Guest post by: Mike Sheridan
If you’re already following a Paleo Diet, you know the drill:
- Eliminate grains, dairy, legumes and processed foods
- Only eat what runs, swims, flys, bleeds, and breathes
- If a caveman couldn’t eat it, you can’t
Easy enough right?
You’d be surprised.
Regardless of the city, state, or country, it seems there’s always someone that knowingly or unknowingly finds a way to butcher the plan. Even when it’s as simple and straightforward as “only eat what’s on the left side of the page.”
|Nuts & Seeds|
|Coffee & Tea|
That being said, there’s also a good chunk of people that aren’t seeing the results, or continuing to progress, because they need more clear-cut rules.
Sure, other factors like sleep, stress, gut health, and fitness regimen come into play. But as far as nutrition goes, they’re eating the right foods at the wrong times, prioritizing moderation foods over mandatory foods, and not matching their food choices to their goals, because there’s not enough to protect them from F-ing things up.
So, after being an advocate of the ancestral diet for over a decade, this is why I include the following 5 principles:
- Make Meat Mandatory (at Main Meals)
Ensuring you eat meat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner is the first rule, because it’s the most common mistake, with the most significant impact.
Muscle needs protein. Specifically the animal kind, that’s rich in amino acids and essential nutrients.
With respect to health, this means strength, injury prevention and longevity. For body composition, it means a higher metabolic rate, greater insulin sensitivity, and a damn sexy physique. And as far as Paleo success is concerned, it means a lower likelihood of getting ravishingly hungry between meals, and making bad decisions in the Starbucks line.
No disrespect, but this message is especially critical for females. Who notoriously choose fruit and starches over meat, and try to ‘eat less’ in general.
For them, I’d take it one step further, and say ‘Eat Meat First’ at main meals.
- Treat Nuts & Seeds as a Garnish
If you listen to the Paleo Solution podcast, you know Robb has been preaching “cool it on the nuts” for years. Unfortunately, nuts are so convenient (and so delicious), that they’re commonly overeaten. Not only leading to excess omega-6 fatty-acids and phytic acid, but usually displacing animal protein.
“I’ll just have a little almond butter” quickly turns into this:
Try to eat nuts and seeds as a snack, and they’re commonly overeaten. Regardless of how ‘few’ you try to tell yourself you’re going to eat. But reserve them as a garnish on salads, or a spread on fruits and vegetables, and they’re the perfect compliment.
- Use Fruit & Starch as a Reward for Exercise
Restricting fruit intake is usually a sticking point for people, as conventional wisdom continues to tell us we need to ‘eat more servings.’ Yet, when you take a look at what’s in fruit (glucose and fructose), and the overall health of the general population (obese and insulin resistant), that’s the last thing we need. Especially if our daily activity consists of moving from bed to car to desk to car to couch to bed.
Without exercise, we don’t tap into muscle glycogen. So most of the glucose we consume is stored as liver glycogen.
And since fructose needs to be metabolized by the liver, all of it gets stored as liver glycogen.
Meaning, that apple and banana you just ate quickly tops off that liver. And with no activity to burn it, or make room elsewhere (muscle glycogen), any excess is converted to fat.
Minus the fructose, starchy tubers like yams and sweet potatoes are also a significant contributor to our daily glucose load. Which is why, along with fruit, they’re better reserved for days when we’re exercising; and ideally in the meal following our training session. Generally speaking, this is when sugars are reserved for glycogen replenishment, instead of winding up as blood fat (triglycerides) or body fat (adipose).
While we’re on the topic, it’s also important to match your post-workout glucose intake to your workout intensity and current body composition.
Meaning, if you still have ‘lots to lose,’ you should treat the Post-Workout Window more like a Post-Workout Peephole.
- Snack on LCHF Vegetables
Most of you reading this recognize LCHF as Low-Carb High-Fat, although it has a double-meaning in this situation. It also means Low-Carb High-Fiber.
Outside of your 3 main (meat-mandatory) meals, the easiest way to stay satiated is with Fat and Fiber. For LC High-Fat foods, we’re talking olives and avocados, and for LC High-Fiber foods, we’re looking at non-starch vegetables.
Not only does this keep you satiated until your next grass-fed beef injection, but it keeps you away from the nuts and seeds, and gets you eating more veggies!
The best way to remember which vegetables are LCHF, is to think of the ones that can be eaten raw. As most, if not all, of the higher-glycemic root vegetables need to be cooked.
- Earn Caffeine with 2 Waters (2:1 Ratio)
We’re all guilty of it, hammering down coffee’s to make it through the day, not realizing that we haven’t had a glass of water since the morning.
Coffee’s all morning – eat lunch – coffee after lunch – coffee because tired in the afternoon – holy crap I haven’t pooped!
Coffee can be an extremely beneficial beverage, as it’s packed with antioxidants and jacks up our fat burning potential, but we can’t let it negatively affect our hydration. Especially if we’re on the lower-carb side of the paleo spectrum, which makes us lose water.
Since shooting for quantities and trying to restrict can be tiresome, I’ve found earning coffee with 2 glasses of water to be the best solution. It forces you to drink a ton of water, or drink less coffee; and in most cases, it’s drink less coffee. As once you’re hydrated, you realize you feel and perform better without it.
For the rest of Coach Mike’s nutrition and lifestyle principles, and to learn more about his 3-phase fat loss plan, check out Live It NOT Diet!
charles grashow says
This is a pathetically stupid column.
But when i like sugar
Great stuff and a really good description on why people fail or fail to do well with Paleo. I think that the protein is in fact the big thing. People just crave those easy carbs like bread and donuts but when you have already filled up on a real meal you don’t need the snack.
Also loved the bit on muscle glycogen and the storage of glucose in the liver vs the muscles. I have never looked at it exactly that way but I have alway looked at a workout as burning into those muscles so that I could fill them back up after with some healthiness. You are much more descriptive and accurate there.
Dade Dyana says
Hi Mike! Thanks for the tips. I think even with the easiest diets, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of the guidelines. Paleo is a simple concept, but these tips really put it into a better perspective. I notice you talked about drinking less coffee – do you not drink it?
i guess the handful of nuts and fruit I have been eating for breakfast will be stopping and yes, being a woman it’s the easiest to do the fruit and starches. Time to rewind
Ivone Alexandrino says
Vegans say that one should eat anything that does not have head or walk alone; Paleos say they should eat everything that flies, walks, swimming and bleeds … Who is right? How to guide us with so much advice in such opposite directions?
Hugo Andros says
Hi Mike, thanks for writing these 5 principles. It helps me to better understand a Paleo food list. I am currently trying to add more meat in my meals so it’s interesting for me when you say to eat meat in every meal. Thanks again for the insights!
P Janke says
As you mention on your article , ” … it’s also important to match your post-workout glucose intake to your workout intensity and current body composition …” I’ve haven’t been able to quantify “Match” or”The right amount” etc. when trying to determine how much fruit to consume. Can you help me quantify the correct amount of post-workout glucose / fructose to consult post-workout? Is there a % of intake to base use as a benchmark?
Anna Wright says
That’s excellent advice. Awesome tips. Looking forward like this wonderful article.
I had such a great time reading your article. I enjoy each & every bit of it. It was really informative.