What is the Paleo Diet, Anyway?

Editor’s Note: There are lots of posts, books, videos, you name it out there about what the paleo diet actually IS. But I haven’t posted much about the nutrition science behind paleo because, well, I’m not a nutritionist! Luckily, Becky from Austin Nutrition And Fitness With Becky  is… so I asked her to give us all a basic paleo refresher. This post is a great reminder that being a paleo “purist” is not for everyone and that it’s more important to find a healthy diet that works for your life than it is to be dogmatic about sticking to a set of rules. I would also definitely suggest going to check out her blog for more great info about food trends, diets, and staying healthy!

If you are new to paleo, this post is especially for you. And if you aren’t new to paleo, it never hurts to re-visit the basics, plus there are some surprising facts in here… particularly one that might make you re-think the 2 lbs. of hickory smoked bacon you just bought from Whole Foods (ahem).  

The Paleolithic Diet focuses on eating foods that were available for our ancestors and not consuming the items that have appeared in our diets due to modern technology and science. This leads to being able to consume grass fed/free range/wild meat and fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. If you can find it in the wild then you can eat it. Paleo followers stay away from dairy, grains, legumes (think beans), sugar, and processed oils.

The science behind this is as follows. Our ancestors had to forage for their food, which lead to lots of snacking on wild fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds (lots of carbs and a small amount of protein and fat). Then occasionally they would find meat and would gorge themselves on meat (lots of protein and fat). Hence when we gorge ourselves on meat it’s technically an innate behavior, because we “don’t know when our next meal of meat will be”.

Our ancestors did not have access to sugar or grains and for good reasons we shouldn’t be over consuming these either. When you consume sugar your blood sugar spikes and it takes 1-2hrs to return to normal. Refined grains, especially white bread/rice, cause this same response and that is why paleo suggests removing these. Not to mention, it is great to remove gluten from your diet to reduce bloating and improve body functioning. However, I still consume whole grains that do not contain gluten such as
brown rice and quinoa. These grains have a low glycemic response and do not cause a blood sugar spike because of the high fiber they contain.

As far as processed oils you have to be a little lenient with this one. All cooking oils are processed to a certain extent. However, extra virgin products are the least processed, so use these. Yes you can eat unprocessed oils in fish, nuts, and seeds, but what are you going to cook with?

Paleo allows you to consume as many fruits and vegetables as you would like, but I would be careful with the fruit. Fruit causes the same high glycemic response that refined sugar does therefore too much fruit will cause blood sugar spikes, which isn’t ideal for your body. Go all out on the veggies though. I challenge you to incorporate as many colors and types as you can a day.

Lastly, the meat portion of paleo allows you to eat any and every meat, which is kind of baffling to me. I know how much people love their bacon, but sometimes you should just decide to not eat certain things for your health. Yeah go ahead and eat it every so often, but know that every 1.7oz of processed meat increases your risk of contracting cancer by 21%. That’s a big percentage, so I’d rather leave the bacon off. Stick to the leaner meats and watch even more pounds come off is my thought.

Paleo is one of the healthier diets out there right now, so try it out and see if it is for you. Don’t be surprised if it’s not for you though. Some people require a high carb diet, which is not paleo, and some require a high protein diet, which is paleo, so don’t fret if it doesn’t seem to be working for you.

Becky’s Food Journal: August 3rd (Don’t you love how she adds “scale” and “clean” ratings to her food journals? Definitely going to start using that!)

Lemon water and cranberry water
2 egg quiches: 2 eggs, ground beef, mushrooms, and onions
Avocado and salsa
Coffee with non-dairy creamer
Naked protein juice
Chicken teriyaki: brown rice, chicken, peas and corn, water chestnuts, soy sauce,
ketchup, and honey
KIND bar: almond coconut
Chipotle salad: lettuce, bell peppers and onion, steak, corn, guacamole, and salad

Scale: 8 (I rate how my day was mentally and physically for food)

Clean (I track whether it was a clean day, no dairy, gluten, etc or not clean)

#bottles (24oz glasses) = 6


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