Paleo Diet Introduction
The Paleo diet for beginners is simple because Paleo itself is simple. But practicing Paleo is not easy, unless you know how. We’ll show you how..
Paleo is not some complicated, calorie counting, fad, “here today, gone tomorrow” diet. Rather, it is what we would call a “Back to Nature” way of eating. And, as you know, this site is big on “nature” and “natural.” But what does Paleo mean?
The theory behind the Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet is sometimes referred to as the Caveman Diet. Why is that? Well, cavemen lived in what is known as the Paleolithic era. The word Paleolithic is derived from the Greek for “old stone.” In Greek, “palaios” means “old” and “lithos” means “stone.”
So this could just as well have been called the “Old Stone Age Diet.”
Evolution of man and foodstuffs
The Paleolithic era dates from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. So, we have been evolving for 2.5 million years. But we’ve been farming for grain and dairy products for only 10,000 years. So grain and dairy are comparatively new to our systems.
But on top of that, for the past 100 years or so, we have been spraying our crops with pesticides. And we have been injecting our livestock with all kinds of hormones.
And then, to make matters even worse, our food industry has for a long time been processing foods. The purpose of this has been to preserve food and make it easier to transport and store. It is also to make the food more palatable and therefore easier to market.
Technically, food is “processed“ even if you only cook it. But in our Paleo context, a food is processed if it contains artificial additives, including refined sugar; or if it contains ingredients you would not cook with at home. If a food comes in some kind of package displaying small print disclosures, it is almost guaranteed to have been processed.
Food, disease, science, money, and politics
Paleo diet theory holds that there is evidence that links dairy and grains to diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer.
But medical research, which is funded by Big Pharma, is less interested in finding the underlying causes of such diseases than it is in developing patentable and profitable cures.
And on top of that, the dietary guidelines (such as the old food pyramids) that come out of our government agencies are heavily influenced by the lobbying efforts of big food and agriculture companies. So they are not totally to be trusted.
The Paleo solution
Our bodies were designed to eat what our Paleo ancestors ate as hunter-gatherers, prior to the age of agriculture, and prior to the introduction of modern food production and processing technologies.
So, for our health, we should adopt a diet based as closely as possible on the type of food our Paleo ancestors would have eaten.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The shorthand for the Paleo diet for beginners is this.
The Paleo diet makes your life healthy and simple by focusing on lean meats, vegetables of all kinds, fruits of all kinds, eggs, fish (especially salmon, mackerel, albacore, and tuna and anything rich in Omega 3s), seeds, nuts, and oils made from seeds and nuts (coconut or extra virgin olive oil).
This should all be wild caught or organically grown. And, here’s some good news. For their health benefits, you can add dark chocolate and red wine.(in moderation).
Paleo avoids beans, lentils, peas, and legumes of any kind. It avoids dairy, salt, starches (like potatoes), fast food, refined sugars, junk food, processed food, and grains (this includes bread).
Excluding all grains, of course, makes this diet gluten-free. This is a major plus for people suffering from gluten intolerance.
Here is a discussion of some studies supporting the Paleo diet with demonstrable benefits. Other studies link the Paleo diet to better insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and reduced inflammation. It also seems to lower risk factors for heart disease.
Paleo and Insulin Resistance
It is worth dwelling for a moment on insulin resistance. We believe Paleo has special benefits here, because overcoming insulin resistance is a key factor in weight loss.
Insulin is the hormone, made by the pancreas, that helps the glucose in your blood get used for energy by entering the cells of your muscles, fat, and liver. Insulin resistance happens when these cells do not respond to insulin. This prevents the absorption of glucose and causes it to be stored as fat. If you are storing fat, you are putting on weight.
Insulin resistance can also result in anxiety and stress, fatigue, poor sleep, and (perhaps worst of all) hunger cravings. This makes it even more difficult to lose weight.
The studies indicate that a Paleo diet reduces insulin resistance. This not only helps us stay healthy and avoid type 2 diabetes, but it is also a key factor in losing weight.
Many of the diets out there emphasize the benefits of overcoming insulin resistance and Paleo seems to do as well as any of them and has other benefits as well.
Plus, Paleo does not require an expensive course of supplements, like the Golo diet for example. And it is worth pointing out that the Golo diet is heavily focused on dealing with insulin resistance.
But what does Paleo look like in practice?
Here is a typical day’s meal plan.
- Breakfast: scrambled eggs with spinach, and grilled tomatoes
- Lunch: Mixed salad with fried sea bass
- Dinner: roast chicken with a carrot, onion, and rosemary stuffing
Let’s dig a bit deeper into some actual recipes (use illustrations from the vid already loaded)
Paleo Breakfast recipe: Tortillas
Ingredients: 2 Paleo tortillas, 2 eggs, 1 red bell pepper, ½ yellow onion, salt and pepper to taste.
Directions: Dice the red bell pepper and yellow onion. Warm your tortillas (a microwave works great for this, or use a skillet at medium heat, a few seconds on each side). Then in a skillet on medium heat, spray with cooking oil. Then cook the diced bell peppers and yellow onion until the onion is translucent and the bell peppers are soft. Crack the eggs into the pan and whisk everything together until the eggs are cooked (about 4 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste and then place in the tortillas and serve warm.
Paleo Lunch recipe: Paleo Turkey Lettuce Wraps:
Ingredients: 8 pieces deli turkey meat; two large pieces of lettuce for the wrap; salt and pepper to taste; 1 avocado sliced; 1 Tomato sliced or diced; Mayo to taste; sprigs of fresh basil to taste.
Directions: Spread the lettuce leaves out as widely as you can. spread your mayo and basil sprigs over the lettuce. Next, add the avocado. Sprinkle the tomato, then place the deli slices over the lettuce and roll them up. Serve immediately and enjoy a cold
Paleo Dinner recipe: Simple Paleo Slow Cooker Chicken
Ingredients: 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; 3 cups vegetable stock
Directions: Season your chicken with preferred ingredients. Simple pepper suffices. Place the chicken breast and stock in the slow cooker, so that the chicken is covered. Turn on the cooker at the high setting. Cooking time is approximately two and a half hours. Let cool. Serve with a salad.
Paleo Dessert recipe: Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie with Cacao Nibs
Ingredients: 2 frozen bananas; 2 tablespoons of raw peanut butter; 2 cups of almond milk; 1 tablespoon of cacao nibs.
Directions: Blend the frozen bananas in your blender on high. Add in the almond milk, then the raw peanut butter and cacao nibs. Blend for an additional 30 seconds until the smoothie is at your desired consistency. Transfer to a glass and serve.
Looks easy, right?
So, on the face of it, Paleo seems pretty easy to follow. These lists of food types and these recipes look simple. But, actually, it is not so easy in practice.
How do you plan a month’s worth of Paleo meals. You have got to prepare them because you have ruled out fast food or pre prepared meal options.
Going Paleo is a lifestyle choice and it involves planning and some lifestyle changes. And these changes can be hard. But help is at hand, and we’ll get to that in a moment.
But, first, some important advice. You don’t have to be a Paleo Purist!
In our opinion, the Paleo diet is an excellent model. It is our own experience that we feel better on it and we have lost weight.
But, while we follow the Paleo model, we have kept our minds open. We follow a flexible Paleo program. So have others like us.
For ourselves, for example, we have included some whole grains, specifically those contained in muesli with dried fruit. And we add in some dairy products. We like yogurt with our muesli for breakfast, together with blueberries.
Whole grains contain fiber, vitamin B, antioxidants, and trace minerals. And dairy is an important source of vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and protein. So a Paleo purist would miss out on these.
The other thing about religiously following Paleo is that it can be expensive. Try shopping for grass-fed beef! And wild caught fish can be expensive too. So don’t be afraid to work within your budget.
All in all, don’t get caught up in the romantic idea of pretending to be a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer. That has to be the last thing anyone would want. There is nothing romantic about a life that was “nasty, brutish, and short!”
So our recommendation is to follow the basic Paleo principles but depart from them when it makes practical and economic sense to you. For example, we ourselves like to incorporate a smoothie a day into our meal planning.
Now just below is the help we mentioned earlier.
The Paleo Grubs Book
The Paleo Grubs Book is ideal help for the paleo diet for beginners.
If you are going Paleo, you have just got to get the thinking done for you. You don’t want to be in a panic over what you are going to have for your next meal or what the heck you should be shopping for.
We came across the Paleo Grubs Book and found it to be a lifesaver. Let’s run through some key elements of this fabulous resource. Click on the red underlined link below to check it out.
The Paleo Grubs Book
470 Plus Recipes in the Paleo Grubs Book
There are more than 470 Paleo recipes in the Paleo Grubs Book. And while you can get plenty of recipes online, you don’t get much in the way of detail. Paleo Grubs gives it all to you in one place, gives you detailed pictures, and breaks everything down into simple steps. The instructions are easy to follow. And the illustrations are professional-grade photographs for tight detail. Plus they are inspirational.
Inspiration includes waistline-friendly Paleo desserts, which are emotional life-savers. Give your willpower some help!
And the book introduces the crockpot and slow cooker dishes as one of the keys to implementing the Paleo lifestyle with minimum effort.
Best of all, in our opinion, is that you a 10-week meal plan of pre-planned Paleo breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks – complete with shopping lists for each week
Paleo Grubs Book – Inexpensive and Guaranteed
The Paleo Grubs Book is inexpensive and comes with a money-back guarantee. But you are not going to need that. We have found that the advice contained in this book is worth many times its price. For example:
- You won’t be wasting money at the grocery store.
- You will find out how to make your own Paleo meals from scratch instead of buying pre-packaged foods.
- You will be able to save yourself the headache of meal planning. It’s “just pick and choose” and “mix and match.”
The Paleo Grubs Book takes stressful Paleo diet confusion and makes it a simple, easy to follow plan.
Paleo vs Keto
We have used the Keto diet as a form of crash diet, before we went Paleo.. The thing is that Keto is hard to maintain long term. Paleo has much more flexibility, requires much less attention to macronutrient detail, and seems better for overall digestive health.
Here is a great side-by-side comparison of Paleo vs Keto.
Paleo Tips and Tricks
We highly recommend the Paleo Grubs Book. But we can offer our own tips and tricks for going Paleo. These include:
- Like most things in life, going Paleo is easier if you are doing it with someone else. It can make it a lot easier to have a partner while you are undergoing this major lifestyle change. So see if you can get your significant other involved too, or at least support you.
- It’s more fun creating new and interesting meals with a spouse or partner than doing it on your own
- Also, instead of focusing on the things that you wish you had and really want, it’s a good idea to find replacements for the things you crave rather than trying to use a lot of self-control to prevent yourself from giving in to temptations.
- For example, if you crave a cheeseburger, treat yourself to a lean hamburger wrapped in lettuce instead. Or try almond bread or coconut bread instead of store bought wheat bread. But remember, while following the Paleo diet, you don’t have to be a Paleo purist.
- Crockpots can be an amazing investment for anyone who is considering a Paleo lifestyle. You can throw meats and vegetables into a crockpot and create delicious outcomes without having to do much planning. You can’t beat a crockpot for versatility and reliability.
- Another good idea if you are going Paleo is to invest in soups. Stews and soups are great for Paleo. Make batches of soups that you can freeze and eat later. You can do the same thing with stews.
- These are instant meals that you can fall back on and avoid eating something you shouldn’t if you get pressed for time.
- In this way, you can plan and cook your Paleo meals in bulk days or weeks ahead and then never have to worry about what you are going to have for any meal.
- And when buying food, be careful to read the labels. You do not want to be eating unhealthy additives and preservatives. Rule of thumb: if it’s packaged, don’t buy it.
- Finally, cultivate vegetables in your own garden. You know they are fresh.
Paleo Lifestyle and Exercise
Our Paleolithic ancestors got plenty of exercise with their hunting and gathering.
If we aren’t trying to be active, then going Paleo in our diet is not likely to have the truly beneficial effect on our health that we want.
Our bodies are built for movement, and if we aren’t utilizing them for that purpose, it can be challenging to stay in shape and live as healthy a lifestyle as possible.
The hardest part about building a workout routine is getting started and sticking with it. Developing new habits can take anywhere from a week to a month. So help yourself develop your Paleo diet routine by sticking to a daily exercise routine.
Exercise can be as simple as walking or swimming. Or you could take up yoga. And why not consider functional strength training. Here is the first of a YouTube video series on functional strength training.
Developing Healthy Paleo Diet Habits
The Paleo diet will work for you. But it will only work if you work to make it work. So we dwell on this here for that reason.
Developing healthy Paleo diet habits takes time and persistence. It’s hard to make a change and it is hard to give up some of those unhealthy foods that get our endorphins going. After all, who doesn’t like Macdonald’s French fries?!
If you want to eat healthy, clean foods and enjoy the air lifestyle, you can’t do it alone or but you can do it with the support of those around you.
Changing our lifestyle habits involves overcoming neurological and psychological barriers. It will take time. And it’s always best if you can do it with the support of someone close to you.
The best way to begin to implement a new habit is to make it your priority and to stick with it every day at approximately the same time.
We should help ourselves by clearing away physical and mental barriers that may be getting in the way.
- Are we getting enough sleep?
- Are we drinking enough water?
- Are we exercising daily?
- Are we doing cardio from time to time?
- Are we helping our mental health by avoiding bad relationships?
- Are we keeping our living space clean and decluttered?
- Are we meditating? Meditation has a great way of helping us gain a healthy perspective that will assist us in reaching our goals.
We need to develop patience with ourselves, such that we can forgive ourselves if we fall off the wagon. We don’t want to be too hard on ourselves, or we will get discouraged. But we do need to develop the persistence to get back on the wagon.
And you don’t have to jump into a Paleo diet whole hog from day one. You can ease your way into it. For example, you can change just one of your daily meals at a time. Or just focus on getting rid of refined foods to start with.
Paleo Diet and Accountability
Help yourself stay on track by keeping track. Use your bathroom scales, a tape measure, and a food journal to track your progress. Maintain charts and checklists.
And use the journal to track the times you fell off the wagon too. It will be a reminder to do better and when you look back after you have developed your Paleo habit, you can laugh about it.
Paleo Diet Conclusions
So what do we conclude about our Paleo diet for beginners?
First, get some expert support, like from the Paleo Grubs Book. If you don’t have to think or worry about the mechanics of the Paleo diet, you have got the battle half won.
You can then focus your efforts and attention on yourself and coaching yourself through adjusting to a new lifestyle. You can build new and enjoyable rituals around your new diet and its companion exercise program.
Maintain your tracking journals and, hopefully, bring a lifestyle partner along with you for the ride. It’s certainly more fun with someone else! And you will both end up with a whole new lease on life.