How to Get Started on the Paleo Diet?
Basketball superstar LeBron James made a lot of noise in 2014. First, he announced he was going back to his hometown state of Ohio to play for the team that drafted him, the Cleveland Cavaliers, after a successful stint as a member of the Miami Heat where he won two NBA championships. Second, he showed off a much slimmer physique which had tongues wagging: “how did he lose all that weight?”
Well, those who were curious got their answer: a 67-day low carb ketogenic-style Paleo diet. Now weighing around 250 pounds, James finds himself more agile. In an interview with CNN's Rachel Nichols, he says “I haven't been in this weight class. I'm in the 250-ish range. A lot lighter than I've been playing at the last few years, but I feel good.”
So what were the things that James had to give up on? Pancakes, chocolate chip cookies and ice cream for 67 days straight – a process he found hard. Instead, his diet consisted of meat, fish, vegetables and low-sugar fruit. It's said that James was inspired by former Heat teammate Ray Allen who's an advocate of the diet.
So if you want to follow in the footsteps of LeBron and shed weight using the Paleo Diet, where should you begin? Here are some tips:
Know if this is really what you want
While you desperately want to lose weight and get healthy, it isn't worth it to go through with this diet if you feel like you're depriving yourself. Basically, what this means is that you have to do some legwork on your own: read articles on the net and truly digest them. Know the ins and outs of the diet and read up on what others who have tried it have to say. From there, you can draw your own conclusions on whether you can live with the kind of lifestyle required by the caveman diet.
Even better: know why you want to pursue the diet. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to feel better? Are you coping with a medical condition such as GI problems, autoimmune conditions or allergies? Knowing exactly what it is that drives you to the diet helps you stick through with the program.
Another thing you can do is test it out for a short while. Let's say a week or so to see if you can really live without the sweets and the processed food. Or, you can do it in baby steps: eliminate dairy in week one, cut our refined grains in week two, rid of all grains the following week and so forth. If you find that you can live with this lifestyle, then congratulations, continue with the regimen until you start to see the changes you want.
Get copies of recipes
While the paleo diet may sound boring with all the yummy things cut out from it, there are ways to make it a fun experience. We humans like to make our food look good and what better way to get a guide for that than a recipe book? One such book that features numerous paleo recipes is The Paleo Recipe Book. It even has an 8-week meal plan that you can follow, as well as some recipes for desserts.
Another option to get recipes is through the internet. One very good source is through Pinterest where you can browse boards dedicated to the Paleo Diet. There, you can read up on what food bloggers and other advocates of the diet have prepared for their meals. Through this method, you'll find that even if you're on a caveman diet, food can still be tasty and enjoyable.
You see, going on a diet doesn't have to be a process that is torture. Yes, sweets is eliminated from a paleo diet but there are many other ways to replace the lust for sweets with the diet.
Make your kitchen paleo-friendly
Deciding to follow the paleo diet would mean knowing the list of foods that are not allowed. Create a checklist of those “no” foods and eliminate them from your kitchen. So items such as grains, cereal, vegetable oils, beans, yogurt, cheese, milk and packaged foods should be given away. It's even better if you get rid of everything all at once. As Nell Stephenson, author of Paleoista, Gain Energy, Get Lean and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat, “It's easier to avoid temptation if it's not there.”
Once you've eliminated food items banned from a caveman diet, make sure to stock up on foods that are paleo-friendly. Again, you can create a list of items that you should stock up on so you wouldn't have to guess once you're in the grocery.
When you're out shopping for paleo-friendly items, you can also check labels for the words paleo. For example, if you love snacking, you can maybe opt for the Paleokrunch Paleo Cereal Grainless Granola. If you can't give up cereal, there's the On The Go Paleo Hot Cereal Gluten and Grain Free Unsweetened. There's lots of options out there.
Have a cheat session
To avoid a “paleo burn out” so to speak, you can have a cheat session after the first month of purely eating paleo meals. Experts agree on the 85/15 approach – meaning, 85% paleo and 15% non-paleo. Whether it be a hamburger or cocktails, treat yourself once in a while.
Why should you do this exactly? To pay attention to how your body responds once you re-introduce new things to your diet. For example, if you ate ice cream and felt like crap the next day, you can decide that future discomfort isn't just worth it. Or, you really can live without those stuff.
Cook your own dishes
Going to the restaurant and having to tell the waiter to tell the chef that you want to eliminate all non-paleo stuff from your diet may not be the best solution. Instead, opt to cook your own meals. You won't even have a tough time finding cookbooks centered on the diet as there are so many in the market right now like The Paleo Recipe Book. By reading through the material, you'll find that paleo doesn't just have to be searing a chicken breast and adding kale and carrots – it can be a tasty experience too!
Expect to fail
Whether it be a busy schedule or you just slipped back to normal eating habits, failing shouldn't scare you. It's quite normal to do so – not all of us have that LeBron James and Kobe Bryant mentality when it comes to our food. To help you get back on track, follow various blogs, forums, as well as groups and pages on Facebook so you're constantly inspired and have a place to go to when you're tempted or fall off the wagon.
Change your oil
For sauteing, we're so used to canola, corn or soybean oil. But with paleo, your best option is coconut oil or lard as these are high-quality saturated fats that are healthy to cook with as they are more stable and won't oxidize when heated. In addition, animal fat – especially those from grass-fed cows – have more omega-3's and conjugated linoleic acid which help burn fat.
Learn to love meat
A lot of people don't consume meat because they believe it's bad for their health. However, paleo expert Loren Cordain and author of The Paleo Diet, says that you can but “just makes sure it's high quality.” In other words, eliminate processed meats such as bologna, salami and hot dogs from your diet. Wild meat such as bison, elk and boar are the ideal choices, as well as pasture-fed meats and poultry.
Those who love seafood should opt for wild-caught and sustainable, low-mercury choices.
Choose fruit to fool your sweet cravings
Giving up on sweets is SO hard – just ask LeBron James. However, you can easily trick you sweet-loving mind with fruit instead of cookies. When your taste buds start to adjust, you'll find that the sweets you loved before are in fact, too sweet.
The Paleo Diet may be a difficult one to adjust to given the number of conveniences it asks of you to eliminate. But taking baby steps and learning how to adjust to it will surely get you in the groove.