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Paleo diet - any experience?

I'm reading a book on the benefits but haven't taken the plunge. I'm having a hard time seeing how I can make some of those changes. Obviously eating more plants is a no brainer but like everyone food is an important part of my life and my famiy's. Is anyone doing this diet and do you have any tips about getting over that initial hump?

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  1. I'm having a hard time seeing how I can make some of those changes.
    which foods will be the most challenging for you & your family to give up? dairy? grains? legumes? if you're going to have to do a complete dietary overhaul you should start by determining the biggest potential obstacles, and tackling one at a time - perhaps starting with the "easiest" one first if you're concerned that big leaps will backfire.

    so how about providing a list of your family's favorite & most frequently consumed non-paleo foods, and we can start to make adjustments from there?

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I follow the Paleo/Primal lifestyle and have been doing so for over 2 years, although on and off. Right now, game on!

      Never cared much for pasta, so that was easy to let go of. Same for bread. Dairy was a little harder, but I'll still splurge once in a while, though I'm reminded it doesn't make me feel great. Beans and grains - mainstays when I was vegan (and at my heaviest weight!) - easy to say goodbye. Sugar is my main source of downfall, but even that has gotten easier to stay away from.

      What I love about being Paleo, is I don't think about food all the time. I don't obsess about it like I used to do. Oh, I still enjoy it, very much so, but I used to almost agonize over what I would eat, and I don't do that anymore.

      You can do it in steps, like goodhealth suggested, or you can go cold turkey, and commit to it. Try it for 30 days, and see how you feel. In fact, all you need is 3 weeks. I would highly recommend "The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation: A step-by-step, gene reprogramming action plan" by Mark Sisson. Easy read, and it will walk you through the journey.

    2. I don't do paleo because I love cheese and dairy too much. But I have done drastic dietary changes to a very low carb diet over time, to starch and sugar free. GHG's advice and questions are excellent. I worked into my current diet over years, documenting changes, results and adjusting as I went along. I don't miss starches at all any more, but when I could not imagine life without them, I began by pretty much just halving the starch portion of any meal, replacing with veggies or meat... so a sandwich became a twice as fat half sandwich on thin sliced bread... pasta became small side dish servings with the mains being proteins and veggies and salads...

      8 Replies
      1. re: mcf

        Well, actually, I'm more "Primal" than Paleo. Paleo says NO dairy at all, while Primal says dairy is allowed. So, mcf, you COULD be Primal! :)

        I eat a LOT of Kerrygold grass-fed butter...LOVE the stuff. Small amounts of heavy cream here and there. Couldn't have imagined a burger without cheese on it, that is until we had bacon burgers the other night (pound of ground beef mixed with a pound of ground raw bacon (ground in food processor). Those did not need cheese.. I did not miss it at all! The flavor was unbelievable, and the exterior had a crispiness to it. One of the best burgers I've ever had. (Served on lettuce leaves of course!)

        1. re: MarlboroMan

          I've never followed any diet plan by anyone else, though I read quite a few of them. I arrived at my current eating plan by reading a lot of research, and experimenting with various macronutrient breakdowns and documenting with software. Took years to arrive at the way I eat now. I focus on high quality, non polluted fish, meat and dairy, no starches, almost no fruit, no other sugars.

          1. re: mcf

            How easy is it to find non polluted fish? And how does one make certain it is free of pollutants? I am genuinely curious!

            1. re: globocity

              am pretty sure she means avoiding farmed fish. that's what i do anyway. their nutritional profiles are completely different vs. their wild relatives.

              while big fish like tuna may contain some mercury, small, wild, fatty fish like sardines and mackerel are clean super-foods

              1. re: globocity

                I do mean non farmed fish, or only very carefully selected farmed products, but pretty much I avoid them. I buy mostly wild caught fish from the cleanest waters I can, and the size that's least likely to harbor toxins. I rely on non profit organizations' independent testing to make my choices, too.

                1. re: mcf

                  Isn't wild-caught tuna rife with pollutants? I'd also read that sardines are the safest.

                  1. re: globocity

                    I eat very little tuna. Like maybe a couple or few times a year since I stopped eating sushi and sashimi much. Some are safer than others, but larger, fatty fish can store a lot of toxins/mercury, yes.

            2. re: MarlboroMan

              i came here to read about paleo and i'm leaving knowing that i will be making those burgers for dinner tomorrow night. :) THANKS!!!

          2. I'm primal (Mark Sisson) for 3 months now, down about 15 lbs, but I started lactose intolerant, so I dumped dairy along with the grains and legumes. I eat a ton of fruit, probably way more than I should, bananas, orages, apples, berries of every kind. Various veggies with dinner, salads or omelets usually for lunch, most of the time I skip breakfast and try to keep my eating in the noon to 8pm time slot. The one thing that has kept me sane is realizing that if you can do this diet 80-90% of the time, you'll be way ahead of the game, and if you're out, or at a special occasion, by all means eat what you want.

            The other big change for me was cooking oil - I keep olive, avocado, coconut, ghee, and butter in the house, and also consider bacon to be a cooking oil at this point. People can scream about saturated fats all they want, but they just taste better to me. I haven't done the lard/tallow thing yet, but it's coming.

            Good luck.


            10 Replies
            1. re: LennyC

              I am another Sisson fan. I also do primal fitness and find that my body (in my 50's now) responds better to this "philosophy" than it did to "basic" running and weight lifting of years past.

              The Primal diet is also a POWERFUL anti inflammatory diet. I finally kicked chronic pain from a shoulder injury "accidentally" on this diet. I tried everything for three long years to get rid of the pain- I was just about to have surgery- then 3 weeks on a Primal diet and the pain was gone. It only returned when I started eating sugar more frequently on vacation last year. I went back to clean eating- gone again. I am a believer.

              I don't eat much fruit. I just stick to mostly berries and only a few times per week. Like you-I eat this way about 80- 90 percent of the time. Weekends I tend to be fairly free with my choices, but after a few years eating this way, I find my choices are changed- and I tend to still pick lower carb options! At least, most of the time.

              Who da thunk.

              1. re: LennyC

                I'm not interested in a diet that makes me give up so many things at once... but to me, bacon fat IS a cooking oil! You just use it in moderation. A tablespoon of bacon grease goes a long way and tastes oh so good. :)

                1. re: LennyC

                  This is exactly what I've been doing for about a month now. Initially I just wanted to give intermittent fasting a try to lean up. I workout quite a bit and I just wanted to really get lean. Working out in a fasted state was difficult for me as a Type 1 Diabetic because your liver starts spitting glucagon when you're working out on empty and so I have to stop and take insulin a few times during my workout. However, I have to say, I have more energy in my workouts and my blood glucose has been nearly perfect. I was a very well-managed type 1 diabetic before intermittent fasting (IF) but now my #'s are amazingly on point. I haven't had a low blood sugar in days, when before I would have 1-2/day (a trade off w/ tight control).

                  I love IF and i'm leaning up quite nicely. I occasionally eat unrefined grains (sprouted grain bread) or some cheese, but all in all, this is a great way to live. Oh yea, and I do the 16+ hour fast w/ a 6-8 hr feeding window.

                  1. re: lynnlato

                    As a rule, women tend not to respond to IF as well as men do, but it can work wonders for insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in some people. I'm so happy to hear how well you're doing! Keep it up :)

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Thanks GHG! My results have been less so than my husband, who is also doing it. He's shedding those hard-to-lose pounds so quickly. I'm jealous! But, like I said, the blood sugar benefits are really great and I'm thrilled. I highly recommend it for diabetics and I plan on bringing it up at my next JDRF Type 1 meeting . :)

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        I always say, "your body, your science experiment" and you've learned something important about your own. And about how unfair life is when it comes to male/female weight loss rates!

                        1. re: mcf

                          Well said mcf!!! Ha! You're so right though, I enjoy the experimenting part of it. I learn so much when I tune in, log my food, and try new approaches with diet and exercise... and reading this board and others.

                        2. re: lynnlato

                          Are you forgetting that I've seen you? I don't recall noticing any excess weight on your little frame, so don't be jealous of DH - any changes you make to your body composition will be subtle in comparison to major weight loss, and more difficult to achieve. In the meantime, just enjoy the health benefits that come with the diabetes management.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I just saw this post of yours! Don't worry, I'm so over the IF. My DH is still doing it though and it's worked wonders for him. He loves it and he has managed to lean out in ways he couldn't before.

                            I'm back to my regular maintenance mode. I have no aspirations to be a fitness model and I love food too much. :)

                        3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          i had read this too, even though it has worked for me. upon further reading, it would seem women eating higher-carb have trouble with if. higher-carb in this instance being relative to the sad of course.

                          mine are generally under 50 and most days under 30.

                    2. Thanks guys these are all super helpful replies / the idea of biting off one chunk at a time is good. I'm actually in the process of reading the primal blueprint so those comments are helpful. I guess what sounds hard to me particularly is rice, pasta, and sugar. Buy really the whole idea is scary to me. In my family I'm the one who gets questions about food, ingredients , etc so it feels a little like changing my persona. Yes, I know that sounds silly - I'll just learn new recipes/methods etc. still open to any and all suggestions. I'm already pretty big on the grass fed, local meats, poultry eggs so at least part of the work is done(for lack of a better word). Thanks again!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Bean Counter

                        Bean, another similar diet to consider is the Perfect Health Diet (URL is the same, without the spaces), by Paul Jaminet and his wife. He's a former astrophysicist, she's a molecular biologist. Similar view as PB, but with the addition of rice and potatoes. I have a friend on Facebook, she lost 130 pounds eating this way.

                        My wife is a pasta lover, despite having celiac disease. However, she found she can eat rice pasta with no problems.. so there is rice angel hair, penne, lasagne, and even mac & cheese. I'll eat this stuff occasionally (and of course when I have a big bowl of pho!), but it's not like I miss pasta. I do like rice occasionally. White is actually better than brown for some reason (not to mention lower in carbs!)

                        Perfect Health Diet is also a book... VERY technical as to the how's and why's. I found it to be a little dry, but at least the author is readily available to answer your questions online.

                        1. re: MarlboroMan

                          Will definitely be checking this out...

                        2. re: Bean Counter

                          There are a lot of resources out there that can help you and your family make the transition to Paleo. I have two favorite sites--whole9life.com and theclothesmakethegirl.com. The Whole 9 site is one of the best resources out there to answer your questions about transitioning to a paleo life style and TCMTG has some of the best recipes out there.

                          When I transitioned to paleo, I had some of the same concerns you did and I read up on things like you wouldn't believe. Robb Wolf, Sisson, Nom Nom Paleo, Everday Paleo (Sarah Fragoso)...and then I tried it. Even though I wasn't sure if I could sacrifice the foods I thought I needed, once I cut the gluten, grains, and sugar from my diet I felt so much better. So if it is one thing I recommend, it is trying it and tracking how you are feeling...are you less bloated, sleeping better, have more energy, etc.

                          Try it... :-)

                          1. re: Bean Counter

                            You can easily rice cauliflower in a food processor. Eating Primal and I don't have to give up my curries!

                            1. re: TeeBeeinSD

                              Can you describe the way you do this? I've seen a couple methods and am still a little skeptical about the texture -- I've been eating my curries et al. without rice which is a bummer and I'd love to think this cauliflower "rice" thing would hit the spot!

                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                it's super simple. just break the raw cauliflower into florets (or cut into manageable pieces), toss into the FP, and pulse until it resembles grains of rice or couscous. saute in a hot pan with a little butter or oil and your preferred seasoning until tender. (if you like a "fluffier" texture, cover the pan for a few minutes.)

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Yep, takes about the same amount of time as preparing rice. I will occasionally sauté some onions first, they give a nice flavor addition. I've also tossed with lime juice and cilantro afterwards, etc.

                                    1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                      Alternately, you can steam the cauliflower until tender, drain well, and then run through the grater blade on your FP.

                            2. I'm thinking of trying the Primal Blueprint system, too. Can anyone familiar with this program tell me if things like legumes are totally out of the question on this program, or are they OK as long as the carb count is kept in check? And does Sisson subtract fiber grams from the carb grams when assessing daily intake? I've noticed some programs call for that and some don't. Thanks very much.

                              41 Replies
                              1. re: ninrn

                                Sisson doesn't do the whole fiber grams/carb grams thing. He doesn't even count calories.

                                For me, legumes are out. They make me terribly gassy, and I just don't miss them like I thought I would. Occasionally, I'll have a dab of peanut butter, though (made from, yes, a legume, not a nut).

                                Sure, you could include legumes. But I think you'll find after following his regimen for a while, that you just don't want or need to include them anymore.

                                LOTS of free information can be found on his website: www.marksdailyapple.com.

                                To sum up Sisson's position, however:

                                Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, etc.) aren’t, by any means, the worst thing you can eat, but they don’t make the ideal meal either. In my estimation, legumes fall into the “O.K.” category with wine, chocolate, cheese and other dairy, etc.

                                Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/beans-...

                                1. re: MarlboroMan

                                  actually, he does have a carb curve and for anybody wanting to lose weight suggests staying under 50 carbs per day, to get into ketosis and run on fat-burning, instead of carb-burning for energy.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    100 grams per day will initiate ketosis, but 50 or less is necessary typically after 3 weeks or so in ketosis. But if doing cyclic or targeted ketogenic, one may not need to go that low.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      am simply stating sisson's rec's.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        I understood, I just noted that the thresshold for ketosis is initially quite a bit higher, until the brain has adapted to running mostly on ketones, lowering the threshold to stay in it.

                                2. re: ninrn

                                  Primal eating or "primal living in the modern world" like the line on Mark's Daily Apple, is more a philosophy than a strict diet. My feeling is that if you are getting most of your nutrition from a Primal diet- your weight is healthy, your energy is up, muscles are noticeable, inflammation is gone, and lab results are stellar- then occasionally- eat some hummus, drink some wine, have some dark chocolate and add some peanut butter to your satay! That is very different than to start adding back in potato, pasta, rice in an average meal or different than beginning to snack on cheeto's, chips or kettle corn.

                                  In my experience, after eating this way for several years, my body will tell me when I have consumed foods that are not so good for me or when I have "pushed the envelope" and need to clean it up.

                                  For me, I don't really "count carbs" but I pay attention to baked items that have carbs in them (breads, crackers, chips) and choose the lowest carb and highest high fiber content items. I eat them sparingly.

                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    I make my own "paleo crackers." They come out quite well.

                                    I know what you mean about "pushing the envelope", though. A few weeks back I was at a surprise birthday party and decided to have a couple of beers. I was not drunk, but I felt horrible for about a day and a half afterward. Oh yeah, beer is grain based. Still didn't think it would affect me like it did. Now I know to stay away.

                                    1. re: MarlboroMan

                                      Yikes - I'm not a big drinker at all but I work at a brewery so a few times a month I have one or two. Yes, I am capable of socializing without drinking so sparkling water I guess will be bigger in my future ;)

                                      1. re: Bean Counter

                                        Better stay away from beer; it's the gateway to grains. Some argue that beer production was the start of agriculture and civilization. To produce beer in any sort of consistent fashion our ancestors had settle down and grow grain. Simply gathering wild seeds did not work.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Well, beer works for some people, I guess. If you check out www.marksdailyapple.com, today's post (there's a "testimony" posted every Friday) involves a man who eats Primal, yet still enjoys his beer (and brews his own).

                                          I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. The same goes for many other "foods."

                                          I used to be a big time sweets eater. Also used to drink a lot of soda. Now I make fridge tea, and drink it unsweetened. Huge change for me.

                                      2. re: MarlboroMan

                                        MarlboroMan, could you share that cracker recipe, please?

                                      3. re: sedimental

                                        I did a highly modified primal approach a couple years ago. Yes, I am a lapsed primal person. My rule was no pizza, no pasta and no bread for a month. I love all of the above. I still ate the occasional french fry. I did drink a few ounces of milk with espresso on most days, I had a small bowl of ice cream most nights and ate cheese, but for me the low-bar approach worked. My appetite and energy levels were much more even. I lost weight. My body responded very favorably to the Crossfitting I did at least two times a week back then. But then I slacked off, went back to indulging in my beloved pasta and pizza too often.

                                        Later, after regaining some of the weight, I tried a much more complete primal/paleo approach and failed. My example is nowhere near perfect, but my experience was good, and my aim is to my 3Ps policy. My body felt and looked better. And as a result of my primal experience I eat more of that stuff our grandparents called food; organic when I can and it's a superior product, but not always.

                                        Check out blogs like http://paleoonabudget.com/. It and others like it give us permission not to worry if not every meat we eat is not grass fed.

                                        I'd be interested to hear what go-to foods primal and paleo folks eat. For me fast hearty salads like Salade Nicoise with oil packed tuna (Starfish has an inexpensive brand; some versions are seasoned with lemon and other stuff, but I prefer the plain) and Thai Beef Salad -- lean, spicy strips of beef over salad greens served with tomato, cucumber and red onion with an oil-less dressing containing fish sauce, lime, chillies and other yummy stuff -- helped me through, especially since I could whip up the first salad quickly and the last was a carry-out call away. What do you folks eat? I'm looking for recipes!

                                        1. re: Nichele

                                          "And as a result of my primal experience I eat more of that stuff our grandparents called food;"
                                          'paleo' is not the same as 'retro', unless you are talking about great... great grandparents, the ones who were still debating whether to come down from the trees or not. It's not about eating less processed food (vegetarians can do that), but about eating fewer grains and things that started us on a long down hill slide since the start of agriculture.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            I took her comment to mean that as a result of eating more paleo foods, she/he learned to eat and prepare more "real" foods- not rely on processed foods -like many other diets. If you go low fat or low cal to lose weight...it is really hard to NOT eat processed foods. Vegetarians often eat highly processed foods like fake meat, cheeses and a variety of processed protein products -as well as high sugar content foods.

                                            Almost all the foods that are reduced fat or calories are filled with sugars.

                                            1. re: sedimental

                                              "Almost all the foods that are reduced fat or calories are filled with sugars."

                                              Veggies are not, neither are lean proteins. There's no reason for low fat/low cal dieters to eat crap, other than good marketing and bad habits.

                                            2. re: paulj

                                              Exactly right, sedimental. Closer to the ground, as some say. Paleo has as many definitions as there are authors of paleo and primal lifestyle books. As I said, I was partly primal for a while and when I lapsed I retained the lower-to-the-ground approach. And as I said above, I never achieved paleo status. paulj, I disagree with you. It is certainly about eating fewer grains and other fruits of agriculture. But the lifestyle also discourages Spam and powdered eggs -- processed versions of once paleo-friendly foods. Playing the paleo playground caused a small but significant shift to eating fewer processed foods in general, is what I'm saying.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Wow, look who's talking up low carb. :-)

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  Arguing in favor of an ancestral diet is not the same as arguing for a low-carb diet.

                                                  "Carbohydrate came from uncultivated fruits and vegetables, approximately 50% energy intake as compared with the present level of 16% energy intake for Americans.... Fibre consumption was high, perhaps 100 g/d, "

                                                  and regarding salt:
                                                  " Vitamin, mineral and (probably) phytochemical intake was typically 1.5 to eight times that of today except for that of Na, generally <1000 mg/d, i.e. much less than that of K."


                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    PaulJ, this makes sense. I think the misreading by early 1900's scientists of cave paintings as hunting scenes (and four decades of watching The Flintstones) have made people think early man ate big honking hunks of meat all the time. I read a few years back that recent excavations show that, except in times when there was nothing but big animals to eat, those people subsisted mostly on small birds and fish, insects and loads and loads of plant matter. Besides, all the animals that are most like us eat carbs all day long, just not grains, beans and sugar cane.

                                                    1. re: ninrn

                                                      Anthropologists are starting to look at the question of what the introduction of cooking did to the diet and nutrition. Without some sort of cooking or preparation (such as sprouting and fermenting), grains (and most seeds) provide little nutrition to us non-ruminants. Even meat is changed when cooked. And many roots and seeds that hunter-gathers ate required grinding and leaching.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        Lectin is another reason to avoid grains- a natural toxin plants use to discourage their seeds being eaten. Leaching and soaking can remove some, but it is still a negative nutrient.

                                                        1. re: Zennia

                                                          Lectins are also an issue with peanut butter, which my husband has a serious Jones for...

                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                      I guess it depends upon what you call low carb. My meals are high carb by volume because I eat so many veggies and salads, but by % of calories, very low carb.

                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                        I wonder what that 100g/d of fiber translates to in modern vegetables and fruits.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          That's a fair point... I don't eat fruit for the most part due to diabetes control with no meds. But by documenting my diet for years on fitday, I can tell you that veggies, avocados, nuts, etc. add up to way more fiber from way less calories than grains do. I also think that it's very likely that non grain eaters don't need as much fiber, since the healthiest part of a grain is the part you don't digest, but that's not the case with colorful, high fiber or leafy veggies.

                                                          It's true that today's fruits are hybridized to be larger, year round and loaded with much more sugar than natural and wild ones, much to our detriment.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            and usda rec's for fiber are based on typical high-carb/grain-fueled diet. while i track my food almost daily, i never worry about fiber intake. i eat plenty of avocado, leafy greens and cruciferous veg, plus about 60-70% of my cals from healthy fats. everything moves along just fine.

                                                            as to the op: white sugar and sweeteners were never an issue for me, but i eliminated those, plus all grains and legumes, about 2.5 years ago. within days my sleep improved. my energy was on an even keel all day, without the constant spikes and crashes i'd suffered before. my nails are stronger and grow like crazy. my hair and skin are baby-soft.

                                                            for my entire life, i'd had severe colds, allergies and bronchial issues most of the year. hacking coughs to the point of bursting blood vessels in my face. i thought this was "normal." since changing my diet i have not been sick once. not a sniffle, not a tickle. when bugs go around at work, or my b/f gets sick, i remain fit as a fiddle.

                                                            as for dairy, yogurt and grass-fed cheese are on my menu a few times per week. kerrygold butter almost everyday.

                                                            i also lost 25 pounds without ever feeling like i was "on a diet."

                                                            i will never go back.

                                                            lots of folks try the whole30. give it a shot!

                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                              I am not at all sure the 'high fiber is good for you, the more the better.' I've seen too many already inflamed digestive systems set on fire with a moderate fiber diet. My belief is that it is a way to sell what was, until the 80s, an unsaleable product. Our puritan history of cleanliness and Godliness doesn't help. Also have to wonder if much of the benefits ascribed to fiber don't actually come from the other nutrients in high fiber foods like vegetables?

                                                              1. re: Zennia

                                                                No, I think the benefits of fiber, which disappear in some studies, are due to grain based eating; the best part is the part you can't digest. :-) I think folks who eat all those grains are eating far fewer veggies. I know when I gave up grain, my veggie intake, like most low carbers, even on Atkins induction, went way up to make up the diff.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  as a low-carber, i eat waaaaaay more veggies than i did as a vegetarian.

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      And me... I remember reading an article decades ago about the Quaker Oats company having so much oat bran that they were selling it for horse bedding. Then the fashion for large poops came around and they got rich!

                                                                2. re: Zennia

                                                                  < I am not at all sure the 'high fiber is good for you, the more the better.' I've seen too many already inflamed digestive systems set on fire with a moderate fiber diet.>

                                                                  Right on. Despite the hype, it's definitely not true for everyone across the board. I'm on a restricted fiber diet to control heartburn, and having too much can definitely cause discomfort.

                                                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                    Is that true of fiber from all sources, including vegetable? I agree that one size fits all reccos are silly, and I think it's quite possible that folks who don't eat much grain may not need as much fiber.

                                                                    With grain, the part you can't digest is the healthiest, but other foods don't cause the same problems grains tend to promote.

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      For this particular diet, it depends somewhat on the type of fiber. Norm Robillard in "Fast Tract Digestion: Heartburn" writes (and I hope he won't mind me quoting a small passage), "Most fiber fermentation occurs in the large intestine and is generally considered normal and healthy. But consuming too much fiber can also cause excess fermentation in the small intestine. This can lead to serious gastrointestinal problems. Excessive fermentation increases the presence of bacterial endo- and exo- toxins as well as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane gas. Symptoms can include pain, bloating, distension, gas, reflux, cramps, and diarrhea (and in some cases, constipation, especially in the absence of sufficient water)."

                                                                      The worst types of fiber for someone with heartburn/reflux, IBS, and other gastro issues are thought to be beta glucans, fructans, and gums. Stachyose, raffinose, and verbascos are medium on the scale of fermentability. Pectin, cellulose, and lignin are low-fermentable and safer forms of fiber. Hemicellulose is considered variable.

                                                                      Suffice to say, it's complicated, but the fiber fermentability issue has to do with the chemical makeup of the fiber itself as well as the amount and kinds of bacteria present in both the small and large intestines.

                                                                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                        Thanks for all the info, I have known folks with bad reactions to all kinds of fiber. Having had severe symptoms from small bowel bacterial overgrowth in the past from excess probiotic usage (cured by antibiotics from the first dose) reading that made me wonder if this happens in some folks due to the presence of microbes that shouldn't be there in the quantities they are, possibly due to biochemistry that's awry?

                                                                        The reason I asked about grain vs. veg is that, anecdotally, years ago when the low carb forum on usenet was incredibly active, two things folks noted almost always when going low carb were sudden and complete remission of IBS/GERD and also asthma, as in no longer needing inhalers at all. Immediately. I know the endocrine reasons for that happening in terms of reduced inflammation and increased availability of endogenous steroids, but did not know about the fiber connection as much.

                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          <reading that made me wonder if this happens in some folks due to the presence of microbes that shouldn't be there in the quantities they are, possibly due to biochemistry that's awry?>

                                                                          Exactly! So whereas foods high in these types of fiber might not cause the average person any trouble, if someone's balance of bacteria in the small and/or large intestine is out of balance, they might experience the IBS/GERD symptoms you mention. Asthma is really interesting, because in addition to being part of systemic inflammation, there's also the possibility that SIBO/bacterial overgrowth in the digestive tract actually plays a part. Some people with GERD have low stomach acid or take stomach acid reducers, which reduce/eliminate one of the key barriers to intestinal bacteria working their way UP the esophagus from the small intestine and stomach into the lungs. Check out the book if you're interested---it's really fascinating.

                                                              2. re: paulj

                                                                RE: "I wonder what that 100g/d of fiber translates to in modern vegetables and fruits."

                                                                Well, dark leafy greens, berries, carrots, and even fibrous roots like burdock, average about 1 gram of dietary fiber per ounce, so it would be about 6.25 lbs a day, raw, of any combination of those. That would be about 200 to 500 grams of carbohydrate, depending on the proportion of fruit (and I would think foraging people would go for fruit over leaves at every opportunity).

                                                                I think it would be an interesting experiment to try to eat 100grams of non-grain, non-pulse fiber a day. Of course, especially raw, it might take all day to eat.

                                                                1. re: ninrn

                                                                  Of course, especially raw, it might take all day to eat.


                                                                  our close primate cousins indeed spend most of the day chewing and digesting.

                                                                  fire and cooking freed us from from having to consume such ginormous volumes of food.

                                                            2. re: paulj

                                                              Paul, earlier in that abstract it says "The best available estimates suggest that those ancestors obtained about 35% of their dietary energy from fats, 35% from carbohydrates and 30% from protein." I think with the 50% they mean that uncultivated fruits and vegetables, not carbohydrates, accounted for 50% of energy intake, because carbohydrates account for far more than 16% of the energy intake in the US, it's about 50%. The whole thing is worded poorly, since uncultivated fruits and vegetables are rarely eaten in the US. 16% energy intake from cultivated fruits and vegetables would make sense though.

                                                              I would like the read the rest of that article but it seems like only the abstract is available. It doesn't seem like they would have much to base estimates on, other than traces of foods found in burial sites or in the stomachs of preserved humans. It would be interesting to see how they arrive at those estimates.

                                                              It is also hard to imagine how hunter gatherers would manage to find enough plants for that kind of carbohydrate intake, especially in cold climates. If I walk through the woods here I rarely come across much. Some berries, mushrooms, wild garlic, wild leeks, paw paws, purslane and other greens. That's about it, and most of those are very low carb, and most are non-existent 3/4 of the year. Most of the fruit and vegetables we have today are barely recognizable in their wild form and are often tiny and low in sugars or fruit poorly. Even though they were no doubt very good recognizing edible plants and spent a lot of time on it, it's hard for me to imagine them finding that much.

                                                        2. re: Nichele


                                                          I eat a big variety of dishes for dinners...sans carbs! I love to cook so leaving out "white foods" is actually pretty easy. If I have a grilled meat, I have a cold or room temp salad of some kind in addition to a cooked vegetable. I like my dinner plate to be really colorful. Sometimes I like to serve an appetizer at home like a snack tray of seedy crackers, cheese, picked veg, olives, etc. or sometimes I serve small bites on spoons. The other night I made up a "northwest bite" with hazelnut, huckleberry and goat cheese. Served with a Lillet vermouth cocktail with club soda...really fab and healthy. This way of eating doesn't have to be boring.

                                                          But my daily "go to" breakfast and lunch foods are salads, roasted chickens, game hens, natural meats, nuts, a variety of soups (everything from cream of broccoli to chicken shirataki noodle) roasted veggie salads, seeded crackers and cheese or spreads/pesto's, sandwich wraps with low carb tortillas, cottage cheese with veg or sunflower/hemp seeds sprinkle, egg salad/deviled/scrambled, mapo tofu, kimchee and fermented veggies, and black soy bean chili.

                                                          I hope this helps.

                                                          1. re: Nichele

                                                            My go-to paleo dishes are a mix of meat and veg and not always the leanest. I like the fat, it fills me faster and keeps me full longer. Leaner cuts tends toward dry and chewy. I'm not strictly paleo/primal (love my dairy), but losing the grains and starchy veg was easy. Eating out is difficult - the sides are alwaysalwaysalways huge portions of fries/mashed/beans/rice and getting a double side of the veg of the day, I have had to pay extra for that, so we eat in more often than before. Adapting recipes - so many seem to call for unneccesary flour or thickener or sugar. Really, once you give up the grains, you lose your sweet tooth.

                                                            Back to the meals - I get a lot of recipes from health-bent.com. We had his Shrimp and Faux Grits last night made with rutabaga instead of celery root (it has parmesan and I use butter).

                                                      2. "Paleo" means something different to everyone, no real meaning.

                                                        1. What's the place of salt in these programs? Do you avoid added salt all together or use sea salt?

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: ninrn

                                                            I use a variety of salts in my cooking- kosher for cooking, sea salt for finishing.

                                                            I think the general consensus is that moderate salt is fine. Going to Paleo or Primal type diets almost automatically reduces salt because you remove processed/mass produced foods and you cut out -or drastically reduce-a big food group (grains) that are typically heavily salted.

                                                            I suppose you could "over salt" your meat and veggies, but that is harder to do and still have them palatable. Same with salads and fruits. Nuts are the most salty thing I eat and I can certainly overdo them.

                                                            I don't think salt is bad, but I do think that some people are more sensitive to it than others. These ways of eating are really about listening to what your body tells you- not really following dogmatic rules to the letter.

                                                            1. re: ninrn

                                                              most of the sodium in american diets comes from processed, packaged and fast foods. also soda and "energy" drinks. NONE of which are paleo or primal.

                                                              use salt to taste and using a variety is best.

                                                              1. re: ninrn

                                                                Yep, salt's considered fine, within reason, and the most paleo folks I know use pink Himalayan salt because of the additional minerals they are thought to contain. I stick to conventional sea salts and kosher salts, sans iodine. The use of salt makes sense to me since it is use to preserve meats. It's always the sugar they slip in that gets me.

                                                              2. My husband sticks pretty closely to Paleo. He works out heavily with CrossFit and Paleo helps him to maintain a certain fitness level. I was annoyed when he first started since I do the cooking and the burden was on me to adapt to him. It actually wasn't that hard to drop the things that Paleo recommends and I found out I feel healthier on it. I'm nowhere near as strict as him but I definitely notice a blah feeling if I eat a ton of bread, pasta, etc.

                                                                1. So much of this depends on your personality (and your family's). Are you all-or-nothing people, or would you benefit from a step-down (step-up?) approach to paleo/primal? For example, start by cutting out sugar, do that for a month; cut out wheat, do that for a month; cut out all grains, etc., until you get to a place where you're feeling really good. There's no rule that says you have to go full-bore from the first day, and in fact, in my experience that's a recipe for burnout.

                                                                  I started heading toward a more paleo diet last fall, and have gotten to a place where I lean toward a diet heavy in vegetables, eggs, and meat. Beyond that I've learned what my body is ok with and what it's not. My personality is just not amenable to extreme anything and I'm the sort that if you say I can't have something it immediately makes me want to eat it that much more. BUT, a lifestyle that's maybe 60-70% gleamingly righteous paleo and 30-40% "Oh hell, I just want a Chik-fil-a sandwich/piece of fruit/bowl of lentils/granola bar/glass of milk and I refuse to feel bad about that" is really working for me. I don't think it's about following someone else's plan to the letter, I think it's about optimizing your own health. So for instance, I process dairy quite easily, have never had the slightest intolerance, so I include dairy -- not loads, mostly milk in my tea. Legumes have never caused me any problems so I eat them. Fruit is nigh impossible for me to give up, though I do eat it in season. I do not keep bread, pasta, or brown rice in my house.

                                                                  Good luck!

                                                                  1. I am a Nutritional Therapist, and use a 'modified Paleo/Primal' diet with every client. I find I get the best results with a complete stop of grains and dairy for the first month. Most people do well, at least short term, with some absolutes, and the results are so profound that when they do start re-introducing grains, especially wheat and corn, there is a very immediate reaction.

                                                                    1. I've been following a Paleo/Primal diet for close to a year. While I didn't start shedding pounds right away, I eliminated the mysterious pains that would crop up after I ate, as well as healed my allergies that had hounded me for almost 8 years. I believe that our diets can contribute to inflammation, and while I know I do not have Celiac disease, there is something in wheat that, when I eat it in large doses, aggravates my system.

                                                                      Now I follow an 80/20 where most of the time, I eat fruit, sometimes Greek yogurt in the morning, and then about half my diet is vegetables with the other half being protein. The elimination of pasta was easy for me because I saw an immediate benefit, but leaving rice and potatoes behind was tougher. Not everyone cuts them completely, but for me its important to for weight loss for right now.

                                                                      I basically plan my meals to incorporate lots of cold salads as well as cooked vegetables each week, to help fill my plate and not feel like I am missing out on the starch. In winter, we ate a lot more turnips, parsnips and the occasional sweet potato. Now in summer, I eat jicama and zucchini noodles. Once every couple of weeks or so, I'll enjoy some french fries, or Indian food, and it causes me no stress.

                                                                      1. Just had to pop my head in here. I eat lacto-paleo/primal, and I am quite happy with it. I've recalibrated my sweet tooth and I enjoy fruit again. Salad tastes like less of a duty. I have more respect for the meat I'm putting in my mouth. I've dropped maybe 30 pounds WITHOUT TRYING and while eating twice the fat I used to. I'm also seeing my autoimmune and allergy issues dial way back. My endocrinologist was blown away when she saw me three months in to just eating primal.

                                                                        What really amazes me is how I don't really miss baked goods. I grew up with wonderful baked goods, nearly 24/7. I was definitely rewarded with food. And even now I can knock out a sourdough baguette, gluten free, any kind of cookie or cake - and I used to really define myself by that skill. But you know what? I feel blah when I eat that stuff now. I've probably made brownies 6 times in the past year, and each time, I eat about 2 in an 8x8 pan and end up tossing the rest. I used to LIVE for that stuff. That part blows my mind. My identity was wrapped up in flour - and then 3 years of gluten free flours - and now, meh, I don't even think about baking. I guess I MUST feel a ton better!

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Vetter

                                                                          We must be siblings.

                                                                          I just made burgers tonight. I did a "burger layer"....lettuce, grilled haloume cheese, tomato, balsamic aioli, beef burger with sun dried tomato, and basil/calamata topping. Never missed the bun...really....not once.

                                                                          I am a "hippie baker" from 1974 that used to be a whole wheat/granola girl. I am an EXPERT baker. Seriously. I am reformed and never felt better. I "splurge" on baked items, but cannot tolerate eating too much of it anymore.

                                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                                            Hi five, sister! I still splurge too, but now it's pretty specific. Pizza, the odd cookie craving, things with almond paste. With food like your burger (OMG DROOL - I LOVE the idea of the haloume with the tomato/basil/olives, that's genius!) it's hard to save space for baked stuff!

                                                                          2. re: Vetter

                                                                            Just out of curiosity / how long did that take? I'd say I've been working at this about a month and feeling a little deprived. I haven't been perfect of course and really don't have breakfast dialed in - mostly because I'm up and out of the house before everyone else so can't be making a bunch of noise in the kitchen.

                                                                            1. re: Bean Counter

                                                                              I can't tell if this is so from your post, so apologies if I'm reading it wrong.

                                                                              But if you're doing it halfway, you're not really doing it, and you're not going to experience any benefits that might accrue to you personally. Plus, "sitting on the fence" is tends to feel pretty miserable, esp. keeping feelings of deprivation alive and kicking.

                                                                              It's like being kinda married or kinda pregnant. One is committed and there--or not.

                                                                              If you do it full bore (at least 95% and no kidding yourself) then most people that are going to benefit will notice positive changes within 2 weeks.

                                                                              Of course, many people sabotage themselves "trying" to do it. Sometimes it does take a few relapses to get the full motivation going though.

                                                                              PS: If you're feeling deprived, you might not be eating enough good fats, or you might need to pay some compassionate attention to the cognitive/emotional aspects that are giving you a hard time.

                                                                            2. re: Vetter

                                                                              I recall the days of a huge usenet low carb diet group with seemingly hundreds of new (mostly Atkins) dieters entering every month. Anecdotally, all those with asthma said they stopped using inhalers or used them rarely after the switch in diet, those with IBS saw it just disappear. Endocrine research I read stated that high insulin levels inhibit steroid production by the adrenals, so our natural anti inflammatory production is turned off, plus cortisol binding globulin was lowered by high insulin so there's less ability to deliver steroids to the cells that are signallng for it. More aches, pains, allergies, asthma, IBS, inflammation generally.

                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                Don't know about usenet, but there is at least one fairly active primal/paleo forum out there--not sure if it's okay to mention/link to it...

                                                                                1. re: Enso

                                                                                  posting links to other sites is always okay as long as it's not for the sole purpose of self-promotion.

                                                                                  1. re: Enso

                                                                                    mark's daily apple has a very good, active forum.

                                                                              2. Back in my college days (before culinary school) I was a die hard anthropology major working in an anthro lab measuring skulls of our ancestors and doing ethnographical articles on specialized grocery stores. My professor who I was interning for and I held a Paleo feast for the department. It was really fun! We gave out huge bison steaks in a morel mushroom sauce with a side of sauteed wild ramps and fiddle head ferns. I am now considering a Paleo diet because in culinary school I had to taste so many fattening foods (fries fried in duck fat) and the baking and pastry students always gave us salted caramels at the end of the day....lets say the freshman 10 that university students get was nothing compared to the 1st year culinary school 20. My family is doing a Paleo style bbq for Memorial Day today!

                                                                                1. Food will likely continue to be important to you and your family. If you want to proceed you will have to reconsider how you want to change your definition of "food" and "good eating" and a whole host of other concepts. It's about being intentional and reconsidering your assumptions and beliefs. Change isn't always easy so pay attention to motivation and resistance, and work with them, not against them. Good luck--if you move forward you'll appreciate the results!

                                                                                  1. I've started off doing the paleo with a 90% adherence for two weeks. I am already slim but I lost 5 pounds of weight which I, with all my trying, could not lose for the last several years. Now I am a svelte 112 pounds at 5'4", just like when I was in high school! The best part is the joint and muscle pains that I had for two years went away, my mind is clearer and my mood is fantastic. I thought I was doomed to suffer rheumatoid arthritis and hormonal chaos in my 50's. I use to be very active but all these ailments had slowed me down.
                                                                                    Prior to paleo, I was going from vegetarian to raw vegan and this was actually worsening me. Apparently, eating too much raw dark green veggies which has inhibiting enzymes can block certain nutrients! So I increased my Krill oil, added a sublingual B12 supplement and included seaweed for iodine (and, of course, eating meat.) Everything was going so good and it was rather effortless. So I decided to increase my "cheats." My joints started aching, my face broke out and I didn't feel as uplifted.
                                                                                    Now, I'm going back but to primal. I will swing between primal and paleo to see how it affects me.

                                                                                    I realize that a lot of prepared food out there has a lot of fillers in the form of grains, rice and legumes (eg, wraps, sandwiches...) and disguised as healthier alternatives. I work near WholeFoods and now find it limiting to buy my meals there. I love that fact that I can replace all breads and wraps with lettuce, cabbage, chard, etc. and still eat it like a wrap or sandwich.

                                                                                    I seem to eat less frequently and when I do get hungry, I don't get that faint feeling or irritability. I'm so happy to be able to justify eating meat again, and good quality meat at that, too. I've perused through the top few popular books on the subject and found a lot of good references to supporting this lifestyle, especially "Primal Body, Primal Mind", by Nora T. Gedgaudas.

                                                                                    Prior to paleo, my cholesterol went down, to the surprise of my doctor. I was still eating grains with my raw vegan regime but I had added coconut products to my diet. Something to be said about the proper fat, I guess. I'd be curious what my next test will reveal.

                                                                                    Love being active again!

                                                                                    First picture: organice free range local egg steamed on a bed of local organic purslane.
                                                                                    Second picture: Mark Sisson's crock-pot curried pork on a bed of raw local sprouts.
                                                                                    Third picture: My hamster, Lucky Louie's organic locally sourced vegan meal.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: maxmillan

                                                                                      Just an addendum. I started paleo upon the suggestion of my kinesiologist who diagnosed me as having systemic inflammation. There are lots of info online and you can generally see which ones are self-promoting and which ones will have valuable stuff. I highly recommend this lifestyle and suggest trying it for two weeks without cheating and decide from there.

                                                                                    2. Hi, I LOVE the Primal diet. But the first thing I have to say is that it's really not for everyone. I have no sweet tooth, and I never had. I don't miss sweets, dessert, chocolate, etc, because I never ate them anyway.

                                                                                      I also like meats and lots of kinds of veggies, and have no trouble eating just that for every meal, which you pretty much do.

                                                                                      Breakfast can be a problem- but one that you can plan for. I make mini-fritattas with eggs, herbs, porchetta (or bacon, or no-sugar added sausage, or ham) and a little cheese in a mini muffin tin, bake, cool and and freeze them. I nuke them and add a little butter, and have about 3 for breakfast. You can add some sauteed mushrooms or other veg if you like. I make a batch every Sunday so I have something I can make quickly in the morning. If I have more time, I make an omelet or just eggs and ham/bacon/porchetta.

                                                                                      I drink a lot of water, eat a lot of meats and fats, and have never felt better. I lost 6.5 lbs the first 2 weeks, never had "low carb flu", and have no intention of changing. I hit moderate ketosis in 3 days, and have been a fat burning machine ever since.

                                                                                      B'fast is coffee, and the above buttered fritatta or eggs and a meat, Lunch is a BAS (big a** salad with meat), and dinner is a meat and veg. Cauliflower mashed "potatoes" with heavy cream and butter is delicious. I avoid sweeter veg like carrots and other root vegetables. No fruit, no bread, pasta, potatoes, legumes. All my carbs come from low-carb veg, I'm taking in about 20g a day, and that's mostly from the salad at lunch.

                                                                                      So, if this sounds like privation and suffering for you, then it's just not for you. I also think this is a bad diet for people that can't/don't wish to cook for themselves- you don't know what lurks in the preparations of others, so you can't keep track. Going out to eat can be a minefield, but not impossible- this morning at brunch, instead of a regular breakfast from the menu, it was a side of eggs with a side of bacon. If I'm out at lunch/dinner I get a salad and ask for oil and vinegar for dressing, so I don't inadvertently get a dressing with sugar. And I lust over a companion's fried potatoes- but don't touch a bite, as it will set me back days.

                                                                                      Get to know your butcher- mine makes his porchetta without any sugar, and it's fatty and from delicious pasture raised pigs. Buy Coconut Oil (it's delicious), and cook everything in it.

                                                                                      I make dinners that make good leftovers for lunch: Thai Beef Salad (make the dressing with no sugar), Mushroom soup with meatballs, Roasted chicken, Chicken picatta (don't flour or coat the meat), Coconut curries, kabobs, meatloaf (no bread crumbs).

                                                                                      But if you have a sweet tooth, love bread/pasta/fruit and can't imagine giving it up, then you will have a hard time with going Paleo/Primal.

                                                                                      1. I'm curious to hear if anyone who posted here is still Paleo or Primal and, if so, what are your results. I have been testing the waters of Paleo and have definitely seen benefits, BUT I gained weight, and I have to admit, I am a little preoccupied with the scale. It would help to hear from those of you who are long term and commited. In all honesty, I know that although I eat Paleo, I don't follow the lifestyle in the other aspects, (I over do the cardio, I don't get enough sleep, I eat too late in the day, I have a bad fruit and nut addiction) so I probably will not benefit 100%. It still has improved my life enough that I can't imagine giving it up though.

                                                                                        20 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                          It isn't about weight loss, it's about optimal health. Women in particular don't necessarily see dramatic losses from the paleo/primal lifestyle, but should see favorable shifts in overall body *composition* and general well being. It can take 6 - 8 weeks to see any changes, and people often don't give it enough time and get discouraged too early.

                                                                                          Having said all that, I'll be honest - you can't do this in a half-assed way and expect to reap all the benefits. You already know what you need to do if you want to see the numbers on the scale start to drop. Dial down the cardio, lay off the fruit & nuts, and get more sleep. You said it has already improved your life and you can't imagine turning back, so you're ahead of the game. Just keep moving forward!

                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                            Thank you for your brutal honesty! Although you are echoing my inner voice, it truly helps to have someone I respect point out the obvious. I will take your (and my) advice!

                                                                                            1. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                              It is really difficult to put the scale away especially if that has been your sole source of seeing "success".

                                                                                              1. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                                I'm just glad you took my post as it was intended...a little tough love ;)

                                                                                                When do you usually find yourself reaching for the nuts & fruit? And is it a matter of frequency or portion size? Perhaps if we can come up with alternatives for you to eat at those times, you'll find it easier to cut back.

                                                                                                And Jessica is absolutely right about the scale - put it away. You're better off gauging your progress by how you *feel* and by how your clothes fit.

                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                  I am a nighttime snacker. I do my cardio first thing in the am, before putting the kids on the bus, and I can't eat that early, just never have been into early morning meals. I think I only snack because I think they'll keep me satiated until the next day, around 10 AM, when I do make something for my first meal (I won't say "breakfast", because my morning Paleo meal is usually dinner leftovers....I also reach for nuts because I love crunchy things, carrots sometimes work, as does celery.

                                                                                                  1. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                                    " I think I only snack because I think they'll keep me satiated until the next day"
                                                                                                    That's red flag #1. Eat because you're genuinely hungry, period. Preventive snacking is unnecessary, and it screws with the hormones that control hunger & satiety. The only way you're going to arrive at a natural point of regulation for your appetite and metabolism is to *listen* to your hunger cues and eat according to them.

                                                                                                    Red flag #2 is the fact that you don't have your first meal until 10 even though you're working out before the sun is up. Early-morning cardio can be great for mobilizing fat stores, but you need to remember that you're already in a fasted state when you start. By not eating for several hours after, you're catabolizing a lot of muscle. I know you're not into early morning meals, but that may change if you lay off the nighttime snacks. You honestly might eventually start WANTING to eat something earlier than 10 a.m., which would be a very good thing. In the meantime, early morning breakfast can be easier to swallow if it's in liquid form, so you might want to try a smoothie/shake made with protein powder (you can do whey if you're primal as opposed to strict paleo), unsweetened almond milk & some good fat.

                                                                                                    As far as the crunch factor goes, I know that can be a difficult itch to scratch. Have you tried kale chips? They're delicious and much less calorie-dense than nuts.

                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                      Excellent advice, it makes sense that cuting out the late snack might help better gauge my hunger in the morning. I hate smoothies, sorry, just a quirk BUT I could pre-make something the day before (hard boiled egg, sweet potato with coconut shreds, etc.).
                                                                                                      I do love Kale chips, I don't know why I don't make them more often, maybe because I can't igur out a way to keep them crisp. When I do make breakfast at 10 am, kale is always a main ingredient along with whatever protein was dinner. Thank you again for the sage advice.

                                                                                                      1. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                                        Pork rinds and/or seaweed snacks might work in addition to the kale chips if you need something salty and crunchy from time to time (I am low carb but not paleo).

                                                                                            2. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                              There are definite results to following a Paleo lifestyle, but I think you answered your own question when you stated that you have been preoccupied with your scale. The other issues you mentioned can be answered via the whole9life.com website, especially the scale preoccupation issue (http://whole9life.com/2012/03/5-reaso...).

                                                                                              Also, be prepared to have your mind blown with this post http://everydaypaleo.com/deb-update/. Being healthy isn't a number on the scale. Everyday Paleo also has a great blog on no cardio http://everydaypaleo.com/friends-dont...

                                                                                              Just like everything else, you have to find what works for you. Do you feel energized when you are not getting enough sleep and eating too much fruit/nuts? If you aren't feeling the best version of yourself, increase sleep and see if that helps, if not, try something else until you find YOUR magic formula.

                                                                                              1. re: jessicav

                                                                                                Very helpful links, thank you so much. Your advice, too, is spot on.

                                                                                                1. re: jessicav

                                                                                                  Hmm so the no cardio thing has convinced me that paleo is definitely NOT right for me. I am thin so I don't exercise for weight loss/maintenance; I exercise (cardio/weights/yoga) because it feels good! I have been active all my life and plan to remain so. Just goes to show that what's best for one individual isn't necessarily what's best for another! Best of luck to you.

                                                                                                  1. re: ohmyyum

                                                                                                    I am addicted to cardio for the same reasons too, believe me, it is harder for me to give up than grains or sugar was.. BUT, I read The Paleo Solution (Robb Wolf) and it was a real eye opener for me. I suggest you try to get your hands on a copy before you throw out the concept (check your library). At the very least, read the chapters on interval training and cardio, he does a great job explaining hings. Paleo focuses on your optimum health. I have been thin for many years, always considered myself in great shape because I could run 6-7 miles and do an hour of cardio. I started reducing the cardio and adding interval training and man, I had no idea how out of shape my seemingly fit body was. I have gained so much strength nd flexibility in the short month since my switch, I feel stronger AND have more energy. I'm not saying Paleo is for everyone, but taking the best care of your body is and this has been the first time in 37 years that I feel nourished, strong and focused.

                                                                                                2. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                                  Could someone please tell me why eating fruits or nuts would be discouraged on a paleo diet? I would think paleolithic peoples would eat as much of fruits and nuts as they could possibly get, and only turn to leaves and roots as a second choice. Is it because of the way fruits have been changed by industrial farming methods? And wouldn't that same criticism apply to all produce then? Our ancestors certainly weren't eating broccoli and cauliflower. I don't mean to challenge what anybody's doing, I'm just curious.

                                                                                                  1. re: ninrn

                                                                                                    they are not discouraged per se. point is, fruits were seasonal and nuts required a mighty force to consume. they didn't come in a 4-lb jug, shelled, from costco.

                                                                                                    these are seasonal or spare foods -- not staples.

                                                                                                    1. re: ninrn

                                                                                                      As hotoynoodle said, they're not discouraged as a whole. The problem is that people who adopt the paleo/primal lifestyle can sometimes go overboard with fruit & nuts when they should be consuming more calories from meat, seafood & leafy vegetables. The OP is hoping to lose weight, and consuming too much in the way of fructose-laden fruit and calorie-dense nuts will derail that goal.

                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                        Thanks, Goodhealthgourmet and Hotoynoodle. I guess it's the name that sticks in the craw a bit for me. But I get it.

                                                                                                      2. re: ninrn

                                                                                                        From what I read, nuts contain an enzyme inhibitor, they are generally not fresh due to the oxidation of oils and contain a lot of calories if eaten uncontrollably. Nuts should be fresh, organic, raw and sprouted before eating. Fruits have sugars and it is easy to eat a lot. Fruits and nuts are mostly and heavily sprayed. Even the organic apples and pears in the USA are allowably sprayed with antibiotics.

                                                                                                        1. re: maxmillan

                                                                                                          Why would someone spray antibiotics on fruit?

                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                            Maybe plant-based fungicidal sprays?

                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                              Antibiotics are routinely used on produce, not just fruit. To control diseases and prevent plant loss, is my best guess.

                                                                                                      3. I first got interested in paleo/primal eating after reading Diane Sanfilippo's "Practical Paleo," which is part cookbook, part functional medicine and talks a lot about healing GI and autoimmune ailments through diet. I've struggled with gastro issues (gastritis, GERD, etc.) for years and was looking for a way to heal my stomach and get off medication I'd been taking forever. Plus, intellectually, a diet of whole, minimally processed foods that don't wreak havoc on the digestive track just made sense to me. I was tired of covering up symptoms.

                                                                                                        I started with a primal/paleo 2.0 approach (basically paleo, but permitting dairy and tubers), then moved to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet since I wasn't getting enough relief and the rebound from weaning off my PPI meds was severe. From there I landed on the Fast Tract Digestion diet, http://digestivehealthinstitute.org/2... which is very close to the primal approach in cutting out most grains except for white rice, but also restricts foods that are very high in fiber, resistant starch, lactose, and fructose. So far, the Fast Tract diet really seems to have helped---I feel better physically, sharper mentally, and I've lost weight without trying.

                                                                                                        My biggest motivator is to stick to this style of eating is wanting to remain medication and heartburn free. I'm honestly not sure I'd stick with it otherwise; weight loss or nutritional ideals alone were not enough motivation in the past. Interestingly, my husband, who doesn't have GI issues, has voluntarily started cutting out bread and grains even when he eats on his own. He says he feels less bloated and uncomfortable after meals, which speaks for itself. We are (hopefully "were") the kind of couple who could easily demolish a bread basket, bag of tortilla chips, or a pizza.

                                                                                                        Adjusting to breakfast without bread, cereal, or granola was a bit of struggle at first, and I think if you can get over that hurdle, eating primal the rest of the day is fairly easy. My breakfasts include homemade yogurt that's been fermented for 24 hrs. and fresh berries; scrambled, fried, or hardboiled eggs; omelettes; breakfast meats (bacon, kielbasa, sausage); salmon lox rolled with cream cheese, dill, and cucumber strips; cubed melon; Lactaid cottage cheese and pineapple; dinner leftovers; brothy soup; and occasionally pancakes or waffles made with coconut flour. The less you try to replicate foods made with grains (e.g. muffins) with "paleo-approved" ingredients and the more you just embrace the really wide variety of foods you *can* eat, the less likely you are to feel deprived, frustrated, and disappointed.

                                                                                                        I like to cook an eclectic variety of recipes and explore a wide range of different cuisines, many of which can easily be adapated to be lower carb/free of processed foods. Variety really helps avert boredom; I also never got on board with completely eliminating fermented soy (such as tamari) or certain Asian condiments (provided they're low sugar), as that would mean cutting out many different cuisines that a) I love and b) are otherwise primal-friendly.

                                                                                                        In short, my advice: identify your reason for going primal, avoid cheating to give the new style of eating a chance to change your body composition and palate, try not to be a dogmatic jackass about diet to other people, and be flexible about finding tweaks and adaptations that can make the approach sustainable for you long term. Chris Kresser, one of the "authorities" in the field, wrote a good article about the last point recently: http://chriskresser.com/beyond-paleo-...

                                                                                                        ETA: I forgot to mention, I've also upped my intake of naturally probiotic foods such as kimchee, fermented sauerkraut and pickles, beet kvass, kombucha, etc. Variety is the spice of life.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                          Very thorough, very helpful. Thank you Christina. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, "Identify your reason for going primal"....too many people do it for a quick fix, or to simply lose weight. The science behind it really supports the reversal of many diseases and ailments.

                                                                                                          1. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                                            I went primal to reduce my overall inflammation. The results were dramatic. I highly recommend it to anyone that might have a problem exacerbated by inflammation. Removing grain and increasing anti inflammatory foods, along with heathy fats saved me from meds and movement restriction. The other benefits are nice too.

                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                              So, if you don't mind my asking, how long ago did you go Primal and are you still? How long once you committed before you saw results?

                                                                                                              1. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                                                I had been moderately low cab for years to keep a healthy lean weight and general health. I went serious primal about a year or two ago to get in better shape for a particular sport and to see if i could self rehab a shoulder problem that no one else could seem to help me with. I ate a lot of anti inflammatory foods and just hoped for some improvement.

                                                                                                                Much to my surprise, within two weeks, my shoulder was amazingly improved. I could lift my arm without pain. In a month, my doctor was shocked that my "frozen shoulder" was not frozen at all. It had been stuck with inflammation...haha...all those months of PT had been such a waste.

                                                                                                                I am still primal 80 to 90 percent of the time. My shoulder tells me right away when I go too far afield with starch or sugar. It flames up and gets hot. It only takes two days of clean eating to get it back under control again.

                                                                                                                Weekends and vacations are typically when I eat less primal. I try to keep it to one day a week to eat sugar or grain, then I don't have to experience an inflammation episode at all. That seems to be what my body can handle.

                                                                                                                If inflammation is your issue, I highly recommend this way of eating.

                                                                                                        2. It's really great to see all the smart, thoughtful responses on this thread, and to know that so many of you are working so hard to try to find a more natural way of eating. I know we all have to be careful not to dole out medical advice here, but since so many of you seem to have read so deeply and widely on this topic, I wondered if anyone might be able to recommend some books or articles that specifically address how this type of diet works for people with cancer -- particularly endocrine/reproductive cancers. Thanks very much, Ninrn

                                                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: ninrn

                                                                                                            please email me at the addy in my profile. I don't have experience with that exactly, but a LOT with endocrine dysfunction and diet effects. And am an info junkie, love to help.

                                                                                                            GHG may have dug into this issue professionally, not sure.

                                                                                                            As to the fruits and nuts issue, yes, the sizes and sugar content of what we have the most access to now are much bigger than paleo would have, and only available during limited times of the year.

                                                                                                            1. re: ninrn

                                                                                                              Ninrn, Here are two great articles for you to read:

                                                                                                              My two cents...

                                                                                                              Tumor cells need glucose to grow and thrive; Paleo is inherently low in sugar.

                                                                                                              Legumes contain phytoestrogens, which can interfere with the uptake, metabolism, and production of hormones and the functioning of the endocrine and reproductive systems. Paleo excludes legumes.

                                                                                                              Grains are generally inflammatory (the more refined, the greater the impact), and research has shown that people with chronic inflammatory conditions are predisposed to tumor development. Paleo excludes grains.

                                                                                                              Yes, Paleo dieters tend to eat a lot of meat. No one is saying it has to be all red meat, all the time. But if it is red meat, it should be grass-fed. Even so, detractors will argue that red meat causes cancer. I have yet to read a sound, clinical study that proved this causation.

                                                                                                              I hope that helps!

                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                Thank you, goodhealthgourmet. I've bookmarked both articles and will read them tomorrow. I appreciate this very much, Ninrn

                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                  Yes yes yes to all the above.

                                                                                                                  Because I've had to read a lot of endocrine research (beginning with mid life onset of constant ovarian cysts, a high risk for cancer), I can elucidate some of the way grains and carbs promote inflammation.

                                                                                                                  From the PCOS lit; hyperinsulinemia inhibits normal steroid production in the adrenals and also their transport protein to cells, so your HPA axis, which governs your immune function, goes awry, responding to the emergency "not enough steroids" alarm by over activation, including excess production of pituitary and adrenal hormones, which in addition to the damage done by high insulin levels, desensitizes their receptors, and a vicious cycle is born... too much, not enough...

                                                                                                                  "Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Quality of Life in 16 Patients With Advanced Cancer"


                                                                                                                2. re: ninrn

                                                                                                                  Sugar of any sort feeds cancer. That includes fruits and starches that converts to sugar.

                                                                                                                  1. re: maxmillan

                                                                                                                    Which is why it truly blows my mind that so many cancer patients and survivors think it's a good idea to juice.

                                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                      I am with you on that. It is so important to be really informed, not just read advertisements or scan media sound bites.

                                                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                        or why anyone does? unless it's kale and avocado, it's a giant glass of sugar.

                                                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                          I agree. We just happened to be discussing cancer, and all that sugar is really more dangerous for cancer patients/survivors than pretty much anyone else except diabetics.

                                                                                                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                          So sad, isn't it? If their docs aren't telling them diet doesn't matter, they're telling them to eat low fat, which tends to = high sugar, metabolically and dietarily.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                            mcf, I was enjoying your What's For Dinner posts. I hope you pop back in occasionally! I need the inspiration :)

                                                                                                                            1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                              Did I stop?? Tonight it's a beef stew from an Irish chef on the today show... http://www.today.com/id/51168682/ns/t...

                                                                                                                              Thanks! Here's where I have to confess that I will cook obsessively and experiment for days or weeks, then not cook for days or more...

                                                                                                                    2. I should mention the Weston A. Price Foundation website to get a plethora of information. Since my last post I have changed my Omega-3 krill oil to fermented cod liver oil WITH butter oil. I've changed my acidophilus to a raw source by Garden of Life and I've been eating fermented food for a boost. I plan to change my acidophilus to one recommended on Paleohacks (forget the name.). I also plan to add raw dairy as soon as I get my name on a cow share (because the direct sale of raw milk is illegal - stoopid!). This winter I did not catch any colds and the mild flu I had was nothing but a whisper. I attribute this to paleo because for the last several years my flu turns to a cold that lasts for weeks! Everyone I know had a bad flu/cold once or twice this winter.
                                                                                                                      I've learned so much about the chemistry of food since going paleo such as the thermal nature of coconut oil. Too much can aggravate hot flashes. Meat should be 100% grass fed AND finished. Biodynamics is better than organic. Organic chicken and eggs can contain corn, wheat and soy, foods that should be avoided in Paleo. Pasture raised can be better than organic. So much for a serious paleo person to know!

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: maxmillan

                                                                                                                        Thank you for all of that useful information. I also had the healthiest winter/flu season I can remember, living in a house with 5 people, I was the only one to not get a cold/cough, etc. I almost feel guilty. It's good to read that one common denominator of the paleo or primal approach has helped other people work with their bodies to make them the efficient machines nature designed them to be.

                                                                                                                      2. I have changed my Paleo cooking over the past few months and it is now mostly sautéed vegetables and I usually use whatever is in season or on sale. It must be organic and preferably locally grown. I usually have a sack of onions, a giant bag of frozen organic garlic and big chunk of ginger in the fridge. This I use for my sauté and then I usually have some form of meat such as eggs,chicken, beef and lamb that is eaten alongside the sautéed vegetables. I recently added fermented foods to help with digestion. I will soon start making my own fermented food. The staple of my recipe is some form of vegetable and some form of meat but the variations are endless. You can add flavors from Thai spices or Indian spices or Greek spices.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: maxmillan

                                                                                                                          That's funny because when I started Paleo, I tried ALL kinds of recipes I picked up from several great websites. Now, many months later, I find I hardly ever use a recipe, I just have my favorite home-made spice blends, I open the fridge and pick the oldest vegetables, some random protein, heat up the skillet and go. I'm always satisfied, never feel bored either. I do have to say, Kale is almost always in there somewhere, I love it!

                                                                                                                          1. re: kmlmgm

                                                                                                                            i still can't embrace kale, but i eat cauliflower A LOT. it's about as versatile as potatoes.

                                                                                                                            have also incorporated seaweed in my bone broth that i have more days than not.

                                                                                                                        2. I believe for some people getting started is easier than others because some people do not have a choice but to alter their diets drastically to not only feel better but to survive.
                                                                                                                          I have been doing more primal than paleo, but I have to say that the biggest difference I have seen is in my "mood". I wouldn't have called myself depressed, but definitely "over sensitive" to what happens in life. I am now back to my old self with remembering names and words quicker, not needing an afternoon nap (usually ALWAYS due to not eating the right portions of protein to carbs), and I am now losing weight quicker. I was never diagnosed as dairy sensitive or gluten sensitive, but losing the gluten has been tremendously helpful to me.
                                                                                                                          As far as fats go, my grandmother (93) and my husband's grandmother (99) always cooked with bacon fat to increase food flavor. They still live at home. I believe personally in the future they will tie most of the obesity and cardiovascular issues to improper blood sugar spikes and to modified grains.
                                                                                                                          All the best! I hope you find what works for you! :)

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: circlecitymom

                                                                                                                            don't forget the inflammatory gmo oils that are in ALL processed foods.

                                                                                                                          2. Can someone please explain why legumes are forbidden? Just today my friend and I were discussing the Paleo diet and couldn't answer this question.
                                                                                                                            Thank you in advance.

                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                              Seems the reasoning is something like: they can't be eaten raw, and cavemen couldn't cook them, therefore we haven't evolved to properly use them.

                                                                                                                              1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                                Legumes are said to contain lectins and saponins, both of which may increase gut permeability, which may be the root cause of auto-immune problems.

                                                                                                                                Google [ legumes lectins saponins ]

                                                                                                                                The "no beans" rule was unacceptable to me, when I first heard about the Paleo Diet, years ago. How could a low-fat, high-fiber, protein food be bad? Now, I think fiber is over-rated, and fat may be a much better macronutrient than carbohydrate. So, as much as I like beans, I can see where they might not be the ideal food I once believed.

                                                                                                                                If I thought I might have a leaky gut, or was having trouble absorbing certain essential nutrients, I would give serious consideration to eliminating legumes from my diet.

                                                                                                                                1. re: johnseberg

                                                                                                                                  Thank you, your reply was very informative. As a vegan, I rely on legumes for fiber and protein. Had no idea there was a connection between legumes and auto-immune disorders.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                                    Folks, the discussion about the legume / auto-immune connection got kind of personal pretty quickly, so we've removed some posts from here. If anyone wants a copy of theirs back to edit and repost as appropriate, please drop us a line at moderators@chowhound.com and we can send.

                                                                                                                                2. re: globocity


                                                                                                                                  it's the phytic acid, which makes the nutrients in beans and legumes less bio-available.

                                                                                                                                3. To update, I am now eating a limited amount of wheat, grains and rice. I make my own sourdough starter to make Lumberjack pancakes, I soak my rice overnight minimum etc.

                                                                                                                                  I missed this type of carb so whatever is not part of paleo, I try to make it more bioavailable. I drink the occasional komucha, eat Bubbies pickles, sauerkraut, etc.

                                                                                                                                  I've also gone back to eating some *gasp* conventional desserts with limits of course. But these are quality $$$ kind so that keeps me to a minimum.

                                                                                                                                  I've resolved to endure a little bit of stiff joints and muscles (due to inflammation from the banned foods) in order to enjoy the love of eating. Prior to this I was in constant deeper pain, fogginess, and a lot of thyroid-ridden symptoms.

                                                                                                                                  Through the year and a half that I've been doing paleo I have learned a LOT! - from nutritional value to food myths to the politics of food. Knowledge is so important in knowing where your food comes from and, for me, this had made the biggest impact on how I eat. To follow a diet restrictively is so confining and unenjoyable.

                                                                                                                                  What I like about paleo is they recommend you tailor your eating habits for you and to recognize the baddies (vegetable oils, mass meat factories, junk food), etc. And the info is filled with vaidated science literature Yes, that can be said for raw, vegan and vegetarian but my health begs to differ when I tried those diets.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: maxmillan

                                                                                                                                    Maxmillan, if you have the time, could you please post something about how the paleo or paleo-ish diet affected your thyroid-related symptoms? And what sort of paleo program did you end up following? Thanks a lot, ninrn