What to Eat on the Paleo Diet

You’ve heard of the benefits of the Paleo Diet but still don’t fully understand what it is? Or you’re looking for a simple guide to share with your family and friends who keep asking about it? ThePaleoDiet.com guest writer Paul Vandyken has created a visual, clear and very simple guide to what you should eat and not eat on a Paleo diet. Enjoy!

What to Eat on the Paleo Diet

Infographic courtesy of http://rigorfitness.com/

About Paul Vandyken

Paul VandykenPaul Vandyken is a personal trainer and nutrition coach. His personal website is RigorFitness.com. His blog has articles, videos, and pictures with tips and tricks about fitness, nutrition, and healthy living. If you are on the journey to your healthy and happy lifestyle, visiting his blog may help you enhance your process. Visit Paul's website at RigorFitness.com

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“110” Comments

  1. I am on a paleo food closed group on FB and while its been great recently they have been posting recipes that use cassava and tapioca flour. When I tell them that’s not paleo, I get shot down by others saying that its allowed, or others who are AIP, use it all the time and that its paleo. I have directed them to Dr. Cordain’s website to point out that those items are not on the paleo diet but its caused a bit of a flame war on there now. Any help would be appreciated. also as a type 2 diabetic who is hyperglycemic I have been on the paleo diet for 2 months. I have lost 17 lbs and my blood sugar has gone down from a fasting level of 277 to a normal waking level of 135-150. I can’t have any fruits since anything causes sugar spike that lasts for almost the whole day and no sweet potatoes, which sucks majorly either way. So its veggies and meat primarily. Any suggestions to not get into a funk or boredom with food day in and out?? thank you for your time in reading my reply.

  2. Because this diet plan relies heavily on meat you’ll be getting a fair amount of protein to feed your muscles. This helps to promote a leaner physique, and can even help with muscle growth if you engage in weightlifting while on it. When you consider the physique of Stone Age man they didn’t really have a lot of excess baggage in the form of a lot of fat and underdeveloped muscles. They were lean, mean, sabretooth tiger battling machines, and this sort of efficient physique still helps out in our modern world. With a leaner body structure you’ll be able to better handle life’s challenges, including the stresses that occur with a busy 21st century lifestyle.

  3. Hi,
    I am wondering if rendered fat, specifically grass fed beef tallow is ok or even as beneficial?
    And thoughts on basic Pemmican being compatible to Paleo?

  4. Hi, I am recently diagnosed with Hashimoto disease and I have give up gluten, grains, and dairy. Is Paleo a good option for me? Also, is it ok to have some chocolate once in a while.

    • Wije,

      Very dark chocolate is fine and considered healthful in moderation. From what you have described, it sounds like you are already following The Paleo Diet. Legumes, artificial sweeteners, and vegetable oils should be eliminated as well.

  5. I noticed a recipe on your site asking for
    •1 Tablespoon Omega 3 Mayonnaise
    •1 tsp. Paleo Smoky Seasoning
    I never heard of either. Are they both sold in any store as is or do you have to make them yourself if you cant find them? Wait isn’t mayo dairy?

  6. I noticed a comment here that said they have paleo pancakes or waffles with fruit instead of syrup. is pure maple syrup and raw honey allowed on this diet? Also are plantain pancakes allowed?

    • Maple syrup should be avoided. There is evidence for hunter-gatherer groups collecting honey on a seasonal basis, but it surely would not have been available as a constant food source. Fruit is definitely a better choice since it includes sugar with fiber.

      • Native American tribes certainly took advantage of the sugar maple trees that grew in their territory, and tapped them every year for the sweet syrup. They may not have had access to it all year round, but it was certainly used as a seasonal treat. If that’s the criteria, then the occasional tablespoon of maple syrup isn’t going to do you any harm.

  7. Hi ,
    I am following the Paleo diet for last 3 weeks and i have reduced around 1.5 kgs.
    I am taking one cup of milk every day morning , is that ok while following Paleo or should i avoid intake of dairy ?

  8. Hi,

    I have started this diet based on “Paleo Diet for Athletes”. I am 193 lbs as of right now but at my fittest (before hip surgery last year) I was a lean 175 and wish to get back around that weight. I do crossfit 4-5 times per week with accessory work at home. The macros I follow every day are 175 protein/89 Fat/125 carbs. Do you feel these are the correct macros for my goal?

    Also, to aid in getting the proper amount of protein, I use non-fat greek yogurt as a “dessert”. Should I cut out the yogurt and go fully non dairy?

    Thanks and I love the book!

  9. I am a South Indian Vegetarian and consume alcohol (3 pegs of brandy with hot water) on most days of the week. I am little more than 26 on BMI reading and wish to follow the Paleo Diet. What sort of full day diet would you advice for me to reduce weight and become fit?

  10. can i eat corn i have been eating corn based pasta which is glutten free also what types of fish can i eat shell fish and can i use olive oil

    • Corn and all other grains should be eliminated. All fish is fine as long as it is not breaded and free of non-paleo ingredients. California-sourced extra virgin olive oil is preferred. Some olive oils have been demonstrated to be tainted with undesirable vegetable and corn oils. If you do a quick Google search, you will find lists of olive oils that are unadulterated.

  11. hai I have joined paleo diet before a week. instead of loosing I have gained 2 pounds. so I am very confused why is it so happens. so pls let me know wat actually is the problem…

    • Shaista,

      You might want to look into changing your fat/protein/carbohydrate ratios, or restricting your caloric intake. Perhaps you could provide us with a list outlining the foods that you typically consume over the course of one day.

      • I have been following the paleo diet for about 2 weeks now. The first week i did gain weight , but it was my body bloating. it was in complete shock of the drastic change i made. I was eating fast food once to twice A DAY, i know gross right???!!! anyways I have now been since the pounds drop, but in a healthy manner. Im loving this lifestyle and I highly recommend you give it more time = ] hope this helps!

  12. I am new to the Paleo diet.I have not started but very confused how to get started.So many books to buy ? Is there not a menu plan and a list of foods to buy ? Without buying all the books? I was looking at your Breakfast,lunch and dinner plan for 29.00 each .This is expensive

  13. Paleo shmaleo.
    No one, but no one, knows what was available at the time.
    The diet is good for weight control and is relatively healthy but almost all advocates of the diet ‘allow’ some form of alcohol.
    We all knoe alcohol is bad for us whatever form it is in.
    To try and justify it’s inclusion makes the whole concept a farce.
    If you want it, have it but don’t try and pretend that the alcohol we drink today was in any way similar to what was probably around then.
    Same with salt, animals lick salt from rocks and likely did then.
    I find my body tells meif I need extra salt.

    • That is not even remotely close to being true. You cannot just throw all scientific research out the window because you think no one knows what was eaten at the time. If you think it’s impossible to know, you probably also think it’s impossible to know whether or not humans really evolved or if creationism is real.

  14. My daughter is on the Paleo diet, she is organic and glutin free. All most all the meat except for beef is grain feed with corn. And she cannot not have corn. What to do

    • I am also allergic to corn. I have had food allergies my entire life, the severity and type has consistently been inconsistent! E.g. Sometimes an allergy will go away and resurface years later, sometimes new ones develop, etc. Last year I had many unexplained symptoms that my regular doc had no explanation for–swollen lymph nodes in armpits, GI issues (severe gas and lots of noise from tummy), extreme lethargy and tiring easily, fuzzy thinking, inability to concentrate, anxiety and *maybe* depression (or were symptoms causing depression?!). I felt really awful. I saw an alternative doc (with an MD) who recommended I avoid cereal grains, all dairy from any source (eggs ok), and CORN, among a few other things that I already avoided such as sulfites, most nuts (childhood peanut allergy). I had already been avoiding corn and corn products such as corn starch & MSG (at the time I didn’t know this had corn in it but I knew it had the potential to make me feel weird); She gave me an much more comprehensive list that was extremely helpful. My conclusion is the vast majority of additives may or may not have a corn component so it is best to avoid them altogether. (This is not an issue outside of US (for obvious reasons) but IMO corn should treated as in everything–xanthan gum, natural flavors, citric acid, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, regular salt (versus sea salt), to name a few off the top of my head. One of the biggest surprises and bummers for me was white vinegar which I had been using for cleaning and as a hair rinse because of my allergic reaction (hives, swollen gums, itchiness, dandruff, eczema) to most products. Due to my inability to identify a common element that I was reacting to I practiced avoidance and/or used vinegar and a few other safe products. However, I had discovered that white vinegar often has a corn ingredient! Bah! (Importantly though, I finally figured out what allergen my cleaning/beauty products had in common–CORN!–and clearly my white vinegar reaction was extremely mild comparatively. It all finally made sense: for example I had finally identified sodium laurel sulfate as an allergen and that is in many things–turns out it is made from corn. But, I wasn’t only allergic to SLS. “All Natural” “organic” were meaningless allergy-wise. So since my food allergies have bloomed, I have stopped using white vinegar and replaced with Apple Cider vinegar. Anyway, corn is tough. To get to the point though: I was told that I need only be concerned about “corn feed” for beef and that other animals because they were smaller and have less fat are ok. This seemed a little weird to me but as I have followed the diet it seems to be true. I wanted to post and answer to your question and let you know how hard it is to be allergic to corn. I have been strictly avoiding it in all its manifestations and feel much better. So dairy and grains seem to be “intolerances” for me, but I am not sure I buy that whole differentiation. Corn has given me hives in the past, now it only gives me stomach ache and affects mood. So has it changed from an allergy to an intolerance? I think ultimately they are all allergies whether there is a strict histamine reaction or not. Clearly more scientific work needs to be done in this area with more and more people claiming to suffer from allergies and intolerances. Corn isn’t even listed as a potential allergen in packaging so that makes it really tough, especially since it is often deeply disguised. ANYWAY, today when I was shopping I realized that this whole paleo thing that has been in my peripheral vision may be a great guide for me with a few modifications! Hence, I am at this page, researching what the parameters are and giving a very lengthy answer to the parent of the corn-allergic daughter!

      • Sounds like you need to start on FOOD GRADE DIATOMACEOUS EARTH (AKA SILICA, FOSSIL SHELL FLOUR)!!! This is a supplement that has AMAZING BENEFITS!!! Our bodies have been exposed to and bombarded with so many environmental chemicals that our bodies don’t know how to react to various foods and viruses and diseases! OMG!!! I just discovered FG DE and started it on December 1, 2016, and it has done absolutely miraculous things for me and SO MANY OTHERS who have discovered it. Google “diatom” and see what comes up about the benefits of food grade diatomaceous earth! Get rid of all those allergies, aches and pains in joints, get over allergies, lose weight, don’t worry about changing your diet b/c FG DE naturally decreases your cravings! I URGE EVERYONE TO CHECK IT OUT… This is no hoax. silica is a natural essential mineral that is available for very cheap and is a vital element that has been missing in our bodies for decades. Our farmers used to amend their crop soils with FG DE until government and chemical companies came in and told them they couldn’t use it anymore. Then the soils became depleted. In the 1940s pesticides started being used, and within a decade we started seeing a rise in disease and illness, and especially cancer!!! PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE!!! Please research this! I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT CHEMICAL POOL GRADE DE… I’M TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING TOTALLY DIFFERENT… THE FOOD GRADE DIATOMACEOUS EARTH THAT PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT, AND OUR DOCTORS ARE NOT EDUCATED ABOUT IT EITHER. LOOK UP THE MSDS SHEET FOR FOOD GRADE DIATOMACEOUS EARTH. THERE IS NOT A SINGLE THING ON THERE OTHER THAN “INHALATION” THAT IS HARMFUL ABOUT IT. I’VE DONE MY RESEARCH AND CAN HONESTLY SAY THIS IS GOD’S GIFT TO US ON EARTH THAT IS THE MISSING LINK TO OUR GOOD HEALTH WITHOUT EVEN REALLY TRYING HARD! There are many places online to purchase FG DE… Amazon is one place, also your local farm supply store! YES! Farm supply. This product is not only good for your health but also your animals, your home, your property, your health. It is also a natural pesticide and can get rid of ants, bedbugs, fleas, and rid yourself and animals of parasites!!! Clear up your gut problems! Help your bones, cartilage, connective tissue, and collagen!!! And so much more!!! I have been talking to everybody that I know about this product and cannot stress the importance of this vital mineral that our bodies are lacking. There is more research that has been done in the UK than in the US that also proves the vast benefits of FG DE! My hope is that someone here on this site will look into this and comment on it… I’m just a “messenger,” trying to spread the word. I’ve also been looking into the Paleo diet; and when I ran across this post, I felt compelled to reply.

        • I looked into it but am skeptical. It says that stuff is good for detoxing body, your digestive system and cosmetics too. Then it says it repels rodents and kills roaches, bedbugs and fleas. I don’t know what to make of something that is supposed to be awesome on one hand and yet repels and kills on the other. What a strange product.

          • DE is a fine crystalline structure that when it gets on the pests, it slices their exoskeleton causing them to bleed/dehydrate to death. Never tried food grade DE, but I just might. Anyway, just spreading some information around. :)

      • so you mean you are so allergic to corn that you cant even eat meat from animals fed by it? I wonder if you are allergic to all corn or just todays corn. Todays corn is all genetically modified food.

    • Diabetic here, on Metformin 2x/day (2) 500MG tablets (total of 4 pills a day). My doc has not reduced my dose (yet) but my readings were about 120, then dropped to mid-90’s after being on paleo for a few months, and losing 30 pounds. Was it the paleo diet or the weigh loss? Don’t know. But happy. I ran out of Metformin for a few days and my readings never got to 120. So, doing better without and on paleo than with the Rx and off paleo. Looks like if I drop another 15 pounds I might drop the Metformin. As I lost the weight, I also stopped experiencing the extremity nerve pain.

    • You can just stay on it forever. I have cheat days about once a week so it’s not like you’re in prison. You do not suffer at all as far as hunger.

      My days are typically this:
      paleo blueberry pancake for breakfast with fresh fruit on top. No syrup. I make a batch once a week and microwave one each day.
      lunch is a salad or last night’s leftovers.
      dinner is fish/chicken/pork or beef plus a vegetable (usually just steamed in the microwave) and sweet potato.

      I also make a paleo banana bread once a week and have slices of that as an evening snack.

      It is realtively easy. You tend to be fuller and eat less because the more tempting things are not on the plate. Win win.

      Visit The Ulitmate Paleo Guide for more detailed info, food lists and recipes. You don’t need to buy anything with paleo; that website sells things but I’ve never had a need to buy anything.

  15. Thank you for being available for questions. I eat an already limited diet. Celiac and Dairy free for over 6 years. I have food intolerance to broccoli, cauliflower, onions, beans, peas and cabbage. My intolerance also extends to any kind of nuts or seeds. I’m struggling to eat enough. I average 1000 calories a day. I’m gaining weight rapidly and would value an opinion to how this way of eating could help me.

      • Audrey,

        While organic is optimal, you can still enjoy health benefits while consuming conventional meat and produce. That being said, conventional meat tends to be lower in omega-3’s so make sure you are eating plenty of seafood or supplementing with fish oil. Good luck!

    • Onalee… please see my earlier post about food grade diatomaceous earth! I bet if you start on FG DE that you’d find a LOT of your intolerances will magically disappear!

    • yes, but make sure you cook it yourself and add for vegetables and lean meat than carbohydrates. Do not order it as a takeaway as these sauces are high in fat and refined sugar.

    • We’ve found organic food in Aldi and Walmart. It seems that enough people are realizing how much healthier they are, and as a result, they are easier to find and getting less expensive. Also at the chain Grocery stores, if you keep an eye out for specials, or meat nearing expiration time, you can get good deals on organic, grain fed meat as well.

  16. I really dislike it, when they don’t call “Salt” for Paleo, for several reasons!

    Salt is necessary for the body, as it controls a lot of Hormones, and without getting Salt, you would simply crash and die! That being said, there is a lot of difference in Salt, and a lot have Synthetic stuff added, which of course would be a no no, but saying Salt is not Paleo, is not true at all!

    Also Dairy, an article was published in “Nature” magazine a few years ago, and then later on in other magazines, stated with the latest DNA Technology, and other fancy stuff, they’ve managed to solve a mystery, about a 9.000 year old “Bathtub” kinda looking thing, with small holes in the bottom, which showed that they did consume Dairy, as the “Tub” was to drain of “Lactose”, so they made Cheese!

    Another thing that bothers me, is there is always talk about “Lean Meat”, Saturated is NOT bad for you, we’ve known that forever, but some myths still hangs on i guess… I always suggest people, to look out their window, and notice, that there is no other animal (In this case, Carnivores) out in Nature, that leaves the “Fat” behind, infact, that is what they go for first, all the Organs!

    • Organs are not made of fat.

      Our ancestors didnt selectively breed and factory farm meats so that an 8 week old chicken is full sized and storing fat – these animals would have lived active lives and be… “lean meat”!

      You cannot “drain off” lactose.

      Salt is naturally present in many foods, you do not necessarily need extra added.

      • Being lactose and gluten and sugar intolerant, i am learning lots. look up why some aged cheeses are ok, you learn that the liquid portion is drained off removing the major portion of the lactose. For that reason some cheeses are ok foe those with the lactose affliction, lactose can be as low as 0.5% or less. look it up, don’t assume your opinion is fact.

    • I’m new to the paleo concept, but the bathtub process you mentioned sounds like it is from an already agricultural society 9000 years ago, so the food produced would not be consistent with that eaten by our hunter-gatherer ancestors, those people among whom our metabolism adapted.

  17. First , many thanks to Dr. Loren Cordain and his team and special thank to Trevor. It’s awesome to be here.
    Second, I will try to answer all the questions related to this post.

  18. Did you say “wine could never have been available to our ancestors”? If so, cross out also the “healthful oils” from your list (I guesstimate both productions came to be around same period)….

    • Haha, i agree! Wine is definitely Paleo! Naturally there is Alcohol in Fruits and Berries when they’re Ripe! In some cultures, they chew on Berries, and spit them out in a bowl of Water, and let it ferment… Alcohol gets bitched more at than most things, but the body still see’s Sugar as a worse enemy, which is why it tries to get rid of the Sugar first… That is afterall, the main reason, why you get easier drunk, if you mix your booze with a Sugar Free Soda or just Water, compared to a regular Soda, Juice etc.

      Unless you drink extremely much, you always gotta remember, that your Liver keeps repairing itself, it is quite a magical Organ! Fructose is hard on the Liver as well… In the end, i’ve heard about people with Cirrhosis Liver, who never Drinks, just like i hear about people with Lung Cancer, who never Smoked!!! Everything is not always what it seems, just use your best judgement :)

  19. I am new to the Paleo diet. I have two main questions.
    1) In regards to seeds and nuts, does it matter to eat roasted nuts or do they have to be raw?
    2) I have low blood pressure and the only way to keep it at the optimum level is to take salt. Does it matter if I keep my salt intake the same as usual?

    I would appreciate a response,

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