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The Lazy Dieter’s Guide to Paleo Diet Basics – 5 Quick and Dirty Steps to Success

Jeremy Hendon | July 17

Excited about Paleo Diet BasicsTell me the truth: You get a little bit excited every time you hear or read about a new trick that might help you get in better shape or lose weight?

Don’t worry…your secret is safe.

Except that it’s not a secret. The whole bloody world still wants an easy solution to getting healthy.

I just hopped on Amazon and went to the “Weight Loss’ category. It’s organized by “New and Popular,” and the first 24 results are 23 supplements and 1 protein bar.

I really don’t know what I expected.

And yet, I understand.

I spent 15 years of my life reading about nutrition and fitness, and I spent almost a decade experimenting with diets, all with varying, but disappointing levels of success.

I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone, which is why I present to you the Lazy Dieter’s Guide to Paleo Diet Basics…

The Paleo Diet is Confusing and Complicated

(Not really.)

But since the Paleo diet has gotten SUPER popular, everybody is writing what they think about it, and they often don’t even know anything about Paleo. So yeah…it’s kinda confusing if you have to sort through all the junk.

Really, eating a Paleo diet is about doing 2 things:

1. Eating Foods with Lots of Nutrients.

2. Avoiding Foods with Lots of Toxins.

So simple. (Mind you, that’s only the diet – there’s also sleep, stress, exercise, community, and a bunch of other lifestyle factors.)

Lazy about dietingBut we’re lazy.

Saying to eat fewer toxins and more nutrients takes too much thought. It’d be so much easier if there were 7 quick and dirty steps to being successful on a Paleo diet…

5 Quick and Dirty Steps to Paleo Diet Success

If you’d rather listen to me ramble, here’s a quick video I put together about Paleo Diet Basics:

1. Forget About Cavemen/women and Evolution. Evolution is a brilliant and necessary starting point for biologists and nutritionists. It’s the basis of all modern biology, after all.

But you don’t need to think about it. You don’t need to know that humans were ridiculously healthy, taller, and leaner prior to the advent of agriculture. You don’t even need to know that processed sugars and seed oils have led to almost 40% of the US population being obese and sick.

Somebody needs to know those things, since the Paleo diet is based on evolutionary principles, but it’s much easier for you just to know which foods nourish your body and which foods are toxic for your body.

If you start feeling slightly less lazy, you can even learn why certain foods are nourishing or toxic, but honestly, just knowing is enough.

2. Stop Counting Calories and Stop Worrying about How Much You Eat. People get all irritated and red in the face about this, arguing with each other about whether calories “count” or not. I get emotional, just not about calories.

It doesn’t matter if calories “count” or not. The reason most diets fail is 2 things:

a. They’re not getting enough nutrients for their body to function properly; and

b. It’s REALLY HARD to continually eat very few calories.

Really, it’s mostly b. Counting calories might or might not work if you could do it, but most of us can’t.

Eating a Paleo diet means you don’t have to count calories. See, the really amazing thing about your body is this – if you give your body the nutrients it needs and generally avoid toxins, then your body is pretty good at regulating both how much you eat and how much energy it uses.

It almost sounds too good to be true, and yet…it’s not.

3. Avoid Just 5 Foods. I’m going to trick you just a little bit, since these 5 foods are really categories of foods:

Paleo Foods to Avoid a. Grains (wheat, corn, rice, barley, rye, oats, etc.).

b. Legumes (all beans, all soy, and all peanuts).

c. Processed Sugars (sugar, cane sugar, honey, agave, syrup, corn syrup, etc.)

d. Dairy (unless it’s raw and/or fermented)

e. Seed Oils (canola oil, vegetable oil, grape seed oil, crisco, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, etc.)

That’s all you need to remember.

Knowing these 5 foods (along with Step #4 below) will make your Paleo diet near perfect. If you’re slightly less lazy than you thought you were, feel free to check out my Paleo Diet Food List article, which lists practically every food you can think of.

Quick! Pop Quiz: Which 5 foods do you need to avoid?

See how easy that was?

4. Remember this Rule: If You Don’t Know if a Food or Ingredient is Paleo, don’t Eat it. Remember, you’re lazy. You’re not going to want to look things up in the future.

So when you pick up a food, all you need to do is look at the ingredients. If you don’t recognize an ingredient (which means you don’t know what it is or where it came from), or if you’re not sure if an ingredient might be Paleo, just don’t eat it.

This rule will save years of your life that you’ll otherwise spend googling random ingredients online.

5. Eat These Foods. Remember how Animaniacs had songs for all the countries of the world and all the capitals of US States? I really want someone to come up with one of those for a list of Paleo foods.

Paleo FoodsUntil then, here is the lazy guide to Paleo foods you can eat:

a. Veggies. You know what they are. Your mom tried in vain to make you eat them. Here’s a little secret: they’re actually delicious. Put on your big boy or big girl pants and try them again.

b. Meats. Yes…eat bacon. It’s delicious and nutritious. Eat beef, pork, chicken, and a variety of exotic animals.

c. Seafood. I sorta consider these to be meats, but many people don’t. My rule – eat as much seafood as you can afford.

d. Fruits. I go overboard here sometimes, but it’s life. Fruits are 100% Paleo, but not if they’re dried or turned into fruit juices.

e. Other. (My catch-all). Eggs. Organ Meats (liver, kidney, etc.). Nuts and Seeds. Coconut Oil, Ghee, Lard, Tallow, or Olive Oil.

Check out the Food List link above if you want more. My advice: be lazy and just remember these.

Just Do It

Don’t make things complicated. Don’t think about it too much.

Take Robb Wolf’s advice and be strict for 30 or 60 days to see how you feel and how your body reacts. I’ve yet to see anyone who’s disappointed by this sort of experiment.

People who hate and complain about Paleo diets are usually doing so in the abstract. In other words, they usually haven’t tried it or even tried to learn about it.

Since you’re lazy and probably don’t want to click around to other pages, here are a few frequently asked questions:

Won’t I Get Fat if I Don’t Worry about Calories?


Not unless you eat junk. In which case, it probably doesn’t matter, because junk food is going to destroy your body either way.

If you still think calories are all that matter, ask yourself this: Do you honestly believe that you’d look the same in a year if you ate 2,000 calories per day of cookies or if ate 2,000 calories per day of meat and veggies?

I didn’t think so.

What if I LOVE Sugar or Bread or Pasta?

OMG. You must be the only one. I’ve never met anyone who liked sugar or bread or pasta.

If you can’t give up those things, then don’t try a Paleo diet.

I get pumped and kinda emotional when I see all the changes that people make to their bodies and lives from eating a high-quality Paleo diet. But if you’re not willing to do it, that’s your choice.

Nobody is forcing anything on you. All I can say is that if you can muster the willpower to try it for 30 days, you might be surprised.

Why Does the Paleo Diet Work?

The Paleo diet works because your body works.

Your body is the product of millions of years of evolution that have made it pretty remarkable. Your diet and lifestyle don’t need to be perfect in order to allow your body to function properly.

But your diet has to be good enough.

You need to have the proper building-blocks (protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals), all of which are found highly concentrated in veggies, meats, seafood, and fruits (Paleo Foods).

You need to avoid toxins (Prolamins, excess sugar, excess omega-6 fats, etc.), all of which are found highly concentrated in grains, seed oils, and other processed foods (non-Paleo foods).

Parting Tips and Tricks

Know whether or not you respond well to being very strict. (I do, for instance.)

If you do well by setting hard rules for yourself, then go very strict for at least a month. You’ll see amazing results.

If you don’t do well with hard rules, then start by cutting out processed sugars, move on to wheat a couple weeks later, and then keep cutting out toxic foods. You’ll get there in time and feel better along the way.

And don’t stress. Paleo is fun and stress is not Paleo. Eat good food, mostly healthy, and be a badass.

Got Comments? What’s your experience been with Paleo? Have a recipe or blog that you love? Let me know in the comments!

Images (in order): wowitsstephen, faith goble, KevinLallier, and faith goble.