Home The Paleo Challenge Paleo food list

Paleo food list

Here is a more extensive guideline of what and how to eat, and not to eat.

For Satiety (hunger control) eat lean protein at every meal and every snack
Eat leanish protein at every meal and snack. Wild animals are lean. Their flesh is low in saturated fat. (However studies are currently showing saturated fat is not as so bad after all, stick to leanish grass fed meat though, or you’ll get too many calories) We can mimic wild animal fats this by eating cuts of lean meat from grass fed, free range and game meats, ideally organic, than adding monounsaturated fats to our meals. Protein should be approx 30 – 35 % calories, no more as you need to balance it with good amounts of vegetables, fruit and healthy fats. To get the right amount of protein per meal – females need about 90 – 120 grams lean meat or seafood. Males about 120 – 180grams. This is about a palm size.
The benefits of protein:
Protein increases your metabolism. It burns twice as much calories of either fats or carbohydrates through its thermic effect. This can be up to 200 calories day. Typically a reduced calorie diet will lower your metabolism, and having plenty of protein counteracts this.
Protein has the highest satiating value; that is it keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Protein is necessary for muscle repair and growth, it is the building blocks of all the proteins in our bodies, including, skin, bones, enzymes and bloods cells. Without adequate protein you lose muscle tissue.
Increasing lean protein and decreasing refined carbohydrates improves blood sugar, cholesterol and decreases high blood pressure.
Higher protein, lower refined carb diets increase insulin sensitivity – and increase fat burning.

What proteins to eat:
Lean paleo proteins, all animals must be grass fed or free range / wild:
Beef; Flank steak, Top sirloin steak, chuck steak, lean veal or any other lean cut
Lean Pork
Lean Poultry
Rabbit meat, Goat meat
Game meats; ostrich, kangaroo, venison, emu.
Fish and shellfish – all. Fresh fish is better than canned. Occasional canned only if – no salt and only spring water or healthy oils like olive.
Organ meats; calf liver (young animals are lower in toxins), kidney
Beef, lamb and pork tongues,
Beef, lamb and pork sweetbreads.
Lean nitrate free bacon is okay occasionally – some of the Freedom farm range, check labels, can be high in salt
What about eggs?
Egg yolks are high in fat. Cordain recommends limiting yolks to 6 week. Do not fry eggs, poach or boil instead. Personally I think 2 – 3 a day are fine.
Egg white protein powder is useful for protein shakes and smoothies. (Eggcel or Red8 eggwhite)
Diary – I recommend cut out for at least 30 days, many people are sensitive to dairy.  You can then try it to see if it is okay for you. If you do choose A2 milk or goat milk. Whey protein seems okay for some people. It can cause gut issues in some.

Meat and protein to avoid:
All processed meats (contain nitrates and salt),
Fatty cuts like chops, fatty mince, hamburgers and sausages
Tinned fish in unhealthy oils
Cheese that is high in salt and fat (hard cheeses)
Tofu and soy products, and all mature beans, lentils, legumes including peanuts

Carbohydrates – what to eat
Carbohydrates are foods that provide the cells with glucose for energy – all carbohydrate foods whether starch (long chains of glucose molecules linked together) or sugars (one or two links of sugar molecules) are broken down into single glucose molecules by enzymes during digestion.
We need glucose to provide cellular energy – although muscle cells will also run on fat, and brain cells will also run on ketones. You need about 20 – 40% of your calories from carbohydrates. There are problems with zero carb diets – so don’t do that.
Carbohydrates allowed:
Lots of fibrous and colourful vegetables, these provide a huge range of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fibre, it is very hard to overeat these.
Include lots of above ground vegetables, except corn (grain) and peas and beans (legumes). Green beans are okay.
Lots of non starch root vegetables, carrots, onions, turnips, garlic and beetroot.
Moderate amounts of fruit, especially richly coloured non starchy fruit, Berries are great.
Include only small – moderate amounts of starchy vegetables, kumara, taro, pumpkin etc. (but not potato)
Dried fruit (note- high in carbs, easy to over eat, limit or cut out if you want to lose weight)

Fermented foods – natural non pasteurised – every day.

Do not eat:
Canned fruit – stick to fresh
Potatoes (all right if no auto-immune issues and peeled)
Legumes; peas, beans, lentils, peanuts, soy beans and soy bean products.
Corn (grain)
Juices. Freshly squeezed vegetable only juice is okay.
Grain products, oats, rye, wheat, rice, corn, millet, barley, corn, quinoa, buckwheat, linseed, chia
Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup
Soft drinks sugar containing drinks like Poweraid
Alfalfa sprouts (contain anti-nutrients)
ALL Chemical and non calorie sweeteners.

What about alcohol?
Alcohol was not part of a paleolithic diet. However alcohol is moderation can have beneficial health effects. So a small amount – 1 or 2 small drinks is okay, especially wine, occasionally. If you can’t keep to moderate consumption or have an auto-immune disease, or gut issues and dysbiosis, I recommends no alcohol. (Or at least a 30 day alcohol free trial)

Alcohol can increase SIBO, many wines have sulphites, an allergen for some: it can contribute to stuffy nose and asthma, and rashes.

Eat Healthy fats
Not all fats are created equal, the impact of fat on blood cholesterol and the consequent risk of heart disease is enormous.
The different fats:
Saturated fat is solid at room temperature (think of the fat on a piece of steak). Animal fat and dairy fat is predominantly saturated fat. (Fat in game meats and fish however is mainly unsaturated.) Palm oil and coconut oils are also predominantly saturated. Saturated fat was not high in Paleo / wild meats and should be kept to a minimum.
There are different types of saturated fats and some are worse than others. Coconut oil is a good saturated fat and is heat stable for cooking.
Unsaturated Fat – Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fat.
Most plant fats (better known as oils) are unsaturated and liquid at room temperature. There are two categories of unsaturated fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Olive oil is monounsaturated fat, sunflower oil is polyunsaturated fat.

Monounsaturated fat
Monounsaturated fat is also known as Oleic or Omega-9. This is the fat you should eat most of. Monounsaturated fat is generally regarded as an all round good guy in its effect on cholesterol and other metabolic processes. People living in Mediterranean countries eat a lot of olive oil but have long life expectancy with low levels of heart disease and cancer.
Polyunsaturated fats – Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
Polyunsaturated fats are also categorised into Omega-6 or Omega-3 fatty acids according to where the double bonds occur along the carbon chain in the fat molecule. Polyunsaturated fats are either Omega 6 fats found mainly in vegetable and seed oils and Omega 3 fats found in some seeds such as flax and chia oil and fish oil.
Our diets have become completely imbalanced in the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats compared to the Paleolithic diet. We need to address this imbalance and decrease the oils containing high amounts of omega 6 and increase sources of Omega 3. Plant Omega 3’s are not a good source – they are not useful until the are converted into EPA and DHA, only about 5% are converted.
Barry Sears recommends supplementing with Omega 3 capsules (Fish oil) in order to that our diets have adequate levels.

What Fats to eat:
Monounsaturated fats:
Olive oil.
Nuts – all, eat them raw, unsalted. (not peanuts = legume) best are macadamia, cashews and almonds.
Pistachio – unsalted
Sesame seeds – in moderation
Sunflower seeds – in moderation
Pumpkin seeds – in moderation
Nut oils, especially macadamia oil
Avocado oil
Toasted sesame oil (not too much as it is higher in Omega 6)
Flax seed oil (don’t cook with this)

Coconut milk, oil and cream

Fish oil capsules or liquid (ideally high purity, high concentration)

Omega 3 – Vital you get a lot
Try to include at least 0.5-1.8 grams of EPA + DHA per day in your diet, either by eating fish or fish oil supplements. If you have documented coronary heart disease, you should include at least 1.0 grams of EPA + DHA in your diet. Patients with hypertriglyceridemia (elevated or high blood triglycerides) can lower their values by as much as 40 percent by taking 2-4 grams of EPA + DHA per day. If you are taking more than 3 grams of EPA + DHA per day, consult with your doctor because high intakes tend to prevent blood from clotting and may cause excessive nose bleeding.

Fats to avoid
Limit saturated fat, coconut oil is okay in small amounts and heat stable for cooking.
Cut out vegetable and seed oils high in omega 6.
Trans fats – used in processed food, deep frying
Margarines – they have an unhealthy chemically altered fat called interesterified fat.
Roasted and salted nuts and seeds (roast your own fresh nuts)
Peanuts and peanut oil (legumes, potentially atherogenic)

Other Foods

Spices and herbs: Use lots – they have great health and anti-inflammatory properties

Foods you can eat in moderation:


Other foods to avoid or limit:

Dairy foods
– limit or avoid, they are not strictly paleo, especially cheese which is high in salt and fat. Whey protein powder is okay for some. Use A2 milk as it has does not contain one problematic protein peptide.
Diary products trigger a lot of insulin, and should not be used if you are diabetic or need to lose weight

Avoid all salt containing foods, processed meats, canned foods, sauces, dressings, ready made food etc.

Vitamins and supplements
Get your sunlight vitamin.
Vitamin D has become a neglected vitamin. It is virtually impossible to get enough through diet alone. You must have small amounts of sun exposure regularly to get enough. 10 minutes off peak during summer and 20 minutes at midday during the winter, more if you have darker skin. As virtually no-one gets winter sun, supplementation is necessary. 2000iu per day. Many people need up more to achieve ideal levels 5000iu per day or more. Vitamin D contributes to muscle strength, bone strength, calcium absorption, immunity and a reduction of many cancers, heart disease and auto-immune conditions.

Other vitamins –
Dr Cordain suggests you add:
Vitamin E 200 – 500 iu per day. Mixed natural tocopherols, tocotrienols
Vitamin C 500 – 1000mg per day (include bioflavanoids) Ester C plus bioflavanoids is good
Selenium 150 iu per day (found in Nutralife vitamin D supplement)
Fish oil 2 – 4 grams EPA plus DHA per day. (4 – 8 capsules of high concentrate omega 3 caps)
Iodine: use kelp on food or take a kelp tablet.
Magnesium is also deficient in many people, can improve sleep quality, eliminate cramps and reduce growing pains in children. Take magnesium citrate or malate 200 – 600mg per day at night.

The Paleo Diet, Loren Cordain