20 Nov Paleo Guide
The Kremer’s Guide to Going Paleo
Are you interested in giving the Paleo diet a try but not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve developed this guide just for YOU with hopes of helping to make the transition to your new Primal Lifestyle as simple as possible. While the Paleo diet does require some planning, we hope you’ll find this guide helpful when it comes to Paleo shopping, meal preparation, adherence and overall success.
Step 1- Get Prepared
Quitting the grains, dairy, and legumes overnight can be a challenging task for those accustomed to building their meals around these food groups (which is actually quite common, especially in the case of those oh-so-convenient grain and dairy foods). While the Paleo lifestyle does get much easier with time, the first couple of weeks can be quite challenging as you rid your body of those nagging food cravings while adjusting to a “cleaner” way of eating.
To make the first two weeks as easy as possible, we recommend cleaning the house of any tempting foods before beginning the Paleo program. Thus, this step begins in the week(s) before beginning the diet and entails using the last of those non-Paleo items, simply giving them away or (especially in the case of those unopened boxes of cereals, crackers, pastas, rice, etc) boxing them up and storing them out of reach. When it comes to the half-eaten carton of ice cream in the freezer or cookies in the pantry, it may be best to simply throw out those items as opposed to “using them up” (those items are better off in the garbage anyways and you can always make healthier Paleo versions of these treats).
Step 2- Stock Up!
Once you’ve purged your house of those tempting non-Paleo foods, the next step is to hit your local grocer or farmers market to load up on the food items that will become staples in your life over the upcoming weeks (and hopefully months and years!). To make this step easier, please refer to thePaleo Foods List (we recommend printing a few copies to make your life and shopping experience easier). Things like lean meats, organic fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats should become staples in your life and with the right meal plan will fit in perfectly to replace the grains, dairy, legumes, and processed foods that you will be removing.
When it comes to stocking up on those Paleo staples, there are a few shopping strategies that could save you a great deal of money while helping to fill your home with the highest quality food items which include:
- Buy and eat in season whenever possible (click HERE for a great calendar showing what foods are in season by month)
- Shop the locals by visiting local farmers markets and any stores that sell produce from local growers to save money and ensure the freshest produce. This can also involve purchasing beef, eggs, chicken, and other meat and game from local ranchers and farmers.
- Buy organic meats, eggs, and some produce items in bulk whenever possible (and freeze what you can’t use immediately). For instance, purchasing a half or quarter of a beef at a time can save $4-10/pound on burger, roasts, and steaks and ensures that you know how your food is raised and where it is coming from while supporting local ranchers and farmers.
Step 3- Understanding when and how to eat
Obviously most find the process of eating to be a fairly simple task. However, for the purpose of adherence to the Paleo lifestyle, it is important to understand the “whys” behind the foods recommended. Grasping why we need the various food groups will make the process of creating balanced meals easier, thus promoting satiety and hopefully adherence to the Paleo food plan. To gain understanding of the various nutrients, lets start by exploring the roles of various food groups.
The roles of carbohydrates (grains, fruits and vegetables) in our bodies include:
• Providing energy
• Providing fiber, an important component of intestinal health and waste elimination.
• Providing vitamins and minerals (especially fruits and vegetables)
The roles of proteins (meats and eggs) in the body include:
• Growth support (especially important for children, teens, and pregnant women)
• Tissue repair
• Immune function
• Supporting hormone and enzyme production
• Source of energy when carbohydrates are not available
• Preserving lean muscle mass
The role of fats (nuts, oils and organic animal fats) in the body include:
• Supporting normal growth and development
• Providing energy (fat is the most concentrated source of energy)
• Absorbing certain vitamins (like vitamins A, D, E, K, and carotenoids)
• Providing cushioning for the organs
• Maintaining cell membranes
As you can see, while carbohydrates do play a role in our everyday bodily functions, the proteins and the fats each contribute greatly to optimal functioning on a daily basis. Understanding that carbohydrates play a fairly limited role when compared to high quality proteins and fats, you can hopefully see why the Paleo diet really can result in drastic health improvements in many people by promoting a more balanced intake of these nutrients. As the Standard American Diet (SAD) has continued to increase in processed carbohydrates and trans fats while decreasing the amount of organic proteins and healthy fats, it shouldn’t be surprising that rates of obesity and disease are so drastically rising.
When it comes to combining those carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats into balanced meal a few tips to keep in mind include:
- The first meal of the day should be eaten within 30 minutes of waking with the following meals being consumed every 2-4 hours thereafter.
- Fruits tend to have more sugar and carbohydrates than vegetables so placing them in the morning and around workouts is ideal for optimal energy levels. For those needing more carbohydrates, starchy vegetables in the form of sweet potatoes can also be used at these times.
- Solid protein sources in the forms of meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be consumed in moderate portion sizes (3-7 ounces) throughout the day with the exception of the post workout protein which can be in protein powder form for optimal workout recovery (dairy-free powders in the form of beef, egg, or plant proteins should be used in those with a dairy intolerance and those who wish to keep dairy, casein and whey out of their diets).
- Try to include a fruit or vegetable, protein, and fat with every meal when possible.
With these guidelines in mind, a typical day could look something like this:
Breakfast: Egg scramble with peppers, mushrooms, and onions topped with sliced avocado and fruit on the side
Snack: 1 apple with 1-2 tablespoons natural nut butter
Lunch: Lettuce wraps made with 5-7 ounces shredded chicken, spinach, onion, tomatoes and sliced avocado
Snack: 1-2 boiled eggs, veggie sticks and about 5-10 walnuts
Dinner: 5-7 ounces Grilled meat or fish with a large side of vegetables sautéed in coconut oil. (Or check out our online Paleo recipe section for a variety of healthy recipes)
Snack: Paleo Ice cream or dark chocolate (80% or darker)
Step 4- Get Creative!
This is possibly the most important step when it comes to long-term adherence to a Paleo lifestyle. Many will find that they can maintain the above described menu for a week or even a month, however there does come a time when creativity is a necessity in order to keep meals enjoyable. If the plan is not enjoyable it won’t be maintainable, which is why this step is so important. Believe it or not, going Paleo doesn’t always mean giving up those favorite dishes completely, sometimes it’s simply a matter of getting creative with what you have!
Some simple ways to use Paleo ingredients include:
Spaghetti squash or kelp noodles can be used in place of pastas and topped with things like meat balls, shrimp, chicken, or ground meat.
Zucchini squash can be shredded using a mandoline to create pasta-like noodles in many favorite traditional pasta meals.
Collard greens or thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant work well in lasagna recipes in place of noodles.
Spaghetti, butternut, acorn, or other winter squash varieties make wonderful replacements for a morning hot cereal when cubed or mashed and topped with things like nuts, cinnamon, and a small amount of honey or maple syrup
Mushrooms (with stems removed) can be used to replace buns in many burger meals or even pizza crusts.
Cauliflower makes a wonderful replacement for potatoes in dishes that call for mashed potatoes and in soups and chowders.
Almond and coconut flours can be used in place of grain flours to create a variety of cookies, cakes, bars and other baked (or unbaked) goods which can be consumed occasionally as a sweet treat
Of course these are only a few tips, for more detailed recipes check out the Paleo Recipe section!
Step 5- Troubleshooting and Making the Paleo Lifestyle right for you!
The final step in the process of going Paleo involves tweaking the menu and foods to meet your own individual needs. Like the past four steps, this is important in promoting program adherence as it gives you the opportunity to adjust the program to meet your own nutritional and wellness goals. We do recommend completing the first 4 steps and maintaining the basic Paleo principles for at least a few weeks prior to this step in order to fully understand which adjustments may need to be implemented (it can take a few weeks for the body to transition to this new way of eating). Some possible issues and adjustments may include:
Low energy levels- The basic Paleo diet recommends only fruits and non-starchy vegetables as carbohydrate sources. If energy levels are still low after a couple of weeks on the standard Paleo plan, additional carbohydrates may be necessary. It is important to remember that the body will need time to adjust after going Paleo and it is normal to have lower energy levels in the first few weeks as the body adapts to the new eating style. However, if energy levels don’t bounce back, additional carbs may be needed. Begin by gradually increasing fruit and/or things like carrots, parsnips, beats, and winter squash in the equivalent of about a piece of fruit or 100 calories per day and assessing energy levels with these adjustments. Start with minor adjustments and gradually add extra carbs/calories as needed until energy levels begin to improve.While many find that they do perfectly fine with these options, others find that they require more carbohydrates from denser sources in order to maintain energy levels and work output. In these cases (as mentioned on the Paleo food list) we do recommend adding denser carbohydrates in the form of starchy vegetables in the early meals and/or around workouts (for instance in the menu described above, a medium red potato could be added to breakfast and sweet potatoes or additional fruit added around workout times).
If chronically low energy levels has always been and continues to be a problem we recommend scheduling an appointment (in person or via telephone for long distance patients) to ensure that this isn’t a sign of a potential underlying health issue. Please complete the Contact Us form to ask questions or to schedule your appointment.
Food Cravings- For most, food cravings in the first few weeks after going Paleo are going to be inevitable as the body adjusts. Things like sugar, coffee, high fructose corn syrup, and even dairy and grains can be highly addictive and comforting for many people. The great news is the Paleo diet is a wonderful way to rid the body of those cravings while learning to eat for fuel and nutrition as opposed to comfort, boredom, stress and emotional reasons. Consuming small frequent meals (eaten every 2-4 hours) throughout the day is essential in helping to control energy levels and blood sugar, while preventing cravings and extreme hunger (which often results in those moments of weakness). To make the first few weeks on the Paleo plan as easy and successful as possible, it is vital to consume adequate protein (usually 3-6 ounces per meal for women and 4-7 ounces per serving for men) and fats to promote satiety throughout the day. Many are often hesitant of adding too much fat after years of being told that the low fat diet is the way to go. Keep in mind that you will be replacing grains, legumes, and dairy with proteins, fats, fruits and vegetables so increasing the fat intake is amust to replace some of the lost calories while reducing cravings and promoting satiety. Vegetables and fruits can also be a useful tool in preventing and managing food cravings as both are great sources of fiber and fruits make a wonderful sweet snack when a craving hits. Of course, a certain amount of self-control and willpower are also needed and sometimes the best cure for a craving is to simply find something to keep the mind occupied until the craving passes.
Weight Loss- Many begin the Paleo diet in an effort to lose weight and improve overall health. The Paleo diet can be a wonderful weight loss tool and most who take the diet seriously will find that they easily lose weight and improve overall body composition. For those who find that they are losing weight too rapidly upon beginning the Paleo diet (more than 2-5 lbs per week depending on the person), we recommend increasing calories in the form of proteins, fats, fruits, and starchy vegetables until fat loss slows to a desired rate (for specific guidance on this matter please feel free to Contact Us and we’ll be happy to answer questions).
For those who find that they don’t lose weight after going Paleo, we recommend keeping a food journal (MyFitnessPal is a wonderful cell phone app) to see exactly how many calories are being consumed. While things like fruits and nuts are very nutritious and convenient; it can be easy to overindulge on these items, thus slowing weight loss progress. For others, lack of weight loss on a restricted calorie diet can very well be a warning signal that should be addressed by a qualified healthcare professional. For this purpose, we offer in-person and telephone consultations with Dr. Kremer and Lifestyle Educator Cassie Kremer who can take a deeper look at patients’ symptoms, healthy history, diet, lifestyle, and goals in order to find the cause of the stubborn weight loss or other symptoms.
Bloating and Digestive Issues- Most will find that the Paleo diet is a wonderful way to alleviate bloating, gas, and other digestive issues by eliminating common food allergens and stomach irritants (gluten, soy and dairy being the most common). Those who notice drastic improvement in energy levels, digestive issues/bloating/gas, cognitive function, mood, skin issues, headaches, aches, pains and overall health after removing gluten and/or dairy should consider getting tested for a gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, or a food allergy to ensure that periodically consuming these foods isn’t going to cause ongoing health issues (in those with a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease periodically adding and removing these foods from the diet may actually cause more damage to one’s health than simply leaving them in). For this reason, WellCOR offers a variety of gluten and food allergy tests available to local and long distance patients designed to rule out celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or other food sensitivities (simply send us your information in the Contact Us page and we’ll get back to you with our recommendations).
While many will find that gastrointestinal issues improve on the Paleo diet, some will find that they experience excessive bloating and gas in the initial weeks after transitioning to the Paleo diet. Oftentimes, this can be a result of replacing low fiber, processed foods with higher fiber unprocessed foods. For those who find that bloating and gas increase upon going Paleo, it may be necessary to reduce the intake of fibrous vegetables (especially cauliflower and broccoli) and large quantities of nuts with a plan to gradually increase the intake of these items over time (to allow the body time to adjust to the increased amounts of fiber).
The process of “going Paleo” will most likely differ from person to person as we all have our own individual goals, needs, schedules and circumstances to consider. However, we hope this guide has been helpful in laying the foundation of a successful transition to the Paleo lifestyle. For those planning on trying the Paleo diet for the first time, we recommend dedicating yourself to the plan for 30 days to see if this lifestyle is right for you. Chances are, in just 30 days you’ll notice increased energy, improved body composition, fewer food cravings, and a variety of other wonderful health benefits. For additional information, articles, recipes, and tips on the Paleo Lifestyle please feel free to browse our website and of course, send any questions our way by using the Contact Us page.