What is the paleo diet?

What is the paleo diet?


At Paleo Britain we believe we should all be eating real, whole, unprocessed and nutrient-dense foods that nourish our bodies while excluding nutrient-poor and processed foods known to have detrimental effects on our health.


If you follow these two principles when choosing which foods to eat or not eat your diet will be a good one and your health will improve. Modern diseases such as obesity and diabetes are massively on the rise in the UK and have accompanied the change in our diets in the 70’s away from traditional foods like meat, eggs and butter and towards processed foods like refined sugar and flour. The paleo diet is about returning to traditional foods to reverse disease and return our bodies to health.


What we love to eat

  • Grass-fed meat & free-range poultry
  • Organ meats from grass-fed or free-range animals
  • Fish & Seafood – sustainably fished
  • Eggs – free-range
  • Vegetables – lots and lots of vegetables!
  • Fruit
  • Herbs and spices
  • Coconuts & coconut products
  • Nuts & Seeds, tigernuts
  • Animal fats such as duck fat, goose fat, lard and beef dripping (tallow)
  • Homemade stocks (made using bones) and gelatin
  • Sea vegetables (seaweeds)
  • Olive, macadamia and avocado oils
  • Raw honey, blackstrap molasses & maple syrup
  • Fermented foods (kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha etc) for probiotics
  • Dark chocolate, raw cacao, and cocoa powder
  • Prebiotics/Microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (such as resistant starch) are also now increasingly believed to be crucial to good health
  • Further Reading: UK Paleo Shopping Guide


If you tolerate the following foods you might also want to include these in your diet (this is very individual). If you have digestive issues such as IBS, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or any autoimmune issues then you may need to avoid these foods.


Healthy people should experiment after removing these foods for 30 days to see how well they tolerate them. If you tolerate them, all these foods have health benefits when eaten as part of a wholefoods diet:


  • Grass-fed ghee and butter
  • Raw (unpasteurised), grass-fed, full-fat dairy such as kefir, cream, cheese and yogurt
  • White potatoes & white rice
  • Lentils and pulses such as chickpeas, cannelini beans, butter beans etc – these can be very helpful in feeding beneficial gut bacteria
  • Psuedo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat
  • Gluten-free sprouted whole oats – beta glucan from oats feeds beneficial gut bacteria


What don’t we eat when following a Real Food (Paleo) diet?

  • Processed foods
  • Refined sugar
  • Wheat and other grains such as barley, rye, spelt, brown rice, etc
  • Vegetable oils (which are actually seed oils) such as sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, corn oil etc
  • Hydrogenated or trans-fats
  • Pasteurised or low-fat dairy
  • Soy (with the exception of unpasteurised miso and gluten-free tamari sauce)
  • Peanuts
  • Artificial sweeteners


Supplements to Consider


The foods we eat happen to be similar to the ones our Paleolithic ancestors ate hence the reason the diet is called the Paleo Diet. However, we personally do not believe in excluding things from our diets just because our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t eat them. We believe simply that we should choose or exclude foods based on whether or not they are good for our bodies. Some people describe paleo as a “nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet” but that’s quite a mouthful!


We don’t recommend a high-protein, low-carb diet, and paleo is not the same as Atkins! Your diet will be higher in protein and lower in carbs than conventional diets but the carbohydrate calories we cut are actually mainly replaced with fats. Don’t be afraid of fat, because fat DOES NOT make us fat!  There is also no need to avoid healthy carbohydrates, but that means your carbs should predominately come from starchy root vegetables and fruit, NOT from grains. The optimal level of carbohydrates is much debated in paleo circles, but carbohydrates are increasingly believed to be very important to provide the fibre that feeds the beneficial gut bacteria.


A common criticism of the diet by conventional nutritionists is that by excluding grains (and possibly dairy too) you will put yourself at risk of nutrient deficiencies. This simply isn’t true. If you eat a varied diet including a wide range of meats, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit (preferably of course with a focus on nutrient-dense choices) then you will get all the nutrients you need for a healthy body. There are no nutrients found only in grains that you can’t find in other food sources, plus grains contain anti-nutrients such as phytates which block the absorption of many of the nutrients the grains contain!


Fibre is another concern voiced by critics of this way of eating. However, vegetables and fruits are fantastic sources of fibre so as long as you include them your diet will not be deficient. Sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, carrots and other root vegetables, apples, pears, berries, seeds and nuts contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, however grains are high only in insoluble fibre while being low in bioavailable nutrients.


Your focus should be on eating fresh, local, seasonal and organic produce as much as possible to obtain the maximum amount of nutrients. Meat should be grass-fed, poultry and eggs free-range and fish and seafood should be wild not farmed.


Have a look through our paleo recipe section for lots of simple ideas for fresh, healthy and nutrient-dense meals.


If you are new to paleo and need help getting started, consider signing up for our 30 Day Paleo Diet Weight Loss Plan. Includes shopping lists, all breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes for the 30 days, 4 weeks of meal plans as well as lots of tips and information. You will receive a personalised service which includes a daily motivational email PLUS  a free copy of our ebook containing an additional 100+ grain-free recipes.




Further Reading:

  1. 2015 – The rise of the UK Paleo scene
  2. The Truth About Grass-fed Meat