The 5 Levels of Paleo
Paleo Food Pyramid

List of Foods

Here you will find a list of Do’s & Don’ts for eating strict Paleo. How closely you follow these guidelines depends entirely on your personal goals. If you are looking to lose as much weight as you can as fast as possible, we recommend faithfully adhering to the rules outlined below. If you are already in shape and are searching for ways to make improvements, whether it’s strength, size, tone, stamina, power, etc., we suggest incorporating a level of Paleo that coincides with what you’re trying to accomplish. The higher the level you commit to, the faster you will accomplish your goal.

Looking for some Paleo Recipes? Check out our Recipes & Resources page.

What’s Allowed

Following is a more detailed description of the food categories you’re allowed to eat.

  • All the Meat you want:
    Any beef (ground beef, steak), pork (chops, ham), lamb, duck, chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, seafood (clams, scallops, etc). Fresh or frozen.
  • Plenty of Veggies:
    Any fresh or frozen veggies (except potato, corn, and beans)
  • Supplement with Nuts/Seeds:
    Any nuts/seeds (except peanuts), raw/ lightly roasted and unsalted; or any nut butters
  • Add some other Healthy Fats:
    Avocados, olive/almond/coconut oil, or flaxseed/grape seed oil
  • Some Fruit:
    Any whole fresh fruit (no juice), but in moderation (1-2 servings)

Why All the Meat?

  • You can’t overeat it and you can’t gain weight on lean meat alone
  • Loaded w/ BCAAs + glutamine = faster recovery = drop in cortisol (stress hormone)
  • Loaded w/ carnitine which causes fat to be used as energy
  • Raises metabolism which burns more calories
  • Satisfies the appetite
  • Improves insulin sensitivity

Note: ALWAYS eat meat with fat (naturally or from nuts/seeds, olive oil, avocado)

Why All the Veggies?

  • Loaded w/ vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc
  • Fills you up
  • Doesn’t spike your insulin
  • Balances the acid-base (more alkaline as opposed to acidic)

Why Nuts/Seeds, Olive Oil, or Avocado

  • Fat ratios of omega 3/6/9 get normalized
  • Get more 3 w/ fish oil and more 9 w/ olive oil and nuts
  • Anti-inflammatory (Inflammation causes: heart attacks, cancer, and Alzheimer’s to name a few)
  • Essential to human health
  • Promotes healthy blood flow

Why Only Some Fruit?
Sadly, fruit raises insulin levels and needs to be moderated if you are:
1) Trying to lose weight OR
2) Diabetic or have another metabolic derangement
That being said, fruits are still very good for you, naturally sweet, and loaded w/ nutrients. A good rule of thumb is to keep your fruit intake less than that of vegitables

Off Limits

Following is a list of what is off limits if you’re committed to strict Paleo.

  • No Sugar or Artificial Sugar
    (Equal, Splenda, Stevia, agave nectar, pure cane, corn syrup, fructose, molasses, honey, maltodextrin, etc)
  • No Junk Food
    (cakes, desserts, cookies, candy, chocolate, pastries, chips, crackers,ice cream, snack foods, etc)
  • No Grains
    (wheat products, corn products, rice, pasta, bread, oatmeal, cereals, etc)
  • No Legumes/Beans
    (peanuts, lima beans, kidney beans, black beans etc)
  • No Dairy
    (milk, ½ + ½, cream, butter, yogurt, cheese, etc)
  • No Alcohol
    (Includes wine, beer and hard liquor)

Why No Sugar Substitutes?

  • Sugar and all substitutes may spike insulin levels
  • Prohibits many people from losing weight

Why No Grains?

  • Not healthy, no nutrients, not suitable for our digestive system – (causes weight gain and bloating)
  • Contain anti-nutrients (phytates- more on that soon)
  • Contain lectin (grain protein causes gut irritation) > celiac: gluten intolerance > destruction of villi in intestines > a vast array of digestive/gastrointestinal problems: constipation – heart burn – colon disease – IBS – varicose veins – indigestion – colitis – gall stones – hemorroids – appendicitis – hiatal hernia – duodenal ulcer
  • Gluten (wheat, oats) disrupts insulin signalling (1 in 33 people have celiac disease)
  • Lead to carb addiction (bread anyone?)
  • Kitava study: No cancer, diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Intro to grains/dairy/legumes = disease started
  • Inuits:  85% fat, 15% protein, no carbs = no disease

Why No Legumes/Beans?

  • Contain phytates > binds w/ bone minerals > robs you of it
  • Contain lectin: originally evolved to fight off insect predators > binds w/ tissues in our body > increase intestinal permeability > allows partially digested food and gut bacteria to pass into the bloodstream > also impairs the immune system > leads to many autoimmune diseases in genetically susceptible people

Why No Dairy?

  • Spikes insulin levels
  • Nutrient deficient (cows are fed grain) and loaded w/ antibiotics and growth hormones
  • Linked to increased risk of prostate and ovarian cancer

Thirst Quenchers
Black coffee – Espresso – Americano – green/black/herbal/oolong tea water – water w/ lemon.  THAT’S IT.

Flavor It Up

  • Tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, salsa
  • Fresh onion and/or garlic
  • Fresh dill, basil, or lemongrass
  • Dried dill, basil, oregano, cumin, ginger, adobo, curry, mustard
  • Black pepper, red pepper, chili pepper, chili powder, Montreal Seasoning
  • Fresh lemon or limes; Mojo
  • Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar or Farmer Boy Greek Dressing

Conventional Food vs. Organic Food
From Wikipedia: “Organic foods are produced according to certain production standards, meaning they are grown without the use of conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers, human waste, or sewage sludge, and that they were processed without ionizing radiation or food additives.”

Organic is not required unless you have a serious illness and must reduce the toxins/allergens on/in your food. It does taste better and is better for you. If you can afford organic, then do it. Keep in mind, just because it is organic doesn’t mean it’s good for you! An organic donut is still a donut and is NO good for you.

Conventional Meat vs. Organic Meat vs. Grass-Fed/Free-Range/Wild Meat
Conventional meat is raised with the routine use of antibiotics and growth hormones. They are fed a diet of grains and are caged/farmed.  Organic meat is raised without the use of antibiotics and growth hormones,but is still fed an organic diet of grains and is also caged/farmed. Grass-Fed/Free-Range/Wild means exactly what it says. No antibiotics or growth hormones. They eat what they were meant to eat (cows-grass, fish-other fish or sea life, chicken-bugs) and they are not caged.

Again, these are personal choices. If you can afford GF/FR/W, then do it. The quality of our food is largely determined by the quality of the food that animal ate or with fruits+veggies, the quality of the growing conditions.

Fish Oil
Get 2-4 grams per day.
1)  But only if you are interested in: better brain development – better emotional control/mood – hormone synthesis     regulation of pain and inflammation – better immune function – proper circulation     proper kidney function – proper nerve transmission – more energy production better looking skin, hair and nails – better athletic performance or
2)  if you are concerned about the following diseases: arthritis – asthma – ADD – heart attack – stroke – cancer – depression hair loss –  hypertension – lupus – memory problems – schizophrenia diabetes – bronchitis – emphysema – gastrointestinal disorders obesity – fatigue – fibromyalgia – autoimmune diseases


  • The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain
  • The Omega Rx Diet by Barry Sears
  • Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
  • The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden
  • CrossFit Journal #15 by Greg Glassman
  • Damn Dirty Grains by Robb Wolf
  • CrossFit Nutrition Seminar (live event) with Robb Wolf
  • Monique Ames -Crossfit Evolution