Paleo for Beginners
So you want to know how to start a paleo diet but you have no idea what steps to take first? No problem! I’m going to show you everything you paleo diet beginners everything you need to know. By the end of this article, you’ll have the tools and know-how to jumpstart your healthy new lifestyle. But first, what is paleo?
The paleo diet could just as well be called the caveman diet. Eating paleo basically means eating only stuff that our distant ancestors would eat. That means no packaged goods, no microwaveable dinners, no candy pumped full of sweeteners and artificial colors. Eating paleo means eating things our cavemen grandfathers and grandmothers could hunt or forage with their bare hands. Nuts, meats, fish, vegetables are all examples of paleo foods. Bread, pasta, cereal, candy bars are all off limits. In this way, the paleo diet is also a low-carb, high-fat, high-protein diet (or ketogenic diet for you nutrition buffs).
Benefits Of The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet has gained increasing popularity recently because many adopters have seen and reported the following benefits:
- Clearer thinking and stable mood
- Rapid fat loss, weight maintenance and improved gut health
- More energy (yes, that’s right, our bodies are actually designed for low-carb)
- No calorie counting (seriously, load up of healthy fats, veggies, and animal protein)
Those are just some of the amazing benefits that paleo dieters enjoy. You’ll experience them too once you’ve adopted a paleo lifestyle. But where do you start? Let’s take a look. We’ll find out exactly where to start paleo for beginners!
How To Start Eating Paleo
The first thing you want to do is become acquainted with the foods that will be on your shopping list from now on. They include:
- Grass-fed meat: pork, beef, lamb. It’s all good. Just make sure you get grass-fed and organic and not the grain-fed variety because grains cause problems for human digestion and they aren’t paleo.
- Fowl: chicken, turkey and duck are the top choices.
- Fish: Tuna, salmon and cod are just a few examples. Make sure that they are wild fish and not farmed in order to stay away from toxins and mercury.
- Eggs: You want Omega-3, organic and free-range eggs here. Make sure you eat the yolks.
- Vegetables: The more the better! Broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower and beetroot are just some of my favorites. I recommend you get a reliable juicer and make vegetable juices as often as you can too.
- Fruits: Strawberries, bananas and grapes are my favorites. These make for great deserts when you’re eating paleo. Just be careful if you’re trying to gain weight because fruits contain natural sugar.
- Nuts: Brazil nuts, pine nuts and walnuts are my favorites. They make great snacks and are easy to carry around with you.
- Oils: Natural cooking oils like coconut oil and olive oil make for great salad dressings.
- Tubers: Think sweet potatoes and yams for your carbohydrate source. They make great additions to your post-workout meal.
Once you’ve gone shopping and stocked up on those foods, it’s time to throw away all the stuff that isn’t paleo. A good rule of thumb is if our caveman ancestors didn’t eat it, neither can you. That means throwing away your colorful cereals, chocolate bars and macaroni and cheese TV dinners.
Don’t be too sad about throwing away your non-paleo stuff. You can basically eat as much as you want of the food from the list above. I recommend you eat as much as it takes to make you full and satisfied. Seeing as this is a high-fat, high-protein diet, it actually won’t take that much before you feel nourished and you’ll enjoy stable energy without sugar crashes for the entire day.
Paleo Diet For Beginners: Meal Ideas
Swap your toast, orange juice and cereal for a healthy omelette made with Omega-3 eggs, juicy peppers, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes. Cook it with a healthy drizzle of olive oil. If you need a caffeine fix in the morning, swap your Starbucks’ Triple Latte with caramel for a Bulletproof Coffee made with grass-fed butter, coconut oil and MCT oil (seriously, it’s so delicious. Check out Dave Asprey’s article: https://www.bulletproofexec.com/how-to-make-your-coffee-bulletproof-and-your-morning-too/)
Trade in your Big Mac and fries for a gorgeous chicken salad with healthy lashings of avocado oil, macadamia nuts and slices of melon.
A mixed bag of almonds, brazil nuts and walnuts make the tastiest and most satisfying treat ever. Instead of reaching for the cookies at two o’clock, and then struggling to stay awake until the work day ends, substitute some nuts and you will blast through the afternoon blues.
You’ve had a long day and you’ve probably just had a great workout at the gym. Now you need to replenish those glycogen stores and fill up those muscles so you can get a great night of sleep. Instead of ordering pizza or Chinese food, put a couple of sweat potatoes in the oven. When they’re done, scoop a couple of big servings of coconut oil onto them. Then grill yourself a juicy steak with a side of asparagus.
Now that you’ve read this far into the article, you know the basics of how to start a paleo diet and you could dive right in. But I’m sure you still have some questions. So let’s clear up some of the most common paleo queries!
Common Paleo Questions
Is Dairy Paleo?
The short answer: not really. The milk you’re probably thinking of, the stuff you can buy at any grocery store, is not paleo. Some people argue that raw and whole milk counts as paleo. Others say it just isn’t something our caveman ancestors would have access too. It really depends how strict you want to be. When it doubt, go for the organic, raw and high-fat stuff. Stay away from skim milk or soymilk or anything like that.
What About Butter, Cheese And Yogurt?
The paleo world gets more confusing and contradictory the deeper you dive in. Most milk is generally not paleo. But grass-fed butter is widely considered paleo. Paleo dieters will scoop huge chunks of organic butter onto their wild salmon or organic steak. So butter is a yes. Cheese can be okay too as long as you’re not eating the processed stuff. But if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you might want to give cheese a miss. As for yogurt, this comes down to personal choice. The processed stuff with preserved fruits and added sugar is definitely a no-no. But stuff like full fat Greek yogurt could be fine as long as your gut is happy. Remember there is a lot of sugar in many yogurts so, from a dieting standpoint, it might not be a great choice of food.
How Do You Know If Something Is Paleo?
There are a lot of foods out there and lots of gray areas as to which of them are paleo. Certainly the majority of food is not paleo. That’s because there’s a ton of processed and unnatural food. To be safe, keeping with the list above and making sure that your choices are organic will ensure that you’re safe. But if you need some variety, or you see an unfamiliar ingredient while eating out, you might not know whether it fits into the paleo diet or not.
My top recommendation is to get the paleo.io app: https://paleo.io. You can search over 3,000 foods on this app and it will instantly tell you whether you can eat it or not. It should be a staple app on every paleo dieter’s smartphone.
Wait A Minute! Paleo Is High In Fat. Isn't High Fat Bad For You?!?
Short answer: nope. Long answer: we’ve long believed (falsely) that foods high in fat will make us fat, clog up our arteries and lead to death by heart attack. Unfortunately, we were wrong and all of that low-fat food you saw in the stores a few years back actually did more damage than good. Science as since discovered that eating whole eggs is good for you. Butter is good for you. Animal protein is good for you. On the flip side, high carbohydrate diets are the leading cause of all sorts of healthy problems (like diabetes). Eating grains and sugary candy just isn’t natural. Our bodies aren’t equipped to deal with it. And, in addition to that, our bodies actually run better when we use fat for fuel. This is called ketosis. I could harp on all day about this but you’ll get a much better picture if you check out this fun little 3-minute video:
Where Can I Learn More About The Paleo Diet?
Now that you’ve read through this article, you have a pretty good understanding of what paleo is. But if you want to progress beyond “paleo for beginners”, there are some more resources that I highly recommend you check out:
- Ultimae Paleo Diet Food List & Paleo Shopping List: We have created a list of all the paleo foods and a great guide to shopping paleo. We have also include a 2 week meal plan at the bottom with shopping list to get you started. The list can be by clicking here.
- Mark’s Daily Apple: Mark Sisson has a great paleo community over at www.marksdailyapple.com. There is a ton of comprehensive advice about all things paleo and it’s worth browsing the forums whenever you have a question.
- Robb Wolff: Robb Wolff wrote the book on paleo. It’s called “The Paleo Solution”. Check out his awesome website at www.robbwolf.com. He also has his own Paleo Diets Guides including Paleo On A Budget.
- Paleo Hacks: Another great resource for whenever you have questions about the diet is www.paleohacks.com.
Thank you for reading “Paleo for Beginners”. You now have the firm foundation you need to get started on the greatest diet around. Go forth, gather your organic vegetables and grass-fed meat, and reap the rewards of greater fat loss, energy and happiness.