30-Day Paleo Challenge

Sample Eating Plan

  • Breakfast: ham and eggs saut?ed in coconut oil with veggies and a side of melon
  • Morning snack: egg whites and cherry tomatoes
  • Lunch: salad with lean meat, non-starchy vegetables and avocado with balsamic dressing.
  • Afternoon snack: small bit of roasted chicken and carrots
  • Dinner: nut-crusted halibut with a side of veggies
  • Late snack: berries and nuts and/or a little dark chocolate

For more detailed menu plans for 1,500- or 2,000-calorie levels, check out these registered dietitian-approved versions.

Benefits of the Paleo Diet

"By following these nutritional guidelines, we put our diet more in line with the evolutionary pressures that shaped our current genetics, which in turn positively influences health and well being," Loren Cordain, professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University and author of The Paleo Diet, said in an interview with ABC News.

Paleo diets also help manage blood sugar levels, ensure a healthy ratio of saturated/unsaturated fats, and can increase vitamin and mineral consumption, Cordain says. All of these benefits should lead to a leaner body and decrease occurrence of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other health problems.

Not all studies back up these claims. However, any diet that emphasizes eating whole foods in their purest form and eliminates processed foods and alcohol is a healthy one.

Weight loss should never be primary reason to start the paleo diet. Paleo is more than a diet, it's a lifestyle. However, weight loss is often a positive side effect of following a paleo diet.

Another huge benefit is that there is no calorie counting, weighing or measuring involved. Your focus is to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, which are full of fiber, so you'll feel full and satisfied.

Eating more fruits and vegetables delivers more vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals into your body.

Phytochemicals are plant-based chemicals that protect your body from disease. Common phytochemicals are lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soy and flavonoids in fruits.

More: Bone Broth Soup: Coconut Curry Recipe for Athletes

Potential Drawbacks of Paleo Menu Plans

Depending on what you currently eat, the switch to a paleo diet can be difficult to adopt. People who eat a lot of bread and processed foods might struggle with the abrupt and large change in their diet, while those who already consume many fruits and veggies might have an easier time adjusting.

It can be easy for people new to the paleo diet to skew too heavily towards the foods they enjoy. For instance, folks who already eat a lot of meat might focus too much of their diet on protein and not enough on vegetables.

Make sure you're following a registered dietitian-approved meal plan. Not only do you get variety, but you also know you're getting the right balance of nutrients.

There is some debate—and concern—about eliminating whole grains and dairy products because these foods do contain essential vitamins and minerals.

Buying more fresh, organic produce and grass-fed animal products can increase your grocery bill as well.

Paleo is More Than a Diet, It's a Lifestyle

When you adopt any new eating habit, it's important to remember the role of exercise in your overall health and well being. The paleo diet is popular and often promoted in CrossFit gyms across the nation. If you're planning on adopting the diet in pursuit of better health, ensure fitness is a part of it as well.

Getting Started on the 30-Day Paleo Challenge

  • Decide what kind of paleo lifestyle you want. If you want specific advice on exactly what to eat for 1,500 or 2,000 calories per day, pick up your RD-Approved Paleo Menu Plan.
  • Pick a start date and write it in your calendar. Find some recipes, hit the grocery store, and prepare meals ahead of time to increase your chance of success.
  • Join the community for weekly Paleo-Meal Plan Tracker
  • Get social for more support. Like the 30-Day Challenge Series on FaceBook and/or Follow @30_Challenge on Twitter.

Note: Always be sure to speak with your physician about any change to your diet or exercise regimen.

More: Why Athletes Should Eat More Bone Broth

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About the Author

Teresa M. Howes

Teresa M. Howes is a nutrition expert, fitness advocate, avid runner, published author and active blogger. Backed with a formal education and over a decade of professional experience consulting in the weight loss industry, she has an arsenal of tools, tips and tricks that she loves to share. Fired up with enthusiasm, she founded the 30-Day Challenge Series in May of 2013 and is thrilled to be cultivating a community of inspired, dedicated and successful fitness enthusiasts. You can find her latest and greatest at www.eatdrinkandbeskinny.com.
Teresa M. Howes is a nutrition expert, fitness advocate, avid runner, published author and active blogger. Backed with a formal education and over a decade of professional experience consulting in the weight loss industry, she has an arsenal of tools, tips and tricks that she loves to share. Fired up with enthusiasm, she founded the 30-Day Challenge Series in May of 2013 and is thrilled to be cultivating a community of inspired, dedicated and successful fitness enthusiasts. You can find her latest and greatest at www.eatdrinkandbeskinny.com.

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