Slow Motion Paleo

Going from a regular diet to paleo in one move is going to be hard for most people. Especially those without a track record of dietary success. If you’ve been reluctant to embrace a paleo diet because it looks too hard or seems too weird, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Most of the benefit of the paleo diet comes from removing sugar and grains. And that may be enough for most dieters. People understand that sugar is to be avoided, but can’t imagine life without grains.

In the post Where the Paleo Message is Failing, I divided up which groups are receptive to the paleo diet and which aren’t. My experience is that most people are turned off by the diet. Even I have my doubts about some elements of the diet. However, I am convinced of the power of removing grains and drastically cutting down the sugar.

The hardest step for most people will be removing grains, primarily gluten. In my opinion, changing cooking oils, sourcing grass pastured meat or altering an exercise program are all irrelevant if the person still embraces grain.


Slowly and systematically removing grains from each meal. Photo: Crust-free pocket quiche.

The majority of paleo experts I’ve read take a cold turkey approach to removing grains. They say it is more successful with their clients. Maybe it is, but there are other paths to success. I gradually removed bread and pasta over the course of a year. I’ve now gone over one year without any gluten. I lost 20 pounds and kept it all off. I’ve never had to give up dairy and I don’t wear Vibram shoes


Add yours

  1. Just curious – which grain-free carbs do you regularly eat? I’ve seen from some of your previous posts mentions of potatoes and brown rice. I’m looking for carb ideas, especially for workout days, and potatoes (yukon? sweet? russet?) , brown rice, and quinoa are the ones I’m primarily interested in adding to my diet.

    As an aside, I found your blog thanks to the Glitter Gym link at Metafilter and I’m approximately 16 hours into my first IF. So far, going much better than I would have expected. Hoping to do the full 22 hours if possible. Thanks for all the information. And see, the Glitter Gym did have some good results 🙂

  2. @bgt – Potatoes are great, I prefer sweet potatoes and yams over white. If you do white, get organic as they spray the conventional heavily. Soaked rice is also OK. I am not convinced brown is better than white. I rarely have rice. I am not a fan of quinoa as it as bad or worse than gluten on the gut.

    Congrats on doing your first IF. It really is empowering.

  3. MAS, I would relax this even further. I’d do a gluten-free trial month than try adding sourdough bread back in. Examining the literature on gluten, you see that they were dosing people with 40 g a day to get the negative reactions they were getting. I think the reason cold turkey might work better is that it effects are visible soon (1 wk – 1 month) and relapses make you feel bad so that people regret their decision to eat bread.

    Furthermore, even celiacs tolerate traditional long fermentation sourdoughs.

    I’ve gone gluten free for a month or more and seen no benefit (of course my only source of gluten is beer, where the levels have also been significantly reduced by fermentation).

    I suspect most people though do not have access to essential baking company or similar artisan bakers that make traditional sourdough. In which case avoiding grains is a must.

    Finally, whole grains does not equal healthy. It just means you get some fiber and nutrients along with increased level of phytic acid, which bind up all the nutrients and more.

    So after writing this… I realized wrong audience. Most people need to get rid of grains to cut down the carbs in the first place and restore insulin sensitivity. So if you’re thinking about going paleo do the above and then come back and read this comment 🙂

  4. @Matthew – I agree that moving to sourdough is another excellent strategy for reducing gluten. However, the best type of bread is still no bread.

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