CLA paleo diet Conjugated Linoleic Acid-min

CLA & The Paleo Diet

Concluding my focus on common deficiencies, this week turns to CLA.

CLA stands for Conjugated Linoleic Acid and is the good trans-fat that occurs naturally in dairy and meat products – especially when animals have been grass-fed, another plus for the Paleo diet. In the stomach of animals such as the goat, sheep or cows millions and millions of tiny pieces of bacteria help the animal to digest its food. They also help to covert dietary linoleic fatty acids into saturated fatty acids. While this conversion takes time and several steps, one of those steps is to create CLA, some of this never actually gets fully saturated and will show up instead in the animals milk fat and body.

CLA paleo diet Conjugated Linoleic Acid-min

28 different CLA isomers – or structural arrangements of the molecules show in CLA rich animal fat.  This is very complex and different from the trans-fats created by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils. It is those lab created trans-fats that have a negative metabolic and health effect, while the CLA isomers you get from grass fed dairy and meat is more beneficial.

CLA has been touted as the “belly busting” trans fat with research in 2007 showing that in rats, supplementing their diets with CLA did not cause them to lose whole body fat, but it was found they became more insulin sensitive. When it came to supplementing CLA in mice diets it did cause rapid weight loss, but the increase in hepatic fat accumulation left the mice insulin resistant.

Many people have taken CLA as a supplement and it did seem to work for weight loss, but while the weight loss was good, at the moment we are not really sure what else it does to the body. Research into this further on different animals may help us better understand if there are any additional effects on humans. Are we more like mice or rats?
Primal Diet Supplement Vitamin Mineral Deficiency
The one thing that these studies did show was that hepatic fat accumulation or loss and body fat accumulation or loss is not always in the same direction. We are seeing hepatic fat loss but no weight loss and hepatic fat gain with rapid weight loss. Those who follow low carb diets insisting that this metabolic advantage allows them to eat thousands of calories and lose weight will love the little mouse’s result! While the study on the mouse is quite well known amongst those in the carb circle with the mouse eating as much as it wants without losing or gaining weight, this metabolism does come at a price – profound liver damage.

Tests were carried out to see what effect dietary supplements of CLA would have on the body mass index, and body fat distribution. 40 volunteers participated in a 12 week double blind study some received a CLA while other received olive oil. Body fat and abdominal and hepatic fat content was assessed with an overall finding that showed CLA supplements did not show any significant change in the volunteers BMI index or in their total body fat.

Have you considered supplementing with CLA? If you have, did it have good results for you? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments, below.

Choline Paleo Diet-min

Choline & The Paleo Diet

Continuing looking into deficiencies, this week falls to choline. What actually is choline and what is the effect of being deficient? Even on a strict Paleo diet, is it still possible to be deficient?

The precursor for acetylcholine is choline, which is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for memory and it is a very important part of two important phospholipids. The liver uses this to process fats within the body and to package lipids.

What symptoms should you look for that indicates you might be low in choline?

  • Elevated ATL levels – it’s the elevated alamine transaminase levels which could indicate you have a liver complaint that can be often caused by a choline deficiency. Research has shown that a fatty liver can be caused by low levels. As Choline is the precursor for acetylcholine which is involved in memory – impaired memory can often be a symptom of deficiency. Research carried out showed that patients given a supplement had improved memory.
  • Lower VLDL – while reducing VLDL might improve your lipid panel it can also see you end up with a fatty liver due to the fat not being packed away properly into lipoprotiens for dispersal.

Primal Diet Supplement Vitamin Mineral Deficiency

How can a choline deficiency occur?

Offal is such a good source of choline that avoiding it could inadvertently result in a choline deficiency.

How can you add choline to your diet?

When it comes to choline, it’s all about eggs and offal! Beef liver contains by far the highest levels, as measured per 100 grams of food. In  descending order the food with the highest levels are: veal liver, chicken liver, raw egg, turkey liver, turkey heart, wheat germ, bacon, pork loin and mutton.

You can also gain choline from the following foods, but in much smaller amounts: artichokes, cauliflower, pecans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, macadamia nuts, almonds, pine nuts, cashews, chicken, pistachios, canned prawns, cod, ground beef and turkey gizzard.

Most nuts and seafood seem to be good sources, but when it comes to vegetables the levels vary – for example while Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are good sources of choline, boiled kale hardly has any.  Fruits and milk contain even less choline than vegetables, but some spices are good sources of choline, but as they are often used in such small amounts, they tend not to be reliable sources.

Unfortunately none of these foods come anywhere close to the amount of choline found in eggs and organs – liver and eggs alone have ten more times the amount present than most vegetables. It is the egg yolk that contains the most choline – not the egg whites. A 100 gram serving of just the egg yolks has 683 mg of choline while the same size serving of egg white only has 1.1 mg. To be able to eat an equal amount of both you would get 3 times more choline from your eggs if you threw the whites away.

Do you have much offal in your diet? I’d love to hear if choline levels are a concern to you – and also how you get offal into your Paleo diet?

Choline Paleo Diet-min

Translating Paleo Cooking Terms-min

Translating Paleo Cooking Terms

The first time I went to America, I was confused. The restaurant menus all had pages of entrée’s, but no main courses. Fortunately before too long, I realised entrée is American for main course, not a starter course, as I am used to the word. I was also excited to try a new herb I had read about in lots of cooking blogs, cilantro – before I found out it is just another was of describing coriander.

As a Brit, living in Australia, reading lots of American Paleo Diet blogs and books, I've noticed a lot of cooking and food terms with completely different names. Australian terms seem to be mainly British, but often American – and sometimes different again. The list below shows the most common terms on which our terms differ, not all Paleo related, but hopefully useful all the same:

American British English Australian
Appetizer Starter Starter
Entrée Main Course Main Course
Dessert Pudding/ Sweet/ Afters Dessert
Broiler Grill Grill
Grilling Barbecuing Barbecuing
Canned Tinned Tinned
Eggplant Aubergine Eggplant
Zucchini Courgette Zucchini
Argula Rocket Rocket
Rutbaga Swede/ Turnip Swede
Bell Pepper Pepper Capsicum
Cilantro Coriander Coriander
Ground Mince Minced Meat Minced Meat
Pork Rinds Pork Scratchings Crackling
Jello Jelly Jam
Fries Chips Hot Chips
Chips Crisps Chips
Parchment Paper Greaseproof Paper Greaseproof Paper
Stove Hob Hob
Crock Pot Slow Cooker Slow Cooker
Plastic Wrap Clingfilm Gladwrap
Candy Sweets Lollies
Licquor Store Off Licence Bottle Shop (AKA Bottlo!)
Popsicle Ice Lolly Ice Lolly

Of course, in addition to the different terms, American recipes use imperial measurements (pounds, ounces, tablespoons and Fahrenheit), Australian recipes are metric (grams, millilitres and centigrade) and British recipes never quite seem to be able to decide if they should embrace the metric system, or stick to the traditional imperial measurements.

I'm sure there are many more, so please share the terms that have confused you, or that you have recently discovered, in the comments below. And if you’re in New Zealand – which versions of the terms do you use, mainly Australian, or a completely different term?

Translating Paleo Cooking Terms-min

Paleo Diet Primal Restaurant Options Choices Best Worst-min

The Best (and Worst) Paleo Restaurants

It’s nice to eat out at a restaurant occasionally. Sticking to your Paleo Diet shouldn't be a reason to avoid eating out!

If you’re going out with a group of friends, try to have some influence over the restaurant you go to. Some restaurants offer so many more Paleo friendly options than others.

The Menu

It’s also a good idea to check out the menu in advance – most restaurants will have this on their website. If you’re unsure, call ahead to check on specific ingredients. It’s definitely worth making the restaurant aware that you need something gluten, dairy and legume free before you arrive. Most places seem to be extremely accommodating with this, often to the extent of suggesting dishes that aren't even on the menu!

Mix & Match Paleo Options

When looking through the menu be prepared to mix and match. There’s almost always no problem with asking for the meat from one dish to go with the vegetable side from another dish. Dishes often come with a side of fries, some other type of potato, rice or pasta – ask to swap this for more vegetables or a salad.

Paleo Diet Primal Restaurant Options Choices Best Worst-min

Un-Paleo Sauces

Sauces, gravy and dressings are often places where gluten, soy and all sorts of undesirables are hiding. It’s best to ask for no sauce, or ask for it on the side, rather than take the risk that your beef will arrive swimming in gluten!

Ask, Ask and Ask Again!

Don’t be afraid to ask exactly what is in your dish – it’s your health – it’s important. It’s also worth asking if the meat is grass-fed. Perhaps it isn't, but hopefully the more people who ask, the sooner restaurants will start stocking it.

Which Types of Restaurant Are The Best For a Paleo Diet?

Some restaurants types are a lot more Paleo than others – but of course, you may find lots of local exceptions to this. Look at the menu and ask about the ingredients!

Korean BBQ/ Mongolian BBQ/ Brazilian BBQ

It doesn't get much more Paleo than cooking a pile of meat at your table barbecue. Sides are usually salads and vegetables and it’s often a great chance to try cuts of meat you don’t usually have.


Steak and vegetables – even better if they offer grass-fed meat.


Whilst there are a lot of dishes to avoid, there are also dishes cooked in coconut milk, or dry cooked (like tandoori) in herbs which represent great Paleo choices. Check they cook with ghee or coconut oil rather than vegetable oil


Lots of “real food” burger restaurants seem to be appearing – good news as these can be a good Paleo option if you order without the bun!


Thai can be a great Paleo dining solution when coconut oil and milk are used.


Most options like tacos or fajitas work well within a Paleo Diet – just order without the tortilla


A wide variety of fish makes dishes like sashimi a great choice

Seafood Restaurants

If there are any wild or line caught options, these are likely to be a good bet

And the Worst Restaurant Type For Paleo Options?

Sadly, some restaurants are a lot harder to navigate for Paleo choices. If you’re going somewhere that you know will be challenging, consider eating before you leave, so you won’t be tempted.


With a few notable exceptions, Chinese restaurants are often associated with their use of MSG and soy. Finding a Paleo option can be very difficult.

Do you agree with the best and worst types of restaurants? I’d love to see which restaurants you've found good Paleo options in – and which ones you've found difficult too. Please let me know in the comments, below.

Paleo or primal diet what's the difference-min

A Primal Diet, Or a Paleo Diet?

This way of eating, this lifestyle, is given so many names. You might follow a Paleo Diet or a Primal Diet – or perhaps you eat an Ancestral Diet or eat like a Caveman?

Does it matter what it’s called? And do the different terms even refer to the same way of eating?

Paleo Diet

The term “Paleo Diet” was coined by Loren Cordain and originally had a far less liberal stance on Saturated Fats. He has now updated his books on this and on the use of sweeteners, to the popular “Paleo Diet” followed by many today. Robb Wolf has also played a significant role in popularising the Paleo Diet as it is today.

As well as avoiding grains and legumes, Paleo also avoids dairy. In the Paleo community strict adherence to a Paleo diet is recommended for at least 30 days. After this period foods can slowly be re-introduced and any impact assessed to determine which foods have a detrimental effect and should be avoided in the future.

Primal Diet

The Primal BluePrint way of eating is from the book, written by Mark Sisson – and is much more than just nutrition. The plan places as much importance on movement, lifting heavy things, reducing stress, sleeping properly and getting some sunshine as it does on nutrition. Nutritionally Primal is very similar to Paleo in the avoidance of grains and legumes; dairy is where they differ. A Primal way of eating includes dairy – though it is recommended that it is raw dairy; from grass-fed Ruminants, un-pasturised and ideally fermented. Lacto-Paleo is another term used to describe eating a Paleo style diet, but with the inclusion of dairy.

The jury is still very much out on dairy. The growth hormones such as IGF-1 and the insulin response are behind the refusal of many, to include dairy in their diets. A lot of people find they don’t tolerate dairy well, which is reason enough to avoid it!

Paleo or primal diet what's the difference-min

Ancestral Diet

This term can apply to any form of Paleo, but I hear this term used more amongst the scientific/ research pockets of the community.

Caveman Diet

This is the term almost exclusively used by the mainstream media when talking about any type of eating that touches on Paleo. The term “Caveman Diet” is usually accompanied by photos of cavemen, Fred Flintstone or semi-naked people eating raw meat! When people talk about a Caveman Diet, they seem to assume it’s required to act like a caveman too and don’t realise it’s about science, not re-enacting cavemen! I would never refer to a Paleo or Primal way of eating in this way, but ultimately if it raises awareness amongst more people, I guess it doesn't matter what it’s called!

There are a lot of descriptions of ways of eating that have similarities to Paleo. I think a gluten-free diet could come close (though I think many people avoid gluten, but replace it with other undesirable refined grains and processed foods). The Atkins diet is also commonly assumed to be Paleo – and whilst there are similarities, it’s very possibly to follow Atkins eating nothing but junk food; not Paleo! A Weston A Price way of eating also has many similarities.

How do you describe how you eat? Do you avoid using labels like “the Paleo diet” or “the Primal diet”?