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The Paleo Diet

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Editor's note: The Village Voice recently tried to insult us by saying that AskMen is “basically for cavemen.” But we don't take that as a slight. In fact, we think they're right. We are cavemen. We're chiseled, optimally fit, have muscles like Tarzan and hair like Samson. We can hunt if we need to keep our family safe. We could skin an animal with a dull blade. We can outrun leopards.

That’s why when the Paleo Diet fell into our laps, we breathed a collective — and extremely manly — sigh of relief. Finally, a diet that actually encourages you to eat protein, protein and more protein. Since it’s still early on in the game, we’re not yet sure we’d put our women on the line for the diet’s success.

But we do know one thing: We get to act like cavemen — and women dig that. But while we love the concept of the Paleo Diet, we're not sure of the particulars. So we asked one of our fitness experts, Shannon Clark, to give us the lowdown

The Premise

The idea behind the Paleo Diet is to take your eating habits back to how our ancestors ate. Back in the hunter-gatherer days, there weren’t Cheetos, deep-dish frozen pizzas or Doritos available.

Instead, humans ate foods that came straight from the ground or straight from the animal.

As a result, they weren’t consuming high levels of saturated fat, sugar, simple carbs, and additives, but instead were enriching their diets with fiber, lean proteins and healthy fats. This combination is what enabled them to keep steady blood-sugar levels, control their hunger and prevent the accumulation of unwanted body fat.

Healthy fats and the few carbohydrates they consumed from fresh fruits and vegetables kept them going throughout the day while the amino acids from lean meat replenished their muscle tissues and helped them add more lean muscle mass.

Contrast this to the diets of today, which bring about rapid blood-sugar spikes that lead to a flood of insulin in the body (which just encourages energy lows and body-fat accumulation).

By shunning the foods that cause this chain of events and focusing on all-natural foods instead, you can really turn the tables around as far as your health and body composition is concerned.

The Foods Allowed

So what do you eat when using the Paleo Diet approach?

For lean protein, your choices are chicken breast, turkey breast, venison, and all-game meat, lean beef, wild fish and seafood, and eggs. Dairy is not to be consumed. Also off-limits are any salt-containing protein sources such as deli meat, bacon, hot dogs, and ham, along with those that are extremely high in saturated fat, such as fatty cuts of roast beef and lamb chops.

In addition to your protein, you want to focus on healthy fats from all nuts except peanuts (which are commonly misunderstood to be a nut when they’re actually a legume), natural almond butter, fatty sources of fish, avocados, flax and flax seeds, as well as olive oil in moderation.

Then, to round out the Paleo diet, rely on as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. There are no fruits and vegetables off-limits, but you should stay away from potatoes as well as yams.

Dried fruit, however, should be limited to no more than two ounces per day, especially for those who are trying to lose body fat.

Diet soda along with coffee, tea, and wine are to be consumed in moderation, and one 12-ounce serving of beer or four ounces of spirits are allowed a few times a week.

The Paleo Diet Approach

If you’re giving the Paleo Diet a go and you’re already very active with your workouts, you’ll want to be eating a higher volume of fresh fruits and lean protein right before and after the workout period. Since you will be strictly limiting all grains from the diet, this ensures that you provide the glucose the muscles need to perform the intense session.

Then later on in the day, to really enhance the fat-burning process, keep the diet limited to quality protein and healthy fats in moderation, as well as an abundance of vegetables. By limiting the fruit during this time, you ensure that your body starts using body fat as a fuel source while you maintain very steady energy levels that keep hunger low._________________________________________________________________________

More From AskMen:

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Top 10: Appetite Suppressants 

Healthy Man-Made Foods 

Healthy Snacking 

Can Fat Be Healthy?

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A Sample Paleo Day

Here's what a sample meal plan would look like when using the Paleo Diet:

Breakfast
· 2 whole eggs + 6 egg whites, scrambled in 1 tbsp. olive oil and prepared with 1 cup diced fresh vegetables
· 1 banana
· 1 orange

Mid-Morning
· 1 can of tuna mixed with ½ cup salsa
· 2 cups spinach leaves
· ¼ cup almonds
· 2 tbsps. flax seeds
· 1 banana

Lunch
· 3 oz. grilled salmon
· 1 cup steamed asparagus
· 1 cup steamed broccoli with lemon juice drizzled on top
· 10 pecans
· 1 cup blackberries

Pre-Workout
· 5 oz. grilled chicken breast
· 2 bananas

Post-Workout
· 5 oz. grilled chicken breast
· 1 banana
· 1 cup grapes
· 1 orange

Dinner
· 5 oz. venison
· 2 cups spinach salad with slivered almonds
· 1 cup stir-fried mushrooms, peppers and onions

Before Bed
· 1 cup of green tea (provided it doesn’t keep you awake at night; use herbal if it does)
· 10 walnuts