What is Paleo?
My goal is not to educate you on the basics of the Paleo Diet. I’m assuming you understand that for millions or years, humans ate meat, fish, fowl and the leaves, roots and fruits of many plants. I’m writing this article to educate those who have ‘attempted’ the Paleo diet, but have not felt, seen or experienced the incredible results.
It’s probably easier to define what is not the Paleo diet: The Paleo diet is not:
- – 10 servings of fruit per day because you miss the sweetness from candy.
- – Eating half a jar of nut butter because you were told to increase your fat intake.
- – Eating paleo Monday through Friday and on Friday night you enjoy a small piece of bread at dinner, a few drinks and a bite of dessert (aka % based Paleo diet).
- – Sweet potatoes post workout, just because Robb Wolf said it was OK.
- – Dairy, even if you ‘tolerate’ it well.
- – Consuming 45 almonds (or any nut) just to reach your ‘zone blocks’.
- – Rotisserie chickens from Boston Market (or any other food establishment) that contain more ingredients than you can count on your fingers and toes.
- – The same foods, day in day out.
- – Drinking any other beverage besides water (even tequila, is NOT paleo).
- – Eating a diet low in saturated fat. Hunters and gatherers ate the entire animal, especially the fatty organs.
- – Cheat meals.
- – Liquid food (even if the ingredients are paleo).
- – Eating meat from grain-fed animals.
- – Sleeping less than eight hours per night.
I could continue to go on for hours based on the comments I’ve seen on blogs, discussions I’ve had with friends, family and clients and complaints I’ve heard towards the diet. In no way, shape or form am I forcing the paleo diet upon you. If you’re happy with your body composition and choose to cheat, that is perfectly acceptable. I’m reaching out to those, who think they’ve attempted the Paleo diet and have not seen the fruits of their labor. People who have planned for their new year’s resolution as FITNESS – should read this Schwinn 270 review.
Michael Pollan calls refined carbohydrates, “edible food-like substances”. Finding a way to replace those, with paleo ingredients (i.e. paleo brownies, paleo ice-cream, etc) is a route I do not suggest you take. I understand the ingredients are paleo, but eating 2 cups of almonds, 6 tablespoons of raw honey and 2 cups of cocoa powder doesn’t do much for your insulin or your belt line. If you’re attempting to change the way you look, make an effort and don’t try to create substitutes for this so-called ‘food’.
It’s cliche, I know, but no one said this was going to be easy. You’ve been eating a refined carbohydrate-fueled diet for 20+ years. You’re not going to feel well when you first make the switch. Performance in the gym may decrease, sleep may suffer, but it’s no different than learning to use your left hand instead of your right. It’s going to suck at first, but trust me, it gets better.
Please don’t judge progress by weight on a scale. I’m able to manipulate a scale by five pounds by only using 50 ounces of water and a toilet. Judge your progress by how you look/feel/perform. Are your jeans a little looser? Do you still get the afternoon crash? Has recovery been a little better post-workout?
I understand that life gets in the way, sometimes you don’t have the ability to get real food, sometimes everyone else is eating candy and you’re not. Unlike most, I don’t believe it’s OK to fall off the wagon ‘as long as you get right back on’. It’s called having self control. Yes, I know it’s hard, I’ve been there many times and many times I’ve caved. But if you’re honestly trying to change the way you look, simply refuse. If that means you don’t eat and you’re hungry for a few hours, so be it. In my opinion, small cheat meals are the worst thing you could do while trying to change your diet, it’s no different from having a cigarette while trying to quit smoking. Re-introducing those cravings, even in short, small bouts, don’t help them go away any faster.
This may make me sound like an asshole. You may say I’m missing out on things because I tend to be so strict. Truth is, I’ve always been lean, weight has never been a problem. What paleo has done for me is, it’s ridden my body of ‘issues’, uncomfortable and sometimes painful issues that I’m glad are no longer plaguing me, and which gives me no reason to ever look back.
Below are a few tips I’ve given others which lead to great success with the Paleo diet:
- – Don’t buy nut butters, you’ll eat the entire jar.
- – Remove fruit from your diet.
- – Cook everything in coconut oil, bacon fat and olive oil. Between those three oils, the hundreds of spices and numerous types of meat and fish, you can have a different meal every time you sit down.
- – Eat bacon and eggs for breakfast. It’s incredibly delicious.
- – Avoid all liquid food (even home-made paleo shakes), they tend to add abdominal fat.
- – Drink half your body weight in ounces of water at a minimum.
- – If hungry, increase saturated fat intake.
- – Sleep 8+ hours, in a cool, dark room. Cover all LED’s, get black-out curtains, make it pitch black.
- – Lift, jump and run (by run, I mean run fast, not a half marathon at a 12 minute mile pace).
- – Don’t sweat the small stuff, stress will destroy the efforts you’ve made in the kitchen and at the gym.
- – Reduce nut intake, sometimes it add’s body fat and can increase acne.