Ever wonder, I am truly following the Paleo diet? I came across this amazing article through a fellow blogger that goes through all the different “shades of Paleo”. It’s amazing. It describes every type. I fall into the fourth shade most days and fifth some. What shade are you?
The Official 7 Shades of Paleo Classification System
First Shade of Paleo –The Militant Paleo (Also known as “That Guy”)
We all know at least one of these dudes or dudettes – these are the people on the forums that can find fault in every paleo diet – except their own. They hunt their own meat, gather berries, climb trees to harvest nuts, and make dinner outside over the fire pit (or at least that’s what they tell you). This is all well and good, but for most of us – their reality is not one that we can live in. I liken this to the raw vegans or better yet, the fruititarians – a little over the top, and slightly insane. **Disclaimer** If this you I apologize – please refer to the “That Guy” post linked above and know that we love you, but we just can’t live like you. Have mercy on us. And PS – the internet is SO NOT PALEO!!
Second Shade of Paleo – The Autoimmune Paleo
For some people just being paleo, although great, is not enough to optimize health and really start feeling good. Individuals with autoimmune conditions or advanced health issues often need to take things a step further and this is where the paleo autoimmune protocol comes in. For those in this shade eggs, nuts, and nightshade vegetables are added to the list of foods to avoid. It is more difficult for some to follow – but trust me it works!
Third Shade of Paleo – The Low-Carb Paleo
The low-carb paleo approach is also fairly popular and is a great shade for improving many health issues and for getting lean. This approach consists of eating primarily meat, healthy fats and non-starchy vegetables. You won’t find ‘safe starches’ (sweet potatoes, yams, roots and tubers, etc.), fruit or high amounts of nuts and avocado. This is a protocol that is often cycled in and out of based on goals and individual response.
Fourth Shade of Paleo – The Lacto-Paleo (Also known as Primal)
This one is exactly what the name implies. The lacto-paleo follows a traditional paleo style of eating but includes dairy products. Now, we’re not talking just any dairy products (READ: Cheez-whiz, Coffeemate, Kraft Singles, and Ben & Jerry’s, do not fall under this umbrella). The optimal choices here are organic, grassfed, whole (full-fat) dairy products. Skim milk and Yoplait light need not apply.
Fifth Shade of Paleo – The 80/20 Paleo (Also known as the Weekday Paleo)
This is my personal favorite shade and I would guess it’s where the bulk of us probably fall. Basically stated, we eat clean paleo about 80-90 percent of the time and the other 10-20 percent we eat what would be considered non-paleo foods. This could mean some cheese, wine, ice cream, etc. This is a SANE and healthy approach as long as the 20 percent is kept under control (this does not mean a 4 hour food fest that starts with Dunkin Donuts, moves on to Dominos and ends with Dairy Queen).
Sixth Shade of Paleo – The Vegetarian Paleo (Also known as ‘Difficult’)
As paleo becomes more highly publicized for its health benefits we’re starting to see greater interest from vegetarians and even vegans that want to go paleo. This is a tough bunch for the obvious reason – NO MEAT! Yeah, the protein options just got up and left. In some cases eggs are a go – but in others – no animal products at all. I know you’re all thinking – “Well there’s no way this is even possible.” And from an evolutionary standpoint you’re likely correct. However, there are still some individuals that want to ‘be paleo’ without meat. To make this work; properly prepared beans and legumes, fermented soy, nuts and seeds make up a bulk of the protein. On a ‘textbook’ paleo diet this wouldn’t fly. Is it possible to be vegetarian or vegan and be ‘paleo’? Well, not really – in fact, I would say not. What is possible is to eat whole, clean foods, (this means no Tofurky, Boca Burgers, or hybrid vegetarian/vegan processed foods). This is going to look similar to a raw vegan approach. Is it ideal? No, but it’s a start.
Seventh Shade of Paleo – The “I Decide” Paleo (Also known as the WTF Paleo)
Yeah, we all know this guy (gal), or maybe it’s even you sometimes… It goes something like this – the WTF paleo says, “Yeah, I’ve been strict paleo for like a year now but I’m just not seeing or feeling the results.” Okay, maybe… But let’s consider an ‘average day’ of ‘strict paleo’ for this person – Breakfast: Eggs and Bacon. Mid-morning – Starbucks latte with 3 sugar packets and a Kind Bar. Lunch – Burger (no bun) with mayo, ketchup and mustard and a side of sweet potato fries. Mid-afternoon – Gluten free cupcake and a handful of trail mix. Dinner – Order of wings, steak, mashed potatoes, 2 Bud Lights and coconut ice cream for dessert… So, I think you get my point on this one. It’s sort of like saying you’re a vegan but eating steak every other week and wearing alligator skin boots – questionable at best.
There you have it – now paleo has a handy classification system to help clear up some of the confusion. Seriously though, remember that paleo is not a religion – there is no paleo heaven or paleo hell. If your ‘shade’ of paleo isn’t on this chart, but works for you, your health and your goals then it doesn’t matter what the Militant Paleo says. Find the hue that’s right for you – there is no ‘one perfect formula’ for everyone – start with the basics and experiment until you find your perfect shade. Your body and your sanity will thank you.
What shade are you?