Diet Vs. Lifestyle

November 26, 2011 in Categories: , , , , by

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Diet is quickly becoming a four letter word. People associate the word diet with self-deprivation and extreme discipline. When I use the word “diet”, I mean it strictly in the scientific sense of what foods you eat.  I do not mean calorie restriction or making food choices to achieve weight loss. In fact, many people use paleolithic nutrition in order to achieve weight gain when they are underweight.  So, how would these diet implementations be different?  

If you are using a paleolithic diet with the goal of losing weight, I strongly suggest limiting your intake of sugars, including fruit and paleo treats (like my Almond Coconut Bars, Coconut Macadamia Banana Muffins or Molten Lava Chocolate Cake).  This will help regulate your appetite.  I also suggest eating 2 or 3 distinct meals a day (instead of snacking all day) and making sure that you don’t eat for at least 3 hours before bed.  It is also helpful to manage your stress as best you can (this also includes not doing any exercise that is too strenuous for your body; stick to long brisk walks instead of running, for example) and get as much good quality sleep as you can (aim for 8-9 hours or more every night).  Yes, get all your paleo ducks in a row.

If you are using a paleolithic diet with the goal of weight maintenance or gain, you can eat more of everything:  more fruits, more nuts, more good quality proteins, and more fats.  It is still important to be aware of your omega-3 versus omega-6 fatty acid intake.  Foods that are good sources of omega-3s include: grass-fed meat, wild game, free-range poultry, wild-caught fish, canned salmon, canned sardines, and omega-3 eggs.  Foods that are high in omega-6s include: conventional meats, nuts, seeds, and many vegetable oils (most of which we avoid anyway). I should also mention here that we now know that saturated fat does NOT cause heart disease (the original research from the 1970’s was flawed—it turns out the real culprit is too many carbohydrates!).  Do not worry about your intake of saturated fats.  In fact, the short and medium chain saturated fats found in avocado and coconut are EXTREMELY beneficial to your health.  Because excess carbohydrate intake is now being linked to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer, I do suggest still limiting your total carbohydrate intake, although perhaps not as drastically as for those who want to lose weight.

Regardless of your specific weight and fitness goals, paleolithic nutrition will help optimize your health.  A paleolithic lifestyle goes beyond the short-term goals of looking great in a bathing suit.  Now, we get to think about longevity and improving our health for the long-term.


Thank you so much for this blog. Since I discovered it a couple of weeks ago, it has been my anchor. I have been trying to make the transition to paleo for a couple of months. Although I have managed clean eating for up to two weeks at a time, I keep floundering. Ironically, I think that what isn’t helping is my having subscribed to a “paleo challenge” run by my local CrossFit box. The challenge is conceived along the lines of “The Whole30” – strict paleo from cold turkey for 30 days, with measurements before and after.

I understand the rationale for creating a digestive “clean slate” by being strict for 30 days. In my case, unfortunately, I think the notion of a challenge is feeding into a dieting mindset that is part of my weight problem. With each minor breach of the “challenge” I end up falling off the wagon for a week. It is a head thing, and it is especially frustrating because I have indeed experienced the liberating feeling of having no cravings after two weeks of paleo… only to end up inducing those cravings in myself through (self-punishing, I suppose) bad behaviour.

I have huge respect and admiration for your journey. As I keep re-reading various parts of your blog, different things stand out to me. Lately it is your descriptions of your paleo lifestyle as “constant work in progress” – overall progress despite (or also thanks to tolerance of?) imperfect behaviour along the way…

I feel I have many good reasons to turn paleo. I am about 25 kg overweight with no other obvious health problems, although I did have my cortisol tested last autumn and was told I had adrenal fatigue (I have a 15-year history of poorly managed stress). There are autoimmune issues in my immediate family – husband recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism, son with asthma. I first came across what I consider to be a version of paleo (the specific carbohydrate diet, or SCD) five years ago, in connection with my daughter’s dyspraxia… we didn’t see the broader relevance at the time, but now I definitely do.

So, lots of good reasons to do it… perhaps a “challenge” is not the best way in, however, or at least not for those who, like me, have a weight problem compounded (as is often the case) by dieting mentality. I wonder if you have any views on this – but mainly, I just wanted to thank you.

Thank you SO much Monica! I think the frustration you have with sticking to a super strict 30 day challenge is the same for many people. Some people do really well with that competitive motivation, giving themselves rules they must follow. But some people do better easing into it, focusing on long term and what they need to make this sustainable. I personally think that your ability to eat a paleo diet for the foreseeable future is far more important than whether or not you can stick to some overly strict version of it for 30 days. I am writing a post about the sustainability of paleo that talks about recognizing what kind of person you are as part of figuring out how to make paleo work (and be sustainable over the long haul) for you. Perhaps instead of doing a Whole30, you’re a person who needs to allow yourself a bit of paleo baking or some other kind of flexibility (a glass of wine or a big bowl of fruit or a square of dark chocolate?) and just think about how to eat this way for the rest of your life. Prof. Cordain is a big fan of 1- to 2-times per week “cheat” meals (which I think it okay if you aren’t dealing with health issues). I think the trick is to find what you need to do so that you don’t “fall off the wagon” for a week at a time. And know that many of us struggle with compliance even though we feel great and know that this is a better way to eat (I, for example, just ate some popcorn and now have a horrible stomach ache as a result, popcorn being my greatest weakness and being in a hotel room that provided a free bag of microwave popcorn, grr). 🙂

I started the Paleo lifestyle 7 weeks ago in order to lose the last 60 lbs of my 185 lb goal. So far, i’ve lost a total of 33 lbs just on paleo! I’m simply amazed at the choices I have to choose from as far as foods. I eat 5 times a day (3 meals and two snacks), drink a glass of water before, with, and after every meal, and stop eating at 6:00 pm. Needless to say, I’m sold on the Paleo Lifestyle! Thanks for your informative blog!

Thanks for the
work you do! I’m a holistic health coach and firmly believe in lifestyle choices. I also believe that no one way of eating is right for everyone all of the time. Learning how to listen to your body is crucial in determining what types of food you need. And this can change over the course of one’s lifetime.
I’d love your take on the following blog post. I’m not trying to challenge your information. In fact as I’m working to identify inflammatory foods I’m thinking about the paleo “diet”. But the following post made me a bit curious. Maybe it gets back to what I said above… not every “diet” is right for everyone.
Here’s the bog. Thanks! Claire

Well, it should say something that the post doesn’t induce the citations as how he summarizes is not representative of what the studies actually show. I also want to point out that a Paleo diet is not a meat based diet, as it often gets labelled, but includes a huge variety of vegetables and fruits and most of us eat just as much plant matter if not much more than we eat animal matter. It’s also a growing concept within the Paleo community to eat snout to tail, which provides a healthier balance of amino acids in the diet.

So, what the studies do show is that supplementation with huge amounts of carnitine change the gut microbiota, encouraging growth of species that metabolize carnitine into TMAO which, in the presence of inflammation, promotes atherosclerosis. These studies do not replicate a scenario of eating red meat as part of a varied diet. And it is well understood that eating meat AND vegetables negates potentially toxic effects from metabolism of proteins in meat (for example chlorophyl inhibits the metabolism of heme into carcinogenic byproducts and is why the real risk behind cancer is not high meat consumption but low green vegetable consumption). In the context of heart disease, the inflammation comes for a diet rich in fructose, high in refined carbohydrates, and high in omega6 polyunsaturated fats. And the inflammation is key to the development of anthrosclerotic plaques. To make the deductive leap from the studies of carnitine metabolism and atherosclerosis that red meat is somehow toxic is irresponsible. I think it would be a more appropriate deduction to warn against supplementation with high doses of carnitine and avoiding carnivorous diets when we are omnivores.

Thanks for posting! We always stress to our clients that their nutrition and eating plans are not a diet, but a lifestyle choice! Paleo or anything other nutrition plan is about treating your body to health for a lifetime, not just a short term diet.

I have been sharing our new way of eating with some friends and family, and it seems as though people want a quick explanation.
” so it is a carb free diet, right?”
“No, we eat carbs in the form of fruit, raw honey, vegetables.”
“So, it is a gluten frre diet, right?”
“Not exactly, though we do eat gluten free bread and tortillas if we eat them at all.”
“So its a dairy free diet, right?”
“Actually we eat a little bit of dairy with cheese and occasionally heavy cream”
“So what diet is it?”
I have adopted the term “nutrivore”. I tell people we eat for nutrition. If I don’t know what’s in it and what the ingredients do to my body, and if it is not beneficial than we don’t eat it. I explain that it is not a diet, it is just how we eat from here on out.

My parents have recently decided to give it a try. I somehow lost 10lbs without even thinking about it. (I started paleo to control inflamation & blood sugar). and I hope that more will slide away and then this crazy “nutrivore” thing will make sense to people.

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