noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

Plant/Animal Ratio

There is a common misconception that The Paleo Diet® is an all-meat diet. In reality it is a balanced diet based on eating natural, minimally processed foods from plant and animal sources. By volume it is, in fact, primarily plant based.

Expand For More

Very early in the development of the Paleo Diet concept, several of the key researchers, including Dr. Loren Cordain and Dr. Boyd Eaton, published a study analyzing the plant-animal ratios of 229 recorded hunter-gatherer societies.1

They found that there was no single, common ratio among the different groups. Plant-animal ratios based on calories ranged from 35:65 to 65:35 for most hunter-gatherer societies. Societies closer to the Earth’s poles ate a higher ratio of animal food (particularly fish), while societies closer to the equator ate more plant food. They also found that 73 percent of hunter-gatherer societies derived over 50 percent of their calories from animal foods (both hunted and fished).1

There were no hunter-gatherer societies that relied entirely on plant food or animal food—except at certain times of the year when plant food was not readily available in areas closer to the poles. In other words, there were no vegans or pure carnivores.

It’s also important to note that while most hunter-gatherer diets were over 50 percent animal-based, that was based on calories. Animal foods are much more calorically dense: A kilogram of fish has many more calories than a kilogram of fruit. So, when the ratios are looked at by volume, many hunter-gatherer diets were heavily plant-based.

Because of the vast differences among our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the Paleo Diet does not promote one single plant-animal ratio. Instead the diet focuses on the one commonality—all the diets were a mix of a natural, minimally processed plant- and animal-based foods. That means large amounts of vegetables, fruits, seeds, healthy lean meats, fish, eggs, and a sparing number of nuts.

It also means that, contrary to popular belief, The Paleo Diet is not based on the consumption of meat. That is a fallacy. In fact, while a Paleo Diet is not vegetarian, it is, by volume, heavily plant based.

1. Cordain, L., et al., Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets. Am J Clin Nutr, 2000. 71(3): p. 682-92.

noun_chevron up_1746113 Created with Sketch.
Looking to Lose Weight? Pay Attention to the Thermic Effect of Foods

If you’re looking to lose weight, consider the thermic effect of macronutrients for efficient calorie burn.

By Bill Manci
The Paleo Diet November 2020 Digest – The Importance of Balance

In November, The Paleo Diet’s focused on the importance of nutrient ratios, as well as health consequences of disrupting of these ratios.

By The Paleo Diet® Team
Recent research study challenges the Paleolithic diet’s benefit on gut and cardiovascular health and adds that whole grain sources may be required

A recent study from Australia found the Paleo Diet raises TMAO, but Mark J. Smith show that there may be more politics than results in the study

By Mark J. Smith, Ph.D.
The Intrinsic Variation in Hunter-Gatherer Diets: Why there is no one “ideal” Paleo Diet
Learn about the variety of diets among hunter-gatherers and why there is no "ideal" Paleo Diet.
By Kyle Cordain
But Is It Even Paleo? A Recent Study Focuses on Macros and Misses the Paleo Diet
Learn more about paleo-approved foods. Browse The Paleo Diet® website to learn more about paleo eating or to browse our selection of paleo recipes!
By Trevor Connor, M.S.
Evolution and High Protein Diets Part 3

There is now a large body of evidence demonstrating that a high protein diet, much like a Paleo Diet, reduces the risk for a variety of diseases.

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Evolution and High Protein Diets Part 2

The typical hunter-gatherer diet would have been between 19 and 35% protein, which would be considered a high protein diet compared to current U.S. values.

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Evolution and High Protein Diets Part 1

By examining the environment under which our genome arose, we are able to determine if high protein diets are helpful or detrimental to our health.

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Forget the Macronutrient Ratios - You Are What You Were Designed to Eat

The focus of the Paleo Diet is not on finding an ideal macronutrient ratio, but on eating the foods we evolved to eat and avoiding anything processed.

By Trevor Connor, M.S.
Is Fasted Training the Fastest Route to a Lean Body?

If you start the day with fasted training and carry on with Paleo diet eating all day long, you’ll be much more likely to achieve your weight loss goals.

By Nell Stephenson
The Overkill Hypothesis: Why Eating Antelope is Preferable to 500 Squirrels

According to the Overkill Hypothesis, the Pleistocene humans hunted large mammals to extinction. Learn how protein toxicity could be the reason behind it.

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
Believe it or Not: Some Shellfish Contains Carbohydrate

Are there repercussions to our health from consuming some shellfish with concentrated sources of carbohydrates?

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
1 2 Last
Paleo Leadership
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark J. Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.