What is a Paleo Diet and How You Can Get Started

paleo diet how to

Ahhh, The Paleo Diet. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve likely heard of this way of eating that seems to transform all who follow it.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge fan of fad diets but it seems The Paleo Diet doesn’t often attract people just looking for a quick fix.

Those that try it, and reap it’s benefits, seem to be converted for the long-term.

I first heard of Paleo when I read an awesome book called The Paleo Solution, By Robb Wolf.

I’m a big fan of Robb’s and regularly listen to his podcast and this book really changed my views on how our diets affect not only our bodies but our health.

Much of the sickness and disease we face is less to do with bad luck and more to do with bad diets.

The Paleo Diet boasts anything from rapid fat-loss to the reversing of diseases. And there seems to be no lack of testimonials to back these claims up.

In this short post, I’ll provide an overview of what this diet entails and how to get started.

What is The Paleo Diet?

The Paleo Diet is modeled after the way people ate during the Paleolithic Era. It’s also known as the Caveman Diet.

The whole idea is that since our genetics are almost identical to our loin-cloth wearing predecessors, we should eat what they ate. Our modern diet has evolved faster than our body’s ability to process those modern foods well. Because of this, we’re fatter and sicker than ever.

By going back to eating how our ancestors evolved to eat, we get to reap the rewards they lived with. Strong, lean, and athletic bodies that were practically disease and sickness free.

But, before I tell you to blow up your fridge, throw out your microwave, and starting riding a horse to work; let’s get to what The Caveman Diet really looks like:

What To Eat on Paleo

  • Vegetables
  • Lean Meats
  • Seafood
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Healthy Fats
  • Fruits

Foods to Avoid

  • Dairy
  • Grains
  • Processed Foods and refined sugars
  • Legumes
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Alcohol

Simply put, base your diet on garden vegetables (especially greens), lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch and no added sugar.

photo credit: AmySelleck via photopin cc

photo credit: AmySelleck via photopin cc

How Do You Get Started?

When you’re adjusting your eating habits after years of eating the same way, simple things like getting the groceries can be reason enough to throw in the towel.

With Paleo you can keep things simple. Go around the outside aisles of the supermarket. This will take you through the fruits, veggies, and meats sections, while missing the majority of the processed food sections. Go into the centre aisles sparingly.

Something else that’ll help you stay on track is having a meal plan. This has helped me a lot.

Meal plans provide a clear idea of what you’ll eat ahead of time and can be the difference between success and failure in forming new eating habits. (Click here for Paleo Meal Plans)

Lastly, get rid of Non-Paleo foods from your pantry. I know from experience you can whip up some pretty awesome Paleo grub. But it’ll be harder to stick to it when you’ve got Doritos or Twinkies staring you down every time you open the pantry door.

PaleoTest.com offers a nice free assessment that determines if the Paleo Diet is good for you.

My Personal Experience with Paleo

I’ve tried The Paleo Diet in the past and loved it.

It helped me discover that I had an intolerance for gluten and since I’ve removed that from my diet I’ve felt incredible. 

It was quite easy to stick to the Paleo way of eating when I was cooking for myself at home, but I definitely found it tough in social situations.

Watching friends eat pizza while I was nibbling away on a salmon salad definitely got tiresome (and caused some weird looks). But, was it a price worth paying for my health? Heck yes!

So why don’t I follow it anymore?

Well, I love dairy. And, as far as I can tell, dairy loves me. I’m also a big fan of rice and my body seems to have no problem with it.

I may not be a raving Paleo dieter, but I have to admit it’s definitely left its mark on me.

Though I still make room for treats the majority of my diet is non-processed, mostly fruits, vegetables, and meats. I feel best when I’m eating this way.

Give it 30 Days

I’ll end with Robb Wolf’s greasy used-car salesman pitch: “Try it for 30 days and see how you look, feel, and perform”.

If you’re experiencing food allergies or gut troubles the first thing I’d encourage you to do is try The Paleo Diet. Heck, even if you just want to look better naked, you should try it. It could improve your health and your butt.

Have a question about The Paleo Diet? Comment Below

(For a more extensive and scientific overview click here)


  1. Chi

    I have to agree with your analysis Nicole, I think cutting out most food groups will be quite unhealthy and will throw the body’s systems into a state of imbalance. However the part of the diet i like is that it encourages farm to pot and minimizes processed food which I believe causes havoc in the body. Much as I like this , I won’t be leaving out my beans or rice

  2. Sandy

    I love how people on a Paleo diet always attribute feeling better to a gluten intolerance. Maybe it is other things in the diet that you no longer eat such as those Doritos and any other junk food you cut out. I am a dietitian and have mixed feelings for the Paleo diet. On the plus side, it does get people to eat more whole foods especially fruits and vegetables. On the down side, it cuts out two food groups. Fine, don’t eat processed grain products like bread and pasta but cultures have survived for centuries on rice and it didn’t hurt them. They also ate more vegetables and small portions of meat and had a great deal of physical activity in their lifestyle. By the way, the current Paleo diet is nothing like what our ancestors ate. They didn’t have pigs or cows as we know them. (I’ve seen Paleo diets that allow bacon. Really? Cavemen knew how to make bacon?). Check out this TED talk on the Paleo diet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMOjVYgYaG8

    • Dan Bolton

      Great thoughts, Sandy! I’ve heard lots about this TED talk so I’ll have to check it out – Thanks 🙂

  3. Daniel Wagle

    I am different from the Paleo diet in that I eat no meat. I would be similar in that I eat a lot of nuts and seeds and fruits and vegetables and am not low fat, but also not low carb. I do eat grains and legumes. From what I understand, there are a lot of health benefits to “resistant starches” that one finds in beans, for instance. As there are “healthy fats,” found in nuts as there are also “healthy fiber rich carbs” as well found in whole grains and legumes. I get my fat in whole food form and don’t consume oils. I have maintained my weight loss for almost 4 years now. My blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure are all stellar now and continue to improve even more.

    • Dan Bolton

      How long have you been vegetarian for Daniel? I was vegetarian (And even vegan) for a couple of years but opted out eventually as it wasn’t doing me any good, health wise (Admittedly, I had a pretty poor vegetarian diet).

      • Daniel Wagle

        I have done it for about 2.5 years now. I am nearly Vegan, although I don’t strictly avoid eggs and dairy- I just don’t eat them regularly. I drink fortified soymilk for B12 and now eat fortified red star nutritional yeast for even more B12. The fortified soymilk helps with calcium too, although I eat raw turnip greens, almonds and blackstrap mollases which also have calcium. I eat a lot of nuts for protein and also eat beans twice a week when I am off from work. I mainly do this because I saw a film about factory farms and I decided I don’t want to eat violence. This film, which showed tremendous cruelty towards the animals completely eliminated any cravings for things like bacon that I used to love. Zinc might be something a Vegan might be deficient in, but I take a Prostate supplement which has zinc. I also eat an ounce of pumpkin seeds each day, which also has zinc, as well as protein. So far, so good. My blood work is fine and eating the fortified nutritional yeast seems to have lessened my fatigue, since it has B12.

  4. spectra311

    I love the idea of being able to eat Paleo 100% of the time, but for me, that isn’t totally do-able. I love my yogurt a few times a week and my coffee and a drink now and then. I do, however, follow the Paleo diet about 80% of the time. I eat mainly nonstarchy veggies, fish, eggs, nuts, and fruits. The other 20% is “cheat” food like the yogurt, coffee, alcohol, and airpopped popcorn. I have had nothing but good things happen to me since eating this way–my skin cleared up, my weight was almost effortless to maintain, I had plenty of energy. As far as diet trends go, this is a good one in my book.

    • Dan Bolton

      I quite like the 80/20 way of doing things. I’ve found when I try and go 100% this or that I become too intense and often miserable. I love my ice cream too much to completely take it out 😉

  5. Ted

    This is pretty much how I’ve been eating since the beginning of the year, but I don’t want to label it Paleo. I still eat peanut butter, but that’s the only difference. I don’t like to label it because while we can guess at what our ancestors ate, based on some archaeological evidence, we don’t know all the aspects of their dietary habits.

    Anyway, I do like the way it is changing my body and changing the way I feel. I never considered myself to have gluten sensitivities, but I realized that over the last 3 weeks, I haven’t been waking up sneezing and having my usual sneeze attack in the morning anymore. I always thought it was my dust mite allergy but I haven’t been doing anything different environmentally. It must have been diet related or a combination there of.

    Dan I would encourage you to ease up on the cow teat . 🙂 I only have dairy occasionally and I’ve been that way for a couple of years. I can digest it fine, but I have really come to the conclusion that milk is good for growing baby cows but not the best for nourishing humans… Dairy is so deeply ingrained in New Zealand culture especially in the huge coffee culture there. This is true for America as well, which makes it is a tough thing to remove it as a DAILY part of the diet.

    • Dan Bolton

      I sneeze too!!
      It causes no gut trouble whatsoever but I get headaches and itchy eyes.

      Dairy is definitely a huge part of NZ culture. Speaking of coffee I had a flat white with James this morning (Though he had a long black haha).
      Are there many good flat whites where you live?

      • Ted

        Flat white is only a type of paint in America. lol.. Our coffee culture doesn’t compare and consists of hastily made coffees in togo cups 🙁 The bright side – This helps me drink less milk!

  6. sweetonnh

    Dan, off topic..but I’d love you to discuss issues with calorie counting (accurately). What I mean is, when something gives a calorie count for 1 cup; do thy mean 8oz on the food scale or something that would fit into a 1 cup measuring cup? Also, differences in cal counts between cooked and uncooked items..chicken etc. That would be most helpful!

    • Dan Bolton

      Good question.
      I personally use myfitnesspal for everything and I don’t usually go by size but rather by weight. Wherever possible go for weight as it’s the most accurate!