WTF Is Paleo

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WTF Is Paleo

Paleo is quite the buzzword, but if no one’s explained it to you before, you’re probably left thinking “WTF is Paleo?!”  Josh lays it out pretty clearly for us, don’t worry!


Have you ever had any mystery illnesses, or just kind of felt “not as great” as you used to feel? Then let me introduce you to the Paleo diet. It might just work for you!

Over the years, my wife and I have had a number of health issues. After trying different approaches to food and experiencing little success, we gave the Paleo diet a try… and we’ve been elated by the results.

Cloudy-headedness? Gone. General crankiness? Gone.

All from going Paleo. So, what is the Paleo diet? I’m glad you asked!

What is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet… Well, let me stop us right here. The Paleo diet is sort of a misnomer, because it’s not really a diet, it’s a food plan.

I make that distinction because, to me, a diet is a food regimen that someone engages in to lose weight, usually over a short period of time.

A food plan, on the other hand, is a long-term strategy for eating foods that are healthy for someone to eat throughout their entire life. You might lose weight on the food plan, but that’s not its sole purpose.

So, with that cleared up, let’s talk about what Paleo is.

Paleo, short for Paleolithic diet, is a food plan that is based on the idea that natural food is better than super-processed-not-real-food food. Some people call the Paleo diet the “caveman diet,” because a simple way to explain the diet is to tell people that you basically eat what the cavemen would have eaten.

That’s the basic idea. But let’s go further in depth about what exactly someone eats on the Paleo diet.

Meat, vegetables, and fruits and the building blocks of the Paleo diet.

No bread? No bread.

If you’ve been in a grocery store or a restaurant some time during the last couple of years, you’ve probably noticed an explosion of wheat-free and gluten-free stuff.

That’s because there is a ton of scientific-stuff coming out revealing that wheat and gluten sensitivities are a lot more common than anyone would have ever thought. Chris Kresser, one of the big names in the Paleo world, talks about gluten intolerances in his article 50 Shades of Gluten (Intolerances).

Beyond how common gluten intolerance is, Paleo also removes grains, dairy, and sugar from the diet. This is based on scientific studies (and for us, personal experience) that humans simply cannot process corn, rice, milk, cheese, and pure sugar as well as we think we do.

These non-Paleo foods force your body to work extra-hard to digest them, leading to problems with inflammation, heart disease, and others.

That’s the general idea of what it’s like to eat Paleo.

What’s it like to be Paleo?

When someone first becomes Paleo, it can be surprising to learn that just about everything that you pull from the shelf in a traditional grocery store contains either gluten, high fructose corn syrup, or corn.

Even the gluten free stuff? Totally! When the company takes the gluten out of a product, they have to replace it with something.

Guess what they usually replace it with. Corn.

So even if something is gluten free, it’s not typically Paleo. Even some of the stuff that is labeled as Paleo isn’t.

So being Paleo requires that you spend a lot more time reading labels.

But once you get past that, find some great foods and dive in, you’ll probably soon start to notice that you have more energy.

You are better fueled because you are eating stuff that gives you energy, rather than consuming junk that gives you the jitters, making you think that you are energized, then it ends up leaving you exhausted.

And things continue that way for a few weeks. The next big Paleo-milestone is when you get the Paleo flu.

The Paleo flu can last anywhere from a few hours, to a few days, to a little more than a week when you feel like you have the flu.

You’re out-of-it and you have a stuffy nose. This is your body adjusting to your new diet. After you make it through the Paleo flu, the symptoms lift, and then a lot of people describe feeling fantastic.

For me, the symptoms just stopped. I didn’t feel crazy-good, but it was nice that I didn’t have to blow my nose constantly.

After adjusting to the Paleo lifestyle, if you eat something that’s not-Paleo, it’s really noticeable.

It’s typical to feel cranky, cruddy, exhausted, and sick. These symptoms don’t feel good, but it’s kind of nice to know that your body has adjusted to living on real food, and that junk food literally makes you sick.

Have you heard of the Paleo diet? What do you think?


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  1. says

    Paleo is awesome, as long as you’re not a vegan/vegetarian! The reason for this, is that real foods do not inflame the villii in your stomach lining, which leads to all sorts of inflammatory conditions. These inflammatory conditions are not just things in your gut like IBD or cramps, but eczema, asthma, arthritis, even mental problems and ADD/ADHD, as well as ASD can be controlled by removing crap processed crap from your diet.

    I successfully cured my dad of gout by putting him on a diet very similar to the paleo diet.

    You should check out the GAPS diet too, it was created by a Dr (a proper MD, not some quack, who also has postgrad degrees in nutrition and psychiatry on top of her MD) who cured her son of autism through putting him on a real diet, gradually incorporating foods over a two-year period.

    Best Wishes,

    M recently posted…Emotions and MoneyMy Profile

  2. says

    I’ve heard about Paleo diet since a while ago, and even though it sounds great, I don’t think I’d want to try to do it. I like diversity with my food, and to eat some unhealthy foods once in a while. The key is to watch what you eat and make sure you get the right nutritional balance and always consume in moderation.
    Poor Student recently posted…Building a Buzz into Your BudgetMy Profile

  3. says

    I have not tried it but I can say that I did feel a lot better when I cut out carbs and sugar and limited dairy. I fell off the wagon but trying to get back to it. When I went low-carb I did not crave bread, sweets etc. Once I started eating them again the craving are crazy.
    May recently posted…Financial SchadenfreudeMy Profile

  4. says

    While I am all ‘for’ eating healthy, reading labels, eliminating high fructose corn syrup out of my foods, I often smirk at people resorting back to the caveman diet. How long did the caveman live? He/she had the lifespan of approx twenty years. Not a good thing in my health book.
    I lean more towards the Mediterranean Diet. These people currently live well into their 90’s and above. I like that much better. Plus, they have been eating pasta, cheese, dairy for centuries and are quite slim.
    You can not ignore science and all the benefits scientists have put into our foods. For instance, for decades seamen had died from eating bread (hard tack) as it didn’t sustain them over long voyages. When it was discovered that the simple addition of niacin into flour products cured scurvy and other ailments (thus eliminating the deaths of many sailors), science is to be praised not bashed. Our foods today have never been safer. But if you want to stuff a twinkie or ho-ho down your gut, that’s your fault and NOT the fault of anything else.
    Cindi recently posted…Burnt out? You Don’t Need A Vacation. You Need This.My Profile

  5. says

    Wow, Josh. Your article is really compelling. I’m tempted to try it. Problem is I love bread/pasta, milk, cheese and I have a sweet tooth. I do love vegetables, fruits so-so and meat not so much. I think I need to gear myself up but may consider doing a trial. I don’t feel bad, as a rule but if I will feel so much better, then why not?
    debt debs recently posted…Misplaced FaithMy Profile

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