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Paleo/Primal Lifestyle FAQ

Paleo diet pyramid with icons of diffirent products including fish, meat, begetables, fruits. Healthy food vector linear illustration. Cave man diet modern concept.The Paleo/Primal Lifestyle can help improve so many things about your health and well-being. Weight loss and better, overall health are quick realizations for so many men and women who eat this way. (It literally has saved me from a lifetime of diabetes complications.)

If you’re thinking about eating like our ancestors did to significantly boost your health and wellness, you probably have more than a few questions. This handy FAQ’s was created to answer those questions.

Keep this in mind…

“Think of Paleo as a template, not a rigid prescription. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.”

(Chris Kresser said that and I agree with him 100%.)

If you have questions that aren’t answered here, please send them to me and I’ll add the answers here.

Click on each + sign below to discover the answers to the questions.

Q: When was the Paleo Diet created, and by whom?

A: The most direct and simple answer to this question is to say that the cavemen in your ancestral tree developed this way of eating. Instead of eating this way to lose a few pounds or to get healthier, paleo men and women ate like this out of necessity. They fished and ate lots of wild plants, nuts and berries. They hunted wild animals when they were available, and ate real, natural food.

This happened thousands of years ago. Fast-forward to modern time and you find gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin in 1975 speaking of the proven benefits of eating like your ancestors did in the paleolithic era. Melvin Konner and Stanley Boyd Eaton began spreading the word in 1985. Finally, the man considered to be most responsible for making the Paleo Diet was Loren Cordain, who wrote the bestselling book of the same name in 2002.

I (Marty) have been personally studying under Mark Sisson working on my certification toward being a Primal Coach. One of the many reasons I like (and prefer) Mark’s teachings is that he is not strictly a purist, knowing that modern life is, of course, so different from the cavemen days. Even though is 10 Laws of the Primal Lifestyle are based around the ways of our ancient ancestors, he has brought everything up to date.

Q: Are the Paleo Diet and Ketogenic Diet the same thing?

A: Both these eating approaches have been proven to lead to quick weight loss and a reduced risk of chronic disease. Eating the Paleo way means avoiding certain foods like grains and dairy and eating other foods, and once you stick to those restrictions, you can eat whatever allowed foods you like. The Ketogenic diet also focuses on eating real food and avoiding processed foods, but there is a significant difference.

On the Keto Diet you strictly manipulate fat, protein and carbs to maintain a very specific ratio. Eating Paleo means no measuring and weighing or sticking to macronutrient ratios, and instead, lets you make smart food choices based on the guidelines.

In my work with my wellness coaching clients, I use a little of both in helping them plan out the best ways of eating for their unique bodies, but I lean more toward Paleo simply because it is so much easier to incorporate in to your modern, very busy life.

Q: What are some of the most important benefits of a Paleo Diet?

A: Weight loss can come quick. Overweight and obesity are linked to many devastating diseases and illness, so this benefit is huge. You can lower high cholesterol and blood pressure, improve your skin and hair, reduce the risk of developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and improve your mental and brain-based health across the board.

Plus it’s easy-peasy to incorporate into your life.

Q: Can you eat cheese?

A: Paleo purists will tell you that no kind of cheese is allowed, but I believe a little cheese is okay, because the way it is made uses a fermentation method that removes much of the unhealthy lactose that the human digestive system can’t process properly. So moderate amounts are generally fine.

But you should know, too, that cheese is highly addictive and you can actually eat too much. If eating cheese causes you to experience constipation, you need to eliminate entirely or at least cut back on the amount you’re consuming. AND too often cheese is eaten with crackers which are not allowed unless made with Paleo-approved ingredients.

Q: Is coffee okay?

A: Strictly speaking, coffee is not allowed on Paleo because of its high caffeine content. However, many Paleo eaters include a limited amount of coffee in their diets, 1 to 3 cups a day. I’m much more concerned about what you are putting in your coffee than I am caffeine as caffeine has been found to have somre pretty good health benefits. So lay off the sugar and milk and instead use either heavy whipping cream or a little ghee and MCT oil or powder.

If you think caffeine might give you digestive problems then it’s probably best to avoid coffee entirely for the first 30 to 60 days of your transformation to the Paleo/Primal Lifesytle. You may find, as so many others have, that you lose your caffeine dependency when you flush and cleanse your system and start eating healthy, real foods.

The best thing to do with coffee is to see how it makes you feel.

Q: Is tea okay?

A: Herbal teas like green tea have antioxidants that are keys to good health. Even though herbal teas may have caffeine, they are also acceptable on this plan and so is fully caffeinated black tea and others. Again, it’s more important what you are putting (or not putting) in your tea.

Q: What does a basic Paleo eating plan look like?

A: Eat lots of healthy fats. Fat is not evil, as the sugar industry and modern food processors would have you believe. Eat a moderate amount of protein and a few complex carbs but avoid things like grains and sugar. That’s it. Drink water and herbal teas. Eat clean, minimally processed, grass-fed and wild-caught fish, poultry, meat and eggs. Avoid all grains including rice and corn, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed food. Consume “good fats” like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive, macadamia, and avocado oils. Add lots of fresh or frozen veggies that have not been processed at every meal.

Q: How about nuts and fruits?

A: Fruits, which are high in antioxidants and nutrients but low in natural sugar are fine, like berries. Nuts are chock-full of fiber, healthy fat and protein, but are calorie-dense. Eat nuts to stave off hunger cravings but be careful with quantities of nuts and fruit if weight loss is your goal.

Q: What foods are absolutely out?

A: Cereal grains and legumes (beans and peas) are out. The human system has never quite learned how to process grains, so skip the oats and corn, wheat and white flours, rye and barley, soy and rice. Refined sugar, packaged, canned or bottled fruit juices, and margarine, soybean, corn, peanut and sunflower oils (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils) are avoided.

Processed food is out, which means most everything in a box or can at your grocery store. Dairy products other than healthy cheeses are not allowed, and you can substitute dairy milk with coconut and almond milks.

Peanuts and peanut butter are out if you are strictly following Paleo guidelines, so try almond butter instead.

Q: Is there an eating schedule?

A: Nope. Eat when you are hungry. Listen to your body. Do what feels natural, and don’t eat just because you have been told your whole life to eat 3 squares a day.

Q: Is Paleo just another weight-loss diet?

A: Eating Paleo can result in healthy weight loss, but it is filling and nutritious, and is an easy way to create an entirely new lifestyle for you. Most restrictive diets aren’t filling nor nutritious. You lose weight, but since you are not usually getting the nutrition you need, you often gain back all your lost weight. The Paleo eating plan makes you healthy inside and out and it balances your hormones and emotional health, while boosting physical and mental wellness. You will probably lose weight if you are overweight, and sometimes a significant amount, but this is so much more than a weight-loss plan. It’s truly a lifestyle plan.

Q: Is Paleo eating going to break the bank?

A: Paleo eating can be more expensive than your current diet. It’s hard to beat the cost of a $2.99 or $3.99 drive-thru heart attack in a sack. However, you can make the Paleo Diet as inexpensive or expensive as you like. Buy in bulk, buy locally-grown and in-season, shop with others and split the expense and you can minimize costs. Remember that you will be avoiding, or at least limiting, health care and hospitalization costs because you will be healthier. That is a beautiful way to cash-in on this healthy eating approach.

Q: I heard Paleo eating can cause bad breath. Is this true?

A: Low carb diets sometimes cause bad breath. This may or may not happen. Any significant dietary changes can trigger reactions of some kind. There is no reason to believe the Paleo Diet will cause more or fewer bad breath issues than the way you are eating right now. Dental and oral hygiene is important no matter what you eat or drink.

Q: Do I have to work out on the Paleo Diet?

A: If you are sedentary, you need to get moving more. That is true regardless of the food you put into your stomach. Walk more, jog, strength train and simply stay up and moving more than you sit. If you add regular movement to your new healthy eating style, your health benefits will grow.

Q: What happens if I "cheat" for a meal, or an entire day?

A: Cheating implies you are doing something wrong. It’s up to you and nobody else but you to decide what you put into your body. If you have a “cheat meal” or “cheat day”, don’t give yourself a hard time about it. Have an internal conversation and remember why you are eating this way. Then get back on track for your next meal. I also prefer to use the word “treat” instead of cheat. So if you make the choice to “treat” then enjoy it to the fullest.

In my world, every day is a new day and a new opportunity to make better choices. No matter what, love yourself to pieces.

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“When was the last time you woke up and thought this could be the best day of your life?”
{Dr. Steve Maraboli}

Wise Words...

Do more of what makes you happy.

— Marty Marsh

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