• Background Image

    What is the Paleo Lifestyle and Paleo Food?

    February 14, 2013

February 14, 2013

What is the Paleo Lifestyle and Paleo Food?

How Paleo Has Changed My Way of Thinking About Food

First off, you have to understand this is a journey that I’m embarking on after some much scrutinized thinking.  After we did the Beachbody Ultimate Reset, it really opened my eyes to processed foods and what they do the body as well as pastas, breads and grains, I already had several friends who’ve been doing Paleo for years and I figured maybe it’s worth investigating.  So I did.  My first mistake was to try and learn all I needed to learn by just watching my friends who do it and asking them questions…thinking that was going to give me all the understanding I needed.  I didn’t and it won’t for you either.  I had to start hitting the books, so I did.


Understanding What Paleo Is

It’s NOT Atkins.  People hear the description of Paleo and think “Oh, it’s no carbs, like Atkins!”.  Could not be more wrong.  One of the things you may hear “Paleo” lifestyle referred to is “Caveman” or “Primal” eating. All 3 would be correct descriptions.  It basically means if you can kill it, pick it or pull it, then you can eat it.  If Nature made it in other words, you’re good.  If man made it or grew it through the invention of agriculture, it’s a no-go.  You don’t cut out carbs!  You only eat nature’s carbs in vegetables and fruits.

It’s simple, mimic our ancestors, who suffered from fewer chronic diseases than modern populations.  It’s about eating whole foods that provide better fuel for your body and avoiding grains, legumes (beans), refined sugar and pasteurized dairy products that all have very little to no nutritional value to your body and even if they do, can’t be absorbed by the body because of the anti-nutrients that “we the people” put into the food that actually KEEPS your body from getting from the food what it needs.  It’s so laughable, but we’ll get there.

I have found that there is a lot of contradiction to Paleo eating.  Meaning, there’s different levels of commitment to the Paleo lifestyle.  Some people are hardcore no beans or grains etc, and some people still eat quinoa.  One book will say you can have sweet potatoes, one book will say you can’t.  One will say no dairy, one will say use unprocessed butter with all the fat in it.  It really comes down to connecting with someone who you know and trust and picking their brain and then finding out what works right for you.  One truth I think is a safe assumption, even if you only commit to Paleo 85%, it’s a start, and you’ll be healthier than 98% of your friends and family.

My very good friend Brett Thornton (www.fullfunctionalfitness.com) is someone I really respect and trust with advice on this topic.  As well as Dave and Monica Ward at (www.thefitclubnetwork.com).  All 3 of these friends have been living the Paleo lifestyle for years now and seem to have it figured out.  In addition, their fellow coaches and business partners in Beachbody with me, so how bad can they be?  Oh yeah, and Paleo goes well with your workouts (like P90X, Insanity, The Asylum, etc).   But we’ll get to more of that later in another blog.  I know, it’s a lot of teases!  But I don’t want to skimp on anything…it’s kind of a big deal to me.

First Off, The Plan!

First off, you need to understand this is not a “diet” or at least not in the way that you think of the word.  Diet to you may mean “a short lived plan to lose weight” by starving yourself, using a gimmick or depriving yourself of happiness, only to put all and more of the weight back on.  You need to change that meaning to “lifestyle”.  Your diet means what you eat on a regular basis.  When the doctor says your “diet and exercise” suck, he doesn’t mean “You need to start the Atkins diet and get your butt moving”, actually the second part is true, the first is not.

So when you talk to Dave and Monica, it wasn’t as clear on when and how they give themselves their cheats in their Paleo week (probably because I didn’t really ask).  Brett, I did ask!  Some people like Brett have their cheats very cut and dry and scheduled (i.e. Friday and Saturday nights only) for Brett.  Where as Monica, I know is hardcore into hitting her fitness goals right now with Les Mills Combat and is sticking to a pretty much “no cheat” philosophy.  Both are respectable ways to approach it.  I think you have to really find what’s right for you.  I know for a fact that both of them allow themselves “cheats”, it’s just a matter of what, when and how much.  Brett’s a big IPA guy, so Friday and Saturday nights are his pizza, pasta and beer nights.  Trust me, the dude is lean…he has it figured out.

So my plan is to eventually do what Brett does, give myself Friday and Saturday nights to let loose and really stick to the Paleo plan during the rest of the week.  You have to give yourself the “cheats” or a better term would be “treats” because you deserve it.  What I will tell you is this, you don’t really feel like you’re missing anything eating Paleo.  I do have a bigger sweet tooth than I realized, but there’s Paleo ways around that stuff.  Paleo eating is actually really good.  We’ll get into more recipes and stuff later as well.

First, Why No Grain?

So in the  weeks to come, I really want to break down the “science” behind Paleo, if science is even the right word for it, it may be more like Biology (a form of science, of which I did poorly on) but now have a sudden interest.

“Let Food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates

So why does Paleo tell you to avoid grains like the plague?  Simple, it all boils down managing your blood sugar, insulin levels and systemic inflammation, which are all critical to your health.  Let’s agree that we are not smarter than nature, so therefore anything that we “do” to food including grains (to make them whole grains etc) is a form of processing.  If you manipulate a grain and tweak it, which is all the bread and pasta you buy, it’s processed.  That simple.  A sweet potato that you pull out of the ground is not processed, it’s healthy form of carbs.  A loaf of whole wheat bread or pasta, is VERY much processed and therefore is bad carbs.

Here’s a couple of things called anit-nutrients to understand and look for when shopping:


Also known as phytic acid, phytate is an indigestible, mineral-binding compound that is located in the hulls of grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.  While animals like cows, sheep and goats have adequate enzymes in their digestive system to break down phytates, we humans…do not.

Phytates bind to minerals within foods, including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, and it’s process PREVENTS their absorption in our bodies.  So long story short, the very minerals your body needs from the food that has phytate in it….you don’t get, because it’s blocked by the phytate.

How important is the minerals that are blocked by the phytate?  Well, look at their purposes; minerals are responsible for regeneration of tissues, to prevent injuries to bones and ligaments, serve as anti-oxidants to help you better fight cancer and they help your body fight off things like heart disease.


These are sugar-binding proteins that are resistant to digestive enzymes and stomach acid as well.  They are richly present in the seeds of plants, becoming less concentrated as plants grow.  They can stick to the cells in the lining of the small intestine, impairing digestive function by altering the texture of the cell walls.

The cells in the small intestine need to be intact and ready to absorb nutrients from the food you eat, but if the lectin attaches to it, they become sticky and are closed off to receiving the nutrients from the food, and we’re back to where we were again.  Wasting your time eating food that you get very little from due to the reactions the body has to the additives we put in.


Bitter-tasting, soap-like molecules with the ability to puncture or create pores in cell membranes (walls); saponins are often used as carriers for vaccines due to their ability to infiltrate cells.  Saponins are key ingredient in quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). They stimulate an immune response in your cells and can cause your body to create more antibodies than you need.  When that happens, it can rev your body up for a fight and cause things like digestive distress when you eat certain foods or can cause chronic inflammation in your body.

That’s a Wrap for This Week

So that’s where I’m going to stop for this week, because I’ve thrown a lot at you.  What I will tell you is that if you’re interested in trying this lifestyle, we run challenge groups where Brett and I coach you and help you transition into that lifestyle and show you how to teach your body to burn fat and help you lose weight, which we’ll go into more next week when we talk about glucagon.

If you want more information on our Paleo Challenge, contact me today!

Special thanks to The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson and Pratical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo whom’s books I gathered the info and research.

Til next time….peace out!


NC Fit Club