5 Rules to Foolproof Your Paleo Diet

— Originally posted as a guest article for RobbWolf.com

If you’re already following a Paleo Diet, or something that closely resembles it, you know the drill:

  • Eliminate grains, dairy, legumes and processed foods
  • Only eat what runs, swims, flys, bleeds, and breathes
  • If a caveman couldn’t eat it, you can’t

Easy enough right?

…you’d be surprised.

Regardless of the city, state, or country, it seems there’s always someone that knowingly or unknowingly finds a way to butcher the plan. Even when it’s as simple and straightforward as “only eat what’s on the left side of the page.”

That being said, there’s also a good chunk of people that aren’t seeing the results, or continuing to progress, because they need more clear-cut rules.

And sure, other factors like sleep, stress, gut health, and fitness regimen come into play. But as far as nutrition goes, they’re eating the right foods at the wrong times, prioritizing moderation foods over mandatory foods, and not matching their food choices to their goals – because there’s not enough to protect them from F-ing things up.

So, after being an advocate of the ancestral, or paleo diet for over a decade, this is why I recommend including the following 5 principles:

1. Make Meat Mandatory (at Main Meals)

Ensuring you eat meat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner is the first rule, because it’s the most common mistake, with the most significant impact.

Muscle needs protein. Specifically the animal kind, that’s rich in amino acids and essential nutrients.

With respect to health, this means strength, injury prevention and longevity. For body composition, it means a higher metabolic rate, greater insulin sensitivity, and a damn sexy physique. And as far as Paleo success is concerned, it means a lower likelihood of getting ravishingly hungry between meals, and making bad decisions in the Starbucks line.

No disrespect, but this message is especially critical for females. Who notoriously choose fruit and starches over meat, and try to ‘eat less’ in general.

So for them, I take it one step further, and say ‘Eat Meat First’ at main meals.

2. Treat Nuts & Seeds as a Garnish

If you listen to The Paleo Solution podcast, you know Robb Wolf (The Paleo Prince) has been preaching “cool it on the nuts” for years. As unfortunately, nuts are so convenient (and delicious), they’re commonly overeaten; which not only lead to excess omega-6 fatty-acids and phytic acid, but usually ends up displacing animal protein (priority #1).

Or put another way, “I’ll just have a little almond butter” quickly turns into this

No matter how few, or little, you tell yourself you’re going to eat a snack.

Hence the reason my advice in Live It NOT Diet! is to reserve them as a garnish on salads, or a spread on fruits and vegetables.

3. Use Fruit & Starch as a Reward for Exercise

Restricting fruit intake is usually a sticking point for people, as conventional wisdom continues to tell us we need to ‘eat more servings.’ Yet, when you take a look at what’s in fruit (glucose and fructose), and the overall health of the general population (obese and insulin resistant), that’s the last thing we need.  Especially if our daily activity consists of moving from bed to car to desk to car to couch to bed.

Simply put – without exercise, we don’t tap into muscle glycogen. So most of the glucose we consume is stored as liver glycogen.

But more importantly, fructose needs to be metabolized by the liver, all of it gets stored as liver glycogen!

Meaning, that apple and banana you just ate quickly tops of that liver. And with no activity to burn it, or make room elsewhere (muscle glycogen), any excess is converted to fat.

Similarly, starchy tubers like yams and sweet potatoes are also a significant contributor to our daily glucose load. Which is why, along with fruit, they’re better reserved for days when we’re exercising; and ideally in the meal following our training session. As generally speaking, this is when sugars are reserved for glycogen replenishment, instead of winding up as blood fat (triglycerides) or body fat (adipose).

This is why it’s important to match your post-workout glucose intake to your workout intensity and current body composition. With those in the “lots to lose” department treating the post-workout window more like a post-workout peephole.

4. Snack on LCHF Vegetables

Most of you reading this recognize LCHF as Low-Carb High-Fat.  Although it has a double-meaning in this situation, as it also means Low-Carb High-Fiber.

Basically, outside of your 3 main (meat-mandatory) meals, the easiest way to stay satiated is with Fat and Fiber.

For LC High-Fat foods, we’re talking olives and avocados, and for LC High-Fiber foods, we’re looking at non-starch vegetables.  With the chart below outlining the majority of your options, but the best way to remember the rule is to think of which can be eaten raw.

Not only does this keep you satiated until your next grass-fed beef injection, but it keeps you away from the nuts and seeds, and gets you eating more veggies!

5. Earn Caffeine with 2 Waters (2:1 Ratio)

We’re all guilty of it, hammering down coffee’s to make it through the day, not realizing that we haven’t had a glass of water since the morning.

Coffee’s all morning – eat lunch – coffee after lunch – coffee because tired in the afternoon – holy crap I haven’t pooped!

Sound familiar?

Don’t get me wrong, coffee can be an extremely beneficial beverage, as it’s packed with antioxidants and jacks up our fat burning potential, but we can’t let it negatively affect our hydration. Especially if we’re on the lower-carb side of the paleo spectrum, which makes us lose water.

Point being, shooting for 2 glasses of water before every coffee is much less irritating than trying to hold yourself to a specific quantity.  Since it forces you to either drink a ton of water, or drink less coffee.

And in most cases, it’s drink less coffee. As once you’re hydrated, you realize you feel and perform far better without it.

Stay Lean!
Coach Mike


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