Starchy and non-starchy vegetables will make up most of your carb intake on the Paleo diet.
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The Paleo diet is a relatively simple concept -- get rid of all the man-made, processed foods from your diet and focus solely on natural foods that ancient man would have consumed. This means basing your diet around vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, nuts, seeds and a few other basic foods. The Paleo diet doesn't prescribe an exact carbohydrate limit, but it does tend to be geared toward low-carb dieters.
Carb Intake Rules
Unlike many diet plans, the Paleo diet doesn't set out recommendations on protein, carb or fat intake. Followers are expected to choose foods based on their quality and levels of processing, rather than calories or macronutrients. According to nutritionist Dr. Paul Jaminet, however, a true Paleo diet that's similar to the way cavemen and women would have eaten contains around 20 percent of your total caloric intake as carbohydrates.
Paleo Carb Limit Based on Goals
Nutritionist Mark Sisson makes three recommendations in his Paleo diet book "The Primal Blueprint." Paleo followers looking to gain lean muscle should consume between 150 and 300 grams of carbs per day, while those looking to maintain weight or lose weight gradually should eat between 100 and 150 grams of carbs daily. If you're looking for faster fat loss, aim for 50 to 100 grams daily.
Nature of the Paleo Diet
Because all grains are banned, along with beans, legumes and all processed, sugary carbohydrates, paleo diets tend to be naturally lower in carbohydrates than typical Western-style diets. This isn't an issue if you're sticking to Sisson's recommendations for weight loss or maintenance, but it can be tricky to achieve a higher carb intake. If you're an athlete who needs carbs for energy or you're looking to gain weight, you'll need to rely on starchy vegetables such as yams or squash, as well as high-sugar fruits such as bananas, figs and melon to get all your carbs.
Carb Sources on the Paleo Diet
Fruits and vegetables will make up the majority of your carbohydrate intake on the Paleo diet, along with small amounts of carbs from nuts and seeds. Sticking to these guidelines makes it easy to stick to a low-carb plan, or the 20 percent ratio as advised by Dr. Jaminet. If you're struggling to increase your carb intake when gaining weight, Dr. Loren Cordain recommends adding in fruit juices or carb-based recovery drinks. These aren't strictly Paleo, but will help you increase your carbs and achieve your goals quicker.