A paleo diet is higher in protein, but not ONLY protein. A safe and healthy amount of protein for sedentary adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram. For those who exercise regularly, the recommended protein intake increases up to 1.8 grams per kilogram.
To calculate the amount of protein you should eat each day, take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2, then multiply by 0.8 or 1.8 (depending on your level of activity). The number you get is the total number of grams of protein you should aim to consume each day.
I suggest that you divide the total grams of protein per day by the number of times you eat each day (5 or 6) to get the amount of protein you want to aim to consume each time you eat.
The grams of protein will be listed on the label of packaged products. You can also Google: “how many grams of protein in 2 ounces of turkey” for example.
Remember that depending on your activity level, you might even need a little more protein. Children, teens, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women also need more protein.
The other portions of each meal should be approximately 20-45% carbohydrate (in veggies, fruits, and nuts) and 20-35% fat (in meats, oils, nuts, avocados and olives).
To make it easy – I think of it as dividing your plate up with equal parts protein and carb (veggies/fruits) + a wedge of space for fats (refer to the graphic above – from The Stress Remedy book).
Is a paleo diet dangerous for your kidneys and bones?
As long as you are careful to follow the protein recommendations above, then your kidneys and bones will be fine with a paleo diet. Actually, higher carb diets (containing gluten and grains) are hard on your kidneys and bones, so if you can find a good balance of protein, carb and fat, your whole body will benefit.
Is it possible to be paleo and vegetarian?
Yes, it is possible to be vegetarian and follow a paleo diet, it just requires that you be more mindful of your protein sources, which is important for vegetarians in general. You’ll be choosing vegetarian proteins instead of meat and poultry. And you might find that you need to modify the paleo diet a bit. You might find, for example, that including higher-protein grains (quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat) works for you. And/or you can include hemp seeds, lentils and soaked/sprouted beans. For more info, check out this No Meat blog.
Are so many nuts and seeds problematic for digestive issues?
Yes, for digestive concerns, such as Crohn’s, colitis, IBS, diverticulitis, celiac disease, and others, nuts and seeds can contribute to flares. So in those situations, you’ll want to focus on getting your protein from other sources.
You’ll also want to be careful with the amount of fruit you consume at one sitting as fructose malabsorption is common with digestive concerns.
At the same time, a diet leaning toward paleo could be very helpful in the case of digestive issues, including leaky gut, because beans and grains are difficult to digest and cause a lot of inflammation.
The key, I find, is to make sure you are getting a healthy amount of protein from sources that work for your body, AND also to identify and avoid the foods that are triggering an inflammatory response (IgG and IgA food sensitivities). Then work diligently to heal leaky gut.
Do you have other questions or comments about how to successfully follow a paleo diet? Please do comment below.