Paleo and Flexible Eating: What’s The Difference?
I am sure most of us are familiar with the paleo diet, or have at least heard of it at some point. After all, it’s one of the most popular weight loss diets out there. But as with anything in life, there are some good and bad things about this diet. That’s why many people opt for flexible eating or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) instead.
But do you really need to be on one team or the other? Turns out that by combining these two diets you could get the best of both worlds. But first let’s talk about the difference between paleo and flexible eating, and whether or not combining them is beneficial.
1. All About Paleo
So what exactly is the paleo diet? Well it’s founded on the idea that in very early times, people weren’t riddled with the diseases that they are today. So why is it that our ancestors were healthier than us? Basically, it has to do with our diets. Our ancestors didn’t have access to processed foods and many other staples of the current modern diet.
The concept is that if we revert back to how people ate in ancient times before today’s food products were introduced, we can slow down the disease rates that we are experiencing and lead healthier lives. So that means the paleo diet is going to emphasize foods like:
• Grass-fed meats
• Wild caught fish/seafood
• Fresh fruits (not canned, dried, or juiced fruits)
• Fresh vegetables (except nightshade vegetables, which includes tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant)
• Free range eggs
• Small amounts of nuts and seeds (not by the handfuls like most people seem to)
• Healthy oils (including olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, and coconut oil)
You’ll notice that bacon isn’t on this list! Although bacon has become acceptable, there are plenty of foods that you can’t eat if you’re being strict about following the paleo diet. A few of these foods include:
• Dairy (with the exception of grass-fed butter)
• Anything that contains refined sugar/processed flour
• Foods that are high in sodium content (beef jerky, pickles, canned foods, etc.)
• Any sort of processed snack foods
• Most condiments/sauces
• Anything containing artificial sweeteners (diet soda, puddings, gum, etc.)
• Fatty processed meats (hot dogs, deli meat, pepperoni)
While it may seem restrictive, there are many great recipes that make up for the foods you can’t eat. When following the paleo diet properly, it has been shown to be bring great health benefits, like weight loss, improved blood glucose control, reduced risk of diabetes, and stabilizing energy levels amongst other things.
2. Flexible Eating
As you can imagine, flexible eating or IIFYM is pretty different from paleo. This approach to dieting basically involves tracking your calories and macronutrients (grams of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). Any type of food is pretty much acceptable provided it fits into your daily calorie and macronutrient count.
For most people getting started the guidelines for calculating your macros are usually similar to this:
- Calories – goal weight x activity multiplier
- Protein – 0.8-1.1.5 grams per pound of lean muscle mass
- Carbs – 10% of your calories
- Fat – whatever’s left over after calculating your carbohydrates and protein
The premise is that you can eat ANYTHING you want, you just can’t eat everything! So flexible eating is definitely a lot more flexible than paleo, and because of that, it’s a whole lot easier to sustain and people are inevitably more successful in reaching their physique and performance goals.
3. Paleo and Flexible Eating
A question I get a lot is, “Can I do Paleo whilst tracking my macros?” And generally the answer is yes. When you are doing paleo, you are focused on eating wholesome high-quality foods, which means you’re going to be getting a high intake of micronutrients already. When you combine this with flexible eating, you will be ensuring that you eat the right quantity of these foods, in the right macronutrient ratios – you’ll quickly realize that fistfuls of cashews and rashers of bacon add up fast!
While this diet plan may not be right for everyone, it’s definitely possible to take a Paleo approach to tracking your macros and we actually encourage it! At Own Your Eating we help our clients find an 80/20 balance of whole foods vs “fun foods” – you know, the really yummy stuff!
The Paleo and Flexible Eating Takeaway
All in all, both paleo and flexible eating have their perks. However, flexible eating is a lot easier to sustain and can give you some pretty amazing results! It’s all about finding what works best for you and what makes you feel your best.
The single most important aspect of achieving results is consistency, but doing that on your own isn’t always easy! That’s why we developed a way to keep you consistent, motivated and accountable, whatever life throws your way. Together, Jason and I have tailored a unique and inspiring program to accelerate you towards achieving your goals. The Own Your Eating Lifestyle Membership will transform you into the strongest, fittest and healthiest version of you, you’ve ever been.
If you are interested or just want to learn more about flexible eating and the nutrition principles we teach people at Own Your Eating, contact us or visit our FAQ page for any questions!