Going Paleo? Here’s What You Need to Know.

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“Alright, I’m in. Let’s do this Paleo thing.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the Paleo Diet. Actually, if you’re living under a rock, you probably are doing a pretty good job at living a Paleo lifestyle… and I’m impressed you’re reading this.

If you have no idea what the Paleo diet is, you’re about to be a tad bit overwhelmed. This article is for those people who have already decided they want to go Paleo or Paleo-ish, but aren’t quite sure  how to officially get started.

So, Is there a Wrong Way to Go Paleo?

“But the big point of the Paleo Diet is that I can eat as much as I want as long as it’s Paleo right?”

For many people, the reason they’re choosing to go Paleo is because they want to lose weight, and have heard plenty of success stories. Heck, many of these success stories are from people who have done the same thing.

However, just as there’s a right way and a wrong way to start eating gluten free, and a right way and a wrong way to love somebody (thanks Keith Sweat!), there’s a right way and a wrong way to go Paleo.

The right way:  Focus on eating real foods (not processed crap), like protein, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables.

The wrong way: Switching from normal cookies and pancakes to Paleo cookies and pancakes. Eating as much fruit, potatoes, and dark chocolate as possible.

When you’re getting ready to transition to a Paleo Diet, the point is not to find Paleo substitutes of all of your favorite unhealthy foods – but rather to fundamentally adjust how you think about food and how you fuel your body.

Should I go all in, or gradually transition?

Great question. Here are two common tactics:

THE “WADE IN” METHOD: Instead of going 100% Paleo, you decide to SLOWLY transition to the diet over weeks or months. You swap out a food here and there, eliminate one type of food after weaning yourself off of it for months, and you make adjustments along the way.

PROS: Your change is gradual, and it’s less of a hit on your wallet. Instead of throwing out ALL of your food and going to buy all Paleo items, you simply stop eating certain foods as you run out of them, replacing them with Paleo items.

Your body has to deal with less of a drastic shock, which means you’re less likely to run out of willpower during your transition. You’re slowly transitioning, pushing your body and tastebuds just slightly outside of the comfort zone.

CONS: When you slowly transition to a Paleo Diet, the “oh my god I feel amazing!” change that many people feel is a lot less pronounced. Because you’re not making drastic changes, your results will be, surprise, more gradual and less drastic!

THE “ALL IN CANNONBALL!” METHOD: If the above method is you wading slowly into the deep end of the Paleo Pool, this is you pulling a Ron Burgundy CANNONBALL! and going all in with 100% Paleo on Day 1. You get rid of all non-Paleo foods, you stop eating dairy and grains, and you “rip the band-aid” off fast.

PROS: You get all of the changes over with immediately, and all of the ‘uncomfortableness’ with transition is all done much quicker. It sucks for many, but it’s over with faster. You also don’t have to worry about deciding which foods to swap out next.

Also, because you’re going full Paleo, you’re more likely to have a drastic weight loss story in the first few weeks, which can be really encouraging and positively reinforcing, making it easier to stay on target.

CONS: Because “carb-flu” is a real thing, it requires a TREMENDOUS amount of willpower. It’s very easy to slip up when you go all in, because it’s a drastic shock to your system and body. This is especially true if you normally fuel your body with grains and carbs and are used to eating a LOT of them.

Seriously, those first few weeks can seriously suck, which can be enough to cause people to have a bad day and run to their nearest Pizza Hut.

Things To Remember:

Make sure you are eating enough! If you just cut out carbs but don’t increase your vegetable/fat/protein intake, you could simply not be eating enough. Add more avocado/nuts/coconut oil/protein to your meals and see if that helps. We suggest tracking your food intake for a few days while you make this transition.

Consider adding in SOME carbs. If you are truly struggling with a very low carb diet, consider upping your carb intake by eating sweet potatoes or fruit and see if that helps. Paleo is NOT a ketogenic diet, and it shouldn’t be. It’s a lower carb than normal, but not to the extent that keto is.

Cheat meals can be rough! Depending on how intolerant your body is to gluten and/or dairy…don’t be surprised if that “cheat meal” of pizza and ice cream one day wreaks absolute havoc on your stomach and causes you to spend the next day curled up in a ball. You’ve been warned.

Your tastebuds can and will change. For those of you that think you’d never give up [bad food] or can’t live without [blah blah blah] – that’s fine. Feel free to eat those things occasionally – life is too short. However, don’t be surprised when after a few months of healthy living, those same ‘comfort foods’ start to look gross.

Never say never, and don’t assume you’re going to struggle with giving up certain foods. Get started and see how your body reacts, taking changes as they come.