paleo diet recipes plan menu food list for weight loss

What Is The Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility.

Health Benefits of a Paleo Diet

For most people the fact the Paleo diet delivers the best results is all they need. Improved blood lipids, weight loss, and reduced pain from autoimmunity is proof enough.  Many people however are not satisfied with blindly following any recommendations, be they nutrition or exercise related. Some folks like to know WHY they are doing something. Fortunately, the Paleo diet has stood not only the test of time, but also the rigors of scientific scrutiny.

With a very simple shift we not only remove the foods that are at odds with our health (grains, legumes, and dairy) but we also increase our intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here is a great paper from Professor Loren Cordain exploring how to build a modern Paleo diet: The nutritional characteristics of a contemporary diet based upon Paleolithic food groups. This paper also offers significant insight as to the amounts and ratios of protein, carbohydrate and fat in the ancestral diet.

What You Can Eat and What You Can’t

Go Paleo, and you’ll eat a lot of fresh lean meats and fish, fruits, and vegetables, and healthier fats.

You can also eat:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthier oils, including olive oil and coconut oil

You can’t eat any processed foods on this diet. And since our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, not farmers, say goodbye to wheat and dairy, along with other grains and legumes (such as peanuts and beans). Other foods to avoid:

  • Dairy
  • Refined sugar
  • Potatoes
  • Salt
  • Refined vegetable oils, such as canola

Most Paleo dieters of today do none of this, with the exception of occasional hunting trips or a little urban foraging. Instead, their diet is largely defined by what they do not do: most do not eat dairy or processed grains of any kind, because humans did not invent such foods until after the Paleolithic; peanuts, lentils, beans, peas and other legumes are off the menu, but nuts are okay; meat is consumed in large quantities, often cooked in animal fat of some kind; Paleo dieters sometimes eat fruit and often devour vegetables; and processed sugars are prohibited, but a little honey now and then is fine.

Almost equal numbers of advocates and critics seem to have gathered at the Paleo diet dinner table and both tribes have a few particularly vociferous members. Critiques of the Paleo diet range from the mild—Eh, it’s certainly not the worst way to eat—to the acerbic: It is nonsensical and sometimes dangerously restrictive. Most recently, in her book Paleofantasy, evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk of the University of California, Riverside, debunks what she identifies as myths central to the Paleo diet and the larger Paleo lifestyle movement.

Most nutritionists consent that the Paleo diet gets at least one thing right—cutting down on processed foods that have been highly modified from their raw state through various methods of preservation. Examples include white bread and other refined flour products, artificial cheese, certain cold cuts and packaged meats, potato chips, and sugary cereals. Such processed foods often offer less protein, fiber and iron than their unprocessed equivalents, and some are packed with sodium and preservatives that may increase the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

A Paleo Diet Meal Plan

There is no one “right” way to eat for everyone and paleolithic humans thrived on a variety of diets, depending on what was available at the time.

Some ate a low-carb diet high in animal foods, others a high-carb diet with lots of plants.

Consider this as a general guideline, not something written in stone. You can adapt all of this to your own personal needs and preferences.

The Basics

Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats and oils.

Avoid: Processed foods, sugar, soft drinks, grains, most dairy products, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, margarine and trans fats.

Avoid These Foods

Avoid these foods and ingredients:

  • Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup: Soft drinks, fruit juices, table sugar, candy, pastries, ice cream and many others.
  • Grains: Includes breads and pastas, wheat, spelt, rye, barley, etc.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils and many more.
  • Dairy: Avoid most dairy, especially low-fat (some versions of paleo do include full-fat dairy like butter and cheese).
  • Vegetable Oils: Soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil and others.
  • Trans Fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods. Usually referred to as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils.
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, Sucralose, Cyclamates, Saccharin, Acesulfame Potassium. Use natural sweeteners instead.
  • Highly Processed Foods: Everything labelled “diet” or “low-fat” or has many weird ingredients. Includes artificial meal replacements.

A simple guideline: If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it!

If you want to avoid these ingredients, then you MUST read ingredients lists, even on foods that are labelled as “health foods.”

Paleo Diet Meats food listpaleo-food-235x235

This is a list of paleo diet meats allowed on the diet. Almost all meats are paleo by definition. Of course, you’ll want to stay away from highly processed meats and meats that are very high in fat (stuff like spam, hot dogs, and other low-quality meats), but if it used to moo, oink, or make some other sound, it’s almost certainly paleo (and, yes, that means you can still have bacon). Here’s the full list of paleo diet meats.

  • Poultry
  • Turkey
  • Chicken breast
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Pork chops
  • Steak
  • Veal
  • Bacon
  • Pork
  • Ground beef
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Chicken thigh
  • Chicken leg
  • Chicken wings (yum!)
  • Lamb rack
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Clams
  • Salmon
  • Venison steaks
  • Buffalo
  • New York steak
  • Bison
  • Bison steaks
  • Bison jerky
  • Bison ribeye
  • Bison sirloin
  • Lamb chops
  • Rabbit
  • Goat
  • Elk
  • Emu
  • Goose
  • Kangaroo
  • Bear (good luck getting this!)
  • Beef jerky
  • Eggs (duck, chicken, or goose)
  • Wild boar
  • Reindeer
  • Turtle
  • Ostrich
  • Pheasant
  • Quail
  • Lean veal
  • Chuck steak
  • Rattlesnake

The Final Word

If you’re able to spend the money buying more whole, unprocessed foods and are willing to dedicate the time in the kitchen to preparing them, then this plan may help you lose weight.

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To fill in the nutrient gaps, supplement the plan with folate, B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D.

If you prefer a more flexible approach to weight loss that’s less focused on meat and offers a wider variety of foods, look for another plan.