Navigating the differences between the various subsets of the Paleo scene isn’t easy, so I’ve put together this free printable, The Paleo /AIP / Whole 30 Checklist for easy reference. It explains in a simple layout the difference between Paleo, AIP and the Whole 30. Print it out, stick it on the fridge, and you’ll have an easy visual guide as to what’s to be avoided, what’s just not allowed and what’s ok in moderation for the Paleo Diet, the Autoimmune Protocol and the Whole 30.
What’s the Difference between Paleo, AIP and the Whole 30?
The Paleo Diet, in a nutshell, is the avoidance of cereals and grains, legumes, refined sugar (including alcohol) and industrialised seed and vegetable oils. A little dairy is okay in moderation for those who are tolerant. The inclusion of dairy takes you into the Paleo subset known as ‘Primal’.
What’s the Difference between Paleo and Primal?
On the checklist, I haven’t distinguished between Paleo and Primal, so a word of explantation is due. If a product that you buy in a store is labeled ‘Paleo’, it shouldn’t contain dairy, because so many people are dairy intolerant. Mark Sisson coined the term ‘Primal’. He explains how dairy is a ‘grey area’ of Paleo. The fact that some adults are able to continue producing the enzyme required for lactose digestion long after infancy demonstrates that our DNA has adapted a little since Paleolithic times. Members of the Primal tribe use of heavy cream, butter and a grating of Parmesan as a good source of fat, but only as a ‘sensible indulgence’. I’ve chosen not to draw the distinction between ‘Paleo’ and ‘Primal’ here for various reasons.
- Adding another column to the checklist for the sake of just one point would reduce the clarity
- I think getting stuck on definitions can lead to unhealthy obsessions and
- I’ve never met a dairy-tolerant Paleo yet who volontarily declines a really good quality gelato. Ditto wine.
Hence, I’ve stated clearly up the top that Dairy is okay in moderation, but only for those who are tolerant. You can read more about the Paleo perspective on dairy here.
What Does “In Moderation” Mean?
‘In moderation’ will have a different meaning for everyone, and will differ also according to one’s emotional dependance on any particular food. In my case, coffee ‘in moderation’ means two or three Italian espressos a day. Dairy ‘in moderation’ means a gelato from a really good gelateria once every couple of weeks in the warm months. It has to be as good as or better than what we can make at home with fresh fruit, dark chocolate, and coconut cream! Call it Paleo, call it Primal, or call them wee transgressions… whatever they might be, the important thing is to be balanced physically, emotionally and mentally, and to not let the over consumption of anything, be it butter or beef, lead you down the path of compromised health and happiness.
The problem is that when it comes to many of our favourite unhealthy foods, we’re good at convincing ourselves that black is white. It’s really important to get the Sugar Dragon under control, and to know when he’s starting to get the upper hand.
(Sorry the Checklist below is so fuzzy – it’s a document file turned into a pdf, so it prints well but it’s out-of-focus on the monitor.)
What’s the Difference between Paleo, AIP and the Whole 30?
The Paleo Diet is a long-term way of eating that avoids all foods that are not suited to our DNA.
The Whole 30 and the AIP are both short-term programs with very specific goals.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet avoids
- cereals / grains
- refined sugar and sweeteners, including alcohol
- refined seed oils
- dairy (a little, in moderation, is ok but only if tolerated)
The Whole 30
The Whole 30 is a 30 day challenge which functions as a nutritional reset for the body, metabolism and psychology.
In addition to the general Paleo guidelines,
- the only dairy allowed is clarified butter / ghee
- for the full 30 days there are no treats or baked goods whatsoever – no Paleo bread, no Paleo cookies, no Paleo gelato – not even a frozen banana.
It’s hard going, but it’s worth it as you break down all kinds of limiting behaviours and mindsets.
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)
The Autoimmune Protocol is an elimination diet that was developed by Sarah Ballantyne for those with Autoimmune disease and for those who are not seeing results with Paleo. It’s objective is to reduce the workload of an overproductive immune system and to identify what exactly is triggering the inflammatory reactions.
In addition to the general Paleo guidelines, during the AIP elimination phase one avoids all known allergens. This includes
- clarified butter / ghee
- seeds and seed-derived spices
It’s recommended that people do the elimination phase for between 1 and 3 months, and then start re-introducing foods gradually. It’s a challenging program, but as those who have seen improvement with the AIP will tell you, ‘Nothing tastes as good as being pain free feels.’
Free Printable Checklist
That’s it! The interesting thing is that once you try the Paleo Diet, the Whole 30 or the AIP for a month or more, it’s difficult to return to the old way of eating and being. Exchanging unhealthy habits for nutrient dense alternatives is not always easy at the beginning, but the tangible improvements in how you look and feel is so motivating. It’s a prize worth striving for.
Download and print your Free Paleo / AIP / Whole 30 Checklist which is great to have on hand as an easy guide.
Read More about The Paleo Diet
Hope this helps! Let me know in the comments, and please pass this on to anyone who might find this post useful.
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Best Wishes, Good Health and Happiness.
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