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Paleo Diet Basics

Updated on February 19, 2013

Some basics of the often misunderstood diet.

Back in July of this year, I started a journey. One of discovery both about myself and what I knew about food and how it affects my body and weight. For years I thought I needed tons of carbs to fuel my weightlifting and endurace workouts. And for years these carbs in the form of pasta, noodles and white rice did indeed work for me. I felt OK and also never really had a problem with gaining additional fat.

I've always had a fast metabolism. Keep fat off my frame was fairly effortless. All I needed to do to rid my mid-section of stubborn belly fat was to increase the length and frequency of my workout routine and voila! Gone. That all changed when I hit my fourties.

Since about 2010, Belly fat started to creep up on my frame. In inperceptable increments I'd slowly gain a pound here and a pound there until one day, my normal weight of 168 blossemed to 195. Nothing in my workouts changed so what happened? I started reading anything I could find about metabolism and weight gain. I knew fad diets wouldn't work and I had to try something different.

After about three months of research, I stumbled upon a series of articles written by Mark Sission on his website. His angle was that for millions of years of evolution, humans were living the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers. Almost all of our caloric intake was from a combination of animal meat, tuber root vegetables, nuts/seeds and a small amount of fruit when in season. And our digestive systems evolved to handle that combination of nutrients.

Through the study of Paleolithic archaeology, that diet appears to have had no effect on the health of those early humans. In fact scientists could not find any signs of disease death from diet related causes. Sure many of the subjects showed an early death from trauma or infectious diseases but in the bones of the aged, no signs indicated any food related diseases such as osteoporosis or malnutrition.

And it got me to thinking that for millions of years mankind ate animal fat. In fact for that long of a time he mostly ate just that, so why do we not have any record of heart attack, stroke or obesity in the remains that archaeologists found nor in any of today's small tribes of hunter-gatheres?

According to another author, William Davis of the popular book Wheat Belly, mankind started to domesticate and farm wheat, rye, barley and other crops about 10,000 years ago. And slowly over time our diets transformed from one consisting of mostly animal fat and vegetables to a higher complex carbohydrate diet filled with breads and pastas as a foundation.

This change in the make-up of our diet, according to William Davis, led most of mankind down a road of dietary collapse. For millennia we ate foods that today are "scientifically" proven to cause heart disease and stroke as well as a host of other ailments. And William Davis asks the question; If that's the case why don't we see any evidence in modern hunter-gatherer societies of these diseases? Heck, epidemics like morbid obesity, heart attack, stroke have exploded right along with the increase in the consumption of wheat and grain products. Is there a connection? Mr. Davis thinks so and his book offers compelling evidence.

So armed with a new paradigm, I started on my journey. I simply quit consuming bread, pasta and anything that contained wheat. Just that.

I changed my thinking in relation to what was unhealthy or bad for me. I started consuming more meat, eggs and vegetables. My carbs started coming from tubers such and sweet potatoes and veggies like brussel sprouts, broccoli and the like.

The fat literally melted off!

I started to see the changes very quickly. At first I had what felt like a hangover from my body adapting to the reduction in carbs but a few days later I started feeling what I can only describe as fresh and clean.

Now I still occasionally eat bread but it's not every single day now and my workouts are so much more productive. I seem to recover quicker and I feel that my immune system is stronger because I haven't had a cold or been sick in months.

This change in diet has worked well for me and If you take the time to read more about this diet I'm sure you will find that this way of eating just may be what you are looking for.

Good luck in your journey. More information about the Paleo diet can be found in the links below.


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    • profile image

      Jesus Dixon 6 years ago

      Thanks for the tips shared on your own blog. Another thing I would like to express is that losing weight is not supposed to be about going on a fad diet and trying to reduce as much weight as you're able in a few days. The most effective way to lose weight naturally is by taking it gradually and obeying some basic points which can assist you to make the most out of your attempt to shed weight. You may realize and be following some of these tips, but reinforcing awareness never damages.

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    • John J Gulley profile image

      John J Gulley 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      @jennifer. Thanks for the kind words. I too haven't been able to go "all in". During the week I live away from home and my discipline is much better when I'm making my own meals but at home, it's easier to go ahead and snack on corn chips or popcorn. I still stay away from wheat but it's that darn corn that trips me up.

    • Jennifer Essary profile image

      Jennifer Essary 6 years ago from Idaho

      Everything in The Paleo Diet book made perfect sense to me. We should be eating as if modern technology didn't exist. I tried it for a few weeks about a decade ago. I felt great and had the energy of a 4 year old but I couldn't stay full. I was eating 6+ times a day like we're supposed to but all I wanted to do was eat. They guys at work asked me if I could sleep all night without having to get up to eat. There were a few nights I had to get up to eat. So, now I'd say I lean towards the Paleo Diet, but I can't go all in. Great Hub! Voted Up!

    • Melanie Gladney profile image

      Melanie Gladney 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Wheat, in and of itself, causes so many sensitivies and allergic responses in people (because it's in almost everything), I wonder if some of the weight loss was your body finally detoxing from this potent systemic irritant. You no doubt lost water weight which is the body's protective response to an allergen, and then real fat as your system detoxed. Regardless, good for you for going Paleo! It's my fave diet, too. :-)

    • John J Gulley profile image

      John J Gulley 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      @ThinBen. I'm sure with the increased caloric intake you could very well gain more mass however as I'm not a certified dietitian I would urge you to look through Robb Wolfs blog, On there he has a podcast archive and as I remember, that very question came up in one of his episodes.

    • ThinBen profile image

      ThinBen 6 years ago from texas

      Could I use the Paleo diet to gain weight? I have been working out lifting a little more weight and want to put on muscle the right way. Would this be helpful?

    • John J Gulley profile image

      John J Gulley 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Yeah it's funny how the metabolism just slows to a crawl at the same point in many peoples lives.

    • Kim Cantrell profile image

      Kim Cantrell 6 years ago from Deep In The Pages of a Book

      Great hub! I find the closer I get to 40, the more the "bad stuff" hangs around my waistline. So thanks so much for sharing this. I think I'm going to try it!

    • John J Gulley profile image

      John J Gulley 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks for the positive comments. I hope to continue writing useful content that can improve peoples lives.

    • GClark profile image

      GClark 6 years ago from United States

      Interesting and useful hub with advice backed up with evidence that certainly has me thinking about trying this very simple change in eating. Voted Up. Thanks for sharing. GClark