Protein is an essential nutrient for sustaining life. The Paleo diet focuses a lot of emphasis on protein consumption and the benefits of eating a protein rich diet. I will discuss lots of ways to get your healthy daily serving of protein, a few no-no’s where paleo and protein don’t mix and the ways that you can get enough protein if you are a vegetarian on a paleo diet.
The staples of protein and paleo. This is pretty self explanatory, eat some meat!!! Lean meat is the building block of the paleo lifestyle. Red meat, white meat, the other white meat (pork) is ok as long as it’s not curred with nasty chemicals. Seafood is one of the healthiest forms of protein, and least fatty making some fish “superfoods”. The other sources of protein come from animal products, eggs specifically, nuts, and vegetables. Eggs are almost a requirement when eating paleo, I eat about 18 a week. I also snack on nuts and eat lots of protein rich veggies like spinach, kale, mushrooms, sprouts, yams etc. You have to be careful when eating paleo since it doesn’t allow things like legumes, beans, lentils. Which brings us to our next topic, the no-no’s of paleo and protein.
Paleo is designed to mimic the caveman diet. So when thinking about what is allowed and not allowed, just think to yourself, “was this available during the caveman era?” So a short list of protein rich foods that are not allowed due to unavailability, processed nature etc.
- Soybeans and soy products like tofu. They are actually poisonous when not cooked and lots of cavemen ate their food raw, so after watching “Bubba” the caveman keel over after eating some soybeans, the other little cavemen steered clear of this plant.
- Legumes/Beans/Lentils: These high protein beauties also need to be cooked before consumption, and lets face it “ain’t nobody got time for that”
- Potatoes, they are made up of resistant starch, or starch that cannot be broken down by your digestive system.
- Processed meats. This is pretty self explanatory. If it’s been processed with a bunch of salt or chemicals, you probably shouldn’t eat it. There weren’t hot dogs available in the caveman days, and for a good reason. Is that even meat? Here’s a pretty good blog post on the questionable nature of hot dogs.
Finally, what on earth do the vegetarian cave-people eat? Well, I think that back in the paleolithic era they would have starved, but since we are trying to include all people (except for those damn vegans J/K) there are ways to eat paleo while respecting your fellow earthlings (if you ever want to be forced to become a vegetarian I suggest you watch the documentary, Earthlings, linked above). Anywho, back to our vegetarian friends. Essentially vegetarians can eat all of the things above, minus the meat. Pretty simple, right? They may consider supplementing their diet with protein shakes like Muscle Egg, but the need to be conscious to stay away from soy, and whey protein (made with milk).
Protein is your friend, it helps nourish your body and gives you energy to work out and work hard since it is a slow release calorie. You stay fuller, longer and don’t experience a glucose crash after eating a big meal.
So go out there and eat a steak, and feel good knowing that you are eating something healthy!