Are You Making These Common Paleo Mistakes – Podcast #58

Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand share valuable information about not burning fat when insulin is high and other important things to consider when reaching for Paleo treats. They share their favorite treats which are healthier compared to what others are snacking on with the least amount of sugar and the least amount of damaging stuff in them. Find out if you should eat meals before or after eating treats and gain some good knowledge about how you eat, when you eat, and what you should eat it with.. 

paleo mistakesDr. Justin also explains the correlation between healthy skin and healthy gut during this interview. Also he talks about the difference between listening to discussions coming from a clinical foundation versus from a theoretical foundation. Also listen and discover how eating fats can be a good thing.

In this episode, topics include:

2:22   Big mistakes with a Paleo template

4:42   Paleo treats

10:45   Overuse of technology/Information overload

17:17   Dr. Justin’s take on Paleo mistakes

20:10   Eating fats and the low fat aspect







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Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Dr. J here.  Evan, what’s going on?

Evan Brand:  Not too much.  Lookin’ at the clouds.  Hopefully these things will break up.  I don’t know–don’t want winter to be here yet.  It’s–it’s freaking me out.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I hear you.  What’s the weather up in Louisville?

Evan Brand:  Well, it was kinda rainy this morning.  I’d say it’s like mid-70s now.  It’s a little bit too cool to be August when we’re recording this.  So we’ll see what’s going on.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Nice.  Do you live up by that–the plant that makes all that–the baseball bats up there?

Evan Brand:  Yeah, it’s–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Louisville Sluggers?

Evan Brand:  Downtown.  Yeah, it’s maybe a 15-minute drive from here.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That’s pretty cool.

Evan Brand:  Yeah, it’s a neat place.  It’s something worth seeing at least once.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Very cool.  Next time I come up to see you, I’ll have to check it out.

Evan Brand:  Sounds good.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So what was your breakfast this morning?

Evan Brand:  Let’s see, I had some chicken.  I had a rotisserie chicken that I got last night and I did that with some broccoli.  So literally a dinner for breakfast and it was amazing though, I feel good.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Nice.  Yeah, I did some coffee, MCT, and grass-fed butter unsalted, all blended up and I did 4 raw eggs, Rocky-style if you will.  They were great.

Evan Brand:  Did you put them in the blender?  And then–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh no!  That would destroy the coffee.

Evan Brand:  No, not in the coffee, no.  Like in a cup?  Or what–how?  What did you do?  You just open the eggs in a cup and then drink ‘em or did you like stir ‘em up or–?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That’s it.  Put ‘em right in the coffee mug, 4 in there, and just tip it high and drink it dry.  That’s it.

Evan Brand:  That’s great.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, it was good.  So I’m feeling good.  Again, like these are real easy meals to just kinda stabilize my blood sugar, have a good morning, get me ready so my brain’s ready to go.  Good fats, so I’m in a ketogenic type of state, relying on lots of ketones this morning.

Evan Brand:  Yeah, definitely good for the brain to get you not distracted, keep you focused.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Absolutely.  And we talked before the show, that we decided we were gonna talk about common Paleo mistakes, because we see lots of patients and you know, one of the main–one the main kind of approaches that we’re utilizing is a Paleo template.  And you notice how we didn’t say a diet, because diet kind of involves short-term strategy.  It’s kinda dogmatic, a lot of times it may not be sustainable and such.  So we’re really looking at a Paleo template.  So with that template in mind, what’s one of the big mistakes you see with a Paleo template with some of your patients, Evan?

Evan Brand:  Oh, gosh!  It’s the Paleo treats.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, yeah.

Evan Brand:  All the almond flour, coconut flour, the Paleo pancakes, Paleo waffles, Paleo bagels, Paleo bread.  It’s like that’s still processed refined carbs.  It’s still gonna be doing the same thing if not worse things to your blood sugar, because some of those alternative flour spike your blood sugar even more.  So I think that’s probably the number one starting place for me.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, that makes sense.  Now I look at Paleo treats, they should be in your 10-20%.  So if you’re gonna be cheating a little bit in your 10-20%, that may be a better treat for you than going and having gluten or having a pizza with cheese and–and a whole bunch of flour in there.  So again depending on how sick you are, some of my severe autoimmune patients where they’re out for a couple of days or they have crazy symptoms, that treat may just may not be worth it.  So when you’re doing a treat, you gotta figure out, you know, like what’s your kryptonite?  And if your kryptonite like puts you on your knees for a couple of days and really affects your mood and how you perform, you may wanna just think about bypassing a treat like that.  But for myself, you know, my 10-20%, I will have like, you know, some coconut macaroons with some almond flour in there, but that’s in my 10-20%.  It’s maybe 2-3 x a week, typically it’s after I’ve eaten a meal so my blood sugar is already stabilized so I’m not creating a blood sugar rollercoaster and I’ve already eaten some really good meals that day.  We just gotta make sure it’s not part of a staple.  We don’t wanna say, “Well, hey, I’m on this Paleo kick, so this is gonna be part of my diet,” and it should not be part of the, kind of the core part of your diet.

Evan Brand:  Yeah, I like how you said you’re blood sugar would be stabilized first because what I’ve seen when I’m looking at food journals is that people will just count the Paleo treat as a meal.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Evan Brand:  Like they’ll get the sugar craving or they’ll get this high from the compounds in dark chocolate, say for example–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Hmm.

Evan Brand:  So they’ll just go nosh on dark chocolate and count that as a snack, but there’s nothing else really there to support that blood sugar, and then, you know, I’ve even done that to myself here now my blood sugar’s crashing and I feel worse than I ever did.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Absolutely.  So like some of the things, like not all treats are created equal, right?  So I like the–the Hail Mary tarts, those are my fave.

Evan Brand:  Oh, my gosh.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I like ‘em, but again if you look at them, right?  The chocolate one has I think 10 grams of carbs or sugar in it versus I think the lemon or the lime or the–the vanilla one has 28.  So just by looking at them, there’s a variation of like 2-3 times of sugar, depending on what flavor you choose.  So sometimes the flavors matter because you can get 2-3 times the amount of sugar.  Also chocolate for instance, I do like the 90% dark chocolate, GMO-free, you know, organic, all that good stuff, gluten-free.  But if you did the 70%, you get twice, maybe even 3 times the amount of sugar.  So you have to look at it from the perspective of, you know, how much sugar are you getting and is there a treat that you could cut down the amount of sugar 60 or 70%?  That may be a better option for you.

Evan Brand:  Yeah, the Miracle tarts.  Those are my–my favorite treats.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Fave.

Evan Brand:  Oh–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I heart them.

Evan Brand:  The almond butter one is the greatest one.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Absolutely.

Evan Brand:  It’s got the–it’s the raw almond butter inside.  If people haven’t checked them out, check ‘em out.  They’re at several different grocery stores.  They’re all over Texas because they’re out of Dallas.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, yeah.  Oh, they are, huh!  Yeah, that makes sense.

Evan Brand:  Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, I love ‘em.  But some other treats that I’ll do is I’ll whip up some organic pasture-fed cream and I’ll just have that whipped up, maybe add 1 drop of Stevia in it and have it with some nice organic blueberries.  That’s a real nice treat or I’ll do some of the–

Evan Brand:  That does sound good.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, it’s really good.  And I’ll do the coconuts ice cream, the one with Stevia.  It’s got the blue top on and not the one with the _____.  So it’s only got a couple grams of sugar and we’ll do that, sometimes with some good organic food on top.  Those could be nice treats that aren’t gonna derail your blood sugar and just give you a whole bunch of extra sugar that may cause you to go to fat.

Evan Brand:  Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Because that sugar just pumps the insulin up which gets drive in to your triglycerides and your fat cells.

Evan Brand:  And you can’t burn fat when that insulin’s high, so if you’re constantly doing these Paleo snacks throughout the day or if it’s a habit, then that could explain why you’re “doing Paleo” and nothing’s changing.  That may be the little hidden piece of the puzzle you forgot to take a closer look at.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.  So like for my dark chocolate, I do the Endangered Species brand with the Cougar on it, the 88%.

Evan Brand:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And I’ll do the–the Lindt 90%.  Those are some good chocolate bars that I’ll do.  And I’ll do like 2 or 3 rows, you know, maybe a couple nights a week, but–


Paleo Diet: Top 3 Biggest Mistakes

paleo mistakes

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Have you gone Paleo but still aren’t feeling better?  Even when you think you are eating better, subconsciously you may still be making choices that are setting you up for failure. Here are some common mistakes that could be preventing your body from healing.

Going Too Low Fat

Most people who transition to a Paleo diet have been exposed to the typical brainwashing of the standard American diet (SAD). Even in the Paleo community, it’s difficult to talk about meat without referring to it as “healthy lean meat.” What I find with my patients who are newly embarking on a Paleo diet is that they are going too low fat. I always recommend organic, pasture-fed, high-quality meats. If for some reason they can’t avoid the lean meats, I urge them to at least keep the skin on.

The darker meats tend to keep blood sugar more stable and sweet cravings at bay. And there are also more fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K) in these fattier cuts of meat.

When I purchase my grass-fed beef, I make sure I get the 76% kind. I still see most people getting 90% to 95%, and when the meat’s cooked up, the fat is left in the frying pan. My recommendation is to use that liquid fat as a topping on your vegetables. Never let any good nutrition go to waste.

low fat

Not Enough Calories

When having my patients complete a food diary, what they eat looks really good on paper. Once I dig a little deeper and run the stats through a nutritional calculator, significant calorie deficits sometimes come up. Now, calories aren’t the be-all and end-all, especially if you’re so-called “overeating.” When you’re eating whole foods (real foods), calories are a direct marker of nutrition. If you are eating more calories from healthy foods, it’s safe to assume that you’re also getting more nutrition.

If you have an adrenal or thyroid, issue it can be harder to stabilize your blood sugar with fewer calories. Research shows that low-calorie eating can cause the thyroid to down-regulate or decrease its production of thyroid hormone (1). To have a healthy metabolism, you need to make sure you are at least consuming enough calories for your metabolic needs. This is most important for people who have already been diagnosed with adrenal and thyroid conditions.

Low-calorie eating can also lead to hypoglycemia, which can cause surges of cortisol and insulin (2). These hormone swings may increase your chance of getting polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (3). If you have any female hormone symptoms, it’s important you make sure you aren’t going too low calorie. Use the free online app “Lose it” to calculate your minimum caloric needs.

low calorie diet

Too Many Paleo Treats

There are lots of good Paleo treats out there, and there are also lots of bad ones. I’m a big fan of the ones you can make at home so you have full control over the ingredients. If you have an autoimmune condition, you need to be careful as these treats may have a lot of almond, potato, and gluten-free flour in them. Many Paleo treats can still be higher in sugar with a low protein-to-fat ratio, and this can really set you up for a series of blood-sugar swings. If you have digestion issues, these treats may be enough to feed your bacterial or fungal overgrowth and prevent your gut from healing (4). If you choose a Paleo treat, try to make sure it has adequate amounts of healthy fat and protein first. The fat and protein will decrease the glycemic load of the treat and will also prevent blood sugar and mood swings from occurring an hour or two later.

Some of my favorite treats are those Hail Merry miracle tarts (found at Whole Foods). They have a good amount of protein and fat with a little bit of sugar as well. High-quality dark chocolate can be an excellent treat, too (greater than 75% cacao).

If you converted over to a Paleo diet because you already had some type of health condition, like adrenal fatiguethyroid imbalance, or a digestive problem, it’s important that you make your treats few and far between and that you avoid desserts that will derail your health.

My Personal Favorite Paleo Treats

  1. Paleo Apple Crisp with stevia sweetened coconut ice cream
  2. Paleo chocolate pudding
  3. Fresh organic berries with heavy grass-fed whipped cream (sweetened with stevia and vanilla)

I also like a steamed sweet potato with grass-fed butter and cinnamon on top. I know it sounds weird, but don’t knock it till you try it. This is higher in carbs, so make sure it’s not too much for your blood sugar and adrenals to handle.


The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Justin Marchegiani unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Justin and his community. Dr. Justin encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Marchegiani’s products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using any products.