The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet – 2018 Update

So you wanna learn about the Paleo Diet,
eh?

Here’s the ENTIRE diet in a nutshell:

If a caveperson didn’t eat it, neither should you.

Now, obviously there’s more to it than that, and that’s what
I’m going to cover in great detail with this article today.

When you are following the Paleo Diet, you can eat anything we
could hunt or gather way back in the day – things like meats,
fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds.

Sorry, the pasta, cereal, and candy will have to go! Anything
that didn’t exist in caveman times will not be existing on your
plate or in your stomach.

And instead of counting calories and perfectly
partitioned portions (say THAT three times fast), you’ll be
focusing on eating the right foods instead.

And that makes me happy, because I hate counting calories. Maybe
you do too.

I don’t like keeping track of how much I’ve eaten or
obsessing over how many grams of a particular nutrient I’ve had.
Not only do I hate counting calories, but I know that calories are
really only half of the battle, as they’re not all created equal
– 400 calories of Doritos do NOT have the same effect on your
body as 400 calories of high-quality vegetables and protein.

Fortunately, if you can expand your horizons and remove certain
types of food from your diet, you can stop worrying about counting
calories FOREVER and instead focus on fixing your relationship with
food.


Now, this article is SUPER long, so we took the liberty of
converting it into a nicely designed guide for easy consumption
(not literal consumption, unless you print it on bacon).

Grab your Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet free when you
sign up in the box below:

Get the FREE eBook! The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to
Paleo!
  • Discover if Paleo is for you
  • The one simple trick to know if your food is
    Paleo-friendly
  • Easy Paleo recipes for beginners to get you started
I identify as a:

Woman
Man

If you are interested in learning more about the diet, and want
to learn how to successfully implement it, we got you covered!This
diet does have a ton of pitfalls and challenges that you’ll
encounter as you start to change your life, and most people give up
on the Paleo Diet within a few days!

So let’s dig in.

The Paleo Diet doesn’t require counting a single calorie AND
it allows you to eat until you’re full and happy.

Oh, and it can help you lose weight, build muscle, and get in
the best shape of your life.

I know, that sounds like an ad for some really shady
supplement or diet book that you’d see on TV at 4
AM.

But if you can actually apply the rules of the Paleo lifestyle,
you can get some pretty solid results.

It’s helped many people achieve jaw-dropping
transformations
, including my friend Saint, (whose story

you can read here
):

Or
Staci
from Team NF.

(she’s actually our lead Coach in our 1-on-1
Coaching Program
):

But you need to do it right. You need to have the right mindset,
you need to focus on the right foods, and structure your
environment so that you’re not tempted to backslide and abandon
the Diet after a few days.

Ready? LET’S GOOOOOOO!

So how does the Paleo Diet work?

Cavemen Hunt Elephant

Oh lord, another “diet.”

I know, it sounds like a fad/marketing ploy, but The Paleo Diet
isn’t really a “diet,” and it’s actually quite legit.

It’s also the most time-tested diet ever. So, the opposite of
a “fad.”

You see, tens of thousands of years ago, before Nike, Cap’n
Crunch, and Healthy Choice meals, our ancient ancestors thrived as
hunter-gatherers.

Although it’s been a really long time, our genetics haven’t
changed that much since then. And yet…

The average Homo Sapien back then: muscular,
agile, athletic, and incredibly versatile.

The average Homo Sapien now: overweight, out
of shape, stressed out, unhappy, sleep deprived and dying from far
too many preventable diseases due due to lifestyle choices.

So what the hell happened? Agriculture!

A few thousand years ago, humans discovered farming, the
agricultural revolution took off, and we advanced from
hunter-gatherers to farmers. We settled down, formed societies, and
the human race progressed to what we are today. Which is obviously
great for a number of reasons (air conditioning! Nintendo! cars!
Not getting eaten by wild animals!)

The problem is, our bodies never adjusted properly to
eating all the grains  and sugar that we we’re now
consuming.

As paleo guru Robb Wolf puts it, think of a 100-yard football
field. The first 99.5 yards are how long Homo-Sapiens spent as
hunter-gatherers. As they became REALLY good at hunting and
gathering our bodies adapted to that lifestyle over thousands of
years. That last half-yard represents our species after the
agricultural revolution, where our diet has shifted (but our
genetics haven’t).

So, instead of loading up on meat, vegetables and seasonal
fruits, we’ve become a species “dependent” upon grains –
bread, pasta, rice, corn, and so on. The government continues to
recommend 6-11 servings of grains a day, and people continue to get
fatter and fatter by the day.

66% of us are overweight, 33% are considered obese, and
those numbers are only getting worse
[1]

Clearly something’s not right, and we need to fix it.

The Paleo Diet is an effort to go back to eating how we’re
biologically designed to eat, allowing us to tap into our genetic
potential and start living healthier immediately.

WTF is the Paleo Diet?

Cavemen Hunt Paleo Bear

Back in the day, grains weren’t part of our diet.
 

When we (over)consume grains regularly, our bodies take those
grains, which are composed of carbohydrates, and those carbs get
turned into sugar in our system.

That sugar is then either burned as energy or stored as fat.
That’s right: the grains you’re consuming are stored as fat in
your body and they’re what most Paleo experts believe are the
main culprit in why you’re overweight.

So, rather than me explain that part with thousands of
words, just watch this three-minute video – “Why You Got
Fat

Next, most grains contain gluten and lectins.
What are they and what’s wrong with them?  I’m so glad you
asked:

  • Gluten is a protein found in things like rye, wheat,
    and barley.
    It’s now being said that much of our
    population may be gluten-intolerant (hence all the new
    “gluten-free!” items popping up everywhere).  Over time, those
    who are gluten intolerant can develop a dismal array of medical
    conditions from consuming gluten: dermatitis, joint pain,
    reproductive problems, acid reflux, and more.[2]
  • Lectins are natural toxins that exist in grains to
    defend against consumption!
    Yup. Grains have evolved to
    keep themselves from being eaten by us. These lectins are not a fan
    of our gastrointestinal tract, and they prevent the tract from
    repairing itself from normal wear and tear. This can cause all
    kinds of damage.

Long story short: our bodies don’t process grains well, and
they are causing a boatload of problems. 

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.
 Whether you’re talking about the paleo diet or
not, many studies have shown that an incredible number of diseases
and lifestyle issues can be reversed with these three simple
changes.[3]

So I can already see the gears turning in your
head.

Yes. The reason the Paleo Diet works is
primarily due to the fact that you’re eliminating all of the high
calorie, low energy, junk foods from your diet. Which means
you’re going to, on average, eat fewer calories than you’ve
been eating in the past.

Which will lead to weight loss over time!

The reason Paleo works for some people: as I
lay out in my “Which
diet is best for you?” article
, it comes with built in,
black-and-white, eat this not that Rules to follow. It removes
calorie counting and practically ensures you ONLY eat food that
fill you up but aren’t loaded up with calories.

But where’s my energy?

darth vader vendor lego

So, if we’re not eating 300+ grams of carbs every day,
where are we supposed to get our energy from?

Our bodies can operate on a lower number of carbohydrates than
what we’re used to eating, so fewer carbs isn’t an issue once
you re-train your body to process the food you’re eating.

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
. This is the premise behind the much hyped,
effective but oh-so-tough-to-stick-with “Keto
Diet
.”

In addition, because you are NOW consuming fewer calories than
you were on average, your body is in a caloric deficit. Which means
it needs to get its energy from somewhere – how about the fat
stores you already have? This is the goal with weight loss.

What I’m trying to tell you is that our bodies are
pretty effin’ efficient.

So, fewer carbs = less glucose in your system, which means your
body will have to start burning fat as your fuel source. Which
means… decreased fat storage and decreased body fat percentage
and increased good-lookingness.

Win!

So, all carbs are bad?

Lego cutting bread and carbs

Nope.

Carbs still serve a purpose in our diets, but they’re not
essential [4].

Carbs aren’t evil – they’re just…carbs. But your body
does process them differently than other food sources.

The challenge is that carbs tend to be calorically dense (lots
of calories) without being satiating (meaning you tend to eat way
more than you intended).

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 they’re
incredibly nutrient dense and calorie light – six full servings
of broccoli (and who would eat 6 servings at once?) has 180
calories and 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.

Now, eating paleo does not automatically mean that you
are doing a
ketogenic diet
(no carb) or a low-carb diet.

However, even if you have a serving of sweet potato (26g per 1
cup serving) with every meal, it’s likely a lot lower in carbs
than you’re used to having.

We do recommend keeping your carb content low – loading up on
buckets of fruit is technically Paleo, but can result in a ton of
carbs and sugar consumed (and thus, fat gain. Fail).

I’ll cover that more below too, as it’s one of the pitfalls
to avoid with successfully going paleo. If you’re worried about
adherence to the diet, I understand – it’s the toughest part of
Paleo – sticking with it!

Knowing what to eat is part of it, but following this fairly
restrictive lifestyle in a modern environment surrounded by cookies
and candy and bagels and pasta is really difficult! Factor in the
“carb flu” you might go through in the first few weeks (as your
body gets weaned off of carbohydrate fuel and habits), and most
people give up on the Paleo diet long before it creates lasting
change!

Does this sound like you? Worried about how to stick with this
diet when you live a busy life and work long hours and also want to
lose some weight but you don’t want to hate yourself? You’re
not alone!

In fact, people like you are the reason we created our
1-on-1 Online
Coaching Program
!

We work with busy people like you to structure a complete life
overhaul: handcrafted workout routines, accountability, mindset
changes, and nutritional strategies. If you want guidance from a
trained professional, schedule a call by clicking on the image
below and see if we’re a good fit for each other!

What about dairy?

milk truck lego

Dairy’s a tough one, as most Paleo folks tend to stay
away from it
– a portion of the world is lactose
intolerant, and those that aren’t usually have at least some type
of an aversion to it.

Why is that? Because no other animal in the entire kingdom
drinks milk beyond infancy.

Hunter-gatherers didn’t lug cows around with them while
traveling – milk was consumed as a baby, and that was it. As with
grains, our bodies weren’t designed for massive dairy
consumption.

There is evidence that some adaptation to dairy has taken place
throughout the years, specifically with people with ancestry in
herding cultures, but this is not the majority of the population
[5] .

So, this is one that Paleo purists will avoid like the plague,
while others have found that consuming dairy in its various forms
work for their genetics, goals, and lifestyle.

If you’re not sure, remove dairy from your diet and only
introduce it back in when you’re ready to see how your body
responds.

So no grains, no dairy: what DO I get to eat on this diet?

caveman cooking over fire lego

Okay, so 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 cage free
    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.

*If you can only afford grain-fed meat, that’s still better
than grains. Do the best you can with your situation!

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.

How come I won’t get fat?

Leaning Caveman Grok

Because these foods are so nutritious and filling,
you’ll be eating satiating foods that fill you up but are not
carb-calorie dense.

To get the equal number of calories from a bag of Doritos or
bread (which, as you know, you can eat all day long and never
really feel full), you’d have to eat 2-3 Mack trucks full of
broccoli and spinach.

Okay, that’s clearly an over-exaggeration, but you get the
point.

A GIANT plate of vegetables and a reasonable portion of meat can
keep you full for hours, while eating carb-heavy foods can result
in being hungry again soon after.

Whenever I need to lose weight for vacation, I go 100% Paleo and
I can drop a few body fat percentage points in a few weeks (while
combining it with
strength training
and
interval running
).

As I said above, you can definitely do The Paleo Diet
WRONG. 
If you are “full paleo” but just eating nuts
and fruit, you could theoretically still be eating thousands of
calories, hundreds of grams of carbs/sugar.

But I can’t give up my muffin, pasta, bagel, pizza, and bread!

lego bread

Okay then, don’t try the Paleo Diet! Simple
as that.

I hear you. Because bread is amazing. And so is candy. And soda.
These things are designed to be as delicious as possible.

But they don’t have a place in the Paleo Diet, so you have to
decide what’s important to you right now.

If you’re happy with how you look, your energy levels are good
all day, and you don’t see any room for improvement, then keep
doing what you’re doing – I won’t force you to eat like
this.

Consider the
Mediterranean Diet
which still includes portions of things like
pasta or bread (note: I said PORTIONS, not platefuls)!

However, if you’ve been struggling with weight loss, have no
energy throughout the day, need eight cups of coffee, hate counting
calories, and want to start turning your life around today, why not
give it a shot for 30 days?

TRY IT: If after 30 days you haven’t noticed
a marked improvement in your quest for a better life, then go back
to the donuts. It’s important to give yourself a full 30 days
before passing judgment. Your body has to adjust from fueling
itself on carbs and sugar to burning your stored fat for energy,
which can take a few weeks.

If you’re not willing to cut out grains from your diet
completely, just work on MINIMIZING those foods gradually and see
how your body adjusts.

Slow transitions are often much easier to handle over the
long-term; the more you can shift your diet closer to Paleo
principles, the faster you’ll start to see results.

In fact, we’ve actually built a 10-level diet system as part
of Nerd Fitness that slowly transitions somebody into a more
Paleo-type lifestyle, because we know the biggest problem with this
stuff is

When you sign up in the box below, we’ll send you both the
10-level Nerd Fitness Diet cheat sheet AND the Beginner Paleo Guide
so you can cut through the confusion and start fixing your health
today.

Get the FREE eBook! The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to
Paleo!
  • Discover if Paleo is for you
  • The one simple trick to know if..

Source: FS – All-FitnessBlogs
The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet – 2018 Update