The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet

So you wanna learn about the Paleo Diet, eh?

Here’s the ENTIRE diet in a nutshell:

If a caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you.

Now, obviously there’s more to it than that, and that’s what I’m going to cover in great detail with this article today.

When you are following the Paleo Diet, you can eat anything we could hunt or gather way back in the day – things like meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds.

Sorry, the pasta, cereal, and candy will have to go! Anything that didn’t exist in caveman times will not be existing on your plate or in your stomach.

And instead of counting calories and perfectly partitioned portions (say THAT three times fast), you’ll be focusing on eating the right foods instead.

And that makes me happy, because I hate counting calories. Maybe you do too.

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 have the same effect on your body 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 and instead focus on fixing your relationship with food.

Now, this article is SUPER long, so we took the liberty of converting it into a nicely designed guide for easy consumption (not literal consumption, unless you print it on bacon).

Grab your Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet free when you sign up in the box below:

If you are interested in learning more about the diet, and want to learn how to successfully implement it, we got you covered!This diet does have a ton of pitfalls and challenges that you’ll encounter as you start to change your life, and most people give up on the Paleo Diet within a few days!

So let’s dig in.

The Paleo Diet doesn’t require counting a single calorie AND it allows you to eat until you’re full and happy.

Oh, and it can 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 actually works (if you do it correctly)!

It’s helped many people achieve jaw-dropping transformations, including my friend Saint, (whose story you can read here):

But you need to do it right. You need to have the right mindset, you need to focus on the right foods, and structure your environment so that you’re not tempted to backslide and abandon the Diet after a few days.


So how does the Paleo Diet work?

Cavemen Hunt Elephant

Oh lord, another “diet.”

I know, it sounds like a fad/marketing ploy, but The Paleo Diet isn’t really a “diet,” and it’s actually quite legit. It’s also the most time-tested diet ever.

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. And yet…

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

The average Homo Sapien now: overweight, out of shape, stressed out, unhappy, sleep deprived and dying from far too many preventable diseases due due to lifestyle choices.

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. Which is obviously great for a number of reasons (air conditioning! Nintendo! cars!)

The problem is, our bodies never adjusted properly to eating all the grains  and sugar that we we’re now consuming.

As paleo guru 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 [1]

Clearly something’s not right, and we need to fix it.

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.  

When we (over)consume grains regularly, our bodies take those grains, which are composed of carbohydrates, and those carbs get turned into sugar in our system.

That sugar is then either burned as energy or stored as fat. That’s right: the grains you’re consuming are stored as fat in your body and they’re what most Paleo experts believe are the main culprit in why you’re overweight.

So, rather than me explain that part with thousands of words, just watch this three-minute video – “Why You Got Fat

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.[2]
  • Lectins are natural toxins that exist in 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, and they prevent the tract from repairing itself from normal wear and tear. This can cause all kinds of damage.

Long story short: our bodies don’t process grains well, and they are causing a boatload of problems. 

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. Whether you’re talking about the paleo diet or not, many studies have shown that an incredible number of diseases and lifestyle issues can be reversed with these three simple changes.[3]

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 number of carbohydrates than what we’re used to eating, so fewer carbs isn’t an issue once you re-train your body to process the food you’re eating.

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, fewer carbs = less glucose in your system, which means your body will have to start burning fat as your fuel source. Which means… decreased fat storage and decreased body fat percentage and increased good-lookingness. Win!

So, all carbs are bad?

Lego cutting bread and carbs


Carbs still serve a purpose in our diets, but they’re not essential [4].

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 they’re incredibly nutrient dense and calorie light – six full servings of broccoli (and who would eat 6 servings at once?) has 180 calories and 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.

Now, eating paleo does not automatically mean that you are doing a ketogenic diet (no carb) or a low-carb diet.

However, even if you have a serving of sweet potato (26g per 1 cup serving) with every meal, it’s likely a lot lower in carbs than you’re used to having.

We do recommend keeping your carb content low – loading up on buckets of fruit is technically Paleo, but can result in a ton of carbs and sugar consumed (and thus, fat gain. Fail).

I’ll cover that more below too, as it’s one of the pitfalls to avoid with successfully going paleo. If you’re worried about adherence to the diet, I understand – it’s the toughest part of Paleo – sticking with it!

Knowing what to eat is part of it, but following this fairly restrictive lifestyle in a modern environment surrounded by cookies and candy and bagels and pasta is really difficult! Factor in the “carb flu” you might go through in the first few weeks (as your body gets weaned off of carbohydrate fuel and habits), and most people give up on the Paleo diet long before it creates lasting change!

Does this sound like you? Worried about how to stick with this diet when you live a busy life and work long hours and also want to lose some weight but you don’t want to hate yourself? You’re not alone!

In fact, people like you are the reason we created our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program!

We work with busy people like you to structure a complete life overhaul: handcrafted workout routines, accountability, mindset changes, and nutritional strategies. If you want guidance from a trained professional, schedule a call by clicking on the image below and see if we’re a good fit for each other!

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.

There is evidence that some adaptation to dairy has taken place throughout the years, specifically with people with ancestry in herding cultures, but this is not the majority of the population [5] .

So, this is one that Paleo purists will avoid like the plague, while others have found that consuming dairy in its various forms work for their genetics, goals, and lifestyle.

If you’re not sure, remove dairy from your diet and only introduce it back in when you’re ready to see how your body responds.

So no grains, no dairy: what DO I get to 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 cage free 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.

*If you can only afford grain-fed meat, that’s still better than grains. Do the best you can with your situation!

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, you’ll be eating satiating foods that fill you up but are not carb-calorie dense.

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).

As I said above, you can definitely do The Paleo Diet WRONG.  If you are “full paleo” but just eating nuts and fruit, you could theoretically still be eating thousands of calories, hundreds of grams of carbs/sugar.

But I can’t give up my muffin, pasta, bagel, pizza, and bread!

lego bread

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

I hear you. Because bread is amazing. And so is candy. And soda. These things are designed to be as delicious as possible.

But they don’t have a place in the Paleo Diet, so you have to decide what’s important to you right now.

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?

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, just 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.

In fact, we’ve actually built a 10-level diet system as part of Nerd Fitness that slowly transitions somebody into a more Paleo-type lifestyle, because we know the biggest problem with this stuff is

When you sign up in the box below, we’ll send you both the 10-level Nerd Fitness Diet cheat sheet AND the Beginner Paleo Guide so you can cut through the confusion and start fixing your health today.

This is also the approach we champion with our 1-on-1 Online Training Program and Paleo-approved flagship online course, The Nerd Fitness Academy.

The biggest problem with the Paleo Diet is actually STICKING WITH IT, so we built this course with that fatal flaw in mind, and have helped like 40,000+ students slowly transition to a Paleo Diet (if they decide it works for them) and help them stay on target.

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. That’s it.

If you’re having trouble getting enough calories daily, or feeling hungry constantly, add some healthy fats to the equation: avocado, a handful of almonds or walnuts, almond butter, olive oil, etc.

If you’re feeling tired all the time, try adding some salt to your food. Going from a processed, high sodium diet to a paleo diet you will very often end up eating too little sodium, which is an essential nutrient.

As stated above, 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 and protein 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.

As he discusses in article he wrote for the New York Times a decade ago [6]:

These researchers point out that there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the low-fat-is-good-health hypothesis has now effectively failed the test of time. In particular, that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that started around the early 1980’s, and that this was coincident with the rise of the low-fat dogma. (Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, also rose significantly through this period.)

They say that low-fat weight-loss diets have proved in clinical trials and real life to be dismal failures, and that on top of it all, the percentage of fat in the American diet has been decreasing for two decades. Our cholesterol levels have been declining, and we have been smoking less, and yet the incidence of heart disease has not declined as would be expected. ”That is very disconcerting,” Willett says. ”It suggests that something else bad is happening.”

Healthy fats are valuable additions to our diet. “Low fat” foods were created to follow conventional wisdom that fat made you fat (which as stated in the above article doesn’t stand up to scrutiny).

Now, when a company makes a low fat food, they remove the fat and have to replace the flavor with something. That “something” is usually sugar. Which gets stored as fat in our bodies. Crap.

So, fat is not the enemy. According to Taubes and Paleo folks, it has been vilified and the real focus should have been on sugar and carbs all along.

And thus in the Paleo Diet, fat makes up a large portion of one’s diet.

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. 

In fact, I’d recommend NOT eating all of the time, and instead focus on eating full meals!

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

Don’t worry about hitting a specific number of calories each day. If you’re not hungry, don’t eat.

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 read a mainstream article that’s either pro or against the Paleo Diet. In the comments, you’ll find a bunch of dietitians yelling back and forth at each other citing different studies and sources and then calling each other wackjobs.

So, disregarding the fear mongering and dogma surrounding the diets, what are the ACTUAL critiques of the Paleo Diet?

#1) 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 whenever possible, 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.

Also, if you’re really short on cash, eating the non organic or grass fed version of a meat, vegetable, or eggs is still better than eating breads, pasta, fast food, and the like.

Most people simply compare the cost of a paleo meal with ramen noodles or pasta and bread and determine Paleo is prohibitively expensive. Sure, it’s more expensive than those foods, but if you are smart with your money you can eat a much healthier meal and do so pretty inexpensively.

(This doesn’t even factor in the whole “if you eat cheap unhealthy food now, you’ll pay thousands in medical bills and hospital visits and medications later” argument which is valid too).

#2) It’s difficult (though getting easier) 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 too, 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.

#3) “But cavemen had short lifespans! Of course they don’t have the diseases we do. 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.

#4) “But what about the books and people that say “we’re not designed to eat grains” 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 – focusing on a vegetarian diet and consuming rice is healthier than the Paleo Diet. I respectfully disagree with that nutritional philosophy and strongly disagree with the conclusions drawn from that book [7], and will leave you to make your own conclusions based on your own self-experimentation.

You’re here to learn about the Paleo Diet though, so let’s keep the focus there

#5 “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 uber-low 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.

#6 “The Paleo Diet is too restrictive and I can’t live like this.” This is the most valid criticism I personally have of the diet, as the best diet plan is the one you actually stick with and follow through on! The goal shouldn’t be to go “full paleo” for a few weeks only to go back to how you were eating before.

Instead, the goal here should be to rethink your relationship with food and develop a strategy that you can live with permanently.  There’s nothing worse than going on diets and gaining and losing the same 20 pounds over and over. The Paleo Diet, like other diets, WORKS ONLY IF YOU STICK WITH IT PERMANENTLY!

This makes sense after all: make temporary changes, get temporary results, right?

We know this all too well, and we have helped thousands of people slowwwwly transition their diet over a long period of time to make change less scary, more permanent, and thus make the weight loss permanent too!

If you’re overwhelmed or scared of changing too much, or maybe you’re just sick of dieting and want to find a solution that works for your busy lifestyle and situation, schedule a call with us to learn more about our 1-on-1 coaching program:

[FOOD AD – Going Paleo?]

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.

If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re considering giving it a shot.

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 with how your body transforms. I hope that AFTER those 30 days you’ll have adopted some of the principles, noted how much  better you feel, and continue to live with an improved relationship with food.

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. There are black and white rules to follow,

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.

People like Staci:

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

 Where can I get even more info?

Lego Explorer

If you’re looking to read more about the Paleo Diet, I got you covered.

For starters, I’ve seen thousands of people succeed with a Paleo Diet, and I’ve seen countless thousands more FAIL with the Paleo Diet?

What’s the difference? The strategy they’ve implemented to follow through on it! Sure, some people can completely overhaul their diet and go “cold turkey” on giving up processed foods, grains, and sugar, and never look back.

Most people however try to completely overhaul their diet instantly, their body hates them, and they quickly abandon Paleo principles and think it’s not for them.

I believe in a different approach, and that’s having a strategic blueprint to follow that allows you to SLOWLY adapt your diet in specific ways so that your body adjusts comfortably to a new lifestyle.

At the same time, I know there are a million questions to ask about the Paleo Diet, how to adapt it to a busy lifestyle, what to do if you’re a paleo parent and have picky eaters in your family, or how to stay on track when everybody around you still wants to eat non-paleo foods.

These are the specific problems we’ve set out to solve, and have helped 30,000+ students transform their diet in The Nerd Fitness Academy – it includes a 10-level diet system with ‘boss battles’ between each level so you know when you can ‘level up’ and adjust your diet.

Small, non-scary, tweaks to your nutritional strategy, specific meal plans to follow, and a supportive community to help you implement these changes in your life, even if you’re busy!

Now, even if you can’t check out the NF Academy yet, we have plenty of other resources here at Nerd Fitness including recipes that are paleo or paleo-ish to get you started!

Here’s our full list of our Paleo/Healthy recipes, and here are my three favorites:

If you’re curious about The Paleo Diet’s recent popularity and thus it’s criticisms, we’ve written two other pieces on Nerd Fitness that might be of interest:

The Paleo Diet Debunked??” where I address a few of the more recent criticisms that have popped up.

In Defense of a Paleo-Ish Diet” where I cover how to live a mostly Paleo lifestyle but still enjoy the modern benefits of society.

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.

You can also follow our favorite strategy. After all, I know how tough it is to stay loyal to a strict diet, especially without a plan to follow. It’s why we created free resources that can help you reach your goals faster without you also going crazy.

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.

Now, it’s your turn.

Have you tried the Paleo Diet yet?

What was your experience like?  Have a criticism of the diet that I didn’t cover before?  Do you have another paleo recipe resource?

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

I hope this article gives you some food for thought (terrible pun, I know), and gives you the permission to question conventional wisdom and start addressing the issues in your diet!

In addition to this Beginner Paleo Guide, I hope you consider checking our our 1-on-1 Coaching Program as well. We have designed this program from the ground up to help people like you change their lives and fix their nutrition in a way that doesn’t suck.

Now, go forth. And eat like a caveman.


PS: I’ll leave you with one final mention of the Nerd Fitness Academy it essentially gamifies your experience in transitioning into a Paleo lifestyle and diet, and provides you with specific instruction, meal plans, workouts, and a supportive community.

The Academy has a 60-day money back guarantee and helps remove all of your guess work to stay on track.


photo sources: cavemen elephant hunt, caveman cooking over fire, cavemen hunt paleo bear, milk truck logo, darth vader vendor, storm trooper tomato, lego cook, chef and lego pig, lego explorer, lego muffin, lego bread and carbs, frozen caveman grok lego, lego clock, lego caveman forging for food, caveman with wheel, darth vader and ostrich lego, easing into water lego, lego man with pasta

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  • Former sailor

    Vikings drank mead… Honey alcohol. Still alcohol and not good for you but technically still paleo lol. I’m 47 i drink regularly and have lost over 20 pounds and stabilized at about 185 pounds (6 ft tall) following the majority of the tenets of this diet and not just drinking tequila and mead mind you. When eating like this just remember anything outside paleo in moderation. I love popcorn, a weakness of mine, but I’m careful about how often I eat it. Even cave men experimented or we would never have changed diets to begin with. Just don’t fall back into old habits and be mindful… This has worked for me so far.

  • Kovalski

    I red an article about combining foods. And it says that it is ok eating carbs as long as you don’t mix them with other foods (protein, fats,…). It said the reason for that is that our stomach process different foods differently.

  • Jacob Kerlin

    Actually beer is packed with vitamin B6, proven to be heart healthy. Studies in the past 10 years have shown beer to be quite good for you. I’m not a big drinker but when I do that’s what I stick with. Or mead.

  • Jacob Kerlin

    Yes they did actually.

  • Jacob Kerlin

    Um. Snakes definitely have bones…. they are vertebrates. You know after all the insanity I’ve seen in this comments section as well as the misinfomation, I’m definitely not trying this diet because it’s a load of horseshit.

  • Jacob Kerlin

    The comments section alone was enough to turn me off from this diet, because it’s loaded witH a bunch of misinformed whack jobs who think they have PhD’s after reading a few Wikipedia articles. The foundation of this diet is shaky at best, and the people who buy into it are just on the latest craze. I’m so done.

  • Nina

    Enjoyed your article, Steve. I should mention, for complete accuracy, that hunter-gatherers of the Neolithic Era actually did eat grains, such as emmer (wild) wheat. They didn’t domesticate or crossbreed them, just ate them. Traces of the grains have been found in and on the vessels they left. For more information, see The Horse, The Wheel, and Language by David Anthony. It’s a fascinating read.

  • Astra

    Hello I’ve been talking to noel and he suggested it.
    Ok I’m going to give it a try but I’m going slow as I haven’t had protein for a while but since I now can afford it again why not and I think I’ve developed a protein deficiency from being no protein .
    Ie skin problems and fatigue and soreness and other problems not for publication digestive and women’s ..
    Ok now…Where’s the meat..even if it is tinned…I think it’s in the back of the cupboard..eggs..Hello. ..tuna..chicken. ..and I’m thinking the deli chicken roasted ..yes you too..
    I can’t cook meat but …
    Thanks belinda

  • jillian poterbin

    I always have oatmeal for breakfast; almond milk,blueberries and a banana. Is this not good. Is oatmeal the wrong grain. What about quinoa?

  • James Vergara

    I keep coming back to this article, as it’s just got it all. The article is quite old, but yet it still covers all the basics of the paleo diet. This article, and the one a coworker of mine posted a few days ago at have convinced me to retry with the diet and to really keep at it. My coworker has been committed to the diet for almost a year, and has seen some amazing results. I hope that I’ll get there too soon.

  • MarylandBill

    This reminds me a lot of the South Beach diet, though without the grain 🙂 which really did work for me… until I fell off of the wagon. Maybe it is time to get back on.

  • Sun

    tnx a lot nerdfitness , your site is great and i enjoy it … good luck … دانلود فیلتر شکن

  • Eldon Grant

    Your system of diet is really amazed me. Now it is my turn, take a tour here motivational speakers seattle if you are in leisure.

  • Cassie

    I’m excited to start this way of life but I just spent a lot of money on the 310 vegan shakes. Do you think that I can incorporate them into a paleo-like diet?

  • Redhawk

    I like the healthy fat section… conclusion unhealthy fat comes from meat.
    Also acknowledge that caveman how hate mostly meat didn’t last long, prepare lucky if they reached 45 y/o
    So do your math with all that unhealthy cholesterol if you want to live healthy life!

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  • Geo Thermal

    A hundred different things have happened to man since civilization began. Agriculture is just one of them. We have far greater problems than grain.

  • Lisa Vacula

    One thing i noticed on the Paleo, is that your body actually USES the food you eat, there is less “waste” that comes out the other end, and I actually have less gastro upsets.. I love this “not a diet-diet”.. 😉

  • Ashley Morgan

    I went paleo without even knowing it. Out of sheer laziness to cook and no fast food restaurants, I relied on nuts and fresh fruit for snacking and even meal supplements. I don’t cook so I don’t get much meat in my diet, but I get a ton of nuts and fruit. I went from 220 lbs to 140 in about 6 months

  • Ashley Morgan

    My guilty pleasure when I’m off work is getting a bag of chopped cauliflower and a Granny Smith apple

  • Kelley Chambers

    What is this “alcahol” you speak of? I know what alcohol is… and while it is classified as a depressant it’s also a major party favor enjoyed by millions worldwide. Wonder if ‘alcahol” is any better?

  • Katlynn Hornshaw

    I’ve done a lot of research on this diet and I think I’m gonna give it a try, finish all the bad food in my house and give away a few things and then next month, it’s on Paleo diet. 👌🏻😏

  • Laura L Whipple Marlow

    This diet is nothing different than the atkins diet,all meat, veggies and fruit,no carbs,or sugar, same thing people, the paleo diet isn’t a new breakthrough it was just called the Atkins diet.

  • Laura L Whipple Marlow

    Sounds to me your social life depends to much on drinking, you don’t need to drink to have fun and if you do then you have a problem.

  • Fabian Jolivet

    Ancient Oat Discovery May Poke More Holes in Paleo Diet

  • Merv

    Another great and funny article. Thank you for the wisdom.

  • dweezil

    Very good article and could not be more accurate. I am 56-years-old, 6’0″ and went from 164 to 150 in 4 weeks, and that includes cheating on weekends…Dunkin and pizza. Folks are amazed, my love handles and small gut are gone.

  • dweezil

    see my post above…it works. Good luck.

  • Nova Fudge

    you’re complete shit, 99% of the population are not overweight, have you ever gone outside and looked around??

  • Brigitta Ledbetter Mann

    I know you talked about the food but what about what you drink is water the only thing that you can drink or can you have anything with artificial sweeteners

  • digitalN0mad

    I switched to this diet 6 months ago, and this year for my new years resolution went full blown paleo. This diet literally saved my life, every day I was depressed and felt like shit. Shrinks had me on so many pills and it was costing me a fortune not to mention doing only god knows what to my body and brain. I could not lose weight and pretty much just hated myself. When I switched to this diet my life took a 180 degree turn. I feel amazing everyday, I don’t take any of the pharma-bullshit anymore and I have my 8 pack coming in with a nice defined 6 pack already (so close), I eat whenever I want and how much I want until I am not hungry.

  • Rnonda

    I have diverticulosis. Alotof veggies,nuts and seeds are not my best choices. What would you suggest?

  • Teresa Ramos

    can I take supplements/ vitamins while intermittent fasting

  • Haha! You made my day.

  • Monica Mandal

    Question: how does alcohol factor into this? Clearly beers are grain based, so those are avoided I assume? What about other liqours and wines, as well as soda?

  • Claudia Belanger

    Get real. Linking Oz with Trump is ludicrous. Oz is a liberal. Think before you write.

  • Justin

    I would have expected better science than this from a site for/by nerds.

  • Fredric Maffei

    Having been an avid student of diet over the past nearly 60 years — having read everyone from Arnold Ehret to Dr. Herbert Shelton and beyond — I see nothing inherently seriously amiss with the Paleo diet. I tend more toward vegetarian fare than animal flesh, but that’s a whole other discussion. Where I would most take issue with the Paleo diet is in its indiscriminate combining of foodstuffs, proteins with starches with fruit sugars. Fruits (their sugars) don’t digest in the stomach at all but rather in the small intestine. Therefore I eat fruit on an empty stomach where it passes directly to the small intestine and is digested there. Eat fruit sugar with either proteins or starches, and immediately the fruit gets hung up in the stomach and fermentation begins, which is to say a certain amount of indigestion thus cancelling out the healthful benefits not only of the fruit but of whatever else its combined with. For other reasons too wordy for presenting here, I don’t combine proteins with starches either. And if I do combine them, I eat the proteins first and the starches last. As to the why of it, you’ll just have to take my word for it. My two cents.

  • Jodi Bell

    hahaha…i thought u wrote works for “RUMP”

  • Jodi Bell

    Eat @ taco bell and get the Runs…lol

  • H Doc

    I have to say, while I like a lot of the concepts you describe in this article, some of it is just factually incorrect.
    First of all, cavemen were not “tall.” The average person hundred of years ago was significantly shorter.
    More importantly, and from a doctor’s perspective, you absolutely can get fat on this diet. The idea that you will “get full before you overeat” on this type of diet is just not true. A couple of things to keep in mind:
    1) tubers tend to be very high in calories but much of their content is simple carbs. Sweet potatoes in particular (which I love) are relatively high in sugar. These foods might fill you up temporarily but they have a high glycemic index and will leave you hungry again in a little while.
    2) not all oils are created equal. Olive oil has been shown to have some important health benefits, coconut oil on the other hand? High in saturated fats…
    3) certain meats have a very high fat content. Good for protein but can still cause weight gain.
    The most important thing to keep in mind is that your weight is governed by one equation: calories in over calories out. If you want to lose weight, eat less or use more energy (hint: eating less is more efficient). If you want to build muscle, eat more (and of course work out so your body makes muscle and not fat).
    Don’t get caught up in fad diets or super foods. No miracle fruit will increase your metabolism (significantly enough that you will ever notice). The only way to get your metabolism up is to get healthy and build more muscle. All that muscle needs energy to keep itself functioning (even if you’re not actively working out, which is actually not a very efficient way to burn calories if you’re talking about strength training). What a healthy diet CAN do for you is make sure you are getting all the right nutrients to keep your organs working correctly and efficiently. Because so many of our body functions rely not just on calories but on specific nutrients, a poor diet can cause you to not feel well but probably because some of your hormones or other body functions are not in balance. There is no ONE nutrient you need, eat them all and your body will take more of the ones it is low on. Just as an example, your body needs iron to make red blood cells. If you only ever eat cheese pizza, you probably won’t get enough iron and over time you will develop anemia. This will leave you “tired.” It’s not because of some voodoo about “bad foods” and “super foods.” It’s because you’re not getting your nutrients!

  • Michael Armocida

    Sorry you’re way off. First of all, paleolithic men are only tall, muscular, agile, athletic, and incredibly versatile in the movies. We don’t know if they were, in fact, fit. Based on the scarcity of food, it is likely they looked more like concentration camps survivors. Second of all, agriculture is not so much the problem as modern society and the over abundance of food. I’m afraid that Paleo is just what you say it isn’t – a fad diet.

    Here’s the scoop: Back in the 1970s when everyone was afraid of fat and cholesterol, the fad was to go low fat and low cholesterol. As a result,the four basic food-groups balanced diet of 1956 was replaced with a food pyramid having people eat far more carbs and sugars and far less fat. So, the food supply became heavy in sugar to replace the fat. You are correct that sugars will be converted to triglycerides and stored as fat far more than eating fat itself. So, while I was the only voice in the wilderness telling people that neither fat or carbs are bad in moderation and if balanced, the so called experts and fad diet zealots pushed the high carb diet BTW, cholesterol is actually good for you. Half the people that show up in the ER with chest pain are of normal weight and have low cholesterol. The cholesterol theory was founded by Ancel Keys, whose work was later discredited, but society never got that message.

    Then came the 1980s/1990s and the pendulum swung the other way to Atkins. I was happy to have been vindicated in that people realized that protein and fat weren’t the enemy. However, people now shunned carbs and, again, the so called ‘experts’ and fad diet zealots promoted and unbalanced diet heavy in protein and fat and ligh tin carbs. As before, I was the voice in the wilderness telling people that we had it right back in 1956 with the four balanced food groups. Being nearly impossible to maintain, the Atkins diet (and its ‘fad’ brothers) were abandoned by most. In fact, there is speculation that Atkins himself died of a heart attack and his organization said he slipped on ice to cover it up.

    Now the Atkins diet is back (for all intents and purposes) under the guise of Paleo. When will you people get it? This is yet another fad diet. The fact that kidney disease had risen in epidemic proportions due to high protein diets, should tell you that these unbalanced diets don’t work. Instead, eat moderate and balanced meals. Ideally, every meal should be 30% Protein, 20% Fat, 25% non-fiber carbs, and 25% fiber.

  • Noelle

    Thank you for a very interesting article!

  • Carolanne Piché-Falardeau

    I tried the Paleo diet a couple years ago (for well over 30 days)… I ended up having to eat more than 3 times a day and after a while, it just felt like I was always hungry and started thinking about food 90% of the time. At some point it’s like my brain wouldn’t listen to me anymore and I would just head to the store, buy a ton of junk food and eat it. Everytime I have tried it over the past few years, it just triggered habits from past eating disorders and made me gain weight and feel psychologically distressed… If anyone has experienced the same thing and somehow got it to work, let me know because I would love to subscribe to the Academy… but knowing it’s going to ease me into Paleo makes me anxious.

    I’m thinking perhaps since I’m allegic to nuts I was missing on some fats. Would adding dairy into the mix as a replacement be a good compromise?

  • Stockmile

    Great article! And here is the last part:

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  • Stephanie Nacole

    Im getting weight loss surgery in a few weeks and they put me on a liver reduction diet, and it is almost the same as paleo, except there is dairy, but i dont consume dairy anyways because of the fat content, going on this diet i lost 9lbs in a week, and i was not starving myslef. Makes me wonder why Im getting the surgery to begin with…

  • Ashlyn Michelle Armstrong

    This is kind of like what I do. I try to limit my animal protein intake though. I’ve noticed it slows down my digestion, makes me tired and weak. Any suggestions on how to change that?

  • Nice article about paleo diet. Kindly share something about healthy diet . Thanks

  • Cashmere

    Um. The average Homo Sapien “back then” lived to be, like, 15. Do you also not use modern medicine? Do you pee in a bush? This is stupid.