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Paleo: A Beginners Guide

After years of eating cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner we totally understand why the thought of ditching these for good might seem daunting, or even impossible. In a world where convenience over-rides health as a priority and ready meals have become the norm, the notion of sourcing and cooking all of your own food might just send you over the edge! With that in mind we’re offering you a few ideas on where to start your Fitter Food/Paleo transition and develop healthy habits that ensure eating awesome, nourishing nutrition is effortless.

The key with Paleo is not to over think or rush the process. It’s not a race to the finish line nor a quick fix, the changes you’re adopting here should be considered lifelong. There is no end of with this diet and hopefully, no back to eating the way you were before. It’s about changing your mind set and evolving your nutrition alongside your lifestyle and training needs.

Change Breakfast

Turkey ToastThis is where we started ourselves and with many of our clients. We swapped the porridge and muesli for a high fat and protein based breakfast, usually something including eggs, fish, meat and vegetables.

One the positive aspects of Paleo nutrition is the higher fat and protein content in comparison to the standard western diet.  Fats and proteins play a significant role in balancing our blood sugar levels. This is especially important in the morning as it determines your energy, hunger and cravings for the rest of the day. We discuss the importance of blood sugar health in further detail here. Turkey Toast is one of our most popular recipes and even made it into our debut recipe book, it’s remained a firm favourite of ours and our clients. We have also provided a few other quick breakfast ideas here.

Simple Swaps On Carbohydrates

This move alone will deliver astounding health benefits by supporting optimal gut and hormone health. All you need to do is ditch the bread, pasta, cous cous, wraps, rolls and crackers for root vegetables, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruit or rice.

All you’re doing here is replacing a carbohydrate for a carbohydrate but opting for single ingredient, unprocessed foods. One of the misconceptions about paleo nutrition is that it’s a low carbohydrate diet. It’s actually neither a diet nor is it low carb. If you are active you need the carbohydrates to fuel your training and recovery. Some people just feel better with carbohydrates contributing 30-40% of their daily calories. Initially don’t change your macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats) too much just change the source.

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Rice isn’t strictly approved by all paleo/primal advocates but we agree with the “safe starches” principles and believe there is a place for healthy amounts of carbohydrates.  Most people tolerate rice well, it’s a gluten free source of glucose and widely available when eating out, making Paleo much more practical and sustainable. White potatoes are also back on the Paleo menu, Precision Nutrition have a great article covering this. As you become more comfortable in your caveman shoes (sandals?) you can start to test your blood glucose as a means of establishing which carbohydrates work for you and how much you can consume whilst maintaining healthy blood sugar levels – but don’t worry too much about that yet.

Get Savvy In the Kitchen

This can make or break your Paleo adventure – you’re going to need to become a confident cook and you can do this, easily. One of the greatest benefits of Paleo nutitrion is the love affair you will embark on with the ingredients you will source to make your own meals. By cooking your own food using simple ingredients you can ensure it’s full of awesome, fresh ingredients and none of the hidden additives, thickeners and preservatives the food industry increasingly like to add to food these days (get label reading and you’ll see what we mean!) However, we know this can be a tall order, especially if you are used to ready meals or eating out frequently and haven’t ever needed to use the kitchen for more than finding a bottle opener. The following helped us hugely as we began cooking all of our daily meals from scratch:

Kitchen Equipment

“How on earth do these help?” You may be thinking. Like most people we were pretty time poor when we stumbled across Paleo and started our own transition. Working as Personal Trainers we were out the door at 5.30am and returning at 8-9pm. Food needed to be quick and convenient to make this sustainable so batch cooking was key.

The loaf tin became essential as we found baking loaves from eggs provide an awesome meal-in-one option that you can prep in advance and take for any meal. Check out our Brunch Loaf or Rosemary & Courgette Loaf. Feel free to experiment and add your own ingredients, we’ve used different variations of spinach, smoked salmon, olives, mackerel, peppers and prawns.

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The Good Grips Julienne Peeler will mean you can knock up some vegetable spaghetti or ‘courgetti’ in a matter of minutes. A big premise of paleo is getting in the extra veggies we’ve spent years missing out on in favour of huge bowls of pasta or doorstop slices of bread.  Check out our Pesto Chicken on Courgette Spaghetti recipe. You can use other vegetables such as carrots and butternut squash too. We recommend Good Grips as they are pretty robust, we’ve used ours a huge amount!

A tiered steamer means you can cook a great range of vegetables in one go and boil your potatoes in the bottom pan. We always batch cook so we have leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As it’s winter you can always warm leftover vegetables and potatoes in a pan or microwave with some coconut oil or butter to make an instant, warming supper or side dish (aka bubble and squeak). That’s where the ceramic pan comes in. We like Ceracraft frying pan as they clean easily and make stir fry’s, frittata’s, steaks, omelettes a piece of cake!

Paleoish – The 80:20 Approach

2014-05-28 11.14.40The main thing that seems to put people off Paleo is relinguishing their favourite foods forever but this needn’t be the case. You don’t need to set out at 100% Paleo, especially as you may come across situations that mean you fall off the wagon through no fault of your own e.g a meeting at work where sandwiches are the only things on offer. We’ve observed so many people giving up when faced with these pitfalls, believing Paleo to just be too hard in a modern day world. However, as we mentioned it’s not a race, starting Paleo with a more relaxed attitude might be more appropriate for you.  After changing breakfast just try and ensure 80% of your meals are Paleo and we’re pretty sure you’ll experience results.

In fact it doesn’t need to be a strict elimination diet at all. In our book we also devote an entire chapter to some modern day pleasure foods like high fat dairy, tea, coffee and dark chocolate that we feel offer some awesome health benefits and if a caveman could get his hands on them he certainly would. We also discuss alcohol in detail and how to make wiser choices here. Once you’ve started to get the hang of things and feel your body composition, energy, skin and performance are responding positively you can play around with you 20% moments and the odd peanut M&M here and there will do you no harm

 

Buy Our Book

UK Edition Paleo Primer CoverWell we would say that wouldn’t we! But hear us out for a second would you? We totally understand the barriers that life can throw at you and your efforts to become healthy. We put the book together to explain in simple, entertaining terms (including cartoons, honestly, check them out!) what the healthiest foods are and a stack of easy recipes to get you going. We’re not chef’s (no really!) We’re just a couple who love being healthy, love food (preferably lots of it) and run a business so don’t have much time to be in the kitchen creating masterpieces. We want the same for you and we wrote the book together based on our own experience of making this transition. The book contains all the information that helped us the most, the meals can be made in record breaking time and taste awesome to keep you wanting more. The book is designed to support and inspire you on along your Paleo journey. We’re pretty sure after a while you’ll know the principles and end up better than us at this caveman lark! You can buy our book, which was recently renamed ‘Paleo Primer’ here

We hope this article has illustrated that starting your paleo journey doesn’t need to a daunting experience. Of course if you have any questions hop on over to our Facebook community and join in the conversation. Or you can also join our monthly membership (for just £1!) to meet more like minded paleo (ish) people and access lots of awesome resources – including meal plans, training programmes, educational webinars etc.