The Paleo diet has been the only diet that has ever really worked for me and I think that it’s important to go over the basics of Paleo with you before we get into the best Paleo snacks I’ve found. Paleo, at its core, is about getting back to our roots and eating what our Palaeolithic ancestors would have eaten before we begun using farming and agriculture as our source of food. Think fresh, organic produce, healthy meats, seeds and nuts as the main staples and avoiding processed food and additives that are bad for our bodies. By feeding your body with natural, nutritious food you’ll find that you’ll get the healthiest, happiest body of your life and your weight will even out to the right weight for your body. These amazing results will happen without even having to count calories or carbs or anything like that. Of course, you can be as strict or as loose as you want with it. Some people follow Paleo by the letter, not eating any grains or processed sugars, anything that a Palaeolithic human wouldn’t eat neither should you. Others follow it a little more loosely, realising that our modern world makes it not always so practical to eat like a caveman would do and may occasionally eat dairy or incorporate modern comforts on occasion, or incorporate some nice Paleo snacks into their regimen that would have been unavailable to prehistoric people. Either way, there is a broad spectrum to the Paleo diet so it can be customised to how you feel most comfortable and in a way that works for you and your lifestyle.
What you can eat on the Paleo diet
The beauty of Paleo is that the whole diet plan is simple, in fact the more complicated the meal, the less likely it is to be Paleo. Here are a few guidelines for what you can eat while you’re on the Paleo diet.
- Meat and Fish: Of course, we all know that cavemen were meat-eaters, hunter gatherers, etc. The Paleo diet is made up of a lot of organic meats and wild game. Think of things like beef, Chicken, Eggs, Lamb, Pork, Bass, Clams etc. In fact, I’ve found an excellent Paleo snack that can be eaten on this diet made from 100% grass fed and grass finished beef, raised in the USA in natural, pesticide and chemical free pastures. These Beef Sticks from Paleovalley use organic spices and are naturally fermented for healthy results and come personally recommended by myself and other Paleo dieters!
- Vegetables: Not every hunt was successful so every caveman needed a crop of vegetables to fall back on so their tribe didn’t go hungry. As with the meat options, go for organically grown, seasonal vegetables such as Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Mushrooms, Onions, Peppers and Zucchini. Vegetables will be your main source of nutrition alongside your meat and fish options and there are plenty to choose from to bulk out your dishes.
- Fruits: Paleo is a diet that is very low in carbs so you’ll find that a high percentage of your carbohydrate intake will come from fruits. Something you should think about when choosing the types of fruit to eat is that the fruit we have available to us now is very different to the fruits our cavemen ancestors would have eaten. Some of the approved fruits you can eat in moderation on the paleo diet are Apples, Avocados, Bananas, Berries, Figs, Grapefruit, Grapes, Melons and Kiwis.
- Seeds, Nuts and Fats: Healthy fats are a big part of the Paleo diet. You should make sure that fats, nuts and seeds are all a part of your daily cooking. Your body needs to be having these healthy fats in order to provide it with the right kind of nutrition. The kinds of things you can eat are Coconut oil, Avocado oil, Butter, Olive oil, Almonds, Cashews, Hazelnuts, Pecans, Pine nuts, Sunflower seeds and Pumpkin seeds.
This list is just a loose guideline of what you can eat while you’re following the Paleo diet, for a more comprehensive guideline of what you can eat, I would recommend investing in a good guidebook such as the Paleo for Beginners: Essentials to get Started.
What you Can’t Eat on the Paleo Diet
Looking through all the food you can eat on a diet can sometimes be more overwhelming than just being able to know what’s not allowed. By having a clear image in your mind of what isn’t allowed you’ll be able to make the choices about what is Paleo and what isn’t. So what food should you be avoiding?
- Artificial ingredients and additives: This is generally a no brainer, artificial ingredients are a modern invention and certainly wouldn’t have been consumed by our cavemen ancestors. Once you start looking into it I’m sure you’ll be as shocked as I was to find out just how much of the food we eat today is packed full of artificial additives that are bad for our bodies and our wellbeing in general. Additives you should be avoiding are: Aspartame, MSG, calcium sorbate, potassium bromate, nitrates, sorbic acid, and any artificial sweeteners, colours and GMO.
- Drinks: I’m sorry guys but no soda! Soda is full of those additives we talked about above, have absolutely no nutritional value and are just empty carbs. Caffeine is a no go as well, it is certainly not something a caveman would have consumed and something that is not part of the Paleo lifestyle. Soda is linked to a whole bunch of different health conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure. In fact, your safest bet for drink is water, water, water. Water is your life-source and should be your main beverage whatever diet or lifestyle you’re following.
- Junk Food: I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you why this is a no-go on the Paleo diet. You certainly wouldn’t have seen a caveman sitting around eating a bag of chips or candy. Junk snacks are full of chemicals things that are bad for your body and empty of any nutritional value. Of course you can still have Paleo snacks – the yummy 100% grass fed beef sticks from Paleovalley are just one example of a tasty, healthy Paleo snack you can have while following the Paleo lifestyle without indulging in empty calories and filling your body with harmful chemicals.
- Grains: Followers of the Paleo lifestyle try and follow the basic concept of eating food that isn’t farmed and grains are, of course, an agricultural crop. To follow the Paleo diet you’ll have to be cutting out bread, bagels, buns. Cutting out grain-based food might be one of the hardest parts of starting out on the Paleo lifestyle but you’ll start seeing a huge change in your overall health and wellbeing. Many people report having much more energy, feeling healthier in general and having a much better digestion.
These are just some of the food items you’ll have to start to cut out of your diet once you begin following the Paleo lifestyle. I’d really recommend purchasing a more comprehensive guide such as The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet for more help and advice on the food you’ll be cutting out and the food you’ll be able to eat.
Benefits of Eating Grass Fed Meat
A lot of people, when starting out on the Paleo diet often ask what the benefits of eating meat, such as Beef, is. There are several benefits to it in fact such as:
- Having a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids whilst also having the optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
- Grass fed beef has a higher level of mineral content meaning more calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, beta-carotene and iron than your regular grain-fed beef.
- A higher level of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), in fact grass-fed beef is one of the best sources of CLA and studies have shown that CLA can prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
- Grass fed beef contains a higher level of vitamin B especially B1 and B2.
- The powerful antioxidant that helps prevent your body from oxidation and DNA damage, Glutathione is found in higher concentration in grass fed beef
- Fat soluble vitamins that enhance the absorption of minerals and protein, A, D, E and K are found in higher levels in grass-fed beef.
These benefits are why the Paleo diet is so healthy for you, because by choosing grass-fed over grain-fed meat you can feed your body with the healthiest possible meat. Paleo snacks such as the 100% grass-fed beef sticks by Paleovalley and others on the market are a great way of adding even more nutrition to your diet alongside the grass-fed meat options you choose for your main meals.
What Is Paleo?
So we’ve gone over the basic concept of Paleo, the benefits of Paleo, what you can and can’t eat whilst following the Paleo diet but what really is it?
It is healthy. Paleo is a way of cutting out all the unhealthy, processed, chemical filled foods and focusing on feeding your body pure, natural and nutritious foods. You will be balancing your meals to ensure you’re consuming the right amount of protein, carbs, fibre and healthy fat therefore not compromising on your nutrition, whilst avoiding all those processed foods that have become part of most people’s diets.
It is a lifestyle rather than a diet. Sure I’ve been referring to Paleo as a diet but really it’s a lifestyle. Paleo is about embracing a way of life that is simpler and choosing to eat food from natural sources and cutting out things that are processed and genetically engineered. Some people will find that the diet side of it gives way to a deeper way of living a healthy, natural lifestyle that our species seems to have forgotten about.
It is clean eating. Clean eating is a term that is thrown around a lot in the fitness and health community and it is a way that people are realising more and more that is most beneficial for anyone looking to live as healthy as possible. Avoiding pre-packaged, processed food means avoiding chemicals that cause health problems and weight gain and Paleo does just that. Specially designed Paleo snacks are an exception.
It can be difficult at first but will eventually become easier. Making such huge changes in your lifestyle will always be a little difficult at first, especially if you’ve spent your whole life living off processed and junk food but once your body becomes accustomed to these changes you’ll find it will become second nature to you.
It will help you lose weight. Following Paleo you’ll find that your body will lose the excess fat and your weight will even out to be the right size for your body. When you’re feeding yourself the right things your body will naturally change to how it should be.
It is right for nearly everybody. The beauty with Paleo is that it is easily modifiable to fit all types of people. There’s no one way to follow the Paleo diet and lifestyle and you’ll find that whoever you are, from all walks of life, there’s a path of the Paleo diet that you’ll be able to follow.
As you can see there are so many benefits to following the Paleo lifestyle and it can be adapted for all types of people. While this article is not a comprehensive guide to Paleo, I hope that it has allowed you to see just how good it can be and how much it has worked for me. If you feel a light has been turned on in regards to your health and lifestyle I challenge you to make your next meal Paleo and see how it makes you feel, see the changes that will begin to happen in your body and your general sense of wellbeing. I hope that with Paleo you’ll be able to change your life and wellbeing for the better, just like I did.