Most people that jump on the Paleo bandwagon do so with good intentions, but they adopt the philosophy based on what they have heard. They decide to make this change and wake up the next day and pile 6 pieces of bacon on top of 3 eggs. Based on the “rules” of Paleo, this would satisfy all of the requirements, no grains no dairy. But isn't there something missing that is very important? Yes, vegetables. Unfortunately this mindset leads to people criticizing the diet and making the assumption that this meat based diet can not be healthy for you. The problem being is that most people think the Paleo diet is a meat based, high protein diet but when applied correctly, the Paleo diet is a fat based diet with lots of vegetables and moderate amounts of protein. It is based on the idea of eating whole, natural foods that the body is able to process and utilize while removing all of the grains, dairy, sugar and processed foods that cause so much harm. The Paleo diet ratio I like to follow is actually 50% fat, 30% protein and 20% carbs.
I try to explain to my clients that Paleo is most successful when seen as a “template” and not as a diet. I think it should be considered a template because it should look slightly different for every person. Not every food suggested in the paleo guidelines works for every person. Utilizing an elimination diet in the beginning in conjunction with the paleolithic template can be very helpful for people to determine what foods are safe for their own body. The Paleo guidelines are widely successful because what they ultimately include are whole foods that come from the earth and animal products that are raised in sync with the way evolution has determined. Remember, during Paleolithic times there was not just one specific diet that was consumed. It was based on where you lived and what you had access to. In colder climates you probably ate higher amounts of fat because the climate required it. If you lived in warmer climates you probably had more access to fruits, plants and lean meats. What you ate was also based on the availability of the seasons.
We do the same thing today, we eat what we have access to. Unfortunately we have access to EVERYTHING all the time and most of the easier foods aren't “whole” any longer. Our diet has shifted from a fat based diet to a diet VERY high in carbohydrates and primarily processed carbohydrates. Everything has added sugar, an array of unrecognizable additives or processed oils (soybean, canola, etc). These foods run havoc on our bodies in regard to their impact on insulin. Insulin raises in response to blood sugar being elevated. If insulin is elevated, you will have no chance of losing weight and feeling healthy. So just because we have access to certain foods does not mean that we should consume them. The Paleo template gets all that stuff out of your diet, which is great but don't just start eating meat and nothing else. Learn how to incorporate more healthy fats and vegetables into your daily routine in place of the grains and sugars. There are a lot of healthy choices out there that your body can utilize that don't negatively impact your insulin and that can lead to a better well-being.
I have seen these changes over and over in my clients who embrace the diet changes I suggest and we outline together. They feel better, they loose weight they haven't been able to loose and repeatedly their doctors are impressed by their numbers. Most of this occurs because of their dietary changes we discuss and moderate exercise. Remember, it isn't about “perfection” but rather about making small changes and listening to your body to find your level of optimal health.
Here is an example of a current client. Mind you, he has been very determined and has stuck very closely to what was asked, his results confirm this.
August 1, 2012 November 3, 2014
Weight 185 168
Total Cholesterol 193 223
Triglycerides 125 59
HDL Cholesterol 53 73
LDL Cholesterol 115 128
VLDL Cholesterol 25 12
He and I started training in March of this year. The weight loss occurred within the first 7-8 weeks of training and he has maintained since. Although some of you may look as his overall cholesterol and think it is high, do your research and you will find that total cholesterol means absolutely nothing as a stand alone number. What we are concerned with are the triglycerides, which is a type of fat found in the blood stream, and the Very Low-Density Lipoproteins (VLDL), which have been the only lipoproteins associated with increase in risk of heart disease. Do you see how both of those numbers changed?