Whether you’re new to the paleo diet or have been on it for quite a few years, there’s no excuse for running out of ideas when it comes to eating healthy and going paleo all the way.
Almost every day there is a new article or study confirming that the paleo lifestyle is one of optimum health. Dr. Loren Cordain, the leading paleo diet researcher and author of The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat, has said “clinical trials have shown that the Paleo Diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, reduce acne, promote optimum health and athletic performance.”
The paleo diet revolution has developed against the backdrop of increased public awareness about rising insurance costs and preventative health care. People are increasingly taking their health into their own hands, and converting to the paleo lifestyle is just one way. As the population gets healthier, global medical costs should decrease, and insurance rates will go down (in theory).
In the meantime though, it’s still important to have good insurance. Quality insurance companies, such as Aetna and Blue Cross in the U.S., or Aviva insurance in Europe, actually provide a range of services and professionals who will consult with you on preventative health steps you can take in addition to changing your diet.
It all starts with diet though. So let’s focus on that. Sometimes we overlook how easy it is to find quality paleo snacks that are easily storable and can be grabbed at a moment’s notice. Just remember to stay away from dairy products, processed meat and sugars, grains, legumes and starches. Replace these with healthy fats from meat, fish, nuts and seeds. This in return can make you feel more energetic and strong and help you achieve an overall lean physique.
Some paleo snack ideas:
1. Beef jerky
2. Trail mix
3. Tin of tuna or salmon
4. Fruit cups
5. Hard boiled eggs
6. An avocado
7. Paleo bars, such as NoGii Paleo Bars
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Editor’s Note: Lisa Scotto, founder of Nutcase Crunch, will be posting monthly on Paleo Diet Blog.
The following list is are good rules of thumb to follow when transitioning to the paleo diet.
- Overeating fruit- guess what fruit has sugar, yes natural sugar, but still sugar…berries are best but do not over due it
- Ditch even just a little sweetener in your coffee….it is difficult to do at the onset, but after a few cups without it, you get used to it
- When the office orders bagels/pizza-do not succumb, be prepared with something else to eat
- Ditch using (too much) salt-try other spices instead
- Ditch cheating once a day-it adds up-stick to once a week
- Ditch everything but water/seltzer (with no sodium) it is a “sparkling” alternative
- Take the stairs (this is just a good tip, no matter what diet you follow!)
- Try to have something green at every meal
- Instead of pasta, use spaghetti squash as a base for paleo sauces
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Maintaining a proper diet will do wonders for your health, but combine that with physical activity and you will amplify the effects. One key to staying active is trying new things. This week I attended my first yoga class. Admittedly, part of the reason I went was because I had someone to go with. My cousin and his fiance started going last week, and he told me how awesome it was. Perhaps I was just apprehensive about being the only guy in a room full of girls and looking like an idiot; but having a buddy to go with got me motivated.
This particular class was called Yin Yoga, ”a slow-paced style of yoga with postures or asanas that are held for comparatively long periods of time.” Despite the yoga itself being extremely painful and difficult (but still really fun!), I was pleasantly surprised to find that the yoga studio was a very inviting place. Not only was the teacher fantastic, but the 15 or so other people in the class didn’t give off a single hint of the pretentiousness that is sometimes pervasive at gyms. Everyone was there to focus on themselves, and didn’t care about what anyone else was doing, or how they looked doing it.
As an added bonus, at just $10 a class, yoga is relatively cheap compared to many other fitness classes. I enjoyed the class so much, when I got home afterwords I immediately ordered a mat from Amazon. With classes offered throughout the day, and the studio less than a 15 minute walk from my apartment, I’m really excited that I’ve found a new activity.
What new activity have you found recently?
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My journey started about eight years ago. My grandmother was ill and I was called by mother to get home quickly. At the time I was living in Orlando, home was NYC. I booked the next flight out and got myself home. My grandmother had diabetes, needed a kidney transplant and was not doing well. Although she was older, her only granddaughter was not really the epitome of health either. But at the time, I was not thinking about myself. While home helping my family for a month, I had an epiphany, which was aided by a tough conversation with my father. He pulled me aside amidst my grandmother’s illness to share his concern for my health. The irony was palpable. It was like foreshadowing. Although he did not say it, I knew where he was going…unfortunately my genes are not in my favor. Just a glance at certain foods had always increased my weight and coupled with a lack of exercise, basically I was looking “death” in the face. Sound extreme? Maybe, but it’s true. I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure at age 27 and I was not obese, but I was definitely on my way there. On my flight back to Orlando, I had a couple of hours to think and think and write a list. First up- join a gym.
I knew I had to reverse or counteract my genetics. I mean it would be great if I could eat whatever I wanted and didn’t gain weight, but that was not my body composition (sidebar: just because you are skinny DOES not mean you are healthy). I started off joining Gold’s Gym and doing a ton of cardio…cardio…cardio. I was a regular on the elliptical and in the Latin cardio classes…the initial 15 lbs. came off quickly and I felt great! During this initial transformation I also decided I wanted to be closer to my family, so I started a job search back in the Northeast. The exercise gave me the confidence to begin a job search. About seven months into my search I was offered a position to stay with my company and work from home in the NYC area. It was a perfect scenario. What I did not know at the time was how it would change my life in so many ways.
I moved to a small lively town in New Jersey called Hoboken, which boasts about 30,000 young people in a square mile. This was a far cry from the bedroom town of Orlando. The first three months, I was walking more than Idid in the nine years in Florida; I was continuing to lose weight without a gym- it is amazing what walking can accomplish! After about three months, I found a beautiful gym to get my workouts in. I continued to focus on exercise (without paying much attention to my diet). I mean, I was working-out so I could eat whatever I wanted, right? In addition to working out I made a bold move- I decided to join a ski club. I had skied once before in college, but decided that it would be a great place to meet friends and maybe even…a boyfriend. Also, due to my workouts I had the confidence to try something that was foreign tome. Again, this decision significantly changed my life.
While in the ski club I came into contact with a number of fit, healthy people, one of whom challenged me to a triathlon. She assured me I was capable, even though I didn’t believe it. She encouraged me to sign up for a sprint tri for that September; we had about three months to train. I was able to convince another friend (a marathoner) to join us. We trained together (which totally made a difference and was so motivating). You know you are not going to dis your friend at 6 am while she is waiting at the corner. My first tri left me with such a sense of accomplishment. A friend said, “Most people never train and complete a marathon, even fewer complete a triathlon”. While this is true, I firmly believe if I could complete a tri, anyone can.
With one sprint tri under my belt I was hooked. I went on to complete three other tris over the course of two years, one in Harriman, NY, one in Malibu, CA (it was breathtaking) which happened to have both J Lo and Matthew McConaughey as participants and one in Miami. I had found a “sport” that I really enjoyed and helped me continue my quest for health. I had lost a significant amount of weight since my time in Orlando, but knew I had not reached my potential.
Soon after my fourth triathlon, a friend through the ski club invited me to participate in a CrossFit class in Hoboken. I admit I went to the class with a bit of a chip on my shoulder- I mean I had just finished a tri and was super fit, right? Well the class kicked my ass. I could not do any of the exercises, I was in so much pain that night I kept waking myself up every time I moved my arms.I could not believe it, how could this be? I was a triathlete, but I couldn’t do a pull-up, had to scale my
push-ups by trying them on my knees and had trouble with squats. WTF? I went back to the gym with cash and signed up!
While I was training at CrossFit- where we do things like dead lifts, burpees, and cleans, I learned an invaluable lesson- you cannot out train a bad diet. What does this mean you might ask? You cannot eat bread and pasta and sugar and expect to 1) get more fit and 2) see a major difference in your muscle tone. I was doing CrossFit for about two months when someone made a comment about my arm muscles. BTW- even after three tris- no one mentioned my arm muscles.
CrossFitters tend to follow two nutritional theories- Paleo or Zone. I leaned more towards the Paleo diet, which preaches limiting your sugar and processed food intake to a minimum, if at all. Meats, veggies, nuts and berries are accepted food types. Sugar, pasta, bread,cereal, rice and corn are not acceptable forms of fuel. Now I am Italian, which means every single one of my meals is surrounded some sort of carbohydrates. We had pasta more than once a week, we had
bread with every meal, and carbs were our friends. At first I could not get on the Paleo bandwagon for so many reasons- but mostly because what if it actually worked? What if I would never again enjoy a good meatball sub, fresh mozzarella or Penne A La Vodka? But then I remembered my frail grandmother who recovered from a few years ago, but still takes an innumerable amount of drugs,has to check her blood sugar and continues to have health issues. What if she stopped eating processed
foods when she was in her thirties, would she be in such pain now? Would she have a better quality of life? The questions were enough to push me to try Paleo.
The good news, it does work and works quickly. The bad news is you will never look at processed carbs inthe same light. You always have to “think” about your meals- grabbing a sandwich or making a frozen dinner is not an option. Thinking about the week’s menu and making a salad is what you are forced to do. A quick bowl of cereal for breakfast, toast, a bagel—-none of it applies (plus I didn’t feel full after eating this anyway). Eggs and greens will be on your breakfast menu from now on. I went strict
paleo for just over a year, when my life took another amazing turn. In the wee hours of a post-morning workout, I decided there had to be an easier way for me to eat a healthy breakfast.
Necessity is the mother of invention. I needed a quick breakfast substitute to cereal, more than anything to shave 15 minutes from my already rushed morning routine. From this, Nutcase Crunch was born. It is a way for those who are Paleo, gluten free and diabetic to be able to enjoy the ease of eating cereal without the sugar, carbs and poisons. Nutcase Crunch packs a nutritional punch and offers a healthy, quick option.
What have I learned on this lengthy journey? That my fitness goals are evolving, that my diet is very important to achieving my health and fitness goals and that no matter what, you have to continue to think about health as a journey, not a destination. I will continue to seek out efficient ways to be healthy while not compromising on taste, and look forward to inspiring others to try this lifestyle. As a Crossfitter and cereal lover (who doesn’t love all that sugar?) The two could not coexist.
Trying to adhere to the Paleo diet forced me to choose between health and simplicity. Cereal is efficient; it gets you fed in moments. I work-out in the morning and being able to shave 15 minutes off my morning routine (for extra sleep) is well worth it. The need arose for a quick breakfast substitute to cereal: Nutcase Crunch was born. Ingredients: Almonds, pecans, pine nuts, unsweetened coconut. Serve with fresh berries and almond milk. Enjoy.
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I just saw this deal on Amazon.com and thought I would pass it along. If you are an Amazon Prime member (which is totally worth it if you order from Amazon on a regular basis), you can get a free copy of Paleo Cookbook. 17 Day Diet. Paleo Diet Cookbook Recipes. Full Menus, for a 17 day diet Cycle.
I don’t know how long this deal will last, and I have not had a chance to look through the book or make any of the recipes in it yet; but I figured I’d pass it on as soon as possible in case it goes away.
Did you download the book? Have you made any recipes from it? Leave a comment if you have!
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This past weekend I was fortunate enough to try a sample of Nutcase Crunch Cereal. The paleo cereal is the brain-child of paleoista and crossfitter Lisa Scotto. In a quest to find paleo-friendly cereal, Lisa took matters into her own hands and developed Nutcase Crunch. The ingredient list is pleasantly simple, consisting of only four ingredients: almonds, pecans, pine nuts, and unsweetened coconut. With a base of nuts and coconut, Nutcase Crunch is indeed paleo-friendly, and gluten free.
Nutcase Crunch Cereal comes in a simple, but elegant package which compliments the simplicity of its ingredients. The brown paper bag has a small window allowing the product to show through, giving off a great “green” vibe, letting you know you are about to eat something healthy. The adorning label is similarly simple, but fitting.
Nutcase Crunch Cereal is made primarily of nuts, and as such has a similar nutritional profile. For each 2.5 tablespoon serving size, Nutcase Crunch hits you with 16g of fat, 6g of carbohydrates, and 5g of protein. All that packed into 170 calories. As with most nuts (and coconut for that matter), you get a lot of health benefits, but you have to watch the calories. These are very calorie-dense foods and it is easy to over do it. That being said, I found Nutcase Crunch Cereal to be very filling, to the point I did something I can’t recall ever doing when I used to eat “normal” cereal: I ate half my bowl, realized I was full, and put the rest in the refrigerator for the next day.
Overall I found the cereal have a very “light” flavor profile, with a hint of almond and the slightest bit of sweetness from the coconut. I actually liked this because I was able to add some flavoring of my own. Specifically, I added a good helping of ground cinnamon and it was phenomenal. Some cold almond milk and a handful of berries, and I was ready to go. One thing that struck me about the taste was how versatile Nutcase Crunch could be in other dishes. Not surprisingly I found a recipe section on the website.
Overall I found Nutcase Crunch Cereal to be a nice addition to the paleo breakfast arsenal. It is simple, efficient, and it provides a nice alternative from meat and eggs. Additionally, I look forward to using it in some recipes for other meals.
Have you tried Nutcase Crunch Cereal? Let me know what you think!
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I did a shop at Costco this weekend and took a few minutes to browse their book section. To my suprise, sitting in plain view were several copies of Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle. I spent about 10 minutes flipping through and I must say it looks to be very well done. Lots of information, bright and beautiful pictures.
I would say that as recently as a year ago, the chance of seeing such a book at Costco would be pretty low. I think this is a great sign of how far the paleo/primal lifestyle has come. It’s increasingly in the mainstream and ultimately that’s a benefit to those who practice it.
What’s your favorite paleo or primal cookbook?
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This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is a tip that can be easy to forget. One of the most common reasons people slip up on the paleo diet – any diet for that matter – is that when the time comes to eat, you find yourself with nothing immediately available that conforms with your eating plan. Maybe you find cooking to be a chore, or you simply are at work with nothing nearby that presents a viable paleo option.
An easy way to address this is to maximize the output of your cooking sessions. If you are using a recipe designed to produce one or two servings, double or triple it so you have plenty of leftovers. There are few things in life easier than putting something already made onto a plate, or into a bowl, and warming it up in the microwave. If you work at an office, chances are there is a refrigerator and microwave there you can use to heat-up your leftovers.
While some people love to cook from scratch for each and every meal, I would say the majority of people simply don’t have the time to do that. A lot of people simply just don’t like cooking. The important lesson here is to maximize the utility of your time. If you are going to spend 20 minutes to an hour creating a great paleo meal, try to get as many meals as possible out of that effort.
When it comes to cooking larger quantities of food, here are a few tools I have found to be indispensable:
- Wolfgang Puck 6-Qt. Electronic Multi-Cooker with Dual Heating Elements
- No Leak Lids Eight Piece Food Storage Vessels Set with Plastic Lids
- EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale
What tips do you have for getting the most out of your cooking sessions?
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Several news sources reported earlier this week that, according to a brain imaging study, scientists “can show for the first time that fructose, a sugar that saturates the American diet, can trigger brain changes that may lead to overeating.” The study found that the body and brain respond differently to fructose consumption compared to glucose consumption. Specifically, researchers found that “after drinking a fructose beverage, the brain doesn’t register the feeling of being full as it does when simple glucose is consumed.”
The study was conducted as follows:
For the study, scientists used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scans to track blood flow in the brain in 20 young, normal-weight people before and after they had drinks containing glucose or fructose in two sessions several weeks apart.
Scans showed that drinking glucose “turns off or suppresses the activity of areas of the brain that are critical for reward and desire for food,” said one study leader, Yale University endocrinologist Dr. Robert Sherwin. With fructose, “we don’t see those changes,” he said. “As a result, the desire to eat continues – it isn’t turned off.”
The take away from the study is simple: eating less refined-sugar should lead to a more stable appetite and thus a more moderate level of calorie consumption. If you are looking for a natural alternative to fructose or sugar in general that is primal/paleo friendly, consider trying stevia extract.
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So 2012 was a great year in many ways, but on the food/diet front, not so much. I started the year weighing in around 220 pounds and generally feeling pretty good. In April, however, I was in a motorcycle crash that resulted in a broken foot. I was off my feet for about three months, and though my eating was not outrageous, it was anything but strictly paleo and I was doing zero physical activity.
In May I started a new job which involves working at night. To say it was and continues to be an adjustment is an understatement. While the crazy hours certainly haven’t done my diet any favors, the most damaging aspect of it has been the total disruption to my sleep cycle. Quality sleep is one of the most vital aspects of losing weight and being healthy in general. While my sleeping improved greatly in the winter months, at best I still only get 5-6 hours a day; and it’s rarely the high-quality, deep REM sleep that is essential.
So with all that said, I am re-committing to get back on the paleo diet track. As I did last year, I woke up this morning after a terrific NYE dinner and weighed myself: 238.4 pounds. Let’s just call it 240. That’s 20 pounds more than where I was one year ago. Not acceptable.
Starting today I will be back to eating paleo and primal for at least the next seven days. Why seven days? Because it is a manageable short-term goal. It is a goal I can build upon.
One thing I’m doing to get back into the swing of things is brushing up on my reading. That includes visits to great websites such as Marks Daily Apple, and ordering some new cookbooks. Specifically, a copy of The Primal Blueprint Cookbook should arrive at my door by the end of the week. I also recently bought some new kitchen accessories including a great Schmidt Brothers knife set, and an Ozeri Pronto digital multifunction kitchen and food scale.
With my new items and a refreshed attitude, I look forward to a great 2013. My goal for the year is to lose roughly 40 pounds. I have a big trip planned for September. I will be going to Asia, including a stop at the beaches in Phuket, Thailand. By then I plan on having a beach-body that I can show off to you and the rest of the world.
What are you doing to get back on track (or stay on track) in 2013?
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