Wellness

How to ‘go Paleo’ | Tips From The Pros

By Kim Barnard - 24 Jul 2013

Function Well
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If you haven't heard of the Paleo diet, you must have been sitting under a large rock for the last year or two. On the other hand, if you've been eating Paleo for this amount of time there's a fair chance you will be able to take said rock and throw it a great distance using your muscly, Paleo-sculpted arms. 

For the uninitiated, Paleo refers to a way of eating that focuses on fresh wholefoods that are largely untouched. The diet is about filling your bellies with loads of plants (that's vegetables, to you and me), some animal protein, and healthy fats, with an emphasis on cutting out the bad stuff (goodbye, cronuts, it's been delish).

For those of you who are confused about Paleo (and, seriously, with the amount of different diets out there, who can blame you?) we thought we'd chat to some Paleo-loving friends of The Urban List who can tell us more about the diet and fill us in on why it works for them.

Tracy Hirst | Primal Pantry Chef

What made you start eating Paleo?

Since having children, I have battled with hypothyroidism with very little success from conventional medicine. About 2 years ago I started seeing a GP who is also a naturopath—he changed my medication and gave me supplements to boost my energy levels and general well being . . . I constantly felt run down.

After more testing I was diagnosed with Barmah Forest Virus (a mosquito-borne Virus similar to Ross River) and poor adrenal function, hence the fatigue. After many visits, many supplements, and even weekly vitamin injections, my Naturopath suggested a complete shake up of my diet and training schedule. I was given a list of foods to eat and told to stop the long runs, spin classes, and cardio killers I was punishing myself with daily.

A few weeks later, I was reading the paper and there was a 4 page spread on 'The Caveman Diet'. It started to sound very familiar! From that article I researched more, discovered Mark's Daily Apple, Robb Wolf, and Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. I stalked as many Paleo bloggers as I could find and discovered the amazing online Paleo community.

When did you start?

About 18 months ago.

What are the benefits?

Other than losing 20 +kilos, I can't believe how much energy I have and how well I sleep.

Tips for success?

Surround yourself with like-minded people.

Number one Paleo myth?

It's not about recreating the Palaeolithic era . . . and it's not a high-fat diet.  

What does a typical day's meals look like for you?

Early Morning: Hot water and a Fonzie Abbott piccolo.

Breakfast: Almond meal porridge with berries and nut crumb, or Paleo Hero Muesli with warm berries and Coyo.

Snack: An apple.                                                                                                                              

Lunch: Poached chicken salad with avocado, purple cabbage, fresh herbs, and lime.

Snack: Apple/Almonds.

Dinner: Pan-fried fish with cauliflower fried rice and Asian greens.

Dessert: Protein coconut fudge.

Lots of water and herbal tea throughout the day.

Top tips for staying healthy?

Eat well, sleep well, and make training fun.

What would you make for a non-Paleo eater, to convert them?

Paleo Fish tacos... soft taco with coconut crumbed fish, avocado, coriander and lime salsa. And some coconut protein fudge.

paleo brisbane

Mark Rockley | Primal Pantry Owner

What made you start eating Paleo?

I have always been health consciousand I maintain a fairly active lifestyle. Good friend, Darren Bain introduced me to the Paleo lifestyle while presenting a fitness seminar and the Paleo concept made a lot of sense to me. 

When did you start?

I began Paleo approximately 2 years ago. 

What are the benefits?

The benefits for me have been a more balanced lifestyle, more energy, and improved health. I used to have bad allergies but these have cleared up since I have adopted the cleaner Paleo eating.

Tips for success?

Stay focused on your goals and commit yourself for 4 weeks to see the best results. 

Number one Paleo myth? 

That it is no carbs. I train regularly and it is about sourcing the right carbs at the right time.

What does a typical day's meals look like for you?

Breakfast: Paleo Hero Primal muesli and Coconut Yoghurt.

Snack: Hulk Smoothie and Paleo Hero Primal Mix.

Lunch: Protein (salmon or chicken) and salad for lunch.

Snack: Protein smoothie and small salad.

Dinner: Meat with steamed green veggies.

Top tips for staying healthy?

Keep active and maintain a good, healthy diet.

What would you make for a non-Paleo eater, to convert them?

Primal Pantry's Cauliflower Fried Rice, courtesy of Tracy Hirst.

Shannon Cooper | My Food Religion

What made you start eating Paleo?

I have always been into healthy eating & fitness & have been mostly gluten free for about 5 years. A bit over 2 years ago I decided to quit sugar, as I was a total 'healthy sugar' junkie, and had a really hard time with blood sugar highs and lows because of it. Through this process I discovered Paleo and never looked back. 

When did you start?

About 2 and a half years ago. 

What are the benefits?

For me, no more blood-sugar regulation problems, better energy levels, less systemic inflammation, better gut health and therefore immunity, better athletic performance, and just generally feeling better.

Tips for success?

Start slowly, and don't beat yourself up if you eat something 'non-Paleo'. Make changes to ensure that this becomes a lifestyle, not just another diet. Be a nutrient-seeker and eat food that nourishes and heals your body. 

Number one Paleo myth?

Paleo food is bland. If you are coming from a typical, full-of-processed-cr*p diet then your tastebuds are going to need to adjust to what real food actually tastes like. The diet is only as boring as you are in the kitchen. 

What does a typical day's meals look like for you?

Breakfast: Eggs, spinach/kale sautéed in ghee or coconut oil with avocado and homemade sauerkraut.

Lunch: Generally dinner leftovers or a big salad with tinned, wild-caught salmon. 

Dinner: At the moment, since it's cold, it is normally slow-cooked meat with roast veggies and cauliflower rice.

Top tips for staying healthy?

JERF. Just Eat Real Food. If it comes in a package with ingredients you can't pronounce or don't know, don't eat it. Forget the calorie panel and read the ingredients list. 

What would you make for a non-Paleo eater, to convert them?

Seared scallops on cauliflower purée, Thai red curry lamb shanks with cauliflower rice and my key lime tart for dessert. Wanna be Paleo now? 

Darren Bain | Function Well

What made you start eating Paleo?

Around 4-5 years ago I read Loren Cordain's book, 'The Paleo Diet'. Reading the book made a lot of sense to me, I was already eating predominately a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, so it was not that big of a change in that respect. Cordain's book made nutrition really simple, and it made a lot of sense to me to eat a 'Paleo' style diet. I figured eating more protein from organic meats, healthy fats, minimal processed foods, and lots of vegetables couldn't be a bad thing, so I went Paleo-ishNot long after reading the book, I watched a documentary called Food Inc,, which really hit home the impact of the modern day diet and made me take my new way of eating to the next Paleo level.

When did you start?

About 4-5 years ago.

What are the benefits?

Improving your nutrition has a positive impact on more than just your waistline. I wholeheartedly believe, and have seen first hand, that engaging in regular exercise and healthy eating has a ripple effect to improve literally every other aspect of your life. When you are healthy and fit you feel better about yourself and you have more energy. When you have more energy, you have better relationships with your spouse, family, work colleagues, and you are more productive—the benefits are endless.

In terms of measurable metrics, when converting to a Paleo diet these are the main benefits: 
Less body fat
More lean muscle
Improved digestion and immunity
Improved hormonal response

Decreased skin problems 
Optimising your hormones is the key to understanding why Paleo makes sense, in particular the hormones insulin and cortisol. 

Tips for success?

Learn Why: My advice is to never try any nutrition plan/diet that you haven't done your research on. When you understand the basic principles and how this is going to benefit you, the more likely you will be to stick to it. 
Long Term: If fat loss is a high priority to you, follow a strict Paleo plan for 2 weeks then move to a maintenance plan. This incorporates a few 'cheat meals' per week, or maybe a cheat day.
Be Prepared: Arm yourself with Paleo-friendly snacks and meals. You go off-track when you are not organised. Fortunately there are now bucket loads of Paleo blogs and recipes available to provide you with all the info you need.

Number one Paleo myth?

Fat is bad for you. Yes, there are bad fats, like trans fats, that should be completely avoided, however consuming saturated fat from Paleo sources, in moderation, is actually beneficial for your health. 

What does a typical day's meals look like for you?

During the week all my meals will be made up of the Paleo summary 'meat, veg, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no processed sugar'.

I eat bucket loads of greens to keep energy up and get my healthy fats in. On the weekend I will have a few cheat meals, and sometimes I may have a healthy non-Paleo meal here and there through the week. 

Top tips for staying healthy?

1.Manage your insulin; it is the major fat storing hormone. The more insulin you produce the faster you will age.
2. Lift weights. The more muscle and strength you have is a better predictor for longevity and health than any other biomarker like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI etc. 

What would you make for a non-Paleo eater, to convert them?

I'd take them to Primal Pantry

Image Credit: Fast Paleo, Pinterest

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