Eat what your ancestors did before the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions. This philosophy is akin to a revised Paleolithic diet. While the Paleolithic diet may have once been ideal, I believe that we ought to allow ourselves some variation in order to accommodate the world we live in:
- Activity Level
Because our ancestors were so much more physically active than we are today (no TV, no computers, no cars, no trains...), they could more easily burn off fats and carbs. Consequently, I've tried to revise a typical Paleolithic diet to be slightly lower in fats and carbs.
We know more now! As a result, we're able to incorporate new things into an old diet, given that we know more today about how our bodies work. Consequently, a revised Paleolithic diet takes into account specific nutrients that our body needs and finds ways to sneak those items into the diet (like adding ground flax seed to add fiber and lignans).
For our ancestors, hunting and gathering and providing food for their family often was their job. Today, however, most of us can't go out and gather fruit or nuts, and I certainly can't head out on my lunch break and shoot today's meal. As a result, I try to adjust for what is accessible and available. For example, meal bars and protein bars are a great way to get nuts and proteins on-the-go.
Method: Optimize, Limit, Avoid
Optimize nomadic foods: foods that can be hunted or caught (like meats and fish) and foods that can be gathered (like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and eggs).
- This prioritizes animals that were wild and hunted before the advent of permanent settlements and farms (raising for food on farms). In short, think like a nomad! Highly domesticated meats are much fattier; for example, pig and cow meats (two animals that were not typically eaten before factory farming) are much fattier than turkey meat (an animal that was typically hunted and eaten, even before animal domestication).
- While processed foods are generally frowned upon, I think that using foods like protein bars and meal supplements are a great way to get your nuts and seeds (and sometimes fruits, too), as long as you are smart about the ingredients (e.g. avoid high sugar, corn starch, high hydrogenated oil).
- This does not mean to limit all food that comes from a farm; instead, limit foods that only became a staple item when farming became popular. For example, turkey meat (a nomadic food) should be optimized, while pig meat or cheese (non-nomadic farm food) should be limited.
- Don't cut these out completely! I'm a big fan, for example, of Oatmeal. It fills you up, is a great source of fiber, and is a slow-burning food that is great for either keeping you full all afternoon or getting you through a long bike ride.
- As I mentioned before, while Zone Bars and Special K Protein Bars were obviously not available to our ancestors, they're a totally acceptable part of the diet philosophy, as they deliver essential proteins, nutrients, etc.
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*For Protein Shakes (kind of a must-have in today's world), check out this Carrot Cake Protein Shake and this Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake.
Good-For-You Whole Wheat Flax Waffles (or Pancakes)
Calories Per Serving: 98 (or 136 with Sugar instead of Stevia)
Pros: High Fiber / High Lignans / Low Fat / Low Sugar
Skinny Breakfast Sandwich
Calories Per Serving: 33
Pros: Low Cholesterol / High Riboflavin / High Selenium
Fiber & Protein Mixed Salad
Calories Per Serving: 330
Pros: Low Sugar / High Calcium / High Iron / High Phosphorous / High Vitamin A / High Vitamin C
Grapefruit & Clementine Brulee
Calories Per Serving: 85
Pros: No Saturated Fat / Very Low Sodium / Very High Vitamin C
Pros: No Saturated Fat / Very high Calcium / Very High Vitamin A / High Vitamin C
Calories Per Serving: 195
Pros: Low in Saturated Fat / Very Low in Cholesterol
Wasabi Soy Pumpkin Seeds
Calories Per Serving:134
Pros: No Saturated Fat / Good On-The-Go Snack
Cajun Barbecue Pumpkin Seeds
Calories Per Serving:124
Total Fat: 9g
Pros: No Saturated Fat / No Cholesterol / Low Sodium / Good On-The-Go Snack
Berry Balsamic Crumble
Calories Per Serving:279
Total Fat: 10.4g
Carbohydrates: 44.2g (25% of daily Fiber intake)
Pros: Very Low in Sodium / High in Vitamin C / High Fiber
Greek Chicken Garlic Salad
Calories Per Serving: 221
Total Fat: 9.0g
Pros:Low Sodium / Very high Niacin / High Selenium / Very High Vitamin A
Seared Dijon Tuna over Asian Ginger Salad
Calories Per Serving: 223
Total Fat: 11.1g
Pros: Low in Saturated Fat / High in Manganese / High in Magnesium / Very High in Niacin / High in Phosphorus / High in Potassium / Very High in Selenium / High in Thiamin / Very High in Vitamin A / Very High in Vitamin B6 / Very High in Vitamin C / Good Source of Energy