Paleo Diet 101 - An Introduction to Eating Paleo
The paleo diet is one of those things that doesn’t seem to be going away. With good reason! When it first emerged on the scene, it seemed like one of those flash in the pan things. Everyone was talking about how the paleo diet could make you fitter, healthier and less prone to illness and a ton of cookbooks and ebooks were sold on this basis.
While with some diets that seem to come and go - as time has passed it never quite went away. This is always a pretty good sign and suggests that the diet in question probably has something to it. In this case, it is indeed true that the diet is highly effective, very logical and surprisingly fun and easy to stick to. Read on with our guide and learn more about this diet and how you can go about getting started with it if you’re interested in what it has to offer.
About the Paleo Diet
What exactly is the paleo diet?
What does it involve on a day-to-day basis?
And what are the purported benefits that make it worthwhile?
Essentially, the idea is to try and eat like our Palaeolithic ancestors. This isn’t supposed to be taken literally (which is where some critics miss the point) but rather it’s a general guideline. The point is that we’re meant to eat more akin to the way we ate in the wild.
In evolutionary terms, we have spent millions of years becoming the creatures we are today and have only spent the smallest fraction of that time ‘civilized’. Our bodies evolved when we were hunter-gatherers then and they haven’t yet had time to adapt to the modern diets that many of us survive on now.
This is an important distinction. Natural food wasn’t made for us: we were made for it. Our bodies evolved to thrive on that food because that’s what was there. We were built around those facts.
The simple rule to follow if you’re going to go ‘full Paleo’ then, is that you can eat anything as long as it would be theoretically possible to hunt or forage for it. That means you’re allow to eat meats, you’re allowed to eat fruits, you can eat nuts and berries, but you can’t eat bread, you can’t eat sweets and you can’t eat any ready-meals. Anything that has been processed or that is filled with chemicals is off-limits. Though of course it is up to you how strict you want to be and whether you might want to take the occasional ‘cheat day’.
Why Paleo is Good for Us
As I have just said, our bodies are designed to thrive on the food that was available to them at a given time. When we eat naturally then, we are simply providing our bodies with the fuel that it was built to run off of.
Conversely, when you eat chips or Mars Bars, you are simply filling your body with junk.
The body needs the things that we could found in the wild. Foods that are natural contain micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and more. These help to strengthen our immune systems, increase our brain function, improve our energy levels and much more.
Let’s take a piece of natural beef for instance. As well as being rich in amino acids (bioavailable protein for building muscle), it is also high in calcium and magnesium for strengthening the bones, creatine which can boost IQ and increase energy levels, CoEnzyme Q10 which can increase lifespan and combat cancer and more. It’s low in sugar and it’s hard to ‘overeat’.
Now compare this to something like a candy bar. This is so processed that any of the nutrients from the original ingredients are long gone. It won’t increase your eyesight, your brain power or boost your energy because all of that has been stripped out. What’s added instead is tons of extra sugar which will make you gain weight, ensure you are hungry again in an hour and damage your nerves even. These are ‘empty calories’ and the more empty calories you consume, the more your body will start to deteriorate and the more weight you will gain. Your system will be crying out for some real sustenance and will not find it in any of the food you’re putting in!
What Does the Paleo Diet Look Like?
Eating paleo means avoiding empty calories and as a by-product, that also tends to involve avoiding simple carbs and sugars. Now you’re filling your system with food it can use and that will make you stronger, faster, smarter and all-round better.
But if you can’t eat anything man made, then what will your diet consist of?
- Protein – It’s still fine to eat meats and fish just as you normally would
- Organ meat – If you want to go ‘true paleo’, then you’ll also add a bit more organ meat into your diet. In the wild, we’d never have left part of an animal because we were squeamish and actually, the organs are the parts where the most nutrients are stored
- Saturated fat – You’ll consume fewer carbohydrates on the paleo diet, which is why you need to increase your consumption of saturated fat. We now know that saturated fat is a force for good in our diet, it can make us feel fuller longer, improve brain function and aid the absorption of other nutrients and foods.
- Nuts and legumes – You’ll eat a lot more nuts and legumes too
- Vegetables – Vegetables will be your main source of carbohydrate
- Mushrooms – Truly powerful superfoods, mushrooms can be used in the place of bread to make burgers among other things!
- Fruits – You’ll eat tons of fruits of berries, packing your body with age and cancer fighting antioxidants
- Plants and herbs – Finally, you’ll eat a lot of green things. That includes a range of herbs, as well as things like seaweeds.
Finally, you might also want to embrace a more paleo lifestyle in other ways. This can mean sleeping with the curtain open to be woken by the sun, or exercising outdoors using protocols such as ‘MovNat’. Start slow and when you start seeing the benefits, you’ll be sold!