The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet

Paleo Caveman on Bench

The Paleo Diet is an effort to eat like we used to back in the day…WAY back in the day.  If a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can you.

This means anything we could hunt or find – meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds. Sorry, the pasta, cereal, and candy will have to go! Instead, you’ll be making things like chicken stir fry and paleo spaghetti.

You see, I hate counting calories.

I don’t like keeping track of how much I’ve eaten or obsessing over how many grams of a particular nutrient I’ve had. Not only do I hate counting calories, but I know that calories are really only half of the battle, as they’re not all created equal – 400 calories of Doritos do NOT affect your body in the same way as 400 calories of high-quality vegetables and protein.

Fortunately, if you can expand your horizons and remove certain types of food from your diet, you can stop worrying about counting calories FOREVER (sorry, the Count – ah ah ah).  I’d love to suggest a particular type of eating that doesn’t require counting a single calorie AND allows you to eat as much as you want.  Oh, and it will help you lose weight, build muscle, and get in the best shape of your life.

I know, that sounds like an ad for some really shady supplement or diet book that you’d see on TV at 4 AM. It’s not, it works. It’s helped many people achieve jaw-dropping transformations, including my friend Saint (whose story you can read here):

I’m talking about the Paleo Diet. 

Cue the Baltimora!

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So how does the Paleo Diet work?

Cavemen Hunt Elephant

Oh lord, another “diet.” I know, it sounds like a fad/marketing ploy, but it’s actually quite legit.  You see, tens of thousands of years ago, before Nike, Cap’n Crunch, and Healthy Choice meals, our ancient ancestors thrived as hunter-gatherers.  Although it’s been a really long time, our genetics haven’t changed that much since then.

The average Homo Sapien back then: tall, muscular, agile, athletic, and incredibly versatile.

The average Homo Sapien now: overweight, out of shape, stressed out, unhappy, sleep deprived and dying from a myriad of preventable diseases.

So what the hell happened? Agriculture!  A few thousand years ago humans discovered farming, the agricultural revolution took off, and we advanced from hunter-gatherers to farmers.  We settled down, formed societies, and the human race progressed to what we are today.

The problem is, our bodies never adjusted properly to eating all the grains that we we’re now farming.  As Robb Wolf puts it, think of a 100-yard football field.  The first 99.5 yards are how long Homo-Sapiens spent as hunter-gatherers. As they became REALLY good at hunting and gathering our bodies adapted to that lifestyle over thousands of years.  That last half-yard represents our species after the agricultural revolution, where our diet has shifted (but our genetics haven’t).

So, instead of loading up on meat, vegetables and seasonal fruits, we’ve become a species “dependent” upon grains – bread, pasta, rice, corn, and so on.  The government continues to recommend 6-11 servings of grains a day, and people continue to get fatter and fatter by the day.

66% of us are overweight, 33% are considered obese, and those numbers are only getting worse.

Clearly something’s not right.  The Paleo Diet is an effort to go back to eating how we’re biologically designed to eat, allowing us to tap into our genetic potential and start living healthier immediately.

WTF is the Paleo Diet?

Cavemen Hunt Paleo Bear

Back in the day, grains weren’t part of our diet.  

As Mark from Mark’s Daily Apple points out in his “definitive guide to grains” article: grains cause kind of a funky response in our system.  Grains are composed of carbohydrates, and those carbs are turned into glucose (a type of sugar) in our system to be used for energy and various other tasks to help our body function – any glucose that isn’t used as energy is stored as fat.

Rather than me explain that part with thousands of words, just watch this three-minute video:

Next, most grains contain gluten and lectins. What are they and what’s wrong with them?  I’m so glad you asked:

  • Gluten is a protein found in things like rye, wheat, and barley. It’s now being said that much of our population may be gluten-intolerant (hence all the new “gluten-free!” items popping up everywhere).  Over time, those who are gluten intolerant can develop a dismal array of medical conditions from consuming gluten: dermatitis, joint pain, reproductive problems, acid reflux, and more.
  • Lectins are natural toxins exist within grains to defend against consumption! Yup.  Grains have evolved to keep themselves from being eaten by us.  These lectins are not a fan of our gastrointestinal tract, prevent the tract from repairing itself from normal wear and tear. This  can cause all kinds of damage.

As Mark so eloquently puts it in his article: grains are unhealthy at best, or flat-out dangerous at worst.

The Paleo Diet also almost completely eradicates sugar. Unless you’re getting your sugar from a fruit, forget it.  Sugar causes an energy spike and crash in your system, turns to fat unless it’s used immediately, and wreaks all kind of havoc on our bodies.

So, no grains, no sugar, no processed foods. Many studies have shown that an incredible number of diseases and lifestyle issues can be reversed with these three simple changes. Take a look at this time magazine article on cancer patients who switched to a zero-sugar diet and saw positive results.

For more great information on the Paleo Diet, losing weight, and getting healthy, check out our newsletter.

But where’s my energy?

darth vader vendor lego

So, if we’re not eating 300+ grams of carbs every day, where are we supposed to get our energy from?

Our bodies are designed to operate on a lower amount of carbohydrates than what we’re used to eating, so less carbs isn’t an issue.  When there is an absence of carbs (which is how we’re USED to operating), our body will take stored fat and burn THAT for energy in a process called ketogenesis.

What I’m trying to tell you is that our bodies are pretty effin’ efficient.

So, less carbs = less glucose in your system, which means your body will have to start burning fat as your fuel source.  Win!

So all carbs are bad?

Lego cutting bread and carbs

Nope.  Carbs still serve a purpose in our diets, but they’re not essential (check out the Inuit Paradox for a great read on societies that exist without almost any carbohydrates).  I prefer to get my carbs from vegetables, sweet potatoes, and fruit.  Why is that?  These foods are naturally occurring in the wild and don’t need to be processed in any way (unlike grains) in order to be consumed.

The other great thing about vegetables is that you can eat as many of them as you like and you’ll never get fat.  They’re incredibly nutrient dense and calorie light – six servings of broccoli (and who would eat 6 servings at once?) has 180 calories and only 36 grams of carbs.  A single serving of pasta (and NOBODY eats just one serving of pasta) has 200 calories and 42 grams of carbs.

What about dairy?

milk truck lego

Dairy’s a tough one, as most Paleo folks tend to stay away from it – a portion of the world is lactose intolerant, and those that aren’t usually have at least some type of an aversion to it.  Why is that? Because no other animal in the entire kingdom drinks milk beyond infancy.  Hunter-gatherers didn’t lug cows around with them while traveling – milk was consumed as a baby, and that was it.  As with grains, our bodies weren’t designed for massive dairy consumption.

Here’s a great read on the benefits/criticisms of dairy.

Personally, I’m split on dairy, as I can drink whole milk without any sort of issue and I consider adding it back into my diet when I need  to get enough calories to bulk up.

So no grains, no dairy: what DO I get eat on this diet?

caveman cooking over fire lego

Okay, so if we cut out the grains, almost all processed foods, and dairy, you’re left with only things that occur naturally:

  • Meat – GRASS-FED, not grain-fed. Grain causes the same problem in animals as they do in humans.
  • Fowl – Chicken, duck, hen, turkey…things with wings that (try to) fly.
  • Fish – Wild fish, as mercury and other toxins can be an issue in farmed fish
  • Eggs – Look for Omega-3 enriched eggs.
  • Vegetables – As long as they’re not deep-fried, eat as many as you want.
  • Oils – Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil – think natural.
  • Fruits – Have natural sugar, and can be higher in calories, so limit if you’re trying to lose weight.
  • Nuts – High in calories, so they’re good for a snack, but don’t eat bags and bags of them.
  • Tubers – Sweet potatoes and yams.  Higher in calories and carbs, so these are good for right after a workout to replenish your glycogen levels.

Steak with asparagus and sweet potato fries, grilled chicken salad, massive omelets that will fill you up for the whole morning, apples dipped in almond butter (my favorite snack ever), and so on. Pick any of the things from that list, and eat as much as you want of them (with the noted exceptions). You’ll feel better and be healthier.

How come I won’t get fat?

Leaning Caveman Grok

Because these foods are so nutritious and filling, it’s almost impossible to overeat.

To get the equal number of calories from a bag of Doritos or bread (which, as you know, you can eat all day long and never really feel full), you’d have to eat 2-3 Mack trucks full of broccoli and spinach.  Okay, that’s clearly an over-exaggeration, but you get the point.  A GIANT plate of vegetables and a reasonable portion of meat can keep you full for hours, while eating carb-heavy foods can result in being hungry again soon after.

Whenever I need to lose weight for vacation, I go 100% Paleo and I can drop a few body fat percentage points in a few weeks (while combining it with strength training and interval running).

I like success.

But I can’t give up my muffin/pasta/bagel/pizza/donut/bread!

lego bread

Okay then, don’t try the Paleo Diet! Simple as that.

If you’re happy with how you look, your energy levels are good all day, and you don’t see any room for improvement, then keep doing what you’re doing – I won’t force you to eat like this.  However, if you’ve been struggling with weight loss, have no energy throughout the day, need eight cups of coffee, hate counting calories, and want to start turning your life around today, why not give it a shot for 30 days?

JUST TRY IT: If after 30 days you haven’t noticed a marked improvement in your quest for a better life, then go back to the donuts.  It’s important to give yourself a full 30 days before passing judgment. Your body has to adjust from fueling itself on carbs and sugar to burning your stored fat for energy, which can take a few weeks.

If you’re not willing to cut out grains from your diet completely, work on MINIMIZING those foods gradually and see how your body adjusts.  Slow transitions are often much easier to handle over the long-term; the more you can shift your diet closer to Paleo principles, the faster you’ll start to see results.

How much should I eat of each nutrient?

storm trooper tomato

Keep it simple: Try to get a really good protein source with each meal (eggs, steak, chicken, fish, pork) with each meal along with some vegetables or fruit. That’s it.  If you’re having trouble getting enough calories daily, add some healthy fats to the equation: avocado, a handful of almonds or walnuts, almond butter, olive oil, etc.

Now, fruit does have quite a bit of sugar in it, and nuts have quite a few calories…so if you are following the Paleo Diet but not losing weight, check your fruit and nut consumption and see if you are loading up on those at the expense of vegetables and healthy protein.

What I’m trying to say is this: fat should make up a big percentage of your diet.

Baaaaack up: I thought fat made you fat?

chef and lego pig

Pooooooor fat. It’s gotten a bad rap over the past number of decades, so companies have been doing everything possible to make everything low fat and “healthy!” (while adding all sorts of preservatives, chemicals, and sugar).  Yup…cut out the fat, increase the carbs….and look where THAT has gotten us.

Why has fat been vilified? Rather than get into the politics of it myself, I’ll let Gary Taubes, author of the incredibly thorough and well-researched Good Calories, Bad Calories take over.  Here’s an article he wrote for the New York Times a decade ago: What if its all Been a Big Fat Lie? Take the 15 minutes to read that article – it could radically redefine your thinking on fat and carbohydrates.

So, feel free to eat healthy fats, and stop buying ‘low fat’ garbage.

Do I need to eat every 3 hours?

Nope.  Eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not. Going again back to our evolutionary history, we didn’t always have the luxury of going to a vending machine or drive-through window to pick up food.  Sometimes we’d go all day long, or even days at a time, without finding any food.  Luckily, we’re designed to use our excess fat stores as energy in these situations.

Don’t worry about eating every three hours – our metabolisms aren’t that smart.

Sometimes, it’s even okay to skip a meal or two, as long as you don’t go berserk and eat 7 pizzas because you’re so hungry afterward.

This type of eating is generally referred to as Intermittent Fasting.

What are the criticisms of this diet?

Frozen Caveman Grok Lego

The main criticism that I continue to come across is that it’s “fear mongering” and vilifying grains in the same way that fats have been vilified.

If you really want to drive yourself mad, go spend 30 minutes reading the comments on Tim Ferriss and Robb Wolf’s highly entertaining article about the Paleo Diet – it’s a bunch of dietitians yelling back and forth at each other citing different studies and sources and then calling each other wackjobs.

If you’re not careful, this type of diet can get expensive. But as we know, with a little research, we can make eating healthy incredibly affordable. Admittedly, while I recommend eating organic fruits and veggies, free range chicken, and grass-fed beef, these products can be a bit more expensive in conventional stores due to the processes needed to get them there.

However, farmers’ markets often have well-priced meats, eggs, fruits, and vegetables that are locally grown and incredibly healthy.  Even if you’re spending a little more money than before, when you factor in your overall health, spending a few extra bucks on healthier food now is a wiser investment than thousands later on costly medical expenses.

It’s tough to eat Paleo in today’s society! A normal breakfast in the US consists of bagels, muffins, toast, cereal, or donuts.  NONE of those things have any nutritional value, they’re loaded with tons of carbs and calories, and are composed of processed grains that can jack up your stomach.  Eating out at restaurants can get tough, and “paleo-approved” is not something you’ll usually find on a menu.  Eating in this manner requires careful planning and tons of willpower, but it can be done if you’re dedicated.

“But cavemen had short lifespans! We live way longer now” – I agree with you here, but only because you don’t have to deal with the dangers of living back then.  Give those hunter-gatherers access to modern technology and medicine and I bet their lifespan would easily surpass ours.

Lastly, there are those that claim that all of this “we’re not designed to eat grains” stuff is garbage – that plenty of societies around the world consume grains and aren’t fat and unhealthy like us.  The China Study is frequently cited when criticizing the Paleo Diet – here are some essays, reviews, and a debate between the author of the Paleo Diet and the author of the China Study that might help you reach a decision.

But this is just a meat diet, and eating all meat is bad! First of all, consider your sources and do your research before jumping to the conclusions.  Next, this is not an all meat diet or zero carb diet like Atkins.  The biggest component of the Paleo Diet? Vegetables!  Every meal in a true Paleo diet has a moderate amount of healthy (properly raised chicken, grass-fed beef, hormone free, etc.) meat combined with nutritious veggies or a moderate amount of fruit.

Meh, I’m still not convinced.

lego man and pasta

The human body is so incredibly complex that I doubt we’ll ever have a definitive answer on the best possible diet.  This one might sound like a fad to you, or it’s too restrictive, complicated, etc.

All I ask is that you try it for 30 days before passing judgment.

I could cite sources about how the Paleo Diet has changed people’s lives or even saved this Doctor’s life (must watch!), but instead I just ask you to try it and then judge for yourself.

Take 30 days and give it a shot – cut out the grains and dairy, start eating more vegetables and fruits, eat more humanely raised and non-grain fed meat, cut out the liquid calories and sugar, and see how you feel after the month is up.  If you’re analytical and want numbers to use in your final verdict, get your blood work done at the beginning and end of the month.

Take a picture of yourself now, and then another 30 days from now.  I bet you’ll be surprised.

What does Steve think about the diet?

lego caveman forging for Paleo food

I’m a fan of the Paleo Diet because it makes logical sense to me. I know we existed as a species 150,000 years ago, I know the agricultural revolution didn’t happen until 10,000 years ago, which means we had 140,000 years without grains.  In that time we learned to thrive as a species without grains (or else we wouldn’t be here).  

The other reason I’m a fan is because you can eat what you want (provided it’s paleo), when you want, and eat however much of it you like.  Eat a huge breakfast, skip lunch, and a big dinner.  Eat a small breakfast, two snacks, and then dinner.  Do whatever makes you happy and fits in your schedule.  I like this kind of stress-free eating.

Regardless of whether or not grains should be vilified, I love this diet because I know it WORKS.  I know people that have lost incredible amounts of weight and changed their lives within a matter of months.  The diet portion of my e-book, The Rebel Fitness Guideis designed around the Paleo Diet (allowing people to ease into it) because I know it works.  The diet portions of the Rebel Strength Guide and the Rebel Running Guide are also grounded in paleo principles because that’s how strongly I believe in it.

Regardless of how you feel about grains, we can all agree that eating more natural foods and less processed foods is better for you.

Okay, I’m intrigued, where can I get more info?

Lego Explorer

If you’re looking to read more about the Paleo Diet, I have a few resources to recommend.  The main links are free resources, the indented links are books available for sale on Amazon:

Mark’s Daily Apple – Easily the most comprehensive resource on the Internet for the Paleo Diet – Mark writes an article every weekday about everything Paleo, and it usually blows me away.  Some of the posts can get overwhelming, so I suggest starting with his Primal Blueprint 101.

The Primal Blueprint – If you want to read about this stuff in a book rather than on a computer screen, Mark’s book The Primal Blueprint is a fantastic place to get started on not only what to eat, but why you should be eating it.  It’s educational, funny, real-world applicable, and teaches you how to primalize (just made that up) the rest of your life too.

Robb Wolf – Another great resource, and a guy I’ve already referenced in this article multiple times.  Check out his site for a comprehensive FAQ on all things Paleo, a shopping list pdf (right-click and save), and plenty of humor.

The Paleo Solution – This article would have been finished 3 hours earlier, but before I wrote it, I read ALL of Robb’s new book.  It seriously had me laughing out loud at certain points – not bad for a book on diet! This book is a little less forgiving than Mark’s book above, but it’s still a great read.

Loren Cordain – Loren is considered the leading expert on the Paleo Diet – Robb is actually one of his students/disciples/padawans.  Dr. Cordain is probably the foremost authority on this type of eating, which is why I really enjoyed reading both of his books.

The Rebel Fitness Guide – Yup, tooting my own horn here.  I’m a fan of the Paleo Diet, but I know it can be intimidating, so I’ve created a diet philosophy that allows you to slowly ease into the Paleo lifestyle.  I still include resources for vegans and vegetarians if that’s your thing, but I focused on making this whole “diet” thing enjoyable and educational.


lego chef

So you’re ready to eat Paleo, but you don’t know how to cook anything, huh? Have no fear, the Internet is a wonderful place:

  • Mark’s Daily Apple – Although he sells the cookbook on Amazon, Mark also lists over 100 free primal recipes on his site. Pick something on the list, go buy the ingredients, and follow the instructions! So easy even a caveman can do it.
  • Everyday Paleo – Great pictures, easy to follow recipes, and pretty interesting combinations. Click on FOOD in the Nav bar, and the meals are broken down into breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Easy Caveman Cookbook – A great resource written by Vic Magary if you’re looking for some quick and easy Paleo meals.  Definitely worth the $2.99.
  • Nerd Fitness – Start with a Nerd Fitness approved basic Paleo meal or move on to something more fun like Paleo spaghetti.

Easing Into It

lego man easing into water

Maybe you’re ready to try out this Paleo lifestyle, but you can’t commit fully – there are certain foods you refuse to give up, or you can’t afford to buy grass-fed beef at the moment. That’s okay! If you can even make a few small changes here and there (cut out liquid calories, switch out your rice for steamed vegetables, cut back on bread, etc.) you’ll start to see some changes.  Remember, 20% healthier is better than 0% healthier – as you get more comfortable with the changes you can increase that percentage.

One method (the one I like) is the 80% method – eat really well during the week (all paleo), and then give yourself a day on the weekend to eat whatever you want – pizza, ice cream, cheeseburgers, bagels, etc.  Get it out of your system on that one day, and then get back on track the next day.  For some people this helps them stay on track, when for others it can be derailing.  That will be up to you.

Get rid of the temptation – if you’re gonna go at this thing with a full head of steam, remove all the junk food from your house.  It’s going to take a few weeks for your body to adjust to burning fat instead of glucose, and you might want to eat poorly here and there.  If there’s no food in your house to tempt you, it will be much easier to stay on target.

What are your experiences or thoughts?

darth vader lego and ostrich

Your turn.

Have you tried the Paleo Diet?  What was your experience like?  Have a criticism of the diet that I didn’t cover before?  Do you have another paleo recipe resource? Let’s hear about it!

All I ask is that you keep the debate civil – let’s have a good clean discussion with facts, citations, sources, and personal experiences.

One more thing: this is meant to be a primer for discussion. Before you rip me to shreds for a ridiculous reason, read a few of the resources I listed above and make an informed decision based on your observances.

Remember, one of the major rules of the Rebellion is to question everything!



photo sources: paleo caveman benchcavemen elephant huntcaveman cooking over firecavemen hunt paleo bearmilk truck logodarth vader vendorstorm trooper tomatolego cookchef and lego piglego explorerlego muffinlego bread and carbsfrozen caveman grok legolego clocklego caveman forging for foodcaveman with wheeldarth vader and ostrich legoeasing into water legolego man with pasta

  • John

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  • Not_An_Expert

    Cavemen didn’t drink their fruits and berries in a processed beverage.  Your beverage, which has several established organic juice and smoothie competitors, is actually unhealthy, too much sugar, even if it is natural sugar.  Fruits have fiber, and the process of biting, chewing, and digesting them tells your brain you are full.  Healthy beverages like yours cause people to essentially eat far more than they normally would, but they think they are being healthy yet gain weight and give up on Paleo lifestyle.  Drink water, add stevia if you need to.

  • Shannon

    So I would like some help here, I am a teenage girl I am definitely overweight and it is something that I am extremely uncomfortable and unhappy with. I was recently at camp where there were a couple of other teenagers who were on a paleo diet and who were really into it and seemed to be doing really well on it. I am definitely thinking about taking on the paleo diet but I really don’t think that I could get the rest of my family to go on this diet with me, so I am wondering about some suggestions as how to stay away from the foods my family eats as well as some really easy and non-expensive things I can make/ eat that don’t have eggs in them (I’m not really an egg person). Help Please!! THANKS! I found this post super informative!

  • Ariann

    Like your website. Easy to read, very informative and the links are great. Good job! I’m just getting started at my doctor’s recommendation (not for weight loss). Wish me luck.

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  • BakerTB

    I really like the way you see things, but there might be a problem becouse when you stop eating carbs will you lose weight? Yes, but it begins with your muscle glicogen and only then it starts to burn your fat.I’m not an expert, so if you could explain to me how the paleo diet provided your muscles not to shrink it would be great! ;D

  • Katie K

    I’ve been on a fitness kick for the past two months or so; cutting out grains and upping veggies, getting into running and biking again. I’ve never been overweight, but I definitely have more energy this way!
    So, here’s the problem: I cannot bring myself to enjoy eating meat. I was vegetarian for several years, so I’m still struggling to cook it well. Meat tends to taste gamey to me, and the texture throws me off.
    Any cooking tips for how someone who wants to try paleo can turn back into a meat eater?

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  • kathy

    What do you think about wine consumption or a spirit drink?

  • Karen

    HI I have been getting your e-mails and following your blog for a few months now and first off, THANKS. When I struggle I read this all again and remind myself to stay the course. :) My question is about my 14 year old who has joined me on this journey. He really likes how it makes him feel but he is having difficulty being the “oddball” when it comes to food. He ‘cheats’ and feels VERY sick often missing school but gets discouraged because he can’t eat what others eat. We switched our eating habits to feel better. he was getting sick all the time and when he is on the paleo he feels great but we find it hard for him with his friends who tease him and he really just wants to go and eat like other teens. Does anyone have any inspiration for him? Also, any great snack stuff for him as he eats A LOT he is 130 pounds and 6 feet tall. Kid has a hollow leg. Thanks in advance!

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  • Uruguayangal

    How do you feel about Paleo Bread/pasta? The ones made with almond/manioc flour and eggs…? Would that be considered cheating?

  • LeAn

    I’ve gradually weaned myself off wheat and that seems to have worked well for me. I thought I’d crave it and have massive withdrawals (I loved bread and couscous especially) but it wasn’t too bad doing it gradually over a fortnight, cutting out one thing a day and replacing it. Though I must admit I take raw (unpasteurised) honey in my coffee and my smoothies and as a glaze on my meat sometimes. But I’m not interested in being a cavegirl! I’m using Paleo a kind of common-sense direction for better health but I don’t care if that means I’m not a ‘proper’ cavegirl….I’ll live with that criticism. I also consume raw dairy too. I reckon if God directed Moses to a land flowing with milk and honey then neither can be bad!!!
    Since I’ve been completely gluten free for a fortnight I’ve noticed great improvements in my energy levels and inflammation has decreased too. And I’m losing weight, I’ve lost a stone (14lbs) in a month.
    I thought getting my kids off wheat would be difficult but it’s been rather easy, with buckwheat as a great ingredient for handy snacks. I love the idea of my kids living cave diets, but in the real world they’re going to come across sweets and crisps and junk at parties and friends’ houses, and I want to be able to provide healthy alternatives. For me, it’s about keeping them alive and healthy for longer.

  • Katie Dontwanttotell

    We don’t know what they actually eat and drink – we can only guess from they fossils. But we still can observe our animals, even dogs and cats. There are many food not touchable by them, so it should be avoided by us too I think.

    Best regards

    Katie from

  • Melody

    Well we do have a pretty good idea what cavemen ate since we have fossils which say more details on diet than you might think. We also have copralites (fossilized poo) which tells us exactly what our ancestors ate. Here is my take. Granted homo sapiens have not eaten grains for longer than we have eaten grains so it makes sense that grains could be an adaptive problem for some people since this is a recent adaptation in our evolutionary history. However, we are also looking at 12,000 years of adaptation to grain in most of the world so genetic predispostion toward both diets probably exists. this diet approach made more sense to me than anything else.

  • fluttershy


    I didn’t want to “go Paleo” quite honestly. I was a full 100 pounds overweight and miserable, but POSITIVE that this was a stupid diet, just a fad. My then-spouse found out that he was having allergic reactions to something and we couldn’t afford the test with however many pricks, so the dr said to try paleo since it cuts out pretty much all of the most common food allergies. being the good wife, I forced him to comply by only buying these types of foods. our divorce happened not long after (not related LOL) and i promptly went back to eating my beloved grains. and guess what? I FELT LIKE $#@!… I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT. I had been only about 80% paleo for less than a month, but eating just one pastry made me feel AWFUL inside. I felt depressed and sluggish. So, I said, ok I’ll try this for real this time. I went about 5 months on paleo before my fridge died and i started eating fast food (YUCK). In those 5 months, I went from a size 12 to a size 4, and lost about 50 pounds. Not only that, I FELT GOOD!

    It took me about 3 months to save enough to replace my fridge, and in that time I had to go back on my anti-depressant routine and I can rarely get out of bed without some form of coffee or similar. I’m 3 days back on Paleo and feel like the world is mine and nothing can go wrong. (ok, exaggeration obviously.) My point is, just do it. Just do it and stick with it. It IS hard but only at first. Give it even 2 weeks and you will already taste the difference when you “cheat” (yes, the “food” such as grains, or sugars esp, actually begins to taste gross). That alone will give you the strength and encouragement to keep going. Not only that, but you will feel so wonderful as you watch your weight melt off and feel your body start working the way it’s supposed to… you won’t WANT to eat the crap anymore.

    Good luck! As you lose weight, you’ll pique others’ interests and make them want to do it with you – then you’ll have a support group that will be even more help in sticking to it 😀

  • fluttershy


    I hope you found your answer by now, a year later. If not, try this.

  • Michelle

    This has been super helpful, and it’s the one site I kept going back to when I first started researching Paleo. I’ve gone 10 days so far, and have been able to stick to it (though one night we went out eat with a bunch of families and that was a huge struggle…though I still stuck to it). Thanks for all the helpful information!

  • Eric

    Great article (and cool Lego pics!).
    I have been eating paleo for one week and feel really good. However, I work out almost daily, weights one day and running the next and am wondering if I am going to drastically lose strength. I am not able to squat or deadlift nearly as much and my repetitions are down too. I’m a backpack elk hunter in Colorado so strength and endurance are really important to me.

    Will I get to a point where my body adapts and I regain strength?
    By the way, I am not trying to lose weight at all, just be healthier with a paleo lifestyle, and I’ve still lost 7 pounds in the past week despite incorporating some carbs (sweet potato fries and lots of fruit and nuts) in my eating. I was 5’11” and 170 pounds, and I’m down to 163 pounds.

  • JohnPBushIII

    Our ancestors exercised much more than the average modern day person, in fact before we had tools to hunt with, we hunted animals simply by running them to exhaustion, humans being the one animal best suited for endurance running, so a Paleo diet is obviously compatible with such fitness.

  • Lindsey

    I need some help as well. I’m generally fit, and since going on Paleo 40 days ago, I do feel better. However, I have not lost any weight..which is frustrating. I am eating like I should (not too many nuts either) and I work out like a fiend! Suggestions for me?

  • Diane

    Hi I have the same problem no weight loss. How many seeds can you eat eg sunflower. I love the seed crackers with butter but maybe that is my downfall. Having read your articles I see that I need to eat something else for breakfast. I am having 4 strawberries, yogurt double cream and toasted nuts. Think too much. Help please

  • Rachel

    I have a question. For years I have eaten 5-6 small meals a day to loose/maintain my weight, do you need to do that on the paleo diet as well to loose weight or can you just eat when you are hungry to loose weight on the paleo diet.

  • Pingback: 5 Rules When Eating Out to Stay Healthy | Nerd Fitness()

  • izabella (the teen)

    so i just went to the docter and she said i am a little overwheight so when i got home i looked for diets and i finally found this one im convinced i am going to try this

  • Marie Lagarde

    Weight loss is but a positive residual effect of the Paleo diet. Its real value is in keeping you healthy, fit, and feeling so much better for the long haul. Do not expect it to be quickfix for weight gain. You will lose weight alright but it won’t be so dramatic. Rather, it will be a gradual process which makes it highly manageable and truly sustainable and more permanent. With the Paleo diet the body is taught to use fat for energy and limit its dependence on carbohydrates for energy. In the process there will hardly be any excess fat to be stored and whatever fat is there will be converted into energy to power cell functions. You also get to avoid high carbohydrate intake which can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
    The bottom line is majority of people who adopted the Paleo diet achieved significant weight loss after being in the diet for some time. The good news is it permanently corrects the body’s dependence on carbohydrates and you’d be able to maintain your ideal weight with hardly any effort. – See more at:


  • Suzan Reemy

    Hi every body,
    Diet is not about losing weight, it’s about eating right. Read Grain Brain and you will understand Paleo Diet. Sugars cause inflammation, which ages us. Marketing is damage you up. A slice of whole wheat bread is probably the worst thing you can put in your mouth. It’s about putting gas in your engine, not diesel. And yes arthritis is gone, the bags under my eyes are gone and as a side effect, went from 180 to 152. Don’t knock it till you try it. And you have to put the alcohol away.I used to have big problems with lose weight tips, but am getting in better shape now. Here’s a good site I found that really helped. It gave me great methods and and showed me what I was doing wrong before…there’s even lots of free articles on the site…

  • ChihuahuaMeme

    The early Christians ate grains. Sacrifices to God were grains and flour with oil. Why do you say we can not eat grains if God provided them for his people?

  • Sara Elizabeth

    Paleo saved my life & got me off of thyroid medication. I highly recommend it!!

  • JasonPen

    I’m on the paleo diet again (I did it for a whole year) and I also am an amatuer power lifter. I’ve been on it now for 3 weeks and my lift numbers have consistently been going up and yesterday I lifted 484 lbs x 2 on deadlift. You can still gain weight on the paleo, it just takes more effort. I eat lots and lots of chicken and salads.

    You don’t cut out carbs completely in the paleo diet either. Fruits and veggies have carbs too.

  • JasonPen

    God also invented Diabetes and Cancer…

  • JasonPen

    Do what you want. Eat when you want to eat. Don’t eat if you’te not hungry. Eat until you are full when you are hungry.

  • Laurel

    Every day for a while now, I’ve been making myself a salad with veggies, 1/4-1/2 cup of fruits, a half an ounce of nuts, 3-4 oz. of meat and a little light dressing. Is that considered a good meal for a Paleo diet?

  • Deni

    I agree there was a time when grains were good and God’s people ate them and bread and milk and honey. My thoughts are that grains have changed a lot since then. Big Ag has taken over seed control and GMO and we have no idea what we’re really eating regarding grain or drinking regarding processed milk. And as for Jason’s comment below, God did not *invent* diabetes and cancer… they are the result of years of genetic mutation and toxins in a sin-filled world; we’ll deal with them until the world is returned to its perfect state 😉

  • Deni

    Would love to know more about this – can you send me an email at with “Paleo and Thyroid” in the subject so I can learn more about your situation?

  • mrs_m_goldsmith

    I am gradually moving over to being pretty much completely Paleo. My main stumbling block has been that having been raised Italian-American, I have trouble seeing a future without pasta on the horizon! But I’m working on it! I have a spiralizer on my birthday wishlist and am getting rid of all the rest of the “bad stuff” in the meantime. Wish me luck!

  • mrs_m_goldsmith

    One of the things you can do right away is to find a good beef jerky to snack on, rather than cookies or fries for snacking. And you don’t actually need the rest of your family to eat Paleo, just avoid the starches and ask for more meat and vegetables. Also, as you are a teenager, you could offer to help with the cooking and suggest meals where you could avoid the starches. Almost any homemade meal can be done this way, even with beef stew you can avoid the potatoes, and if there is spaghetti with meat sauce, just have the sauce as if it were a stew — you get the idea.

    You don’t say how old you are, but I started making the family meals when I was 14. Once you are working alongside your family’s cook, you might have a bit more say in what ends up on the table. So long as the food isn’t packaged or processed (these mostly are stuffed full of nasties such as corn syrup, msg, etc.) you should be able to eat mostly Paleo.

    You’ll feel better in a month or so, and in a few more months, when your family and others begin to notice your improved skin tone, weight, and energy — they’ll want to know how you did it! So go for it! And remember, it’s not a “diet” as such, it’s just a much healthier way of eating. Good luck!

  • mrs_m_goldsmith

    You shouldn’t have any problem losing the weight with Paleo. One of the tricky bits is to eat a good balance of protein, fats, and non-starch carbs. You may want to try the free version of FitDay .com for food tracking. It gives you a few really good tools, including weight tracking. You should probably aim for 1/2 to 1 pound of loss per week as a goal and it will chart for you. But with Paleo you don’t really need to pay too much attention to that part. As you enter your daily foods, what you want to notice is the set of drop-down choices for charting on the right of your daily food log. One of the choices is a pie chart with percentages of protein, fats, and carbs — very useful! It showed me that when I dropped the starches, most of my calories were coming from fats and carbs, so gradually I began to eat more protein until I now have about a 30% fat / 30% carb / 40% protein and the great thing is, I am actually not hungry all the time for the first time since I was a teenager! I am eating portions that I never would have thought satisfying in the past. And once you have reached your proper weight, you can keep eating this same way and keep it off. Good luck!

  • mrs_m_goldsmith

    I have to agree with Deni (below), the hybrid grains we eat today are definitely not the same as the ones that God provided. To see the difference, have a look at Einkorn (a native wheat) as opposed to modern-day wheat. A blog article with some photos showing the differences are available at

    and Wikipedia has a good article on “wheat” in general. And you have the right idea, if we ate the same foods as the early Jews and Christians, I very much doubt we would have the geometric rise in diseases such as obesity and diabetes we currently have. I ate what is now being called Paleo as a young adult and had no such issues, but after decades of eating junk, fast food, processed foods as a traveling computer consultant, I am overweight, diabetic, and have massive inflammatory issues. I am now retired and taking back control of my health by eating the Paleo way. If you would rather include grains in your diet, then a Real Food or Whole Foods diet with “native” grains, soaked or fermented (such as sourdough) might suit you. Good luck!

  • mrs_m_goldsmith

    That sounds like a good start, it is similar to how I am doing it for lunch. Then meat and cruciferous vegetables with butter for dinner. I am also having hard-cooked eggs (1 or 2) for breakfast with a piece of fruit. For snack in the day, a paleo bar and or a small packet (about 40g) of plain beef jerky (not teriyaki, it has sugar). I also have about 30g of nuts each day. I think so long as you can get rich of starchy carbs and don’t eat *too* much fruit, you are going in the right direction. And I’m sure someone will be more than happy to correct me if I am wrong! 😉 Good luck!

  • Daniel Moton

    The human body is highly adaptable and able to change in extremely short periods of time. Think about it. If people can quickly gain mass amounts of fat from weeks of unhealthy eating, shouldn’t they be able to lose a lot weight rapidly from weeks of healthy eating? Well, they definitely can.

  • Constantine

    Just starting to read about Paleo – in a nutshell – can someone tell me the basic differences bet. Paleo & Atkins? (Atkins isn’t no carb and no veggies as stated above but I think he was just trying to make a point). Feel great on Atkins and it seems the same as Paleo so far. At least the philosophies seem identical to me but I’ve only just started reading about Paleo. Thanks in advance!!

  • lovespaleo

    Hi Steve, You and your readers may be interested in knowing about Grain-Free JK Gourmet (, which has been around for almost 15 years. Originally targeted toward those with celiac disease, Crohn’s, UC, IBS…turns out the JK Gourmet products have been perfect for those following the Paleo diet. Only ingredients are nuts, seeds, and fruit. No refined sugars, nothing artificial. And….delicious!

  • Yolanda G. Jacobs

    Eat generous amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables either cooked or raw and served with fat. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of non-toxic carbohydrates.

    Yolanda@Map destinations

  • Heather Browning

    I’m just now starting the Paleo diet and my primary reason is to lose about 30 pounds, but I obviously want to eat healthier and have more energy. So far so good, but I’m finding that I still need a couple of snacks a day. I’m eating veggies, but am more drawn to fruit. How do I know how much fruit is too much if I want to lose weight? I’m hoping to lose at least 2 pounds a week like I did when I was on the Dukan diet. So, how much fruit is too much? If I eat an apple and a banana a day, or a handful of blueberries and an apple, is that more than I should be eating? I’m doing a good job sticking to the basic tenets of Paleo and I walk about 2.5-3 miles a day. Would appreciate the feedback. Also curious about almond butter. I’m reading that I should be careful about nuts, nut butters, and fruit if I want to lose any weight. Again, how do you define being careful, short of staying away from those things all together. I’m good for the three main meals, its the cravings in between. What do I eat?

  • Monster Truck

    Heather, sounds like you are kicking butt!

    I’m a few months ahead of you on this, so I can share my experience; but I have no expertise. I am also trying to lose +/- 30#. I also do well with meals; that is easy, they are planned. My weakness is also snacks.

    My ultimate goal is to limit snacking and stick with the meals. Most of my snacking is craving related. My cravings come from exposure to off menu items. The solution is to get back on the menu (Paleo + cheese, whole milk and some beans from time to time). To do so I throw all concept of calorie counting out the window and stick to the menu, but with the goal of over eating and ensuring a high degree of satiety. I aim for calorie dense food like fruit and nuts and cheese. I find that after a couple days of unabashed nut binging my cravings disappear and I can get on with the show. I also find that I don’t actually gain weight on those stretches. I say nuts and nut butters are excellent food for a diet. Do be aware that portion sizes are smaller for these foods than for the Doritos we grew up on though. I would never do a diet that says an apple and a banana are too much fruit. That is good food. It is what you were born to eat.

    One last thing: losing 2# a week is a lot. May people will fail simply due to the fact that it is tough to sustain a negative 1000 Cal / day balance. I shoot for 3-5#/month ( 300-500 Cal/ day). This is no silly diet. This is the rest of my life. I am happy to be on the road, but I am in no hurry. The changes still come quicker than you think. And losing 30# is a bid deal. If it takes a year, or 2 then so? Better plan is to find a plan that works for a life time vs a diet that loses weight fast. BTW I’m down 20# and just dropped below 180 for the first time in 10 years today!