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What is Paleo?

Paleo is short for Paleolithic. The Paleo diet is a diet based on what our ancestors used to eat back in the day. Our ancestors enjoyed lean/muscular physiques and lived without many of the current modern diseases. An ideal luxury not many get to enjoy in our current times. Their diet was free of grains, beans/legumes, vegetable oils, and refined sugars. Instead, they consumed animal protein, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats. When you eat this way, you rip all the benefits of a truly healthy lifestyle:

  • you feel energized
  • you look lean
  • you digest faster
  • you sleep better
  • you improve your athletic performance

There are many foods society/companies still market as healthy foods; we are constantly being fed the wrong information, to a point where it even gets confusing and contradicting. Consuming goods that are organic, fresh, and that are given by our wonderful mother nature, is the best rule of thumb. Some of these highly marketed “healthy” and “good for you” food items are not allowed in the Paleo diet for legit reasons.

Some good examples being: dairy, whole wheat foods/empty carbohydrates, grains/legumes/beans, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats.

- Dairy is extremly tough to digest and it is filled with hormones, which is why it has to be pasteurized, rendering its nutrients less available to us and its sugars less digestible. Extra estrogen (type of hormone) causes things like allergies, eczema, endometriosis, early puberty, early menstruation, menstrual cramps, decreased sex drive, acne, infertility, prostate cancer, osteoporosis, among other problems. It is simply not good for us.

- When people consume whole wheat foods or any other type of carbohydrate for that matter, they spike their insulin levels. Higher insulin levels lead to fat storage coupled with the inability to burn it, leads to a negative impact on our body’s regulatory hormones and energy levels, leads to blunt satiety (leading you to eat more of the wrong foods), and causes sugar crashes.

- Consuming grains means consuming toxins. These can block absorption of needed nutrients and are very much associated with auto-immune disorders. Legumes and beans have similar compounds. Grains have only been available to us for 10,000 years; not a long time when you compare that to our two million plus of existence.

- Refined sugars. Lets’s not even go there. Actually, let’s so you know how bad they are for the body. Sugar is unnatural, it is produced by industrial processes (from sugar cane or sugar beets). It is refined down to  sucrose, after it’s been taken away any vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes and other beneficial nutrients it might of had. The body is not able to handle sugar, at least not in the quantities that people now consume it. Sugar is also very addictive. Why is it so bad for us, you may still ask? Check these out:

  • Leading cause of dental deterioration (cavities,tooth loss, and bleeding gums)
  • Main cause of diabetes
  • Contributes to heart disease, depression, cancer, mental illness, and hypertension
  • Injures liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, and makes our blood sugar levels fluctuate immensely

Altogether we should avoid:

  • Unhealthy fats (things like soybean, peanut, corn, safflower, canola oil, etc.)
  • All processed foods (foods in boxes and fast foods)
  • Sugars: processed, refined, or artificial (except stevia extract, honey and maple syrup)
  • All grains, legumes, and beans
  • No carbohydrates (except fibrous carbohydrates that come from vegetables, an example being sweet potatoes and broccoli)
  • All dairy
  • Alcohol (except the occasional glass of wine)

Don’t get discouraged by the “can’t haves”, there are lots and lots of amazing “can haves”! There are great substitues out there for some of these foods and there are enough superb ingredients for one to have a lot of fun in the kitchen. Your diet will continue to be exciting and you will not get bored. I do promise! You should eat:

  • All organic vegetables
  • All organic fruits (including avocado!)
  • All organic, grass-fed, free-range, and wild proteins (including bacon!)
  • All nuts (these are my favorite…but you have to watch how many you eat, specially if trying to lose weight)
  • Healthy fats (coconut, palm, olive, avocado, animal, nut oils)
  • Sweet potatoes

Be sure to click here to check out a long list of ingredients the Paleo diet lets you enjoy!

 

18 comments

  1. Fialnly! This is just what I was looking for.

  2. An excellent guide! well done.

  3. Mariel,

    Your website has changed my life and my body has never looked better. Thank you so much for sharing this lifestyle with us!

    • Hi Lauren! This is such a rewarding comment to read! This is exactly why I have this blog…to help you guys love what you eat, love how you feel and love how you look. I am so humbled by this. Thank you for your comment!
      Keep it up :)

  4. dear mariel!
    thank you so much for sharing your knowledge… <3 i´m just at the beginning of my journey to change my life – focused on eating habits and working out. i stumbled upon paleo and it sounds so logic to me… i am now on day 6 (yet!) an i already feel a difference. i fell so good… better and more energised than in years (i´m 32 btw). the only thing is- and that´s where i need some advise, if u don´t mind: i cut out dairy (best decision EVER!) and ate soy yoghurt instead. i also use soy flour and soy milk (unsweetened)… now i read at you blog that soy isn´t "allowed" for paleos… :( what could i eat instead… i love yoghurt so much – is there any replacement when it comes to yoghurt?

    i would so much appreciate your help!

    thank you
    greetz from austria ( europe)

    barbara

    • Hi Barabara! That is great to hear, welcome to the Paleo family!! As you can already tell by following it for one week, the Paleo diet makes you feel and look fantastic…plus, it is so delicious! It’s definitely a win-win situation. ;)
      About yogurt…there are very few yogurt substitutes in the Paleo diet…
      1. ‘SoDelicious’ makes almond milk and coconut milk yogurts (these are sols online and in stores). They’re pretty good…they do have tons of sugars, so watch out to not eat too many a day. ;)
      2. You can make your own “coconut milk yogurt”; it is not as sweet and it is not as creamy, but it works. Here is my recipe: http://www.amazingpaleo.com/2012/06/14/coconut-yogurt-paleo-granola/
      3. You can always use coconut milk and almond milk to eat your Paleo cereal with! It’s not creamy, but it is super delicious. For almond milk I love the Blue Diamond brand (unsweetened); for coconut milk, I usually stick with the canned kind ;)

  5. Hi there!
    Do you follow the typical paleo 3 meals only a day or do you add smaller meals in between?

    • Hi Jen! I eat 5 smaller meals everyday (so I eat every 3 hours). Each of my meals include: protein, lots of vegetables and healthy fats. (I like to have sweet potatoes here and there too!)
      Hope this helps!

  6. Meredith Schwartz

    I use Whey Isolate powder (nonflavored) for breakfast. Is it considered diary or is simply proteint? If it’s dairy, I need to find another suitable protein powder for my breakfast! Thanks for any advice!

    • Hi Meredith!
      Whey protein is dairy based. I’d probably recommend you try Egg White Protein Powder. My favorite brand is MRM. :)

  7. Hi there! I’m wanting to start a Paleo lifestyle, it just makes sense so Im really hoping I can adapt and adjust to it! A question tho~when your working out is minimal, 15-30 min every morning, how much protein should you be consuming? I find I want protein with every meal but gain weight VERY easily so am wondering how much is appropriate? Thanks so much for your time!

    • Hi Dani, for people that are active I would recommend having anywhere in between 0.45 to 0.75 grams of protein (per day) for each pound of body wight. So if you’re only slightly active, I would consume 0.45 – 0.55 grams of protein for each pound of body weight (per day). Hope this helps!

  8. Hi! This may seem like a weird question but, I love eating tilapia, is that paleo approved? And if not, what fish is? I buy the frozen fish so all I have to do is unfreeze it. Is that good? Or is it better to get fresh fish. Thank you!!!! I love your recipes :):)

    • Hey Becky! Yes, absolutely…tilapia (and andy other type of fish) is Paleo approved. :) Frozen is totally fine. I prefer buying mine fresh, as it’s freshness reflects on its taste.

  9. Hi there Mariel :)

    I am just starting my paleo journey & just wanted to ask a few questions… well actually there is only one main question & its all about the best way to try & drop extra very unwanted pounds! Im in my early 40′s & having quit smoking just over 2 years ago i’m now 8 kilos or so over my ‘happy’ weight. I have a crazy sweet tooth & although most of my meals are pretty healthy sugar is definately my downfall. I have been trying the paleo way of eating for 5 days now & i must say i feel really good for giving up dairy & grains, but already ive made some paleo treats to satisfy my sugar cravings. i intend to get my detemined head on & give it everything ive got, but do you think i should try & restrict high carb vegi’s & fruits to an absolute minimum for a month or so? I’m making bone broth soups, buying organic salad & vegi’s & grass fed meats etc, & trying to educate myself as best i can from the many wonderful paleo blogs like yours. Im also doing a mix of walking fast paced, & crazy HiT routines & lots of scrummy yoga. I’m totally on board the paleo wagon but any info on dropping those extra pounds would be appreciated very much. i was allowing myself a few squares of dark choccy a day while i get used to the new way of eating, & i have been buying free range bacon & having one slice with poached or scrambled eggs for breaky but i should i not even be doing that at the moment? I guess not really but it has been nice, especially the bacon! Anyway i will stop waffling right now & hope that you can spare the time to reply :) cheers, Debi

    • Hi Debi! Sounds like you’re on the right track! Great job! :) Just remember that you shouldn’t lose too much weight too fast, as you might yo-yo back. I would set a goal of losing those 8 pounds in the next 3-4 months. Cardio helps, eating smaller sized meals helps, and getting rid of all processed sugars is ideal as well. Allow yourself to have 1-2 servings of fruit a day, as this will satisfy your sweet tooth and will help keep your insulin levels from spiking too much. Plus, fruits have so many amazing vitamins and minerals that your body will definitely benefit from! I would not eat bacon every day…maybe allow yourself 2 strips once a week, like on Saturdays or Sundays, as a nice little treat. :)
      Other than that, keep things simple, fresh and natural. Also, try to not think about food too much, and try to not consider this a “diet”, but rather, a healthy lifestyle that will do you well. Our minds can play tricks on us sometimes, so I don’t want food to control your thoughts. If sometimes you are craving a nice piece of chocolate or a small slice of cake, go ahead and allow yourself some…it’s better to cut the cravings right then and there, than binge-ing big time later, you know?
      I think you’ll feel and look great in no time! :) Again, nice job! I love your commitment and your drive!

  10. I was wondering what you thought about raw dairy. I switched to almond milk but have had a hard time with it lately. I may have overconsumed causing my body to not like it as much an am concerned with how many additives coconut/almond have. I drank raw dairy before going paleo… I enjoyed it but it wasn’t a big part.

    Thoughts?

    • Hi Jami! How about making your own almond milk? It is so good and so easy to make. I don’t have a recipe up on my blog for it, but there are a ton of great recipes out there! Your homemade almond milk wouldn’t last you as long (because it doesn’t have any additives), but it will definitely ensure you no unwanted ingredients. ;) I am not a fan at all about dairy; it personally bloats me and makes me feel a little uneasy/sick.

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