Want to lose weight with the paleo diet? Here are 10 tips to help you stay on track.
1. Look out for paleo-approved carbs
Eating paleo means cutting out all grains, which means no rice, pasta, bread and cereals. Whether you like it or not, this lowers your carb intake significantly, which for some can result in fogginess, exhaustion and mood swings. If you find yourself need a carb boost, paleo-approved foods high in carbohydrates include: sweet potato, white potato, banana, chestnuts, water chestnuts (find them tinned in the Asian grocery aisle!) and plantain.
2. Include quality protein
It’s important to include quality protein at every meal, and seeing as paleo eliminates dairy this usually means meat and eggs! We’ve got no qualms with hot breakfasts, BUT both meat and eggs tend to be high in saturated fat, which can elelvate your cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular diesease, but a healthy person can have around 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day. To give you an example of how small an amount this is, one 50 gram egg contains around 72 per cent of your daily cholesterol intake. Fatty meat is also a cholesterol culprit, and eating too much meat in general has been linked with digestive problems and even bowel cancer. Be sure to select lean meats and try not to overdo it.
3. Make sure you get enough calcium
We know paleo says to cut it out, but in reality it’s pretty hard to get enough calcium without including dairy. Women in particular are prone to osteoporosis (or brittle bones) in older age without sufficient calcium, so we need to get our recommended 1000mg a day, or 1300mg over the age of 50. If you’d still like to cut out dairy, consider products containing fortified calcium (like some soy milks) or supplements.
5. Avoid processed foods
Skipping processed foods is one of the healthiest things about the paleo diet. However, most people tend to skip the details when shopping for paleo eats. So what does ‘processed’ mean? In simplest terms, if you’ve taken something raw (like a potato) and changed it using physical or chemical means (like making chips) then it’s procssed. This means that anything packaged is probably a no-go.
Examples of processed foods includes refined sugars (like white and raw sugar), convenience foods (like frozen meals), bread, soft drinks, snack foods like chips, protein bars and biscuits, dairy products like cheese and butter, spreads and preserves, and, the kicker for most paleo eaters, preserved meats. This includes bacon, ham, salami and tuna.
6. Choose snacks wisely
Finding it hard to get from one paleo meal to the other without getting hangry? Most paleo-style snack foods, like paleo balls or bars, tend to be high in kilojoules and a little too morish (i.e. it’s hard to stop at one). If your using the paleo diet to watch your waistline, go for things like pepitas, sesame seeds, and raw nuts. Alternativley, you could bake your own kale or vegie chips or grab a banana.
7. Eat good fats
Trying to choose between coconut and canola? You can pick a healhty oil by readig the label. Good fats contain little or no saturated fat and/or are unrefined, these include: olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil and sunflower oil and good natural fats from avocado, nuts and seeds. Coconut oil should be eating only in small amounts because it contains high amounts of saturated fat.
8. Increase your intake of probiotic foods
Probiotics are important part of digestive health. If you find your tummy isn’t taking paleo well, you might need eat probiotic foods more frequently. By cutting out yoghurt the paleo diet limits your sources of probiotics, but you can replace it by adding fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi. Some of these foods do come processed, but with the right recipe and a bit of kitchen courage, you can easily make them at home.
8. Make your own treats!
Keeping it paleo can be hard when you’ve got a sweet tooth. The best way to avoid processed sweets and non-paleo ingredients is to make your own! Top tips: swap refined sugars for honey or agave, swap grain flour for nut flour or banana flour and swap the chocolate for raw cacao.
9. You can have wine!
And you thought the Mediterranean diet was the only one that allowed the odd tipple! Beer is not paleo as it is made from (and apparently contains residue of) grains, but wine is a-okay from this perspective. Studies have also shown that the odd glass of red wine, which is high in antioxidants, could help prevent fatty liver and cardiovascular disease – both risks of a high fat diet.
10. Play by the 85:15 rule
The paleo diet is a great way to implement a healthy lifestyle or even to lose weight. But, like most diets, it’s not necessary to follow it all the time. In fact it’s probably better that you don’t. It’s usually recommended that paleo dieters follow the 85:15 rule, meaning you eat paleo only 85 per cent of the time, leaving 15 per cent for a balance of non-paleo stuff.