Just Paleo

Since paleo is more of a concept and a perspective than it is a diet, getting started can sometimes be a little confusing.  It’s ironic, but the same internet that allows instant access to tons of good information can also overwhelm us or bury us in bad information.  Low carb?  Carb cycling?  Intermittent fasting?  Avoid starch?  Fruit or no fruit?  Weigh and measure?  Count calories?  High fat?  How much protein?  AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!

It’s important to understand that none of the things listed in the last paragraph will make or break “The Paleo Diet,” but all of them can become worthy of consideration when you ask yourself, “What will it take to get me from my present condition to peak health?”  In other words, they are all possible variables that might be beneficial to various people coming from various states of metabolic health.  Please note, though, that I have never met a single person who required all of these tweaks to get healthy and fit.  Most people, when addressing their nutrition responsibly, will find the results they seek without nearly so much effort.

So dive in and start dabbling??  Slow down there, tiger!  If you want the best possible results, you need to get your basic paleo dialed first, and this is especially true if you have lost and regained weight multiple times in your past or if you have done a lot of cardio and/or starvation diets.  Whether you get there quick or in baby steps, start by just focusing on two things:

1) Remove offensive foods: grains, legumes, most dairy, refined sugar and sugar substitutes, high fructose corn syrup, soy, and vegetable oils.

2) Eat lots of meat (from animals raised the way nature intended them to live) and veggies.

When everything is in order with your basic paleo, stop, take a deep breath, and settle in.  You need to stay put for a while.  If you truly want sustainable results, you are going to have to get really healthy.  That won’t happen in the two weeks that it takes to starve 10 lbs off yourself before you gain it right back, and it also won’t happen for most people that are too impatient to let their bodies adapt to each step along the way.

An unhealthy metabolism is often just a metabolism that has done its best to mitigate all the crazy stress it has been been subjected to.  For example, when you do a lot of cardio to try to “burn” calories, or dramatically reduce your caloric intake, your thyroid will often eventually try to slow your metabolism to save energy for these crazy bouts of stress that your body doesn’t understand.  It’s human nature to think that righting these wrongs should produce immediate results, but we aren’t having conversations with our biochemistry in which we emphatically promise to never do such things again causing our bodies to instantly change course with a sigh of relief.  Instead, our bodies slowly adapt to prolonged stimulus as they try to maintain some semblance of homeostasis (balance), which is exactly what happened when we began the processes that got us into all this trouble.  In other words, you will need to prove to your body that you are serious about treating it right.

To come to my point, beginning paleo with every possible tweak you can find on the internet is a bad idea.  Although you may reduce inflammation and heal your gut, among other possible benefits, a less than healthy metabolism will probably just get more stressed out.  In my opinion, very basic paleo concepts should be the only changes made in the first couple of months.  Then, when you have some feedback to work with, you can toy with ONE TWEAK AT A TIME, giving each at least a month to see what it can produce.  If you are reading between the lines here, I’m saying there is no room for desperation in your plan.

Go forth and be awesome.


  1. says

    Great post! Totally agree, having immediate access to everything as we do with the internet is a blessing and a curse. Just initially getting people off sugar and flour/grains is HUGE in this culture. There’s plenty of time to slowly explore the merits/demerits of fruits, caffeine, alcohol, peanuts, organic produce, grass fed beef, dark chocolate, and so on and on…

  2. Jacqueline S. says

    Great post! This is why when people ask me for information about starting a paleo lifestyle I always send them to Everyday Paleo and tell them about both Jason and Sarah’s books. You guys rock!

  3. says

    Hear, hear! When people ask me about my diet (when they see me shunning the gluten and the dairy), I usually avoid the “paleo” word and say “I eat meat and vegies”. No one can argue with that.
    It’s simple and we all need more simplicity in this tumultuous world.

  4. says

    I totally agree! The main reason Paleo has worked for me is its simplicity. No phases, no carb or calorie counting. Simply don’t eat the offensive foods you’ve mentioned above and you’ll be good.

    • deepforest says

      One thing, though-the calories from the “offensive” foods (grains etc.) HAVE to be replaced. I’ve been having medical issues recently and simply haven’t felt like eating grains/sugar much of the time, but I did anyway because when I didn’t I was hungry. It hit me today, having found this blog and a couple others about paleo, that, waitiaminute, I was hungry because I was eating the exact same amounts as normal of meat, veggies etc. and just not eating grains, so I wasn’t getting as many calories as before. Solution: eat way more meat! Which I can totally live with, as I love meat.
      I’m planning to actually track calories for a while to make sure I’m getting enough, which is not something I normally do.

  5. Amit says

    What advice would you give to someone who’s not been used to eating meat until recently? Generally I stay away from red meat because I can’t process it well. I usually stick to poultry, and some fish like tuna. Not sure how to step down all the offensive foods. Also are these recipes quick because one of the worst challenges for me is that I just don’t have the time because of my job commitments. Any ideas and suggestions? I’m just getting started and need some good resources.

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