The first question people have about Paleo is what can I eat on Paleo, and what do I have to avoid. This post will discuss the rules for the Paleo diet.
Below you’ll find the basics of the Paleo diet. There are tons of books written on the diet, and they each to seem to have subtle differences on what is Paleo.
But I’ve tried to present a basic consensus below.
You’ll find what to eat on Paleo, what to avoid on Paleo, why you should consider Paleo, and at the very bottom you’ll find suggestions of food to eat from each Paleo-certified food group.
What can I eat on Paleo?
A Paleo diet is based on eating the foods that our ancient ancestors would have eaten: our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
That is the basic rule of the Paleo diet.
What would they have eaten?
Well whatever they could hunt and catch, such as meat, fish, and other seafood.
And whatever they could gather, such as berries, fruit, eggs, nuts, seeds, mushrooms and vegetables.
This means there is a HUGE variety of things you can eat on a Paleo diet.
On a Paleo diet you’ll be eating meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.
Are there some exceptions on veggies/fruits I shouldn’t eat?
Different Paleo books have a different interpretation of what is allowed and what isn’t. So they have different “rules of the Paleo diet.”
From what I’ve gathered from several resources there are some vegetables and fruits that you should avoid or minimize if you are using the Paleo diet to lose weight.
A) To optimize weight loss you should avoid potatoes. The starch in the potatoes are quickly turned into sugar and this “sugar load” or glycemic load isn’t good if you’re trying to lose weight.
B) Plus, dried fruit should be minimized or avoided if you’re trying to lose weight on the Paleo diet.. Once the water content is removed from fruit it becomes a very concentrated source of natural sugar…and very easy to over-eat and before you know it you’ve consumed a big “sugar load.”
C) Avoid “vegetable oil” and “Canola oil.” These industrial oils don’t do any favors to our body. They have a bad fatty acid profile (high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3). [Use olive oil or avocado oil instead.]
D) Avoid corn.
I just learned the other day that corn is more of a grain than a vegetable. And since we avoid grains on the Paleo diet, we therefore should avoid corn too. (More on what not to eat below.)
Is a Paleo Diet easy?
Yes, a Paleo diet is easy because there is no math involved. 🙂
There is no carbohydrate counting, or calorie counting, and no counting “points” like other eating plans.
Sure you could do track these things if you wanted to (or if you aren’t getting the weight loss that you desire), but it isn’t strictly necessary.
That is why people like the Paleo diet: it is easy.
You just eat what you’re supposed to, avoid what you’re not, and the results come.
People often have more energy, lose belly fat, and feel better overall.
Is it easy to Meal Plan on a Paleo Diet?
Yes. Meal planning for Paleo diet is very easy.
In fact, it can be so easy that you just need to pick a main dish, like a meat or seafood, then pick some veggies on the side and you’ve got yourself a Paleo meal.
And when it comes to vegetables, you’ll find yourself eating a lot of veggies on a Paleo diet.
Vegetables provides vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and other phytonutrients that your body requires for optimal health.
What can’t I eat on Paleo?
Eating Paleo is eating like our ancestors.
The 3 Principle Food Groups to avoid are:
Grains (including rice and quinoa)
Beans (Legumes, and this includes peanuts and soy)
Plus you’ll want to avoid things like soda, candy, artificial sweeteners, and industrial seed oils like canola and vegetable oil.
Our ancestors – from like 10,000 years ago – didn’t consume grain products. They weren’t eating flour.
They weren’t sucking the milk from pregnant cows.
And they weren’t eating many beans.
Therefore, these foods are not “natural” to our human bodies. We haven’t evolved to deal with these foods.
Why am I talking about Ancient History?
I’m talking about ‘cavemen humans’ because our genetic material – our DNA – hasn’t evolved much since then. Our DNA is like their DNA. [A human then is a human now.]
We haven’t genetically evolved as quickly as our industrial processes have.
We are not equipped to eat the “food” that our industrial processes now provide us with.
If you showed a loaf of bread to a caveman, would they recognize it? No. If we showed them a jug of milk they’d probably look around and try to find the pregnant human that is pumping out that much milk.
How have we been eating?
Well for decades we have been eating high carbohydrate diets and most of these carbohydrates come from grains or sugar directly.
In the 1970’s the US government released a food pyramid telling everyone to eat a lot of carbohydrates and “whole grain products.”
This hasn’t helped our waistlines, nor the rates of Metabolic syndrome, diabetes and other conditions associated with being overweight.
But for years – probably your whole life – you have been putting chemicals into your body that your body doesn’t know how to handle or digest properly.
Yes, food is chemicals. Even healthy, natural food is still chemicals.
Then your body uses these chemicals to perform the required tasks of living.
But what you stick in your mouth determines what chemicals are available for your body: good or bad.
If you continue to put “bad” things into your mouth, you’ll continue to get “bad” results.
Eating Paleo diet is about putting “good” chemicals into your body that your body recognizes.
The foods that your body has evolved over thousands of years to be able to handle and incorporate into proper functioning.
That may be an overly simplified example, but that is my intent. I want to boil it down to a simplified, easy to digest chunk of information. 🙂
Paleo Foods to Eat
Here are some Paleo foods you can eat so you can start planning your weight loss now.
I know they can be expensive but “grass-fed” meat is considered healthier than factory-farmed meat because of the difference in the fats between the two meats. Grass-fed meats have a more favorable Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid profile.
I’m not going to pretend I know all the chemical formulas about fat oxidation and utilization…just keep in mind if you can afford it, the grass-fed meat is preferable.
- Wild game (like venison or elk)
There are lots of seafood options for you to eat. References vary, but most agree that you should eat wild-caught seafood (particularly small fatty fish like herring or salmon) three times per week.
And try to eat smaller seafood and fish like salmon, trout or herring instead of large fish like tuna.
The reason is the larger fish often have longer lifespans and in the process of growing so big they’ve eaten a lot of other fish. Other fish that may have contained a small amount of mercury. The sum of eating lots of fish containing a small amount of mercury means that tuna now contains a higher amount of mercury.
The large tuna becomes an accumulator of mercury or other heavy metals.
- Mahi Mahi
Click here if you want an easy to make PALEO SALMON CAKES recipe.
Nuts & Seeds
Below are some nuts and seeds that you can eat on a Paleo diet. Keep in mind that if your goal is weight loss, don’t overdue it on these at the start.
- Brazil Nuts
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
You’ll notice that peanuts are NOT on the list. This is because peanuts are a legume (more like a bean) and are not a true nut.
Fruits and Vegetables
Eat a rainbow of colorful vegetables every day. On the Paleo diet you can even eat root vegetables like yams and sweet potatoes. But if you’re trying Paleo to lose weight, you still don’t want to overdue it on these veggies.
If you are trying to lose weight you should avoid white potatoes. They get converted into sugar quickly in your body and can increase your insulin levels. And when we’re trying to lose weight we want to keep insulin levels low.
When you first start the Paleo diet you may find yourself a little “snacky” and want a “treat.” If so, you can eat some fruit like an apple or berries.
Avoid dried fruit though because it has a high sugar content, and because it is so small and condensed you could quickly consume a large amount of sugar without realizing it.
I know it may first seem ridiculously hard eating Paleo…we’re so used to eating foods on the AVOID list, but that is exactly the food that got us into trouble in the first place.
Eating those AVOID foods are probably why you’re on this website looking for a solution.