Upgrade your Essentials 2021! Week 2: Side dishes
January 10, 2021

Welcome to Week 2 of the Upgrade your Essentials Challenge! Last week we discussed protein, and why it’s great to anchor your meal every time you sit down to eat. This week we’re going to talk about the rest of your plate - how to compliment a high-quality protein to feel & perform great!

After protein is covered, the rest of your plate is going to be some combination of the other two macronutrients, of course - carbohydrates and fats. Let’s take each in turn.

A few of our pre-cooked "easy side dish" products available at the Grocery.


There’s a lot of debate about how many carbs we should be eating - you’ve got those who say it should be hyper low (the keto gang), and those who say that a higher intake of good-quality carbs is vital for those living more physically active lifestyles getting frequent exercise (which we hope includes you!).

It’s worth personal experimentation with both approaches, as everyone’s physiology is different - for some, a low-carb ketogenic diet might leave your body short of carbs it could use to recover adequately, and for others, trying a sustained low-carb diet (which will teach your body to burn fat for fuel just as well as it can for carbohydrates!) might be a life-changing experiment because you find yourself feeling like a million bucks (or baht 😎). 

No matter where you stand on the amount of carbs you’re eating, almost everyone can agree that there are good & bad places to get them:

Good: Vegetables of all kinds (starchy ones like sweet potatoes being denser in carbs), moderate amounts of fruit and honey

Not good: Refined grains (white breads, pastries, etc.), sugar, most processed foods

Side note on white rice (a popular topic in Thailand!):

The reason paleo eaters avoid grains is because of the harmful anti-nutrients they contain, like lectin or gluten, which plants make to defend themselves (turns out they don’t like being eaten either!) and can cause long-term problems for some people that consume them. In rice, these anti-nutrients are found in the husk, which has been processed out in white rice. So while you won’t get the harmful stuff, you’re also not getting a particularly good carbohydrate source either - it has a high glycemic index, which means it digests quickly and can cause rapid swings in your blood sugar. This effect is mitigated for white rice that has been cooked and then cooled, so if you’re going to eat it, wait til it’s cooled off!


Fats have been unfairly vilified over the years with lots of marketing - even the name itself makes it sound like “fats” aren’t going to be good for you. There are tons of “low fat” products wrapped up in healthy-looking packaging which are actually processed junk foods!

The truth is, fats are nature’s densest source of energy, and your body loves to burn them! It might just need be out of practice 😉 

Due to the ubiquitous availability of carbs in modern life, with most people ingesting serious carb loads multiple times per day, lots of us have never really developed our bodies’ own ability to efficiently derive fuel from healthy fats. Instead, we’re constantly craving carbs (glucose) to replace those that we’ve just burned off from our last meal.

Eating healthy fats will keep you full and energized for longer, with less fluctuations in your energy level. Some of you may already know that this is effectively the premise of the keto diet! 

"Keto” is short for ketosis, which is the state your body is in when it is burning ketones, or fats, instead of glucose for energy. In order to be in ketosis, your body needs to be deprived of glucose, or carbs, for long enough to switch into burning fats instead. You can do this by fasting or replacing most of your carbs with healthy fats.

So try swapping some of those carbs out for fats for a week or two and see how you feel! Struggling to think about how to do this? You could try:

  • - Swapping in a whole avocado for your sweet potato mash 🥑

  • - Look for fattier cuts of meat (like ribeye) or types of fish (like sockeye salmon) 🥩

  • - Eat your egg yolks! 🍳

  • - Snack on fattier nuts like almonds or brazil nuts (or have a spoonful of nut butter for dessert) 🥜

  • - Do your cooking in extra virgin olive oil or ghee 🧈

  • - Mix a bit of grass-fed butter in your morning coffee ☕️

Putting it all together

In summary, when you’re putting a meal together, you should be anchoring it with a high-quality protein source every time you sit down to eat. After that, look to bring in a source of healthy fats - not only does eating more fat bring a lot of nutrients that are great for your brain and heart, but you’ll also be full for longer and your body will learn how to burn all fat more efficiently!

The last piece is carbs - for active people, a high intake of carbohydrates is great, but if you are less active on a particular day, it’s probably a good idea to keep the number of carbs lower as well. Either way, when you’re fueling up with carbs, look for the slower-absorbing ones like sweet potatoes or other vegetables.

At Paleo Robbie, we try to make it as easy as possible to put together a great plate of food - whether you’re looking to cook a great meal yourself or simply heat up something our chefs have already cooked for your quick & easy dinner. 

Head over to our Grocery to see our full range of high-quality whole foods that are guaranteed to be great sources of your proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats 😉

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