Paleo 101

What is ‘Paleo’?

In short, the term ‘Paleo’ stems from the paleolithic era. Also known as the “caveman diet”, primal eating affects what we eat, how we exercise, but most importantly – how we feel. Paleo is taking millions of people back to our hunter-gatherer roots; over 2 million years ago.

 

Effects of the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).

There are a number of chronic conditions and diseases that are caused by the foods that modern humans have ‘adapted’ to.  Here is a short list of the conditions caused by the modern eats we love so much:

  • Diabetes and Obesity
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Kidney, Liver and Gallbladder Disorders
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases and Disorders
  • Hormone Disorders

… that’s just to name a few. Does this mean that the standard diet we grew up on is a lie? Not necessarily. While your body may be able to consume, metabolize and digest these gluten and soy-laden foods, it doesn’t thrive on them. In fact, it works harder to fight off the infection and disease we come in contact with in our daily diets. Our bodies were made to thrive on what was available to us 2.5 million years ago – plants, animals and water. Primal eating optimizes our bodies, but it’s not just the diet – it’s a lifestyle.

 

Rules?

Before jumping into a primal lifestyle, know that there is not a single monolithic diet to follow. Everyone is different, and while we focus mainly on whole, unprocessed foods – the true “Paleo way” is simply this: If it doesn’t hurt you, don’t stop eating it.

Take that with a grain of salt (literally, if you must). Just because cheetos and beer don’t ‘hurt’ you, they are not primal. Try to remember these simple guidelines:

  • Eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods. Prioritize grass fed and pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught seafood, and vegetables. Enjoy fruit, nuts, and seeds in moderation.
  • Avoid foods that will harm us by causing systemic inflammation, wrecking our guts, or derailing our natural metabolic processes. Abstain from toxic, pro-inflammatory foods like gluten-containing grains, legumes, sugar, and the laboratory-concocted Frankenfoods found in the middle aisles of your neighborhood supermarket. {nomnompaleo.com}

Exercise.

What we consume affects our body function a lot, but it is only part of the plan. Exercise is very simple on Paleo, consisting of:

  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – Paleolithic humans did a lot of hunting and gathering. They ran fast for short periods of time, climbed, hiked and swam. HIIT has proven to work well with the Paleo diet.
  • Weight Lifting – Just like our ancestors, lifting weight consistently (1-3x per week) will optimize your body’s efficiency on the Paleo diet. Instead of building stones and digging holes, head to the gym for a full body lift.

In addition to these, making small changes to your activity level will help. Go for a walk or run consistently, but make sure that isn’t all you’re doing. If you don’t want to be in the gym 4-5 days per week, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park your car further from the door. Every little bit adds up, and there’s no wrong way to up your activity.

 

Okay, I’ll bite. So where do I start?

REESEEARRRCH. Plenty of research. Grab one of the many free/inexpensive books from iBooks, Amazon, Kindle Appstore or take a look at Paleo approved cookbooks (make sure they have pictures). In addition, you should expect to feel a little withdrawal for the first couple days. Your body is used to all the processed foods you’ve been consuming, so expect a de-tox.

Check out blogs. There are plenty out there, like mine, that allow you to dive a little deeper into the primal lifestyle. Most people start with a 30-day strict primal diet, where some ease into it. However Paleo works for you, is the route you should take. There is no right or wrong way to make this commitment.

Here are a few of my favorite resources to learn about Paleo online:

Reddit /r/Paleo FAQ

Nom Nom Paleo food blog

Wikipedia

PaleoHacks

Paleo Plan

 

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