, increases the consumption of vitamin and nutrients, builds a healthy ratio of saturated to non-saturated fatty acids, and supplies the body with a healthy amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

This Stone Age diet is very popular nowadays and is led by a very simple question, “what would a caveman eat?”

Paleo Diet Basics

The Paleo Diet Basics

Paleo for weight loss

Weight loss is yet another factor that has attracted many people to try out the paleo diet. Many individuals who are trying to lose weight have started eating wholesome, nutrient-rich foods while at the avoiding processed and back foods, dairy, salt, and greens.

The idea here is to eat only that is seasonal and fresh.

Foods that are rich in carbohydrates also have to be substituted with lean animal protein and plant-based protein. Those who are advocates of paleo diet basics believe that carbohydrates are not an essential part of our dietary requirements and we can sustain our bodies in a calorie deficit with no problem at all.

This will force our body to burn off the extra fat as fuel, as a lack of carbs equates to less glucose in our system. But wait; are carbohydrates all that bad? No, carbs do serve a purpose in our diets, but they are not as essential as most of us have been raised to believe. You can still get your desired fix of carb-rich foods from sweet potatoes, vegetables, and a variety of fruit.

The great thing about veggies is that you can eat as much of them as you want and never gain weight. They’re not only calorie light but incredibly nutrient dense, meaning you’ll get more nutrients from a lesser amount of food consumption. Perfect for those trying to shed off those extra pounds, isn’t it?

If carbs are not allowed, from where do I get my energy?

One of the common things many people ask is that if they’re not at least eating 300 g of carbs every day, where are they going to get the energy to function from? Well, you’d be surprised to learn that our bodies have evolved to operate entirely on a lower amount of carbohydrate intake than what we usually eat. So, fewer carbs should be no issue at all.

When there is an absence of carbs in our system, our body will naturally burn the stored fat to use as fuel for creating energy. This process is known as Ketogenesis. Exercising or doing extensive cardio can be a good way to burn fat especially when there is carbohydrate deficiency in our system.

Wait, no dairy products either?

Whether you should or should not eat dairy products remains a highly controversial matter. But as far as our observation goes, most paleo people tend to stay away from dairy, and not because all of them are lactose intolerant or have some kind of aversion to it. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not drink milk beyond infancy.

Paleo Dairy

Milk was consumed as a baby, and that’s it! Just like our bodies are not fit to consume grain large amounts, it didn’t evolve for a massive dairy consumption as well. The only time when they can be considered to be acceptable is when one is trying to take in extra calories to bulk up for whatever reason.

Paleo Diet Basics: Common myths – Debunked!

As with everything else in our world, the paleo diet regime has also undergone its fair share of criticism. If you look up  the disadvantages and adverse effects of this diet, you’ll notice a whole bunch of dieticians screaming back and forth at each other. Each of them citing their own source of reasons for their belief and calling each other lunatics.

But treading through all the pseudoscience and false propaganda that is promoted on the web, it’s not very difficult to find out that paleo dieting can indeed be hugely beneficial. Here are the common myths about paleo diet basics- Debunked!

Myth 1: This type of diet is expensive

Everyone can make healthy eating very affordable by doing a little bit of research. Buying organic fruits and veggies, grass fed beef, free range chicken, and other products may be a bit on the expensive side due to the processes needed to get them there. However, you can almost always find well-priced fruits, meats, eggs, and other vegetables in farmer’s markets near your area.

Myth 2: It’s tough to live as a paleo person in today’s society

No, it is not. The average family in the US eats a breakfast consisting of  cereals, muffins, toast, or donuts. The funny thing is that none of these foods have any nutritional value! They’re loaded with tons of calories and carbs, and made of processed grains that can take a toll on your stomach. Living on a paleo diet is certainly a better alternative to eating junk all day long.

Myth 3: There’s no way grains can be harmful to our body!

Grains are not all that bad for our body, as we can see plenty of societies around the world that consume grains and live a healthy lifestyle. What we are talking about are processed grains you find in the supermarket with very little nutritional value. Besides, the human body has not evolved to consume massive amounts of grain anyway.

Myth 4: We live longer now, there’s no need to eat like a caveman!

Sure, we do live longer nowadays, but only because we don’t have to deal with the dangers our ancestors had to back in the days. Imagine a world where the hunter-gatherers had access to all the modern technology that we have now; it’s not very difficult to imagine their life surpassing ours easily. It’s all pure science, people. Either accept it or do your own research to prove it wrong.

Myth 5: Paleo diet consists almost entirely of meat, and eating all meat is harmful

No! First of all, we never claimed that your paleo diet should consist only of meat products. This isn’t like Atkins, where your main sources of nutrients are meat and other low carb food items. The biggest component of a paleo diet is vegetables! Yes, every meal in a paleo diet should consist of a healthy proportion of grass fed lean meat, combined with all the goodness of nutritious fruits and vegetables.

What can I eat on this diet?

Paleo Diet

Now that we’ve cut out the grains, processed food, and almost all dairy products, you’re left with things to eat that only occur naturally. Remember that Paleo is a lifestyle. It’s not something you stop once you’ve reached your weight goal or start feeling better about yourself. You have to stick it out for the long haul to gain the long-term benefits.

Some of the food stuff that you’re allowed to eat are the following:

• Meat – only grass fed, not grain fed. Grain tends to cause the same problem among animals as they do in case of humans.

Fish – only naturally occurring finish is allowed, as farmed fish may contain harmful mercury and other toxins.

• Fowl – chicken, hen, duck, Turkey, and other birds that try to fly, but just aren’t there yet!

• Tubers – these food items are best consumed right after a workout or intense exercise. Two of the most popular tubers that can help replenish glycogen levels are sweet potatoes and yams.

• Veggies – you may eat as many types of veggies you want as long as they’re not deep-fried or contain added preservatives.

• Eggs – eggs are rich in omega-3, so feel free to splurge once in awhile

• Nuts – these are high in calories, so best used as a quick fix for a snack. Just don’t go around eating entire back full of them.

• Fruits – fruits are very healthy as they consist of natural sugar but limit their intake if you’re trying to lose weight as many fruits can be higher in calories.

Grilled chicken salad, steak cooked with asparagus and sweet potato fries, apple dipped in almond butter, are some of our favorites! These meals will not only keep you healthy but also fill you up for the entire morning/day. And the best part is that because these foods are nutritious and filling, it’s almost impossible to binge or overeat.

More Paleo Diet Basics

Epidemiological studies and a lot of scientific research has concluded that diets rich in omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats significantly decrease the chances of having diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline. Also, the reason for one of the greatest deviations away from diet our ancestors used to eat is due to the fat found in modern grain-fed animals.

You see, cavemen did not raise animals for consumption; they used to hunt animals in the wild, and these animals had remarkably lean meat. Meat derived from wild animals is not only remarkably lean, but also has a relatively lesser amount of saturated fats. It’s also capable of supplying significant amounts of healthy omega-3 fats such as DHA and EPA.

In a way, we can say that free meat is healthier than what we might find at our local butcher’s. But who can go around hunting anymore, right? Absolutely! That is why you must always insist on buying farmer’s fresh meat coming from animals that have been raised on a diet of grass, not grain.

Paleo Diet Basics: The complete paleo diet grocery list…

Now that you have some idea about what and what not to eat let’s take a brief look at some of the best foods for paleo people. We will begin by listing some of the items that our inner caveman absolutely cannot do without. Then gradually go down the Paleo pyramid to food that you can consume from time to time. We’ll end with things that you cannot eat at all.

Don’t worry; finding the foodstuffs that are listed here will not be tough and you’ll be able to find most at your local supermarket. So, let’s get started.

Meat

In the meat category, you’re only allowed to eat lean cuts taken from animals that have not been fed grain. Some of our favorite meats are the following:

Beef (lean cut only)

• Chuck steak

• Flank steak

• Hamburger (extra lean, not more than 7% fat)

• Lean pork (with fat trimmed)

• Top sirloin steak

• Pork loin and pork chops

• Lean veal

You can also add a variety of game to your list which includes the likes of venison and goose. If you feel like trying out something out of the box, then alligator, wild boar, reindeer, and even Rattlesnake can be good food options in the value diet. Crazy, right?

Lean poultry should be a staple in your belly diet grocery list. But no matter what you do, ensure that the stuff you buy consists of only white meat parts. Chicken and turkey breast with the skin removed are excellent choices of meat protein.

Seafood

A lot of food items that should be on your paleo list can be found underneath the ocean. So, feel free to splurge in these tasty seafood options:

• Bluefish, Bass, Cord, Eel,

• Mackerel, mullet, monkfish, perch

• Haddock, Grouper, Herring, Halibut

• Rockfish, Northern Pike, Salmon, Orange Roughy

• Red snapper, Scrod, Sunfish

• Trout, Tuna, Walleye, Tilapia, Turbot

Hey, feel free to include your favorite shellfish in your grocery list too!

Eggs of: chicken, duck, and goose are also great but try not to exceed more than 6-7 eggs per week.

Fruits and veggies

As you probably imagine, fruits and vegetables make up a great part of the paleo lifestyle, and should also take up a significant portion of your grocery list. So, go ahead and check these out:

Apricots, apples, bananas, avocadoes, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, cantaloupe melons, kiwis, gooseberries, grapes, grapefruit, guavas, lemons, mangoes, lychees, honeydew melons, cassava melons, nectarines, oranges, passion fruit, pears, pineapples, plums, strawberries, tangerines, watermelons, the list goes on and on.

Among vegetables, you can include asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beet, cabbage, carrots, celery, cauliflower, cucumbers, and bell peppers.

Nuts and seeds are also an excellent source of paleo nutrient requirements. The best part is that they taste great and fill the stomach up nicely. You can try to eat as many varieties of seeds and nuts as you can, so don’t forget to include these on your grocery list:

Brazil nuts, almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, cashew, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. All the foods mentioned here are paleo approved by experts and should form the bulk of your shopping list. There are literally so many varieties available that you can go nuts!

Paleo grocery list moderation items

Paleo pizza

Now we will discuss some food that is paleo approved but should be enjoyed in moderation. Try to limit your intake as much as possible or take them as treats every now and then. We know that a lot of you love oil.It’s fine to consume flaxseed, olive, avocado, and walnut oil. However, limit yourself to only 4 tablespoons each day.

Our cavemen ancestors didn’t have beer, wine, or other spirits to relax and chill out with their other cavemen friends. We’re not asking you to completely quit alcohol, but trying to indulge only a little bit. Tea and coffee are okay in moderation; soda, however, should always be of a sugar-free variety.

Sweets

Desserts are generally considered as processed food, and therefore should not be on your list. The good news is that you won’t be really craving for sweet stuff as much as you used to. That is, once you get used to the paleo way of eating.

Another good thing is that once you realize that fruits like oranges, apples, bananas, grapes, etc. taste so good, you hardly get cravings for cakes and candy. There’s a whole spectrum of taste, smells, texture and feeling in fruits that cannot be found in anything else.

Get shopping now!

If you’re venturing out into the world of paleo dieting for the first time, wrapping your head around what to eat and what not to eat may seem very difficult. You may feel that your choices are very limited, and so are the number of meals you’re allowed per day. The good thing is digging deeper will inevitably lead you to finding more interesting options.

So don’t wait anymore, get your paleo grocery shopping list ready and buy in bulk to save both money and time. We promise that you will have a complete hang of it by the end of your first month.

How long should it take before I can see results?

There is no definitive answer to this question because the human body is incredibly complex and everyone responds differently to stimuli. If you’re still feeling unconvinced about the effectiveness of a paleo diet, or think it’s too complicated or restrictive, give it at least 30 days before passing the final judgment.

Yes, 30 days is all it takes to see solid results. Countless people around the world have benefited tremendously from being on this diet. We are sure that you will too. Cut out the dairy and grains; start eating more fruits and veggies, along with non-grain fed meat. Also while you’re at it, quit consuming liquid calories and sugary substances. See how you feel at the end of the month.

Take a picture of how you look now and then do it again after 30 days. We promise that you’ll be surprised at the outcome.

Conclusion

If you think you can’t commit fully to this lifestyle just yet because there are certain food items that you cannot afford or things you refuse to give up, don’t sweat it. Start by making a few small changes here and there like cutting out liquid calories, switching white rice for steamed vegetables, cutting out on bread, etc.

Remember, every bit of progress counts. Being 20% healthier is better than remaining in the same state as you are now. Once you get more comfortable with the changes, you’ll automatically be more inclined towards this lifestyle. These are all the basics that you have to know about paleo dieting to bring some positive changes in life.

To learn more, try this amazing Paleo Hacks Cookbook and receive these added extra gifts:

  • The PaleoHacks Cookbook – Over 125 Full-Colour, Mouth-Watering Recipes
  • The PaleoHacks 30-Day Jumpstart
  • The Eating Paleo at Restaurants Guide
  • The Paleo Foods and Fails Guide
  • The Paleo 4X Cookbook
  • And The One-Month Paleo Meal Plan

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