Q & A: Quick and Easy Paleo

Greetings, everyone! We’re always approached with nutrition-related questions around here (which is awesome), so we’ve answered a couple of the ones we get most often below.

Q: I’m a student, and I need quick Paleo breakfast and snack options – what do you suggest?

A: Whether it’s school, work, kids, family, sports or all those things, you’re not alone in looking for fast, healthy food options. Here are a few of my go-tos:Sweet potato hash with eggs

  • For breakfast:
    • I love this egg casserole (recipe courtesy of one of our members) coupled with fresh fruit salad. Make and store the casserole before you start your week, and throw the fruit salad together fresh each morning. Blackberries, raspberries or blueberries are easy to rinse and mix together, and squeezing ½ a lemon or orange over the top of your mixture with some freshly chopped mint will make it even better.
    • Another go-to of mine is sweet potato and chorizo hash topped with a couple fried eggs. You can make the hash ahead of time (and even the eggs) if necessary, and have a super yummy, healthy breakfast ready to go.
  • For snacks:
    • As far as snacks go, it’s easiest to keep it simple. Pick something for each of the three macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat, and pop them into containers as-is. (That sounds so delicious right? I promise it really is)! Pop these in your lunch sack and you’re all set for the day.
      • For protein, I like chicken, turkey, ham or roast beef. Or, if meat isn’t your thing, grab another protein source like cold edamame or unsweetened almond butter.
      • Then, grab a few of your favorite veggies – I like red, yellow and orange bell peppers sliced thin, or cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and baby carrots. Fruit is ok too, but I urge you to incorporate lots of veggies!
      • Finally, grab a few almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans or walnuts. Boom: grab-and-go snacks.

Q: Can I eat Paleo if I’m a vegetarian?

A: Yes! There are many “flavors” of Paleo; what they all have in common are whole foods. The goal is really just to eliminate processed junk from your diet. Even though the template is meat-based, you can still benefit from it without having to be a carnivore. Aim to get roughly 35% of your calories from fat, 40% from carbohydrates and 25% from protein. Protein can be the toughest macronutrient to get for vegetarians, but there are a few ways to make sure you’re getting enough:

  • Eat eggs. Eat plenty of eggs. It’s an inexpensive and reliable source of protein. And if you’re concerned with the cholesterol, egg whites are a great alternative.
  • Consider keeping dairy in your diet. This is a Paleo grey area, and if it doesn’t bother your belly or hinder your performance, it’s totally fine. Try to avoid dairy products with additives and ingredients no one can pronounce.
  • Aim for Paleo-ish. The real goal of Paleo is to eat clean, so allowing not-strictly-Paleo sources of protein like hemp or other grain-like seeds could be the right option for you. You can also experiment with legumes (beans, peas, lentils) to see how they make you feel. An excellent source of protein, strict Paleo-eaters avoid them because they contain chemical compounds that can cause gut irritation, but this isn’t the case for everybody. Soaking them (especially in water with a little vinegar) before you cook them can eliminate a lot of these issues, as well as make a lot of nutrients more bioavailable.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to start and how to plan a vegetarian/vegan Paleo diet, this post from Paleo Leap is super helpful. Also, just know that we aren’t here to judge your nutritional choices. Nutrition is very personal, and we get that. Try to make the very best choices you can, quality choices, whole foods, and you’ll be in good shape!

Q: I’m interested in giving Paleo a try, but cutting it all out at once seems a bit overwhelming, thoughts?

Healthy Paleo optionsA: Take it one day at a time; we all started somewhere. Start with one meal a day, and breakfast is a great choice. If you normally eat cereal or a bagel, substitute eggs and some veggies sautéed in coconut oil with bacon (or try one of the delicious options listed above). Do this for a few weeks, and see if there is a difference in how you feel. Better energy? More satisfied? Stay full for longer? If you dig it, incorporate lunch, snacks, then dinner. Before you know it – BOOM – you’ve got this Paleo thing down!

A concluding note: What we eat is important, but it needs to be a realistic and personalized choice. I encourage you to play with your diet until you’re feeling your best! Diet goes FAR beyond just looking good. When our diets are on point we feel better, perform better and our mood is better. Thus, our relationships are better, we sleep better, and so on. Take the time to explore what healthy eating looks like for you, and know that your coaches are here to help–they’re excellent resources. Nutrition is the foundation of fitness, and ultimately of life, and we’re happy to help. Now go eat something AMAZING!

Want to know even more about nutrition?

Check out our other nutrition and health posts!