Paleo can be confusing at first, but by remembering a few simple rules you can navigate it quite easily.
At its simplest there’s only three rules to remember
- Based your intake on vegetables, meat, fish, fruit nuts and seeds
- Avoid grain, legume and daily containing foods
- Avoid highly processed foods
And just one more thing: THE PALEO DIET IS NOT A ‘LOW CARB’ DIET. The paleo diet really says nothing about how much of each macro nutrient you consume. Paleo nutritionists on the other hand have plenty of ideas about what they think is best.
Expanding on all of the above back in 2010 I published a blog containing a ‘paleo food matrix’. It was a popular post. At the risk of committing SEO suicide I’ve decided to repost it here in full.
- Tables of foods to eat every meal, every day and every so often
- Tables of foods to avoid
- some idea of frequency – this is based on what is generally done in the Paleo/Hunter gather/evolutionary medicine community. Feel free to ignore it!
- Updates based on reader feedback
Paleo Food Matrix
by Drew Price on October 28, 2010
This post was spurred on by a client who, despite doing well was confused enough to come seem me seeking guidance on the ‘what’s, when’s and where’s’ of the different, high quality, food choices available to those going Paleo.
She was not alone however; common issues with the paleo diet I am asked about are:
- Getting bored with food combinations,
- Understanding the food quality issue but not understanding when you eat the different food types,
- What to make the core of your eating and what to have every so often, an why,
- Breakfast choices, sadly it turns out coco-pops aren’t paleo.
So, in an effort to do myself out of even more potential clinical clients here’s a LARGE number of choices for you. It’s not complete by any means but it will keep you in novel combinations for literally years so have a look at the below THREE tables, follow the instructions, namely:
- Combine for the foods from table 1 for most meals,
- sometimes add some things from tables 2 and,
- leave the foods in table 3 for when you’re doing really well or training
Table 1. CORE FOODS
The first choices are your CORE choices, combine a protein, some vegetables and some herbs or spice and cook in a solid oil or olive oil and/or add a splash of fat or fatty food afterwards
|Protein||Vegetables||Oils & Fats||Herbs & Spices|
Chicken breast & leg
Duck (skin removed!)
Lamb; neck fillet, leg steak
Turkey rashers (occasionally!)
Other muscles: Tongue, neck etc
Organ meats and other tissues:
Blood and blood sausage (minus the oats used often)
Glands such as sweatbreads,
Oils for cooking
Oils for adding later
DHA or EPA oils*
Borage, primrose oil
* = significant omega three sources NOT USED FOR COOKING
|BasilBay leavesCelery saltChili dry, fresh etcChinese Five SpiceChivesCinnamonCorianderCuminCurry powderCurry leafDill
Five-spice powder (Chinese)
Herbs de Provence
Kaffir Lime Leaves
Pepper (black, white, and green)
Salt Free seasoning
|Wild and grass fed preferably||Seasonal/Organic/Frozen etc||Solid: High temperature cookingRunny: Low temperature cookingPolyunsaturates: Cold only||Explore combinations and go easy on salty mixes|
Table 2. DAILY FOODS
These are ‘occasional foods’ that can be eaten every day but dependent upon how you’re going with regards to health and body composition. Eating these will increase the amount of carbohydrate and omega 6 fats you’re eating. Obviously those two things come with many other beneficial things though, so do eat them, just not so much…
|Low carbGI/II (GL) Fruits||Nuts and nut butters|
|Lemon or LimeRhubarbRaspberriesBlackberries
Guavas (both types)
Seed and nut butters
Carb sources, just less dense ones
Fat sources with higher O6%
Table 3. CONCENTRATED STARCHES AND SUGARY STUFF
These are dense sources of carbohydrate, mostly quality carbohydrates, yes but ones that will lead to faster, higher rises in blood sugar. These are foods that are best suited to:
- those who are very lean and/or those who need to put on weight
- those who handle carbs well
- those looking at foods to consume around training
Consume in minimal amounts and/or and around training only
|High GI/GL Fruits||Paleo Starches||Paleo Sugars|
Guavas (both types)
….root veg (things that grow below ground)
|HoneySyrups: ANY‘Paleo’ jams
So there we go, I hope you find this useful,
UPDATE: I have just seen Robb Wolf who’s book I reviewed has released his own ‘matrix’… great minds and all that, the format is similar as well, you can find it here:
… sorry, what do you mean is that it? OH! You want the list of stuff you’re not allowed… here we go:
|Non prescribed meats and fish||Not prescribed vegetable matter||Non prescribed oils|
|Bacon: actual bacon is salted. Unsalted bacon is known as ‘pork’Cheap grill steaksthese will include preservatives
Fish packed in non paleo ingredients(OK, drain them well if you can’t get others)
Frankfurters, sausages etc.These will contain preservative salts
|Peas, beans etc.They’re legumes, they may have been eaten at a pinch but require processing.Sweet corn:sweetCORN; it’s a grain.
White potatoes: not the devil incarnate but a new type of vegetable, unlike their predecessor
|‘Vegetable oil’:mostly soya based. Not good.Seed cooking oils:very high in omega 6, usually damaged. Eat a few seeds instead.
Grassfed butter:good stuff maybe, but not paleo
Peanut oil: PEAnut oil, it’s a legume, not a nut.
|Salts, preservatives, compound orFrakenfoods etc||Too many antinutrients and/or carbs with too little good stuff||Derivatives of stuff you might eat but not the stuff and hunter-gatherer would have known. Oils that don’t suit health as they’re too accessible|
There you have it.