The Paleo Diet


What is The Paleo Diet?

Many of you have probably heard of the paleo diet or the caveman diet before, especially if you are close to the Crossfit fitness community. This diet was popularized by Dr. Loren Cordain and has many different variations. The idea behind this diet is that our gut has not evolved to eat the foods we eat now therefore we should go back to eating like our cavemen ancestors did.

So What Can I Eat?

As mentioned earlier there are different variations of eating a Paleo Diet but they all stem off of Dr. Cordain’s list. You can eat:

  • Beef, Pork, and Poultry
    • Grass-fed beef preferred
  • Eggs
    • Free-range preferred
  • Fish/seafood
    • Fresh preferred
  • Fresh fruits/vegetables
    • Organic preferred
  • Nuts/seeds
  • “Healthful oils”
    • Olive, coconut, olive oil, etc..
    • Extra Virgin / Cold-pressed preferred

The list of foods you cannot eat are fairly specific which is one of the reasons this diet can be appealing. Coincidentally, Dr. Cordain’s book came out around the same time the gluten-free and dairy-free movements started, adding to its popularity. On the Paleo diet you cannot eat:

  • Legumes
    • Peanuts, beans, lentils, etc..
  • Dairy products
    • Some variations allow small amounts
  • Cereal grains
    • Wheat/barley/rye
  • Potatoes
    • Some allow sweet potatoes
  • Alcohol
  • Trans-fays/partially hydrogenated oils
    • Margarine

Is It Safe To Eat This Way?

The main concern about this diet is its total exclusion of grains and dairy products. This may lead to deficiencies in important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, calcium, and several B-vitamins. For those who choose to follow Paleo, it is important they focus on eating foods that contain higher amounts of the nutrients mentioned above such as spinach mushrooms and nuts.

One thing I do like about this particular style of eating is the emphasis on eating large amounts of fruit and vegetables. Most American’s don’t eat enough of these nutrition powerhouses. The restriction of grains can be helpful for those who previously ate excessive amounts of processed grains like pasta.

So Should I Follow This Diet or Not?

I want to start this section by telling you I followed a strict Paleo Diet for nine consecutive months early in my undergrad when I was a serious Cross-fitter. At first I thought the diet was expensive to maintain but once I actually started to make my own meals and eat less, the cost evened out. The first few days I felt tired and hungry, similar symptoms of the keto-flu but my body adjusted fairly quickly. I personally found that this diet led me to be more alert and conscious about what I was putting in my body.

What I did not take into account was that I was putting my body at significant risk for the nutrient deficiencies mentioned earlier and this is the reason why I don’t recommend following a diet that restricts entire food groups. However, there are great principles you can take away from the Paleo diet that you can start incorporating into your current lifestyle like I am now.

  • Eat more fruits/vegetables
  • Live a more active lifestyle
  • Higher protein/fiber intake
  • More awareness of what is actually in foods

If you were to try the Paleo Diet I would recommend you not exclude dairy products and eat whole-grain products to ensure you are not deficient in any vitamins/minerals.

Websites to check out:

Paleo Chick-Fil-A

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Serves 2-3

  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 1/3 cup dill pickle juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp almond flour
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika (sweet or smoked)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Coconut oil for frying


  1. Cut the chicken breast into large chunks, and put it in a ziplock plastic bag. Pour the pickle juice into the bag. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. (Or overnight for best flavor.)
  2. After it’s done marinating, pour the pickle juice out of the bag.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg and coconut milk. Pour that into the bag and let it sit for about 10 minutes while you prepare the spice mix.
  4. In another small bowl, mix the coconut flour, almond flour, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, onion power and garlic powder.
  5. Open the bag and drain out as much egg / coconut milk as you can. It doesn’t have to be completely dry because you want something for the spice mix to stick to.
  6. Pour the spice mix into the bag, close the top, and really massage it into the chicken. This may take a minute or two but you want all the pieces to be evenly coated.
  7. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat a few tablespoons of coconut oil until the oil is very hot. Add a single layer of chicken (being careful not to crowd it) to the pan and fry on each side for about 3 minutes or until it’s completely cooked through.

Created by: Raul Palacios BS, TTU Dietetic Intern Texas Tech Graduate
Hospitality Dietitian Mindy Diller, MS, RDN, LD 


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