What Is Paleo?

PALEO IN A NUTSHELL

Here are the “Paleo” general guidelines for diet:
Adapted from Paleoplan.com, including my take on certain dietary recommendations

Unrestricted Foods

VEGETABLES

You can eat all of them without limit, except starchy vegetables. Figure out your own carbohydrate needs based on physical activity, stage of life, and overall feelings of wellness on low, medium, or high carb diets.

Vegetables to limit for weight loss:
Cassava
Sweet potatoes/Yams
Taro
White Potatoes (may cause issues for those with autoimmune conditions)

  •  My Take: Carbohydrate restriction can be useful for weight loss, but pay attention to your personal results when attempting to follow a low-carb diet. You may not feel so great, and you might even gain weight, especially if you have a thyroid or adrenal issue, or do a lot of high intensity exercise. Low-carb diets are not a cure-all, and should be used with caution.

FRUITS

Eat fruit according to your personal preference and body composition goals.

  •  My Take: Fruit is a great snack, and I personally enjoy it as a dessert when I get a sweet craving. Eating whole, raw fruit is generally fine for most people unless you have fructose malabsorption or serious insulin resistance. Most individuals do not need to limit fresh fruit, but be careful with dried fruit, which can easily add a lot of calories.

MEATS and EGGS

Eat meats and eggs freely, but in order to mimic our ancestors best, eat these products from animals that were grass fed/pasture raised.  At the least, steer clear of meats with preservatives and color or flavor enhancers, particularly added nitrites, as they can be pretty toxic.

Game Meats
Organ Meats
Pork
Beef
Chicken
Turkey
Goat
Lamb
Eggs – from chickens, ducks, emu, quail, etc.

FISH, SHELL FISH, FISH EGGS

All species are fine – just be conscious of mercury levels and ecological practices.  Know that smaller fish like anchovies and sardines generally have less bio-accumulation of heavy metals and toxins, and high levels of omega 3 fatty acids.

NUTS & SEEDS

All are good, as well as the butters that are made from them.  Peanuts are NOT NUTS – they’re legumes, and thus are not on the list. If you’re trying to lose weight, limit nuts and seeds to about 1 or 2 ounces per day. Look for nuts that haven’t been roasted in toxic oils like cottonseed, soybean, or canola oil among others.

  •  My Take: Nuts are a slippery slope, especially when first starting a Paleo diet. I remember when I made the transition I was eating a TON of nuts because I didn’t know what else to eat. Nuts are fine, but don’t make them a huge component of your normal intake. There are better things to eat!

SEA VEGETABLES

Sea vegetables are a great source of iodine. Try kombu, wakame, other seaweeds, algaes, etc.

FATS

For Cooking:
tallow
lard
coconut oil/milk
butter (grass fed is best)
palm oil
avocado oil

For cold use:

olive oil
walnut oil
sesame oil
macadamia oil
hazelnut oil

BEVERAGES

Filtered or spring water
Herbal tea
Coconut water
Freshly juiced fruits and vegetables

EAT IN MODERATION

Coffee
Chocolate
Dried fruit
Alcohol (all kinds)
Caffeinated teas
Sweeteners – Raw honey, molasses, grade B maple syrup, green leaf stevia, coconut sap, sugar alcohols

  •  My Take: You might want to take it easy on caffeinated foods and beverages (like coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.) and alcohol if you’re dealing with high levels of stress, sleeping difficulties, anxiety, or adrenal issues.

FOODS TO LIMIT OR AVOID

Pasteurized Dairy – butter, milk, yogurt, kefir, cream, ice cream, powdered milk, and anything else from an animal’s teat.
This is debatable in the Paleo community, so do your reading and choose for yourself.  If you’re going to have dairy, you should make it raw dairy.

  •  My Take: I personally consume dairy products, including pasteurized dairy products. I prefer raw when I can get it, but I live in a state where raw milk is illegal. If you’re going to eat pasteurized dairy, always go for the highest fat content you can find. Avoid sweetened/flavored dairy products and add your own fruit and nut toppings if you can.

Grains or grain-like foods - wheat, rice, millet, oats, spelt, kamut, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, amaranth, sorghum, rye, barley, corn.  AND any flour, noodle or other food made out of any of these.

  •  My Take: Some experts believe there are safe starches such as rice and buckwheat. I personally choose to eat these foods, as well as noodles made from them on occasion. You can make the decision for yourself.

Legumes – All beans.  Black, pinto, red, soy, lentils, peas, peanuts, adzuki, garbanzo, navy, mung, lima, black-eyed peas, you get the picture… Snowpeas, sugar snap peas and green beans are acceptable to eat.

  •  My TakeI also eat legumes on occasion. I think they’re fine food, and some people really enjoy them, especially in traditional cultural cuisine like Mexican, South American, Middle Eastern, African, etc. I don’t think they should be considered a replacement for meat, however. Use your own judgment.

Refined and Artificial Sweeteners – sugar cane, white sugar, brown sugar, refined maple syrup, refined honey, aspartame, sucralose, Nutrasweet, Splenda, and anything else refined or man-made.

Refined Oils - any oil that is hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, fractionated, refined, or otherwise adulterated.

Most Vegetable Oils – Any oil with a high omega 6 content that comes from a seed, grain or legume, such as corn, soy, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, peanut and others. Seeds like flax and hemp have a lower omega 6 content and thus are fine. Just don’t cook with those. Olive oil is good to use, but just don’t heat it or cook with it.

Fruit Juice – unless it comes straight from your juicer at home.

Soft Drinks – see “Sweeteners” above.

Refined, iodized salt – use unrefined sea or Himalayan salt instead, and salt to taste

Mark Sisson’s Primal Food Pyramid:

Primal Blueprint Nutrition

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