Going Paleo? Here’s the Best Way to Get Started…

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Okay, so there’s not really a best way. We just wanted you to read this article. However, I’ve been on the Paleo train for eight years and if I had to give a bit of advice, this would be it.

  • Step One: Cut out all low quality cooking oils from your diet immediately.

While I want to say “gone with the grains” and “sayonara to sugar,” those are tough improvements to make cold turkey. So, let’s start by cutting out soybean oil, corn oil, blended vegetable oil, etc.Cutting sugar and grains is like cutting off one of your hands, you’ll notice straight away and it will be hard to deal with, but improving the quality of your cooking oil is like sneaking in the back door. If you’re worried about cooking with olive oil, read this and rest easy.

Cutting out low-quality cooking oils is a fast way to remove the unfavorable ratio of PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) from your diet and put you in a good position to tackle step two: grains. For more on PUFA ratios, check this out.

  • Step Two: Cut out the grains.

While cutting sugar out may be the best overall advice I could give you, it actually ends up being the third step to Paleo proficiency. By knocking out grains next, you’ll begin cleaning up your gut and well on your way to the sugar-free sanctuary.

Your body has likely adjusted to grains. By removing them, you’ll feel better. It’s only when attempting to reintroduce them will you realize the havoc they can wreak on your intestinal tract. Wheat and rye flour are no brainers, but even the pseudograins (quinoa, flax, chia, etc.) are good to avoid due to the anti-nutrients they contain. These come in the form of lectins, saponins, and protease inhibitors, but that’s a lot of science talk if you’re just looking to take your first step, no? If you want to read more on this, check out a similar discussion of mine on potatoes and anti-nutrients – different topic, same idea.

  • Step Three: Cut out the sugar.

Begin by focusing on fruit. It’s good to think about what you can have instead of what you can’t have. Have an apple for dessert. What? An apple? Yes. An apple. It’s not a foreign thought. It will sate the sweet tooth, but provide the filling fiber we need to hold you over until bed. From there, start checking labels and cut out anything with sugar on the ingredient list.

There are 1,000 words for sugar, so don’t be fooled. Even honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, cane syrup, coconut sugar, these are all the same as sugar. Sure, there might be a little nature involved, but don’t be a fool.

Once you’ve transitioned from added sugar to fruit, you can begin cutting back on that and focusing on vegetables. First, you look for starch, as it will provide some sweetness, then transition to lower glycemic veggies at every opportunity. Leafy greens are your friends.

From there, it really depends on your goals. If it’s weight loss without a lot of exercise, then calorie restriction and low glycemic veggies are your friends. If you’re a firebreather hitting the gym often, then you can take the starchy carbs of yams, sweet potatoes and hard squash.

Just remember that fruit is the Oreo cookie of the broccoli world.

I’m stuck halfway between “never trust a skinny chef” and “who wants to take nutrition advice from a fat guy.” So, read up on this stuff, don’t take yourself too seriously, “Earn Your Ice Cream,” and do your best to…

“Keep It Paleo!”

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

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