Archive for February, 2012

Last week, I discussed some of the basics regarding the Paleo lifetstyle and nutrition program.  Today, I wanted to give you ammunition so you can incorporate some of the foods into your own daily eating regimen.  Below is a Paleo grocery list and then, some sample meal plans.  Challenge yourself to make some positive changes by eliminating simple sugars and processed carbohydrates while increasing vegetable intake, quality protein, and healthy fats. Here goes:

Grocery List (Paleo style/Caveman Strong!)


Produce Department

  • Focus on the crops that are in season in order to get the best prices and nutrient content.
  • Choose organic when/if possible and if your bank account allows.
  • Stock up on what’s on sale – many vegetables can be frozen for later use!
  • Purchase spinach, salad blends, pre-cut vegetables, etc. if convenience and minimal prep time are important.
  • Fill your cart with color!

Get Lots!!

  • Great choices include: spinach, greens, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, garlic, fresh herbs, sweet potatoes (for post workout meals), mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, avocado… (Avoid the nightshades if you have autoimmune issues.)

Don’t go crazy here! Fit fruit into your diet primarily in the post workout period.

  • Great choices include: Berries, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, peaches, grapefruit, oranges, plums, apples, bananas

Meat Department
Go for grass-fed meat, wild caught fish, and free range poultry if it’s available and within your budget. If choosing farm raised meats opt for leaner cuts, if grass fed the fat is good!! Remember, look for the yellowish/orange color and limit the purchase of the meat with the whiter type of fat.


  • Beef, bison, venison, wild game, pork – they’re all good! Sirloin, tenderloin, flank, and strip steaks are the leanest choices.
  • Poultry – When choosing poultry, the breast and thigh portions will yield the most meat and from a food to $$ ratio are the best bets! There are also many ‘natural’ sausage options available in large supermarkets – chicken apple sausage is wonderful!!

Fish & Seafood

  • -Salmon, tuna and other fatty fish are the best choices due to their high Omega-3 fatty acid content. Oysters are a great source of Omega-3 and they tend to have an aphrodisiac effect as well. For variety cod, perch, tilapia, mahi, scallops, shrimp, etc. are good choices too.

Dairy Department

  • Don’t spend too much time here!! Look for the eggs. Omega-3 fortified eggs from free-range chickens are the optimal choice!

Many times this is where people get in trouble! So many pretty packages with pictures of cookies, crackers, snacks, etc. AVOID aisles of temptation!!

  • Next stop – oils. Coconut oil and olive oil are must haves. Avocado and walnut oils are also very good on salads.  You can go with canola but the previously mentioned are the best for you.
  • Coconut milk (the kind in a can with no sugar added), in post workout smoothies, and as an alternative to creamer if you’re a coffee drinker. Get some!
  • Nuts and nut butters are also good to have around for quick snacks and in a pinch. Walnuts and macadamia nuts are the best choices and almond butter is EXCELLENT! When choosing nut butters make sure there are no added ingredients (sugar and hydrogenated oils). Also, purchase unsalted nuts.

Breakfast (7-8am)

 Protein Choices: Choose One

1 organic egg + 3 whites

2-3 whole organic eggs

3 slices nitrate/nitrite free turkey (boars head), beef or pork bacon

2-3 oz lean beef, poultry, pork, or fresh fish

Vegetable Choices: Choose One

1 cup cooked broccoli

1 cup cooked cauliflower

1 cup sautéed spinach

1 cup steamed asparagus

Fruit Choices: Choose One

1 apple

1 pear

1/2 medium banana

1/2 cup strawberries or blueberries (or combination of both)

Lunch (1-2pm) and Dinner (6-7pm)

 Protein Choices: Choose One

3-5 ounces chicken (dark or white meat)

3-5 ounces turkey (dark or white meat)

3-5 ounces fish (tuna only 1 time per week)

3-4 ounces beef (lean varieties, bison or laura’s lean of at least 93% lean, or grass-fed beef)

Over a salad that is made up of any of the following:

All lettuce except for Iceberg (It has no nutritional value)

Celery, Peppers, Cucumbers, Tomatoes

Vegetable Choices: Choose One

1 cup cooked broccoli

1 cup cooked cauliflower

1 cup sautéed spinach

1 cup steamed asparagus


Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Spices (salt, pepper, Italian Seasonings, to taste)

Snack #1 (10-11am) and Snack #2 (3-4pm)

 Protein Choices: Choose One

2 TBSP Natural, Raw Almond Butter

1 oz Raw Almonds

1 oz Raw Walnuts

1 oz Raw Pumpkin Seeds

1 oz Raw Sunflower Seeds

2 hard boiled eggs

2-3 oz sliced turkey breast or chicken breast

Vegetable Choices: Choose One

Celery Sticks

6-7 Baby Carrots

1/2 sliced red, yellow, or green pepper

1 cup broccoli or cauliflower


Fruit Choices: Choose One

1 apple

1 cup strawberries

1 cup blueberries


I’ve been hearing alot about this Paleo lifestyle lately.  Many books have been published the last few years or so promoting the Paleo diet as a way to lose weight and promote better health.  The recent buzz regarding this way of eating has become more popular by the wave of Crossfitters in gyms across the country.  Crossfit just finished doing a 30 day challenge eating only the Paleo way.  So, what exactly does a Paleo diet entail?

First, let’s describe Paleo itself.  Paleo, short for Paleolithic, is a pre-historic period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered.  It extends from the earliest use of stone tools some 2.6 million years ago.  During this period, humans gathered in small tribes and lived by gathering plants, hunting, and scavenging for wild animals.  Basically, our ancestors foraged through the woods looking for fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and if they were lucky, stalk and killed a wild animal fo some sort.   So, why all the buzz?

The caveman way is all about natural foods to help achieve better health and the perfect physique.  The human body evolved for more than 2 million years with the food found in nature: game meat, fish, vegetables, wild fruits, eggs and nuts.  The human race was thriving on this diet high in animal fat and proteins and low in carbohydrates, but things changed when we introduced unnatural foods to our bodies.  Hence, the start of the agricultural revolution.  Our society has become detached to the food we’ve been eating in nature for millions of years that has allowed us to become a highly evolved species.

The Paleo diet idea is that our genes and physiology evolved through the process of natural selection and are most adapted to be nourished with the food that we evolved around.  That includes the whole array of animal protein (beef, fish, shellfish, poultry, pork, lamb, bison, …) including their fat and organs as well as eggs, vegetables and limited amounts of fruits and nuts.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some of the foods that we started eating in large quantity since the beginning of the agricultural revolution about 10,000 years ago are completely foreign to our genes and metabolism and wreak havoc in our body, often causing what we call the metabolic syndrome or diseases of civilization.  These include obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and a host of other conditions that were unknown to our ancestors while destroying us today.

After learning more about the Paleo diet, I decided to start a challenge with my boot camp group to figure out my own results.  We’ve been going at it for a little over a week now.  The challenge seemed somewhat hard due to the fact that we had to give up starches, beans, and dairy.  Starches were not too difficult for me as I only eat oatmeal, ezekial bread, and the occasional handful of tricuits.  Dairy was the hardest to give up.  I really enjoy my Grande, Sugar-free, Vanilla latte every morning.  But, it has been a week now and things are going smoothly.  I’m missing my latte a little but the changes have been wonderful.  My body is burning fat more efficiently.  I’ve lost about 3 pounds the last week, some of it water with the lack of carbs and some fat.  Body fat tests indicate a drop of a little over a half percent.  My energy has increased, my workouts are stronger, I feel more satiated throughout the day and my sleep has vastly improved.  We’ll see what happens the remaining two weeks.  I will post a basic meal plan and a Paleo grocery list in the next few days for anyone intersted in trying to go Paleo.  I highly recommend eliminating dairy, minimizing the amount of grains in your diet, and loading up on the veggies regardless if you choose to go Paleo or not.

Leptin, from the Greek word “leptos” meaning thin, strives to live up to its name.  Although this hormone has many functions, its main role is to let your brain know how fat you are.  Leptin is manufactured in the fat cells and sends satiety (fullness) signals to the hypothalamus – the brain’s eating control center and tells us when we can stop eating.  In the absence of leptin, the brain never receives the message that the body has sufficient food, believing it to be in a constant state of starvation.  Consequently, one would think that it would be desirable to increase leptin levels.

However, in most overweight people, leptin levels are actually excessively high due to leptin resistance, a process similar to the concept of insulin resistance.  To understand why this is so, we must look at the way a normal weight body is designed to communicate.  The process begins when the brain notes the amount of leptin secreted by fat cells.  If the brain determines these leptin levels are normal, it shuts off the signal to store extra calories as fat.  The body no longer feels like eating because the brain, with the help of leptin, has given the full signal.

When our hunter/gatherer ancestors experienced decreased food supply, calories stored as fat were broken down and used as fuel.  This caused leptin levels to decline and metabolism to decrease to adjust to the decreased food supply.  When food supply once again increased, so too did leptin levels.  Once the hunter/gatherer humans had replenished their reserves, leptin signaled our ancestors to stop eating.

In today’s society, however, food surrounds us and overeating is common.  This disrupts the hormonal signals in our bodies.  Eventually leptin receptors become desensitized to leptin’s effects.  Once a person becomes leptin resistant, the body has a difficult time transporting leptin past the blood brain barrier to the hypothalamus where it is needed to send satiety signals.  Even though blood levels of leptin may be excessively high, brain levels are insufficiently low, resulting in food cravings and weight gain.  The brain believes the body is in a famished state and tells it to continue to store fat.

Leptin levels tend to rise as we age, one possible reason why individuals under 30 have an easier time losing weight gained than people who are in their 40s and beyond.  Furthermore, estrogen deficiency is related to a rise in leptin, offering a potential explanation for why women gain weight more easily after menopause.

Sufficient sleep is one of the most important factors in controlling leptin.  Like melatonin, leptin is secreted in the highest amounts at night, and in human subjects deprived of sleep, leptin secretion is premature which disrupts hormonal profiles and encourages weight gain.

So, how do you get leptin to make you thinner? For one, get the proper amount of sleep.  Begin by scheduling your sleep regimen to have similar wake up and lights out times.  Shoot for 7.5 to 9 hours a night.  In the lighter (spring/summer) months, this can decrease a little as the body can regulate the hormones better.  Also, eliminate all processed sugars and refined grain products from the diet and replace them fresh fruits and veggies.  Processed sugars including high fructose corn syrup, as well as white, refined grain products, are most responsible for the modern epidemic of leptin and insulin resistance. These foods trigger surges of leptin and other hormones in the blood due to their refined nature, and these surges cause the body to become desensitized to leptin over the course of time. 

Minimize starches in your diet.  Even whole grain products, potatoes, rice, and other seemingly healthy starches aren’t necessarily ideal for the body.  Starches and fruits should be consumed according to how active a person is over the course of a day.  For instance, your average person only needs 30 to 70 grams of carbohydrates per day, while an endurance athlete might need up to 300 grams of carbohydrates per day.  One banana provides about 20 to 24 grams of carbohydrates, one piece of typical bread provides 12 to 20 grams and one medium potato provides 37 grams. 

Eat plenty of protein from the right sources.  Choose fresher cuts of meat and poultry, wild-caught fish, eggs, minimal amounts of dairy and try to buy as organically as your budget will allow.  The quality of your protein increases your Omega 3’s and packs your body with more amounts of vitamins and minerals.  In addition, eat all the healthy fats you desire.  Incorporate healthy oils like olive and coconut.  Stick with walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts.  And finally, eat more frequently and eat until you are satiated each time.  Overfeeding on the right foods actually balances insulin, leptin and all other related hormones, while eating less food with less frequency promotes hormonal instability setting you up for failure and continued weight gain.