What You Can Eat and What You Can’t
Go Paleo, and you’ll eat a lot of fresh lean meats and fish, fruits, and vegetables, and healthier fats.
You can also eat:
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthier oils, including olive oil and coconut oil
You can’t eat any processed foods on this diet. And since our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, not farmers, say goodbye to wheat and dairy, along with other grains and legumes (such as peanuts and beans). Other foods to avoid:
- Refined sugar
- Refined vegetable oils, such as canola
Vegetarian or vegan: This diet emphasizes meat and fish, and Cordain says it’s impossible to follow a Paleo Diet without eating meat, seafood, or eggs. Excellent vegetarian sources of protein, such as beans and other legumes, are not allowed.
Low-salt diet: The diet doesn’t allow salt, so it may help you cut down on sodium. If you do eat any foods that come from a can or a box, you would still need to check the sodium on food labels.
The Paleo Diet also almost completely eradicates sugar. Unless you’re getting your sugar from a fruit, forget it. Sugar causes an energy spike and crash in your system, turns to fat unless it’s used immediately, and wreaks all kind of havoc on our bodies.
So, no grains, no sugar, no processed foods. Many studies have shown that an incredible number of diseases and lifestyle issues can be reversed with these three simple changes. Take a look at this time magazine article on cancer patients who switched to a zero-sugar diet and saw positive results.
So, if we’re not eating 300+ grams of carbs every day, where are we supposed to get our energy from?
Our bodies are designed to operate on a lower amount of carbohydrates than what we’re used to eating, so less carbs isn’t an issue. When there is an absence of carbs (which is how we’re USED to operating), our body will take stored fat and burn THAT for energy in a process called ketogenesis.
What I’m trying to tell you is that our bodies are pretty effin’ efficient.
So, less carbs = less glucose in your system, which means your body will have to start burning fat as your fuel source.
NOT ALL CARB ARE BAD!
Carbs still serve a purpose in our diets, but they’re not essential (check out the Inuit Paradox for a great read on societies that exist without almost any carbohydrates). I prefer to get my carbs from vegetables, sweet potatoes, and fruit. Why is that? These foods are naturally occurring in the wild and don’t need to be processed in any way (unlike grains) in order to be consumed.
The other great thing about vegetables is that you can eat as many of them as you like and you’ll never get fat. They’re incredibly nutrient dense and calorie light – six servings of broccoli (and who would eat 6 servings at once?) has 180 calories and only 36 grams of carbs. A single serving of pasta (and NOBODY eats just one serving of pasta) has 200 calories and 42 grams of carbs.
If we cut out the grains, almost all processed foods, and dairy, you’re left with only things that occur naturally:
- Meat – GRASS-FED, not grain-fed. Grain causes the same problem in animals as they do in humans.
- Fowl – Chicken, duck, hen, turkey…things with wings that (try to) fly.
- Fish – Wild fish, as mercury and other toxins can be an issue in farmed fish
- Eggs – Look for Omega-3 enriched eggs.
- Vegetables – As long as they’re not deep-fried, eat as many as you want.
- Oils – Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil – think natural.
- Fruits – Have natural sugar, and can be higher in calories, so limit if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Nuts – High in calories, so they’re good for a snack, but don’t eat bags and bags of them.
- Tubers – Sweet potatoes and yams. Higher in calories and carbs, so these are good for right after a workout to replenish your glycogen levels.
Steak with asparagus and sweet potato fries, grilled chicken salad, massive omelets that will fill you up for the whole morning, apples dipped in almond butter (my favorite snack ever), and so on. Pick any of the things from that list, and eat as much as you want of them (with the noted exceptions). You’ll feel better and be healthier.