If you’ve been trying to get into shape, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard rumblings about going plant-based paleo.
If a plant-based paleo diet is new to you, this beginner’s guide will tell you everything you need to know--from what plant-based paleo means to how to do this diet while ensuring you get all the vitamins, minerals, and proteins you need.
We also have some tips and tricks, recipes you and your family will love.
The Paleo Diet is based on the idea of early hunters and gatherers 2.5 million years ago to eat based on what was available in the Stone Age.
Natural and unprocessed foods, lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds and healthy fats are at the heart of the Paleo diet.
Today, we try to emulate this concept with the foods available today and place an increased focus on high food quality and sustainability.
The adaptation towards the paleolithic diet doesn’t mean we should give up our hard-earned standard of living.
It is about taking the proven nutritional approaches, understanding what is good for our body and integrating the Paleo idea with the knowledge of modern science.
Of course, it won’t always be easy to eat 100% paleo in the beginning, but paleo is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle suitable for anyone willing to make a change.
This first principle is not surprising and is similar to other dietary concepts.
Sugar certainly doesn’t belong in a healthy diet but it is a direct source of energy.
The problem with foods high in sugar is, it causes a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, which triggers insulin levels to rise as well. Insulin is the hormone released to store new energy.
By giving up sugar in the diet, the body will gradually change its metabolism and generate the necessary energy from other energy stores, such as the condemned fat reserves.
The second supplier of energy and also causes blood sugar and insulin levels to rise is grains.
Grains consist of up to 80% carbohydrates.
Additionally, contains anti-nutrients such as lectin, gluten and phytic acid which are used against pests.
When humans take these anti-nutrients, they settle in the intestinal regions and block valuable nutrients to be absorbed. These also travel to other organs through the bloodstream.
The same applies to legumes, but to a lesser extent.
The body’s defense to this reaction leads to inflammation and diseases like arthritis, gout, Crohn's disease, a sensitive stomach, thyroid problems.
The Paleo diet is based on the possibilities that our ancestors had in obtaining food.
Since the cultivation of grain only started about 10,000 years ago, it is therefore not part of Paleo.
“Real food doesn't have any labels.”
Fast and modern times have produced a variety of fast food and microwaveable meals. Choosing from hundreds of tasty dishes in the supermarket and eating them in no time is such a convenience.
However, if you take a look at the packaging and study the list of ingredients, you’ll see numerous substances used to improve the taste and preserve the food are actually harmful.
Additives such as glutamate, artificial flavors, preservatives and stabilizers have a long-term negative effect on the body.
It is Paleo’s principle to avoid all processed foods and cook them yourself!
To live healthily, you need to know and care about the contents of your food!
Just like grains, dairy products have only been consumed for a relatively short time and contain substances that may cause problems in our digestive health.
Many people suffer from gastrointestinal issues after eating yogurt, curd cheese, and milk. This strongly indicates the widespread lactose intolerance.
Furthermore, animal hormones are found in dairy products that promote the storage of body fat.
As well as anti-nutrients previously mentioned can get into the milk by feeding the animals with grains.
This discussion around not using dairy products is very big in the Paleo community, which is why it is recommended to get a lactose intolerance test and generally to pay attention to how your body reacts after consuming dairy products.
Fruit is definitely healthy, but high fructose content is problematic.
Consider which types of fruit occur in which season and monitor your overall fruit consumption.
Stick to the basics--fruits with little fructose content are: dates, bananas, berries, melons, pineapples, and avocados.
Choosing vegetable fats over animal fats may always seem a better choice. But excessive consumption may create large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids which is not good.
Vegetable fats can be a problem for the following reasons:
However, coconut oil is an exception here because it is the only vegetable fat that provides saturated fatty acids.
You can also use extra virgin olive oil as it mainly contains monounsaturated fatty acids.
Reduce the intake of omega-6 and increase the intake of omega-3 by eating animal fats and fish, for example.
So, should you replace animal fats with vegetable or plant based fats?
Find out here why plant based fats are better than animal fats and how you can add them into your every day diet.
Paleo is a good way to eat because this nutritional concept works in harmony with our genes.
One can be fit and healthy in the long term because the body is free from harmful substances.
Many people have reported changes in their body and their well-being including:
The Paleo diet is based on nutrition in the Stone Age and today aims at body weight, fitness and health.
In Paleo, there is:
This is the advantage of paleo over other classic diets. A stable blood sugar leads to a balanced feeling of satiety.
Unfortunately, this condition persists until you eat “normal” again. Which results in excess calories and weight gain. Paleo counteracts this effect with nutritious food and sufficient energy intake.
Plant-based means eating mainly whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains and seeds.
With plant-based nutrition, there is little to no animal products and processed foods.
In this diet, food tastes better in its own natural state. Flavor enhancers and cravings are less common since you are not consuming any additives like glutamate or sugars which are often found in finished products.
When it comes to plant-based eating, health is paramount. Basically, this means that you largely do without processed and unhealthy foods.
It is taking a healthy path with simple and delicious plant-based dishes. This allows everyone to make a small contribution to the environment.
It is not about completely giving up animal products, but finding a balance and doing without one or the other -- egg/dairy products or steak.
With plant-based nutrition, lots of fruits and vegetables and plant based protein foods like legumes, nuts and seeds are predominant.
Processed products, less meat, fish, dairy and sugar are avoided.
Cravings are less common since artificial flavor enhancers and additives like glutamate are eliminated from the plant based diet.
Quality of food and its natural taste is highly important.
Plant based is not a complete change of life and not as complicated as we imagined.
Even with small changes in a day or in a week, is a start.
Not Plant based
Start your paleo-vegan transition with this FREE plant based diet recipe book.
The number of overweight people in America has been increasing for many years.
There are more people in the world with obesity than with malnutrition.
Obesity is one of the main causes of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer - and practically always the result of malnutrition.
Whether you are suffering from diseases or just want to transition to a healthier lifestyle, the plant-based diet has many advantages, not only for people but also the environment.
With a plant-based diet:
These two follow very different concepts and contradict each other completely.
Everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to eat paleo or plant-based. Because what works for some may be a disadvantage for others.
The right question would rather be -- Is your current diet really healthy?
If your answer is no, then you can decide which of these two diets is best for your nutritional needs.
It’s important you adapt to a particular diet appropriate to your personal and health needs.
A balance of healthy and natural foods, less highly processed foods and fewer animal products would be a good way to start.
With a regular diet, it is essential to pay attention to what you eat and what you should avoid.
The pegan diet clearly focuses on vegetables, 50 to 70% of the time.
But watch out for vegetables that have a high glycemic index, this leads to a spike in your blood sugar level. Choose those with the lowest possible glycemic index possible.
Processed wheat, whole grain products and anything that contains gluten should be avoided, too.
Instead of refined or processed sugars, use natural sweeteners like date syrup, maple syrup or coconut blossom sugar.
Artificial additives, chemicals, flavorings, colors and preservatives are all prohibited.
Also, dairy products of all kinds. Milk is intended for raising calves to cows, not for humans.
With appropriate planning and discipline, both diets--paleo and vegan--can be successfully implemented.
The Paleo diet differs from other nutritional diets because of higher intake of healthy fats than carbohydrates.
This is especially true for vegetarians because they eat a lot of grain and legumes before switching.
If you are pursuing a certain dietary goal like trying to lose weight or build muscles, start with a book of your daily macro nutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein).
This way, you will be more familiar and develop an intuitive feeling for how much you need to feel completely comfortable.
Before starting this diet, especially if you have a health condition, it makes sense to have a blood test done.
After a month or two of changing your diet, you can have your blood drawn again to check how your values have changed.
Grains, soy and sugar can simply cause digestive problems.
There are many paleo-friendly alternatives to bread and pasta, such as paleo grain bread or zucchini pasta.
However, there is no substitute for soy. Although many vegetarians swear by soy products, it is not part of the Paleo diet.
It is important as a paleo vegan/vegetarian/plant-based to look for an alternative to meat for a sufficient protein source.
The top recommendation for this is tofu, chickpeas, and many plant-based meat or seafood products. Besides protein, they also provide healthy fats and other valuable nutrients.
The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids should be kept in mind especially by vegetarians.
A lack of omega-3 fats can promote inflammatory processes, allergies and cardiovascular diseases.
Fish and meat are usually the main sources of omega-3s in the paleo diet. But vegetarian-paleo can get theirs from seaweeds or algae and seeds like chia, flax or hemp.
When taken as a snack, nuts have nutritional benefits. However, when there’s too much, they can impair the absorption of minerals because of its high omega-6 and phytic acid content.
Though legumes contain lectins and phytic acid, they’re important plant based protein and carbohydrate sources for vegetarians. However, they are not paleo.
But there are a couple of tricks you can do to reduce the phytic acid and other harmful substances in legumes.
If you germinate or soak them at least 12-24 hours before cooking and cook thoroughly, you can get rid of the unhealthy substances.
This process helps reduce phytic acid in legumes. Fermented foods are also beneficial to the intestinal flora. They make dairy products more tolerable.
Dairy is an excellent source of healthy fats and protein, but you can also find plant-based fats from avocados, nuts, olive oil, sunflower seeds and oil.
Micro nutrients like iron and vitamin B12 are generally found in animal products. But you can boost your Vitamin B12 intake from plant sources like fermented foods, algae like spirulina and chlorella and seaweeds.
While you can get your iron and vitamin C requirements when you combine iron-rich herbs with vegetables rich in vitamin C.
For instance, parsley and spinach have high amounts of iron, and vitamin C is rich in citrus fruits and in red, orange and yellow peppers.
Similarly, ensure your protein supply through the combination of several protein-rich plant foods like chia seeds, kale, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, figs and raisins, spinach and broccoli.
If you find it difficult to meet your protein requirements, go for potatoes, legumes or pseudo cereals like quinoa.
Alternatively, you can take iron or vitamin B12 supplements, but speak to your doctor first before taking any.
To make sure you meet the daily requirements of these nutrients, you need to put these on your menu and combine them every day.
This is not entirely Paleo-compliant, but life is not black and white. After all, your health is more important than following the rules.
Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl
300 g sweet potato
50 ml of vegetable milk or water, possibly more
1 tbsp date syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon more or less to taste
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp blueberries
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate and Chili-Lime Sauce
700 g Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp date syrup
2 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Strawberry and Beetroot Detox Smoothie
200 g frozen strawberries
200 ml apple juice, naturally cloudy
50 g beetroot, fresh
½ frozen bananas
toasted coconut chips
Diced apple pieces
Fresh Vegetable Salad with Oyster Mushrooms
250 g oyster mushrooms
130 g Romaine lettuce
100 g red cabbage
150 g zucchini
150 g of carrots
100 g cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
50 ml water
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tsp sunflower seed butter
2 tsp light miso paste
1 tablespoon of oil
60 ml of warm water ; makes resolving easier
Salt and pepper
Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Curry
500 g cauliflower, cut into florets
400 g canned tomatoes
350 g sweet potatoes, diced
120 g sunflower seeds
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 limes, quartered
1 ginger, approximately 2 cm, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp tomato paste
½ fresh coriander green, roughly chopped
½ red chili
150 g chickpeas, soaked overnight
250 ml coconut oil
250 ml date syrup
250 g coconut chips
250 g sunflower or pumpkin seeds
125 g cocoa powder (sugar-free)
1 pinch of sea salt
Upon transition to Paleo diet and lifestyle, the body will go through various, positive changes.
Whether to lose weight, to stabilize blood sugar, to avoid autoimmune reactions, to fight blemishes or simply to increase athletic performance.
The wholesome and natural foods of the Paleo Diet give the body all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and fit in the long term.
But more importantly, the consistent exclusion of potentially harmful ingredients in foods helps the body regenerate and function properly.
The increased awareness of healthy eating helps most people to make better long-term decisions regarding their health and nutrition.
Regularly eating protein and fats, will keep you feeling full and satisfied longer. You will have more energy and the fat stored in your body will aid in losing weight.
Paleo foods support the regrowth of healthy and good bacteria and healing in the gut. With the consumption of green leafy vegetables, fermented foods and bone broth, digestive problems like bloating, constipation, inflammation are relieved.
Because of the nutrient-rich foods in paleo, hormones affecting energy levels, metabolism, weight, fertility and even ability to sleep become balanced.
The body eliminates toxins and helps these hormones function properly.
Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 foods like nuts and seeds, and raw vegetables, inflammation from arthritis, muscle pain and joints are relieved.
Many Paleo foods are packed with calcium, magnesium and vitamin K and when combined with cruciferous greens, these help build stronger bones in the body.
With regular intake of iron and B vitamins from food, energy levels and physical strength are increased.
Common culprits of breakouts and acne are dairy, additives from processed foods and cosmetics. This problem gets eliminated by the paleo diet which is high in vitamins E, A and zinc which are all necessary for a healthier and beautiful skin.
When there is nutrient deficiency, it is visible on the skin, hair, and nails. By eating foods high in zinc, biotin and iron--which is paleo rich in--you improve the quality of your hair and nails.
Salmon, avocado and eggs are rich in these nutrients.
Now that you know what paleo and plant based diet definitions are, let’s talk about how you can transition to a plant-based paleo diet.
It will be tough in the beginning to transition especially if you’ve been eating a typical American diet filled with pasta, bread, and meat your whole life.
However, making small changes day by day like we mentioned earlier, is a good starting point.
Do your research and try them one at a time. Sit down with your family and choose which recipes taste good, which recipes keep you full longer, and which recipes are quick and easy to cook to fit into your lifestyle. As you progress, you will learn which foods and recipes make up your plant based paleo nutrition.
These are great to eat as snacks to keep your hunger at bay and prevent you from eating unhealthy foods impulsively. Choose plant based foods high in protein and plant based sources of fats.
Store these plant based protein snacks at eye level in your fridge and cupboards to make them easier to grab. Dried fruits and seeds are great on the go snacks. You can buy in bulk and make your own trail mix. These have long shelf lives too when stored properly.
If you’re on a budget, meal prepping is helpful. You can chop veggies, make overnight oats and top with our paleo bites to help you curb your sweet tooth while staying on track.
Preparing meals ahead of time also gives you more time to relax. You have less cook time because many plant based foods can be eaten raw or steamed.
When you eat different kinds of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes and whole grains, you ensure you are getting the full range of vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Due to the current issues surrounding the coronavirus, more and more people have looked into eating less meat or completely giving it up.
Not only because of its sustainability and its positive impact on the environment, but also how it is beneficial for the body.
Taking a healthy path with simple and delicious plant-based dishes allows everyone to make a small contribution to the environment.
It is not about completely foregoing animal products, but rather finding your balance and trying not to do too much at the same time.
Everyone can manage to eat healthy. It doesn't have to happen overnight and it usually doesn't work that way.
Take small steps and start slowly, just like simply replacing your heavy breakfast of bacon and eggs with porridge or chia pudding.
We hope that through this article we were able to inspire you to take a step towards improving your health and the environment.
What diet are you currently on? How is it working for you?
Which diet are you willing to try or have second thoughts about?
What food can you easily give up? And what food can you never give up?
Share your thoughts about plant based paleo, paleo and plant based in the comments below!