The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet


So you wanna learn about the Paleo Diet, eh?

Here’s the ENTIRE diet in a nutshell:

If a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you.

Now, obviously there’s more to it than that, and that’s what I’m going to cover in great detail with this article today.

When you are following the Paleo Diet, you can eat anything we could hunt or gather way back in the day – things like meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds.

Sorry, the pasta, cereal, and candy will have to go! Anything that didn’t exist in caveman times will not be existing on your plate or in your stomach.

And instead of counting calories and perfectly partitioned portions (say THAT three times fast), you’ll be focusing on eating the right foods instead.

And that makes me happy, because I hate counting calories. Maybe you do too.

I don’t like keeping track of how much I’ve eaten or obsessing over how many grams of a particular nutrient I’ve had. Not only do I hate counting calories, but I know that calories are

really only half of the battle

, as they’re not all created equal – 400 calories of Doritos do NOT have the same effect on your body as 400 calories of high-quality vegetables and protein.

Fortunately, if you can expand your horizons and remove certain types of food from your diet, you can stop worrying about counting calories FOREVER and instead focus on fixing your relationship with food.


Now, this article is SUPER long, so we took the liberty of converting it into a nicely designed guide for easy consumption (not literal consumption, unless you print it on bacon).

Grab your

Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet

free when you sign up in the box below:

Get the FREE eBook! The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Paleo!

  • Discover if Paleo is for you
  • The one simple trick to know if your food is Paleo-friendly
  • Easy Paleo recipes for beginners to get you started

I identify as a:

Woman

Man

If you are interested in learning more about the diet, and want to learn how to successfully implement it, we got you covered!This diet does have a ton of pitfalls and challenges that you’ll encounter as you start to change your life, and most people give up on the Paleo Diet within a few days!


So let’s dig in.

The Paleo Diet doesn’t require counting a single calorie AND it allows you to eat until you’re full and happy.

Oh, and it can help you lose weight, build muscle, and get in the best shape of your life.


I know, that sounds like an ad for some really shady supplement or diet book that you’d see on TV at 4 AM.

It’s not, it actually works (if you do it correctly)!

It’s helped many people achieve

jaw-dropping transformations

, including my friend Saint, (whose story

you can read here

):

But you need to do it right. You need to have the right mindset, you need to focus on the right foods, and structure your environment so that you’re not tempted to backslide and abandon the Diet after a few days.

Ready? LET’S GOOOOOOO!

So how does the Paleo Diet work?


Oh lord, another “diet.”

I know, it sounds like a fad/marketing ploy, but The Paleo Diet isn’t really a “diet,” and it’s actually quite legit. It’s also the most time-tested diet ever.

You see, tens of thousands of years ago, before Nike, Cap’n Crunch, and Healthy Choice meals, our ancient ancestors thrived as hunter-gatherers.

Although it’s been a really long time, our genetics haven’t changed that much since then. And yet…


The average Homo Sapien back then:

muscular, agile, athletic, and incredibly versatile.


The average Homo Sapien now:

overweight, out of shape, stressed out, unhappy, sleep deprived and dying from far too many preventable diseases due due to lifestyle choices.


So what the hell happened?

Agriculture!

A few thousand years ago, humans discovered farming, the agricultural revolution took off, and we advanced from hunter-gatherers to farmers. We settled down, formed societies, and the human race progressed to what we are today. Which is obviously great for a number of reasons (air conditioning! Nintendo! cars!)

The problem is, our bodies never adjusted properly to eating all the grains  and sugar that we we’re now consuming.

As paleo guru Robb Wolf puts it, think of a 100-yard football field. The first 99.5 yards are how long Homo-Sapiens spent as hunter-gatherers. As they became REALLY good at hunting and gathering our bodies adapted to that lifestyle over thousands of years. That last half-yard represents our species after the agricultural revolution, where our diet has shifted (but our genetics haven’t).

So, instead of loading up on meat, vegetables and seasonal fruits, we’ve become a species “dependent” upon grains – bread, pasta, rice, corn, and so on. The government continues to recommend 6-11 servings of grains a day, and people continue to get fatter and fatter by the day.


66% of us are overweight, 33% are considered obese, and those numbers are only getting worse



.

Clearly something’s not right, and we need to fix it.

The Paleo Diet is an effort to go back to eating how we’re biologically designed to eat, allowing us to tap into our genetic potential and start living healthier immediately.

WTF is the Paleo Diet?


Back in the day, grains weren’t part of our diet.

When we (over)consume grains regularly, our bodies take those grains, which are composed of carbohydrates, and those carbs get turned into sugar in our system.

That sugar is then either burned as energy or stored as fat. That’s right: the grains you’re consuming are stored as fat in your body and they’re what most Paleo experts believe are the main culprit in why you’re overweight.


So, rather than me explain that part with thousands of words, just watch this three-minute video – “

Why You Got Fat



Next, most grains contain gluten and lectins.

What are they and what’s wrong with them?  I’m so glad you asked:


  • Gluten is a protein found in things like rye, wheat, and barley.

    It’s now being said that much of our population may be gluten-intolerant (hence all the new “gluten-free!” items popping up everywhere).  Over time, those who are gluten intolerant can develop a dismal array of medical conditions from consuming gluten: dermatitis, joint pain, reproductive problems, acid reflux, and more.


  • Lectins are natural toxins that exist in grains to defend against consumption!

    Yup. Grains have evolved to keep themselves from being eaten by us. These lectins are not a fan of our gastrointestinal tract, and they prevent the tract from repairing itself from normal wear and tear. This can cause all kinds of damage.


Long story short: our bodies don’t process grains well, and they are causing a boatload of problems.

The Paleo Diet also almost completely eradicates sugar. Unless you’re getting your sugar from a fruit, forget it. Sugar causes an energy spike and crash in your system, turns to fat unless it’s used immediately, and wreaks all kind of havoc on our bodies.


So, no grains, no sugar, no processed foods.

Whether you’re talking about the paleo diet or not, many studies have shown that an incredible number of diseases and lifestyle issues can be reversed with these three simple changes.

But where’s my energy?

So, if we’re not eating 300+ grams of carbs every day, where are we supposed to get our energy from?

Our bodies are designed to operate on a lower number of carbohydrates than what we’re used to eating, so fewer carbs isn’t an issue once you re-train your body to process the food you’re eating.

When there is an absence of carbs (which is how we’re USED to operating), our body will take stored fat and burn THAT for energy in a process called ketogenesis.


What I’m trying to tell you is that our bodies are pretty effin’ efficient.

So, fewer carbs = less glucose in your system, which means your body will have to start burning fat as your fuel source. Which means… decreased fat storage and decreased body fat percentage and increased good-lookingness. Win!

So, all carbs are bad?


Nope.

Carbs still serve a purpose in our diets, but they’re not essential


.

I prefer to get my carbs from vegetables, sweet potatoes, and fruit. Why is that? These foods are naturally occurring in the wild and don’t need to be processed in any way (unlike grains) in order to be consumed.

The other great thing about vegetables is that they’re incredibly nutrient dense and calorie light – six full servings of broccoli (and who would eat 6 servings at once?) has 180 calories and 36 grams of carbs. A

single

serving of pasta (and NOBODY eats just one serving of pasta) has 200 calories and 42 grams of carbs.

Now, eating paleo does not automatically mean that you are doing a ketogenic diet (no carb) or a low-carb diet.

However, even if you have a serving of sweet potato (26g per 1 cup serving) with every meal, it’s likely a lot lower in carbs than you’re used to having.

We do recommend keeping your carb content low – loading up on buckets of fruit is technically Paleo, but can result in a ton of carbs and sugar consumed (and thus, fat gain. Fail).

I’ll cover that more below too, as it’s one of the pitfalls to avoid with successfully going paleo. If you’re worried about adherence to the diet, I understand – it’s the toughest part of Paleo – sticking with it!

Knowing what to eat is part of it, but following this fairly restrictive lifestyle in a modern environment surrounded by cookies and candy and bagels and pasta is really difficult! Factor in the “carb flu” you might go through in the first few weeks (as your body gets weaned off of carbohydrate fuel and habits), and most people give up on the Paleo diet long before it creates lasting change!

Does this sound like you? Worried about how to stick with this diet when you live a busy life and work long hours and also want to lose some weight but you don’t want to hate yourself? You’re not alone!


In fact, people like you are the reason we created our

1-on-1 Online Coaching Program

!

We work with busy people like you to structure a complete life overhaul: handcrafted workout routines, accountability, mindset changes, and nutritional strategies. If you want guidance from a trained professional, schedule a call by clicking on the image below and see if we’re a good fit for each other!

What about dairy?


Dairy’s a tough one, as most Paleo folks tend to stay away from it

– a portion of the world is lactose intolerant, and those that aren’t usually have at least some type of an aversion to it.

Why is that? Because no other animal in the entire kingdom drinks milk beyond infancy.

Hunter-gatherers didn’t lug cows around with them while traveling – milk was consumed as a baby, and that was it. As with grains, our bodies weren’t designed for massive dairy consumption.

There is evidence that some adaptation to dairy has taken place throughout the years, specifically with people with ancestry in herding cultures, but this is not the majority of the population


.

So, this is one that Paleo purists will avoid like the plague, while others have found that consuming dairy in its various forms work for their genetics, goals, and lifestyle.

If you’re not sure, remove dairy from your diet and only introduce it back in when you’re ready to see how your body responds.

So no grains, no dairy: what DO I get to eat on this diet?


Okay, so if we cut out the grains, almost all processed foods, and dairy, you’re left with only things that occur naturally:


  • Meat –

    GRASS-FED*, not grain-fed. Grain causes the same problem in animals as they do in humans.

  • Fowl

    – Chicken, duck, hen, turkey…things with wings that (try to) fly.

  • Fish

    – Wild fish, as mercury and other toxins can be an issue in farmed fish

  • Eggs –

    Look for omega-3 enriched cage free eggs.

  • Vegetables –

    As long as they’re not deep-fried, eat as many as you want.

  • Oils –

    Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil – think natural.

  • Fruits –

    Have natural sugar, and can be higher in calories, so limit if you’re trying to lose weight.

  • Nuts –

    High in calories, so they’re good for a snack, but don’t eat bags and bags of them.

  • Tubers –

    Sweet potatoes and yams. Higher in calories and carbs, so these are good for right after a workout to replenish your glycogen levels.

*If you can only afford grain-fed meat, that’s still better than grains. Do the best you can with your situation!

healthy food recipes, healthy food wikipedia, healthy food store, healthy life, healthy food logo

Steak with asparagus and sweet potato fries, grilled chicken salad, massive omelets that will fill you up for the whole morning, apples dipped in almond butter (my favorite snack ever), and so on. Pick any of the things from that list, and eat as much as you want of them (with the noted exceptions). You’ll feel better and be healthier.

How come I won’t get fat?


Because these foods are so nutritious and filling, you’ll be eating satiating foods that fill you up but are not carb-calorie dense.

To get the equal number of calories from a bag of Doritos or bread (which, as you know, you can eat all day long and never really feel full), you’d have to eat 2-3 Mack trucks full of broccoli and spinach.

Okay, that’s clearly an over-exaggeration, but you get the point.

A GIANT plate of vegetables and a reasonable portion of meat can keep you full for hours, while eating carb-heavy foods can result in being hungry again soon after.

Whenever I need to lose weight for vacation, I go 100% Paleo and I can drop a few body fat percentage points in a few weeks (while combining it with

strength training

and

interval running

).


As I said above, you can definitely do The Paleo Diet WRONG.

If you are “full paleo” but just eating nuts and fruit, you could theoretically still be eating thousands of calories, hundreds of grams of carbs/sugar.

But I can’t give up my muffin, pasta, bagel, pizza, and bread!


Okay then, don’t try the Paleo Diet!

Simple as that.

I hear you. Because bread is amazing. And so is candy. And soda. These things are designed to be as delicious as possible.

But they don’t have a place in the Paleo Diet, so you have to decide what’s important to you right now.

If you’re happy with how you look, your energy levels are good all day, and you don’t see any room for improvement, then keep doing what you’re doing – I won’t force you to eat like this.

However, if you’ve been struggling with weight loss, have no energy throughout the day, need eight cups of coffee, hate counting calories, and want to start turning your life around today, why not give it a shot for 30 days?


TRY IT:

If after 30 days you haven’t noticed a marked improvement in your quest for a better life, then go back to the donuts. It’s important to give yourself a full 30 days before passing judgment. Your body has to adjust from fueling itself on carbs and sugar to burning your stored fat for energy, which can take a few weeks.


If you’re not willing to cut out grains from your diet completely, just work on MINIMIZING those foods gradually and see how your body adjusts.

Slow transitions are often much easier to handle over the long-term; the more you can shift your diet closer to Paleo principles, the faster you’ll start to see results.

In fact, we’ve actually built a 10-level diet system as part of Nerd Fitness that slowly transitions somebody into a more Paleo-type lifestyle, because we know the biggest problem with this stuff is

When you sign up in the box below, we’ll send you both the 10-level Nerd Fitness Diet cheat sheet AND the Beginner Paleo Guide so you can cut through the confusion and start fixing your health today.

Get the FREE eBook! The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Paleo!

  • Discover if Paleo is for you
  • The one simple trick to know if your food is Paleo-friendly
  • Easy Paleo recipes for beginners to get you started

I identify as a:

Woman

Man


This is also the approach we champion with our

1-on-1 Online Training Program

and Paleo-approved flagship online course,

The Nerd Fitness Academy

.

The biggest problem with the Paleo Diet is actually STICKING WITH IT, so we built this course with that fatal flaw in mind, and have helped like 40,000+ students slowly transition to a Paleo Diet (if they decide it works for them) and help them stay on target.

How much should I eat of each nutrient?


Keep it simple:

Try to get a really good protein source with each meal (eggs, steak, chicken, fish, pork) with each meal along with some vegetables. That’s it.

If you’re having trouble getting enough calories daily, or feeling hungry constantly, add some healthy fats to the equation: avocado, a handful of almonds or walnuts, almond butter, olive oil, etc.

If you’re feeling tired all the time, try adding some salt to your food. Going from a processed, high sodium diet to a paleo diet you will very often end up eating too little sodium, which is an essential nutrient.

As stated above, fruit does have quite a bit of sugar in it, and nuts have quite a few calories, so if you are following the Paleo Diet but not losing weight, check your fruit and nut consumption and see if you are loading up on those at the expense of vegetables and healthy protein.


What I’m trying to say is this: fat and protein should make up a big percentage of your diet.

Baaaaack up: I thought fat made you fat?


Pooooooor fat.

It’s gotten a bad rap over the past number of decades, so companies have been doing everything possible to make everything low fat and “healthy!” (while adding all sorts of preservatives, chemicals, and sugar).

Yup…cut out the fat, increase the carbs….and look where THAT has gotten us.


Why has fat been vilified?

Rather than get into the politics of it myself, I’ll let Gary Taubes, author of the incredibly thorough and well-researched

Good Calories, Bad Calories

take over.

As he discusses in article he wrote for the New York Times a decade ago


:

These researchers point out that there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the low-fat-is-good-health hypothesis has now effectively failed the test of time. In particular, that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that started around the early 1980’s, and that this was coincident with the rise of the low-fat dogma. (Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, also rose significantly through this period.)

They say that low-fat weight-loss diets have proved in clinical trials and real life to be dismal failures, and that on top of it all, the percentage of fat in the American diet has been decreasing for two decades. Our cholesterol levels have been declining, and we have been smoking less, and yet the incidence of heart disease has not declined as would be expected. ”That is very disconcerting,” Willett says. ”It suggests that something else bad is happening.”


Healthy fats are valuable additions to our diet.

“Low fat” foods were created to follow conventional wisdom that fat made you fat (which as stated in the above article doesn’t stand up to scrutiny).

Now, when a company makes a low fat food, they remove the fat and have to replace the flavor with something. That “something” is usually sugar. Which gets stored as fat in our bodies. Crap.

So, fat is not the enemy. According to Taubes and Paleo folks, it has been vilified and the real focus should have been on sugar and carbs all along.

And thus in the Paleo Diet, fat makes up a large portion of one’s diet.

Do I need to eat every 3 hours?


Nope. Eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not.

Going again back to our evolutionary history, we didn’t always have the luxury of going to a vending machine or drive-through window to pick up food. Sometimes we’d go all day long, or even days at a time, without finding any food. Luckily, we’re designed to use our excess fat stores as energy in these situations.

Don’t worry about eating every three hours.

In fact, I’d recommend NOT eating all of the time, and instead focus on eating full meals!

Sometimes, it’s even okay to skip a meal or two, as long as you don’t go berserk and eat seven pizzas because you’re so hungry afterward.

Don’t worry about hitting a specific number of calories each day. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat.


This type of eating is generally referred to as

Intermittent Fasting.

3.7k

SHARES

Share


Tweet

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.nerdfitness.com

   

A quick note about the reviews on this site: I am an affiliate for every product I review. The vendors of these products give me them without charge in order for me to test them. However all my reviews are done as honestly as possible and I make no promises to the vendor prior to writing my review. Should you click a link on this site that takes you to a paid product this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to purchase that product.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.