The Ultimate Guide to Going Paleo: 11 Steps to Start a Paleo Diet
Not much about homosapiens (aka modern humans) has changed in the last couple thousand years. Sure, our ability to innovate and create technology has caused a lot of changes in a fairly short amount of time, but physiologically we haven’t evolved much.
The Paleo Diet, also known as the “caveman diet,” is based on eating the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans. This diet consists mostly of meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, and excludes grains, dairy and processed foods. Especially if you’re a yogi who has dabbled in vegetarian or vegan diets to no avail, the Paleo Diet might be the meat-friendly alternative you’ve been looking for!
Here are 11 steps to start a successful paleo diet:
1. Understand your protein options
When following the Paleo Diet, wild game meats like venison are your best choice. They have all of the iron and protein benefits of red meats, but have far less fat. Poultry, pork, and eggs, as well as wild-caught fish are also good protein sources.
2. Location, location, location
You’ll be eating a large amount of animal protein. All meats should be hormone free, grass fed, and raised in a stress free environment. You can check out certifiedhumane.org and click on their “where to buy” tab to find sources near you.
3. Fat isn’t bad
The Paleo Diet encourages you to eat lean meats and healthy fats. To incorporate healthy fats into your diet, keep things like olive oil and avocado on hand at all times. Making bone broth is also a great way to get the best fats out of the bone marrow, and it is a great complement to your meat dishes.
4. Back away from the dairy
Yes, you have to give up foods like milk, yogurt and butter. Why, you ask? Because the true “caveman” had not yet domesticated animals enough to have discovered any sort of dairy product, and the argument goes that our bodies never really evolved to digest dairy products. Try ghee for a paleo-friendly butter substitute.
5. Get your greens and reds and yellows
In addition to meat, the Paleo Diet relies on a large consumption of vegetables. Fresh, uncooked veggies are best because they retain all of their nutrients. Also, your body digests vegetables best in their raw and most natural form. Any veggie you can get your hands on is good, so don’t underestimate frozen veggies!
6. Fruits are a different story
Approach fruits with caution. We’re often told to eat our fruits and veggies as if they were created equal. If you go paleo though, you’ll have to alter this mindset a bit. Current nutritional experts have been referring to fruit as “nature’s candy.” This is because fruit contains a fair amount of sugar. While it’s not as bad as the processed sugar in your cola, remember to enjoy fruit in moderation and try to stick with fruits like berries that are high in antioxidants and low in sugars.
7. Ditch the sugar
It is time to break up with sugar. But don’t worry – you’re sweet enough already! If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that cavemen and women did not have access to candy bars and they sure as heck weren’t living down the street from an ice cream shop. Thus, processed sugar did not exist. Our bodies have truly never evolved to handle processed sugar. . . so as much as it hurts, you are better off without it.
8. Cut the grains
You will need to cut out grains and legumes like wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, brown rice, soy, peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans and navy beans from your diet. You can still get your carb fix from non-toxic carbohydrates, which are carbs that have nothing processed in them. You should especially avoid white sugar and white flour. Focus on carbs like yams, white potatoes, acorn squash, beets, butternut squash and carrots.
9. Exercise like a caveman
Thinking like a caveman means moving like a caveman. To get the best results out of your new diet, remember to exercise regularly. Our ancient ancestors did not sit at a desk for eight hours a day. In fact, they worked from day to night protecting themselves from prey, hunting for food and exploring. In addition to lifting weights, cardio, and yoga, try to get outside and channel the caveman/hunter-gatherer that your diet seeks to emulate.
10. H2Oh yeah
Drink a ton of water. Cutting out drinks with processed sugar, fruit juices, milk and caffeinated beverages should make this one fairly easy. All cavemen had to drink was water, so try to make this the only thing you drink as well.
11. Nap time is back
Not only should you be getting between 6 and 8 hours of sleep each night, but you should also be napping during the day. Cavemen and women generally slept for 4-hour periods. So getting 5 hours of sleep at night with an hour siesta means that you’re that much closer to achieving the same sleep as our ancestors.
Choosing a Paleo Diet can make the transition to a healthy lifestyle smart and practical. When in doubt about what you should or shouldn’t eat or how much you should or shouldn’t work out, try to remember that your body is the same as our cavemen ancestors. You need the same things: natural, whole and unprocessed foods, water, sleep, and an active lifestyle in the sunshine!