1. What is a Paleo diet? How is it different than a raw diet?
When you follow a Paleo diet approach you pretty much eat lean meats, vegetables, some fruit, and healthy fats from nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. The quality of the food you eat matters, so many people eating the Paleo way try to eat grass fed meat, free range chicken/eggs, and wild caught fish (as opposed to farm-raised). You avoid grains, dairy, and legumes as well as processed foods and sugary food.
I am not too familiar with the Raw Diet, but from what I have seen you don’t eat meat and you eat a bunch of vegetables. I like vegetables, but could not do without meat!
2. How long have you been following a Paleo diet and why did you start?
I started trying to try to dial in my eating about two years ago after I read “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson. I got nice results following his method (which is similar to the Paleo Diet), but decided to get more serious with the Paleo approach at the end of last summer.
I started to see more people involved in CrossFit giving it a shot and getting great results (better body composition, more energy, better mood, better performance in the gym) so I wanted to give it a try. My gym (CrossFit Generation) had a 30 Day “Paleo Challenge” and after that went really well, I was convinced it was the answer for me. I got lean, had more energy, and just generally felt great.
3. What is an example of a day of meals for you?
Breakfast is usually a few eggs and some sausage or bacon (but not every day) and black coffee or espresso. Other days I might just eat some leftover chicken or steak. No more Kashi or puffed wheat for me!
For lunch I have a “big salad” with spinach, lettuce, chicken, onions, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, etc. with olive oil and some balsamic vinegar.
Dinner is usually some meat and vegetables.
After workouts I have some coconut water and a piece of meat.
Before I used to snack much more but now I eat around three meals a day and don’t need to snack since I am not as hungry as I was when I had grains in my diet.
4. I don’t know if I could commit completely to this diet, but are there small changes I could make in this direction to improve my eating habits?
Absolutely. The best thing you could do, or anyone for that matter, is to eliminate gluten or grains from your diet. If you cannot eliminate them, then try to limit them the best you can. Gluten has been linked to so many autoimmune diseases and other health problems.
It is amazing how much better people feel when they eliminate or reduce grains from their diet. I know that my health has improved significantly (e.g. I don’t get colds like I used to, I rarely have stomach aches, feel more energetic all day long, etc.).
Another thing you can do more generally is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you take in. A lot of people take in way too many carbohydrates from sugar, grains and other processed foods and this contributes to weight gain and its related health issues.
The bottom line: Really, following a Paleo approach is not all that difficult. You are pretty much eating some meat, eggs, vegetables and a bit of fruit and nuts. If you can kick the bread and grains and focus on eating real food you might just be “Paleo” before you know it!