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Coffee: Is it Paleo?

Caffiene | The Paleo Diet

Many people who switch to The Paleo Diet often find themselves questioning their ritual morning cup of coffee. With roughly 90% of the North American population consuming coffee on a daily basis you’re left wondering if coffee is an acceptable drink to include in your Paleo menu.

What is Coffee?

Coffee is created by brewing the roasted seed or “bean” of one of the numerous species of Coffee trees (coffea). The trees tend to thrive in high elevation, tropical climates with fertile soil. Because the tree can often grow up to 30 feet in height, it is typically pruned at much shorter heights to ensure an easy harvest. The majority of the world’s coffee producers originate from countries located near the equator.

What Effect Does Coffee Have on the Human Body?

Caffeine is the main stimulant found in coffee. The consumption stimulates the central nervous system in humans and tends to ward off drowsiness. It also tends to act as a diuretic. Many heavy coffee drinkers report that their morning cup of Joe no longer gives them the same burst of energy that they experienced when they first developed their habit. In fact, many habitual coffee drinkers report suffering from sleep disturbances, headaches, and general “sluggish” behavior. This is often due to the fact that long term consumption has an exhaustion effect on the adrenal glands. It also hinders insulin sensitivity, which can lead to fatigue and headaches.

Should Coffee be a Part of a The Paleo Diet?

Coffee should be excluded by anyone seeking to achieve the most out of their Paleo lifestyle. The Paleo Diet focuses on eating nutrient dense, naturally occurring, anti-inflammatory foods that promote overall wellness and sustained levels of energy. Many people who switch to The Paleo Diet discover that their morning cup of black gold becomes a habit of the past. If you find yourself having a hard time quitting the coffee ritual, it might be helpful to incorporate moderate amounts of green tea which is slightly higher in antioxidants, and contains lower levels of caffeine.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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37 Comments on "Coffee: Is it Paleo?"

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  1. lori says:

    Am presently under the care of a gastroenterologist since July 2014. Last summer I went through a colonscopy and endoscopy and was diagnosed with the following: Acid Reflux. Was put on omeprozale and am feeling better. cut out acid foods and coffee feel somewhat better, but the bloating is still there. Noticed that when I cut out coffee a lot of the bloating stopped. Not a drinker so that was not a problem. Overweight 30 pounds but not obese. Can the Paleo diet help me? Have an appointment with my gastroenterologist next week. thank you for any help that you can give me.


  2. shane says:

    I have read this and it says coffee is no good for you because it affects sleep habits. But as a person who oily has a coffee in the morning I don’t see the harm. And also if you’re a person who has coffee at work, I think don’t have too much and have your last at lunch time, it should get you through the rest of the day.

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  4. Fred says:

    Ok, I have read this for the first time for I am going to try Paleo due to health reasons. But, I travel A LOT and come back with GREAT coffees from around the world! What is a guy to do???!!!

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  6. peter says:

    Coffee is very misunderstood. In Modern Society we automatically shun anything we crave as unhealthy. Coffee has too many health benefits to ignore and yes, it is better for you than green tea. I would maintain coffee in any diet.

    • Jezzie says:

      Coffee is very addictive and can greatly interfere with sleep. I should know, I am the worlds greatest coffee lover. But i had to say goodbye. I feel like a different person off that crack. But if it works for you, then I am glad your body tolerates it well, and you are healthier because of it.

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  8. Perry says:

    There are “non-coffee” coffees. Two I can think of are dandelion and chicory.

  9. Alysha says:

    Im a little confused. Is this article saying that coffee is bad or that the caffeinn in coffee is what makes it unhealthy? Ive been on the paleo for a few weeks and have been drinking decaf coffee in the morning just because I love the taste. is that ok?

  10. Marco says:

    Wait you’re talking about roasted coffee.

    The Roasting procedure is what actually makes it become brown and increase the level of caffeine inside the coffee bean.

    But there’s green coffee, which is coffee at its natural state.

    You can make an infusion of green coffee, which is gonna be and taste somewhat like tea, which is fairly allowed in Paleo.

    Coffee is not created by roasting :D as the author says in the beginning. Coffee is created by mothernature.

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  13. Kathy Cloninger says:

    Dr. Cordain,
    What are your thoughts on the effects of a Paleo diet on adrenal exhaustion after 31 years of excessive habitual coffee drinking? We have just begun discussing a Paleo like diet and are wondering how to deal with decade old caffeine addictions.
    Kathy C.

    • Jezzie says:

      Kathy, Im not the Doc here, but I hope you can totally quit Coffee. Man, I was the worst coffee addict! Oh boy, what a nightmare. But Im off ALL coffee and caffeine, and I can feel my body healing. My face has even changed. The best way to start healing your adrenals is stop causing more stress. Caffeine is alot of stress! If I can quit – Coffee Queen of the World – so can you and your loved ones.

  14. janicelee says:

    Should it be part of the Paleo diet plan? No. But can you drink coffee and still reap the benefits of Paleo? Yes. It really depends on what you want to gain from Paleo. If you are looking to get rid of inflammation or a particular disease or condtion, you would best follow it more strictly.

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  16. Kimberly says:

    Although coffee should be excluded from my Paleo diet, I can’t seem to break my coffee habit. I have cut down to a couple of cups a day and I cream it with coconut milk and coconut oil so I can get a sufficient intake of coconut nutrients. I buy mostly only organic coffee. I only drink it in the morning. I know people will “but you can do that with tea”. Truth is, to me, that tastes really horrible !! I do like tea but just plain, with nothing in it. I usually compliment my coffee intake with a couple strips of bacon and 2 eggs fried in the bacon grease. All this will keep me going until lunch very easily. I’ve lost 17 lbs so far and feel much better.

    • Jezzie says:

      Kimberly, I stumbled upon your comment perusing the website. I just wanted to encourage you to still quit Coffee. Quitting Coffee (regular and decaf) was SO HARD. It was a painful awful grueling goodbye. However, I must tell you, that now – I am completely caffeine free. (Including teas.) I feel like a different person. That caffeine was slowly but surely messing with my body at a deep level. After some hell, you will feel great! Reminding yourself that Caffeine is a Drug, that might help your motivation since you are getting so healthy! Good Luck.

      • tasya says:

        I decided to go on strict paleo diet couple of days ago (could not look at my horrible acne any longer).
        I’m coffee addict as bad as they come. If I don’t have my coffee in the morning I develop horrible headache. How did you manage to stop drinking coffee? Did you have any special “plan”? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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  18. jim Cannon says:

    Love my “organic ethiopian Vergacheffe”!!!

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