What is Paleo?
Our ancestors thrived on a “hunter-gatherer” diet which, in today’s vocabulary, is commonly referred to as the Paleo diet.
Simply compare our ancestral fare to the modern diet and it is evident that the commercial, processed, manufactured foods of recent generations are not compatible with our genetics. Our bodies are literally rejecting most of the contemporary foods we consume (read more about the western diet). We don’t have to be victims of a diet that makes us unhealthy, fat and depressed. Paleo is a solution. It’s not just a diet - it’s a way of living that promotes optimal health throughout life using evolution and natural selection as guidelines, returning to our roots.
Although the term ‘Paleo’ is relatively new, this health-promoting diet has been common even in our modern history, especially in the athletic world. For decades, sports science has undoubtedly demonstrated that physical fitness, strength, performance and body composition improve on an anti-inflammatory Paleo-style diet. What’s the secret? What exactly should we be eating to maximize our health and vitality? Whole foods. Yes, it’s that simple. Whole foods: real foods that have been minimally processed or manipulated; natural foods that contain abundant nutrients that work together synergistically.
There is no magic pill or secret formula to achieve health. The truth is that authentic health and healthy weight are achieved by eating real food, not from manufactured chemicals masquerading as food. Keep it simple! Eat mostly vegetables, animal proteins and healthy fats, with fruits and nuts in moderation. There is no need to make a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet complicated or negative. To enhance your success, The Paleovation Workbook is designed to guide you through every step of the first month. If the paleo diet seems a bit overwhelming, try transitioning in baby steps. To learn more, read our 10 page Paleo Synopsis.
The Paleo Pyramid
The Paleo Plate
Unlimited Vegetables (organic preferred) – Although classified as a root vegetable, white potatoes are high in starch. If weight loss is a goal, limit consumption until weight tapers; note: potato chips and french fries don’t qualify as whole foods (Tarzan didn’t eat them!).
Protein from Animal Sources – Note that farm-raised fish and feedlot beef/pork/poultry are fed an inflammatory diet high in grains and/or legumes (usually corn and soy) and should be avoided if possible. Lean conventional meats are acceptable if budget is a concern, but realize that the nutritional quality is diminished. In the following list, fats from these natural sources are anti-inflammatory – embrace them!
- Grass-fed beef
- Pastured pork
- Wild caught fish and seafood
- Free-range poultry
- Eggs (from free-range sources)
- Wild game
Healthy Fats/Oils – Coconut and coconut oil, olives and extra virgin olive oil, avocados, butter/ghee (from grass-fed sources); note: clarified butter, or ghee, removes potentially irritating milk proteins.
Fruit occasionally – Focusing on low sugar fruits like berries, green apples, grapefruit, etc. (remember, fruit was not available year-round until recently and has been bred to be increasingly sweeter).
Nuts and Seeds – Those with highest anti-inflammatory properties listed first: macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios; corresponding nut butters (but not peanuts – they’re a legume).
Spices – All spices (however, the following have been shown to have high anti-inflammatory properties: turmeric, ginger, garlic, basil, cayenne, cinnamon).
Drinks – Filtered water, coconut water, herbal tea, sparkling water, kombucha (with no sugar added to final product); black tea and coffee if you must (NO fruit juice - it’s nearly all sugar, even the 100% varieties).
Salad Dressing – Extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salsa, guacamole, pureed berries, spices.
Treats occasionally – Dark chocolate 70+% (try dipping in coconut butter or macadamia nut butter!) or a periodic Paleo dessert.