The Paleo Diet, also popularly known as “The Caveman Diet” and the “Stone Age Diet,” is a food plan based around what our prehistoric ancestors ate. First outlined in a book by Loren Cordain, PhD, the Paleo Diet is essentially a high-fiber, high-protein diet that promises to let you keep your calorie count while still losing weight.
On this diet, you will eat a lot of healthier fats, lean meats, vegetables, and fruits. The Paleo Diet also allows healthier oils, such as coconut and olive, nuts, seeds and eggs. What’s left out are processed foods and dairy, wheat and other legumes and grains, since prehistoric people were not farmers but hunter-gatherers.
White potatoes, refined sugar, salt and refined oils, including canola, are also out.
While the jury is still out on some health-related Paleo claims, such as it cuts heart disease risk, it may very well help you lose weight because of the removal of processed foods and other unhealthy items. Since the Paleo Diet has a lot of restrictions, it can be a little hard to navigate at first, so here are ten ways to help you nail your Paleo Diet down!
1. Plan On Paleo-Approved Carbs
When you’re eating Paleo, you’re losing all your grains, so there’s no bread, cereals, pasta or rice. This will drop your current carb intake by quite a bit, and that can result in fatigue, mood swings and some fogginess, as reported by the Huffington Post.
Be on the lookout for signs you need a carb boost. Paleo-approved foods with a carb punch include sweet potatoes, chestnuts and water chestnuts, plantain and bananas. Have some of these carb-heavy foods on hand at your work and home in case you feel the telltale signs of a carb drop.
2. Pack Quality Proteins
On the Paleo Diet, you will be eliminating dairy, so you need to make sure you get all your protein in, as you’re going to be removing a common source of it. Meat and eggs will be your main go-to for protein, but as these tend to be high in saturated fat, you’ll want to be choosy about what types you’re eating. Stick to lean meats and don’t overdo it.
3. Watch Your Calcium Intake
It’s not easy to get the calcium you need without dairy. According to the National Institutes of Health, you should be getting at least 1,000 mg per day of calcium. If you do decide to eliminate dairy entirely, make sure you’re adding in products that are fortified with calcium, such as some soy milk, or taking supplements. Not getting enough calcium now can increase your risk of certain bone conditions later in life, so stay on top of your intake.
4. Stay Away From Processed Foods
Removing processed foods from your diet is one of the healthiest things about eating Paleo, but it’s also an area where many Paleo dieters make mistakes. Processed, in its simplest terms, means a raw food has been taken and changed using chemical or physical means. A potato, for example, is processed to become a potato chip. Under this rule, just about anything that’s packaged is out under this diet.
Other processed foods include white sugars, any convenience meals, such as frozen dinners, soft drinks, breads, dairy products, snack foods, preservers, spreads and processed meats, such as salami, ham and bacon. When you’re out shopping at the grocery store, think about what you’re buying so you don’t end up with processed foods back in your diet by accident.
5. Think About Your Snacks
It can be hard to get from one Paleo meal to the next without getting hungry, especially at the start. Many Paleo snack foods, such as Paleo bars or balls, are high in calories. If you’re going Paleo to lose some weight, skip the Paleo snacks and try things such as raw nuts, sesame seeds and pepitas. You could also grab a banana or bake your own veggie or kale chips.
6. Go For Good Fats
Having a hard time deciding between olive and coconut oil? You can choose healthy oil by simply reading the label. A good fat will contain little to no saturated fats and be unrefined, and these may include peanut oil, sunflower oil and olive oil.
While coconut oil is Paleo-approved, it does have high amounts of saturated fat and should only be consumed in small amounts for the sake of your waistline and your hearth health.
7. Boost Your Probiotic Intake
Probiotics are a vital component of your overall digestive health. If you’re having digestive issues since going Paleo, you may need to start eating more probiotic foods. Yogurt, which is a good source of probiotics, is out on this diet, but you can go for another source from fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.
While some of these foods are found in the grocery store already processed, you can make them at home yourself to avoid that problem. There are also probiotic supplements available, but check the labels on these to make sure there are no non-Paleo additives.
8. Try Your Hand At Treat-Making
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, going Paleo isn’t easy, as many standard desserts and sweet snacks are processed. Make your own so you can get the sweet fix you need without straying from the diet. Trade those refined sugars for agave or honey, replace grain flour with banana or nut flour, and move out chocolate for raw cacao.
There will probably be a learning curve, especially if you’ve never worked with some of these ingredients before, so experiment and refine until you get the Paleo-approved desserts you’ve been craving.
9. Enjoy Some Wine!
While beer is not allowed on the Paleo diet because it’s made from and can contain grain, wine is usually okay. The Ultimate Paleo Guide says that organic red wines is the way to go, since these wines still contain the heart-helping antioxidant, resveratrol.
10. Use The 85:15 Rule
A Paleo Diet is a good way to lose weight and have a healthier lifestyle. But, as with most diets, you don’t have to follow it 100 percent of the time. It’s likely better that you don’t, since no “cheating” may make it impossible to stick to the diet for any extended period of time.
Try the 85:15 rule, which means you’re eating Paleo about 85 percent of the time and leaving the other 15 percent for non-Paleo foods and drinks.
Use the Paleo Diet tips above to get the most out of your new dietary changes. If you find you’re having a hard time following the diet, you may want to ease yourself into it at first by only replacing one meal a day with Paleo items and then gradually increasing it.
There are free apps and guides available online to check whether a certain food is Paleo-approved, so put one of those to use if you’re having difficulty figuring out what to buy!