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    The Paleo Guide

    "Real Food doesn't have ingredients; real food is


    - Jamie Oliver

    One of the biggest hurdles for people regarding nutrition is their currently-held belief system surrounding food.

    • Some people have moral issues with eating animals. Others don't.
    • Some people don't like vegetables and won't eat them, so their bias toward grains and other processed foods is a hard habit to break.
    • Some people say they want to be healthy but aren't willing to do things that challenge their current belief system.

    The Internet is fraught with people that defend both sides of every point, no matter how obvious either side often seems.

    And nutrition is one of these hotly debated topics.

    Before reading this guide, the best advice I can give you is to open your mind about nutrition (and just about everything else).

    We still need to learn much about human biology, nutrition, the universe, quantum mechanics, history, and everything.

    And new research comes out regularly, giving us more to go on with each passing year.

    All that said, if you were to combine the currently available research and combine it with the empirical results of millions of people that have changed their nutrition for the better, you'd get an eating plan that closely resembles the paleo diet.

    Paleo Dogma

    Many are turned off by the word "Paleo."

    They hold many preconceived ideas about what a Paleo diet is—like the idea that it's about eating pounds and pounds of meat.

    At Wild Foods, we veer from the word Paleo for this reason.

    Another thing I've learned over the years is the following:

    1. There's no absolute definition of "Paleo."
    2. The foundation of proper human nutrition is rooted in eating Real Food.

    You'll see me capitalize Real Food often throughout this guide and others on this site. It's that important.

    Proper nutrition is Real Food.

    People on the Internet love to argue about nutrition, whether you should eat red meat, whether grains are "bad" for you, how many carbs are healthy, and so on.

    But they need to include the point most of the time.

    The human mind wants to label things to fit them neatly in a box labeled "resolved."

    But that is different from how you get results in today's age. Nowadays, the wisest of the wise are those that keep an open mind and make a point not to commit firmly to either side.

    The basics of nutrition are simple to understand and hard to implement, and all the ​internet debating is just a deflection.

    Most of that wastes time until you can get the basics down. And even then, most of it only moves the needle a little, so it isn't worth the extra effort for anyone not competing in something.

    If you get Real Food down, the rest is mostly trivial.

    But I want to wait to go too much into Real Food. There's plenty more where that came from.

    This is a guide to the Paleo Diet or, better yet, our version of a Paleo Diet.

    As I've already said, many misconceptions surround the Paleo diet. There's also no single definition of what constitutes a Paleo diet.

    The fact is any diet based on incomplete information, the way evolutionary biology is—which Paleo is based on—will have a wide range of interpretations.

    Labels Don't Matter

    For whatever reason, it's a quirky human trait that we all have this burning desire to want resolute answers to things in life so we can fit them into neat little boxes.

    When it comes to nutrition, this is a fool's errand.

    Whether you eat vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, Slow Carb, Zone, or already follow some Paleo diet, you can learn something from the other diets.

    And you should.

    But we aren't interested in debating the pros and cons of many diets. We are only interested in providing information so you can be better educated when you implement whatever eating style you decide to follow.

    That being said, if we were forced to define the version of nutrition we recommend at Wild Foods, it would be this:

    A Real Food diet closely resembles a Paleo diet but with more loose recommendations about individual foods as long as it is Real Food.

    We believe that nutrition is 80% Real Food. If you get that right, it's tough to screw the other stuff up. It tends to take care of itself.

    You can choose to eat no meat, lots of meat, or moderate meat. You can choose to eat no seafood or a lot of seafood. You can eat a high-carb or low-carb.

    And so on; make sure it's all Real Food.

    Of course, these dietary decisions will produce a result in your body. (If you decide never to eat animals or animal products, please get your blood work done and make sure you are supplementing with ​B vitamins and omega-3s.)

    If your goal is optimal health, track what the mirror says, what your body tells you, and what your blood work shows.

    Then throttle your food to get the best results in all three categories.

    With that introduction and disclaimer out of the way, enjoy the Wild Foods Guide To A Paleo Diet below!

    The Paleo Diet

    "Eating a Paleolithic diet is not about historical re-enactment; it is about mimicking the effect of such a diet on the metabolism with foods available at the supermarket. No one diet was eaten throughout the entire Paleolithic, nor was there a single diet eaten by contemporary hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherer diets can vary substantially depending on geography, season, and culture. Even so, the commonalities among hunter-gatherer diets provide useful parameters for a healthy modern diet."

    ―John Durant, The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
    There is no exact version of a "Paleo" diet that we can point to and say, "Eat like this."

    Each author, nutritionist, and Paleoist (is that a word?) tends to have their version of Paleo.

    People want to turn nutrition into a simple black-and-white set of rules. It makes life easier, but life's more complex than that.

    Neither is nutrition.

    Nutrition is not so easily defined nor fits neatly into a little box.

    Venture further down the nutrition rabbit hole, and you find people that want to answer questions like, "How many calories should I eat?" and "How many carbs, proteins, and fats?"

    As a general rule, people want to be told precisely what to eat because that's easier than having to self-experiment. The problem is that there's no single answer for anything health-related because each human is a different animal.

    But there is one nutrition Truth you can base your nutritional efforts on Real Food.
    When you make your foundation Real Food, the other stuff tends to figure itself out. Further, you have much more flexibility in the other stuff, like how many carbs or proteins to eat.

    When you focus on Real Food, you can eat a wide range of foods in various quantities and remain healthy and lean, and when you get to that place of healthy natural leanness, you can maintain it easily.

    At this point, weight loss becomes a simple decision. So does gaining muscle. No matter what you want to do with your body, you make a few simple tweaks—like increasing your calorie intake to gain weight or decreasing your carb and total calorie intake to lose weight—and bam: results.

    I'm not exaggerating.

    What happens when you go to Real Food will be unique to you, but it will be something great. I can assure you of that.

    The following guide is about the Paleo or hunter-gatherer diet, with the Wild Foods focus of Real Food as the foundation.

    We have done our best to remain as unbiased and non-dogmatic as possible with our recommendations, which is why you'll see recommendations that don't typically fit into conventional Paleo wisdom.

    If this challenges your Paleo sensibilities, try instead thinking of this guide as The Guide To The Optimal Human Diet In The 21st Century if it makes you feel better.

    After all, what we recommend for nutrition is based on eating Real Food.

    Beyond getting Real Food down pat, we are pretty lax on grains, dairy, and the other things that strict Paleos like to crucify.

    Real Food

    Real food is centered around raw ingredients and usually require cooking and prep.

    This is why the Real Food recommendation doesn’t always jive well with most people; because it's hard and you have to invest time.

    After all, people want a fix. Then, on top of that, they want that fix to be as close as possible to what they're already.

    Delusional. <-- Don't be like this.

    People would rather hear:

    • “Don’t eat meat.” 
    • “Don’t eat carbs.” 
    • “Don’t eat grains.”
    • “Don’t eat sugar.” 
    • “Don’t eat fat.”      
    • “Buy raw ingredients, take them home, and cook and prepare that food for yourself.”
    I'm here to tell you that proper nutrition is never going to be a quick fix. And while Real Food doesn't make the physical process of eating clean easier, it does make it simpler.

    Nutrition is a lifestyle. Cooking, preparing ingredients at home, a morning mug of Wild Butter Coffee, and so on, are parts of an active, health-conscious and self-aware lifestyle.

    If you want optimal health, you have to cook the highest quality Real Food ingredients you can find on a daily basis. You have to make smart decisions when you are out with your friends. You have to limit how many drinks you have. And so on.

    What Is Real Food?

    Real Food is food that is raw, alive or minimally processed.

    (Some foods require processing, such as cacao and coffee beans, but that does not disqualify them as Real Food. In this case, it depends on how the food was processed that matters. Always get the highest quality foodstuffs you can. One of our missions here at Wild Foods is to provide those ingredients.)

    Prepared foods at the grocery store and in restaurants are full of long ingredient lists, many of which you won't be able to pronounce, and do not qualify as Real Food. One could argue it's not food at all.

    The foundation of Real Food is you have to control the cooking/processing process as much as you can.

    This is how Real Food looks in action: You buy the raw ingredients then you cook and eat them.

    Sometimes “cooking” is nothing more than chopping up some leafy greens or slicing some strawberries. Other times you'll throw a bunch of fresh and raw ingredients into the slow cooker so you can enjoy a hot Real Food meal later.

    Sometimes you'll grab an apple and eat it. And so on.

    An aside on the food industry

    In his great book Cooked, Michael Pollan predicts that the next evolution of the food industry is corporations doing more and more of our cooking.

    Think restaurants. Think premade ready-to-eat on-the-go foods. Frozen dinners. And so on.

    You can already see this trend taking over in many parts of our society.
    In fact, go to a place like NYC and you'll see millions of people that rarely cook food at home.

    The more the corporations cook our food, the more our food is processed, refined, and full of cheap and artificial ingredients. The more likely it will contain GMOs, pesticides, factory farmed, cruelly treated meats.

    This is badddd news for the already declining health of the average American.

    Remember this: When corporations cook, you lose.

    You must cook your food.

    This is partly a guide to Paleo and partly a guide to general healthy eating. As I stated above, we will mix the two as we go.

    For success in any Real Food eating plan, you have to cook. There's no way around it.

    With cooking, your only other option is to rely on corporations for your nutritional needs; when you do that, your health will improve. (It's also more expensive.)

    Remember The Basics

    The answer to human nutrition is Real Food. Whether that's a Real Food Vegan diet or a Real Food Strict Paleo diet, the foundation should be built upon quality Real Food ingredients.

    Keep this in mind as you progress through the rest of this guide.

    Here are a few Real Food Tips to get you started:

    • Start reading labels.
    • Don't eat anything you can't pronounce.
    • Buy fresh and raw and cook and prepare for yourself.
    • Invest in a slow cooker.
    • Learn how to make a primary salad dressing and delicious homemade salads often.
    • Canned fatty fish is one of the most nutritionally dense foods you can eat. (And oysters.)

    The Mismatch Theory

    My realization about the modern state of human health fueled part of my inspiration for writing this guide.

    Humans. Homo sapiens.

    You know, those troublesome, quarrelsome, often gruesome, and lovesome animal species that currently run a little planet in the Milky

     Way Galaxy called Earth?

    Don't be coy; you know who I'm talking about.

    For the sake of getting on the same page for the rest of this guide, let's start with some first principles—i.e., the actual definition of these bipedal critters:

    (Animals) the specific name of modern man, the only extant species of Homo. This species also includes extinct types of primitive man such as Cro-Magnon man.

    Before we get to the realization I had about the human-animal currently dominating Earth, I want to paint a background that has led me to this realization.

    My Journey With Evolutionary Biology

    I've been studying evolutionary biology and Paleontology since I was introduced to the Zone and Paleo diets after stumbling on CrossFit (mid-2008).

    My personal health, fitness, and nutrition journey went like this:

    1. Start reading bodybuilding and Men's Health magazines. (Yikes.)
    2. Follow the "conventional wisdom" those magazines were promoting in the early-to-mid 2000s.
    3. Get little results—I gained muscle but was "skinny fat."
    4. Find CrossFit—ironically, by mentioning the "300 workouts" in a Men's Health article.
    5. Discover the Zone diet through CrossFit.
    6. Do Zone for a while getting some results?
    7. Plateau after about a year while doing CrossFit and Zone.
    8. Find Paleo, and around the same time, get into cooking.
    9. I started getting the results I've always wanted and had been working for; A lean but muscular look with 6-pack abs and muscle definition.
    10. Start a CrossFit gym with two partners.
    11. Continue to expand my knowledge while coaching clients and building two small businesses.
    12. Life changed forever.

    Each step led me down a different rabbit hole full of exploration, self-experimentation, and learning. And I'm still learning to this day—notice the "realization" I had recently that sparked writing this article (and this guide).

    Nowadays, the available information on Paleo, nutrition, and research is light years ahead of where it was when I started on this journey.

    If you are starting at step 1, you get to skip years and years of the discovery process I had to go through.

    Literally. Years. Read this guide, and you'll be five years ahead of where I was when I started.

    But would I change this process?

    Not for anything.

    This process is part of what has made me who I am. And your journey will make you who you are. But damn, I wish I had access to this information sooner, as I would have saved a lot of time, money, and energy initially.

    That's life, and it probably needed to give me the right tools and perspective to help others on a bigger scale the way I want to.

    My journey has crafted my worldview and has brought ideas like evolutionary biology, nutrition, health, and science into my everyday consciousness.

    Because I'm constantly thinking about where we came from and how our ancestors lived, I've subconsciously realized what inspired me to write this guide.

    I often tell people that evolutionary biology is one of those things that just clicked in my head more than anything I've ever learned.

    I would have been a Paleontologist in another life. Some people get math, some get history, and I get evolutionary biology.

    The Story, Our Ancestors, Left Behind

    Today we are going to look at the theory behind the Paleo diet.

    This theory has implications for all human health, so don't make the mistake of pigeonholing any of this into some little Paleo nutrition box.

    It's about human health, not just what humans eat. So let go of your dogmas and biases and read this information with fresh eyes.

    The implications behind this theory profoundly impact the full spectrum of human health whether you eat Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, Fruitarian, or whatever.

    The premise of the Paleo diet is based on looking at the available evidence that our ancestors left behind to find ways we modulate our environment to the best life today.

    Try thinking about evolutionary biology instead of Paleo if you are still struggling with any of this. That might help those who don't particularly like the word "Paleo."

    The fundamental premise of evolutionary biology for explaining problems modern humans face is based on the theory that evolution takes an extremely long time to progress and that technology, and the way our lives have changed because of it, has come at a faster rate than what the human genome has been able to adapt to.

    This means that our genes are designed to live in a particular environment, the environment our ancestors lived in for hundreds of thousands of years up until about 12,000 years ago when our ancestors moved from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to the farming lifestyle.

    Farming Vs. Hunting

    Before humans moved to the farming lifestyle, they lived in the wild. This was the life of a nomadic hunter-gatherer.

    Early humans were always moving in search of food and a better climate.

    Compare that to farming life, a stationary life connected to a plot of land.

    This transition caused many problems for our species and still does to this day, considering our genome is still 99% the same as our ancient ancestors (and 99.5% the same for each human living today).

    Before a human ever planted a seed and hung around until that seed turned into something edible, humans lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers in small tribes of about 50-75 people.

    Within their tribe—their "family"—early humans hunted, gathered, and lived their entire lives together (talk about solid social bonds).

    They moved around constantly, always searching for food and water and moving with the seasons.

    Long before we had chairs, cars, computers, smartphones, and all the environmental byproducts of these technologies, human life involved plenty of daily movement in the sun, lots of leisure time, and constantly varied food that was in-season and inconsistent. We socialize daily. 

    We walked an average of 13 miles daily at a slow, meandering pace. We went to sleep when the sun went down and woke when it rose. We hunted. We gathered.

    According to human fossil records, humans have lived this way for some 200,000 years, dating the earliest human fossil to the Middle Paleolithic area.

    Modern Human Life

    Now that you know how our ancestors lived, think about how that lifestyle compares to today.

    • Imagine having no car, phone, books, restaurants, or refrigerators.
    • Imagine being unable to walk to the fridge to get food when hungry.
    • Imagine living with the same 50-75 people for your entire life.
    • Imagine hunting dangerous wild game barefoot with only a wooden spear and a few fellow hunters. (There is evidence that women would hunt right alongside men; the subjection of women started with the creation of farming, personal property, and marriage.)

    This is the life that humans have lived for 90% of human existence. And this is the way, as the theory suggests, we are meant to live.

    Today's way of living drastically differs from how humans have lived for most of our existence. This is what the theory behind Paleo is based on.

    It's called The Mismatch Theory.

    The mismatch theory states that we live in an environment that is mismatched to our genes because our genes are designed to live the way our ancestors did.

    The mismatch theory is based on the theory that the human genome has yet to adapt to our new environment because this environment has come on so fast. Twelve thousand years might seem like a long time, but if you look back at the history of life on Earth (billions of years) and the history of humans on that Earth (200,000 years or more), you see that it's a relatively short period.

    Here are a few of the new environmental factors affecting humans today:

    • Most humans eat processed foods from industrial seed oils, grains, and sugars. As a result, a large percentage of the world is obese and struggling with Food-related diseases.
    • Modern humans sit more and move less, contributing to increased disease and a lower quality of life. (Our ancestors walked an average of 13 miles a day.)
    • Modern humans spend most of their time indoors—some estimates put it above 90% of waking hours for those living in first-world countries. As a result, many suffer from low Vitamin D levels, high toxicity levels, and other mental and physical issues. (Hint: we are made to be in nature.)

    Paleo, Primal, or Just Healthy?

    Today's hottest trend relying on the environmental mismatch theory is the Paleo diet, also called the Caveman or Primal diet.

    The premise of this way of eating is based on eating only foods our ancestors would have eaten regularly, e.g., no grains, refined sugars, or other processed and artificial foods.

    We can all agree that this kind of eating is what all healthy diets should be based on: real, whole, natural foods.

    Beyond that Real Food foundation, no truly defined version of the Paleo, Primal, or Caveman diet remains.

    For example, some Paleo proponents recommend certain dairy products as being "Ok in moderation," while others recommend cutting out all dairy.

    Some Paleos recommend lean meats, while some recommend fatty meats as long as they are from healthy animals. (We would fall into the latter camp on that one.)

    All of this confuses many. Many "Paleo Haters" use this confusion and quote poorly researched books and articles (like the China Study) to make misinformed statements about eating Paleo or Primal.

    At Wild Foods, we don't like to be dogmatic in our diet recommendations. Paleo/Primal/Real Food/Proper Nutrition will be unique to the individual.

    People that hate a diet are typically doing it to appease themselves. Cognitive dissonance is a strong motivator for keeping people blind and biased.

    That said, there is a universal nutrition "truth" that we will forever be dogmatic about.

    It's this: Optimal human nutrition is based on Real Food.

    Whether you eat Paleo, Primal, Vegetarian, Vegan, Fruitarian, or insert popular diet here, there is a foundational truism they should all be based on: Real Food.

    After you get Real Food down, you can think about the other factors, like whether you should go low, moderate, or high carb, and what kind of fasting schedule you want to implement (you should implement some form of fasting, by the way).

    Finally, after your diet is rooted in eating the best quality Real Food you can get your hands on, you can then focus on—if you want to—the other things, like how many calories, carbs, or fat to eat.

    But you first have to get the Real Food diet down.

    Real food is as close to nature as possible. It should not be processed or refined unless necessary to make the food safe for human consumption or to release certain other nutrients (cooking is a form of processing, by the way).

    Then, if the food does require processing, it should be produced using as natural and health-optimizing methods as possible that will preserve the integrity of the nutrition in the raw ingredient without tacking on unwanted health effects.

    Gray Areas

    While this is a guide to eating Paleo(ish), we also want to help expand the idea of Paleo to make it more accessible to more people.

    This is why many of our food recommendations at Wild Foods will echo what a Paleo diet recommends but will come with many gray areas.

    Our version of a Real Food Paleo diet closely mirrors a Paleo diet because traditional paleo excludes many foods that are either inflammatory or nearly impossible to find as Real Food, which is why we, too, don't recommend them.

    Here's an example: we don't think grains are inherently evil (a food excluded from a strict Paleo diet). Still, we don't recommend grains as part of a healthy Real Food diet because the only grains accessible to 99% of the world are industrialized, refined, and processed grains, which are very bad.

    If you grow your wheat and then harvest, process, soak mill, and then bake it, then having some grains in your diet is fine. (Keyword: some.)

    Of course, no one will do that, so grains should be avoided.

    (Also, the wild grains our ancestors may have eaten occasionally are not even close to those available today. It's like comparing apples to oranges.)

    The fact is, certain foods in our modern world are not going to be the best for us to eat, while other foods will be. This has nothing to do with Paleo or not.

    Proper nutrition is about using what works best and not following a strict set of rules by some doctor, book, expert, or scientist.

    That's what we call Optimal Nutrition:

    • Make Real Food the basis.               
    • Get the best Real Food you can.    
    • Listen to what your body tells you.

    Finally, do your best to avoid dogmatism and the biases that make you ignore things you don't believe.

    That's our disclaimer regarding nutrition and the Paleo Diet. We are moving on.

    Stick With Real Food

    One of the fantastic things about a real-food diet is the leeway it gives you.

    For example, when I crave junk food, I can indulge guilt-free because I know I'll return to my real-food eating style soon after.

    When the bulk of your diet comprises real food ingredients, you can easily maintain health even when you aren't perfect in your food choices. And since none of us are perfect, real food provides a powerful way of eating in our modern world.

    I can't say it enough: focus on real food and focus on quality.

    Back to the Mismatch Theory

    The mismatch theory suggests that because humans have eaten a certain way for so long, modern humans should also eat this way because that's what they're designed for.

    From a purely practical point of view, it's hard to argue with this theory considering so many humans today are sick and getting sicker.

    Of course, it's not just nutrition that the mismatch theory applies to. Our environment and how it shapes our genes cover the entire spectrum of human health.

    I've tested my life's many mismatched-based lifestyle theories with universal success.

    Yes, universal, meaning: I saw improvement every time I implemented something based on evolutionary biology.

    I've also seen these techniques work wonders for other people over the years.

    If it works so well, what's holding people back?

    Great question.

    Mismatch theory and evolutionary biology still have a long way to go before reaching mass adoption due to the many roadblocks keeping people from implementing these concepts.

    A few of these roadblocks include:

    • Ignorance
    • Confirmation bias (seeking out information that confirms what you already think while ignoring information that conflicts)
    • Cognitive dissonance (the feeling you get when something challenges what you think or believe)
    • Misinformation from biased fitness and health professionals trying to protect their status quo
    • The general misunderstanding of health and nutrition held by the public in the form of "common knowledge"
    • The difficulty of changing lifestyle habits, especially ones that are counterintuitive and different from one's peer group,
    • Social pressures.
    • and so on.

    *These are not done on purpose. They are subtle tricks your mind plays on you that make it hard to change your mind.

    Another major roadblock holding the mismatch theory back is the research and scientific communities. The general public is obsessed with needing some guy in a lab coat to tell them what's good for them.

    Here's the thing about research: much of it isn't good, while the rest could be better summarized, is underfunded, and is almost always misinterpreted.

    Another issue with research is that a lot of it is biased, which means that organizations that fund it usually do so in order to find the answer they want.

    This is the biased crap used to lobby Congress, slap misleading product labels, and leak biased dogma to the media so they can pass it on to confuse the public further.

    Of course, there's good research, but it's the exception, not the rule.

    The issue with good research is that it frequently lacks funding from large budgets due to a lack of commercial interest, which causes the research to be too narrow in scope and not receive the attention it merits.

    Furthermore, the smaller studies tend to produce correlating evidence due to the need for more time and scope to prove causation, which makes them an easy target to discredit.

    Lastly, and this is the big thing that people don't understand about research and science, research produces a "best guess" and not hard evidence.

    Science is based on hypotheses. In layman's terms, a hypothesis is a "best guess."

    Think about it: how often have all the experts deemed something impossible for years until it was proven possible?

    The answer is a lot.

    There is nothing genuinely irrefutable in the research and science worlds.

    The same goes for nutrition. And this is a hard pill for many to swallow because of our human desire for resolute answers.

    We like knowing what we think we know.

    Being told, "Everything you know is just a guess," causes cognitive dissonance, which humans are not skilled at dealing with.

    Cognitive dissonance: the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

    Mismatch Theory Works For Now

    Regarding human health, mismatch theory, rooted in evolutionary biology, is our current best guess.

    I've seen it work in my own life and for countless others around me, so I readily recommend it to others.

    And I'll continue to do this until a better best guess comes along that works better. If a better theory comes along, I'll test it. Then, if it produces a better result, I'll change what I do and recommend.

    This is hard for most people, so they stubbornly cling to their current beliefs through biases that make it impossible to see other views.

    Furthermore, we are creatures of habit, and breaking habits is hard.

    It comes down to this: Regardless of what research, science, or your gut tells you, you have to take action and test what works for you. Then you have to have the mindset of a scientist interested in finding what works best while being aware of the pitfalls of confirming or discounting evidence based on preconceived beliefs.

    After doing your tests, if the results come back unfavorable to what you initially thought or wanted to think, you have to be strong enough to stay objective.

    Regarding health, you have to be the scientist and the experimenter.

    You have to study conflicting ideas and opinions and then try the things that make the most sense to you. Then you have to ruthlessly discard what doesn't work while doubling down on what does.

    Back to our ancestors

    Our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived as nomads, constantly moving around with the seasons to find areas where food, game, and water were abundant. They didn't have refrigeration or canned foods, and there was very little in the way of food preservation.

    There was also no farming.

    They had to work for their food daily, hunting and gathering for as much as 6 hours a day on average. As a result, our ancestors would routinely go days without food, sometimes weeks (which is why intermittent fasting is a healthy human activity).

    Then, when our ancestors found food, it was real food. It was wild food.

    This environment creates the genes that make up your body. These genes survive with an inconsistent food supply, with only real food found in nature and a diet lower in starches and sugars on average due to a lack of them being found in the wild.

    And so your genes will do their best when they live in the environment they were designed for. Your genes are designed to live in the wild.

    • You won't find sugar cane plantations, corn fields, or potato farms.
    • Food changes with the seasons, and you can do nothing to prevent it except move to areas with a better food supply and climate.
    • The game is sometimes available and sometimes scarce.
    • Food is varied and colorful.
    • Food is always real.

    Local, in-season, real food is the best way to express human genes through nutrition. Now compare that world to the world we live in today.

    • We have access to food every second of the day (a mismatch).
    • We can eat the same thing daily if we want to (a mismatch).
    • We can eat processed foods full of artificial ingredients (a mismatch).
    • We can eat more ingredients our ancestors didn't eat, like seed oils, sugar, carbohydrates, grains, etc. (a mismatch).

    Nutrition is the single most significant mismatch affecting the human species today.

    And it all started when agriculture came into the picture some 12,000 years ago.

    Agriculture provided early humans with a steady food supply. And while agriculture allowed the population to grow, it had many problems.

    Due to the lower quality of nutrition produced through agriculture and the droughts and inconsistencies in yield, humans traded a more consistent food supply for a lower quality of life.

    As Daniel Lieberman puts it in his book The Story of the Human Body, "Farming created more food and allowed populations to grow, but for most of the last few thousand years, the average farmer had to work much harder than any hunter-gatherer, experienced worse health, and was more likely to die young."

    Agriculture yielded food that could have been more nutritious and varied.

    Due to a lack of fruit and vegetables in their diets—which are fatal if left untreated—many farmers developed scurvy, which was one of the problems this caused.

    Agriculture also required a more laborious lifestyle, resulting in another mismatch due to the physically demanding work required.

    By contrast, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle includes walking, climbing, and moving in varied ways while rarely repeating the same movements repeatedly, the kind of work needed for farming.

    Agriculture created the first significant environmental mismatch for the human species and would lead future humans into a progressively more mismatched world as technology advanced. We moved further away from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

    The Paleo and Paleontology community has been discussing these ideas for a while now. So none of this forms the realization I mentioned at the beginning of this article.

    The realization I mentioned earlier was like an "aha" moment and went like this:

    Evolution and devolution are happening right now, every single day, in every one of us.

    Modern human evolution

    While the evolution of a species is a slow process spanning millions of years, microevolutionary events happen daily. Here are some examples:

    • When you gain weight over the summer, you are devolving to match your environment, one with too many calories and not enough exercise.
    • When you lose weight (but not too much), you are adapting to your current environment by eating fewer and better calories coupled with more physical activity, which results in a better overall level of health.
    • When millions of humans become sick and obese, they are devolving to match their current environment, which is usually rooted in poor nutrition and lifestyle habits.
    • When millions of humans develop back pain, tight hips, and poor posture, they are devolving to match an increase in sitting and a decrease in natural movement.
    • and so on.

    In a nutshell, here's what you need to know about Paleo and human evolution: Our hunter-gatherer ancestors passed down their genes to each human being alive today. These genes had lived the majority of their existence in an environment without a consistent food supply, where food was only natural and wild, where they frequently moved, where they slept while the sun was down and rose when it was up, where they had strong bonds and social ties to their tribe, and where they lived in the wild every second of their lives.

    Nowadays, these same genes make up the DNA of each human being living today, and 99.99% of the world lives in an environment mismatched to the one they were designed for.

    This is the battle that modern humans face every day.

    This is why the number one killer in the United States is heart disease.

    This is why, for the first time in history, our children's generation has a shorter lifespan than their parents' generation.

    When I realized (thought of, to be more precise) that evolution was taking place on this daily, micro level, I thought about the modern humans that are fit, healthy, and thriving compared to the modern humans that are sick and getting sicker.

    Then I realized this:

    ​The human of tomorrow is going to be the human that can survive in this new environment.

    That was my big "aha" moment.

    If you can stay fit, healthy, and robust when food is always available and sitting and living indoors are so prevalent, When toxins and stressors attack you daily, you are more likely to pass on your genes to the next generation than other humans.

    Conversely, your genes will eventually die if you can't adapt to this environment.

    As harsh as it may seem, this is a fact of human existence.

    Trust me, I'm actively fighting to make sure as few people as possible fall victim to their genes dying off. It's part of our mission at Wild Foods: to educate the public about the importance of health and nutrition.

    I'm not happy about modern human health, but I won't sugarcoat it because that would be a disservice to all the modern humans that need to hear it.

    Perhaps if more people thought of their health this way—as their genes dying off or continuing—then they'd get serious about changing their lifestyle.

    I don't know. Part of me thinks that, sadly, some people will never make the change and are destined to be just another statistic.

    Start with nutrition

    Over the years, I've learned that nutrition is the greatest return on investment a modern human can make for their current and future health.

    If you focus on eating real food ingredients, you are far more likely to pass on your genes to the next generation.

    You'll evolve in your current environment, which will have a huge carryover to other parts of your health.

    Natural food nutrition increases energy, improves fitness, balances hormones, gives you better sleep and mental health, and improves nearly every other marker of health.

    This is why nutrition needs to come first.

    other areas of your life improve, creating a cascading domino effect as you progress from devolution to evolution.

    Nutrition should also come first because it's so powerful in either direction—negatively or positively.

    Poor nutrition makes every aspect of human health worse. Good nutrition makes every aspect of human health better.

    Are you going to thrive, survive, or waste away?

    Most of the Western world is sick and getting sicker.

    Then a large part of the modern human population is skating by with their favorable genes, which will last until they don't.

    Think of those people who eat whatever they want and don't gain a pound.

    These individuals usually have plenty of visceral fat surrounding their organs and are prime candidates for all the same modern diseases that overweight people are susceptible to. In this case, looks can kill. Literally.

    Lastly, a small percentage of modern humans are thriving in the modern world.

    These humans are healthy and best express their genes through their lifestyle and environment. They are evolving in our modern world while most of the world devolves.

    These humans are thriving because they are, consciously or unconsciously, minimizing the modern world's adverse effects on their health. This results in the best expression of their genes, which increases the likelihood they'll pass those genes onto their offspring, making it more likely that they will spread and pass on and become the humans of tomorrow.

    A Final Note on Darwin

    You've probably heard of Darwin and the survival of the fittest.

    But you probably didn't know that Darwin didn't actually coin that term and that his theory of natural selection is often misinterpreted.

    Natural selection states that a species's most extensive, worst, and most potent traits will likely survive and pass along their genes.

    His theory states that the species best adapted to its environment will likely survive and pass along its genes.

    The species most likely to survive are those best adapted to the environment.

    How might that apply to our modern world and the human species?

    It will not be the most innovative, best-looking, significant, vital, or richest humans that survive in this new world we've created; it will be the most adaptable.

    In our current world, the most adaptable human looks like this:

    • They don't eat too often.
    • They don't overeat often.
    • They don't eat much sugar.
    • They eat primarily real food.
    • They move every day.
    • They get sunlight every day.
    • They sleep a lot.
    • They don't stress too much.
    • They are grateful.
    • They have a purpose.
    • They have a robust social network.
    • They don't eat much processed food.
    • They supplement intelligently.
    • They usually know how to cook and do that often.
    • They buy great ingredients.
    • They play often.
    • They laugh often.
    • They usually read. (At least in the Western world.)
    • They sprint every so often.
    • They pick up heavy things regularly.

    Some modern humans accidentally express these genes because they live a certain way. In contrast, others do it on purpose because they understand the fundamentals of human biology and the mismatch theory, and they do their best to make choices that best adhere to what is "healthy."

    Either way, it's up to you to figure it out for yourself.

    If you become a scientist and test the many available techniques and theories, you'll be able to find what best expresses your genome.

    No matter what you do, you have to listen to your body. At times, your body will hate you because you'll make it do things it doesn't like, like exercising and ignoring your sweet tooth, but if you listen to it closely, you'll find all the evidence you need to create the eating and lifestyle plan that best expresses your genes.

    Each day you are alive, you can evolve or devolve. Which is it going to be?

    Paleo 101

    1. Eat only real food. ‍The most critical part of eating clean, Paleo or not, is eating real food. The problem with this recommendation is that "real food" isn't easily defined.

    In a nutshell, "real food" is any food that has not been processed or altered in a way that compromises the integrity of the raw ingredient. After that, some foods can be processed yet still qualify as real food.

    For example, most cocoa products fall into this category because you can't grab a cocoa pod from a tree and eat the beans without processing them to make them safe for human consumption. But we still consider high-quality cocoa and high-quality dark chocolate to be real food.

    These forms of processed real food fall into the same category as other neolithic foods like butter, which weren't around during the actual Paleolithic era but are still acceptable foods to eat when grown and made a certain way. (Hint: it's all about the quality!)

    You are trying to get as close to nature as possible. The more you do the cooking and processing yourself, the better.

    Each step away from nature—each step that requires processing—increases the health risk, and your food doesn't qualify as real food.

    When it comes to defining "real food," the more you know about food—how it was grown and made—the better decision you can make about how good it is.

    In most cases, real food contains one ingredient (or a few other ingredients that fit real food's criteria).


    • Ingredient List: Chicken
    • Not-Real-Food Ingredient List (an actual label on packaging containing substances they are trying to pass off as "food"): Chicken, water, wheat flour, salt, soy, protein concentrate, modified corn starch, flavorings, Fried in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil with BHT.

    2. Eat real food calories in ratios that look something like this:

    • 40-70% fat                    
    • 20-35% protein            
    • 10-25% carbohydrates

    Ratios for macronutrients are always subjective because each person is different and will do better on varying amounts of fat, protein, and carbs. Furthermore, your macros will vary depending on your activity levels, current level of fitness, and goals.

    Quantifying an exact ratio that will work for everyone is impossible, so we must give broad ranges. The recommendations above are starting points you can use to figure out what works best for you.

    Another thing about macro ratios is that if you can get real food mostly down, they soon become a trivial consideration; you can eat what you want as long as it's real food, and your body will take care of the rest.

    What about weight management?

    Let's say you start eating only real food but need to lose weight because you want to. This would be a good time to curb your carb intake while increasing your fat and protein intake.

    Most people, especially those new to Paleo or a real food diet, need help eating enough fat and protein. See our food list to see clean sources of each.

    After your fat and protein fill, your stomach will have little room for carbs (especially sugar). This lets you control your carb intake, which makes it easier to curb your hormone levels and lose body fat.

    Generally, carbohydrates should comprise 10–30% of your total calorie intake, consisting of the cleanest carbohydrates—e.g., yams, sweet potatoes, squash, plantains, fruit, nuts, and seeds.

    3. Eat plenty of clean fat from coconuts, pastured butter and ghee, and any fat from healthy animals.

    ‍This is often the most challenging part for those new to the Paleo diet.

    Pop nutrition culture has vilified fat for a long time now. There are a few reasons for this, such as faulty research and food corporation lobbying and advertising, but to avoid going down that rabbit hole right now, here is the truth about fat in simple terms:

    "Fat doesn't make you fat." Fat helps prevent fat gain because it acts as a buffer for those hormones that get all out of whack from eating too many carbs and processed junk food. Fat also helps fill you up and trigger signals to your brain that you are full.

    Fat is necessary for human life. If you don't eat fat, you'll die.

    The same can't be said of carbohydrates—your body can survive on zero carbs. But your body will waste away if you don't get your fat and protein intake.

    The other part of the fat fear-mongering pertains to saturated fat. In another simple nutshell, saturated fat does not cause heart disease, and you can eat as many egg yolks and fatty steaks as you want!

     (These eggs should be pastured and organic, and the steaks should be from humanely treated grass-fed cattle.)

    Fat is a necessary and nutritious nutrient for the human body.

    Please repeat after me: "Fat doesn't make me fat." And eating fat will help you lose fat.

    Now slather some pastured butter on your next hunk of salmon or grass-fed steak.

    4. Eat as much omega-3 EPA and DHA as you can.

    ‍Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in abundance in the modern industrialized Western diet. While omega-6s are an essential fatty acid the human body needs to run, having too many of them compared to omega-3s can promote inflammation.

    It's about the ratio, and the problem with our Western food supply is that omega-6 is everywhere and omega-3 needs improvement.

    Omega-6 fatty acids are found in many processed foods and nut and seed oils, while many beneficial omega-3s are found in healthy animals and seafood.

    The typical American diet is estimated to contain about 14 times as much omega-6 as omega-3.

    This is why we need to do this: Limit omega-6s and foods that contain omega-6s as much as possible while increasing the amount of omega-3-rich food we eat.

    Omega-3s, specifically the ones containing EPA and DHA, are found in fatty fish—salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, and mackerel—and, to a lesser extent, in grass-fed red meats and wild game.

    Almost all the fat in restaurants is cooked in omega-6-filled vegetables and seed oils. (Pro tip: Ask the server to have the chef cook your food in butter.)

    Eat more canned fish, salmon, and grass-fed meats. Consider supplementing with quality fish oil as well!

    5. Eat in season and with as much colorful variety as you can.

    ‍Our ancestors ate food that was in season and only in season.

    After all, they had no choice in the matter. No grocery stores, trucks, planes, or ships could transport produce worldwide.

    In-season food tastes better and is more nutritious (the former being the reason great chefs only cook with local, in-season ingredients).

    Compare this to the food you get from halfway across the world that is not actually in season because these foods are sprayed with pesticides to help them ripen—slower or faster—so they will be just right when put up for sale in the grocery stores.

    This is how corporations use synthetics to circumvent the seasons.

    If you shop at your local grocery store, the produce is usually bland and needs more nutrients.

    Conversely, go to the local farmer's market and pick up vibrant produce that is full of flavor and nutrition and always in season.

    The other thing about eating in season is that it naturally mixes up your diet.

    Eating the same foods repeatedly can cause the human body to develop food allergies. Even research suggests that most Americans are slightly allergic to chicken and mildly to severely allergic to peanuts.

    Think about it: our ancestors never ate chicken on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis the way many do today, thinking they were eating "healthy."

    No food was available to our ancestors on that basis. Food was always constantly varied, unexpected, and in season.

    6. Eliminate all grains and legumes from your diet.

    ‍As I disclaimed in Section #2 of this guide, if you grow your grains and bake your bread using those grains after you process them the way they need to be processed, grains would be acceptable to eat sometimes.

    The same goes for legumes.

    But let's be honest with ourselves: you just aren't going to do that.

    And that's why grains and legumes are not recommended on a real food or Paleo diet.

    Grains and legumes attack the gut. They are severely lacking in nutrients. They contain many antinutrients. and so on. We'll cover grains and legumes more in later parts of this guide.

    Avoid wheat, oats, rye, barley, brown rice, soybeans, peanuts, lentils, all beans, black-eyed peas, and corn.

    7. Avoid sugar.

    ‍Sugar is everywhere. Most of us are more addicted to sugar than we know.

    Do everything you can to avoid foods that contain sugar or sweeteners. (And juice is not a healthy food; it's junk food.)

    Also, please stop feeding your children sugar. For the love of humanity, stop it.

    It's incredible how effectively the big food brands have shaped the diet of our generation and how it's so socially acceptable to feed kids sugar. 

    This, and the other issues with our food supply, are why the current generation of children is estimated to live shorter lives than their parents. This is serious. Please stop feeding your kids sugar-processed foods! You are ruining their health—and their future—with every bite.

    8. Remove seed oils and all forms of hydrogenated fats.

    ‍These are full of omega-6s, are often rancid, and wreak havoc on your health.

    You'll often find these in processed and packaged foods and nearly all restaurant food. (Yes, I said ALL restaurant food.)

    Avoid peanut oil, safflower oil, vegetable oil, shortening, margarine, soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and anything with the word "hydrogenated" or "trans" on the label.

    9. Eat out as little as possible.

    ‍Restaurant food needs to be corrected.

    From cross-contamination to the prevalent use of highly refined seed and vegetable oils to disgusting food-handling practices, you need to do everything you can to eat out as little as possible.

    For those of you who eat nearly all your meals at restaurants, I have some bad news: It will catch up to you, and when it does, you'll probably be sitting in a doctor's office hearing bad news.

    10. Be careful with dairy.

    ‍Avoid milk.

    It's terrible for your waistline, and your general health and any nutrients in the raw version have been eradicated through pasteurization. (Raw milk, if you can get your hands on it, is an entirely different story.)

    Do this: Buy organic, and if you can find it, grass-fed, full-fat dairy products.

    and go light on the cheese.

    *Technically, dairy is not "strict Paleo," but many in the Paleo community have realized that dairy can be used strategically with the result.

    11. Eat lots of vegetables.

    ‍Just do it.

    12. Get all the lifestyle stuff in check.

    13. Skip meals regularly. Don't Snack

    ‍Try to extend how long you go without food regularly. You can call this "fasting."

    How Much Food Should You Eat on a Paleo Diet?

    There needs to be a more complex answer here. You should eat what you should eat based on your goals.

    How much you should eat is an answer that only you can give.

    I can't give you the exact amount of food you should eat when following a Paleo diet, but I can give you general ranges and the tools needed to figure it out for yourself.

    But before I give you these recommendations, I need you to understand something.

    It's this: You have to eat real food.

    Until the bulk of your diet consists of real food, you won't be able to follow the following recommendations below because they will only work if you eat about 90% of your calories in the form of real food.

    So before worrying about how much you should or shouldn't eat, get off the processed or restaurant food and start buying and preparing real food ingredients at home.

    After that, you can determine how much food you should eat for your specific body type and goals.

    A Rough Guide

    The first thing you have to do to get control over the calories you eat is to stop snacking.

    You can only control your food intake during the day.

    Snacking also messes up your hunger by spiking insulin levels, which has you going through the day with chronically elevated blood glucose levels.

    Snacking begets snacking because of the hormonal rollercoaster your body goes through.

    Snacking usually sabotages weight loss efforts for those who have already made drastic improvements in their diet.

    Don't snack and eat only real food, preferably food you've made at home.

    After you have these two down, aim to get your total daily calorie intake from 2 or 3 meals a day.

    When you sit down to eat your meals, focus on eating slowly and eating fat and protein before carbs. Carbs come last.

    By eating slowly and getting your fill from fat, protein, and non-starchy veggies, you'll have much less room in your belly left over for carbs, dairy, and other foods that require moderation.

    After that, keep eating slowly until you are satisfied.

    If you're a fast eater (like me), you're prone to overeating.

    In this case, you should coach yourself to stop eating a couple of times throughout your meal. Also, try slowing down. Make sure you chew extra hard—not only does this slow you down, but it also improves digestion.

    And that's it. If you follow these steps, your body will regulate your calorie intake and take over the process. Then all you have to do is listen to it.

    How to figure out how much food you should eat on a Paleo diet (or any diet):

    Eat until you feel satisfied for 1-3 meals a day while adhering to these rules:

    1. Eat real food.
    2. Start with protein, fat, and green vegetables first.
    3. Eat slow. Then eat even slower than that. (BTW, this is one of the most effective weight loss tips.)
    4. Slow down towards the end of your meal. Consider taking a break or two before finishing your last bite.

    What if you are trying to lose weight?

    If you want to lose weight, eat more fat and protein and less starchy carbs while eating as little sugar as possible.

    Then follow the rules above while slowly reducing the total calories you put on your plate.

    You should also skip meals frequently and implement some form of intermittent fasting.

    What if you want to gain weight?

    Eat more calories consisting of fat, protein, and sweet potatoes. White rice can also help you gain weight.

    Make huge Wild Butter Brew Protein Shakes full of nutrient-dense Wild Chocolate Powder, pastured butter, wild coffee, Wild Whey, Wild Cocoa Butter, and maybe a spoonful of almond or cashew butter.

    Common Issues Transitioning to Paleo

    Imagine this:You stop eating all food that comes in a package; you cook or prepare all your meals at home; you buy fresh ingredients at the farmer's market and grocery store in your area.

    Then you eat those ingredients at home after preparing them for 2 or 3 meals daily. You avoid all restaurant food. All snacks. All soda. All alcohol. All grains.

    How do you think you'd feel?

    Pretty good.

    Well, that may not be the case.

    Food is a drug; like any drug, it has hormonal responses when you ingest it.

    If you stop eating the foods you regularly eat, your body might respond with a "detox." This detox is your body's way of dealing with the absence of the foods—and their carbs, proteins, and fats—it's used to getting.

    Since each person is different, each body will respond differently to removing certain foods.

    Typically, the worse your diet is, the harder your body will take it when you cut out the sugars, grains, and other inflammatory foods your body is used to getting.

    That said, most of us have at least one not-so-healthy food addiction. Maybe for you, it's bingeing on Ben and Jerry's every weekend. Or you may love those substantial, sugar-filled frappes at Starbucks. If you are like me, you might eat way too much dark chocolate. and so on.

    Whatever it is, the chemical components of these foods that keep you coming back for more will kick you in the behind when you try to cut them out of your diet.

    Scientists suggest that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Yelp.

    Food is a drug. plain and simple.

    Eating food triggers a hormonal response, like when you pop a pill.

    Thinking of food as a drug is a great way to start thinking about your food. Then, hopefully, you can start seeing your food habits for what they are: obsessive, addictive, neurotic, guilt- and shame-inducing, habitual, and so on.

    So, what happens when a hard drug addict goes cold turkey?


    And for the most challenging addicts, withdrawal can kill.

    Of course, quitting junk food cold turkey won't kill you, but it will produce withdrawal-like effects that you need to be prepared for if you want to win the battle against your body.

    Here are some everyday things you'll face when moving from junk food to a clean, real-food diet.

    #1: A Lack of Those Quick Spikes of Energy from Carbs

    If you eat a lot of carbohydrates, you will have higher-than-average blood glucose and insulin levels, perpetuating snacking and eating more carbohydrates.

    This chronic snacking, combined with your chronically elevated blood sugar levels, becomes a state your body is used to. So when you try to go without eating carbs or snacking for any extended period, your body is likely to respond by feeling nauseous, tired, and cranky.

    This carb-fueled state is sometimes referred to as a "carb-burning metabolism."

    When you move to a lower-carb, higher-fat diet, your metabolism switches from a carb-burning metabolism to a fat-burning metabolism.

    After a while, you develop a fat-adapted metabolism.

    This transition is often the most challenging part of transitioning to a real-food eating style.

    If you are a heavy carb eater and a snacker, this process will be extra tricky because your body is used to the constant supply of food and carbs.

    Moving from more frequent to less frequent eating or from more carbs to fewer carbs will almost always make you feel crappy for a few days, maybe even a week or two. That's the bad news.

    The good news is that it will pass if you ride it out.

    Then, when you break the snack/carb cycle, you'll feel better and get better results all around—and if weight loss is your goal, you'll be on your way to burning off the fat.

    You will no longer be a slave to food; you'll be able to skip meals when you want and rarely get the same kind of nagging hunger you used to.

    It can be life-changing.

    A tip: When you start feeling your body craving carbs or calories, eat protein or fat instead.

    #2: Not Eating Enough Fat: Being Scared of Eating Healthy Fat

    This one's tough for people who have tried following conventional nutrition advice, especially the "low fat" kind.

    Even though there is now mountains of research dispelling the "lipid hypothesis" myth, the mainstream media—and the masses—have yet to catch up (big surprise).

    What you have to do is replace carbs with pure fat.

    plain and simple.

    You will fall victim to #1 on this list if you don't.

    You also might risk under-consuming calories, which is not a healthy and sustainable way of losing weight.

    Adding healthy fat to each meal is the best way to eat more fat. Treat fat like a side dish the same way you treat your veggies.

    • Coconut in all forms
    • Melted pastured butter
    • Nut/Seed kinds of butter - Be careful with these, as they are high in omega-6s
    • Olive oil
    • Wild MCT oil

    #3: Feeling The Need To Be Perfect, Then Slipping And Going In The Opposite Direction

    This one is psychological. And if you are aware of this trap, you'll be better prepared to deal with it when it sneaks up on you.

    The first law of food and nutrition is this: you will be flawed. No one is perfect, and being perfect isn't the point.

    When you slip on your plan and give in to those cookies, ice cream, bagels, or whatever excellent food you love that isn't good for you, accept the mistake and focus your energy on the next thing you are going to do to get back on track, like going for a walk or making sure that your next meal is on point.

    It's as simple as that. (And as hard.)

    Don't fall into the negative spiral thinking that people do when making excuses for themselves, like "I'll start tomorrow" or "Today is already shot, so I might as well go all in."

    That's the kind of thinking that'll keep you eating crap for the rest of your life.

    Don't lie to yourself. Be honest and do what it takes.

    #4: Not Giving It Time and Letting It Take Its Course

    Following a new eating plan is a process, and often a difficult one, because we are creatures of habit and our bodies are used to doing what they usually do.

    Your body is a pro at maintaining the status quo. The thing is, your job in the health and fitness game is to break the status quo.

    Breaking habits is a mental and physical battle.

    Your mind will crave the "reward" you get when you give in to temptation, and so will your body.

    In fact, for some, breaking food habits is the hardest thing they'll ever do.

    No wonder so few people do it.

    Listen, I've been doing a real-food Paleo-style diet for years and still screw up regularly. Some weeks, I eat out more than I should. On other weeks, I might eat well, but my sweet tooth seems to be getting the upper hand, so I'm downing dark chocolate bars like nobody's business.

    So what do I do? Should I get angry at myself? Should I scold and punish myself?

    Nada. That doesn't work.

    Instead of wallowing over a thing I can't change (the past), I view my "slacking" as a sign I need to correct my course and get back to my plan.

    So I do. Then, with each passing day, week, month, and year, my habits will slowly deteriorate until I get to the point of resetting again. And I'm getting better each time and pushing the reset back a bit longer.

    It comes down to this: No matter where you are on your health journey, you will go through ups and downs. And the key to surviving this treacherous journey is to be patient and focus on the next step.

    If you are starting, give your body and mind the extra time and leeway they need to adjust. Respect the process. Understand that it's not about perfection. It's about progress.

    And most important of all, expect more than quick results!

    I've seen some clients go months without losing a pound, even after completely changing their lifestyle.

    On a final note, never compare yourself to others. Your results are going to be different from everyone else's. Your only competition is yourself.

    Transitioning to a Paleo diet takes time, patience, and much trial and error.

    Avoid the many traps by focusing on the next step instead of obsessing over the last step.

    Low-Carb, Paleo, and Your Hormones

    The carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that make up food are called macronutrients.

    These macronutrients come in the measurement we call calories, are measured in grams and milligrams, and are used as fuel by your body.

    Without macronutrients, your body won't work.

    Your body doesn't work without macronutrients.

    You probably don't think about this often, and when you read it, it won't strike you as anything groundbreaking.

    After all, of course, your body runs on food. Duh.

    Not so fast, their cowboy.

    We all need this reminder from time to time. If we remember that our body would stop working if we went without carbs, protein, and fat, it might remind us just how essential calories are to life.

    Then, we'll consider and respect the calories we choose to keep us alive.

    Then we'll think about how calories come in different shapes, sizes, and flavors and how additional calories make us feel differently.

    For example, when you eat certain foods—especially if you overeat them—you may feel bloated, stuffed, and sick.

    When you eat other foods, you might feel energized and alive. (And with some foods, even if you overeat them, you still might feel good or average.)

    and so on.

    Food for thought

    Now that I have you thinking about calories, let's look at how this little form of digestible energy—the kcal—interacts with your human body.

    Is a calorie just a calorie?

    ​When you eat calories, they are absorbed into your bloodstream and filtered by your liver.

    The two predominant hormones in this process help regulate glucose levels. They are insulin and glucagon.

    Insulin lowers the abundance of glucose in the bloodstream by allowing other tissues to store glucose, first as glycogen in your​ muscles and liver, then as body fat if there is extra glucose after your glycogen stores have been maxed.

    Glucagon is released when glucose levels in the bloodstream are too low, signaling the liver to convert glycogen into glucose.

    Both hormones are designed to keep your blood sugar levels stable, keeping your body weight and appetite healthy.

    The problems arise when you have too little or too much of either of these hormones, which are dependent on the types of food and how much food you eat.

    This hormonal interplay is the process behind the health crisis of our modern industrialized society—too many processed foods that throw human hormones out of whack, promoting inflammation and leading to an increased risk of disease.

    The Troublesome Carbohydrate

    When you eat a carbohydrate, your body quickly converts it into glucose.

    Glucose is the sugar molecule in your blood that is your primary energy source.

    Glucose is an integral part of a normal, healthy human being if it is optimal.

    When there is too much glucose in the bloodstream on a chronic basis, you get a nation with a 60% obesity rate.

    Extra glucose in the blood is the human body's way of storing fat.

    Our ancestors lived in the wild as hunter-gatherers with an inconsistent food supply, so storing body fat was necessary for survival.

    Without fat and the body's ability to store it, no human and most mammals wouldn't be able to survive in the harsh wild, where food is often scarce and inconsistent.

    This is why, when our ancestors came across food, they ate as much as possible to convert it into body fat, the human body's first form of food preservation.

    Biology allows us to store fat to take those calories with us. Then our metabolism utilizes these body fat stores for energy when there is a lack of food (glucose) in our bloodstream.

    They were starting to see how all these natural mechanisms worked. And how are they based on how our ancestors lived in the wild before we had access to food 24 hours a day?

    Biology designed us to eat a ton of food all at once to store fat for later. Then biology made us good at burning fat stores when we went without food for long periods in between feedings (see Intermittent Fasting).

    This means you, I, and every human alive are biologically designed to gain fat.

    We are good at putting fat on our bodies when we signal to our bodies that we have plenty of food. Snacking, overeating, drinking calories, and eating fast are all signs that we have plenty of food and tell our body to store fat for later.


    Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have welcomed fat gain whenever they could get it because it increased our chances of survival.

    Nowadays, this is different for humans.

    and this showcases the mismatch theory.

    You struggle to keep the fat off your body because you can access food whenever you want. Your body is designed to gain fat, and your brain is designed to make you want to. Ouch. Gaining fat is how the hunter-gatherer genes in your body have survived for hundreds of thousands of years. No wonder it's hard to control them!

    Back to the hormones

    Your body stores glucose in fat cells via the hormone insulin, secreted by your pancreas when you have extra glucose after filling up your liver and muscles with glycogen.

    Your body uses glycogen as its first energy source for fueling performance. The more muscle mass you have, the more glycogen you can store.

    After your muscle and liver glycogen levels are full, insulin shuttles the rest of that glucose into body fat, which, as we saw above, is nature's way of taking those calories with us.

    These biological processes kept our ancestors alive in an environment with an inconsistent food supply, before the advent of agriculture, for hundreds of thousands of years.

    This system of complex hormonal processes was necessary for the survival of our ancestors and is what makes it so hard to survive today.

    This is why you often hear insulin blamed for diabetes, weight gain, and many other weight-related health issues facing society.

    The thing is, insulin is just doing the job it was made to do.

    Nearly all animals secrete insulin, but only humans—and, sure, overfed domestic pets—have access to a limitless food supply.

    Think about this a bit.

    In the wild, food is not readily available. A way to walk to your fridge or a nearby restaurant is best.

    In the wild, you'd sometimes come across a ton of food, like when you had a successful hunt. You couldn't take all that food because it would soon go bad and you couldn't preserve it.

    Imagine you and your tribesmen hadn't eaten much in a month—maybe some berries or leaves here and there. Then your tribe has a successful hunt: you take down a large gazelle or water buffalo.

    What do you think you and your tribe would do at that point?

    You would eat until you couldn't eat anymore to store as many calories as possible for later by converting the extra glucose in your bloodstream into fat cells through the hormone insulin.

    • Certain foods convert faster to glucose in the blood, resulting in a faster insulin "spike." carb-dense white starches, bread, sugar, milk, and other refined and processed foods
    • The more you eat, the more likely you are to produce too much insulin and store too much glucose. The whole "eat to stoke your metabolism" thing is nonsense.
    • Our ancestors went for long periods with little or no food. This is why intermittent fasting (meaning irregular, broken up) is so healthy for humans.

    The Evolution of the Paleo Diet Paleo

    It is widely considered that Dr. Loren Cordain is the "founder" of the Paleo Diet.

    His first book, The Paleo Diet, not only coined the name "The Paleo Diet," but it was also the first published book to hit the mainstream and promote the idea of a diet based on research in evolutionary biology and human anthropological studies.

    Since then, countless books, authors, blogs, and brands have been created based on the Paleo concept.

    And due to the growing interest and research in the Paleo communities, there have been many evolutions of what is considered "Paleo."

    The thing is, there's no single definition. There are only two versions of Paleo.

    One of the most accepted evolutions of the Paleo diet since Cordain's original work is the move from recommending lean meats to fatty meats.

    Cordain's first book recommends lean meats as ideal, but the Paleo community has moved chiefly away from lean meats and toward all forms of meat, especially fatty meats, as long as they come from healthy animals.

    Even Cordain has updated his stance on fatty meats since publishing his first book.

    In general, the Paleo community tends to agree on the importance of eating fatty cuts of meat from healthy animals.

    Other Paleo Evolutions

    ​Even though Cordain is considered the grandfather of Paleo, there still needs to be a single definition or officially approved version of the Paleo diet. Unlike a diet like Zone or the Atkins diet, no one has trademarked the Paleo diet and set out exact guidelines.

    This is why there are so many interpretations of Paleo.

    Anyone can create a blog or write a book on Paleo and put whatever twist they want on it. As you might imagine, this has led to much confusion and conflicting ideas about what Paleo is.

    That said, you'll see some unwritten laws in most Paleo versions. A few of these have changed from the Cordain diet's original recommendations.

    Here are a few of these evolutions:

    After gorging on a fresh kill, your body would fill up your glycogen stores before filling up new fat cells. You would then have an increased chance of survival because you would have more stored calories in your fat, which would keep you alive until you could take down another hunt.

    Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were pros at gaining fat when they found food and burning it off when they didn't have food.

    (Which is why intermittent fasting is so good for us.)

    Gaining fat as a hunter-gatherer was like refilling your gas tank, often after running on fumes.

    Compare that to today: We eat daily, usually more than once.

    Some people eat all day long, constantly snacking and drinking calories.

    And what happens?

    This happens: the body has more than enough glucose to fill up the liver and muscles, and so the body stores body fat.

    Not only will eating too often and too much of the wrong foods make your body store body fat, but it'll also train your body to constantly release insulin throughout the day, which leads to a whole host of health problems—hypoglycemic hyperinsulinemia, nemia, and general inflammation—that lead to nearly every modern Western disease we know of.

    Based on this information, here are a few nutrition-related takeaways:

    • The move from lean meats to fatty meats from healthy animals
    • The move to focus on quality and not as much on quantity
    • Combining intermittent fasting with Paleo
    • Going low-carb, low-to-moderate protein, and high-fat
    • A softening stance on dairy (total fat and raw dairy being the typical recommendations)
    • Including grass-fed butter, a Neolithic food, as a part of a Paleo diet
    • Moving to clean fat as the primary macronutrient in the diet (compared to protein, which has long held the top spot in most diets),

    To sum up

    ​It's a good thing that Paleo has many definitions because it will keep evolving as more and more people seek to innovate and improve the concept.

    Of course, for the average person, this could be better. After all, people want to be told what works in as few words as possible to get the desired results with as little fuss as possible.

    The confusion only gets in the way of this.

    And who can blame them?

    Most people are interested in something other than nutrition and food in the first place (shocking, I know).

    Of course, part of our mission at Wild Foods is to educate and encourage people to become more interested in food, health, and nutrition. The more interested you are in these topics, the easier it will be to get the desired results.

    And I know you want results because you wouldn't be reading this if you didn't.

    Nutrition takes practice and learning.

    You must prep meals, make intelligent decisions at restaurants and the grocery store, restrain yourself at parties when junk food is calling your name, and so on.

    This is what I recommend to get you more interested in food, cooking, and nutrition:

    1. Read a few books and blogs and compare the recommendations.
    2. Experiment with some of the recommendations in your life. Keep what sticks and try something else for what doesn't.
    3. Build a favorite recipe archive right now. Please keep it in your kitchen. Consider spiral-binding it. Laminate it or put it on protective sheets. Add a section for easy side dishes and "make ahead" ingredients like homemade mayo, ketchup, soffrito, etc.
    4. Make dinner for friends.
    5. Watch cooking shows and check out

    You won't lose weight healthily and sustainably by eating fewer calories and exercising more because this is fighting your body. You have to trick your body, not fight it. Next, we'll show you how to do just that.Now, let's simplify these into a simple eating plan you can use in your modern life based on the human hormonal makeup our ancestors passed down to us.

    #1. Avoid carb-heavy processed and refined foods.

    Opt for low-glycemic foods and avoid high-glycemic foods, especially sugar, legumes, and grains.

    The glycemic index measures a food's effect on blood glucose levels. The lower the GI of the smaller person, the smaller the glucose levels. Fifty-five or less is considered L56–69, 56–69 is considered medium medium GI, and 70+ is considered high GI.

    Examples: Nuts, seeds, and starchy vegetables have a low GI; white sugar, rice, bananas, raisins, and ice cream have a medium GI; white rice, potatoes, high fructose corn syrup, white bread, and other processed foods have a high GI.

    #2: Eat less often. Skip meals regularly and don't snack.

    As we saw above, snacking is not something our ancestors did.

    And even if they did eat some berries and twigs while roaming the wild, their snacks were low in calories, required a ton of chewing, and were real food found in small quantities. Compare that to the snack food of today, which is processed, refined, and calorie-dense.

    See more of our fasting tips in the later section, Intermittent Fasting.

    #3: Eat slow.

    The faster you eat, the faster glucose is shuttled into your body, which creates a more substantial insulin spike. Chewing also improves digestion and helps break down your food, reducing the strain on your gut.

    Finally, eating slower gives your stomach more time to signal to your brain that it's complete.

    Losing Weight on the Paleo Diet

    Weight loss is the most common reason people try the Paleo diet. Weight loss is the most common reason people stay on a Paleo diet.

    I've seen it often: individuals transition to a real-food Paleo-style diet and lose weight effortlessly. It changes their lives.

    In fact, for many of these individuals, after they lose weight, they have the reverse problem—they have trouble keeping weight on! (Of course, that's an easy and enjoyable fix.)

    We'll look at the theory behind why weight loss works so well on a Paleo diet. Then I'll give you a few tips for kickstarting your weight loss program.

    Why Your Body Wants to Stay the Way It Is!

    Homeostasis is defined as the process of keeping a system stable.

    Homeostasis is what your body does daily; it regulates, manages, excretes, digests, and does everything it can to keep your body running the way it typically does.

    When you sweat, your body releases sweat from your glands to cool down. Without sweat, your body would overheat, and you could die.

    Now think about what happens after a workout: slow breathing and heart rate. And this is your body returning to its baseline—homeostasis at work.

    When you eat food, your body responds to address the food intake and what happens when food enters your bloodstream, like elevated blood glucose levels and the release of insulin to stabilize glucose levels.

    Homeostasis is your friend when you are fit and healthy and your number one enemy when you are not. Let me explain.

    You see, if you have pounds to shed, your body is your worst enemy because it will urge you to do things to maintain its current state, which is a state of being whatever way it is.

    When you try to change your body, it will fight you because its natural predisposition is to maintain the way it already is—which is probably what Lord Percival meant when he said, "The physically fit can enjoy their vices."

    (I always think of this quote when I write on this topic.)

    ​This goes both ways; your body will fight the change whether you want to gain or lose weight.

    For example, say you stop eating your typical daily amount of calories. What happens? Your body calls out for you to eat more calories in the form of cravings, hunger pangs, and, in some cases, headaches, nausea, etc.

    Let's say you start exercising more, and so your muscles strain, your heart beats faster, you sweat more, and you overall feel worse than you are used to feeling during and after exercise.

    So your body pleads with you to stop. When your brain starts receiving signals of pain and discomfort, it manifests thoughts that will try to make you stop so it can return to comfort.

    Ever heard the phrase "comfort is a killer"?

    It's so true.

    Homeostasis is why diets that recommend eating less while exercising more have high failure rates: because they are based on fighting homeostasis and inertia, two things at odds with the human condition.

    Most people don't have the sheer willpower to fight off their body's urge to maintain homeostasis.

    On the flip side, homeostasis works in your favor for those who are already fit and healthy because it keeps you the way you are. This is why you can get away with more frequent cheat meals and extended periods without exercise—although I don't recommend either.

    All that being said, there are some tricks you can play on your body to make the change easier. So, read on for those still struggling to get the desired results.

    Real food to the rescue!

    ​A real food The Paleo diet is so effective for losing weight because it is nourishing and, paradoxically, allows you to lose weight even when you eat the same amount of calories you already eat.

    First, recognize that you eat about the same amount of calories daily. You do this without realizing it because your body is good at maintaining homeostasis, so it drives you to eat the same amount daily.

    Do you ever wonder why some days you feel the urge to snack and others don't? That's your body telling you to maintain the status quo.

    Your body is so good at this; it also keeps you eating close to the same amount of carbs, fats, and protein. Why do you sometimes crave salty snack foods, or if your protein intake is low for the day, why is the only thing you want a big, fat steak?

    Let's call this your "food baseline."

    Your body is used to getting this food baseline daily, comprised of tight ranges of calories, carbs, proteins, and fats.

    When you eat less than you're used to, your body steers you in the direction needed to get you back to baseline.

    Now I want you to think about your food baseline and the foods you eat regularly.

    Are you picturing this baseline? You should go to your fridge and visualize your typical meal.

    Have you got it?

    Ok, good.

    Now think of all the foods (restaurant food included) that you eat on a daily or weekly basis that you know you should eliminate—restaurant food, bread, grains, processed food, snacks, chips, sweets, sugar, and so on.

    You may be able to open your fridge right now—or worse, your pantry—and purge plenty of these foods.

    If you were being honest with yourself, that is.

    So let's assume you just purged all these from your home and your life.

    Here comes the magic.

    For every calorie and gram of fat, protein, and carbohydrate you purge, you replace it with real food.

    You replace all those purged foods with a colorful and varied mix of healthy animal proteins and fats, starchy carbs from vegetables and tubers, nuts and seeds, coconut, cacao, single-origin coffee, tea, pastured butter, and maybe even some full-fat dairy.

    And then. You eat the same amount of calories, carbs, protein, and fat as usual to get your daily baseline in and keep your body happy. You essentially trick your body by eating the same amount of food but higher-quality food.

    Ideally, you'd eat fewer carbs and replace those with fat and protein, but for the sake of my illustration, you'll still get the results if you keep the number of carbs you usually eat.

    You eat the same amount of food but a different quality of food.

    And you know what's going to happen?

    You're going to lose weight. You'll also put on more muscle, burn more body fat, perform better, and feel better.

    You can eat the same amount of food you usually eat. Still, when you replace junk food with nutrient-dense real food, you'll satiate your appetite faster while ingesting more vitamins and minerals, all of which will help you feel better and make your body work better, creating a domino effect that'll trick your body into eating less.

    The more you eat real food ingredients, the faster you'll reach a magical place I call "in-control eating."

    When you eat "in control," you can easily change your food and body.

    Homeostasis then becomes an easy opponent.

    Say you want to gain weight. All you do is make a few slight iterations to the number of calories, protein, and fat you eat, and you'll be gaining clean weight in no time.

    On the flip side, if you want to lose body fat, you can make a few iterations and burn body fat in no time.

    When you eat "in control," you have a healthy relationship with your food and body. As a result, you won't view either with despair or anxiety because you'll be in control.

    Now let's talk about protein.

    Take a moment and imagine a 10-ounce piece of chicken or steak, both slightly chewy and an inch or so thick.

    Now picture yourself eating one of these until it's gone.

    Now imagine eating the second piece.

    How will your stomach feel? What about your appetite?

    For most people, the answer will be the same: you'll be full or close to it.

    You may or may not know something about protein. It's the most satisfying macronutrient.

    This means it fills you up faster than fat and carbs.

    Now compare the way you feel after eating a bag of potato chips.

    What happens after you eat a bag?

    still hungry, right?


    You can eat a bag of chips, consume triple (or more) calories than a piece of chicken or steak, and still be hungry afterward.


    Imagine how full you feel after eating a big salad or a side of sautéed veggies.

    not as satiating as a piece of protein, but close nonetheless.

    This is why you should always eat protein and fat before carbs. It's another way you can eat less while feeling more full.

    One way homeostasis keeps you the same is through hormones that regulate your appetite.

    These hormones are designed to function correctly when food is introduced to your body, like it was for your ancestors—infrequently, sometimes in small amounts, sometimes in large amounts, and always in real food form.

    The more you eat in a way that is mismatched with how you are designed to eat, like the way people eat in Western society, the more you screw up these appetite-regulating hormones.

    When you screw up your hormones, you make it near impossible to return to a healthy baseline.

    Hormones are why you will be hungry after eating a bag of chips.

    What all this means is this:

    #1. Eat real food.

    Read this guide and see why real food is the foundation. That's all I'll say about it here.

    #2: Cut out calorie-dense, hard-to-digest, and carb-heavy grains, legumes, lentils, and brown rice.

    By replacing these foods with real food, you'll cut down on the bazillion issues your body would regularly have to deal with. You also reduce your carb intake, which will reduce your blood glucose levels and reduce the likelihood that insulin stores the excess glucose in fat cells.

    #3: Eat protein first, fat second, and carbs last.

    Protein is the most satiating food you can eat. It will fill you up faster than any other food. Eat it first.

    Eat fat next.

    Fat releases a hormone that signals your body to stop eating. Fat also helps buffer the hormonal response from eating carbs and protein.

    Eat carbs last.

    Carbohydrates wreak the most havoc on your hormones. You may debate all you want, but this truth cannot be denied.

    Most processed and refined foods are also full of carbs (sugar is a carb, by the way).

    When you eat carbs last, you'll eat less of them because you'll already be full of protein and fat.

    Leading with carbs is always harmful if weight loss or health is your goal.

    Summing Up

    When you switch to real food from a diet full of empty processed calories, you will lose weight quickly.

    Of course, when you get this weight loss ball rolling, you'll still hit plateaus along the way as your body constantly tries to maintain homeostasis.

    The key here is to give it time to change and to implement the techniques above more and more so you can trick your body into submission.

    What's great about losing weight on a real-food Paleo diet is how easy it becomes once you create the habit.

    Once you get to the magical place called "In Control," the game looks like it's rigged in your favor instead of against you.

    And from then on, you will never look at your body as an adversary, and you'll be able to indulge in the odd cheat meal guilt-free since you know you'll get back on track quickly!

    The following nutrition topic is controversial. one of the most controversial in the nutrition world today.

    After all, people tend to get upset when you tell them something they enjoy isn't good for them. So when you tell them their morning bagel and favorite sandwich are something they probably shouldn't eat, they will not be happy about it.

    Real Food

    The main "diet" we recommend at Wild Foods is a real food diet. Grains need to fit those criteria.

    Paleo doesn't recommend grains for similar reasons.

    When was the last time you baked bread from scratch?

    When did you last grow grains and bake bread with those grains after you laboriously processed those grains yourself?

    You need to control the process of cultivating and preparing the grains you're going to eat to avoid relying on corporations to fix your grain.

    And the way it is for most foods, food from corporations could be better.

    Grains don't qualify as "real food" to us for these reasons. They also cause problems for the human body. More on that below.

    Then there's the issue that modern grains are different from the ancient grains our ancestors might have found in the wild occasionally.

    Even if you were to grow, process, and bake grains yourself, you would still be consuming heavily processed food that can be problematic for human health in more ways than one, especially for the gut.

    Of course, just because we don't see grains as an ideal food for optimizing health, that doesn't mean you aren't going to eat them from time to time.

    I eat them occasionally, and so will you and everyone else.

    That's why it's important not to get caught up in the dogmatic thinking that a diet is about perfection and clearly defined rules.

    No matter your stance on grains and gluten, you must give yourself the leeway that living in our modern world demands. Instead of getting upset that eating grains is not suitable for you, open your mind to the possibility that it might not be the best thing you can eat, so you should try to avoid them and that you'll have them sometimes.

    Here's the gist: grains are full of hard-to-digest carbohydrates and provide little nutrition to the human body.

    From a pure ROI standpoint, there are so many better foods to eat. Grains contain antinutrients and gut irritants that can cause mild to severe damage to your health.


    Today's grains are not those our ancestors would have found in the wild.

    So the argument that our ancestors and modern hunter-gatherers are alive today and eat grains isn't a justification for eating grains today.

    Modern grains produce flour from heavily processed and sprayed monocrops today andanimals don't recognize as food. This flour makes up the bulk of grain consumption around the world today.

    Even when our ancestors may have eaten grains, it was always in small amounts and infrequently.

    Comparing wild grains available 100,000 years ago to today's grains is like comparing apples to oranges.

    That being said, pulling the ancestor card to justify why grains aren't suitable for you isn't necessary because all we need to do is look at the modern grain and what happens in the human body when you eat them. (Hint: it's terrible.)


    The earliest known existence of wheat dates to around 9,000 years ago.

    Since then, farmers have been doing everything they can to grow more wheat and to grow it more consistently and cost-effectively.

    Milled wheat was the first processed food.

    Nowadays, wheat is the most consumed food in the United States. (How obese is our country again?)

    Modern farming, processing, and genetic altering techniques have made wheat easier to produce while making it more weather- and pest-resistant and devoid of nutrients than ancient wheat.

    Furthermore, most wheat is grown as a monocrop in synthetic soil and heavily sprayed with pesticides.

    It's not natural; it's not real food.

    and that's just the growing part.

    After the wheat is harvested, it is further processed—it is chemically treated and heavily processed down to a cloud of fine white dust that is the most nutrient-lacking "food product" in the world (if you can even call it that).

    Not only is wheat a heavily sprayed, processed, and dead food, but it also contains many properties that don't agree with humans in the form of anti-nutrients and gut irritants.

    When you start seeing wheat for what it is—an industrialized inorganic thing that isn't fit for human consumption—you'll see it for what it is: an industrialized inorganic thing that isn't fit for human consumption.​

    Anti-Nutrients Found in Wheat and Other Grains

    Lectins are carb-binding proteins that attack the gut lining, which can lead to a disorder known as leaky gut.

    Phytates form when phytic acid binds to minerals. It can reduce iron absorption in the body, which is a problem for vegan eaters.

    Gluten is a protein in sauces, thickeners, soups, and other processed foods, accounting for around 80% of the protein in wheat, barley, and rye. It creates an allergic-like response in the body, leading to inflammation, indigestion, and severe autoimmune disorders for some.

    Wheat germ agglutinin is a lectin found in wheat that protects the wheat from insects, yeast, and bacteria. Humans would be in the same category as insects, so this natural defense mechanism doesn't agree with our digestive system. We aren't designed to eat grains.

    The gut is made of tiny, permeable molecules that allow vital nutrients to be absorbed into your body.

    If this gut lining breaks, you have what's called a "leaky gut.

    A leaky gut causes certain food particles and toxins to seep into the bloodstream. When this happens, your immune system senses and attacks these unwelcome guests. When your immune system starts putting up this fight, your body responds in various ways—allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, skin issues, and candida, to name a few.

    This is one of the reasons leaky gut is so hard to diagnose; it can show up in many symptoms, depending on the individual.

    It's also why eliminating grains and gluten has such transformative health effects.

    *Gluten isn't the only cause of leaky gut. Medications like Advil, steroids, antibiotics, and environmental toxins like pesticides, BPA, and mercury can also attack the gut, just as grains do.

    Let's put aside all that internal stuff for a second and look at grains from a pure macronutrient point of view.

    What is the primary macronutrient making up these foods?

    It's carbohydrates.

    And these carbs are always processed and come with a high glycemic load.

    As we saw in the hormones section of this guide, carbohydrates are primarily responsible for elevated blood glucose and insulin levels, contributing to weight gain and the obesity epidemic facing our society.

    What happens when you eat carbs that digest fast—ones with a high glycemic index?

    You get higher blood glucose levels and higher insulin levels.

    For most, especially those already battling weight issues, these elevated glucose and insulin levels result in fat gain and inflammation.

    When you avoid grains, not only do you severely reduce your carb intake, but you also avoid the large majority of internal food issues that arise from eating foods full of anti-nutrients and irritants.

    This is just basic biology.

    You can do some simple experiments for the doubters to get solid empirical evidence if you are suspect.

    Just do this: Test your fasting glucose and insulin levels using simple over-the-counter home test kits. Then eat a serving of grains and wait 5–10 minutes before testing your glucose and insulin levels.

    The numbers won't lie.

    A Note on Research

    Some people cite or lack studies to defend their decision to keep eating gluten and grains.

    The simplest way of explaining this behavior is by defining two words: confirmation bias.

    From Wikipedia: Confirmation bias, also known as confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the propensity to seek out, interpret, prefer, and retain information that supports one's ideas or hypotheses while giving much less weight to other options.

    If you are finding it hard to believe that grains and gluten may be bad for you, remind yourself that your brain is inclined only to see and think what it wants to see and think.

    So if you love your morning bagel, your brain will steer your perception of reality and the information presented to you in a way that discounts anything that challenges your love of bagels.

    This happens, and you can find this weird psychological phenomenon in all parts of life, not just when you are subconsciously trying to justify your bagel habit.

    That said, remind yourself that this is about something other than what's exactly right or wrong. It's also not about going without a sandwich or a bagel for the rest of your life.

    In fact, for most people, especially those that find it hard to give up grains, I would recommend this advice:

    Think of grains as a treat like a candy bar or ice cream.

    When you eat a candy bar or a scoop of ice cream, you aren't deluding yourself about what you are eating. You know you can't eat candy bars or scoops of ice cream for days on end without suffering real consequences.

    You're also used to exerting self-control when walking past the grocery store's candy aisle or frozen dessert section. (The dark chocolate aisle is another thing entirely!)

    And this is precisely how you should think of grains and any food containing gluten.

    Think of it as a treat you should avoid as best as possible but one you'll probably indulge in occasionally. Then, when you decide to have some grains or gluten, you'll savor it like you'd savor a candy bar, completely guilt-free.

    And after that, you'll return to your clean eating plan.

    What's impressive about this method is that it simplifies and makes things more practical.

    This kind of mindset is the epicenter of a healthy relationship with food.

    Most of us are going to eat grains. This is just a fact. And while we should do our best to avoid eating grains and gluten when we can, we will be far better off if we are honest with ourselves about the fact that we're going to eat them sometimes.

    Avoid grains and gluten as much as you can until you can't. Then enjoy it.

    Then get back on track.

    Bonus Section: Quotes on Gluten and Grains

    ​"Researchers have known for some time now that inflammation is the cornerstone of all degenerative conditions, including brain disorders." But what they didn't have documented until now are the instigators of that inflammation—the first missteps that prompt this deadly reaction. "And what they are finding is that gluten, and a high-carbohydrate diet for that matter, are among the most prominent stimulators of inflammatory pathways that reach the brain."

    "I've had plenty more patients come through my doors and leave with a pain-free head, thanks to adopting a gluten-free diet."

    - David Perlmutter, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers

    "The popular media and conventional wisdom, including the medical profession's traditional approach to nutrition, have created and continue to perpetuate this problem through inadequate, outdated dietary counseling." Attempts to universalize dietary therapies so that one diet fits all influence the flawed claims against meats and fats, thereby encouraging the overconsumption of grains. Government-sponsored guides to healthy eating, such as the USDA's food pyramid, which advocates six to eleven servings of grains daily for everyone, lag far behind current research and continue to preach dangerously old-fashioned ideas. Because the USDA's function is largely the promotion of agriculture and agricultural products, a clear conflict of interest is inherent in any USDA claim of healthful benefits arising from any agricultural product. ""Popular beliefs and politically motivated promotion, not science, continue to dictate dietary recommendations, leading to debilitating and deadly diseases that are wholly or partly preventable."

    Ron Hoggan, Dangerous Grains

    Nightshades and Paleo

    Nightshades are a classification of plants that can range from problematic to downright lethal for humans.

    Something about food you should always remember is this: Some people tolerate certain foods better than others.

    which means you will tolerate certain foods better than others.

    Remember that.

    Nightshades are plants from the Solanaceae family, which includes herbs, vines, shrubs, trees, spices, and weeds.

    You probably eat nightshades regularly.

    The most common nightshades include:

    • Goji berries    
    • Potatoes        
    • Tomatillos      
    • Gooseberries
    • Paprika           
    • Pepinos          
    • Pimentos       
    • Eggplant        
    • Tomatoes      
    • Hot peppers 
    • Bell peppers  

    Sensitivity to Nightshades

    If you are sensitive to certain foods, like dairy, you are more likely to be sensitive to nightshades.

    If you ever struggle with stomach issues, consider curbing your intake of nightshades. You could even eliminate them for a couple of weeks and then slowly reintroduce them into your diet to figure out which nightshades might give you issues.


    Alkaloids are chemical structures containing nitrogen and are naturally occurring in nightshades.

    Alkaloids were nature's way of warding off pests. While these alkaloids were mainly intended to ward off insects and animals, they also have a warding-off effect on humans (just like lectins in grains).

    Most nightshades contain small amounts of alkaloids, so we recommend testing them yourself.

    If you experience stomach discomfort, digestive problems, joint pain, or other hard-to-diagnose physical conditions, especially soon after eating nightshades, you are probably sensitive to them.

    Cooked Versus Raw

    Cooking nightshades can reduce alkaloid levels, sometimes by as much as half.

    If you don't generally do well on raw nightshades—or any raw food—try cooking them to varying levels of doneness. Then take note of how your body responds.


    Nightshades are like dairy; you may tolerate them better or worse than others, so you must experiment.

    If you do not feel great after eating some fresh fajitas, you may have a nightshade problem!

    Is butter paleo?

    Who you ask determines the answer to this question. It also depends on how you define Paleo.

    The strictest form of Paleo, often called "Strict Paleo," excludes all Neolithic foods, dairy included.

    For Strict Paleos, butter is not Paleo.

    But if you ask any Modern Paleo, "Is butter Paleo?" you'll get an answer like this: "Not technically, but I eat it and recommend it."

    It comes down to whether butter is considered Paleo or not, but also whether it is considered healthy or not.

    And quality butter is healthy—very healthy.

    as simple as that.

    Let's look at how and why.

    Why butter is healthy

    Butter is not like other forms of dairy. Heck, in our book, butter is a food group.

    Thus, first and foremost, we must define "butter."

    Butter is primarily pure saturated butterfat with trace amounts of lactose and casein. The small amounts of lactose and casein make butter "ok" for most people with lactose intolerance, but usually not for those with severe milk allergies.

    (We looked at some of the problems with dairy in Section 12, with lactose and casein being the primary sources of problems for most people.)

    Considering saturated fat is the primary calorie in butter, it's easy to see why butter has become such a popular product for Real Food Paleos.

    It's pure saturated fat, and we love our saturated fat.

    When you shift your nutrition mindset, you go from avoiding fat to seeking it out. And when this life-changing shift takes place, butter becomes a heaven-sent.

    It has many uses—cooking, homemade mayo, pan sauces, basting, etc.—and it's delicious and nutritious.

    Of course, not all butter is created equally.

    As with any food that comes from an animal, the animal's health is paramount in determining the quality of the butter.

    Omega-3s in Butter

    The best butter comes from the best milk-producing animals.

    When an animal eats a natural diet—grass for cows—the animal is healthier than when it eats a diet unnatural to its species—like dairy cows that eat GMO grains.

    When the animal is healthier, it produces healthier milk.

    So when industrialized dairy cows are fed GMO feed (and injected with hormones), they get fat and sick and produce milk with a skewed omega-3 to omega-6 balance.

    They make unhealthy milk. And unhealthy milk translates to unhealthy butter, cheese, yogurt, etc.

    And this is, fundamentally, why you want to avoid all non-organic, mass-produced dairy products.

    Typical omega-3 to omega-6 ratios for healthy, grass-fed beef around 1 to 1.5, while grain-fed industrialized dairy cows often produce milk with ratios as high as 1-2 to (o3 to 06).

    One of the primary issues with the Western diet is this imbalance of omega-3s to omega-6s. The average Westerner eats too many omega-6s because that's what's prevalent in industrialized animals and fat-containing processed foods.

    When it comes to anything dairy-related, stick with grass-fed.

    Grass-fed dairy cows produce milk with a better fatty acid profile than grain-fed cows.

    When you choose grass-fed dairy products, you likely support smaller producers that treat their animals humanely. And this is a massive win for the good guys in the food industry. Keep supporting them!

    Conversely, buying mass-produced milk supports the very thing keeping our country sick: industrialized food (and mistreated animals).

    Milk from ruminants such as cows and sheep contains higher levels of beneficial CLA. Grass-fed beef and the dairy it produces are excellent sources of CLA.

    CLA research suggests it may protect against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

    Simply put, grass-fed beef is better than grain-fed beef in nearly every way.

    So the first thing to consider when buying butter is whether the milk comes from grass-fed dairy cows. The brand we love the most is Kerrygold.

    The following considerations you should note when choosing any dairy product are: whether it's organic or not; and how the animals were treated.

    Kinds of Butter

    ​Sweet Butter

    ​Sweet butter is made from fresh, not fermented, cream (like cultured butter). This phrase is now often used to refer to unsalted butter.

    Clarified Butter

    ​It is butter that has the whey protein and casein proteins skimmed off.

    It's super easy to make at home. Do this: 1. Heat butter on low heat until it melts. 2. Let it cool for 5 minutes, then skim off the top layer of whey. 3. Slowly pour out the liquid butterfat, leaving the casein protein at the bottom of the pan. (You could also strain through cheesecloth.)

    Clarified butter has a higher smoke point than butter, and since the whey and Casein are removed, it is a purer form of butterfat that people with dairy issues can usually tolerate.


    ​Ghee is one step up from clarified butter. Clarified butter has been heated long enough to separate and remove the water and milk solids, leaving behind only pure butterfat.

    It has a slightly nutty flavor than clarified butter and a slightly higher smoke point.

    The Skinny On Butter

    We consider grass-fed butter a superfood.

    We like it blended with Wild Coffee in our Wild Butter Brew recipe. (You must try it.)

    We cook with it. Melt it and pour it over our veggies. Make pan sauces. and so on.

    High-quality grass-fed butter should be a staple in the Real Food kitchen and every intelligent person's diet.

    Paleo Diet FAQ

    What is the Paleo diet?

    The Paleo Diet, The Primal Diet, and The Caveman Diet, no matter what you call them, are a style of eating based on how our ancestors ate for hundreds of thousands of years before the advent of agriculture.

    • Human beings have been on this planet for 200,000+ years
    • Agriculture has been around for about 12,000 years
    • Smartphones have been around for about 10 years

    1. Our ancestors never ate these foods in the quantities or with the frequency we do today.
    2. Our ancestors never ate processed, artificial foods. They ate only Real, Wild Food. Comparing that food to today's food would be like comparing apples to oranges.

    All this means it is this: the bulk of human existence lived in the wild before we could manipulate our food through growing and other forms of processing.

    Compare this food system to today's, and you will see the theory behind the Paleo diet.

    This theory is called the "mismatch theory" and states that we live in an environment not matched to our genes.

    Technology—which includes agriculture and that cell phone within arms reach—has come on faster than humans have been able to adapt to them.

    As a result, we live in an environment that's completely different from the one our ancestors lived in.

    This environment has us doing many things differently, not just eating differently—sleep, sunlight exposure, exercise, sitting, circadian rhythm, social life, etc.

    The Paleo diet's philosophy is to draw clues from how our ancestors lived to make better choices in our contemporary environment.

    Our ancestors ate real, unprocessed food that changed with the seasons and that was constantly varied. They rarely ate grains; if they did, it was in small amounts and only in wild grain form (wild grains are different from those people eat today).

    Foods typically excluded from a Paleo diet are based on the following:

    Beyond food, our ancestors did other things that most people today don't, like moving throughout the day at a slow-to-medium pace with many irregular and varied movement patterns. Our ancestors were exposed to sunlight on a near daily basis, were always in nature, and didn't sit for long periods. They didn't stare at the tiny font on the screens.

    Things we do regularly that are not "natural" to our species cause health issues—sitting, smoking, fast food, not moving, lack of sunlight, etc.

    To expand on the reason behind a Paleo diet, I want you to think of the animal kingdom for a second.

    Imagine a lion.

    A lion could never survive on anything but meat. Being a predator, it needs calorie-dense protein and fat to kill prey. If lions tried relying on grass—like their prey does—they wouldn't be called the "King of the Jungle" and instead would be just another grazing animal, like the ​water ​buffalo.

    Conversely, a bison or buffalo must eat a ton of grass most of the day to get the necessary calories.

    The same goes for cows.

    Some fish eat other fish, and some fish are bottom feeders that eat things that bottom feeders eat.

    My point is this: each animal in the kingdom has a natural diet.

    Humans have a natural diet, which is a Real Food diet.

    When humans eat fake, processed food, they get fat and sick, just like when cows get sick from eating grains.

    You must eat a Real Food diet to be healthy and look, feel, and perform your best.

    How "Paleo" you go comes down to personal preference.

    You can be more strict Paleo or more loose Paleo. It's up to you. What matters the most is whether you are eating Real Food or not.

    How much weight can I lose on a Paleo diet?

    As much as you want.

    When you start eating Real Food, your body is no longer this thing that carries you around, calling all the shots.

    Eating Real Whole Foods gives you the ability to call the shots. You get to decide how big or small you want to be.

    You decide to curb your calorie intake one day or eat more to bulk up.

    The key is to build healthy habits with Real Food. After that, weight becomes a trivial matter of choice.

    I won't be able to gain weight on the Paleo diet, and I already have trouble keeping weight on.

    I've heard this one many times.

    Sure, you might have a legitimate struggle in the weight gain department, but if you dig deep and find that natural bone hidden in your body, you'll find out this is just an excuse.

    To use the logic I lose weight too quickly, so I should eat junk food, is complete nonsense.

    That's complete and utter nonsense and something skinny fat people tell themselves to justify their poor eating habits.

    After all, your health matters too.

    And since weight isn't the only marker of health, how much you weigh or don't weigh shouldn't matter. Health should matter.

    So get off your obsession with your weight and focus on eating clean Real Food calories.

    Then you can focus on eating more calories to gain more weight.

    • You can whip up a Real Food smoothie with 1,000+ calories using grass-fed butter, Wild MCT Oil, Wild Chocolate, Cashew and Almond butter, Coconut milk, and a mix of fruits and veggies.
    • You can slather calorie-dense butter or (unheated) olive oil over everything.
    • You can eat an entire sweet potato + an entire avocado every meal in addition to your regular serving of food.
    • You can even eat white rice (but not brown rice) to help you gain/keep on weight.

    How could bacon possibly be healthy?

    ​There are two points here.

    First, saturated fat is not bad for you and does not cause heart disease, so there is no need to fear bacon the way the fear-mongering media has led you to believe.

    Second, is the issue of the animal you get the bacon from.

    Bacon from healthy animals that live on small farms and eat insects, grass, and other foods natural to its diet, is healthy bacon because it comes from a healthy pig.

    Bacon from industrialized, hormone-injected, sick, and massively stressed pork is unhealthy because it comes from unhealthy pigs.

    Make sense?

    It's all about the ingredient.

    Don't eat industrialized bacon (or any industrialized meat).

    Eat bacon from small farmers who treat their animals respectfully and feed them a natural diet.

    Doesn't eating egg yolks raise your cholesterol?

    The research has been dismantled many times.

    I recommend the book Good Calories and Bad Calories by Gary Taubes to get the complete treatment on the whole fat hypothesis.

    Didn't cave dwellers only live for a short period?

    To say any population lives for X period is to speak of statistics.

    Statistics are based on taking a bunch of numbers and calculating averages. So if you want to calculate the average lifespan of our ancient ancestors, you will take the entire population and calculate the averages based on how long the average caveman lived.

    This calculation considers infant mortality rates and death from infections, injuries, and trauma, all of which were high back then due to lack of medical care.

    Yet each of these mortality rate-reducers has been solved in our modern world. People are now living older than ever—yet with a lower quality of life—thanks to medicine and all the protections of modern society (like 911).

    You could break an ankle in hunter-gather times, and it could be a death sentence, so naturally, there will be a skewing of how long your ancestors lived.

    Infants and children also died significantly due to a lack of modern medicine and weak immune systems.

    Some numbers of life expectancy show that if a hunter-gatherer reached 15 years, their life expectancy immediately increased to 39 years.

    Another thing to note about our ancestors' death rates is that they did not die from the things that kill people today, like heart disease, cancer, and other modern Western diseases. Instead, they most often died from infection and trauma, which modern humans don't often die from today.

    So if our ancestors had access to the primary forms of medicine, they would undoubtedly live longer than the average human today.

    Finally, while there isn't much conclusive evidence of our ancestors' cancer and heart disease rates, modern researchers have observed modern hunter-gatherers, like the Inuit, lacking in nearly all Western diseases. (1. Urquhart JA: The most northerly practice in Canada. 1935. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne 147:1193-6, 1992)

    How do I eat Paleo at Restaurants?

    Avoid anything fried. Avoid anything breaded.

    If you want to get more serious about it, ask your server to have the chef cook your food in butter instead of the seed oils they typically use.

    Look for restaurants serving "farm-to-table" and discuss the farms they get their food from. Avoid restaurant chains (other than Chipotle).

    Stick with meat and vegetables as the primary focus when eating out, and you'll eliminate much junk.

    And most important of all, avoid restaurant food as much as possible!

    It's nearly impossible to stay healthy if you eat most of your meals at restaurants. (Sorry, New Yorkers.)

    What about fiber?

    Eating a colorful mix of fruits and vegetables will give you plenty of fiber. It's not something you should worry about all that much.

    Most of the fiber claims you see on food labels are marketing nonsense.

    The ​Inuit, for example, eat almost all of their calories from animals, much of that in the form of saturated seal fat. If fiber is that important, how do they do well with so little? The fact is, the processed food industry has entirely overhyped the whole fiber thing.

    What about the China Study?

    This book has been criticized in detail many times. Here's a great article on the book.

    What books do you recommend on Paleo eating?

    Mark Sisson - Mark is our go-to resource for Paleo/Primal. All of his stuff is golden.

    Good Calories Bad Calories - Gary Taubes is a science writer who has brought up obesity, heart disease, and how modern Western diseases relate to diet and lifestyle.

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