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 //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



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“314” Comments

  1. So grains aren‘t allowed in the paleo diet but seeds are allowed. Grains are seeds. Also I doubt whether the ancestors of Europeans ever ate bananas or sweet potatoes. Some people do have problems after eating dairy products and gluten and too many carbs and too much sugar especially. But eliminating foods just because they are fairly new to our diets doesn‘t make sense. Some new foods are much better tolerated than others. A low carb diet is good for decreasing insulin resistance and a paleo diet would most likely be a lower carb diet than a diet containing lots of grains and refined sugars. So a paleo diet may also be good for decreasing insulin resistance. But it might not be superior to a low grain and low refined sugar diet. There‘s a lot we don‘t know and there are individual differences in food tolerances. Personaly I‘m just experimenting to see what diet works best for me. Grains and sweet potatoes seem to make my health worse. But maybe smaller amounts of both would be ok.

  2. I wanted to point out the similarity between the paleo diet and the more revolutionary diet being used by diabetics (as opposed to that espoused by the World diabetic associations) to remove carbs from the diet and have high protein / moderate fat to achieve almost normal blood sugar levels. Historically high carb diets rich in grain / starch were recommended and still are to an extent.
    Wheat / sugar and simple carbs – have another effect apart from the inflammation effects called out by Paleo – that the carb is so simple it gets converted to glucose / sugar in your mouth by your saliva and continues that rapid absorption into the bloodstream. For those of us who are diabetics we have to take insulin to lower our blood sugar, for non diabetics the body releases a load of insulin quickly (which is also an irritant). too much glucose in the blood is what causes all of the complications for diabetics which are all associate with damage to blood vessels / organs / nerves by the glucose in the blood. Studies are showing that even non diabetics are getting the same damage in smaller doses over longer period (leads to heart attacks)
    By removing these simple carbs, then diabetics can achieve normal blood sugar levels (better than most non diabetics). On low carb diets, proteins also then start to release blood sugar for energy which is better use of the protein and its released much slower into the blood stream so much easier on the body.
    The key difference is fruit is allowed in paleo and some high GI vegetables like Beets/ carrots / sweet potato which are not allowed in the diabetic diet as the sugar from these releases to quickly into the blood stream for it to be controlled (in terms of sweet potato its release into the blood is the same as a potato so interesting to see it allowed in paleo)
    I would bet a lot of money that if someone who followed the paleo diet took an A1C test which is the blood test that diabetics use to see how controlled they are then they would get better results than the majority of the population (diabetics and non diabetics) .
    For reference, A1c is a measure of how much glucose is in your blood over a 3 month period. Too much glucose in the cells is REALLY BAD – causes all the complications to the vessels / heart and other organs.
    A normal A1C is less than 5 (4.5 is optimum). Diabetics are told to have an A1C of 7, a lot who get complications are 8+.
    By adopting the paleo diet and also removing the fruit piece and high GI vegetables, then its possible for diabetics to get their A1C below 5.
    The medical establishment classify normal right up to 5.7 !! Pre-diabetes is 5.7 to 6.4 and 6.4 onwards is Type 2 diabetes. 5.7 is way to high. All the press that talks about the millions who are at risk of diabetes is not even taking into consideration the millions of people who have an A1c between 5 and 5.7 as well.
    What is that is causing this problem – eating wheat and sugar and too much glucose in the diet. Paleo fixes this with some small amendments to the plan.
    I’m a type 1 diabetic who started following the paleo but removed the fruit and high GI vegetables. I had a A1C of 7.5 – its now 5% so better than the majority of the population. The good news is that if you get it this low then a lot of the damage caused previously is repaired by the body in a few years. So I recommend you launch a Paleo diabetic diet which removes the fruit and the bad vegetables

  3. Some aspects of this diet sound good and logical but, How does anyone know that prehistoric homosapiens were at all “healthy”? Maybe the life span of Cro magnon was so short because of poor diet and extreme physical labor. Has anyone seen long term proof of such a basic intake? Don’t misunderstand me, I think the chemistry we’ve developed and added to our foods can’t be good but, I can’t help wonder if finding a balance in what we eat is better than eliminating foods that we can process and use. Broken down to a basic form of existence, all life has the same properties of nutrition and survival of the species. Whether it’s milk from a coconut or milk from a goat, it has the same purpose, just a different presentation. I think this diet is a good start to eating less processed foods, which to me seems more important than eliminating milk from a different animal than ourselves. Maybe the unnatural way we produce milk from cows has more to do with lactose intolerance than the essence of that product. Maybe genetic modifications of grains have led to gluten intolerance. The life span of humans has certainly increased. Maybe not treating our food with growth enhancement or pesticides would be the answer to allowing us to consume some foods that are emerging as not inherently good for us. Just a few ideas to ponder. I’m going for another cup of organic coffee.

  4. Hello,
    Where do I get a complete list of foods I can eat with Paleo diet? Naturally, I am a skinny person. With this diet, I lost way more than I want. Please, help me how I can gain some weight without grains and starch? I don’t think it is good to eat more than a few fruits a day because of fructose and according to the Paleo answer book, nuts, beef and sea foods have high AGE level, but I still eat fish especially salmon and lamb.

    Thank you.

    • Well chocolates and baked goods wouldn’t be a part of a paleo diet simply because they wouldn’t have been available to our ancestors hundreds or thousands of years ago. How much weight are you trying to lose? There are some fairly simple hints you can do to expedite weight loss. From colonics/hydrotherapy to fasting, exercising to surgery like gastric bypass. Cleaning out your colon is a hugely important element most people ignore when losing weight. Flush your colon (water, laxatives, enema) you’ll lose 5-10 pounds right there. Then add in good foods. Moderate your calorie intake. Cardio. Sleep 8 hours per night. DRINK WATER!!!! Good luck @tikibiggs

  5. Hi,

    I just got to know about this paleo diet from one of my friend. I have gained some 6-7kgs in 2.5 months that’s because i fractured my leg and no workouts. Now i’m seriously trying to reduce my weight by dieting and excising, but i have vitamin D deficiency and end up getting sprain on my neck or low back while excising . Could you please suggest me the diet that i should be taking.

  6. I respectfully must challenge the entire approach and inherent contradictions offered. You list herbal teas so I assume caffeine tea and coffee are taboo in spite of many positive health benefits. How many women have damaged their reproductive cycles drinking unregulated doses ‘herbal teas’ and when were coffee and tea expelled from the Garden of Eden as not themselves herbal. Language is descriptive, not prescriptive. You O.K. items such as almonds and sprouts. Has anyone considered the massive water use to produce one almond VS dairy milk? Water will be, if not now, the driving force of conflict in the coming decades as oil is now. Sprouts are notorious for bearing pathogens and outbreaks of salmonella. I could go on; depleted fisheries with mercury and plastic particulate tainting, indigenous peoples murdered, raped, enslaved or displaced for planation world crops and grazing, monoculture agriculture destroying biodiversity and a healthy food base. You have also ignored many foods of a true ‘paleo diet’ because of the same cultural norms that lead
    people to high tea or breaking bread for sacrament; insects! to get your attention. Not everyone on food aid can afford grassfed beef and you might start listing grasshoppers.
    We can never claim individual health on a unhealthy and injust planet.

  7. I suffer from IBS, lactose intolerance and coeliac. Life is never easy for me because my diet is very strict but at the same time I want to eat a bit of everything even though I am aware that my stomach will eventually hurt later on. A workmate of mine have introduced me to Paleo diet which I’ve never heard before made me think I should go and try this diet. Although I am a pescatarian vegetarian, there is still tons of variety I can choose from the paleo diet.

    • Haha! Yes people do just skim read. They also skim listen. I have had a vegan diet, mostly raw & organic, grain free except for rice & rice milk, for about 26 years now, and i work as a landscape gardener. I am walking proof that my diet works for me, I never get sick, don’t need supplements. I still get all the same repeat questions, even after explaining a vegan diet, like, “so do you eat any meat?” “What about fish” and “so you don’t eat bread but what about toast or wraps?” People can have quite ignorant listening skills, and different ways of life still scare the masses. To accept difference is to accept ones self… and most people do not. 💖

  8. I can see how a strict Paleo diet has its place in society for some people, but for me, a very under weight older person trying to gain at least 30 pounds to get back up to my normal comfortable weight, I will sprout quinoa and buckwheat, make my own gluten free breads, have the occasional red potato and rice, lentils and split peas and consume grass-fed and raw dairy products.
    Your mileage will differ but this is what is going to work for me. If I were to become overweight or have other health issues that called for restrictions, then I’d make some radical changes toward Paleo.
    I think people get hung up on labels and tend to view things black or white, such as “I’m a Vegan” or I’m doing Paleo”.
    Eat what your body will allow in order to sustainably have enough energy and be healthy in the long term.

    • Hello, a change in diet, eating lower amounts of carbs, and sugars can certainly help the mechanisms, also it should be noted that it is important a back be healthy as well, because the back being the sympathetic, and parasympathetic system controls these functions. So a massage just above the tail bone, as well as strengthening, and alignment can help. (A majority of misalignment, or inflammation is not felt) One should also not underestimate how our bodies are absorbing the foods we eat, and so it is important to use a digestive enzyme (not a cheap one) and a microprobiotic, to try and help balance the system better. I have enough information to write a book on this question alone, however, I hope the straightforwardness of the answer will help 🙂

    • dont forget how hard it is to hunt for food and then carry it back to where you lived to make it into a meal. unless we were all expert trapers, wich still required quite a hike to set them then check them before some other predator eat te catch. that alone would be more of a workout then just walking the isles of a grocery
      store,then the hike and chase involved in hunting with a spear could be maybe even more chalenging. so yea i’m still a firm beliver in getting pleanty of exercise over any diet is the key to healthy living, the rest is more moderation in what you injest. granted some diets can help ease the new health problems poping up and being an epidemic problem in the 20th centry, choosing to stay away from prcessed foods and drink as much as possible is also a good idea, but then again not a big problem in moderation. a few times a month to eat fast food and soda’s no prolem, a cupple times a week still not too wory, but a few times a day watch out you are in for some truble, espacialy if you do not exercise regularly. I’m not a nutrisionist, far from it. but i do have somthing most dont, thats will power and common sense.

  9. Sounds like a drag to me. Dairy is healthy and really has no alternative. Over consumption is the issue. My life without dairy would be bland, tasteless and thoroughly boring. I raised five children on a dairy predominant diet and they are extremely healthy adults. NOTHING tastes better or is as satisfying as real butter, it’s natural especially if you buy organic. Sorry, but I disagree with most of your theories.

  10. Another fad which will die off soon. If you want a lean, fit body just go out more and start moving. Sitting behind a computer 10 hours a day will not make you lean no matter what you eat. Cavemen didn’t have ipads and tvs and internets. They went out and fought for food, constantly on the move. They slept on bed of rocks, they walked miles and miles everyday. Compare them with us now.
    So just eat whatever you want, with moderation and start moving more.

  11. Regarding the place of alcohol in paleo discussion in college . . .
    Alcohol can pump up people but not by being a stimulant. It progressively disconnects the inhibition part of the brain and the short-term memory part, and this leads to disinhibition which FEELS like stimulation.  It leads to decreased memory of your day when you drink after work.  The depressive aspect and fractured sleep lasts for days or weeks in one’s brain tissue, depending on the unit dose and frequency of dosing.  These side effects temporarily overwhelm the liver.  Drinking faster than the liver can filter is the effect people are SEEKING WHEEEE ! The body can adjust somewhat so it is harder to kill it, like tolerating starvation or sugar spikes or cardio without weight change.  

    We consciously practice walking and talking while intoxicated until we can balance well, but our reflexes and judgment are still off when anything unexpected occurs around us.  Different bodies have different tolerance to intoxicants.  A FEW unlucky ones throw the addiction switch in the brain sooner than other people and this leads to bodily cravings and unconscious behavior blips involving ‘the car drove itself to the liquor store’ or ‘we never see the old you anymore.’  

    To further the discussion, Marijuana is an intoxicant that is so much stronger since the 60s (the best buds were propagated for generations) that it seems to be ‘turning on’ schizophrenia- like symptoms for the unlucky few who carry those genes.  The psychosis goes away the first few times they quit, but eventually does not go away even if they quit.  

    Marijuana soothes its own withdrawal nicely ‘the only thing that calms me down every day’ and for some the anxiety becomes mild paranoia ‘nobody likes me at work’ and depression ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’  Legalizing marijuana is a MASSIVE natural population study to decrease the cost of jailing addicts.  We may see the half of the bell-curve people who unfortunately cannot afford any lowering in IQ also have some decrease in motivation to get to work on time.  Since a % of mental illness is driven by some level of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (alcohol intoxication before ya know you’re pregnant hits the fetus hardest) legal intoxicants have built a cycle of poor judgment — it is good to decide where you choose to fit on this wheel.  As always, get the fullest benefit from whatever you choose to do : )

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

    • 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

    • 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 🙂

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