5 ways to make paleo work for weight loss
No one way of eating is best for everyone – or even for one person for all times. Your optimal diet is individual...and always changing. That's why, in working with clients, I take a holistic, personalized approach. And yet...
Joining the ancient wisdom of Chinese Medicine with evidence-based paleo-primal principles offers a powerful starting point.
This means eating real, whole food while taking special consideration of individual health and wellness needs. For instance, your Alchemist Eating plan may be focused on:
- Alleviating specific ailments, whether acute or chronic
- Supporting bodyweight & composition goals
- Promoting healthy digestion & metabolism
- Promoting healthy immune & endocrine function
- Boosting overall energy & vitality
- Sustaining whole-system balance & wellness
"Fine. But I just want to lose weight."
Okay, okay. I get it:). So today, as a source of support for successful implementation, here you go...
5 Ways to Make Paleo Work for Weight Loss
1 Focus on abundance & lifestyle – NOT deprivation & diet.
When it comes to eating healthy, this is the true key to sustained success. Rather than lament what’s missing, focus on all the delicious food you can eat.
I'm talking an abundance of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, veggies and fats (organic butter and coconut oil top the list). I'm also talking moderate quantities of fruits, nuts and seeds. The more you embrace the deliciousness of this stuff, the less you’ll miss the packaged, processed, nutrient-poor, sugar-laden stuff that no longer serves you.
Sure, the first while will be an adjustment for body and mind. But over time, as body and mind shift, tastes and cravings will too.
Soon, a juicy grass-fed burger served atop fresh greens alongside baked yam fries and a bowl of fennel-apple soup will look and feel far more appealing than a meal starring bread, sugar or pasta.
Eating paleo will become something you want to do – not “only” because it supports weight loss, digestive health and whole-system wellness, but because it tastes fantastic! (Oh, and guess what? You can be paleo-primal and vegetarian too – but that deserves a post of its own!)
2 Eat plenty of protein, fat & veggies
(and take it easy on the fruit).
When it comes to body-mind wellness (as well as losing and maintaining weight), getting sufficient protein and fat is crucial.
You read that correctly. To function optimally and maintain healthy bodyweight, you need plenty of protein and fat.
Low-fat, low-protein, high-sugar, high-carb diets promote hormonal dis-regulation, fat storage and weight gain.
Healthy fats and high-quality animal proteins do the opposite. They help restore metabolic regulation and support maintenance of a lower bodyweight set-point.
In addition to being highly nutritious for body and mind, fats and animal proteins release energy into the bloodstream in a slow, sustained way. This promotes lasting satiety and staves off crashes and cravings. In other words, you’ll feel full and your systems will be operating at optimal capacity.
In contrast, sugar – even in the form of fruit – is released into the bloodstream quickly. Instead of supporting sustained satiety and energy, it feeds the sensation of needing to continually “refuel” with more (sugary, carb-y) food.
Not only is such food nutrient poor, it contributes to inflammation and is easily stored as fat. (Grains are long-chain sugars and act pretty much the same way – but since you’re giving up grains on your paleo plan, they’re no longer an issue, right?:)
3 Embrace the “spirit of paleo”...NOT the “fad of paleo.”
Paleo-primal eating principles are trending these days. For the most part, this is awesome. It means more and more people are ditching misguided conventional “wisdom” about food and diet.
No longer duped by the myth that eggs, meat and fat are “bad” for our bodies and waistlines, enlightened eaters are gravitating toward real, nutrient-rich food. Filled up on grass-fed steak, wild salmon, pasture-raised eggs and a rainbow of veggies, they’re forgoing packaged, processed food-like substances and steering clear of sugary treats.
Er, at least most of the time.
Unfortunately, as the “fad of paleo” takes hold, the “spirit of paleo” is sometimes forgotten.
The “spirit of paleo” is all about eating real, whole, unprocessed food. It’s about nourishing your body with lots of plants, healthy fats and high-quality animal proteins. Meanwhile, the “paleo fad” has a new rash of “gluten-free” labels showing up each day (often slapped on all manner of processed, packaged crap).
Don’t get me wrong. Paleo baked goods are delicious! Just stick to the homemade stuff, and make it a Friday-night treat – not a daily staple. Otherwise, you’re at high risk for derailing weight and wellness goals.
4 picture the after shot.
Think about how you’ll feel (and look) after eating clean. Instead of getting caught up in “can’ts” and “shouldn’ts,” give your self-negotiation strategy a positive spin.
Picture yourself one day after, one week after, one year after eating this way.
Yeah your “after shot” will likely look slimmer and more toned. But I'm also talking changes on the inside – and how you’ll feel.
Think less fatigue, insomnia, stress, moodiness, indigestion, heartburn, water retention, nasal congestion, skin flareups, aches and pains. Think more physical strength, sustained energy, mental focus, sound sleep, and protection against injury and disease.
Oh, and if your “before shot” was the mugshot for less-than-ideal lab numbers or western disease labels (high blood sugar and diabetes, for instance), those will likely shift too.
5 take time to figure out your optimal version of paleo-primal.
As I said at the start of this post, there's no one best diet for all people (or even a particular person for all times). The optimal way of eating is individual, responsive and relational. This principle is rooted in Chinese Medicine and aligns with modern science.
Figuring out your best diet is a process requiring self-exploration and experimentation. This means engaging in continuous, curious, mindful investigation.
You don’t have to go it alone, however. A growing community of real-food experts and medical professionals can help guide this process (and support implementation of the above success tips).
That's the sort of support I offer, when working with clients one-on-one. Meanwhile, give the above tips a go...and please share your experiences in the comments!