Eating Clean vs Paleo

Tuesday again? Holy balls. Where did the last week go? Apologies for not posting yesterday, there’s a nasty fever bug thing going around Boston and I was lucky enough to get struck with it this weekend. I can’t remember the last time I had a fever! It sucked. I had to sub out my class on Sunday, and was debating subbing it out this morning, but was so glad I took it. I really think I proved the theory that the best way to get rid of a fever is to sweat it out 🙂

Speaking of spinning (I’m always speaking of spinning) Friday night I went out for drinks with all of the other lovely instructors at Recycle. It was so fun to all go out and catch up. Usually, we only pass each other going in and out of the studio, where we’re rushing to start a class or are just finishing one. Shockingly, we were able to recognize each other wearing makeup and normal clothes!

Rachele, Cate, Aly, Katie, myself, Meredith and Christina

The ReBoot ladies! Indulging in some ginger margaritas- SO good.

At one point, I got into a conversation with Katie, The Aspiring RD (no longer aspiring, she just graduated! Woot woot!), about Paleo. I love talking to Katie about nutrition because she really knows her shiz. We talked about the differences between eating Paleo and “eating clean”, and what made the most sense for longevity. While the 2 lifestyles of eating are very similar, there’s 2 big differences that are worth pointing out.

Eating Clean

  • Eating food in it’s most natural state
  • Nothing white (flour, sugar, rice, etc)
  • Avoid all things processed and refined
  • Lean protein and healthy fats (like those from nuts)
  • Lots and lots of organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Organic products
  • No preservatives, no fast food, no alcohol (say whaaat?)
  • No or limited dairy (depending on who you ask)


  • Lots of organic and grass fed lean meats
  • Lots of organic veggies and fruits
  • Lots of nuts and healthy fats
  • Consuming food in it’s most natural state
  • No sugar (unless from fruit or natural sweeteners such as honey or agave nectar), no legumes, no grains, no gluten
  • No dairy
  • No preservatives, no fast food, no alcohol (say whaaat? again)
  • Nothing white (flour, sugar, rice, etc)
  • Avoid all things processed and refined

via OhRheally (with some editing by moi)

As you can see, the two biggest differences are that there’s no grains or dairy on Paleo, whereas you can have both food groups on Eat Clean (not sure if this is an official movement that’s deserving of capital letters, but I just made it one. Ha!). After comparing the two lists, I definitely fall somewhere in the middle. I lean way more on the Paleo side, as I don’t eat grains, legumes, or gluten, but I haven’t fully cut out dairy. I realized that eating yogurt and milk made me feel bloated and gas-y (TMI, whatever) so I gradually just cut that out. However, I have NOT been able to say goodbye to cheese or ice cream. That being said- I don’t eat those things every day (I wish I could live off of ice cream..). And alcohol? I know that’s a no-no on both lists, but I’m only human. A girl’s gotta get her drink on every now and then! But I really don’t even drink that much. Mostly because I’m a huge lightweight and I get tipsy off the smell of alcohol, and I turn into a mega bitch when I’m hungover. I’m not a fun person to be around. Woof.

Drink of choice: Water on the rocks

Also- it’s worth pointing out that there seems to be a huge stigma around eating Paleo. If I mention it to someone, they immediately think that I have a garage full of spears to go out killing my own animals with. Since Paleo has become all the rage lately, there are a lot of negative connotations associated with the lifestyle. Maybe because it seems so extreme to some people. And there are a lot of people out there who DO take it to the extreme (I’ve read blogs about people only eating raw meat and gathering their own fruits and vegetables). I think people automatically assume that all people who eat Paleo eat that way, but it’s just not true. I prefer my meat cooked, thank you very much!

Anyways, I think the bottom line is to find a diet (as in general diet, not like Slim Fast situation) that works for you. Find what makes you feel good. Listen to your body. Start keeping a food journal and write down how you feel after you eat certain foods. Do you have energy? Feel bloated? Cramped? Take notes and take care of yourself.

Where do you guys fall into the Eat Clean vs Paleo realm? See anything that should be added to the list? I’m going to be having the ladies over this summer to share some Paleo goodness- what should I make to show them how awesome it is? Gimme something easy.. that I can’t F up… 😉



28 thoughts on “Eating Clean vs Paleo

  1. I have friends on the Paleo diet, and they claim it has made them feel better than ever, but I’m not sure I can do it! Maybe it’s worth a shot, though.

  2. I hear you on the eating-what-feels-right thing. I’m mostly paleo (after being a veggie for 6 years!) but life gets in the way sometimes and I don’t stress about it. I love my dairy and you’ll have to pry my cheese from my cold, dead hands. Cheese makes life worth living.

    Btw, can I adopt the phrase ‘holy balls’? I have fallen in love with it.

  3. I started off pretty strictly Paleo, and have gradually turned into a more Eat Clean person. I love me my ice cream and cheese, too (I’m from Wisconsin – it’s genetic for me). The thing I found most frustrating about initially going Paleo were the comments from people. I had a vegan coworker who was all, “So you kill your meat yourself and harvest your veggies and nuts on your own?” I think part of my personal dietary change to Eat Clean (capitalizing it is now A Thing) was because of comments like that.

  4. What a great post Emily! Thanks for making the distinction between Paleo and Eating Clean. My thoughts – as you stated, the best diet is the one that works for you. A diet shouldn’t be riddled with rules/dos & don’ts and needs to be sustainable in the long term. Actually, the best diet isn’t really a diet at all; it’s a lifestyle. I don’t have any rules about what I eat and wouldn’t recommend that anyone else do either – it is a restrictive behavior that can only lead to failure. However, if there are certain foods that don’t work for you – such as dairy, gluten-containing foods, or even certain cruciferous (aka gaseous) veggies, don’t eat em! Your body should enjoy food going in and, er, out. My issue with the Paleo has less to do with its use and more to do with its ABuse. So many people use Paleo as an excuse to eat grain-free processed treats and that just doesn’t fly with me. The best lifestyle of eating consists of foods in their natural state, cooked (or eaten) with minimal processing, and balanced with some good old fashioned exercise. And a smile.

    • Out of curiousity (because the people I know who do Paleo actually do really legit Paleo), what’s an example of a grain-free processed treat that could be Paleo? All I can think of that’s grain free is made of dairy…

      • There are a lot of pre-packaged goods you can find in gluten free aisles at grocery stores. However, they’re loaded with additives and processed ingredients, so even though there’s no gluten in them, they’re not any healthier for you. Some examples are gluten free cookies, chips, bread, etc. The best way to indulge in these treats is to make them yourself!

    • I totally agree! I actually perused the gluten free aisle at Shaw’s the other day, thinking I would indulge in some cookies, and couldn’t believe how much processed shit was on the label. I’m with you- no matter what kind of diet you follow, it’s best to check labels on everything and avoid processed food at all costs. Thanks again for your insight 🙂

  5. I’m a Moo Paleo-er. I’m not giving up cheese. Never. Ever. Ever. I also like my Greek yogurt. I don’t drink milk anymore and I don’t eat regular ice cream (I eat the occasional coconut milk ice cream), but cheese?!?!?! COME ON! It’s cheese, and unless they start making some damn good cheese out of coconut milk, I will never be strict Paleo. I also drink when I want to (and I drink beer- so not Paleo). So maybe any type of Paleo is extreme for me. I’m a no grain kind of gal, cheese and yogurt allowed, I drink, and I occasionally still enjoy a bagel or a piece of cake. I’m not extremist.

  6. I don’t eat junk (except super special occasions) or white flour/pasta or cheese and I double up on fruits and vegs. I thought I was just being healthy but know I now I am “eating clean” ! I feel so virtuous and hip all at the same time ! Thanks ! 🙂

  7. I believe any time you give your way of eating a name – Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, 36 hour celebrity cabbage juice diet – you’re going to meet some resistance because the people who are outspoken about their diets tend to be (and I’m generalizing here) a bit snooty about how they eat. I think Paleo gets its stigma because it flies in the face of the low-fat, high-grain, and ‘everything in moderation’ advice that we’ve been taught by people who are supposed to be unbiased experts in nutrition. I’m with you – do what makes your body feel good and take pleasure in cheese and ice cream!

  8. So glad that you posted it. I love your blog for inspiration (and giggles), but I always felt like a non-paleo outsider.
    I’m totally on board for no dairy (lactarded, that’s me), and nothing white or processed is kind of obvious (although…a surprising number of people that I love fill themselves with Diet Coke–why? Why do they drink chemicals?!?)
    BUT…I don’t eat meat. I’m against it morally, and every time I see a living animal, it reminds me that I would not be able to kill it myself. So I don’t eat it. But I’ve totally caught, killed and cooked fish, so they’re still in the diet. And eggs are cool, as long as I know where they came from (my sister and some of her friends have chickens and ducks).
    I’m glad you support grass-fed, organic meat, and I’m even happier that you suggested regently for people to buy a 1/4 or 1/2 cow. That’s really cool.
    I’ve noticed that eating gluten makes me feel blocked up and…really hungry. So I’m trying to avoid it, but it’s HARD. I do, however, love quinoa, brown rice, and any type of legume.
    I think we can all agree that if people listened to their bodies more, thought about what they were putting into their bodies and how it made them feel, the world would be a better, healthier place.

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  12. This was so great and informative. I literally typed into Google ‘what’s the difference between paleo and clean eating’ and your article came up. I don’t have to search any longer, I now know. I have been Gluten free since July and still felt sluggish. My husband and I went more toward the clean/paleo side of life and have never felt better. I just didn’t know which I was doing. We are definitely paleo peeps. Thank you again for yoru information!!

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