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Are Potatoes Paleo Friendly?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether potatoes and white potatoes specifically are a Paleo friendly food. The Paleo community seems fairly divided and confused about this issue with different experts all over the place on their recommendations. This, despite the fact that a tuber like a white potato would probably be one of the most recognizable foods we eat, to a Paleolithic human.

A lot of this confusion stems from the fact that while potatoes and white potatoes specifically are Paleo friendly in that they do not contain compounds that will actively harm you digestive tract in the same way wheat or corn might. White potatoes do represent a lot of fairly simple starch, and therefore should not be eaten if you are at a low activity level, especially if you are still struggling with insulin in-sensitivity. This means many paleo diets and experts will recommend you not eat white potatoes, but it is usually not for the same reason you should be avoiding grains.

Potatoes should be treated like any of the other hunter gatherer diet foods, like nuts and fruits; you must keep your personal dietary and caloric needs in mind. This is no different from other foods in the diet though, you should not be eating pounds of nuts or piles of fruit a day, if you are not at a high enough activity level.

However if you are an athlete, or someone who has a heavy physical work load, I think you would be remiss to not eat some white potatoes. Or at least you would be missing out on a delicious way to refuel yourself after a workout.

Make sure to peel the potatoes before you eat them however, as the skins can contain anti-nutrients, also as with everything try to buy local organic potatoes if possible.

photo by sethoscope

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Hunter Gatherer Diet

The hunter gatherer diet, also known as the paleo diet, is a diet that approximates the diet that our ancestors would have evolved with for the millions of years before the rise of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. Since agriculture is such a recent development in evolutionary time, our bodies and genetics are still adapted to a diet that is free of those foods which are exclusively the products of agriculture; such as grains, dairy, and processed sugars.

The return to a diet similar to the one humans evolved with can have many health benefits. The hunter gatherer diet promotes fat loss, improves cardiovascular risk factors, and helps reduce or eliminate many autoimmune disorders.

Autoimmunity disorders are the result of our own body’s immune system mistaking its own tissue for a foreign invader. These autoimmune disorders are linked to intestinal damage which lets foreign food particles into the bloodstream that can then trigger out of control immune response. What causes this intestinal damage? You guess it, those same foods that are the result of agricultural development; grains, legumes, and dairy.

The hunter gatherer diet is also effective in reducing insulin insensitivity, which is important for avoiding diabetes and maintaining a healthy weight.

Even if you don’t have any health disorders and are in fairly good shape, chances are that if you switch to a hunter gatherer style diet you would never want to go back. One of the largest groups of people adopting the diet are competitive athletes that know it gives them the best results.

How to make the switch

So maybe you would like to try the diet out but don’t know where to start. First thing is to eliminate grains legumes and dairy from your diet, you won’t see the kind of results you would like to cheating with these things, especially at first. This is because your body needs to repair the damage done by the harmful elements of grains, legumes, and dairy.

This leaves everything our ancient ancestors would have had available; lean meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and healthy fats. These foods are high in nutrients and generally more filling.

This switch can feel overwhelming for people at first, as many of us were pretty reliant on grains and dairy in our cooking. That’s why I recommend getting a recipe book that follows these tenants to make the transition easier.

The Paleo Recipe Book

Affiliate disclosure: the owner of this site is affiliated with some of the products promoted on this page.

Photo by Mike Johnson – TheBusyBrain.com

Paleo Salad Dressing

Paleo Salad Dressing

Making a good salad dressing can be hard if you’re on the paleo diet because you can’t use dairy products. However, there are several great dressings that you can make that aren’t off limits.

Ranch dressing uses dairy products such as buttermilk and mayonnaise, but this special paleo ranch dressing will give you that taste you’ve been craving. To make it, start by soaking 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted cashews overnight and drain them. Next, grind the cashews in a food processor on the grind setting until you have a powder, and then, use the regular setting to make a cashew paste. Next, blend one cup of coconut milk into the mixture a tablespoon at a time. If you want a slightly thinner dressing, then use 3/4 of a cup instead. Once you have a smooth paste, pour the rest of the milk and the juice of a lemon inside. Next add 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and dill as well as a tablespoon of freshly chopped chives or scallions. Mix them all together, and you’ll have an excellent and healthy ranch substitute that can go on any salad or be used as a zesty dip. Without the buttermilk of classic ranch dressing, you won’t have to endure the problems to your digestive system that it can cause.

If you prefer a simple vinaigrette, then this next recipe is for you. All you need to do is mince up 1 1/2 cloves of garlic and put it in a large bowl. Next, add 1/4 cup each of red and white balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons of stone ground mustard, a teaspoon of sea salt, 1 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, and just a dash of black or white pepper. Mix everything together until the liquids start emulsifying and pour it into a glass bottle. This can also go onto your favorite paleo-friendly salad since olive oil is considered a healthy fat, which is a definite plus on the paleo diet. Also, vinaigrettes like this are always a healthy alternative to creamy dressing whether you’re on the paleo diet or not.

Photo by EvelynGiggles under creative commons

Paleo Soup

Soup Recipe

The Paleo Diet is an effective way of making healthy lifestyle changes by only eating certain foods that contain very few carbohydrates, and eliminating nearly all sugar and grains from the diet. Sugar that isn’t used up as energy turns into fat if you eat too many bad carbs and don’t get sufficient exercise.

Grains also contain gluten and lectin which can cause health problems including acid reflux, dermatitis, joint pain, reproductive issues, and gastrointestinal tract problems. The best way to get carbohydrates you need are from non-processed foods. They have all the nutrients you need without the extra carbohydrates that cause you to gain weight.

Our bodies aren’t designed to consume large amounts of dairy products. Animals don’t drink milk after infancy, and in pre-historic times, people didn’t consume large amounts of dairy products either. This explains why so many people are lactose intolerant.

There is still a wide variety of foods that you can choose from the Paleo Diet, and those are natural foods. They include:
Grass-fed meat
Poultry
Wild fish
Eggs
Vegetables
Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
Fruits
Nuts
Tubers – Sweet potatoes and yams

Soups are one of the best elements of the Paleo Diet. Soups are more filling than other foods and have fewer calories, so including soups in your Paleo Diet meal plan can help you to safely lose weight. Another good feature of the diet is that you can combine all the ingredients in your slow cooker for delicious soups and stews, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Here’s a recipe for a flavorful African-style soup that combines sweet potatoes with curry and cinnamon.

African Sweet Potato Soup
1 small chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon coconut or olive oil
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
2 peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup almond butter

Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add chicken stock, sweet potatoes, and diced
tomatoes. Add ground cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, and sea salt. Mix in
cayenne and almond butter. Simmer 10 to 12 minutes.

photo by jeffreyw used under creative commons liscense

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What is the Right Amount of Fat to Eat?

There’s a lot of debate about what the right amount of fat to have in your diet is. Really there is no “right” amount of fat to eat, although the ratio of fat to carbohydrates will probably be higher on the Hunter gatherer diet than many other diets out there. One of the main things to consider when deciding what macro-nutrient ratios to aim for is what your personal goals are and what your lifestyle and activity levels are.

A diet consisting of 50% fat, 35% protein, and 15% carbohydrate is a good starting point. However, the more weight a person is aiming to lose the lower there carbohydrate intake should be and the higher their fat intake. Regardless of ratio a person looking to lose weight should try to keep their carbohydrate intake below 100g a day, because intake above 100g can cause fat loss to stall out due to excess glucose and insulin response. This ratio should also keep protein intake at about the right .7g to 1g per pound body weight.

Almost any modern version of the hunter gatherer diet you might find will have fat representing the largest proportion of the diet and as the primary nutrient used for fuel. This might be surprising to some, since the Hunter Gatherer diet is known for causing fat loss and because the conventional wisdom is so against high fat intake. This represents another instance where the conventional wisdom is incorrect. In reality when fat intake is high the body starts switching to a fat based metabolism which makes the body burn off fat faster.

Having a high fat intake does make it more important to eat fats from sources that have good ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. Historically, a hunter gatherer would have been eating Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats in close to a 1-to-1 ratio, however in the modern diet this ratio has shifted to be dominated by pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fats. In order to get the correct natural ratio of fats you should try to eat pastured grass-fed meats with a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio than grain fed factory farmed meats.

– Jack

Photo by Naotake Murayama

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Paleo Diet Breakfast

Breakfast is perhaps the meal that is easiest to switch over to hunter gatherer or paleo style foods. However, it is also the meal that is on average the furthest from what our ancestors would have eaten. The average breakfast nowadays seems to consist mostly of bagels, muffins, and doughnuts. How any of those foods got to be considered a good foundation for the day I can’t understand, especially when healthier options are so easy and delicious

Scrambled eggs, a breakfast classic, can easily be made into a hunter gatherer style dish. All that is required is replacing the added milk for extra egg yolk then season and scramble. This allows for the right consistency without any dairy. Pair this with some bacon and blueberries and you have an easy and delicious paleo breakfast.

Another food that’s easy to switch into a hunter gatherer diet is hash browns. The white potatoes in hash browns can be replaced with shredded sweet potatoes, which can be pan fried with olive oil and seasonings.

For a wealth of full breakfast recipes I recommend the The Paleo Recipe Book.

Affiliate disclosure: the owner of this site is affiliated with some of the products promoted on this page.

Photo by Amy Ross of Telepathicparanoia

Hunter Gatherer Diet Overview

Greetings and welcome to HunterGathererDiet.org! I created this site to help people find out about the hunter gatherer or “paleo” style diet.

If you have suffered from digestive distress, auto-immune disorders, or a host of other health aliments, or if you just want to feel better with less fat and more muscle; the hunter gatherer style diet may be able to help you.

I know because the hunter gatherer diet has helped me personally get in the best shape of my life. I had struggled before to put on muscle as well as with digestive issues that had plagued me, but since starting the hunter gatherer diet I am feeling and performing better than ever. I hope the resources I collect on this site are able to help you to make this lifestyle change, and join me in becoming the healthiest you possible.

-Jack

Want more help switching to the hunter gatherer style diet, I recommend the Paleo Recipe Book.
The Paleo Recipe Book