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What Everyone Should Know About the Paleo Diet

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The Paleolithic diet is trending, hard. Many lose weight, build muscle, gain mental clarity, and reduce or eliminate extreme food intolerances. Others, unfortunately, use it as an excuse to eat way too much animal protein and tell everyone they’ve gone gluten free.

While most have heard of this diet, many people don’t know what it is or why it works. The core values of the paleo diet are noteworthy and there are some powerful elements to it that are worth taking on board, whether or not you are interesting in going for it fully.

What is it

The Paleolithic diet mimics the diet of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors. The core values of the diet are as follows:

  • Highly alkaline
  • Higher intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals through plants
  • No processed foods
  • No gluten (which, btw, is the protein found in wheat and other grains)
  • No sugars, natural or refined
  • No starch
  • Balanced omega-3 to omega-6 fats ratio from animal sources

Why it works

People who commit to this diet and do it the properly see exceptional results. This is because the principals are highly evolved while the practices are very clean cut.

The overall health of our nation is atrocious, the critical underpinning of this being our high consumption of processed foods. All things being equal, cutting out processed foods, sugar, and gluten are some of the best things you can do for yourself. This results in the disappearance of all kinds of daily ailments, reduces toxin intake, improves nutrient content and absorption, and contributes to a glowing complexion. It also means you’re eliminating a lot of potential or actual allergens, those of which are massively exhausting on your system and cause anything from brain fog to IBS to acne. This is huge for your vitality and vibrance.

Our country also has an obsession with low-fat and fat-free foods, but the truth is that we critically need healthy fat for all of the functions of our body to work efficiently, not the least of which is our brains, which are made 60% of fat. The paleo diet’s emphasis on high fat consumption is one of the core reasons it’s so successful in effective weight loss and muscle growth. Healthy fats improve your metabolism, support organ function, enhance mental clarity, and burn slowly to give you sustained energy.

Limitations

Let me first say that I have a lot of respect for those who commit to this diet and live their life in a healthy and mindful way. For the highly committed, this is one of the very few diets out there that actually works. That being said, there are some points I’d like to make about animal protein consumption that are worth considering by those adopting this lifestyle.

1. Environmental impact

The butchering, processing, and shipping of animals consumes more than 1/3 of fossil fuels used in the United States. The natural resources that are used to raise and maintain our animal agriculture is exorbitant and is creating a huge environmental impact on our country. Not only does raising animals for human consumption take up a huge percentage of arable land, but so does growing and watering the food that we use to feed them. Additionally, factory farms generate almost 2 billion tons of waste per year, which ends up in our groundwater and a lot of the food that we eat. Eating a diet high in animal protein contributes to these staggering figures.

2. Actual alkalinity

The Paleolithic diet puts a high emphasis on alkalinity, which is great, but animal products aren’t actually all that alkaline. Animal protein is one of the most metabolically acidic foods humans eat, which can cause the body to pull critical minerals from the bones and cells to return the body to an alkaline state.

3. Antibiotic resistance

80% of antibiotics in the United States are fed to animals raised for human consumption. While the paleo diet emphasizes the importance of eating grass fed, ethically raised meat, not everyone on this diet follows this rule, especially when a fast food burger sans bun fits the bill.

Because the demand for animal protein is so high, factory farms are forced to cram more and more animals into farms with little space to themselves. Because the animals are in such close quarters, they’re fed antibiotics to reduce the likelihood they’ll get sick. When we eat animals that have been fed with antibiotics, we indirectly ingest the antibiotics. This has come to a turning point and antibiotic resistance is a massive issue facing our world. Because bacteria evolve in response to the use of antibiotics both in animals and humans, they have started to become resistant to the life saving antibiotics that have been developed over the past 100 years. This is an extremely serious issue and is compromising the future of our healthcare.

So, how to do paleo right? Follow all the basic rules – cut out processed foods, reduce sugar and gluten, and eat highly alkaline veggies. When it comes to meat, be mindful. Eat pasture raised, grass fed meat, and limit it daily. For those who are disciplined and commit, this is one of the healthiest lifestyle choices you can make.

Photo by Jonas Nilsson Lee


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5 Habits for Exceptional Health

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1. Start your day with awareness

Meditate. Drink tea. Write down three things you’re grateful for.

By paying attention to yourself first thing in the morning you set a peaceful tone for the day ahead, and honor the possibilities of a new day.

2. Only eat when you’re hungry

We make thousands of choices about food every day. Eating should only be done when you’re hungry. Not bored. Not sad. Not lonely. Not drunk. By eating when you’re not hungry you don’t allow your digestive system to relax, and more than likely you’ve got waste hanging out in your intestines that won’t get properly broken down and used for energy. This leads to weight gain, lack of energy, inflammation, and toxicity in the body. When you feel hungry, ask yourself if that’s really what it is. Most of the time, a glass of water, cup of tea, or walk around the block will help get rid of the urge and tide you over until your next meal.

3. Don’t punish yourself

We all do things we’re not proud of, but when it comes to food we tend to be typically brutal on ourselves. If you want desert, eat desert. If you want a glass of wine, enjoy a glass of wine. Don’t look back on it and hate on yourself for it.

By making reasonable indulgences part of your regimen, you won’t go crazy at your niece’s pizza party and pass out covered in ice cream. Commit to a solid foundation of whole, nutrient dense foods, and mindfully appreciate when it comes to enjoying things that aren’t necessarily so healthy.

4. Make exercise an enjoyable ritual

If you hate yoga, don’t do yoga. If running the stairs ten times makes you nauseous at the thought of it, stay away from the stairs.

Being active is a critical part of a vibrant life. The most important part of exercising is finding activity that suits you as an individual. This is the only way you’ll stick with it and the only way it will benefit you. Do whatever is in line with what makes you happy. Ride your bike at sunset. Walk your dog for an extra twenty minutes. Join a local team for a sport you played in high school. Pick something and get to it.

5. Eat the colors of the rainbow

Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds – these foods are completely packed with all the nutrients you need for a healthy body and mind. Do as best you can to start all your meals with vegetables, and to snack on fruit and nuts during the day.  You’ll have tons of energy, great skin, and a strong immune system, and will save money at the store not buying packaged products.

Photo by Ben Moore


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5 Ways to Lose Weight Without Dieting

Weight loss is a complicated beast, and there are a lot of things that we do over time that affect our weight. Instead of dieting, I suggest cultivating healthy habits that support your ultimate goals and enable you to feel great all the time. Here are some tips that when incorporated into your lifestyle can help you to feel slimmer and more energetic.

1. Stop eating late at night

Your body is not very good at digesting food late at night. It’s winding down from the day and slowly moving towards rest, and since you’re most likely not very active at that time of day the food isn’t used for energy and is stored pretty inefficiently. Eating late at night is the probably the best way to put on pounds, so try and stop eating anything after 8:00 pm. If you find yourself wanting to eat, drink water or tea, and if you really are hungry (and not just bored), eat something easy to digest like fruit or soup.

2. Drink more water

Being properly hydrated is extremely important for all functions of the body, but when it comes to keeping a healthy weight it’s especially necessary. Drinking plenty of water helps to flush toxins from the body that can interfere with the optimal functioning of hormones that regulate how your food is used and stored, your metabolism, and your hunger levels.

Not only that, but many times when we are thirsty we take that as a signal we’re hungry so we start eating. Instead of giving our body what it wants we end up eating unnecessarily and not satisfying our craving. Next time you feel like going for a snack in between meals, try slowly drinking a glass of water and see if that tempers your hunger.

3. Have smoothies or juices for breakfast

The best way to start the day is with something light and extremely nutrient dense. Juices and smoothies are a great source of macro and micronutrients, will give you energy and fill you up, and are easily digested and used by your body.

4. Stop watching TV

If you have time to watch TV, you certainly have time to get off your ass and get in shape. TV is a time suck and can distract you from all of the other amazing things out there. If this is too extreme, try rewarding yourself to one hour of tv for every thirty minutes of exercise. If and when you do watch, choose one or two shows you want to watch and then turn the TV off when they’re done. This way, you don’t end up mindlessly flipping through channels and end up accidentally watching Shahs of Sunset.

5. Only snack on whole fruits and nuts

Fruits are really good for your body. They contain fiber, B vitamins, electrolytes, and are powerful sources of antioxidants. Your body digests them really fast so it’s best to eat them on an empty stomach, and you can eat as much as you want. Nuts are an excellent source of Omega-3s which help your body use stored fat for energy, and they also have a lot of protein which makes you feel full and satiated. Snacking on foods that provide your body with nutrients makes your hormones function more efficiently, and will reduce cravings for processed and refined foods that encourage your body to put on weight.

Key Nutrients for a Strong and Active Body

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3 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System this Season

What if you didn’t have to avoid your sniffly neighbor or that co-worker that refuses to take sick days for fear that you might get whatever they’re suffering from? As we move into the winter months our potential for getting sick increases, but there’s a lot we can do to protect ourselves from it beyond washing our hands and eating vitamin C. The body’s ability to fight off sickness can be significantly enhanced by incorporating certain foods and avoiding things that deplete our wellbeing. Here are some tips on ways to strengthen your immune system and ensure that you’ll be well protected from getting sick.

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Three Juices to Smile About

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Acid Wash

1 large grapefruit

2 small oranges

1 cucumber

½ bulb fennel

1 small apple

Full of fiber, this juice is hydrating, alkalizing, and gives a great boost to your immune system! The fennel is cleans out your sinuses and soothes the tummy well, good after a late night. 

Youthenize Me

4 large carrots

3 celery sticks

½ cucumber

2 small oranges

The beta-carotene found in orange fruits and veggies like carrots and oranges is great for cell regeneration which keeps you looking young and fresh faced. The celery and cucumber in this will alkalize your system, combat inflammation and hydrate you, which is another big factor that combats aging.

Sweet Roots

2 Beets

1 pink lady apple

½ cucumber

¼ lemon

½ inch chunk ginger (or more, depending on how much spice you like)

Alright party people, this one’s for you. Beets are a fantastic liver cleanser, which is where your body does all of it’s detoxing, and the cucumber will help to flush it too. The ginger is great for settling a stomach, and is a natural way to boost your energy. 

*Get the most out of your juices by buying organic or shopping at your local farmer’s market!


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Kitchen Tips for the Woman on the Go

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We live in a time of constant business. We rush from the coffee shop to work to yoga to happy hour to committee meetings on a daily basis, and repeat five to seven days a week. Living such intense lives requires that we fuel ourselves with only the best so that we can balance and maintain our demanding routines. Certain brands who’ve recognized this have developed products aimed to fulfill the needs of our society. These products will fill your tummy but don’t typically nourish your mind and body, and tend to be full of sugars and unhealthy additives. Here are some tips on preparing healthy options in the fastest and most efficient way possible, so that you won’t have to sacrifice when it comes to taking care of yourself along with your busy schedule.

1. Start your day off strong

Because you’ve been fasting for the last 5-8 hours, mornings are a great opportunity to nourish yourself with clean, whole foods. Fruit and nuts for breakfast are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and vitamins, and help to jumpstart your metabolism. Before you go to bed put a couple of peaches, some cherries, chopped pineapple or whatever you enjoy in a Tupperware, with a bag of mixed nuts and cranberries in your work bag. These are also great post-workout snacks and healthy afternoon treats. Being so easily transportable they’re great to keep on you at all times.

2.  Stock your kitchen the right way

Keep whole grains like rice, quinoa and farro in the house that you can easily use as a base to build up with vegetables and lean protein. Keep a bag or two of frozen mixed veggies in the fridge for those nights when you just don’t have any fresh ones on hand. Use condiments that you enjoy. Whether it’s a ginger soy sauce or a great pesto you found at the farmer’s market, the right condiment can totally transform an otherwise dull meal. Know what you like and keep it on hand. Buy pre-cut (not canned) fruits at the grocery store like cantaloupe and mango so that you don’t have to fuss with cutting them yourself, and so they’re always available to snack on.

3. Cook once and eat twice

Make a point to cook at least a couple of meals at home a week, and make extra so that you can pack it up in a Tupperware the next day and take with you for lunch. If you have even more, you can change it a bit the following night and have a quick dinner that’s easy to heat up.

4.  Shop for firm, crunchy vegetables

Buying veggies like peppers, carrots, onions, celery and cucumber is amazing because you can chop them all up right when you get home from the grocery and they’ll keep really nicely. When it’s time to prepare a meal you can just throw them in a pan and sauté them, mix them together in a salad, or have with hummus or any other dip. Find ones you enjoy and keep on hand for snacking or meals.

Being prepared is half the battle when it comes to eating well and nourishing your body. By making it a point to shop mindfully and think ahead when it comes to eating and snacking throughout your week you’ll have more energy, stop eating junk that leads to weight gain and other health issues, and will help you develop healthy and lasting habits.