Want To Go Paleo? Here’s What You Need To Know. 

by team nuut

Eat like your ancestors (even if you live life plant-based!)

Mention the word 'Paleo' or 'Caveman Diet' to any 1970s kid, and an image of Fred Flintstone tucking into a huge rack of dinosaur ribs is likely to spring to mind – and for good reason. The globally popular Paleo diet is based on eating similar foods to our ancestors (and favourite cartoon characters) from the Palaeolithic era, who lived around 2.5 million to 12,000 years ago.

Although devotees have been eating Paleo since the stone age, the diet spiked in popularity in the 1960s and again in the early 2000s when scientist Dr Loren Cordain wrote The Paleo Diet, a book that set the ground rules for "what we're programmed to eat."

Paleo followers worldwide vouch for the eating style's game-changing benefits, like clearer skin, fewer seasonal allergies and migraines and less inflammation. Studies also claim it induces weight loss while controlling glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol.

What To Eat

There is dispute about some aspects of the Paleo diet, including what foods existed during the Palaeolithic era, how the diet differed from region to region, and how fruits and vegetables today are different to their prehistoric relatives.

Like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, however, we do know that eating Paleo means filling our plates with healthy fats like meats, butter and ghee, coconut, and olive oils, avocados and plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits.

Grass-fed beef is considered nutritionally superior to grain-fed as it is more environmentally sustainable, doesn't breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and is higher in vitamins A, B, E, and other antioxidants. It also has significantly lower levels of saturated fat compared to grain-fed beef and boasts more omega-3 fats due to being fed grass instead of grain. Dairy, grains, sugar, beans, legumes, and processed foods are off the Paleo menu due to their high anti-nutrient, phytate, and inflammatory compounds.

nuut, one of Australia’s best vegan protein powders (sorry to boast ;) is formulated by doctors and available in a special Paleo blend that includes a whopping 23.5g of protein! Tasting of rich chocolate, it is fortified with over a third of your daily recommended vitamin and mineral intake. Mix your plant-based protein powder with ice and water or plant-based milk and sip as a snack or supp it for one meal a day when you are on-the-go!

The Eat This, (Not That!) Guide

Like all unique eating styles, knowing precisely what you can stock in your kitchen and what is off-limits is helpful. Here is a quick guide to stick on your fridge:

Do Eat:

• Lean cuts of beef, pork, and poultry, preferably grass-fed, organic,
or free-range.
• Game animals, like quail, venison, and bison.
• Free-range eggs.
• Sustainable, wild fish and seafood.
• Non-starchy and root vegetables
• Fruit and berries low in sugar, like papaya, grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries,
• Herbs and spices.
• Nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds.
• Olive, coconut, flaxseed, almond and walnut oils.
• For baking, opt for nut meals and coconut, tapioca, arrowroot,
sweet potato and chestnut flours.
• Sip at least 2 litres of filtered water daily.
• nuut plant-based protein powder with water as a snack or meal replacement.
• Drink coffee and teas black or with a dash of milk.

Do Avoid:

• All dairy products, especially milk and low-fat products including
cheese, yogurt, and butter.
• Cereal grains, such as wheat, rye, rice, and barley.
• Legumes, like beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts.
• Low-fat or diet products.
• Starchy vegetables like potatoes.
• Sweets including honey and sugar.
• Artificial sweeteners and refined sugars.
• Sugary soft drinks and fruit juices.
• Cured and processed meats like ham, salamis and hot dogs.
• Processed vegetable oils and fats.

Myths & Misconceptions

There is plenty of folklore around the Paleo diet.
Here are some of the most common myths to debunk:

Eat Like A Caveman

Paleo is about eating foods with fewer chemicals, preservatives, and technology. The fact that Barney Rubble would approve your food choices is just a coincidence ;) Consider how your great-grandmother ate meat, three vegetables, whole fruit, and minimally processed foods. She never cooked with ingredients like guar gum, hydrolysed vegetable protein, modified food starch, soy lecithin and other synthetic and artificial add-ons found in today’s processed food.

Not Meet Your Protein Needs

As a Paleo dieter, you won't get your daily protein from grains, beans, and dairy, so it's important to source high-quality protein elsewhere. nuut vegan protein powder in our special Paleo blend is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. When blended with water, it's a delicious way to give your body extra protein and vitamins A, B, D, E and K.

Consume Meat Like A T-Rex

Contrary to popular opinion, Paleo doesn't involve eating a boatload of meat. When humans consume too much animal protein, there can be severe consequences, from weight gain to heart disease. Most Paleo followers eat meat at least once daily, which is fine as long as the cuts are lean, grass-fed and low in saturated fats. Aim to consume up to two or three meals of red meat a week and substitute it with organic poultry or sustainable fish.

Not Plan Ahead

While planning a week's meals is doable, prepping Paleo-approved snacks can prove challenging. Always be prepared with a stash of smoked almonds, trail mix, hard-boiled eggs, vegetable crudites and fresh herb-laden guacamole for when the munchies hit. nuut plant-based protein powder is available in sachets that can be slipped in your back pocket, gym bag, or desk drawer. Simply add to water, shake and sip for a Paleo-approved snack on-the-run.

Deprive Yourself Of What You Really Want To Eat

Whilst Paleo doesn't include grains, processed vegetable oils, and refined sugars, it doesn't mean you have to stop enjoying plenty of delicious dishes - it's simply a case of coming up with clever substitutes and ingredient swaps. Corn is a Paleo no-no, so replace the movie theatre favourite with a nutritious cauliflower version. Going Paleo means saying goodbye to traditional hummus, so use cashews instead of chickpeas for a nutty richness that works oh-so-well with pumpkin purée. We could eat baba ghanoush all day, so make your own minus the mayo. Genius!

Not Include Paleo-Friendly Smoothies

Filling, nutritious and delicious, a Paleo-friendly smoothie made with plant-based protein is a great go-to. Use qualified Paleo smoothie recipes to keep it dairy-free and healthy (antioxidants ahoy!). And do add Australia's best vegan protein powder, nuut, to the mix and ramp up its protein and nutritional value. Easy!

Treat Fruit Like An Enemy

While fruit is not a focal point of the Paleo diet, it's also not your enemy, so don't treat it like it will send you off track. A serving of fruit daily will give you antioxidants, extra fibre, and a taste of something sweet. Add banana or berries to your plant-based protein powders for an extra nutritional kick. 

Buy Substandard Ingredients

The quality of ingredients is essential for Paleo benefits. The farmers' market is always a safe place to shop, as you can meet the growers and learn the origins of every item you buy. Shop to be pro-you and pro-planet, too.

Paleo For Vegans

Follow a plant-based diet and think Paleo won't work for you? Well it can! The Paleo vegan diet is low in sugar, sodium, and simple carbohydrates, and the elimination of dairy means it is low in saturated fats, too. A plant-based Paleo diet even has a special name: the Pegan diet!

Although the meat-heavy emphasis of the Paleo eating style might be in sharp contrast with the vegan diet, there are some consistencies. "I wanted to combine the very best aspects of a Paleo and vegan/vegetarian diet rather than cherry-pick studies and pick sides," says its creator, Dr. Mark Hyman. "Don't worry about focusing on how much you eat. If you focus on what you eat, your body's natural appetite control systems kick into gear, and you eat less."

Here's what a Peagan diet looks like according to Dr Hyman.

• Focus on the glycaemic load of your diet. Aim for more protein and fats like nuts (not peanuts), seeds (flax, chia, hemp, sesame, pumpkin), coconut, avocados, sardines, and olive oil.

• Eat the right fats. Avoid vegetable oils like canola, sunflower, corn, and calorie-laden soybean oil. Choose omega-3 fats, nuts, coconut, avocados and saturated fat from grass-fed or sustainably raised animals.

• Eat mostly low-glycaemic vegetables and fruits. This should comprise 75 per cent of your daily diet and your plate. Aim for 2 to 3 vegetable dishes per meal.

• Focus on nuts and seeds. They are full of protein, minerals, and good fats and help lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

• Avoid dairy; it is for growing calves into cows, not for humans. Organic goat or sheep products are fine occasionally.

• Avoid gluten – Stick to heirloom wheat (Einkorn). If you are not gluten sensitive, consider it an occasional treat.

• Eat gluten-free whole grains sparingly as they raise blood sugar and can trigger autoimmunity.

• Eat beans sparingly, and know that lentils are best. Avoid big starchy beans.

• Eat meat or animal products as a condiment. Vegetables should be the star of every dish, and meat it's co-star.

• Think of sugar as a treat – use it occasionally and sparingly.

Of course, combining vegan and any other specific eating style always requires careful planning, which is why nuut’s 28-day paleo meal plan includes delicious nutrient-dense vegan recipes like mushroom and leek omelette, coconut veggie curry, roasted cauliflower hummus, and nut and seed paleo bread. In between meals, shake Australia’s best vegan protein powder, (nuut!), with plant-based milk or add some protein-rich nuts and consume as a convenient meal replacement.