Do you want to eat like a caveman and still lose weight?
Or wonder what the heck the Paleo/Whole 30 buzz is all about?
Then I have the diet for you!
The Paleo diet is a great way to lose weight and feel healthy doing it.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet literally comes from the Paleolithic era – or 2 million years ago. I seriously doubt obesity was an issue back then. Of course, death by many other sources was more likely than obesity. Like death by elephant.
The Paleo diet centers around foods that would have been available during that time – anything that was easily hunted or gathered. And the theory remains that those foods were healthier and more natural than our modern diet. Let’s be honest – is there any debate that celery is healthier than supreme-cheese-stuffed-crust pizza?
The Paleo diet focuses on meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables. Sounds great. BUT we Americans like A LOT of not so simple things as well. Processed foods are a no-go as are ice cream, macaroni, and french fries.
Doctor Mom E’s Diet Scale
What I LOVE About the Paleo Diet
- No Calorie Counting – Weight loss is just easier when you aren’t stuck to a calculator or measuring everything against your fist, finger, and thumb. No counting here whatsoever.
- No Carb Counting either – I think of Paleo as the less mathematically-inclined country cousin of the low-carb/ketogenic diet. It’s a simpler way to eat in many ways. One of which is you don’t have to count carbs.
- You CAN have fruit – Fruit is both delicious and natural. And it is basically eliminated from the low-carb/keto diet due to high carbohydrate content. Not true here.
- It’s great for those with lactose and gluten sensitivity – Many women are sensitive to milk and grain products. They have symptoms like bloating, constipation, upset stomach, or diarrhea when they eat these foods. This diet eliminates both.
- Your diet feels and sounds healthy – When you eat Paleo, there will be nothing that you can’t say in your diet. Unless you struggle with ghee – should be easy to say but it’s a little different. Ghee is clarified butter. And because it is clarified, you can have it. You can’t have regular butter, though.
What I DON’T LOVE About the Paleo Diet
- It can feel limited – I rated this diet lower in the “Easy to follow” category because I did find it harder to stick to. That’s probably because we eat more dairy than we do fruits (sorry, but true). I also find things like Ranch on a salad with egg and chicken easier than deciphering the seeds, nuts, and what-the-heck-dressing-should-I-get with Paleo.
- SOME experts say NO COFFEE with the Paleo diet. I’ll just leave that one there. That to me is a deal-breaker deluxe. That and no cream in my coffee. In my opinion, continuing to have a daily cup of coffee on the Paleo diet will not affect weight loss, though, so go for it if you are so inclined. Don’t turn down the diet just because of coffee.
- No Dairy – That does include milk, cheese, sour cream, cream, sugar-free creamer. Need I go on. You can use coconut milk and nut-based milks. No soy milk, rice milk, or oat milk, though.
- No grains and legumes – Not even whole grains. No chickpeas, no lentils, no quinoa.
- You may not get enough Calcium and Vitamin D – Some experts express concern that the Paleo diet does not include enough calcium and vitamin d without the dairy component. I would recommend a simple replacement through a daily vitamin if your choose to go Paleo.
What the Experts Say About the Paleo Diet
- Harvard Nutrition Source: “The Paleo diet includes nutrient-dense whole fresh foods and encourages participants to steer away from highly processed foods. The restrictive nature of the diet may make it difficult for people to adhere to in the long run. Strong recommendations cannot be made at this time.” (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/paleo-diet/)
- Mayo Clinic: “A Paleo diet may help you lose weight or maintain your weight. It may also have other beneficial health effects. However, there are no long-term clinical studies about the benefits and potential risks of the diet.” (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182)
Who Shouldn’t Choose the Paleo Diet
If you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding, Paleo is not the best bet for you at this time. Potential vitamin deficiencies at a time when you need them most is just not a good idea. Wait until you finish and then reconsider.
Tips for Making the Paleo Diet Work
Make Paleo Fit for You
By this I mean, there is the “theoretically accurate” version and then the real version of Paleo. Most of my tips below revolve around this whole concept. You will be much more successful in the LONG term if you make Paleo work for you. Perfect is less important than sustainable. If you find a deal-breaker, tweak it for your tastes.
There are likely many aspects of the Paleo that will come naturally to you if you eat simply already. A meat, a vegetable, and a small portion of fruits is not a huge change. Think roast with carrots and a small serving of strawberries. Just leave the butter off and season. You are already Paleo.
Splurge for the Ghee
There are SO many meals that are prepared with butter. You can use olive oil or coconut oil for cooking but your life will be easier if you give ghee a chance. Try it, you just might like it. And it will give you another option when considering what to put on all those yummy veggies.
Allow for Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Some purists will say not to freeze your fruits and vegetables when eating Paleo as that may decrease the nutrients in them. I vote for allowing frozen. First, it will make the change less expensive. Second, it will make your life much easier. So many frozen options can now be steamed in the microwave. I know, some people don’t like microwaves either – than go stovetop. You pick. I don’t discriminate on anything but wasted time.
Find Your Favorite Paleo-friendly Dressings and Sauces
Just plain meat and vegetables get a little boring with time. And many dressings and sauces contain cream, milk, flour, or butter. But there are plenty of good options out there that do not. And a salad is a very easy Paleo lunch option as well that is much more appealing with dressing. My favorite brand is Primal Kitchen for all of these needs – they are truly Paleo, healthy, taste good, and increase your cooking options, especially when your kids want ketchup or BBQ sauce.
Allow the Coffee
Of course, coffee wasn’t around in the Paleo era but how much does that REALLY matter? Coffee in and of itself will not cause weight gain – unless you make it into a white chocolate mocha. For me, quitting coffee almost stopped me from trying the diet to begin with. Instead, I did it – with coffee.
Make Eggs Your Breakfast of Choice
Many breakfast foods revolve around sugar, dairy, and grains. Instead, go with eggs. My family started scrambles with the low-carb diet, carried them into Mediterranean, and loved them with Paleo. Just leave the milk and cream out of your egg prep. More recipes below.
Incorporate the Nuts and Seeds Into Meals, Not Snacks
Snacking and weight loss just don’t mix. And it is tempting to snack with nuts and seeds. Instead, add them in salads and recipes. Just skip the snacks altogether and the weight will come off much faster.
Honey Is a Great Natural Sweetener
If you need to sweeten something, go with honey. It’s natural and yummy. Enough said.
Enjoy the Natural Tastes Rather than Trying to Fit the Old Ways into Paleo
So often I see dieters just trying to make the “Paleo version” of everything. You will only be disappointed if that is your plan. And the weight will not come off as fast. Trust me. If you feel the need to try out Paleo pancakes one weekend then go for it. But don’t make that the majority of meals – it just makes you miss the old more.
Paleo Diet Meal Plan Favorites
5 Paleo Breakfast Favorites
Egg Scrambles – egg, onion, bacon, avocado, tomato, and green peppers
Make ANY Smoothie with Fruits, Vegetables and Coconut Milk
5 Paleo Lunch Favorites
Honey-Lime Chicken Strawberry Salad
Lettuce-Wrap any of your favorite meat and veggie combos
5 Paleo Dinner Favorites
Thai Shrimp Curry Bowls – I buy the zoodles
Sheet Pan Chicken – Skip the potatoes
Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
Steak on the grill with Grilled Asparagus drizzled in olive oil
Eating Out Paleo
Ask any Burger Joint to Lettuce-Wrap Your Hamburger. Remember no cheese or mayo, but tons of veggies on top.
Ask any Sandwich Shop to Lettuce-Wrap Your Sandwich. Again, no cheese or mayo but lots of veggies.
When going for salads, go with a Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. Confirm that they do not add brown sugar. Go with a salad with lots of nuts, fruits, and veggies without cheese, croutons, or creamy dressing.
A Side Salad will typically be a good option – just ask for no cheese.
Steakhouses with yummy grilled veggies are your friend!
Simple Solution: The Paleo diet is a natural, healthy way to lose weight. Just be prepared for a little prep work and adjustment to your usual eating styles. But, you will know exactly what is going into your body, feel healthy, and lose weight doing it. And that is a win.