You put in your time at the gym. You hit the weights and the cardio, going after a healthy lifestyle and physique. You’ve also done your research into a diet plan that works for you. Today we will talk about paleo protein and why you may want to explore using it.
Perhaps you’re constantly tinkering with the plan to see what works for you, but for now, you’ve settled on the Paleo Diet.
But with the Paleo Diet, you also want to make sure you’re getting the necessary protein to repair and restore your muscles.
Is there a specific protein that adheres to the Paleo protein diet, and what should you look for when hunting down the right protein addition?
It’s can be a tricky question, especially when it comes to the Paleo Diet. But don’t worry, we have the answers for you.
What Exactly is the Paleo Diet?
You’re at the gym, trying to mind your own business as you wait in line to fill up your wattle bottle but the two people in front of you are talking on the loud side. One of them mentions they’ve switched to the Paleo Diet and have not only lost weight but have more energy than ever before. Obviously, this peaks your interest.
A diet where you drop the pounds and have more energy?
Is that possible?
So you rack your brain and the only thing that pops up is the image of dinosaurs and prehistoric times. After all, isn’t that what Paleo is?
After all, isn’t that what Paleo is?
You aren’t far off if you pictured dinosaurs. Well, alright, so maybe you are a few dozen million years off, but you are right to think back to the prehistoric times. Paleo is in reference to the Paleo-Indian Period, which dates back to 15,000 B>C. During this time period, basic human settlements did exist. In fact, the earliest known settlements made in North and South America date back to around 15,000 B.C. Scientists have long believed nomad tribes followed herds of large animals, including the great wooly mammoths across an ice bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska (although there is now some debate as to whether or not the legitimacy of this notion). Regardless of how the earliest settlements started in the New World, Paleo is in reference to this time period (Institute of Archeology, 2017).
So now that you’ve got your brief history lesson out of the way (don’t worry, there won’t be an exam at the end), what does this have to do with a diet?
The entire idea of the Paleo Diet is to eat as close to how humans ate when they were more or fewer nomads or just settling down to cultivate crops. The diet itself doesn’t have any direct ties to the Paleo-Indian Period. It’s just the word the creators of the diet decided to go with.
In reality, is probably smart to name it after this period, as the first humans stopped to cultivate crops after they discovered the effects of leaving a barley in a container for too long, allowing it to ferment and turn into the earliest form of beer (and no, a diet based completely on beer is not recommended).
Ultimately, the diet is about eating clean and sticking with what likely would have been around for early humans. So anything processed is completely out the window, but there are plenty of paleo breakfast ideas.
This includes all pasta, cereals and taco shells. The idea of the diet is not to require you to count calories or do anything like that. Instead, it is designed to rid your body of all the added ingredients early humans did not have access to. This includes saturated fats, bloated carbohydrates, and hormones. This is not a counting calories kind of diet.
In fact, the Paleo Diet stresses to not count calories and that sticking with only Paleo approved ingredients will force you to cut out unnecessary filler calories, helping you drop the weight without even thinking about it.
What Can You Eat on the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet stresses you eat what a caveman ate.
Ditching grains may be a bit more difficult than you think at first (say goodbye to the never ending breadsticks at your favorite Italian restaurant…although, without the ability to eat pasta, croutons, salad dressing, and cheese, there probably isn’t much of a reason to go any longer).
Regarding meat, everything needs to be grass fed.
This is important.
The meat cannot be grain fed. When you switch to gas fed beef though you’ll instantly taste the difference, and it will be way different than vegan pea protein.
Any kind of bird is fine as can fish, but make sure it is wild caught, not farm raised. Cage-free eggs, vegetables, and fruits are good, as are nuts and tubers (aka sweet potatoes and yams, both of which are excellent sources of post workout carbs).
So how do you cook all of this?
Eating everything raw or cooking it in a fire pit in the back patio probably isn’t the way to go. You can cook your food on the stove and with oil, the oil just needs to be natural. This means olive oil, avocado, and coconut oils are good. Basically if its from a plant product you are fine (Health, 2017).
So Wait, Is Protein Powder Even Paleo?
This is where it gets a bit tricky.
The entire purpose of the Paleo Diet is to cut out anything processed and remove items our caveman ancestors didn’t have access to.
It’s a pretty good bet you didn’t have cavemen grinding down protein powder to drink after the morning hunt. The Paleo Diet plan is extremely anti-processed, while protein powder, whatever the format, is extremely processed. Now, with that said, there are some Paleo friendly protein powders.
While the powder itself may be processed down from the original form, it does till stick as close to all natural as possible as it uses food items that did exist back during the Paleo-Indian Period.
You just need to know what kind of protein actually falls into the Paleo Diet safe category and what should be avoided.
What is Paleo Protein?
Paleo protein powder is a specially advertised product that you’ll basically pay a markup for.
Yes, it most likely is Paleo Diet safe, so there’s little to worry about when you’re a stickler for remaining as pure to the diet as possible.
However, there are other standard protein powders that still adhere to the Paleo Diet standards.
Basically, you’re paying more for packaging that states “Paleo Protein Powder.” If you’re more comfortable with that, so be it, but if you want ultimately the same product for less money, you just need to go with powders that are Paleo friendly.
Whey protein is the easiest to find and it is also Paleo friendly.
Some might say “wait, whey is derived from milk and dairy is a no-no for the Paleo Diet.” In most instances, dairy products is not approved by the diet. Cavemen didn’t have cheese or bowls of ice cream sitting around in the back of the cave.
However, cattle were around, and cattle, whether from a cow or a goat, did exist. It may be pushing the boundaries a bit, but whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate all should be fine, as long as you’re fine with bending the rules just a little bit.
So maybe you’d rather not bend the rules too much with the inclusion of a milk based product. there’s nothing wrong with that. Whey is the most readily available and typically the highest protein to calorie ratio, but as the Paleo Diet is not about calorie counting, you can consider other forms of protein. Egg white protein powder is the best way to go if you want to avoid milk. Eggs are on the approved dietary list for the Paleo Diet, so egg white protein is your best bet.
Ideally, protein powder of any form should not be a major ingredient in your daily consumption as there are additive ingredients inside protein that does not completely adhere to the Paleo Diet, so even if you go with the egg white proteins or the Paleo protein powder, there are ingredients that are not highly thought of.
The purest Paleo Diet does not include any kind of protein powder, but as someone who needs more protein throughout the day and just doesn’t have the time to sit down and whip up a grilled chicken every few hours, protein powder is as much of a convenience as anything else. Just be careful when using it as a meal replacer as at this point you start to move out of the Paleo Diet and into more of a protein powder meal replacement diet (and we’re pretty sure cavemen weren’t looking for the Weight Watchers chocolate shake meal replacements to get fit).
Protein powders you want to avoid when you’re on the Paleo Diet includes help, brown rice, pea, and soy protein. These all have heavily processed origins and come from grains that were not consumed by early humans.
Our Paleo Protein:
If Paleo Protein Powder Isn’t Completely Paleo Diet Friendly, What Should I Do
Alright, so you’re a stickler for sticking by your diet and want to dot all your “I’s” and cross all your “T’s”.
Good for you. It shows dedication. When you’ve found a diet that works for you, stick with it. And just because you want to put on muscle weight (or maintain your muscle mass while improving definition) doesn’t mean you need to completely abandon your diet.
You just need to look for foods that deliver high levels of protein quickly.
Pre-cooked chicken breast saved and portioned off is easy to do, but you may grow chickened-out over time.
What other options are there?
Any kind of canned fish is an easy option. While you can’t whip it up with mayo, you can add it to a salad. And if you want a bit of extra flavor, go with the tuna or other canned fish in olive oil. You won’t need any extra flavor as it is right out of the can delicious.
Perhaps popping a can of tuna at the gym isn’t going to go over very well. The locker room already smells funky and the lingering aroma of canned fish won’t help, not to mention traveling with the can of fish is tricky as well (although there are new individual pouches that can work). Instead, you do have other opportunities.
Hard boiled eggs are fine and can sit out of the fridge for a few hours, so snacking on these post gym workout is perfectly alright.
Jerky is also fine as well.
This might end up being your favorite go-to post gym snack.
Jerky is great, comes in a variety of meats and is readily available at most stores. Just watch the seasonings (teriyaki is not Paleo Diet approved, nor is bacon jerky). If you can, try to find a locally produced jerky. This jerky tends to be grass fed (it should say on the label) and the jerky is also fresher, which means it won’t hurt your jaw to eat a bag of it like some of the large brands that might sit around a grocery store for weeks at a time.
Whether you want to maintain your current muscle mass while dropping body fat or you’re interested in packing on the muscle, protein powder goes a long way in helping out. If you’re on the Paleo Diet, finding the right protein powder does get a bit trickier, but it doesn’t need to be impossible. You can still stick to your diet and not bend too many rules. Just make sure to stick with this guide and you’ll be good to go.
After all, when you find a diet you actually like and works for you, it’s important to do what you can to stick with it and not break too many rules. You won’t need to do that with these instructions.