Practical Paleo Review – Part 2

Back again, and holy cow was yesterday a big day for the blog! Many many thanks to Diane for posting the link on her Facebook page and bringing all you wonderful people here. It seems like people enjoyed Part 1, and I’m hoping Part 2 can do justice to what is my favorite section of this book. Let’s just jump right in, shall we? Here’s goes my review of Part 2 of Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.

So here’s the thing. Most people who aren’t elbow-deep in the paleo world, especially those who have very strong opinions based on very little understanding, think that there’s just one way to do the paleo thing. Those of us who follow the blogs, read the books, listen to the podcasts, and watch the interviews/presentations, know better (though we may not have much of a social life, due to our paleo-obsessiveness). There are a lot of ways to do paleo, and there’s probably a way to do it for your specific needs that’s already out there somewhere. But other than baseline paleo (from Robb Wolf‘s book The Paleo Solution) or primal (from Mark Sisson‘s book The Primal Blueprint) and maybe Robb’s autoimmune protocol (from his website) do people actually know where to go to get a breakdown of what they should be eating for their specific goals? That’s what I love about section 2 of Practical Paleo, and why it’s my favorite section of the three. She has not just guidelines, but actual “Here are thirty days of meals, three meals a day, with the recipes,” for not just one or two goals, but for eleven of them! Everything from the neurological protocol designed for people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s to the athletic performance plan for hard-charging athletes. From digestive health, to heart health, to getting your blood sugar in line, Diane has laid out a 30-day plan for anything you could want to do. And if you don’t have any specific goals or health issues, she’s got a full 30-day plan called “Squeaky Clean Paleo” that will work for anyone who just wants to be lean and healthy. Seriously, I don’t think I’m doing justice to how cool this is.

When I talk to someone about paleo (as I did last night with the lady who cuts my hair) they always have a lot of questions about whether it’s healthy, how it works, why it works, etc. Section one covers all of that beautifully. Then, if they’re interested, their next question is almost always “How can I do it?” People are intimidated by such a big change, and the idea of giving up drive-through trash and caramel-colored liquid sugar fills them with dread. You mean they’d have to think about what they eat? They’d have to decide what Tuesday’s lunch will look like when they’re at the store on Sunday instead of when they’re at the menu board at McDonald’s on Tuesday at lunchtime? It’s terrifying. It’s more thought than most of them have put into their food at any point in their lives, which is probably what got them to the same place where living that way had gotten me: fat and sick. Doing a straight-up paleo gig is certainly good, and you can find some meal plans out there for them, but nothing I’ve seen is as comprehensive as Practical Paleo’s approach. Shopping guide, meal plan, recipe book, all of it in one place. It’s fantastic. And not just for your baseline paleo, but for all the different things you could possibly want to work on. That’s something I think bears repeating, so I’ll get to repeating it. Bear bear bear. Wait, that’s wrong. Here goes: The paleo diet concept is a baseline of quality real foods, avoiding irritants and processed junk, and eating quality carbohydrates in accordance with your goals. That’s broad, though. There’s a ton of space in there, and it’s easy to get lost, or at the very least not to find what’s optimal for you if you’re not a really dedicated researcher or tinkerer. Someone with Alzheimer’s and someone competing for the Crossfit games have violently different nutritional needs. Bam. This book has them both covered. Someone skinny looking to put on muscle and someone overweight looking to lose fat need to eat very differently. Bam. Covered. Digestive problems? Covered. Autoimmunity? Covered. And this isn’t to say that a baseline paleo wouldn’t help these people. It almost certainly would. But if we’re on board with the paleo concept, we’ve already got better. We want best. And having these individual plans will help people get to best all that much faster, and with less time spent experimenting to try to figure it out on their own. That means they get to their goals faster and easier, which means they’re more likely to stay motivated. Booyah all around.

Okay, so let’s get to details before we wrap up. What does each plan include? You get a full list of all the conditions or problems that a given plan is designed to help with. Then you get a list of “Add” or “Avoid” things. These are items or activities that are especially important for you to include in your diet or lifestyle, or to keep out of it, depending on your goall. You get a list of supplements that can help you, along with a list of the important nutrients you can get from whole foods and what those whole foods are. The section also includes a portion size guideline, which I think is very helpful. It’s very reasonable, too. Hefty amounts of protein, unlimited non-starchy veggies, and smaller amounts of starchy carbs and fruit. It’s far from restrictive, but also gives people an idea that it’s possible to overeat on a paleo plan (though I’ve noticed it’s much harder to do so), especially if fat loss is a goal.

So there you have it! That’s section two of Practical paleo and it’s excellent. I think it really adds something important to the whole paleosphere, and in a very concrete way. Not just another perspective on the same info, but a real expansion of some important concepts, laid out clearly and beautifully. Awesome!

I did want to mention that I finally talked myself into doing a Whole 30 with some friends. Actually the number of friends has expanded dramatically. It was going to be me and two others and now it’s like eight people, including my wife. That’s pretty cool! So I weighed and measured myself this morning as my “Before” stats, and I’ll do the same in 30 days (and not until then). Here’s where I stand right now:

  • Weight – 207.6 lbs
  • Omron – 14.6%
  • Calculated Lean Mass – 177.3 lbs
  • Calculated Fat Mass – 30.3 lbs
  • Waist – 35.5″
  • Suprailiac Pinch – 14

Not too bad, but I’m really thinking that I can make significant progress with this Whole 30 gig. To get to 10% body fat (which is my goal, and where I suspect I’ll see some abs) I need to lose 10 pounds of fat without losing any lean mass. I’m going to keep doing my Convict Conditioning work and eating plenty of quality protein, so I’m not worried about losing muscle, and if my prior experience is any indication, I think a full month without any sugar and with pretty limited starch might just get me to 10 pounds of fat loss. Fingers crossed!

That’s it for today, but I’ll be back with the final installment of my review, where I actually cook something from the book’s recipe section (I’m actually doing the clarified butter and the mayo tomorrow night, with friends, to get us all geared up for our Whole 30s, but I’m talking about a recipe even beyond those) so hopefully I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for reading!

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4 comments on “Practical Paleo Review – Part 2

  1. Nourishista says:

    Awesome reviews so far! I can’t wait until August 7th so I can go buy it for myself! I have a feeling this is exactly what I’ve been looking for in a Paleo/Primal book. Diane is awesome.

    • Septimus says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you’re liking them. I’m absolutely loving the book, and will be getting myself a couple extra copies on August 7th as well for friends and family. It’s just so pretty and so comprehensive, it’s something I think anyone interested in trying paleo would get huge benefit from.

  2. Darcy Thomas says:

    You had me at meal plans for MS… so yeah bought the book on your recommendation. Doing the 30 day autoimmunity. then 30 day MS plan. Because I can always get healthier.

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