Paleo Basics and Principles

Hi everyone! This week's blog post is a little different again. I thought I'd share a few of my food-related paleo principles to help out with newcomers to the lifestyle. I'm sure that Sam doesn't agree with me on a lot of these points but that's why you're reading my post and not hers, right? Let's get into this!

1. Grains and processed foods

The paleo lifestyle's focus is on the elimination of grains and processed food from your diet and the addition of healthy strengthening exercise (stop doing cardio!) and the elimination of sugar. These are the basic premises of the diet. There are a lot of products out there that are considered paleo but may not be entirely part of the diet. A lot of people have many viewpoints on the subject. Some may say that: paleo doughs are wrong, that coffee isn't paleo, that milk and butter aren't paleo, or that almond crackers aren't paleo. I think that these points may have validity if you're concerned about what our ancestors truly ate but... that you should do what works for you and your body while you continue working towards your goals whether that be weight-loss or maintenance. I try to stick to mainly unprocessed foods and to cook lots of meats and veggies, for snacks I like to eat jerky and nuts and vegetables (lunch salads!), and for occasional desserts: smoothies and paleo cookies (blog post to come soon!) Sugar is the hardest thing to cut and also one of the worst things you can eat. I think if you're going to completely eliminate one thing for your paleo lifestyle change, cut sugar.

2. Fat isn't bad and you should probably eat more of it

I hear that fat is bad almost every day! This is probably one of the most controversial topics in food. Fat being demonized mostly came from the China Study (the research which most low-fat proponents will point to.) The problem I have with it, is that the study has been regarded as bad science for several years now. I'm going to keep my article short but I encourage readers to go check out the actual paper and reviews of it (such as this recent one by Denise Minger.)

I know it is hard to believe it but... maybe fat is good for you! No, you shouldn't go drink a bottle of olive oil. Put down that jar of bacon grease! Hipsters and other assorted mustached-men may say that every covered in bacon is okay but let's exercise a little moderation, right? I try to balance my fat intake with my protein intake and avoid unhealthy fats like vegetable oils and frying grease. But that still leaves things like: olive oil, avocados, nuts, eggs, fatty meats, oily fish, olive-oil-fried butter sticks, etc. Which brings me to my second point...

3. Along with more fat, you should probably be eating more protein and less carbohydrates

I believe a lot of hunger problems from people, with who I've discussed the paleo lifestyle, come from a lack of protein ingestion. More carbohydrate consumption leads to increased insulin production and increased blood-insulin levels lead to more hunger and weight-gain.

So how much should we all eat then, smart guy? Well, the simple rule I try to follow is this: 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This may vary daily and athletes will definitely need more but I think this is a simple and easy rule to follow. Now you may say,

"Whoa! Wait a second. I've seen the government suggestions and they say I should eat 45-55 grams of protein a day. You're telling me to eat two or three times that? You're crazy and I'm immediately reporting you to the authorities!"

To that I respond: There's no need to be personal! I'm just trying to make a living by writing these blog posts!

In all seriousness, in a perfect world if you're looking to lose weight, paleo proponents suggest only getting carbs from vegetables and that's it. In the paleo world it's usually suggested that one eats 0-50g (no carb) carbohydrates for fast weight loss, 50-100g (low carb) for easy weight equilibrium, and 100-150g is usually pushing it unless you're very active or already fit. Getting all of your calories from protein and fat (A.K.A. the ketogenic diet) may seem very difficult at first but after a few days of suffering through 'carb flu' (tiredness, extra hungry, grumpy) you'll find that you have a renewed source of energy and that you can go much longer without eating! Why don't you try it for a week or two? What do you have to lose?

4. Fasting

A much overlooked part of the paleo lifestyle is fasting: generally going for more than 14 hours without a meal. The idea behind it is that our ancestors only had big meals maybe once or twice a day and worked out in a fasted state much of the time. Fasting has many touted benefits but may be very hard to start for people that are used to eating 3-4 square meals a day. If you, once again, suffer through it for a week or so, I think you'll find you get used to it fairly quickly. Fasting promotes depletion of glycogen stores in your tissues. This means that when you eat a meal, instead of food being converted into fat storage, it is more likely to go straight into your glycogen stores. I encourage you to try it and check out this article for more on it from Nerd Fitness!

Well thanks again for reading my basic tips on the paleo diet! If this article is popular, I'm happy to do more in the future. Just remember the basic principle: what would our ancestors eat/do? Keep it paleo!


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Gini McNair - January 29, 2018

Great article! Bob says “hi!” We are both currently following all of paleo practices you’re writing about. It took some time to adjust, but we’re loving how we feel and look now. This is working for us over 65 seniors! We’ve both lost over 15 lbs of belly fat.

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