Eat foods that our caveman ancestors might have eaten 1,000,000 years ago. But as simple as that sounds, it’s not always obvious whether a food existed that long ago.
And more importantly, that’s only a starting point. It makes sense that a food will probably be safe and healthy if it has been eaten for a million years, but newer foods definitely could also be healthy.
So to make going Paleo as easy as possible, I’ve put together this Paleo Diet Food List.
Use the table of contents below to help you navigate through this comprehensive list of Paleo foods. I hope it helps you quickly and easily determine which foods should be added into (or deleted from) your diet.
Here’s a quick infographic showing the Paleo diet food list – please feel free to share and pin! (To embed the infographic on your blog, just copy and paste the embed code below.)
3 Things to Keep In Mind About This Paleo Diet Food List
Other Paleo food lists might be different. Many lists haven’t been updated in ages, so they rely on outdated science and myth. This list is based on the most up-to-date understanding of each of these foods.
Even so, it’s certainly possible to disagree that certain foods should or should not be eaten on a Paleo diet. For instance, potatoes are a big source of disagreement (Loren Cordain says no to them in his book, The Paleo Diet, but many other Paleo experts now think potatoes are not all that different to sweet potatoes). You’re never going to get complete agreement, but this list of foods to eat on a Paleo diet is an excellent place to start.
This list should be customized for your particular body and life. If you’re diabetic and severely obese, then you probably shouldn’t be eating hardly any potatoes, sweet potatoes, or anything else that spikes your blood sugar, at least not until you get your blood sugar under control. On the other hand, if you’re 25 years old and incredibly active, you might need to eat a lot more sweet potato and taro.
If you have specific goals, specific allergies, or specific diseases, then one or more of these foods may not make sense. If you want to lose weight, cut out almost all nuts for a while. If you’ve got irritable bowel syndrome, even berries may not be a good idea. And if you have autoimmune conditions, then you might need to avoid a lot of Paleo diet foods (including eggs, nuts, seeds, peppers and other nightshades). Those sorts of personalized plans are not covered in this list because there are just too many possibilities.
We agree with Mark Sisson that the first step should be to assess how much protein you need. The exact amount depends on your lean body mass and whether you’re looking to build or maintain muscle. But on average, you probably should be getting around 30% of your calories from protein.
The Paleo diet is often considered to be a low carb diet, and that’s probably because once you cut out all the sugar and grains from your diet, you’ll naturally be eating fewer carbs. In general, most people find that they naturally eat under 100 grams of carbohydrates per day on a Paleo diet (mostly through eating vegetables), although if you have blood sugar issues or want to lose weight, then you may want to go lower.
And then the rest of your diet is made up of healthy Paleo fats (we list them all below).
Make sure you eat a HEALTHY Paleo diet
While being a Paleo diet generally makes you eat much healthier food than on a Standard American Diet (SAD), you can still eat junk on Paleo.
It can be easy to stuff your face with macadamia nuts or almond flour cookies daily. Another mistakes many people make is slathering butter on everything or only eating meat.
While macadamia nuts, butter, almond flour cookies, and meats are all foods on a Paleo diet, it doesn’t mean eating only those things is healthy.
Vegetables play a huge part in a Paleo diet. So make sure to add plenty of veggies into diet.
Paleo Diet Food List Video
Prefer watching videos? Here is a video I put together covering many of the foods on this list:
EAT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT OF THESE PALEO FOODS
Pretty much all vegetables are Paleo. Just remember that grains like corn, wheat, and rice are NOT vegetables.
Mushrooms (All Kinds)
Peppers (All Kinds)
Yellow Summer Squash
Most fruits are different than they were a million years ago, but some are healthier than others. Here are the best.
Every meat is Paleo, but quality makes a difference. Buy grass-fed, wild, and pastured when applicable and possible. Also, ignore any sites that tell you to eat only lean meats – that advice is based on 20-year old research and beliefs. If you have trouble getting good quality meats in the US, then check out US Wellness Meats here and get it delivered to your door!
Also, while chicken is included in this “meats” category, please don’t just eat chicken as your protein! Eat a variety of meats (including organ meats and fish and seafood) to ensure you get all your nutrients.
In the United States, organ meats have fallen out of favor, but there is no other category of food that is as nutritious. Eat any of the following from pretty much any animal. Again, US Wellness Meats can send these to your door in the US if you have trouble finding them.
If a food has added sugar in any form, try to avoid it. Some of these sweeteners are better than others, but the simplest and healthiest route is just to forgo them all.
Any Diet or Sugary Soda
Vegetable and Seed Oils
There are few things that will derail your health as much as these oils. With so many healthy oils to choose from (above), make sure to avoid these.
Grains are not evil, but they’re very low in nutrients and relatively high in toxins. It’s best to skip them all. Note that even some foods labeled “gluten-free” will contain grains so check the ingredients! White rice is often considered OK in small amounts if you are fairly athletic and healthy and don’t have blood sugar issues or don’t need to lose weight.
While raw and fermented dairy has some redeeming qualities, these highly-processed forms of dairy should be avoided.
Milk (other than raw)
Of all the things on the list of foods to avoid, beans are the least bad. Still, there’s not a whole lot of reason to eat them, and if you have digestive issues or are trying to lose weight, you’ll do much better without these in your diet. Note – avoid peanut and soy products regardless.
All Processed Foods
This is a catch-all, but an important one.
If it doesn’t look like it was recently part of a plant or animal, don’t eat it. While there are exceptions to this rule, it’s best to stick to the rule for as long as possible.
Other Foods to Avoid
For optimal health, also avoid the following:
Alcohol (including beer, wine, and spirits)
Pseudo-grains (including buckwheat and quinoa)
The Short Paleo Diet Food List Infographic
If you need something to pin to remind you what to eat on Paleo, then here it is – pin away!