How to Eat Paleo
If we’re going to jump into a Paleo diet next week, it’s good to understand what we’re getting into and why it’s helpful. As we mentioned in a May blog post, the Paleo diet has been around for decades as a lifestyle and weight-loss method. This is how Time Magazine explains it:
The theory behind the diet is simple: our hunter-gatherer forebears, who survived on meat and fish that was not saturated with growth-stimulating antibiotics or hormones, as well as on fresh fruits and vegetables, were on the right track until the Agricultural Revolution introduced toxins into the food chain some 10,000 years ago. So the goal is for citizens of the 21st Century to lean back—way back—and eat the way primitive people did in the Paleolithic Era, circa two million years ago.
As we mentioned last week, CrossFit describes a simple approach to the Paleo diet: “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.” Note that meat and vegetables come first in the sentence. This is because we should eat more of them than anything else.
In fact, we should eat more of them than everything else put together. Veggies should become your primary source of carbohydrates. This might be scary because you don’t eat that many vegetables.
Looking more closely at CrossFit’s simple description, notice the words “some,”“little” and “no.” Some is more than a little and little is more than none. Nuts and seeds, for example, are a good source of protein and healthy fats. Snacking on these will help keep you full if you find you miss wheat and grains at the beginning of your Paleo journey. But if you gain weight easily, you should put them between “some” and “little” — “in moderation” for example — in your diet.
Throughout January, we’ll offer ideas and recipes to help with learning how to eat Paleo. For now, suffice it to say that the goal of a Paleo diet is to re-train your body to derive energy from processing fats, rather than carbohydrates. So you won’t need all of those grains! Here’s a good beginners guide from Nerd Fitness that explains a little more of the reasoning behind Paleo.
Another way to figure out what’s Paleo and what isn’t is to use whichever of these rules of thumb is easiest for you, or use them in combination. A food is OK to eat if it:
- Existed 10,000 years ago.
- Doesn’t have a list of ingredients.
- Is from the perimeter of the supermarket, not the aisles.
A few specifics about quality that you should consider when selecting your foods:
- Meat should be GRASS-FED, not grain-fed. Grain causes the same problem in animals as they do in humans.
- Fowl, i.e., chicken, duck, hen, turkey…things with wings that (try to) fly, should be free range.
- Fish should be wild caught, as mercury and other toxins can be an issue in farmed fish
- Select omega-3 enriched, cage free eggs whenever possible.
- Vegetables – as long as they are not deep-fried, eat all kinds!
- Think natural when it comes to your cooking oils – olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil. Canola is not natural, even though it shows corn on the label!
- Nuts are high in calories, so they’re good for a snack, but don’t eat bags and bags of them.
- Tubers, such as sweet potatoes and yams, are higher in calories and carbohydrates, so these are good after a workout to replenish your glycogen levels. The colorful tubers are best, because they are much more nutrient dense than your standard Idaho potato.
Hopefully this will help give you an idea of where to start when it comes to eating Paleo!
If you would like assistance with your initial measurements – weight, body fat percentage, waist/hips/arm measurements – as you begin your Paleo journey in January, any one of our SoBro coaches or the Front Desk staff will be happy to help! You can even schedule a 15-minute consultation with a coach to talk more depth or get advice about your specific needs.