I’ve written here about the Primal lifestyle philosophy and the types of foods I eat for fat loss. I’ve read a lot about different Primal and Paleo guidelines and, combined with my own personal and educational experiences, I’ve put together my own list of Primal Principles for fat loss. It’s important to remember that the most effective plan is the one YOU will follow. This is not a challenge to over-commit yourself and bite off more than you can chew. You don’t need to dive headfirst into this lifestyle. You can start small and work on one thing at a time. Identify your low hanging fruit areas of opportunity and start there. Build some momentum then take on more once you feel comfortable.
Elizabeth’s Primal Principles for Fat Loss
- Focus on plants and animals
Build your meals around lean proteins, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables. If you do this, you shouldn’t need to worry about counting calories. Eat until your satisfied with your plate made up of plants and animals.
- Cut out grains
I know people don’t like to hear this but it is as much for health as it is for fat loss. If lasting fat loss is your goal, just do it. I promise that over time you’ll hardly miss them. It’s a tough transition but it’s necessary. It’s ok to start small and work on removing them one meal at a time.
- Minimize starchy vegetables
There is a time and a place for starchy vegetables like potatoes and squash and it can be different for everyone. When your goal is fat loss, you’ll want to pay close attention to how your fat loss results vary with your intake of starchy vegetables. For me, I’ve found that it works best to have my starchy vegetables either post-workout or at the end of the day. It’s important to remember that there is a difference between healthy eating and eating for optimal, healthy fat loss. Just because you consider something “healthy” does not mean it’s going to help you reach your goals. Throughout my fat loss journey I have emphasized non-starchy vegetables like cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, peppers and mixed greens.
- Limit processed foods – even “healthy” ones
If it has an ingredient list, it shouldn’t be a part of your daily diet when fat loss is your goal. Keep it as clean and simple as possible. If it’s in a box or a bag, proceed with caution. Protein bars are great convenience foods in a pinch and there are some good options other there – shakes are the same way. However, cleaner is leaner so keep that in mind.
- Walk as much as you can. Slowly.
Walking helps with fat loss, stress management and much more. Just do it. You don’t need to sweat or even get winded, just relax and go for a walk. Most of us spend far too much time sitting on our butts.
- Build muscle
Lift heavy things. If you want your body to be an efficient, fat burning machine that will require MUSCLE. Losing weight is hard on your body and you definitely don’t want to end up looking like a mushy bag of skin! Build a strong base. Lift stuff. I know women can be a little nervous about lifting but it’s SUCH an important part of fat loss and having a tight, fit body.
- Sleep more
I know it’s hard. None of us sleep enough. Find a way. I cut my TV time at night and started working less. Sleep impacts my mood, motivation and cravings in a major way. When you start getting more sleep you’ll find that eating clean gets easier.
- Make stress reduction a priority
Start small. Five minutes a day of quiet time or a bath before bed every night. Identify small changes you can make and do them consistently.
- Sweets are occasional treats – healthy or not
There are lots of recipes out there for paleo cookies and every sweet under the sun using whole foods like almond flour, coconut butter, etc. You can walk down the aisle at almost any grocery store and see shelves of gluten free cookies and brownies – heck, I think even Snickers is marketing a high protein Snickers bar. Do not fall into that trap. Eat foods in their original form. Sweets are treats – they are not daily staples when you are looking for fat loss. Limit them to special occasions.
- Avoid toxins
When you can, buy the highest quality produce available. When it comes to meat and poultry look for local, pasture-raised options. If that is not available, look for certified organic. Look for wild caught, sustainable seafood. Buy organic fruits and vegetables. This is important. Your health is worth it. If you don’t choose the cleanest options you can, you’re introducing hormones, toxins, pesticides and antibiotics into your body.
I know this might be a long, daunting list. It’s OK to start small! I started small. I gradually cleaned up my diet and lifestyle over time. Which of these 10 things seems the most achievable for you? Start there! Spend a month practicing that one item and then move on to another. This is not a race and there is no right or wrong way – only the way that works best for you!