Paleo diet

For 2.6 million years, our Paleolithic ancestors ate a diet high in wild animal protein and fat, with some gathered plant foods. There was no wheat, rice, pasta, flour, potatoes, or refined sugar. Agriculture was invented only 11,000 years ago. Dairy foods such as milk and cheese were invented only 6,000 years ago.


In modern times, isolated tribes of hunter-gatherers still eat a Paleo diet. As a result, their Body Mass Index (BMI) is 19–20 (someone who is 5’8 and 131 pounds has a BMI of 20). No one is overweight or obese. And almost no one has heart disease or diabetes.


In contrast, the United States is suffering from an obesity epidemic. About 30% of adults are overweight (BMI of 25–30). Another 40% are obese (BMI >30).


For example, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days in the documentary Super Size Me. He gained 25 pounds and suffered mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and liver damage.


Overall, the human body has evolved over millions of years to eat protein, fat, fruits, and vegetables.


I eat like a caveman.

-Jennifer Lawrence


Back to basics

Eating Paleo improves health quickly. For example, professor Kerin O’Dea convinced 10 Australian Aborigines to leave their modern lives and live as hunter-gatherers for 7 weeks. The Aborigines were in their 50s, overweight, and diabetic.


Once in the Outback, they ate kangaroo, fish, yams, birds, and crocodiles. They were only eating 1,200 calories per day, but didn’t feel hungry because of the high protein and fiber.


Results were remarkable. The Aborigines lost an average of 18 pounds, and their diabetes reversed to near-normal levels of blood glucose, insulin, and triglycerides.


Primitive societies are largely free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, dental cavities, economic theories, lounge music, and other modern ailments.

-Nassim Taleb


Importance of a Paleo diet

Here are jaw-dropping benefits:










Think about it: Heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined, are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Without drugs or surgery.

-Dean Ornish


How to eat Paleo

Eat a mix of protein, fat, fruits, and vegetables


For protein, eat chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, nuts, legumes, pasture-fed red meat, and wild meat


For fat, eat omega-3 fats and unsaturated fats


For fruits, eat raw, whole fruits


For vegetables, eat non-starchy vegetables


For beverages, drink water or unsweetened tea or coffee


Avoid foods containing simple carbohydrates


Avoid foods containing sugar


Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

-Michael Pollan


Salad dressing

At Iowa State University, researchers prepared salads with spinach, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and carrots. They added fat-free, reduced-fat, or full-fat salad dressings. Volunteers ate the salads, then had their blood tested for antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lycopene.


With fat-free dressing, there was almost zero absorption of antioxidants. In contrast, there was excellent absorption with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil or canola oil.


The promotion of low-fat diets was a 40-year fad, with disastrous outcomes, conceived of, authorized, and policed by nutritionists.

-Ian Leslie



In Tanzania, Bantu villagers live on the shores of Lake Nyasa and eat lots of fish. In nearby hills, other villagers eat a vegetarian diet. In a study of both groups, researchers found that 16% of vegetarians had high blood pressure versus 3% of fish-eaters. Also, fish-eaters had 14% lower cholesterol and 3X higher levels of healthy omega-3 fats.


It’s not just Tanzania. A study of 229 hunter-gatherer societies found that 73% ate more than half of their calories from hunted or fished animal foods. None ate mostly gathered plant foods.


The problem is most vegetarian diets are low in protein and omega‐3 fats. Also, some vegetarians eat simple carbohydrates such as rice, bread, pasta, and sugar. Your body has evolved over millions of years to eat animal protein—it’s a mistake to cut it out of your diet.


Omega-3 fats

In plants, omega-3 fats function as antioxidants that protect cell membranes. When animals eat plants, omega-3 fats accumulate in their tissues. When you eat animals, the omega-3 fats become building blocks for your body, especially the brain. They also serve as antioxidants and reduce inflammation.


Cows that eat grass have meat that is high in omega-3 fats, whereas cows that eat grain do not. This is why grass-fed, free-range, and wild protein is better for your health.


You are what what you eat eats.

-Michael Pollan



Fruits and vegetables naturally contain vitamins and antioxidants. For example, blueberries, tomatoes, and spinach are loaded with antioxidants that prevent browning from oxygen in air.


If you eat Paleo, your diet should contain more than enough vitamins and antioxidants. That being said, consider taking 800 IU or more of vitamin D per day to boost your immune system against COVID-19, especially in northern climates.


If you’re planning to have a baby, take prenatal vitamins to prevent neural tube defects, cleft palate, and other abnormalities. And if you’re older, take 800 IU of vitamin D and 1,200 mg of calcium per day to prevent fractures.


Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.



How to start today

Here is a 3-week plan:


Cheat foods


People have got to learn: if they don’t have cookies in the cookie jar, they can’t eat cookies.

-Suze Orman


Example meals



Lunch and Dinner


Snacks and Dessert


The 3 most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.

-Nassim Taleb


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Back to basics

O’Dea K. (1984). Marked improvement in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic Australian aborigines after temporary reversion to traditional lifestyle. Diabetes. 33(6): 596–603. 


Lifestyle change, diabetes and related conditions in Australian Aboriginals: Professor Kerin O’Dea. (2019, May 10). Education Nutrition.



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How to eat Paleo

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Chicken, Red meat

Wang X et al. (2015). Red and processed meat consumption and mortality: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Public Health Nutr. 19(5): 893–905.


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Raji CA et al. (2014). Regular fish consumption and age-related brain gray matter loss. Am J Prev Med. 47(4): 444–451.


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Drouin-Chartier J et al. (2020). Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: three large prospective US cohort studies, systematic review, and updated meta-analysis. BMJ. 368: m513.


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Fruits, Vegetables

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Song M et al. (2016). Association of animal and plant protein intake with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 176(10): 1453–1463.


Wang X et al. (2014). Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 349: g4490.


Oyebode O et al. (2014). Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. J Epidemiol Community Health. 68(9): 856–862.


Muraki I et al. (2013). Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ. 347: f5001.


Sugar, Juice

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O’Connor L et al. (2015). Prospective associations and population impact of sweet beverage intake and type 2 diabetes, and effects of substitutions with alternative beverages. Diabetologia. 58(7): 1474–1483.


Boden G et al. (2015). Excessive caloric intake acutely causes oxidative stress, GLUT4 carbonylation, and insulin resistance in healthy men. Sci Transl Med. 7(304): 304re7.



Reis CE et al. (2013). Acute and second-meal effects of peanuts on glycaemic response and appetite in obese women with high type 2 diabetes risk: a randomised cross-over clinical trial. Br J Nutr. 109(11): 2015–2023.


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Blom WA et al. (2006). Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response. Am J Clin Nutr. 83(2): 211–220.


Mahoney CR et al. (2005). Effect of breakfast composition on cognitive processes in elementary school children. Physiol Behav. 85(5): 635–645.


Salad dressing

Goltz SR et al. (2012). Meal triacylglycerol profile modulates postprandial absorption of carotenoids in humans. Mol Nutr Food Res. 56(6): 866–877.


Brown MJ et al. (2004). Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. Am J Clin Nutr. 80(2): 396–403.



Pauletto P et al. (1996). Blood pressure and atherogenic lipoprotein profiles of fish-diet and vegetarian villagers in Tanzania: the Lugalawa study. Lancet. 348(9030): 784–788.


Cordain L et al. (2000). Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 71(3): 682–692.


Omega-3 fats

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Anderson EJ at al. (2014). Do fish oil omega-3 fatty acids enhance antioxidant capacity and mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation in human atrial myocardium via PPARγ activation? Antioxid Redox Signal. 21(8): 1156–1163.


Hajianfar H, Paknahad Z, Bahonar A. (2013). The effect of omega-3 supplements on antioxidant capacity in patients with type 2 diabetes. Int J Prev Med. 4(Suppl 2): S234–S238.



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How to start today

Wansink B, Painter JE, Lee Y-K. (2006). The office candy dish: proximity’s influence on estimated and actual consumption. Int J Obes. 30(5): 871–875.


Rubini L, Ozabaci D. (2020, April). Hide the cookie jar: Nudging towards healthy eating. SSRN.


Shukla AP et al. (2017). Carbohydrate-last meal pattern lowers postprandial glucose and insulin excursions in type 2 diabetes. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 5(1): e000440.

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