Shifting to primal/paleo eating – part 1

My family officially changed to primal eating a few weeks back. As an approach to eating it has always made a lot of sense to me. The final straw in making the change came from my wife as she is the primary food buyer and cook in our house. With two young kids the prospect of increased energy levels and a little fat loss was very appealing.

I’m going to write a couple of posts about it – this one will give a very basic overview of what primal/paleo eating involves, just in case someone stumbles across this post and hasn’t come across it before. In the second I’ll run through how I transitioned to the diet over a few weeks as I think it could be useful for someone who is also thinking about eating this way.

What does it mean to eat primally?
It is based on the idea that humans have not evolved to eat a vast number of foods that have become a large part of our diets since the introduction of agriculture. So, to remain healthy we should avoid those foods and aim to eat as closely as possible to how our ancestors did before large scale farming existed.

The hows and whys of this diet are covered in great detail elsewhere so I’m going to focus this post on the three main principles to follow – I’ve put some of my favourite resources at the bottom if you want more.

1) Cut out processed carbohydrate
Hey sugar, I’m looking at you here. You are everywhere, in everything and you are shitty for my body!

This one is difficult for me as I have a massive sweet tooth (I seriously love the cake). Sugar does lots of nasty stuff to you (go here for a scary list) but the must noticeable effect for me is to my energy levels.

The effect sugary treats had the couple of times I’ve had them since making this transition have been enough to make steer well clear since.

2) Cut out grains
No more pasta, rice, bread, quinoa, cous cous, cereals etc.

In addition to the grains themselves not being especially good for you, having them in your diet invariably leads to a pretty high intake of carbs. This makes your body over-reliant on carbs (sugar!) as a fuel and over time makes a mess of your body’s ability to regulate insulin. It is much more complex than that, but rather than repeat someone else’s good work I suggest you check out this Mark’s Daily Apple post for more. Or buy his great book.

Eat more fresh meat, fish and vegetables
This really follows on from the last two – if you’ve taken things out of your diet, you’re going to need to add some stuff in to fill the gap.

The end result is a diet higher in fat and protein but much with much lower levels of carbs. That’s not to say that we are not eating carbs at all. We still have plenty of root vegetables, fruit etc but the total volumes of carbs is far lower than if our diet consisted largely of pasta or bread.

Over time your body learns to use fat as its primary fuel rather than relying on a steady intake of carbohydrate. The is where people’s weight loss results come in as your body will use excess body fat as a fuel source.

Is that it?
Yes, kinda. You can make it more detailed and complex if you want to but by making these three changes you will probably see great results.

Some parts are not easy though, your friends and family may have trouble getting their head around it if they prescribe to the fat = bad philosophy (teach them otherwise!).

Plus buying food on the go is tough – as I mentioned earlier, sugar is everywhere.

Useful resources
Mark’s Daily Apple
Robb Wolf

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