The dietary rules of Paleo can be wonderfully summarized in a food pyramid.
Vegetables and Salad:
Vegetables form the centerpiece of the base of the Paleo lifestyle pyramid. We recommend focusing especially on regional and seasonal vegetables here. This is automatically more nutritious because it does not have such a long transport route behind it (after all, it comes from the region) and often cheaper.
The body can also use these vegetables better than vegetables that are flown in from the tropics, for example, because our metabolism adapts to the seasons. Vegetables contain all the nutrients that fruit contains. In fact, we don’t need to eat any fruit at all to cover our nutrients.
These nutrients are also present in greater quantities and vegetables also have less fructose. In addition to important nutrients, vegetables also provide important fiber. Often as much as 7 times as much fiber on a per gram basis as grains. We recommend eating green vegetables every day. Either in raw form as a salad (arugula, lamb’s lettuce, iceberg lettuce, etc.) or heated (kale, pointed cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.).
Vegetables should also be as colorful as possible. The colors of each variety suggest what nutrients are contained in each. So if you eat a colorful diet, you ensure that you get some of all the nutrients. You can eat as many green vegetables as you like. This is often a good trick to use when converting to Paleo if cravings have not yet been conquered.
Animal protein also forms part of the base for us. It is not important to eat animal products every day, however, we recommend eating more of them in the winter (especially fish) than in the summer.
When it comes to animal products, the most important thing is the origin. Organic is a nice pre-selection, but meanwhile unfortunately often not very reliable.
Animals kept in a species-appropriate manner (free-range chickens, pasture-raised beef, game, wild-caught fish) are the best sources here. The foods are then not only more nutritious (vitamin D, K2, omega-3, iron, zinc, B12, etc.), but also have a less inflammatory effect on the body (keyword: omega-6 fat content).
The proteins of animal products keep you full for a long time and can help especially if the main goal is to lose weight. We recommend eating about a fist-sized piece of animal protein with every meal.
Good fats make up the third block of the Paleo lifestyle pyramid. Animal products also always contain good fat if it comes from a good source, as this is where many vitamins are deposited.
It can be bad fat if the animal comes from factory farming, for example, because unfortunately toxins are also deposited in the fat.
Good fats directly provide you with constant energy once you get into the Paleo metabolism. They also improve the taste and increase the bioavailability of many vitamins.
Most of them are especially good for sautéing food. All animal fats (except fish oil) are suitable for sautéing. The liquid oils are generally not suitable for sautéing because they oxidize quickly. The exceptions are olive oil and MCT oil.
Liberally refine your meals with the good fats and also baste them with the fat you used for sautéing. 2-3 tablespoons of fat (including for sautéing) is a good starting point for a meal.
The fruit is already off the pyramid and higher up. This is because the fruit is not actually necessary to survive if you eat enough vegetables.
Also, depending on the variety, fruit contains more or less fructose, which has a worse effect on the body than sugar. Although the secondary plant compounds, fiber, and a high water content protect us from this, it should not be overdone.
We recommend fruit, especially in the warmer seasons. Especially in summer, when the fruit is seasonal, we tolerate it evolutionarily best. Back then, we ate a lot of fruit in the summer to build up fat for the winter. Back then, it was beneficial if the liver produced fat.
If you want to lose weight with Paleo, we recommend that you eat as little fruit as possible. Ideally, you should choose berries!
Nuts and seeds:
We recommend nuts and seeds only in small quantities. Although they provide valuable omega-3 fats, they can often be rancid when you buy them and unfortunately they also always provide a lot of omega-6 fats (of which we consume too much these days anyway). Half a handful as an emergency snack between meals or over a salad should be enough.
Herbs and spices:
Herbs and spices are quite high up in the pyramid. However, this only has something to do with the fact that they taste very intense and often cannot be ingested in huge quantities.
We love herbs and spices, however, and recommend using them liberally at every meal. They are the most nutrient-dense plant foods available. Many of them also have healing powers and can, for example, relieve inflammation in the body, have an antibacterial effect or regulate blood sugar levels.
We believe that nutritional supplements are not necessary if you eat a balanced diet based on our food pyramid.
Food supplements can be useful if:
- If you are a competitive athlete (our ancestors worked an average of 2 hours a day and rarely worked themselves to death as many athletes do today).
- If you have a chronic disease that inhibits the absorption of nutrients,
- If you have a shifted biorhythm due to work (e.g. taking melatonin).
- If you want to reach a goal radically
On average, the most recommended supplements we recommend for the Paleo diet are:
Vitamin D, fish oil, calcium/ magnesium/ boron and zinc.
Dark chocolate and red wine:
Indulgence is a must. Dark chocolate and wine do contain small amounts of sugar and red wine of course contains alcohol, yet these indulgences also have positive qualities that can offset the negative aspects. We also include coffee and tea among these stimulants.
Everything else forms the top of the food pyramid. Everything that we have only been consuming in large quantities for a relatively short time – combined with an increasingly rapidly changing lifestyle – falls down here.
- Grains: wheat, corn, rye, barley, oats, etc. (exception: white rice)
- Legumes: soy, kidney beans, chickpeas, peanuts (in hummus, falafel, tofu, etc.)
- Exceptions: Green beans, green peas, and lentils.
- Pseudocereals: amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, teff, etc.
- Products: including sheep and goat cheese
- Exceptions: Ghee and pasture-raised butter (grass-fed cattle only).
- Trans fats from Sunflower oil, safflower oil, soy germ oil, canola oil, and almost all common vegetable fats except coconut avocado and olive oil.
- Sugar: (rare exceptions: honey, rice and maple syrup, dried fruits).
- Sweet drinks (yes, including smoothies, iced teas, cold-pressed juices, and all other juices!).
- Prepared foods.
- Any drugs and alcohol.
Especially after the 30 days reset program, you can slowly introduce yourself to these foods again.
Tips for the Paleo Food Stockpile
In terms of the Paleo lifestyle, it is also recommended to have some emergency stock of the most important foods at home. This includes dried meats (proteins) and vitamin foods such as a supply of apples, carrots, or even potatoes.
Stone Age people were survivalists. They knew how to handle emergency situations and were trained to deal with unpredictable events. Paleolithic cavemen was what we would call today true survivors. Their survival bunker was the cave. And this was filled with an emergency supply of food essential for survival. If they were unable to find food, they could get by for a while with the supplies they had built up.