The Paleo Diet
|This diet is good for:
Health and wellness
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet resembles what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago. Although there is significant diversity of what they ate in different parts of the world, the common thread is that all diets consisted of whole foods. The foundation of a Paleo diet is lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. All of these whole foods can be obtained by hunting and gathering. The main focus is on removing processed foods that are high in empty calories, refined sugars, refined flours, and inflammatory oils. The Paleo diet also limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago. These foods include dairy products, legumes, and grains. Research suggests that our modern diet and a sedentary lifestyle is the primary cause of lifestyle diseases. By consuming a whole food diet and leading physically active lives, hunter-gatherers never suffered from lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Life might look a lot different today, with smartphones, electric cars, and space travel, but our genes haven’t changed much. Paleo is the dietary approach that we recommend for most people because it works with our genetics to simultaneously improve health, body composition, energy, and performance.
The 30-Day Reset
We ask that you commit to a strict 30-day period where you eliminate refined foods that cause disease and focus on the nourishing foods our ancestors have thrived on for 77,000 generations. The Reset phase is designed to reduce inflammation, improve digestion, burn fat, reduce allergic reactions, boost energy, regulate blood sugar, and stabilize mood.
After completing the reset, you’ll have a bit more leeway to treat yourself now and then. The Reset phase is not one of those times. This is where you gather your strength and buckle down. You can do it. By removing the foods that most commonly cause problems, you allow your body to rest and recover from whatever symptoms those foods have been provoking. Just one cheat could trigger a whole new cascade of reactions. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
Remember, 30 days is just a minimum. Some people may need 45, 60, or even 90 days to get the Reset phase’s full benefits. After completing at least 30 days, continue to use the Paleo guidelines as the foundation of your diet but apply an 80/20 or 90/10 rule. This means you eat nutritiously 80 to 90% of the time and allow yourself to indulge in less healthy foods for the remaining 10 to 20% of your meals. This flexibility will help you stick to the program and maintain long-term health benefits while still enjoying life.
What foods can you eat?
The majority of your meals should look something like this:
• 4–8 oz of lean protein such as chicken, lean beef, turkey, pork loin, or seafood.
• Several servings of raw, steamed, or lightly cooked vegetables.
• 1–2 servings of healthy fats from avocado, olives, olive oil, almonds, pecans, macadamias, or walnuts.
• Eat 3–4 of these meals per day.
There are three categories to make it as easy as possible:
You can enjoy as much of these foods as you like. You do NOT need to calculate calories or macronutrient ratios. If a food is on this list, you’re free to eat it as desired.
Eat in Moderation
You can eat these foods, but don’t go wild with them. We’ve indicated how often or how much of them is recommended. In general, limit consumption of these foods compared to those in the “eat liberally” category.
This is where the rubber hits the road. Success hinges on your ability to steer clear of these foods during the 30-day Reset.
Meat and poultry
Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, and wild game like venison, elk, ostrich, etc. Pasture-raised and grass-fed is always preferable.
Organ meats (especially liver)
The liver is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. If you don’t like the taste of liver, one good trick is to put one chicken liver in each cube of an ice cube tray and freeze them. Then, when you’re making any meat dish, dice up one chicken liver and add it to the meat.
It’s essential to balance your intake of muscle meats and organ meats with homemade bone broths. Bone broths are rich in glycine, which is a protein necessary for maintaining a healthy gut lining.
Especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring. Wild-caught is preferable. You need to eat three 6 oz servings of fatty fish per week to balance your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
Yams, sweet potatoes, yucca, taro, lotus root, etc. Eat these before or after exercise for energy and recovery.
Both cooked and raw.
Fermented vegetables and fruits
Sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvaas, coconut kefir, etc. These are excellent for gut health.
Healthy fats and oils
Olives, avocados, and coconuts (including coconut milk). Coconut oil, palm oil, lard, duck fat, beef tallow, and olive oil.
Sea salt and spices
Eat in moderation
Sausage, bacon, and jerky. Make sure they are gluten, sugar, and soy-free.
Approximately 1–3 servings per day, depending on your blood sugar balance. Favor low sugar fruits like berries and peaches over tropical fruits, apples, and pears.
Nuts and seeds
A maximum of two handfuls per day. Favor nuts lower in omega-6 such as hazelnuts and macadamias.
Green beans, sugar peas, and snap peas
Though technically legumes, they are usually well-tolerated.
Coffee and black tea
Black or with coconut milk. Only before noon. Limit to one cup (not one triple expresso).
70% or higher in small amounts (i.e. about the size of a silver dollar per serving) is permitted.
Apple cider vinegar is especially well tolerated.
The main problem with eating out is that restaurants cook with industrial seed oils, which wreak havoc on the body and cause inflammation.
• You don’t need to become a cave dweller, but it’s best to limit eating out to once per week during this initial period.
Including butter, cheese, yogurt, milk, cream & any dairy product from a cow, goat, or sheep.
Including bread, rice, cereal, oats, or any gluten-free pseudo-grains such as sorghum, teff, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, etc.
Including beans of all kinds (soy, black, kidney, pinto, etc.), peas, lentils, and peanuts.
Real or artificial. Including sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, agave, brown rice syrup, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc.
Processed or refined foods
As a general rule, if it comes in a bag or a box, don’t eat it. This also includes highly processed “health foods” like protein powder, energy bars, dairy-free creamers, etc.
Industrial seed oils
Soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, canola, etc.
• Read labels—seed oils are in almost all processed, packaged, and refined foods (which you should be mostly avoiding anyway).
Sodas and diet sodas
In any form (don’t freak out. It’s just 30 days).
Processed sauces and seasonings
Soy sauce, tamari, and other processed seasonings and sauces (which often have sugar, soy, gluten, or all of the above).
Caveats and tweaks
With certain health conditions, the basic program above needs further modification:
• If you have arthritis, diffuse joint pain, and autoimmune disease, eliminate nightshades and eggs.
• Nightshades include white and red potatoes (sweet potatoes are not nightshades), tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
• Nightshades have compounds called alkaloids that can cause inflammation and worsen joint pain in susceptible people. Eggs contain proteins that are common allergens.
• If you have type 2 diabetes or want to lose weight, limit fruit and starchy vegetables. Only eat 50 grams per day of carbohydrates, which is the amount contained in 2 servings of low-glycemic fruit (berries) and 1–2 servings of starch (i.e., sweet potato, taro, yucca, etc.).
• If you suffer from fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, or depression, eliminate coffee, tea, and caffeine for 30 days
• Caffeine stimulates the adrenals and can worsen all of these conditions.
• Athletes with high physical activity levels should increase their carbohydrate intake—especially before and after training.
Frequently asked questions about the 30-Day Reset
When will I notice results?
The first few days can be challenging. Your body will be going through withdrawal. In particular, sugar and wheat are addictive, and you may notice symptoms like mood swings, intense cravings, irritability, and fatigue as your body adjusts to life without them. Within two weeks, you will adapt and start feeling better than you did before you began the program. Your energy will improve, your skin will clear up, your digestion will smooth out, your sleep will get deeper, your moods will stabilize, and you’ll start shedding body fat. Aches and pains you’ve had for ages will begin to improve. This program has the potential to change your life. Though it may be difficult, the results are worth the effort.
I thought fat was bad for me. Shouldn’t I limit it?
The biggest mistake people make on this program is not eating enough fat. You’re eliminating many foods from your diet (bread, grains, beans, etc), so you have to replace those calories with something—healthy fat is that something. Healthy fat doesn’t make you fat. Food toxins like wheat, fructose, and seed oils—along with other aspects of the modern lifestyle—make you fat. Fat is the body’s preferred fuel source and should constitute about 60–70% of calories.
Shouldn’t I be counting calories and calculating macronutrient ratios?
Don’t overanalyze calories or macros on this program. Simply focus on eating natural, whole foods.
What if I’ve got a trip planned or I’m going out on a date. What do I do?
If you know you’re going out to dinner with some friends this weekend, choose a place that can accommodate your needs. Call ahead and ask if they have gluten-free items on the menu. Pick a place that has meat and vegetable dishes, and order a salad on the side. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re starving because you haven’t planned, and then eat fast food because it’s convenient. If you’re going on a road trip, stock up on paleo-friendly snacks. This does require some planning and foresight.
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