So you wanna learn about the Paleo Diet, eh?
Here’s the ENTIRE diet in a nutshell:
If a caveperson didn’t eat it, neither should you.
Now, obviously there’s more to it than that – especially considering it doesn’t REALLY matter what cavemen ate in order for you to lose weight and get healthier.
But I’ll get to that later.
In this massive guide, I’m going to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the Paleo Diet.
I’ll answer the following questions
- Will I lose weight on the Paleo Diet?
- What can I eat on the Paleo Diet?
- What do I need to avoid on the Paleo Diet?
- I heard cavemen used to eat grains. What now!?
Now, this guide 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:
- Discover if Paleo is for you
- The one simple trick to know if your food is Paleo-friendly
- Easy Paleo recipes for beginners to get you started
If you can actually apply the rules of the Paleo lifestyle, you can get some pretty solid results.
The Paleo Diet will work for you, if you do it right.
You need to have the right mindset, you need to focus on the right foods, and you need to structure your environment so that you’re not tempted to backslide and abandon the Paleo Diet after a few days.
Ready? LET’S GOOOOOOO!
how does the Paleo Diet work?
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 logical when you think about it.
It’s also the most time-tested diet ever.
So, the opposite of a “fad.”
As the theory goes, 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 to lifestyle choices.
So what the hell happened?
Agriculture! And then delivery and Netflix.
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:
- Not getting eaten by wild animals
The problem is that our bodies never adjusted properly to eating all the grains and sugar that 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.
66% of us are overweight, 33% are considered obese, and those numbers are only getting worse  .
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.
Will I Lose Weight on the Paleo Diet?
This is the question we get above all else:
“Will the Paleo Diet help me lose weight?”
Probably…if you can stick with it!
However, it has nothing to do with what cavepeople ate or didn’t eat.
It comes down to simple thermodynamics.
As I point out in our article on How to Determine the Perfect Diet for You, if you want to lose weight:
#1 – Eat fewer calories than you burn every day.
#2 – Want to also be healthy? Eat mostly real food.
Want to KEEP the weight off?
Add #3: Do those two things consistently for a decade.
So here’s why you’ll lose weight on the Paleo Diet:
- You’re only eating meat, fish, veggies, fruits, and nuts. These are foods that are full of nutrients, will make you feel full, but don’t have nearly as many calories as junk food.
- You are eliminating the most calorie dense, nutritionally deficient, unhealthy foods completely. No soda, no candy, no bread, no pasta, no sugar, no dairy.
Simply put, when you only eat real food and avoid all unhealthy food, you’re more likely than not going to run a caloric deficit – and thus lose weight.
Let me share a really obvious example.
200 calories of broccoli gets you enough to fill up an entire plate:
Or 200 calories will get you exactly 1/2 a Snickers bar:
Look at that: nobody can eat that much broccoli, and nobody only eats half a candy bar!
My point is this: by eating Paleo-approved foods, you’re more likely than not to eat fewer calories than you did in the past automatically, which can lead to weight loss.
I dig into this in even greater detail in “Why can’t I lose weight?” but it all comes down to “calories in, calories out.”
So YES, the Paleo Diet can help you lose weight.
And if you stick with the Paleo Diet, you will keep the weight off.
If you do the Paleo Diet for 30 days and then go back to how you were eating before, you’ll gain all the weight back.
what DO I get to eat on The Paleo diet?
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 when possible. Grain can cause 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.
WhAT Can’t I eat On the Paleo Diet?
If you are looking to strictly follow the paleo diet, then you cannot consume grains.
Why? Because – as advocates of the diet points out – cavemen didn’t eat grains!
But on a deeper physiological level, we have a tendency to overeat grains, which are calorically dense, nutrient deficient, and they can wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels.
Which can lead to more overeating…and the process starts again.
Rather than me explain that part with thousands of words, just watch this three-minute video – “Why You Got Fat“
Let’s get into some more reasons Paleo advocates suggest avoiding grains: most 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 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 eliminates sugar outside of fruit. No candy. No soda. No powdered donuts. Yup, even the mini white ones from the grocery store where you can eat like 100 of them (accidentally, of course).
So we’ve eliminated grains, sugar, and processed foods.
Now, 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.
So I can already see the gears turning in your head.
Yes. The reason the Paleo Diet works is primarily due to the fact that you’re eliminating all of the high calorie, low energy, junk foods from your diet.
Which means you’re going to, on average, eat fewer calories than you’ve been eating in the past.
Which will lead to weight loss over time!
The reason Paleo works for some people: as I lay out in my “Which diet is best for you?” article, it comes with built-in, black-and-white, “eat this not that” rules to follow.
It removes calorie counting and practically ensures you ONLY eat food that fill you up but aren’t loaded up with calories.
But Where do I get My Energy From on the Paleo Diet?
“Steve, if we’re not eating 300+ grams of carbs every day, where are we supposed to get our energy from while eating Paleo?”
Our bodies can 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.
Sidenote: When there is a complete absence of carbs, our body can take fat or stored fat and burn THAT for energy in a process called ketogenesis.
This is the premise behind the much hyped “Keto Diet.”
However, unless you are avoiding all carbohydrates while going Paleo, you most likely won’t be in ketosis while going Paleo.
Back to Paleo: because you are NOW consuming fewer calories than you were on average, your body is in a caloric deficit.
Which means it needs to get its energy from somewhere – how about the fat stores you already have? This is the goal with weight loss.
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 can start burning fat as your fuel source.
Which means… decreased fat storage and decreased body fat percentage and increased good-lookingness.
Do I need to Avoid Carbs on the Paleo DIet?
Carbs still serve a purpose in our diets, but large quantities are not required for a regular diet .
Carbs aren’t evil – they’re just…carbs. (I actually lost 22 pounds while consuming carbs)
The challenge is that carbs tend to be calorically dense (lots of calories) without being satiating (meaning you tend to eat way more than you intended).
I try 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 serving of pasta has 200 calories and 42 grams of carbs.
And does this look like YOUR normal portion of pasta? Or is your normal serving like 3-5x the size of this (mine is).
Now, eating paleo does not automatically mean that you are doing a ketogenic diet (no carb) or a low-carb diet.
We cover this in our article specifically comparing the two ways of eating.
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 calories consumed.
And thus, no weight loss. 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!
Can I eat Dairy on the Paleo Diet?
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  .
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.
But I can’t give up my muffin, pasta, bagel, pizza, and 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 if this is what diet you are trying to follow, 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.
Consider the Mediterranean Diet which still includes portions of things like pasta or bread (note: I said PORTIONS, not platefuls)!
You can also just follow our guide on healthy eating and slowly adjust your nutrition – which would be my recommendation.
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 consistency and adherence.
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.
- Discover if Paleo is for you
- The one simple trick to know if your food is Paleo-friendly
- Easy Paleo recipes for beginners to get you started
How much should I eat of each nutrient on the Paleo Diet?
Okay back to the good stuff: How much should I eat on the Paleo Diet?
Always start with a good protein source with each meal (eggs, steak, chicken, fish, pork) along with some vegetables.
If you feel hungry constantly, understand that changing up a diet can cause a body a few weeks of adjustment.
Consider adding 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.
How Much Fat SHould I eat on the Paleo Diet?
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 :
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 can get 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 on the Paleo Diet?
When you eat on the Paleo Diet doesn’t matter. 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?
The dismissive criticisms of the Paleo Diet generally fall into one of three categories:
- Cavemen had short lifespans. So there.
- A recent article said that cavemen ate grains. So there.
- We don’t know what cavemen ate. So there.
As I said at the beginning of this article, it doesn’t matter what cavemen or cavewomen ACTUALLY ate.
The reason this diet works has nothing to do with what our bodies are designed to eat or what cavemen ate 1,000s of years ago.
The Paleo Diet CAN help you lose weight because it gets you to cut out junk food, focus on eating real food, and gives you a framework to evaluate quickly every food choice:
“Did a caveman eat this? Yes or no.”
By following those three rules, you’re likely to be healthier than you used to be, you’re likely to eat fewer calories than you used to, and you’re likely to start feeling better than you used to.
I personally don’t follow a Paleo Diet, but I do appreciate the fact that it’s easy to comprehend and gets people to take a more active approach in their food!
So, disregarding the fear mongering, dogma, and anthropological criticisms of what cavemen actually ate, what are the ACTUAL critiques of the Paleo Diet?
#1) “This type of diet can get expensive.”
Admittedly, while I recommend eating organic fruits and veggies, free-range chicken, and grass-fed beef whenever possible, these products can be 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 grain-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 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. Again we don’t really care to live like cavepeople!
This is SIMPLY a construct that can help many make more informed food choices.
#4) “But what about the books and people that say “we’re not designed to eat grains” is garbage – 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 the conclusions drawn from that book but that’s awesome if you want to go plant-based! , 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.
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?
#7 “Steve, I hate vegetables, HALP.”
I got you. Heres how to start liking vegetables.
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:
Meh, I’m still not convinced About the Paleo Diet.
That’s cool. You do you!
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 try the Paleo Diet – 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?
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 it provides simple – though strict rules to follow. I love mental models that help us make sense of the world, and I think for SOME people, the Paleo Diet will really help them cut down on overeating.
I personally do NOT do a Paleo Diet, but I do have rules that I follow.
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.
MY BIG FINAL POINT: Temporary changes create temporary results. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to make permanent adjustments to your nutrition.
If you don’t see yourself being able to permanently follow a Paleo Diet, I would advise a more ‘wade in from the shallow end‘ approach to dietary change!
Where can I get even more info about the Paleo Diet?
Here’s our full list of Nerd Fitness Paleo/Healthy recipes, and here are my three favorites:
- 10 Minutes of Prep, 10 Easy Meals
- Paleo spaghetti: freaking delicious, I promise
- How to Make Mini Paleo Pizzas.
I’ve also compiled a list of my favorite sites and recipe books around the internet that can help you get started:
#1) Nom Nom Paleo – Michelle Tam and her husband Henry are amazing people, and their Paleo Blog is absolutely phenomenal. Great photos. Well written. Organized intelligently.
Their “Nom Nom Paleo” cookbook is a fun resource too, and a great place to get started with cooking for your Paleo lifestyle. Oh what’s that? You have kids and a spouse and you’re all trying to eat healthier too? This book is perfect for that as well!
#2) 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 great 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.
#3) 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.
#4) 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.
MORE RECIPE RESOURCES:
- Ready or Not! 150 Make Now Recipes – The newer book from Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo. It’s super fun. Plus she’s wearing a Nerd FItness t-shirt in some of her photos in the book, so I might be sliiiightly biased 🙂
- 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.
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 The Paleo Diet
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.
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 favorite paleo 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.
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