What is Paleo?

August 30, 2013

The Paleo diet is built upon the fundamental concept that we are genetically adapted to eating certain foods for optimal health and performance. It also recognizes the fact that much of the food found in our modern society has been proven to be responsible for causing systemic inflammation and an overall poor level of health.

We have been roaming the Earth for an odd 2 million years or more now, most of that time as hunter-gatherers and more recently as agricultural farmers (past 10,000 years). Yet in today’s recent day and age something has gone devastatingly wrong! Most of society are no longer eating food, instead they are eating food like products that would be unrecognizable to our way-back ancestors and even just to many of our grandparents. The result is that people are becoming overfed yet undernourished.

Food should be nourishing. When you eat, you should feel satisfied and sustained without the need to gorge, and binge, and still somehow be crippled with cravings a mere 2 hours later.

Research by Dr. Loren Cordain and his scientific colleagues demonstrate that hunter-gatherers typically were free from the chronic illnesses and diseases that are now plaguing the world at a startlingly unprecedented rate, including obesity, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, and so on.

The reason for this is the food that our Paleolithic ancestors ate was simple, nutritious, and non-toxic. It was appropriate for their bodies and remains appropriate for us today. Eating all of these inflammatory grains, highly processed vegetable oils, and sugar-laden food is what is deteriorating society’s health and quality of life.

youll-love-paleo It is important to understand that the Paleo diet is proscriptive far more than it’s prescriptive. Meaning it identifies the foods that are doing your body more harm than good and eliminates them, going straight to the root of the problem. What do you have left? Real food! High-quality, nutrient-dense sources that the human body thrives on.

Is Not Paleo 

Refined or added sugar (i.e. anything containing table sugar, agave, splenda, xylitol, stevia, candarel, high fructose corn syrup)
- Grains (i.e. wheat, corn, oats, rice, quinoa)
- Dairy Products (i.e. milk, cheese, yogurt, cream)
- Legumes (i.e. beans, peas, soy, lentils, peanuts)
- Refined vegetable oils (i.e. canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, margarine, hydrogenated oils, trans-fats)
- Alcohol, sodas and soft drinks, sugary fruit juices, energy drinks.
- In general anything that has been refined, processed, or artificially made.

Is Paleo

- Meats (i.e. chicken, pork, turkey, beef, lamb, rabbit, venison, bison, ostrich, veal)
- Fish and seafood (i.e. fish, shrimp, lobster, clam, crab)
- Eggs (yolks and all!)
- Nuts and seeds (i.e. almonds, cashews, macadamias, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds)
- Fruits and berries (i.e. avocado, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, figs, bananas, grapefruit, apples, peaches)
- Vegetables (i.e. onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, butternut, beets, celery, peppers)
Spices and herbs
- Healthful oils for cooking (i.e. coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil)
- Nut butters (i.e. almond butter, macadamia butter, coconut butter – no peanut butter)
- Non-Dairy Milks (i.e. almond milk, coconut milk,  hemp milk, coconut cream)
- Water, teas, freshly juiced fruits and vegetables, coconut water

Exceptions to be consumed in moderation

- Coffee (proper ground coffee, no instant coffee)
- Dark chocolate / raw cacao (aim for 85% dark chocolate or greater)
- Dried fruit (very high in sugar – use with caution)
- Raw honey / coconut sap / grade B maple syrup (very high in sugar – use with caution)
- Dairy (ghee, butter, and limited amounts of raw whole milk – try cut out 100% for 30 days first and see how you feel)

What about the Sleekgeek 30-Day REBOOT?

If you are coming here from the Sleekgeek community looking for information about their 30-Day REBOOT Detox, there are a few important points to remember.  The REBOOT is based on the Paleo Diet as described above, except that it is a much more strict short-term program designed to “reboot” your body into a healthier and happier state.

The main goal is not weight loss, however the program works to drastically increase your level of vitality and wellbeing. It just so happens that when you give your body the nutrient-dense, wholesome, and non-toxic food that it needs to thrive, fat loss is a very common result.

If you want the results and do the program right, the REBOOT should be strict and it should be a challenge. For 30 days you give it your 100%. Conquer the control that food has over you, show your cravings and social pressures that you are in charge. It’s just 30 days, and when you come out the other side you will feel like a new person.

- Is and Isn’t Paleo (everything listed above in the is and isn’t Paleo lists also applies to the Reboot)
- Coffee (allowed, but you are encouraged to reduce the amount you drink and try new things like green tea) 
- Dark chocolate (allowed, but realize there is a fine line between a “little” and “defeating the purpose of the Reboot”)
- Dried fruit (avoid as much as possible, high sugar content does you no favour when trying to reduce your cravings) 
- Raw honey / coconut sap / maple syrup (these are not allowed on the Reboot – no added sugars / sweeteners)
- Dairy (only ghee is allowed on the Reboot,  but no other forms of dairy)

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It’s normal to perhaps feel a bit overwhelmed by this list, people are used to their diet often consisting of convenient, economical, and highly-processed foods. Interpretation of what is “normal” to eat is based off what the majority of others are eating and what the media is telling us.

caveman The truth is that there is a difference between what is the average and what is normal. Everyone wants to feel superhuman right? They all want a way to upgrade their mental and physical performance beyond what they feel they are capable of. They are tired of all their constant aches and pains, their excess body fat, sluggish energy, poor sleeping habits, heartburn, constipation, and overall lack of ability to enjoy every moment of life to the fullest.

However what most do not realize is that the human body is actually pretty damn awesome and feels absolutely fantastic when it is working at its normal optimal capacity.

There are thousands of testimonials out there about how Paleo has transformed people’s lives for the better in ways they didn’t think possible. So get away from what is just average – average foods, average health, average life.

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish…

Coming up with a variety of Paleo meals isn’t as hard as people sometimes think it is. To start off, just sit and write down a list of:

  • 15 Proteins (i.e. chicken breast, chicken thigh, turkey, trout, salmon, mackerel, shrimp, rib eye steak, beef mince, pork ribs, bacon, lamb, venison, rabbit, ostrich…)
  • 15 Vegetables (i.e. asparagus, avocado, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, zucchini, fennel, kale, chard, spinach, butternut squash, sweet potato, red pepper, cabbage, cucumber…)
  • 5 Fats (i.e. coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil, lard…)
  • 25 Herbs and Spices (i.e. basil, cinnamon, dill, garlic, ginger, curry, oregano, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, salt, paprika, cumin, black pepper…)

You don’t have to buy all of this, but aim for having around 5 proteins, 5 vegetables, 2-3 fats, and a good variety of spices available in your home at all times. If you are rather sedentary or aiming primarily for weight loss, keep your fruit intake low at 1-2 servings per day. You will obtain plenty of nutrients from vegetables and quality protein/fats.

As Robb Wolf describes it:  “If you take one item from each of these columns and consider that a meal, you have 22,500 meal options. If that was one meal a day, you would potentially not see the same meal for sixty-one years. So much for boredom! Most of these meals will be damn good, and it is nearly idiotproof easy: Put some oil in a pan, start browning meat, add herb or spice, then add a vegetable. Cook for five to ten minutes. Eat. Granted, there will be a few dogs in that list. The salmon-lard-Brussels sprouts-cinnamon combo sounds absolutely horrid. But hey, you will not see it again for sixty-one years!

Just learn to food combine. It literally is 1 +1 + 1 = 3 (protein + vegetables + fats = meal). One of the easiest ways to get a feel for how much of each food group / macronutrient you should include in your meals is to look at various Paleo recipes and see what others are eating.   

Steps to help you get started:

  1. Drink water. This is the easiest first step you can make because it requires nothing special. Switch your sodas, sugary fruit juices, and alcohol for good old water.
  2. Eliminate added sugar. Cut out sweets like chocolates, candies, and gummy bears. Stop putting sugar or sweeteners in your tea and coffee.
  3. Cook using healthful oils. Get rid of things like spray and cook, sunflower oil, and margarine – throw them away. Coconut oil should be your go-to oil to cook in, it makes your food taste awesome and is incredibly healthy. Olive oil and avocado oil are also good choices.
  4. Stop eating foods that cause inflammation. This means getting rid of the grains (yes like bread and oats, yes I know it sucks but you will feel fantastic for doing so), dairy products, and legumes (this unfortunately includes peanuts and peanut butter). Most people don’t realize how bad these foods make them feel because they have grown up eating them all their life. Cut it out for a full 30 days and then reevaluate.
  5. If need be, snack of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. On the Paleo diet you will notice your cravings disappearing and your meal satiety increasing which means you will probably find yourself snacking less and less.
  6. Focus on constructing proper meals. Start with a high-quality source of protein, add colourful vegetables, possibly some fruit, and finish with your healthy fats like some avocado or a small handful of nuts. Eat until you are full and satisfied, but try eat a bit slower than normal and enjoy your food.
  7. Completely eliminate any other remaining processed products once and for all. Start paying attention to food labels and ingredients (ideally they should not need a food label because the food should be the only ingredient). Get rid of those “balanced diet” meal replacement shakes or protein bars.
  8. Keep your house well stocked but stop buying junk food-like products. If you fail to plan then you plan to fail – if you have healthy food readily available then you will eat it. If you have junk food readily available then you will definitely eat it. Sometimes willpower and a healthy resolution alone isn’t enough to battle temptation combined with those neurological chemical reactions and hormonal responses that happen in your body at the thought/sight/smell of food.

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