Does the Paleo Diet Recommend Too Much Protein?

I was introduced to the Paleo Diet back in 2005 while I was working with an Integrative Physician. The diet recommends to consume quality meats, vegetables, healthy fats, and recommends minimal starches, fruit and dairy products. Any diet that recommends people eat whole, quality foods makes a lot of sense. So why are a big percentage of people on the Paleo Diet still overweight?

One reason is most people are low in essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and minerals. Either from a lack in their diet or absorption issues. Also, an issue I see people have with any diet, they try to follow it “perfectly”. Trusting yourself and learning about your body is the key. I haven’t met too many people who are so strict, that they will never eat starch again. So, instead of teaching people how NOT to eat a macronutrient, I prefer to teach consciousness around eating the sweet potato sauted in coconut oil or ghee.

Consuming big portions of meat can deplete your stomach acid and cause an inflammatory response which can lead to bloating, constipation and other discomforts. Most people do not eat enough high quality proteins and meats, which causes malabsorption issues of essential amino acids.

Our bodies make 10 out of the 20 total amino acids.  We do not have all the the enzymes required for the biosynthesis of all of the amino acids. Plants must be able to make all the amino acids.

Most science books tell you to get your amino acids from meat, eggs, and dairy. We recommend to upgrade this to grass-fed non hormone meats; raw, organic dairy; and organic, free range eggs that the chickens are fed a diet of Omega 3’s.  But what if you are vegetarian? And what about the plants making their own amino acids?

Here is a list of essential amino acids and the plant based-foods that contain them. (Seaweed hits all of them)

  • Isoleucine – seaweed, watercress, pumpkin leaves, swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, horseradish tree (the leafy tips), spinach, kidney beans, alfalfa seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds,  almonds, rice, bananas, apricots, peaches,avocados, persimmons, apricots, dates, kiwi, apples, oranges, cranberries, blueberries, plantains
  • Leucine – seaweed, pumpkin leaves, watercress, horseradish tree (the leafy tips), alfalfa seeds, turnip greens, kidney beans, sesame seed, sunflower seeds, rice, bananas, apricots, peaches, guavas, avocados, figs, persimmons, raisins, pears, dates, apples, kiwi, olives, blueberries.
  • Lysine – watercress, seaweed, parsley, soy, wheat, buckwheat, amaranth, apricots, bananas, tamarinds, avocados, peaches, guavas, dates, oranges, pears, plantains, plums, watermelon
  • Methionine – seaweed, sesame seeds, whole wheat, rice, peaches, avocados, figs, peaches, oranges, kiwi, pears, grapes, raisins, apricots, plantains, guavas, plums, blueberries, cantaloupe, ripe olives, persimmons.
  • Phenylalanine – seaweed, watercress, pumpkin leaves, horseradish tree (the leafy tips), kidney beans, spinach, turnip greens, skunk cabbage, broccoli raab, swiss chard, amaranth leaves, cottonseed, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pigeon peas, lupin seeds, almonds, avocado, rice, avocados, apricots, bananas, raisins, peaches, plums, figs, persimmons, oranges, dates, pears, grapefruit, elderberries,apples, star fruit, ripe olives

Life is a balancing act. Everyday we need to make sure we have enough amino acids, nutrients, hydration and  carbohydrates so intense cravings don’t come in that make you feel out of control. Try experimenting and alternating days with less starches and once your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, hormones and cholesterol are balanced, you can then increase your carbohydrates again. If your weight goes up (especially in your abdomen), or you experience mental fog or low energy try to eat less starches and more from the right side of the Conscious Nutrition Food Tree.

We also post a variety of recipes that support different meals and combination of Proteins, Starches & Fats.

Cheers to keeping the balance,

Heather Fleming