No background science here or lengthy explanations, some easy guidelines to follow to kick-start your Paleo or Clean Eating journey. It’s up to you to decide to what extent you want to follow those guidelines, but if you follow them 100% you can be assured that you are eating the best food for your body and greatly investing in your long term health and well-being.
- A Paleo diet should be high in fat, moderate in animal protein and low to moderate in carbohydrates. Calorie counting is not encouraged, neither is portion control.
- Eat generous amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter or clarified butter. Beef tallow, lard and duck fat are also good, but only if they come from healthy and well-treated animals. Beef or lamb tallow is a better choice than lamb or duck fat. Olive, avocado and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and to drizzle over food, but not for cooking.
- Eat good amounts of animal protein. This includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs (liver, kidney, heart…), wild caught fish and shellfish. Don’t be scared to eat the fatty cuts and all meals with proteins should contain fat as well. Learn to cook with bones in the form of stocks and broths.
- Eat generous amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables either cooked or raw and served with fat. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of non-toxic carbohydrates.
- Eat low to moderate amounts of fruits and nuts. Try to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants like berries as well as nuts high in omega-3, low in omega-6 and low in total polyunsaturated fat like macadamia nuts. Consider cutting off fruits and nuts altogether if you have an autoimmune disease, digestive problems or are trying to lose weight faster.
- Preferably choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat from local, environmentally conscious farms. If not possible, choose lean cuts of meat and supplement your fat with coconut oil, butter or clarified butter. Also preferably choose organic, local and/or seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Cut out all cereal grains and legumes from your diet. This includes, but is not limited to, wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, brown rice, soy, peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and black eyed peas.
- Cut out all vegetable, hydrogenated and partly-hydrogenated oilsincluding, but not limited to, margarine, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. Olive oil and avocado oil are fine, but don’t cook with them, use them in salad dressings and to drizzle over food.
- Eliminate added sugar, soft drinks, all packaged sweets and juices (including fruit juices). As a rule of thumb, if it’s in a box, don’t eat it. At the grocery store, visit primarily the meat, fish and produce sections.
- Eliminate dairy products other than butter and maybe heavy cream. You don’t need dairy, but if you can’t live without it, read this article and consider raw, full-fat and/or fermented dairy.
- Eat when you’re hungry and don’t stress if you skip a meal or even two. You don’t have to eat three square meals a day, do what feels most natural.
- Eliminate external stressors in your life as much as possible and sleep at least 8 hours per night. Try to wake up without an alarm and to go to bed when it gets dark.
- Don’t over-exercise, keep your training sessions short and intense and do them only a few times per week. Take some extra time off if you feel tired. Consider short and intense sprinting sessions instead of very long cardio sessions.
- Consider supplementing with vitamin D and probiotics. Levels of magnesium, iodine and vitamin K2 should also be optimized. Iodine can be obtained from seaweeds. You probably don’t need a multivitamin or other supplements.
- Play in the sun, have fun, laugh, smile, relax, discover, travel, learn and enjoy life like a daring adventure!
You’ve probably heard of clean eating, but you may not know what it is exactly or how to go about cleaning up your diet. Eating clean is a good way to refresh your eating habits: it’s about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups—and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing whole foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It also means cutting back on refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats. And since you don’t have to count calories or give up whole food groups, it’s easy to follow.
- Not a diet.
It really isn’t. A diet is something you do for a month or two so that you can lose a few pounds and then return to your normal eating habits (and gain all the weight back, hence the term: ‘yo-yo dieting’). That’s short-term thinking, and clean eating isn’t a short-term fix – it’s more of a lifestyle change. If you want to be successful with eating clean, you’ve got to view it as redefining the relationship you have to food, and rather than trying to change everything all at once, taking it slower, and focusing on continuing to improve your eating habits over time.
- Not calorie-restriction.
Eating clean doesn’t mean not eating. You eat as much food as you need (i.e fulfill your metabolic requirements) to be healthy and have the energy to fuel your workouts and any other activities.
- Not about meal frequency.
Meal frequency and clean eating are two separate things. In fact, how often you eat is probably being given way more significance than it deserves. We’ve already pointed to studies which show that meal frequency has little effect on fat loss [1, 2], and little effect on insulin levels  (although it does affect glucose levels). To cut a long story short: it’s ultimately down to personal preference – some people want to eat 5 – 6 smaller meals a day, while others prefer the standard 3 meals, but there’s absolutely no requirement for a specific meal frequency. Heck, if you wanted to have just 1 big meal a day, that’d probably work too!
- Not deprivation.
People often equate clean eating with sacrifice, but it’s actually about finding healthy alternatives to unhealthy food. So if you love cupcakes, you don’t need to give ‘em up, the challenge is to find a healthier cupcake (or healthy alternative). Sure it takes more work, but the results are certainly worth it. Also remember that as you clean up your eating habits, your tastes change and you get to the point where you actually crave healthy food. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
- Not perfection.
Clean eating is about eating healthy most of the time. It isn’t about 100% strict adherence to mythical clean eating ideals – if you really want the double chocolate fudge cupcake, then go for it – it doesn’t mean you’ve fallen off the ‘clean-eating wagon’. There’s this strange phenomenon, especially in the bodybuilding world, where people get obsessed with eating clean (orthorexia nervosa), which isn’t exactly a healthy way to live life, nor is it necessary. The key to clean eating is aiming to eat healthy most of the time, and still being flexible about it.
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