The Paleo Diet – A Beginner’s Guide Plus Meal Plan

The paleo diet is based on emulating the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. It includes whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they look like in nature.

Our ancestors were genetically the same as modern humans. They thrived eating such foods and were free of diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Several studies suggest that this diet can lead to significant weight loss (without calorie counting) and major improvements in health.

Simple Meal PlanPhoto by Adam Fields.

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

Young Woman Feels Bad About Eating Junk Food, Smaller

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.”

Foods to Eat on The Paleo Diet

Base your diet on these real, unprocessed paleo foods.

Woman Wondering What to Eat, Large

  • Meats: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork and others.
  • Fish and Seafood: Salmon, trout, haddock, shrimp, shellfish, etc. Choose wild-caught if you can.
  • Eggs: Choose free-range, pastured or omega-3 enriched eggs.
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, avocados, strawberries, blueberries and more.
  • Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, etc.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more.
  • Healthy Fats and Oils: Lard, tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil and others.
  • Salt and Spices: Sea salt, himalayan salt, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, etc.

Try to choose grass-fed, pasture raised and organic if you can afford it. If not, then just make sure to always go for the least processed option.

Maybe Eat


In the past few years, the paleo community has evolved quite a bit.

There are now several different “versions” of the paleo diet. Many of them allow some modern foods that science has shown to be healthy.

This includes quality bacon from pasture raised pigs, grass-fed butter and even some non-gluten grains like rice.

Many people now think of paleo as a template to base your diet on, not necessarily as a strict set of rules that you must follow.

Sensible Indulgences

These are perfectly healthy in small amounts:

  • Wine: Quality red wine is high in antioxidants and beneficial nutrients.
  • Dark Chocolate: Choose one that has 70% or higher cocoa content. Quality dark chocolate is very nutritious and extremely healthy.

What to Drink When You’re Thirsty

Glass of water

When it comes to hydration, water should be your go-to beverage.

These aren’t exactly paleo, but most people drink them anyway:

  • Tea is very healthy and loaded with antioxidants and various beneficial compounds. Green tea is best.
  • Coffee is actually very high in antioxidants as well. Studies show that it has many health benefits.

Watch This Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.

This short video explains everything you need to know about the paleo diet.

A Sample Paleo Menu For One Week

Woman With Wooden Spoon

This sample menu contains a balanced amount of all the paleo foods.

Feel free to adjust this based on your own preferences.


  • Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables, fried in coconut oil. One piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad, with olive oil. Handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Burgers (no bun), fried in butter, with vegetables and some salsa.


  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs, with a piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Leftover burgers from the night before.
  • Dinner: Salmon, fried in butter, with vegetables.


  • Breakfast: Meat with vegetables (leftovers from night before).
  • Lunch: Sandwich in a lettuce leaf, with meat and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Ground beef stir fry, with vegetables. Some berries.


  • Breakfast: Eggs and a fruit.
  • Lunch: Leftover stir fry from the night before. A handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Fried pork, with vegetables.


  • Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables, fried in coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil. Handful of nuts.
  • Dinner: Steak with vegetables and sweet potatoes.


  • Breakfast: Bacon and eggs, with a piece of fruit.
  • Lunch: Leftover steak and vegetables from the night before.
  • Dinner: Baked salmon with vegetables and avocado.


  • Breakfast: Meat with vegetables (leftovers from night before).
  • Lunch: Sandwich in a lettuce leaf, with meat and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken wings, with vegetables and salsa.

There is usually no need to track calories or macronutrients (protein, carbs or fat) on the paleo diet, at least not in the beginning.

However, if you need to lose a lot of weight then it is a good idea to cut carbs somewhat and limit your intake of nuts and potatoes.

If you want to see examples of some of my go-to meals, read this:
7 Healthy Paleo Meals in 10 Minutes or Less

How to Make Your Restaurant Meals Paleo

Female Waitress

It is not very difficult to make most restaurant meals paleo friendly.

  1. Order a meat or fish-based main dish.
  2. Get extra vegetables instead of bread or rice.
  3. Ask them to cook your food in coconut oil, olive oil or lard.

Simple Paleo Snacks

There really is no need to eat more than 3 meals per day, but if you get hungry then here are some paleo snacks that are simple and easily portable:

  • Baby carrots.
  • Hard boiled eggs.
  • A piece of fruit.
  • A handful of nuts.
  • Leftovers from the night before.
  • Apple slices with some almond butter.
  • A bowl of berries with some coconut cream.
  • Homemade beef jerky.

Simple Paleo Shopping List

There is an incredible variety of foods you can eat on the paleo diet.

This simple shopping list should give you an idea of how to get started.

Healthy Man Holding a Grocery Bag

  • Meat: beef, lamb, pork, etc.
  • Poultry: chicken, turkey, etc.
  • Fish: salmon, trout, mackerel, etc.
  • Eggs.
  • Fresh vegetables: greens, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onions, etc.
  • Frozen vegetables: broccoli, spinach, various mixes, etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, pears, oranges, avocado.
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts.
  • Almond butter.
  • Coconut oil.
  • Olive oil.
  • Olives.
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Condiments: Sea salt, pepper, turmeric, garlic, parsley, etc.

It is a good idea to clear all unhealthy temptations from your home, including sodas, pastries, cookies, crackers, bread, ice cream and cereals.

How to Find More Info

If you’re interested in more articles like this one, make sure to subscribe to free updates.

I have put together a list of 101 paleo recipes that are simple and delicious. You can find them here: 101 Paleo Recipes That Taste Incredible.

There is an entire world of information out there on paleo eating. Just google something like “paleo recipes” or “primal recipes” and you will find a ton of stuff.