The Tao of Paleo: Finding Your Path to Health and Harmony


“Have a big dinner, have a light snack 

If you don’t like it, you can’t send it back 

Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it.” ~ Weird Al

JG: It’s all about food. Real food, unprocessed natural food. We should be having another guest arrive any minute now…

[knocking on the door]

JS: Didn’t know we had a door in this book. How do I open it?

JG: I think you just type “opens door.”

JS: [opens door] Dude, that worked!

GG: Hi Jason and Joe! I am Gary Grainiak and I LOVE GRAINS! I start out the morning with a huge vat of oat bran cereal and a bagel, I have a hearty sandwich from Subway for lunch with a bag of Sun Chips, and for dinner I have chicken with corn and whole grain rice!! And by the way, I feel AWESOME! (smiles big)

JG: Shall we shoot him now, or wait till later?

JS: Shoot him now! Shoot him now! Just kidding. We aren’t here to kill off our fictitious characters, we are here to help people. Ok it’s time to talk about FOOD - specifically, what should a Tao seeker eat, and what should a Tao seeker avoid?

GG: GREAT! To be honest this is the make-it-or-break-it chapter for me. I don’t like the idea of restricted diet at all, but I am trying to keep an open mind here. So what’s on the menu?

JG: No, wait, Joe lied. First we need to talk about things are on, or off, the menu. Some of you just want to hear the bottom line. “Tell me what to do!” you’re shouting to yourself as you smack yourself in the head with this book.

JS: We don’t advise that, especially if you downloaded the electronic version.

JG: Others need to understand a little more about why. We’re going to talk a little about the science behind the food choices and we’re going to start by telling you to eat a lot of food. Paleo is not a calorie restriction diet designed to make people lose weight simply by depriving the body and making it burn stored fat.

JS: That’s right. Good call, Jason. You’re most certainly going to eat a lot of food, and you’re not going to count calories. Instead, you’ll focus on eating the RIGHT foods.

JG: Exactly.

JS: We’ll divide foods into three categories: the ones that help your body function, the ones that hurt your body function, and the ones that are ok in moderation. We need to understand what makes the good foods good and the bad ones bad. The YES list is comprised of the foods that give us what we need to operate most effectively - the foods that give us all the essential nutrients we need. The NO list is a list of the all the foods the have a net negative effect on your body. They cause inflammation, auto-immune disorders, insulin insensitivity, contain toxins, and otherwise wreak havoc on normal bodily functions. The MODERATION list is comprised of foods that are fine in occasional doses, but can be problematic if you eat them too often or in too large a quantity.

GG: Ok, well, who decides what is on which list? When do we get to eat grains? (pulls out baguette and starts chomping away)

JG: We use a Ouija board.

JS: Not the Ouija board again. Please.

JG: Just kidding. Science decides. Research and countless studies back up all the statements about food that we make in this chapter.

JS: Here’s the nutshell: Meat, veggies, and fruits are IN.

GG: That was easy. A bit anti-climactic if you ask me. If that’s it, why do we need a whole chapter for it then? Why such a big fuss?

JG: Because 90% of what most Americans eat is OFF the menu. Because there are a few items that are on the NO list even though they are veggies. And because we still need to go through for each of the items on the NO list.

GG: Ok, all so I assume that packaged food is off the menu - not brain surgery there.

JS: Not necessarily - packaged might be ok - if raw almonds are packaged it’s fine, but unpackaged beans are off the menu. Packaging is not a good test for - we need an adjective here - for paleosity.

JG: Paleosity? Sounds a bit pretentious.

GG: Wait!!! Beans are NOT ok? I thought they were a good source of protein!!

JG: So is human feces, but that doesn’t mean you should eat it. And they actually aren’t a good source of protein.

JS: Wow Jason, could you have found a more disgusting example?

GG: Ok, I’ll bite. Why are beans off the menu?

JS: Not just beans - all legumes.

GG: What the heck is a legume?

JS: Beans, peas, peanuts…they are the plants that are part of certain scientific families or the fruit or seeds of those plants.

GG: So why are they off the menu? I thought peanut butter sandwiches were the healthiest thing ever. What could be better for you than grains and peanuts??

JG: Legumes contain lectins, saponins, and other natural compounds that were evolved by plants to fight off insects. These substances increase intestinal permeability and may trigger your immune system to turn against your own body, leading to autoimmune diseases. They also contain “anti- nutrient” substances like protease inhibitors and phytic acid - which prevent the proper absorption of B vitamins, iron, zinc, copper, and calcium in the intestines.

JS: As a special bonus, they also give you gas.

GG: Wow. Ok, so no legumes…that’s not the end of the world. And I know my wife Gloria Grainiak will appreciate the gas reduction.

JG: They are off the paleo menu, yes. If you are absolutely passionate about having legumes, try adding them back in small amounts after totally abstaining for thirty days in order to test out how your body responds. Yes, I know a couple of paleo people that decided to eat peanut butter every couple of weeks and are otherwise 100% paleo. At least they have made an informed choice. Everyone, after all, eventually adapts the paleo template. They find their own Tao.

JS: Look at it like a control/variable experiment. You see how you do with a clean slate and then you can measure the effect of each additional food you reintroduce. We will tell you, however, that legumes are not a good choice for most humans unless they are sprouted or fermented, both of which alter some of the problematic compounds. You’re likely to feel much better without legumes.

JG: Exactly. For example, some people think that beans make them feel good but have never gone without them for long enough for them to realize that beans actually make them feel horrible. This is another example of the unfortunate truth that most people have no idea how great their bodies were designed to feel.

GG: Hold on a second…Yeah yeah, sure, and of course, I only have to give you my firstborn child, Gustav Grainiak, in order to buy the special paleo foods you want to sell me in order to feel so awesome. I’m on to your game, pyramid marketing boy. I used to sell Amway, after all.

JG: You can keep Gustav. We don’t want to sell you anything. There is no secret fat-burning elixir or magic salve or any snake oil to buy. Maybe you should consider the idea that if someone - or in this case thousands of someones - are so excited about something, and they don’t want your money or anything else from you, it might be a good sign that there may be some truth to what they are saying. Let’s get back to the NO list. Joe, you handle this one. Did you get the anvil we ordered from Acme Anvil Company?

JS: Right here. Meep Meep.

JG: (makes whistling noise like falling anvil) HERE IT COMES! AAAAAAAA!!!!


(a moment of silence passes)

GG: Grains! Finally! I thought you forgot about them! “Ohhhhh Beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain…”

JS: We probably should have started the NO list with grains. Maybe I will go back and edit this chapter later. If there were a big bad wolf…

JG: I would barbecue him, and eat his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Oops. Strike that. No beans, no Chianti. But I would eat him for sure. Wolf meat is totally paleo.

JS: Well, yes, sure, but I meant to stay that if there ever were a paleo public enemy number one, it would be grains. Grains are bad news. Yes, this includes corn. Drop them like a bad habit.

JG: (starts singing) Fight the power! We’ve got to fight the powers that be!

JS: Please stop.

JG: OK. But I know what time it is. You realize Gary that we are talking about granola, cereal, doughnuts, bagels, crackers and bread, right? They are big NOs. No as in non, nein, nay, and no way, José.

GG: They are OUT?!?!?

JS: Out like polyester and pleated pants.

GG: Why are grains paleo public enemy number one?

JS: Here’s the ancestral diet theory answer. In the last 10,000 years, roughly the time we’ve cultivated grains, humans haven’t fully evolved the necessary biology to digest them. But as you know, we have more than a couple of issues with the ancestral diet theory, starting with the fact that we don’t care about it. So screw the theory, let’s talk about the science. Let’s start with gluten.

GG: I knew you two were up to something. You ain’t gluten nobody.

JG: Gary, not everyone reading this has seen Trading Places.

GG: My point here is that I have no idea what the hell gluten is - although I have seen that word a lot lately.

JS: Gluten is the protein in wheat. You have seen that word a lot because it’s been in the news so much lately. 10-15% of Americans have either celiac disease or are seriously gluten- intolerant.

GG: Ok, but that’s not me. I like my bagels. In fact, I love them. In fact, when I am feeling a little, ummmm, lonely, like when my wife is away…

JG: Oh gosh, I am gonna be sick. Please, please stop, right now.

GG: Sorry. I really, really like bagels, though.

JS: So did I. But there is still a large likelihood - probably over 90% - that you and gluten don’t get along.

GG: What does that mean?

JS: Well, gluten - after you eat it - breaks down, in part, into this other protein called alpha-gliadin.

GG: Sounds like a character from Lord of the Rings.

JS: And when the alpha-gliadin is in your system, your body sees it as an undigestible foreign threat. It opens up the intestinal walls to allow your immune system to enter your intestine to help fight off this invader.

The result is a condition called leaky gut. And it can contribute to a whole mess of auto-immune diseases - Hashimoto’s, ADHD, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis…the list goes on. Up to 200 different diseases have been linked to leaky gut.

GG: That doesn’t sound like fun. So are gluten-free products paleo?

JG: Depends on the product. If it’s a gluten free steak, it’s good. There shouldn’t be any wheat in the meat to begin with. However, if it has a list of ingredients five inches long containing chemicals you have never heard of, it’s not paleo. Chemicals, additives, preservatives, food colorings - all that stuff is not paleo. The list of common additives to processed foods - soy lecithin, yellow #5, potassium benzoate, guar gum, and others - is almost endless. Stay away from anything and everything that you don’t recognize. Most of the commercially available gluten free products are mostly composed of these artificial ingredients that would be right at home in a chemistry set. Your body is not a lab experiment, so you can’t pump it full of chemicals and expect it to function correctly. End of rant.

GG: Ok, so gluten is the reason not to eat grains?

JS: One of the big ones, yes. Modern grains have been engineered to grow in soil that is devoid of most nutrients and contain much more gluten than ever. Grains also make up a larger portion of the standard American diet each year. These are two of the reasons why there has been such a dramatic increase in all autoimmune diseases and incidents of celiac disease.

Why is this true? There’s a lot of blame to go around. You can blame the food pyramid, which is a great guide to achieving obesity and ill health. You can blame the food industry which continues to churn out more processed, grain-based psuedo- food every year. You can blame the medical community, which seems to have a bizarre fascination with grains and fiber. You can blame the government farm subsidies, which make unhealthy food cheaper and more available than healthy food. Before you blame everything else, though, you need to look in the mirror. The biggest share of blame belongs to we consumers for not bothering to learn what their food is doing to us. It’s costing people their health - and in many cases their lives.

JG: Hey this book is supposed to be funny. That was more heavy stuff. The least you could have done was start singing and grab your crotch.

JS: OK, well, end of MY rant. Joke time. Did you hear the one about the rabbi, the priest, and the deaf guy?

JG: No.

JS: Neither did the deaf guy.

JG: Don’t quit your day job. You’re annoying enough as it is. I’d toss rotten tomatoes at you, but they’re nightshades and they might cause inflammation.

JS: Thanks.

GG: Ok, but what about corn? It doesn’t have any wheat - or gluten - if I understand you correctly.

JG: That’s right.

GG: Why is it on the no list? Isn’t it a vegetable?

JS: No. It’s a grain. Insect food.

GG: That’s harsh. I love popcorn, and corn on the cob.

JS: Unless you’re a bug, it doesn’t like you.

GG: What am I, a rhinoceros beetle? You’re going to have to explain.

JS: Ok, fine. So grain-based carbohydrates, like those in corn, or a bagel, or a baguette, turn into sugar when they come into contact with your saliva.

GG: Sugar?

JG: You got it. So when you eat a handful of popcorn, you are essentially eating a mouthful of sugar, because your body digests it and turns it into sugar super-duper quick.

GG: Yuck.

JG: Not at all! It tastes delicious and therefore must be good for you! Plus we have to think of the poor dental industry that needs us to eat lots of grains…

GG: Point made. So I assume that grains - including corn and rice - can be just as addictive as sugar, even if they don’t contain gluten?

JS: Yep. Not only that, but because our body converts these grain-based carbohydrates into sugar so quickly and easily, they also result in increased…


JS: …stored body fat.

GG: Doesn’t your body need carbohydrates for energy, like, I’ve

heard of this thing called…umm…glycogen?

JG: We do need carbs, and you’re right. Our body stores glucose obtained from eating carbs in the liver and the muscles in the form of glycogen, a starchy substance used to fuel intense physical effort. We’ll discuss this in more detail in our chapter called Carbs.

What we will mention here is that eating too many grain- based or sugary carbs causes a massive overload of sugar- glucose, to be more precise - in your body. To stop you from keeling over dead from elevated blood glucose, your body releases a hormone called insulin. The insulin shuttles some of the glucose into the liver and muscles to be stored as the glycogen you mentioned, and some of it is absorbed into the cells. However, it doesn’t take much of this type of rocket fuel to fill the glycogen tanks. Even worse, when you eat a diet composed mostly of grains and sugary carbs, the receptors in your body’s cells are so used to being flooded with insulin, they don’t absorb, or “uptake,” the glucose very well.

As a result, when you habitually ingest meals biased toward grains and sugary carbs, there’s a huge amount of glucose left over in your bloodstream. Too much glucose is toxic to your body, so something has to be done with the extra.

JS: What happens to all that extra glucose is, it gets stored as…


JS: …fat.

GG: So…too much sugar makes you fat? And grains, they turn into too much sugar once you eat them, and they make you fat too?!?

JG: And if they weigh more than a duck, they are made of wood, and you are a witch.

JS: Shut it Jason. Bravo, Grainiak! Bravissimo!! (claps)

JG: Dude, why are you clapping? This is a book. No one can hear you.

GG: Anything else about grains?

JS: Yep. They cause systemic inflammation.

GG: My organs get inflamed?

JG: People think that they are losing weight the first couple of days after beginning to eat in accordance with the paleo template - but it’s often just the reduction in the inflammation in their body.

GG: I can think of an organ that could use a little inflammation.

JS: Once you fix your diet, your body will function the way it was designed to. Your testosterone levels will naturally rise and your organ will work better. Bonus.

GG: Wow, that’s a major selling point right there. My organ is totally out of tune. Anything else bad about grains?

JG: Yes. They all contain lectins and phytic acid in far greater amounts than legumes. As we mentioned, those are anti- nutrients.

GG: That sounds like a bogus word, like anti-happiness or something. What the hell is an anti-nutrient?

JS: They prevent the proper absorption of vitamins and minerals in your body. So the amount of vitamins and minerals you need

from food to function perfectly actually decreases just by dropping grains from your plate.

GG: Ok, but don’t we get vitamins and minerals from cereals and grains?

JG: No. Remember, the anti-nutrients prevent our bodies from absorbing whatever healthy stuff is in cereal and grains, and they don’t contain anything essential for humans anyhow. Even brown rice, whole grain rice, and corn - none of which have gluten - contain loads of phytic acid. Ironically, even when grains are fortified with vitamins and minerals, the phytic acid in the grains prevents the body from absorbing most of them. Although grains are a source of the macronutrient carbohydrate, you can get your carbs without eating grains by eating fruit and starchy vegetables. Again, we’ll hit that subject in-depth in the chapter Carbs.

GG: What about fiber? Don’t we need fiber? Doesn’t a lack of fiber cause stuff like diverticulitis? Don’t we need fiber to poop regularly, lower cholesterol, and reduce our chances of getting diseases?

JS: No one knows what causes diverticulitis, except that stress and poor colon health contribute to it. If you have a healthy gut, you will poop as much as you need to. Excessively high cholesterol is another issue, and we will talk about that in the chapter FatsSuffice to say that grains are not a good answer.

JG: As for fiber, there’s plenty of it in green vegetables and fruits. One apple, one pear, or a cup of blueberries has just as much, if not more, fiber than two slices of whole wheat bread. Avocados are also an excellent source. So no, you don’t need grains for fiber.

GG: Is that all you guys have to say about grains?

JS: No. Here’s another fun fact for you: Many grains, like quinoa for example, also contain saponins.

GG: I have no idea what those are.

JG: Saponins are chemicals evolved to protect plants from microbes and insects by dissolving the cell membranes of the potential threat.

JS: Like a phaser in Star Trek.

JG: Saponins are also in legumes, by the way, and they are another reason we have both grains and legumes on the paleo NO list.

JS: They contain protease inhibitors which resist digestion and can create an imbalance in the digestive enzymes. This can result in leaky gut - we already discussed what a bad deal that is.

GG: Wow.

JG: I’d like to mention a recent scientific study, led by Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury of Cambridge University. The details were published in the We’ll be talking about this huge mega-study a lot in this book, but one of the major findings suggests that the primary culprit in heart disease and stroke is a diet high in sugary carbs and grains.

GG: Ok Thomas Dolby, you’re blinding me with science. My head is starting to throb.

JS: Yep. Let’s review what we’ve laid out so far. No grains, no beans, no chemicals, food coloring, and unrecognized additives…

JG: Dude, what’s wrong with Gary?

JS: I don’t know. It looks like we overloaded his brain. He’s starting to zombie out.

JG: No way! A grain zombie?!? They eat grains AND brains!!

GG: (starts moaning, reaches for Jason’s head, chanting) Grains! Brains!

JS: Oh snap. I left my shotgun in the trunk.

JG: Hold on! I have a package of saltine crackers they threw in with lettuce-wrapped grass-fed burger at the deli!! It’s in my backpack. If. I. Can. Just. Reach. It. In. Time. AHA! Got ‘em!! Here! Grainiak! Suck on these!

GG: (Gobbblegoobblegobble) Wow. My head is still killing me! What happened?

JG: You almost morphed into a zombie, and forced me to shoot you in the head.

GG: Oh.

JS: Man, that was a close call. Ok, where were we? What’s next on the NO list?

JG: “Natural” flavors. (snicker, sarcastic sneer)

JS: Thanks Jason. Natural flavors are basically anything extracted from nature that have not been shown to harm people. Here’s the official definition of a natural flavor: “The essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

JG: Sounds “natural” to me.

GG: That’s good right? It’s not artificial? Like vanilla extract?

JG: No. It’s still created in a lab. You should be concerned that they don’t tell you exactly what it is on the label. If something contains vanilla extract, then it should say “vanilla extract” on the label and not “natural flavors.” You want to know what is making your food with natural flavors smell like vanilla? Look up “castoreum” on the internet. You’ll never touch the stuff ever again. Stay away from natural flavors as you would “artificial flavors.” It’s the same game of chemical roulette.

GG: Ok, no natural OR artificial flavors. What’s next?

JS: Processed foods. They come in all shapes and sizes, and lots of them have grains or some element of grains as their main ingredients. Typical examples are things like potato chips, noodles, crackers, and frozen dinners. There are other processed foods that are nominally meat based, but they are just as bad. For example, Spam and hot dogs. Learn to look at ingredient lists before you buy. Don’t take anything for granted. A product with more than a handful of ingredients, or ingredients you don’t recognize, is a big, fat, NO. Remember the study we mentioned earlier. A diet high in the bad carbs present in these foods raises the risk of heart disease.

JG: I quote the estimable Dr. Chowdhury, who said in a recent interview: “It’s the high carbohydrate or sugary diet that should be the focus of dietary guidelines.”

JS: That’s a perfect segue to our next NO - processed sugars.

GG: Ok, that’s an obvious one - so of course, natural brown sugar is ok, but white sugar is bad.

JG: Have you ever seen a brown sugar tree?

GG: Ok fine, so brown sugar is processed too. Are there any sweeteners that are not processed?

JG: Sure. Maple syrup, honey, and molasses. Most of what you see in packaged food, though, isn’t natural. High fructose corn syrup is probably the most common sweetener present in food today. The only thing worse than actual corn is the processed sugary syrup derived from corn.

GG: What about agave nectar? Isn’t it supposed to be healthy?

JS: So are grains. The truth is that agave nectar is worse than high fructose corn syrup - it’s a super-concentrated form of fructose. Very not good.

GG: Damn.

JG: The truth is, it’s best to avoid processed sweeteners altogether and to limit your intake of natural sweeteners to very small amounts. All of these sweeteners will cause large blood sugar spikes, resulting in the insulin reaction we discussed earlier. Of course, the end result is…


JG: …more body fat. And an increased likelihood of heart disease.

GG: How about artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, or Splenda?

JS: Oh yeah. Those are good for you.

GG: Really? I’m so pleased!

JG: No.

GG: Oh.

JS: Artificial sweeteners are, of course, lab experiments, unnatural substances created in some test tube. Although the evidence is mounting that many are toxic, the jury is still out on exactly what negative effects they have on our bodies. Additionally, even though they don’t contain calories, they can still cause insulin levels to spike when you eat them. No artificial sweeteners.

GG: Anything else on the NO list?

JS: Two more things - dairy is one of them.

GG: Ok, I’m outta here. I LOVE CHEESE. That’s a deal breaker for me. Grains was bad enough and now cheese?!? Haven’t you seen all the happy cows that make the cheese??

JG: Hear us out please.

GG: Ok, but it better be good.

JG: 97% of non-Scandanavians can’t process lactose effectively after childhood.

GG: What’s lactose? A fancy name for milk?

JS: Close. Lactose is the sugar in dairy products. Most humans don’t produce enough lactase, the substance needed to digest lactose, to consume significant quantities of dairy. The result of consuming dairy is poor digestion, bloating, gas, and even pain.

GG: Ok, so no yogurt or milk?

JG: Nope. Yogurt and milk contain lactose.

GG: What about cheese?

JS: It has much less lactose, but it does contain a protein called casein. Unfortunately many humans are sensitive to casein. We recommend that you avoid including cheese in your diet for 30 days. I personally eat a little cheese here and there, but many people react badly to it and don’t figure out that cheese is a problem until they go without it for a while. Think of your cheese-free period like a hard-drive reboot with the command key held down.

JG: Geek.

JS: It’s not easy being cheesy. There is some good news though. Heavy cream contains almost no lactose, and no casein. It’s almost pure fat. Feel free to add some to your coffee, or mashed in your sweet potatoes. Butter contains some small amounts of lactose and casein and is probably ok for most people too. But to be absolutely safe use ghee - clarified butter. It’s pure, solid, butterfat with the proteins removed naturally.

GG: What’s next?

JG: Seed and vegetable oils and fats. We cover this in lots more depth in the chapter ,but here’s the skinny.

JS: Ba-dum tish.

JG: Take my wife, please. Canola, flax, rapeseed, peanut, sunflower seed, safflower seed, soybean, and corn oils, margarines and spreads are bad news. They are often rancid, or contain too many Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. When heated or used for cooking, they break down into inflammatory, toxic compounds. They are even inflammatory when consumed cold.

JS: Extra-virgin olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat cold, but also breaks down into toxins at cooking temperatures. Coconut oil is a saturated fat that’s great for cooking because it stays stable at high temperatures. Avocado oil is also good. Animal fat, like bacon fat, duck fat, or beef tallow, is even better.

GG: How about butter for cooking?

JG: For 90% or so of the population, it’s ok. It is technically dairy, as it does contain small amounts of lactose and casein. However, we don’t eat nearly the same amounts of butter as we would yogurt or milk - so it’s really a question of practicality. Most paleo people are fine eating it in their first 30 days. For a minority of us, the small amounts of lactose and casein ingested in normal servings of butter can be a problem. Those people are better off making or buying ghee. Don’t even consider margarines or other vegetable oil concoctions. As we mentioned above, they are full of the unhealthy types of polyunsaturated fatty acids or even trans fats.

GG: Ok, anything else on the NO list?

JS: Just one more. Soy. Aside from being a legume, it’s got a few other serious problems.

JG: Here it comes.

GG: I thought soy was good for you?

JG: I saw that coming.

JS: Soy contains phytoestrogens, vegetable versions of the hormone estrogen. Women who eat soy elevate estrogen levels and increase the likelihood of certain cancers. Men get low testosterone, impotence, and man-boobs.


JG: I know, right? Although some research suggests that phytoestrogens actually regulate hormonal levels instead of raising them, we think the preponderance of evidence disagrees with that view.

JS: There you go. One soybean or a few drops of soy sauce isn’t going to make you grow breasts overnight, but we recommend that you drop the soy. Personally, I am not touching the stuff ever again.

JG: It must be the amazing taste of tofu that keeps people coming back for more.

GG: Ok, are we done with the NOs?

JS: YES. And thus it’s time to talk about the YES list! Paleo is about HIGH QUALITY FOODS. There’s more you need to know! Yeah! Wooo-hoo!!!

JG: Maybe you need a cold shower, bro.

JS: Sorry. I get excited. Number one on the YES list is meat- animal protein. Meat is the most concentrated source of just about every nutrient necessary to humans, including important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and essential amino acids. Animals that are fed a proper diet produce far superior meat, of course. As an example, grass-fed beef is preferred over grain fed beef because it has more omega-3 fat, has more beta-carotine, vitamin E, two of the B vitamins, more minerals, and more CLA - a substance that studies have identified as a cancer fighter.

JG: I’ve got a small beef about labeling. If your beef doesn’t say 100% ORGANIC grass-fed beef on the label, then it was probably grain-finished in the last few months and lost most of the nutritional benefit it got from eating grass to begin with.

JS: Right. We recommend that you focus on grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and free-range and organic chicken. Cows that are fed grains on feed lots get sickly and suffer from stomach inflammation. Factory-farmed pork is overly high in omega-6 fats, while pastured is higher in the healthy omega-3. Farmed chickens are often full of hormones and antibiotics, while free- range organic birds make healthy eating.

From an ethical point of view, we believe that it is cruel to raise animals under factory-farm conditions. Humane treatment of meat animals, including refraining from feeding them foods they would otherwise not eat (like grains), is very important to the paleo community for that reason. Jason and I understand that properly raised meat is more expensive and harder to get, but believe us, the health benefits of eating it are huge. It’s money well spent. Hit up your local farmers markets or sign up for farm meat-shares and you may be surprised by the reasonable prices.

JG: Don’t just focus on expensive cuts of meat, either. Organ meats are even more concentrated in nutrients than muscle meat, and are far less expensive. Don’t forget to eat your liver!

GG: What about fish?

JG: Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are the best fish choices because they are highest in healthy omega 3 fat. We will get into this in depth in the chapter called Fats, but omega 3 is the kind of polyunsaturated fat we recommend that you eat. Any fish that isn’t farm-raised is a good choice. Be careful with tuna, swordfish, or other ocean predators at the top of the food chain. Although these fish are healthy choices naturally, humans have unfortunately polluted the oceans with mercury and other toxic metals that often linger in the meat of these large carnivorous fish.

GG: Does the YES list include shellfish?

JG: Yes. Shrimp, clams, scallops, and mussels are all excellent. Oysters, for example, are full of zinc, which is important to make testosterone which men and women both need. They are also full of vitamins A, B, E, and selenium.

JS: Selenium and zinc also boost testosterone.

JG: All shellfish are just bursting with vitamins and minerals - they are almost as healthy as organ meat. They are superfoods. Eat them often.

GG: Eggs?

JS: Eggs are terrific. Pastured eggs (from chickens that eat insects and a natural diet) are better because they contain more nutrients - you can see it in the dark orange color of the yolks. Also please note: Chickens are not vegetarians. Avoid vegetarian-fed and soy-fed chicken eggs, they have less nutrients.

GG: Everything I’ve read says I am going to drop dead of heart disease from eating all the meat you recommend. Won’t my arteries and veins clog up with cholesterol?

JG: You might drop dead, but it won’t be from eating well- raised meat.

JS: Nope. We’ll get into this extensively later on, but that very same saturated fat mega-study we mentioned earlier shows pretty conclusively that the saturated fat in well-raised meat doesn’t result in increased risk of heart disease.

JG: In fact, the dietary culprit in raising the kind of cholesterol that causes heart disease is processed carbohydrates and refined sugars.

JS: Let’s talk about fruits and vegetables.

JG: Almost all fruits and vegetables are fine.

GG: Almost?

JS: Don’t go ape with bananas, grapes, apples, and pears because they have lots of sugar. We recommend that you focus on berries, cantaloupe, and other lower sugar fruits. Be careful with dried fruit, because the sugar concentration goes up a lot when they are dried.

Vegetables from the nightshade family, like tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, can be problematic to those that are sensitive to them, or have autoimmune issues. Avoid eating potato skins because they contain toxic compounds called glycoalkaloids. Remember that sweet potatoes are NOT nightshades, and you can eat them safely, including the skins.

GG: Ha ha, go ape with bananas, you so funny. So I should cut nightshades out for 30 days and then bring them back to see how I do?

JG: Exactly. You’re getting the hang of this.

JS: Nuts.

JG: What’s wrong?

JS: I mean we need a talk about nuts.

JG: Oh yeah. Well, peanuts are legumes, so they are out.

GG: And they have too much salt on them, right?

JG: Well, in the salt department, your mineral requirements decrease when you eat in a paleo way because absorption is no longer blocked by anti-nutrients in unhealthy foods. You don’t need as much sodium in your diet as before because the sodium you eat is better absorbed. However, you’re giving up processed and baked goods which are full of excess salt, so you might crave sodium at first. You’ll want to add salt to your food to compensate in the first few weeks. Once you adjust, listen to your body and season to taste.

JS: We were talking about nuts, Jason.

JG: Ah. You should be concerned about the oils used to roast nuts. They are usually the bad oils we talk about in the chapter Fat. You best bet is raw or dry roasted.

JS: Remember that nuts also contain high quantities of phytic acid, which bind to minerals and prevent their absorption. On the other hand, they contain protein, vitamins B and E, and many important minerals. Some have high levels of healthy omega-3 fat, like walnuts. So nuts are at the top of our Moderation list.

JG: The consensus is that a few servings a week of an ounce or two of nuts, or a big spoonful of healthy nut butter, is fine. In particular, a big scoop of almond butter is a great appetite suppressant when you are craving sugars at night. Don’t go nuts with the nuts, though. If you overindulge, the drawbacks of the phytic acid outweigh the benefit of the nutrients.

GG: Can I go now?

JG: No. We need to talk about gut health to tie this all together. The vast majority of Americans have unhealthy guts - the inevitable result of the grain and legume heavy, highly processed standard American diet. As you know, poor gut health can lead to autoimmune diseases and countless other ailments. When you eat unhealthy foods you systematically damage your gut and undermine your overall health.

GG: How do you know if your gut is healthy?

JG: Most people only find out when their gut is unhealthy and they get sick. You can get a stool test if you want to find out for sure.

GG: Yikes. Stool-tester. Man, I am happy I don’t have that job.

JS: Let’s make it simple. The gut is a veritable microbial playground-full of billions of bacteria, both beneficial and harmful. You want to make sure that your gut is populated with enough good bacteria to fight off the bad bacteria so they don’t take over down there. To help tilt the balance, we use probiotics - live bacteria in the food we eat.

GG: Yes. But cavemen didn’t have probiotics!!!

JS: We are wary of the caveman talk, but in fact they actually did - they got it when they ate dirt. The dirt on their food contained lots of good bacteria which kept their guts healthy.

GG: I ain’t eatin’ no dirt.

JG: You don’t need to. There are lots of ways you can get live bacteria in your diet. Small amounts of kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchee, kefir, and other fermented foods are great sources of bacteria, or you can take supplements if you can get them stored fresh so the bacteria stay alive.

GG: Ok, so gut health is big, I need to make sure I get lots of living bacteria in my intestines, sounds like a lot of fun.

JS: It IS FUN! It’s about feeling freaking AMAZING because you are finally at your natural and optimal health level! WOO-HOOO!

JG: Time for Joe’s second cold shower of the chapter.

GG: Anything else?

JG: A few last important general principles. Eat large amounts of good paleo food, but eat only when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full. Don’t keep shoveling away because something tastes good. If you have gas while eating a clean paleo diet, it’s likely because you’ve eaten too much.

You might find that you only eat once or twice a day. So be it - this is actually a sign of fat adaptation - your body is learning to access fat stores for a steady supply of energy instead of depending on blood glucose. Don’t feel obligated to eat three meals a day during regular meal times. We definitely don’t encourage grazing by snacking or eating five and six meals a day. This will not promote fat adaptation, and besides, you’re not a cow.

Also, it’s not necessary to drink gallons of water a day. Drink when you are thirsty, unless you are about to run a marathon - which you probably shouldn’t be doing anyway, as we talk about in the chapter Move.

JS: Do as much cooking on your stovetop, grill, or oven as you can. Sauté or bake your foods in healthful fats, or grill them generously slathered with coconut oil or ghee. If you steam foods, don’t forget to add some fats. We also recommend you cook some of the more difficult to digest vegetables - like broccoli and kale - for a brief period of time before eating them. You’ll retain most of the nutrients and improve digestion while you adjust to eating more fresh vegetables.

JG: The best advice we can give you is to start paying attention to how you feel after eating certain things. You’ll find very quickly that some foods make you feel great, and others make you feel lousy.

JS: Just listen to your body. You will be able to hear it clearly when you begin to eat in a paleo way.

JG: One more thing. Avoid sugar-filled liquid food. Homemade fruit juices and macerations deliver sugar to the body without the solids and fiber that allow you to digest slowly. No fruit smoothies, no fruit shakes, no fruit purees.

JS: Liquid food can spike insulin just like eating sugar, and of course, that will cause…


JS: …excess body fat.

JG: Uh oh, Joe. Trouble.

GG: Uuuuuhhhhh!!!

JS: You’re out of crackers, right?

JG: He ate them all. GG: GRAINS! BRAINS!


JG: Luckily I remembered my trusty chainsaw. Hey Grainiak! Over here! Say hello to my little friend! (GRRRRRRRRRRR!)


JG: Ewww. He’s got high fructose corn syrup in his veins instead of blood. I need a shower. Oh, well. Want to help me bury his head, Joe?

JS: Ummm…

JG: Didn’t think so. At least I didn’t ask you to help me shower.

JS: I just threw up in my mouth a little.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!