10

votes

When you say you're "X% Paleo", what does that really mean?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 11, 2011 at 5:23 PM

"I'm about 83.65% Paleo, give or take a couple hundreths of a percent..."

What does that actually mean to many of you? Do you go by calories? Do you count grey area foods like dairy or starchy carbs (potatoes)? Are there any entirely verboten foods for you (as in, you'll cheat with candy bar a couple of times a week, but you absolutely won't eat bread)?

Just wondering what constitutes "Paleo percentages" for most of you. Thanks!

776bb678d88f7194b0fa0e5146df14f0

(1069)

on August 04, 2011
at 04:20 PM

I think this is a really good insight... when I get too much into "cheats" I look forward to them too much. I've found that the more time I spend on other parts of my life, like enjoying how fit and healthy I am, the less I end up "cheating." There seems to be a common thrust to make Paleo into something cool you do with food, but I've found that I do way better when I keep it simple - like eating simple meatballs with sweet potato, butter and broccoli every freaking day. In history (not to do re=enactment) people didn't have a lot of choices over what they ate, nor did they prolly care.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 04, 2011
at 04:05 PM

And what differences do you find from the whole30 and primal30?

Ffc7e0ecad8e8831b528c5d4921377cc

(942)

on August 04, 2011
at 02:40 PM

+1 for 83.65%. LOL

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 15, 2011
at 06:43 PM

Actually I was referring to this thread that I posted as a follow-up to Jack's. Here it is - http://paleohacks.com/questions/50895/are-you-a-conditional-or-unconditional-cholesterol-skeptic#axzz1SCWEGrb9

9e20abb05f3f6e3cc4bb107f8980aecd

(5939)

on July 15, 2011
at 03:13 AM

Thanks Aravind. What's the cholesterol thread? If that's Jack Kronk's, he asked on my blog and I gave a reply (http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4066#comment-26174), but I find near-normal cholesterol impossible to interpret without a detailed health history, and often even with one.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 13, 2011
at 10:24 PM

http://www.crowdrise.com/GolfWithWillFerrell?=WillFB Are you aware that you could golf with Will? I heart him.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:36 AM

When I saw this post all I could think of was "Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale's vagina" http://paleohacks.com/questions/31548/good-doctor-in-san-diego-encinitas#axzz1RwbaTyFk

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:31 AM

You mean apart from your...Are you stalking me? Jeez. No I have not seen it and my Will Ferrell fan club card is in serious jeopardy of being revoked. But I can quote you Old School, Ricky Bobby, and Anchorman verbatim. And yes I never miss Elf during the holidays. Why can't pasta with maple syrup be Paleo??? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMa5RdS15XU

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:29 AM

Are you stalking me. Jeez!!! No I have not seen it and my Will Ferrell fan club card is in serious jeopardy of being revoked. But I can quote you Old School, Ricky Bobby, and Anchorman probably verbatim. And yes I never miss Elf during the holidays. Please make pasta with maple syrup Paleo - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMa5RdS15XU

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:28 AM

You mean apart from your....Are you stalking me. Jeez!!! No I have not seen it and my Will Ferrell fan club card is in serious jeopardy of being revoked. But I can quote you Old School, Ricky Bobby, and Anchorman probably verbatim. And yes I never miss Elf during the holidays. Please make pasta with maple syrup Paleo youtube.com/watch?v=iMa5RdS15XU

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:22 AM

You mean apart from your ass? Are you stalking me. Jeez!!! No I have not seen it and my Will Ferrell fan club card is in serious jeopardy of being revoked. But I can quote you Old School, Ricky Bobby, and Anchorman probably verbatim. And yes I never miss Elf during the holidays. Please make pasta with maple syrup Paleo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMa5RdS15XU

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:16 AM

Alright, we have something in common - we (heart) Will Ferrell movies :) But did you see Megamind?????????? I have kids so yes, I did!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:29 PM

Oh just cuz it's never easily available for me. Didn't mean I got a problem with it.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 12, 2011
at 10:38 PM

Oh and for what it's worth, just finished reading Perfect Health Diet. Couldn't put it down. Wonderfully written!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 12, 2011
at 10:34 PM

Paul - any chance you would provide your insights to the cholesterol thread since I know a lot of people would value your input!

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on July 12, 2011
at 09:44 PM

why no gf meat ben?

Ef8662e22324e1ed68af858b414a9983

(56)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:26 PM

3 meals a day x 30 days = 90. 90% of 90 = 81. So if I eat strictly paleo for 81 meals, I can cheat up to 9 times and still be 90% for the month.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:42 PM

holy shit thats funny

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:45 AM

For me, saying you're 80% paleo is like saying you've 80% quit smoking. I mean, if you have a non-Paleo treat once every few weeks ago or every month or two, then you're Paleo. If you're doing it all the time then you're trying to go Paleo but you haven't made it yet. But I'm basing that on how long it took me to fully recover the 2 times (in 4 months) I fell off the wagon. It was about a week each time, so in my case the longer I can go without breaking stride the better off I am.

724f0f45eb53919b8c617c3c1ec5fbc5

(830)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:05 AM

This is my current rationale, too.

592fdaa77ec6342b736f1d25962aab7f

(547)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:49 AM

I do real math as well. 90% has been so easy and leaves lots of cheat room.

Ffc7e0ecad8e8831b528c5d4921377cc

(942)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:06 AM

Note that, to my knowledge, Mark has never defined how to calculate %. So, yes, it is just permission to not be perfect.

Ef8662e22324e1ed68af858b414a9983

(56)

on July 11, 2011
at 10:36 PM

Yeup. That's how I do it, too.

B61f6513a155cd874b42efdad55312f6

(231)

on July 11, 2011
at 06:14 PM

I consider all whole foods(even tubers, and brown rice in moderation) to be "paleo". When i consume alcohol, or get take out/eat food that I didn't prepare, it's not "paleo". I'm at a loss as to what I should call Coconut Bliss though, since it's all "paleo" ingredients. Oh, and for me, the percentage is an approximate volume.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on July 11, 2011
at 05:34 PM

I agree. I do a few non-Paleo things on the regular, like ice cream, so it's just my guesstimate.

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21 Answers

7
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on July 11, 2011
at 09:40 PM

Figure you eat about 20 meals a week or 80 per month, so on average, how many of those are completely Paleo.

So if I cheat once per week that's 95%. I shoot for 100% and usually hit it, though I cheat intentionally every week or two if I haven't already.

Like a lot of things in life, being 80% on board with something will give you almost all of the benefits.

Ef8662e22324e1ed68af858b414a9983

(56)

on July 11, 2011
at 10:36 PM

Yeup. That's how I do it, too.

724f0f45eb53919b8c617c3c1ec5fbc5

(830)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:05 AM

This is my current rationale, too.

592fdaa77ec6342b736f1d25962aab7f

(547)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:49 AM

I do real math as well. 90% has been so easy and leaves lots of cheat room.

Ef8662e22324e1ed68af858b414a9983

(56)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:26 PM

3 meals a day x 30 days = 90. 90% of 90 = 81. So if I eat strictly paleo for 81 meals, I can cheat up to 9 times and still be 90% for the month.

7
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on July 11, 2011
at 05:29 PM

I'm better than you because I'm 90% paleo. ;0)

To me it's just a ballpark figure based on nothing scientific.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on July 11, 2011
at 05:34 PM

I agree. I do a few non-Paleo things on the regular, like ice cream, so it's just my guesstimate.

5
C2ad96801ec1e22d2bf62475b6e52751

(1416)

on July 12, 2011
at 03:00 AM

I'm 70% Paleo, 30% Wonder bread. I am KILLING this thing.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:42 PM

holy shit thats funny

3
61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on July 12, 2011
at 06:11 PM

As mentioned earlier, a lot of it depends on a person's definition of paleo. I eat potatoes and consider them paleo. I'm on the fence about dairy, but I know the ice cream I had this past weekend was definitely NOT paleo.

I'm pretty lax as long as I avoid grains, industrial oils, and sugar. As long as I avoid these three things, I consider myself on the "winning" side of paleo.

3
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 11, 2011
at 11:33 PM

I never think about it.

I think everything I eat is paleo.

I don't eat grass-fed meat and I eat a lot of tubers, which in the OP's working has me In a grey area (?).

I think sitting around and planning or calculating what in your mind constitutes cheats is an entirely unhealthy endeavor. Please understand the following is only my opinion and not at all a prescription for anyone (we each must do what works most effectively for us) but I think this way of regarding food as something to cheat with reflects an unhealthy, reward-based way of thinking about food. It just makes you look too forward to food as the highlight of your day, week, whatever. It's the same food-porn treatment you get on TV, no?

Shouldn't other things in your life be the rewards, the things you look forward to?

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on July 12, 2011
at 09:44 PM

why no gf meat ben?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 11:29 PM

Oh just cuz it's never easily available for me. Didn't mean I got a problem with it.

776bb678d88f7194b0fa0e5146df14f0

(1069)

on August 04, 2011
at 04:20 PM

I think this is a really good insight... when I get too much into "cheats" I look forward to them too much. I've found that the more time I spend on other parts of my life, like enjoying how fit and healthy I am, the less I end up "cheating." There seems to be a common thrust to make Paleo into something cool you do with food, but I've found that I do way better when I keep it simple - like eating simple meatballs with sweet potato, butter and broccoli every freaking day. In history (not to do re=enactment) people didn't have a lot of choices over what they ate, nor did they prolly care.

3
51c2cdd55bf287026db68cf31a6d0a0b

on July 11, 2011
at 08:49 PM

What a great question.

We follow the Sisson rule (already mentioned) of 80/20 but then again we sometimes slip up and have a 'Faileo' day where treats at work or at the weekend might slip in.

We've been asking how to avoid this happening in another thread: http://paleohacks.com/questions/49604/how-did-you-stop-old-habits-creeping-back-in#axzz1RpavQrsB

As for forbidden foods, there has been just two/three times where we've had a small piece of bread and only once have we had pasta in almost three months and we've not had rice or Cous Cous in that time at all. That might not seem like a great achievement to many but we used to have these foods A LOT, some every day.

Our goal is to never eat wheat or processed sugars and we are doing very well (we think) so far. We do have dairy but not a massive amount, usually just milk with cooking, cream with blueberries for desert or some 'proper' cheese in a salad

We are still learning about the Paleo lifestyle so we're not sure we can be 100% yet but we are also certain we don't want to be. If you aim to be 100% Paleo, then one tiny slip up can immediately ruin that goal. Going for 80/20 means we can relax and enjoy our food, but of course we try not to let ourselves down and go for as high over 80% paleo as we can. As we move forward that 80% goal is more regularly achieved but it's still nice to have some dark chocolate, tea, coffee or wine from time to time. After all Paleo for us is about enjoying 'proper' food, relaxing and enjoying life to the full.

Paul.

3
Fe535c4994ac6176f76e1ff6d29eb08a

on July 11, 2011
at 05:45 PM

I dont tie a number to it, since I dont think that there is a quantifiable measure, being that everyone is a little bit different on how they can do it and there are so many different interpretations of it. Wouldnt you also have to say whos paleo you are referring to, like "I'm 90% Primal Blueprint" (which given Sisson's insistance on the 80/20 rule would throw all kinds of fun math into the equation).

I just say the I live a paleo lifestyle but I'm not militant about it.

Ffc7e0ecad8e8831b528c5d4921377cc

(942)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:06 AM

Note that, to my knowledge, Mark has never defined how to calculate %. So, yes, it is just permission to not be perfect.

2
5437163ddf70d4532f196bfb4333753e

(3614)

on July 11, 2011
at 07:36 PM

It's just folks' way of saying "I'm paleo but I'm not De Vany-esque"

I live by a methodology that is a combination of what I've learned from Robb Wolff and Mark Sisson. I eat primal/paleo the vast majority of the time and as long as I look, feel, and perform well, I'm a pretty happy camper.

2
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 11, 2011
at 05:51 PM

I think people toss out those numbers to gauge themselves on their strictness. Especially since Sisson gives us that 80/20 rule, its like we're giving ourselves a allowable break.

It might be more psycological to permit oneself to not be 100% and not feel bad about it. Either way, for me it works to think I'm 95%, I like the wiggle room if I want a glass of wine or piece of cheese.

But definitely doesn't mean I eat candy bars or pasta ...that's how I rule myself at least!!

1
B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

on August 04, 2011
at 03:55 PM

It's just a quick measure against how I feel I ought to be doing based on my current focus.

100% whole30 is just not the same as 100% primal blueprint!

And I've gotten great results from both suggested patterns!!!

I think it also a way to remind myself that I'm striving, and that perfection is an illusion.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 04, 2011
at 04:05 PM

And what differences do you find from the whole30 and primal30?

1
967229edcc94a66580110324524feb49

(688)

on July 12, 2011
at 10:57 PM

For me it's the level of strictness. I eat himalayn salt, which by some standards is not paleo. I love it, my sodium level is good so will continue to enjoy it. I also eat 4 potatoes a week.

On top of that I enjoy a little Makers Mark during the week and a couple peices of dark chocolate.

I'd say I'm 80% paleo - but of course that means nothing because there are so many different paleo diets.

1
D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 12, 2011
at 09:51 PM

I prefer to think of it as follows - 60% of the time, it works every time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLq2-uZd5LY

Seriously, I think what is more interesting to me is not an individual's % compliance, but the definition of 100%. There seems to be consensus on the gluten grains, excess fructose, excess omega-6 vis-a-vis vegetable oils. However, I liberally consume dairy, so my 100% might only be someone else's 50%.

So relative comparison is close to meaningless when the baseline definition is so variable.

EDIT - When people use precise percentages to describe their compliance to anything, not just Paleo, I have a term for such people...you are a Mathematical Dick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Boh9IOZO7E

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 13, 2011
at 01:16 AM

Alright, we have something in common - we (heart) Will Ferrell movies :) But did you see Megamind?????????? I have kids so yes, I did!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:29 AM

Are you stalking me. Jeez!!! No I have not seen it and my Will Ferrell fan club card is in serious jeopardy of being revoked. But I can quote you Old School, Ricky Bobby, and Anchorman probably verbatim. And yes I never miss Elf during the holidays. Please make pasta with maple syrup Paleo - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMa5RdS15XU

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:22 AM

You mean apart from your ass? Are you stalking me. Jeez!!! No I have not seen it and my Will Ferrell fan club card is in serious jeopardy of being revoked. But I can quote you Old School, Ricky Bobby, and Anchorman probably verbatim. And yes I never miss Elf during the holidays. Please make pasta with maple syrup Paleo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMa5RdS15XU

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:36 AM

When I saw this post all I could think of was "Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale's vagina" http://paleohacks.com/questions/31548/good-doctor-in-san-diego-encinitas#axzz1RwbaTyFk

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 13, 2011
at 10:24 PM

http://www.crowdrise.com/GolfWithWillFerrell?=WillFB Are you aware that you could golf with Will? I heart him.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:31 AM

You mean apart from your...Are you stalking me? Jeez. No I have not seen it and my Will Ferrell fan club card is in serious jeopardy of being revoked. But I can quote you Old School, Ricky Bobby, and Anchorman verbatim. And yes I never miss Elf during the holidays. Why can't pasta with maple syrup be Paleo??? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMa5RdS15XU

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 13, 2011
at 01:28 AM

You mean apart from your....Are you stalking me. Jeez!!! No I have not seen it and my Will Ferrell fan club card is in serious jeopardy of being revoked. But I can quote you Old School, Ricky Bobby, and Anchorman probably verbatim. And yes I never miss Elf during the holidays. Please make pasta with maple syrup Paleo youtube.com/watch?v=iMa5RdS15XU

1
9e20abb05f3f6e3cc4bb107f8980aecd

on July 12, 2011
at 06:19 PM

I'm 100% Paleo because just like Paleolithic peoples, I eat anything available in my local environment that I think is good for me.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 12, 2011
at 10:34 PM

Paul - any chance you would provide your insights to the cholesterol thread since I know a lot of people would value your input!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 12, 2011
at 10:38 PM

Oh and for what it's worth, just finished reading Perfect Health Diet. Couldn't put it down. Wonderfully written!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 15, 2011
at 06:43 PM

Actually I was referring to this thread that I posted as a follow-up to Jack's. Here it is - http://paleohacks.com/questions/50895/are-you-a-conditional-or-unconditional-cholesterol-skeptic#axzz1SCWEGrb9

9e20abb05f3f6e3cc4bb107f8980aecd

(5939)

on July 15, 2011
at 03:13 AM

Thanks Aravind. What's the cholesterol thread? If that's Jack Kronk's, he asked on my blog and I gave a reply (http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4066#comment-26174), but I find near-normal cholesterol impossible to interpret without a detailed health history, and often even with one.

1
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on July 11, 2011
at 05:35 PM

To me it is just giving myself permission to not be perfect.

Because I don't claim purity I also avoid justifying things in my diet like nuts, chocolate, dairy fat and my once a week sugar that otherwise might cause issues.

1
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 11, 2011
at 05:34 PM

I'm pretty sure nobody is doing number crunching to actually figure it out. It is mostly arbitrary. I ate some conventional junk cheese yesterday and I do eat junk here and there, multiple times a week, so I say 95% paleo, but some would say that I am not so paleo, maybe 50% paleo because there are a bunch of days where I don't eat exclusively paleo. It's arbitrary and not particularly important.

If you think that you are just fine eating some non-paleo foods just try to get an idea of how much is too much and which ones need to be avoided more than others.

0
Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 04, 2011
at 01:19 PM

This is lifestyle and diet. And self-grading. On lifestyle I give myself 30%, based on a transportation index. I travel on foot 30% of the time, so I still have lots of room for improvement getting to paleo. On diet I give myself 100% because I eat 100% opportunistically, just the way grok would.

0
0e8ef5e7da29efaf265b1c919f47b790

on July 13, 2011
at 03:16 AM

80% Paleo means "20% Taco Bell"

0
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on July 12, 2011
at 09:46 PM

I think living paleo 100% is having a 1 to 1 omega 6/3 ratio...... rare by the way having a fasting insulin level below 2 (and a HbA1c below 5.0)..... rare by the way strict avoidance of all grains and grain like material........ hard but not rare interacting often with your environment regularly ........... procrastination

These few steps require the person to do a lot of unconventional things to make this happen.

If you do this I think you avoid neolithic disease's because you have effectively controlled your epigenetic switches.

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 11, 2011
at 08:54 PM

It's just a random number for me, a rough estimate. I do things like consume some dairy, some soy, some honey, some conventional meats. I used to drink 2 gallons of milk per week, eat gluten-containing soy sauce, sweeten with honey, eat conventional meats about 10% of the time. I'd say I was about 80% paleo with that. Recently I've cut out the fluid milk and stick with cream for my coffee. I use wheat-free tamari now. I've cut down on the amount of honey I use. Still eat conventional chicken on occasion. I'm probably ~85% paleo now.

It's just an estimate from my gut, not based on any measurements.

0
Ef8662e22324e1ed68af858b414a9983

on July 11, 2011
at 08:20 PM

My buddy did a 30 Day Paleo Challenge with a goal of being 90% Paleo. Here was her math:

3 meals a day x 30 days = 90 meals. 90% of 90 = 81

Meaning she must eat strictly Paleo for 81 meals. Leaving 9 "cheat meals" (anything goes)

I hope that answers your question.

I've also heard Paleos refer to themselves in levels. Level 2 Paleo = 2 cheats per week I believe. Not 100% sure about this term

ps: she only used 2/9 cheats (wahoo!)

0
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on July 11, 2011
at 05:43 PM

The way I figure it, all of the food I eat in one week is 100% of my food. So, I mentally measure by weight - oz or grams.

If I ate an ounce of tortilla chips, then what percentage of my week's food by weight is that? If I have a cappuccino on the weekend, it's 12 oz of dairy (actually 10 oz of dairy and 2 oz of decaf goodness), and it's another percentage of my week's food by weight. On the weeks that I track my food with MyNetDiary (most weeks I do), I suppose I could measure the amount of food that isn't "paleo" and divide that by the total amount of food by weight to get the actual "percentage paleo" I am.

Alternatively, I could measure by calories. ;)

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