Hey if you have come this far, welcome to my blog. I started thinking about doing a Paleo blog around two or three weeks ago, mainly because of all the questions I have been getting about what I have been doing the last 4 months. I figured that I could lay out some basics of Paleo, maybe post a few blogs every once in awhile, but generally just point people to the best spots for information, recipes and such. I started putting some info together but really did not have too much motivation to get this done quickly.
However, a couple things have changed since then. First, Paleo has been getting a lot of media attention lately. Some of it has been good, some of it bad, but most of it has just been plain misguided. Some of it I can obviously blame on lazy journalism or attempts to misguide people. Case in point, Dr Oz's supposed Prehistoric Diet. Dr. Oz has had a few run-ins with the Paleo crowd and I can not help but think this is his way of jabbing them back, by trying to use their terminology to cloud their message. His diet is about as prehistoric as the KFC double-down. On the lazy end we also had this doozy this week; a piece by Barbara King that attacks Paleo as unsustainable and unhealthy.
What does this have to do with my blog? Well I fully believe that Paleo is not only healthy but can also benefit a lot of people, not just those with weight issues. If you do a bit of reading you will see people have used this to help manage various diseases (e.g. diabetes, obesity, arthritis, lupus and several other auto-immune type diseases, and a host of other conditions) and improve their quality of life. The current Paleo community is full of a lot of bright and intelligent folks, and given time I'm sure the message will get out. However in the meantime I'd like to contribute and help out people in my local community. Some people find Paleo hard and intimidating, but I think with some help and support people may find it easier. This is where I would like to contribute.
So what is Paleo? Well in a nutshell it involves trying to mimic the environment that our Paleolithic ancestors existed in. Why would we want to do this you ask? Well the theory is that our genes have been pretty much consistent over the last 40,000 years due to lack of selective pressures. Sure we have probably seen some adaptive traits but our genes essentially function now as they did 40,000 years ago. Party like its 1999? Nope, try 38,000 BC.
Just to be clear, I am not advocating trading in your worldly possessions for a loin cloth and mud hut. We are not looking to replicate prehistoric times, we just want to simulate the environment that our genes were programmed for; 'diet' and all.
I quote 'diet' because Paleo is not really a temporary alteration that you use to lose some weight. Paleo encompasses not only food but also lifestyle such as exercise, stress, and and sleep. From a nutrition perspective Paleo is essentially a template that you can use to apply to your situation. You can take a young person, an old person, a healthy person, a diseased person, a man, a women (you get that idea) and put them all on a Paleo diet and they all have a good chance of being successful. Obviously they do not all eat the same thing but you get the idea.
As for exercise, DO NOT kill yourself with endless hours of cardio, it is useless and does more to whittle away your muscle than fat. Opt for high-intensity exercises and keep it brief. Strength training is awesome as well as doing the occasional sprint. I only put in about 60 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week. Any other activities I do usually revolves around having fun and enjoying life. Lift heavy things, move quickly in short bursts, and relax and have fun. Best advice I can give anybody.
So I could probably write another 20 pages on this but I'm going to wrap it up early. I have put together a page here with my favorite sources of information. If I have piqued your interest then you should definitely check out some of the books and blogs listed. I am currently working on a couple other posts with a bit more information (including my results so far and what I am doing) and hopefully I will get those up fairly soon. From here on in I'm hoping to keep the flow of info going, hopefully a little briefer than this.
Just as a reference, my interpretation of Paleo is essentially this:
All types of REAL meat including beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, boar, deer, and whatever else you can get your hands on. Wild game is also a plus. If you can, try to ensure that all meat is NOT treated with anti-biotics and was pastured/grass fed. Rule of thumb: if your meat was happy when it was alive then you are good to go.
Fish, fish and more fish, preferably wild caught.
Vegetables of all kinds and colors. Sadly corn is not really a veggie so it must go, at least initially. If you are looking to lose a significant amount of weight or you have some metabolic issues then you may want to go easy on the starchier veggies. If on the other hand you are doing a lot of intense exercise you'll need that starch to help replenish your glycogen supplies and avoid stressing your body out too much.
Fruit is also good to go on Paleo, just do not over-consume especially if you have metabolic issues.
Nuts and seeds also are good for snacking or the occasional treat (you can get some pretty tasty Paleo desserts that are made with nut flours instead of wheat flour). Snack as in handful, not bagful. Sadly peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut, so your jar of PB is off limits.
While not technically 'Paleo' some people do add in some dairy. Try for full-fat fermented options like raw-milk cheeses or full fat yogurt from grass fed cows. Some people will do raw-milk, but that is not an option in Canada. Dairy products can be problematic for a lot of people so the suggestion is to leave it out for the first 30 days and then re-introduce afterward and see how you do.
Another 'possibility' is white rice. Yeah, I said 'white'. Just eat in small quantities.
Do Not Eat This
Processed food - this is pretty obvious for most people.
Dairy - as I said above some people do not do well on dairy. You do not have to be lactose-intolerant to not function well on dairy. Most adults do not retain the ability to produce lactase (the enzyme required to digest lactose) and pasteurization destroys the natural lactase in milk. The undigested lactose, along with a host of other undigestable proteins, can cause major issues in your intestines.
Grains - yes, all grains. Your 'healthy whole grains' are a load of garbage. Ditch them and you will feel better. Do not believe me? Give it a try for 30 days and make up your own mind. Robb Wolf describes Gluten, the main protein in wheat, as "Satan's Excrement". Sounds a bit over the top but you would not believe the number of modern ailments that current research is linking to gluten.
Legumes - same issues as above, along with a few others. Most people do not kick and scream too much about ditching legumes so this one should be easy.
Remove the latter 3 for at least 30 days and then you can try to gradually re-introduce the others and see how you do. You are not just looking for digestive issues like gas, bloating, and the other classic issues. You should be looking at other factors like sleep quality, energy, mood, aches, pains, etc. Add in one at a time and gradually or you'll never figure out what you can tolerate.
The above is a VERY BRIEF summary of how I view Paleo. I really do encourage people to look at all the info, analyze it, criticize it, and then give it a try. What do you have to lose? I mean come on, you can do anything for 30 days and it is not like this is unhealthy food. If you are worried about all those nutrients you won't be getting from bread and dairy then check out this article that compared Paleo to the USDA recommended guidelines.
If I could give one other additional piece of advice to people it would be to go check out the guys at Real Food Connections on Hanwell Rd in Fredericton. That store is an absolute gold mine for grass fed and pastured raised meat as well as lots of delicious locally grown organic veggies. If you have a hard time finding it then leave a comment on the blog and I'll try to help you out.
If any of you take up the challenge and try Paleo and have questions, just let me know and I'll try to help out where I can.