Paleo for the Active Person

I talked to a guy recently who told me he’d tried eating Paleo and failed. At first I thought, “He just can’t resist the temptation of donuts for breakfast and bread for lunch.” And then I let him plead his case, and it went something like this: when he gave Paleo a shot, he found he didn’t have the energy he needed throughout the day. He was super tired, lethargic and couldn’t get through his workouts. I’m sometimes too quick to judge.

I think a lot of athlete-type people try the Paleo diet, hoping it will improve their performance and help them tone up a bit. They start out the diet having read Cordain’s book, The Paleo Diet, so they’re eating nothing but lean meat, a few of their favorite vegetables, some fruit, and a little dab of olive oil here and there. After a week or so into the diet, they go to the gym after a breakfast of grilled chicken and steamed broccoli and feel a bit light-headed during their second set of dead lifts (or whatever torture their Crossfit gym has planned for them that day). Throughout the workout, their blood sugar plummets, as well as their performance and their motivation to keep eating Paleo. They crawl out of the gym close to passing out and stop at McDonald’s for second breakfast, vowing to give up Paleo forever.

It doesn’t have to be like that. If you’re an active person (and that could include anyone from a city dweller who walks 5 miles a day to someone who’s training for a marathon) you may just need more carbohydrates if you’re failing on the Paleo diet. For myself, I’ve figured out that I MUST have a dense source of carbs in the morning. I can’t just have eggs and meat and some leafy vegetables or 45 minutes later I’m hungry and low blood sugar. And if you start your day out with a blood sugar crash, you’re not doing anything good for your energy for the rest of the day, your sleep patterns or your weight loss goals. So let me explain some things about carbohydrates to see if we can keep you on the Paleo diet AND keep you feeling energetic all day.

First, what is a carb?

Even people who seem really well-versed in nutrition don’t know the answer to this question, so don’t think you’re an idiot if you don’t know exactly what that ubiquitously marketed little structure is. A carbohydrate is a chemical structure that contains carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, which together create simple sugars like glucose and fructose. Those simple sugars, if they’re so inclined, can then come together to form more complex carbohydrates like disaccharides (lactose), starch or fiber. Sugars, starches and fiber are found in abundance in things like table sugar, honey, fruit, vegetables (all of them), grains and beans.

We’re used to eating a LOT of carbs in the U.S. – bread, cereal, beans, pasta, chips, tortillas, sugar, crackers, cookies, “sports drinks,” fruit, sodas, beer, etc. Our bodies use the carbohydrates for immediate energy, and if they’re not used up, they get stored as fat. When we start eating fewer carbohydrates and more fat like we do on the Paleo diet, our bodies become better at using dietary fat (fat from meat, avocados, coconut milk and oil, olive oil, nuts, etc.) more immediately for energy instead of the carbs.

While we can become very good at using dietary fat (especially medium chain fatty acids like coconut milk) as fuel, some people are going to be better at it than others, no matter how hard they work at it. It has to do with genetics and how much you’ve wrecked your metabolism over the years of eating a Standard American Diet. What you need to do is figure out what kind of person you are. Are you someone who needs an abundance of carbs? Or can you perform well with low carbs and tons of dietary fat?

To figure this out, start the diet out pretty strictly, taking out all grains, legumes and refined sugars. After your detox is over (could be a few days or up to a month – you’ll know when it’s over), assess how you feel throughout the day. If you’re bonking or needing naps, feeling grumpy, lightheaded, getting headaches or your athletic performance is waning, THEN start adding more carbohydrates to see how you do. If you’re using Paleo Plan for meal planning, this might mean adding things to your grocery list every week, but it shouldn’t be too hard. Below there are some suggestions on what to eat.

Which Carbs Are Paleo?

You obviously are limited in your options for carbs, since the Paleo diet frowns upon grains, refined sugar and beans. You can only eat so much kale, broccoli and other veggies in a day, and they only provide minimal carbs, anyway. You want to go for the starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, squash, and if you’re like me, tapioca. (Note: Potatoes are not Paleo, but sweet potatoes are. They’re different, in that sweet potatoes have no anti-nutrients in them, but potatoes do. Sweet potatoes also have a LOT of nutrients in them, while potatoes have very few.)

Most fruit provides more carbohydrates than leafy and crunchy veggies, so eat more of it, too. If you’re super active, especially if you’re an endurance athlete, add more honey if you just can’t get enough quick energy from sweet potatoes and fruit. Or if your stomach can’t deal with digesting it during long workouts or races.

As for juice, I recommend freshly juiced juice – not commercial, pasteurized, devoid-of-nutrients juice.

Smoothies are a good way to get more carbohydrates in, since you can pack them full of frozen or fresh fruit.

If you’re a normal American, you will have little idea about how to add some of these things to your daily menu. The only time people normally eat sweet potatoes is on Thanksgiving when they’re smothered in maple syrup and marshmallows, right? Here are some suggestions:

Sweet potatoes
1. Cut them up into square inch cubes and boil them for 20 minutes. Keep them in the fridge and add them to egg scrambles, chicken salad, or just pour some coconut milk and cinnamon on them.

2. Or bake them. I bake sweet potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil in a pan (to catch drippings) for about an hour at 450. The longer you bake them, the softer and sweeter they are. Let them cool and you can keep them in the fridge for up to 5 days in the aluminum foil in the pan. Then I just scoop some out for snacks and add coconut milk and cinnamon. You could sprinkle some roasted nuts or dried fruit into the mix, too.

3. Bake some fries. Cut some sweet potatoes up into thin slices and lay them out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil (or not), and sprinkle some rosemary, pepper and salt on top. Bake on 400 for about 40 minutes. You’ll want to flip them halfway through to let them bake more evenly. They shrink down quite a bit, so if you’re serving these to a large group of people, make a lot!

4. Sometimes I grate up a part of a sweet potato (in my case, it’s usually about half a cup) and stick it in with my egg and veggie scramble in the morning. Because it’s grated, it cooks up in the same amount of time as the other vegetables. The sweetness of the sweet potatoes adds another layer of flavor to my breakfast.

1. You can use it how you’d use pasta. Cut a squash in half, put each side face down in a half inch of water on a baking pan and bake for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of the squash) at 400 degrees. Scoop out the goodness and serve it with hearty, meaty marinara sauces, or add it to stir fried meals.

2. You can always make a sweet treat out of it by adding cinnamon and a bit of honey, some nuts, and dried fruit if you want.

3. You can cut it into small squares and saute them in a pan with some coconut oil or olive oil and eat them as a side to salmon or chicken. Cooked like that, they’re also amazing in Thai curries because they soak up so much of the flavor.

Tapioca is something that I have incorporated into my Paleo diet, even though I know it contains almost no vitamins or minerals. Cordain doesn’t love tapioca, as far as I can tell, but my digestion can only handle so much squash and sweet potatoes and fruit for some reason doesn’t fill me up like tapioca does. It’s a dense source of carbohydrates, and for my active lifestyle, it’s become pretty crucial. You decide for yourself whether you want it in your diet.

1. You can make tapioca crepes to serve with your morning omelet, your afternoon chicken stir fry or your evening salmon fillet, but you can also use the flour to make any bready thing your heart desires. See my post on tapioca and its uses here.

2. Sometimes I will even cook some fruit and coconut milk in a little pot and add a bit of tapioca flour to make it taste more like pie filling – gooey.

These are just things that I do, so please, please add to the list in the comments below. If you’re an active person and you need more carbs, let us know what you’ve figured out.

Know that it is a fine line to walk with carbohydrates if you’re an active person who is trying to lose weight. Too many carbs will put weight on you, but not enough carbs can put your body into starvation mode, keeping weight on you. You need to find the balance that will keep you losing weight, maintaining weight, or whatever your weight goals are. If you’re interested in how many grams of carbs per day you need, I can’t give you an answer to that here because it’s so very dependent on your size, your activity level and your weight loss goals. If you want help with that, I’m available for individual consults. And if you want more detailed information on this topic, Loren Cordain’s book, The Paleo Diet for Athletes is a fantastic resource, especially for endurance athletes.

Keep tweaking this diet to make it your own, and good luck!


  1. I’m not a Crossfitter or an athlete by any standard, but I am a livestock farmer who sells pasture-raised meats to a lot of paleo people. After a friend (and customer) left Robb Wolf’s book at my farm last October, I decided to give it a try considering the quality (and quantity) of excellent foods to which I have access. Last winter when I found myself needing to work outside in the freezing cold for several hours at a clip, I found that eating a BIG breakfast with steak and eggs cooked in either butter or coconut oil and a hash of cubed root veggies and winter squash got me through the day and helped keep me warm. When I emerged in the spring from a sequestered winter on the farm, I found that I’d lost a significant amount of fat and there were serious muscles under all those layers of flannel, fleece and wool. Paleo is not just about what you eat, but how you eat it.

  2. The same thing happened to me but worse. I started the Paleo plan about 5 days ago. I do an intense interval training workout every morning that lasts an hour.

    Today my body totally broke down in the middle of the workout and after I got in the car to go home I ended up throwing up while I was driving down the highway. Like 5 times. I had to stop my car.

    My body was reacting to doing an intense workout with barely any carbs in my system. The carbs were burnt in the first 10 minutes of the workout.

    The other day I also threw up but it was during the workout.

    I found out the hard way today that a strictly Paleo diet DOES NOT WORK for someone who works out. It just doesn’t.

    I don’t care what our ancestors ate.

    That was a long time ago and I would bet anything in the world that our bodies were different and acclimated to that diet. I don’t care what scientists say. I have real world proof with my own experience.

    You have to eat heavy carbs before a heavy workout. PERIOD.

    And that means potatoes, bread or whatever you can get your hands on. I don’t care how empty the carbs are.

    Dean Karnazes eats garbage during his races because he knows he’s going to burn it. If he didn’t eat that stuff he would fail.

    It’s as simple as that.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I agree, like I said in the blog post, that heavy exercisers definitely need more carbohydrates. But I don’t necessarily agree that you should get them in the form of potatoes, bread or whatever you can get your hands on. I do think you can get enough carbs by eating the things that our ancestors ate – many of them ate a ton of carbs and were much healthier than westernized cultures who eat refined, nutrient-less, anti-nutrient filled carbohydrates like refined sugar, grains, and potatoes. I really encourage you to keep up with the diet and just add the foods I suggest in the post. Also remember that you may still be detoxing, which can cause major nausea, super low energy and blood sugar crashes. It sounds terrible what you’ve been through, though. Good luck to you!

  3. I’m gonna start this by saying simply – I’m Fat – and have been fat for years. I hit an all time worse ever weight 2 weeks ago by hitting 300 pounds. So, the wake up call came when I just felt like hammered dog poop all day, breathing heavy, and finally my drivers seat broke on my truck. It’s weird we all have different low’s. Well I started a semi-paleo diet this week – going into a full blown paleo next week. Let me tell you this has not been an easy start for me. I feel like Dave most of the day. I have to pack all this body around, started a work out routine of 40 minutes a day, and I’m dog tired around 4PM. I want to preface this by saying I’M NOT GIVING UP, but this article made me think of my diet before starting this. I think the ideas mentioned above will help me out a lot!! If I put a few more carbs in the diet to power my way through the day, I can cut back on them later when I start shedding a few more pounds. It’s like Sandra said – it’s how you eat. By the way I lost 7 pounds this week – it’s hard feeling good about eating right when your feeling turned inside out … lol. Ohh – on another side note my doctor recommended this form of diet after he checked me out, it’s becoming a popular alternative for more and more people.

    1. Good for you – sticking with it even when it’s hard and uncomfortable. Definitely up the carbs, but also remember that your energy lows may have to do with the detoxification process. It will get better either way! And that’s great news that your doctor turned you on to this way of eating. Keep us posted.

      Nutrition Therapist
      Paleo Plan

  4. I’m stuck. I haven’t lost weight (belly fat) in two months. I strictly eat Paleo via the plan everyday… week after week and now month after month. I walk and was even going to the gym… until the low energy got the better of me. I have hypothyroidism… and according to my blood tests, my meds are right. I feel like I can’t function without a nap by mid afternoon. The nap helps make it though the day (if I can squeeze one in)… but then I can’t sleep through the night. Do you think that more carbs will help me? Would sweet potatoes and squash everyday resolve these issues?

    1. Alright, this may be grounds for an individual consult with me if you’re interested, but here are my initial thoughts. If you’re hypothyroid, you probably struggle with low blood sugar, which means you may want to add a snack between breakfast and lunch if you don’t already. Or maybe just cut your breakfast in half and eat half in the morning and half 2 hours later. That’s what I do. Are you drinking caffeine? If so, try to cut it out as it really messes with blood sugar and causes crashes. It sounds like you’re not exercising at all because of your energy crashes, right? During your more energetic parts of the day (the morning?), you might want to try to squeeze a walk in – even if it’s only for 20 or 30 minutes. Any exercise can help improve your blood sugar, energy levels, sleep quality and hypothyroidism in general. Are you drinking enough water? And are you cheating? Having sugary snacks throughout the day? If all of these things fail, it may be that you have a food sensitivity. Maybe you’re sensitive to olive oil or coconut or beef even. Any food sensitivity can cause energy drops. We can get you tested (not food allergies, but food sensitivities) if you’re interested. Try eating more carbs and looking at all the other things I mentioned and if you’re still having trouble, we may need to talk again. Good luck! FYI, I’ve also made this question into a blog post that will be up today.

      Neely Quinn
      Nutrition Therapist
      Paleo Plan

  5. I’ve had the exact opposite experience. I have reached my first anniversary on the paleo plan and I can say with certainty that the plan has helped. I am not an athlete, but my usual routine is to walk about 4 miles a day plus 40 minutes of elliptical plus 30 minutes of Tai chi. Two days a week, I do 2 hr tai chi sessions with weapons, pulling, and power pushing. I have found that I can go through my workouts, sometimes on an empty stomach and still perform without getting that headachey sugar crash when I was eating the bread, pasta, and beans. My instructor has even commented on how my energy has felt “cleaner” than in the past. Before, I had to have a power bar before working out or my sugar would crash. Now I can eat a meal and know that, if necessary, I can go for hours without refueling (my record so far is 22 hours without food). I’ve lost 30 pounds and my blood pressure is down to 120 over 70, and it was never that low previously when I was working out and eating whole grains. To drive the point home even further, I attended an scouting trip with my son, where the evening faire was turkey and gravy with potatoes and corn plus pudding. The next morning I have pancakes with a white bread sandwich for lunch. By 3:00 in the afternoon, I was shaking like a zombie with a massive headache and needed to buy my first power bar in a year to quell the sugar crash. I have never had a sugar crash nor indigestion on the paleo plan. I assume if I didn’t cheat once in a while, I would be even healthier than I am now. But I’m in my fifties and there are few people I can’t keep up with (even with a painful arthritic hip). After a year of experimentation, I am sold on the plan for me.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing. This drives home the point even further that everyone is different. Some people do really well with intermittent fasting, as you seem to do, and others (often women I’ve found) absolutely do not. That’s why I said in the article that you should start the Paleo diet off pretty strictly to see how your body does, and then add carbs as an active person as you need them. I wish I were more like you, and could go almost a day without eating, but even on a strict Paleo diet I would black out if I tried. Everyone’s different. Either way, keep up the great work, and thanks again for writing in.

  6. I am on my fourth week of my paleo way of eating and it is a definitely a life style for me. I also I’m experiencing weakness and some light head experience but I’m know it is because of the detox going on in me. I have lost belly fat greatly and now I have a sick pack that is more visible. I can fast and work out with out problem and still have my work out done with improvement. I am in love with this life style ! I’m still going strict with just the vegestables and fats and meats only until I achieve my full sick pack look and then I will introduce some healthy carbs up to 30 grams per day only later on but for now the strict way is what is working for me. Neely is right when he says that it is an individual thing and that you have to tweak here and there; but also know that it takes time for the body to detox and making you feel like that due to the damage done by many years of abuse so we need to understand this also. Great site and blog indeed !
    Thank you.

  7. Thanks for this post. I recently started Paleo and Corossfitting same time. I too noticed by 3pm, I was crashing, running on lean meats and greens. I started mixing Paleo smoothies, even figuring out how to add sweet pototoes into the mix. I blasted thru 3pm! Now I just have to learn how to stabilize my blood sugar levels to push thru my afternoons to get ready for my PM Xfit class! Small tweak seem to have made a great difference.



  8. Thanks for this and your other posts, Neely. I’m finishing up week one of paleo, and my energy levels are down, I’m weak and fatigued, and I’m light-headed most of the time. This is with approx 3500 calories a day. I’m already very active and fit, so it’s frustrating not being able to perform. I haven’t been riding my bike to work because I’m scared I’ll faint. My crossfit coaches are pretty purist and just say “eat more fat, eat more sweet potatoes, eat more this, that, etc.” I know I’m still in detox, but I look at this post, and your other post on starting out paleo, almost every day, just for the encouragement and to remind myself that you’ve been in my shoes.

    One thing my coaches told me was that the detox, carb withdrawal, etc is worse for people who don’t have much fat to lose. Have you found this to be the case?


    1. Zack- that’s sweet – I’m glad the post is helping you :) Actually no, I haven’t found that to be the case, but I could he wrong about that. How long and hard you detox just depends on your body’s capacity for detoxification, like how efficient your liver is, etc. I’d say just stick it out and rest as much as you need to. Take your trainers’ advice about the food stuff, and be kind to yourself. Best wishes!

  9. Your site is really helpful! I am currently on day 3 of a 30 day challenge and it is nice to know that I am not going crazy when I feel like I am a little dizzy especially after a run!

  10. What are the basics of this detox you keep mentioning? Is it that the body is trying to adapt to lower carb intakes or does it really involve toxins?

    1. Jason – It’s hard to say what all is going on, but we get addicted to certain foods, like grains, and they produce an opioid effect on our brains and bodies. So when we suddenly stop eating them, we sort of go into withdrawal, which is sometimes called detox. Also, yes, I think it’s also your body readjusting to the lower carb intake, trying to adapt to burning fat instead. I’ve tried to find a clear answer to this question, but “detox” is sort of a vague topic.

  11. I’m an ultramarathoner, I’m pretty strictly Paleo. When I started, I felt like crap the first 2 weeks. I had to cut my usual 6-mile runs short weeknights, and had to walk frequently during weekend long runs. But after 3 weeks, it was as if a light switch was turned on. I felt great, had more energy than ever, and my running has improved markedly. I dropped 25 pounds without trying, and I wasn’t fat by any means.

    Two years later, I continue to feel fabulous. At age 48, I’m still setting personal best times in 5ks, 10ks, marathons, and ultramarathons (50 miles and up). Even during endurance races, I stick to real, whole foods (none of those gels, chemical drinks, or chews).

    So while I’m not a nutritionist, I suggest that anyone trying Paleo take it easy until you feel the “switch,” which seems to be 2-4 weeks for most people. If after a month you still aren’t happy, then drop it. But give it a little time.

  12. Could you please elaborate a bit more on potatoes? I once read a comparison of potatoes and sweet potatoes, and seem to remember the good ole spud coming out pretty well, for example by containing more vitamin C. What are anti-nutrients and which ones do potatoes contain?

    I was also curious why beans are supposed to be a bad thing, as they contain a mix of carbs and protein that I would have thought beneficial for maintaining steady blood sugar levels.

    Thanks for all the info, by the way, the website is great!

  13. I m pre diabetic and only Glucose Tolerence test showed impaired status in results. Doctor adviced me not to eat any sweets but asked to eat red rice vegies fruits only. My problem is I m trying to avoid surar but unable to completely avoid it , and if I eat I get symptoms. So I m happy about your suggestions to eat non grain diaet. I will post the results soon.

  14. I have been paleo now for about 6 months, and also experienced the detox low energy during the first 2 weeks, and got feeling better as time went on I started noticing how much better I felt! My stomach aches literally disappeared. My headaches were gone. And slowly I was starting to sleep better. I previously had chronic insomnia. My doctor put me on this diet as she diagnosed me as “pre-diebetic” and the diet she called it “insulin-glucose balancing” diet, and I shouldn’t find anything online in the way of no grains, dairy,& sugar. Then she said the magic word, she said google PALEO, and a whole new world of recipes and blogs and books were available to me. At last I was not alone. And I could bake again. I really missed my treats and now I can get my occasional goodie and still stick to being Paleo. I go to the gym 2-3 times per week and ride a stationary bike for a knee surgery about 6months ago. People comment and how good I look, I lost 25lbs, lost 2-3 pants sizes, depending on the brand of pants, and I think Im still loosing inches, mainly in the mid section. I have noticed a definite improvement on my nighly sleep on days I work out. Even just a 20 min bike ride makes a difference. Man if I dont sleep well my whole day is a drag, and its huge motivation to excersize knowing I will sleep good that night. Even my color is better. Paleo is a life changing and I just wish I could get everyone eating this way, but so far my husband is the only one convinced. Hes also lost a few inches in the gut and started jogging. Thanks for all of the encouragement and ideas and I hope more and more people will realize how awful grains are on the body. My friend asked me the other day “what do you replace grains with?” I told her grains make me sick, why would I want to replace them? I am so grateful for my newly found Paleo info!

  15. Good times. I started Paleo back in July of this year. I did get this feeling of woah going Paleo at first. When youre switching to Paleo, make sure to add sea salt to your food, I think this is supposed to help with the adjustment period. I dunno, if you feel like woah, im going to faint, just to try to eat something. i definitely felt the detox in the beginning but i felt great and shed crazy weight in the beginning. then my glycogen stores started running out because i was running like a mad man with crazy energy and eventually it caused me to pass out at my friends house and had a high ankle sprain. friend said i was close to banging my head on the refrigerator which would not be a good thing. and so i just went on and started a new full time job for the first time in four years. but i was still not eating enough carbs to get me through the day to keep up with the other dishwashers. i lost the job and i was continueing to do really low carb, i even tried to up my fat very high but i didnt do so well. i havent had energy to work out and look for work. i bought some tapioca starch while back but never used it. i decided man i need some regular non-gluten starch in my life and just try to run on that. i have ibs-c whatever that means and my bathroom problem went away with paleo b4 but its come back. plus im going to follow the low fodmaps which is supposed to stop from feeding any bacteria overgrowth or whatever and on the safe list is tapioca/white rice/ and potato. i love sweet potatoes anyways but they are not low fodmaps. potatoes are ok. i have issues with other nightshades like tomatoes make me sneeze and goji berries hurt my stomach. i havent had a baked potato in awhile so i dont remember if it upset me. I also seem to be drawn to this spanish place that you can go and get a plate of chicken or pork, yucca, and plaintains, both ripe and unripe, it is soooooooooo good. so cheers to all of you, i will see you later.

  16. I am a nutritionist and naturopath and have just read these posts. I love that people are trying to get more healthy. I dont agree with the paleo concept for everybody. Starting a diet like these without support can be dangerous.
    The detox effect, the blood sugar irregualrities, the hormone dysfunction can all leave an individual with health issues in serious trouble.
    Before you start this diet go and see a health professional and ease yourself in. This way any of the negative effects will be monitored and kept to a minimum.
    ALso food is meant to be enjoyed not endured as it seems to be in many of these posts. Creating a lifestyle change be done slowly and easily so that it remains a lifestyle change.

  17. I have a different problem from most people. If I don’t weight train, I lose weight. Classic Ectomorph. I rely on protein powder to fuel my workouts and provide the nutrients I need for recovery and weight maintenance. So far the paleo diet has not caused sugar crashes for me, but that might be because of the sweetener in the protein powder.
    I don’t see much in the blogs about healthy weight gain and paleo. Will paleo work for a skinny guy like me who wants to maintain a healthy level of muscle?

  18. I have made the conversion to Paleo over the last 18 months. I kept falling off the wagon b/c I would get really low blood sugar and insane cravings every 5 days into it. However, One day i just got sick of feeling worse for falling off the wagon, and I have made the switch. No cheats for the past 3 months. I suffer from SIBO, and try to maintain a low-fodmap paleo approach. I would like to train for a half marathon, but the really good carb sources like bananas, sweet potatoes, and coconut meat, milk, and cream, really aggravate my condition. Do you have any tips on how to get over this speed bump?

  19. Thanks — I’m working on this balance as I’m struggling with my workouts since starting paleo, although we are on a challenge with our box that is a bit stricter than regular paleo. I had no idea tapioca was a thing for paleo! I think I’ll try it.

  20. I am 11 1/2 years out from gastric bypass surgery which allowed me to finally loses the extra `75 pounds I had been carrying most of my adult life. I was always told that I should eat a high protein, low carb diet but could never quite find the right combination of foods to keep me feeling good and my “pouch” satisfied. I was introduced to Paleo by a co-worker who knows I love to cook and she wanted to eat healthier. I have implemented this plan into my own home and have watched as my husband’s belt needs to be tightened and my own jeans are definitely looser. I recently had a check-up with my regular doctor and when I looked at the lab results (you get really good at knowing the normal range numbers as a gastric patient because you have bloodwork done annually), I saw that I was smack in the middle of the normal range. Plus, when I went to my appointment, my blood pressure was 100/70 AFTER a 30 minute walk while I waited for my appointment time. I have lost about 5 pounds in the 2 months I have been eating a Paleo diet. Also, with the coconut oil, olive oil and pastured butter used in the recipes I have not had as dry of skin as I usually have by this time of year. Doc says to keep up whatever it is I am doing as it is obviously working well !!!

  21. I am just about to start the Palo plan but I am also training for a half marathon at the end of February. I am obese and have a significant amount of weight to lose. I’ve already been running for over a year just so it doesn’t sound like I will be making all these changes at once. I am going to keep sweet potatoes and such on hand to help with crab necessities but I am worried I won’t lose weight like everyone else who starts will be. I need some of this weight off before then to make it easier to complete the race but I’m very worried about the fatigue.

    1. Mary W – There’s a very long version to this answer that goes into how your body may or may not like training for a half marathon, how distance training and “chronic cardio” can really inflame your body and decrease weight loss, and how you may be better off doing bodyweight exercises in short spurts (plus sprints) instead of jogging regularly if weight loss is your goal. But I will say this. Just try Paleo, making sure you eat a sweet potato and some fruit (not just berries) every training day. See how you feel and see if you start losing weight (my guess is that you will). If you start to feel fatigued and you’re losing weight, add in more sweet potatoes, potatoes, fruit, tapioca flour, and honey – or some combination of those things – every single day. If you are NOT losing weight and you’re feeling fatigued, then I’d seriously reconsider the exercise that you’re doing. Check out HIIT style workouts online and read on about chronic cardio in any case. I wish you the best! You WILL figure out what works for your body in time – you just have to stick with it through the exploration process :) I promise.

  22. I tried tapioca, bananas, sweet potato but they made my toothache worse or gave me other issues like flatulence (banana ). I am still researching the best solution and hope to eventually enjoy these foods. For me the switch to fats as energy source seems to have happened after 2 weeks easing into full paleo. Fruit such as grapes are a fantastic carb source for me and have not affected my toothache. Monkeys I read use fig fruit so i enjoy those too, unfortunately they are only available dried where i live. Looking forward to trying more solutions such as caulibread maybe. Getting away from grains has been well worth it so far for my acne and toothache

  23. I just started eating Paleo about two weeks ago; I have struggled with my weight and weight loss ever since I hit puberty. I use to starve myself in high school because if I ate anything, boom! I would gain weight. Now I am 26, 5’6, and 210 pounds which is very depressing. It was suggested to me to go gluten free by a counselor who I had reached out to about possible depression. I researched it for a few days and then decided that I would try paleo and just go for an all around clean healthy diet. I have lost 9 pounds in two weeks which is AMAZING however I am sooooooooo incredibly tired. I was working out 3 to 5 days a week before I changed my Diet and now I have no energy to even get up in the morning and I am finding that it is getting worse, last night I had to go to bed at 6:00 PM!! I am not restricting my calories and I eat what every I want (with in the paleo guide lines of course) and for the first time in my life I am not scared that what I ate today will haunt me tomorrow or a week from now. I am trying to stay positive and stick to this but it is starting to get hard. I want to say thank you for your suggestions and I am going to try to incorporate more carbohydrates into my diet and hopefully that will help me out a little until this energy lag is gone!

  24. Hi,

    I have started to eat Paleo since june10, 2014. Although I am not overweight or anything, I was hoping that along the way I lose a few pounds (particularly belly fat). Unfortunately, I have not lost any weight. Ok, may a couple of pounds the most (was around 118, now around 116.5). I also have to say that I am a gym rat, I do cardio, lift weight and am an active person. I used to do hours of cardio, but since starting Paleo, I cannot go long hours like before. I also noticed that I often have headache and feel nausea. I assume it is due to being in Ketonic state. I do eat lots of fruits and veggies, nuts, and leans meat (turkey,..)I was never a red meat eater but I have gotten off that obsession that red meat must be forbidden. So I feel good about getting over that obsession. I have to admit that I am only using EVOO and coconut oil is not in my culinary habits. I have not cheated except once on our anniversary a couple of weeks ago. Can anyone tell me why I do not lose more weight, even if I keep my calories on average around 1350 per day?? I think I have messed up my BM so much by yoyo dieting that now I am paying for it. Any advise is appreciated!!

    1. Hi Soheila,

      Congrats on going Paleo! There could be many reasons you’re not losing the weight you want. Whether or not you are in ketosis, you may not be eating enough calories for all the exercise that you’re doing. For instance, overtraining can cause your body to burn less calories the rest of the day. Too much exercise can also create inflammation which can slow down your metabolism and cause water retention. You might want to try to make sure you’re eating enough calories to support your activity level or consider exercising less and see what happens. In addition, you might need to experiment with your macronutrient intake a bit. For instance, increasing just your protein intake or just your fat or carb intake intake might help. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and taking other steps to minimize sources of stress in your life as stress can impede weight loss. There are many articles on the website that discuss weight loss, exercise and how to navigate through a Paleo lifestyle to best achieve your goals. Wishing you the best in health, Sally.

  25. Hey, I would super love it if you could reply to this post. I went paleo for like 5 months. I loved it, I still like it.
    But Ive encountered a problem and was wondering if you could help me so I can work through this problem and see if I could still continue the paleo diet or at least a paleo based diet.
    I am 16 years old and I exercise all the time. ALL THE TIME
    I mean intense workouts for 3-6 hours a day. For example, I am on a swim team that starts working out with lifting weights and situps and vasca and all that for 1 hour and then does intense 2-4 hour work outs afterwards in the pool like butterfly/freestyle/breaststroke/backstroke 800-25 intervals with up to 40 repeats as an example. Then afterwards I ride horses jumping for an hour. On the paleo diet I didnt really feel fatigued but my mom had noticed that I was losing fat without losing weight to the point that I was losing too much fat. Aka, low body fat. Which I didnt worry too much about but yesterday I was out with some friends and my mom and one of her friends and I was waiting for lunch (we had to eat late so I had nothing to eat for like 4-5 hours more than my body was used to) and I started loosing my vision. I was totally freaked out because nothing of the sort had ever happened to me before. It ended up being my blood sugar I guess because after eating some food I was instantly better. This is really weird for me. I have never had blood sugar issues and am usually fine with eating later if necessary. Also I noticed on the paleo diet I am ALWAYS hungry–like I cant get enough to eat. I eat a lot of fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, greens, and try to get plenty of protein. For now I will be eating more carbs and some grains because Im a bit uneasy about what happened yesterday. In your oppinion, what should I do?

    1. Hi Kelsy,

      Yes, you should definitely increase your intake of carbs and perhaps increase your intake of protein and healthy fat as well. It’s extremely important that you eat adequately to feel full and satisfied and to support your growth and all of your activity.

      The Paleo diet is a framework from which to choose our healthiest options and since we are all different, with different needs and goals, our choices will be different. If you tolerate grains and they help you meet your carbohydrate and calorie goals then you can certainly include them in a healthy diet. The real Paleo lifestyle is about healthy balance, not strict regimen. I also recommend you go to your doctor and get some baseline labs done, if you haven’t recently, to make sure all is well and there are no underlying health issues at play.


  26. Hey there! I love what I see! You have some really good advice and I would like to say that I will be coming back to your site!

    I was hoping you could help me. I am ~40 pounds overweight. For a year I’ve been doing the Atkins diet approach, so adapting to fat isn’t new to me. I don’t crave sugar, breads, pasta, or candy. However, I’m even heavier than when I started! I find that sometimes I crave a meaty breakfast burrito from Jack in the Box and have been eating tortillas or sometimes breaded foods. My mom can eat like this (eats corn too) and still continues to lose weight! I also got crazy addicted to white potatoes because I thought they were natural. I’m pretty sure my weight gain has been from the tortillas, breading, potatoes, and maybe too many low carb treats. Now I’m trying to start new and for a while even tried a ketogenic approach. That doesn’t really work for me because I suffer from chronic hunger after everything I eat! Even when it’s super high in fat! It’s so frustrating because I go out of my way to prepare things only to be hungry soon after! I will eat more protein and fat and I’m still hungry! It feels like my body doesn’t even know how to be full anymore!!! To be honest, I consumed a lot of dairy when going keto. Now I’m sick of this and going paleo with the occasional dairy. I notice that my chronic hunger isn’t as severe but in still hungry more than I’d like to be. I’ve been doing the fat loss plan from Diane Sanfilippo’s Practical Paleo and I’ve added some fruit and have made some paleo treats (high in carbs). I notice when I eat a smoothie with some fruit/carb source (paleo) I feel fuller longer. But I’m afraid of not losing weight because I haven’t for a long time.. I also am not as active as I should be. I’ve been exercising here and there but not consecutively. Should I eat more carbs and just exercise to compensate? Thank you and sorry for my novel here! Just dying to know what it is I need to do to get this darn fat off!

    1. Hi Shu Shu,

      It’s very frustrating when diets don’t work especially when we’re always hungry on them! It seems that you’ve achieved better satiety on the Paleo diet especially when you add in some carbs/smoothies but you’re afraid you won’t lose weight this way? Well, let’s put that fear to rest. If you find along the journey that something starts to work for you, go with it! Since low carb regimens weren’t working and you found some satiety with carbs/smoothies, then keep them in the food rotation. There could be many reasons you’re not losing weight. Perhaps when you start a diet you under eat? Lack of sleep, too much stress, hormonal issues, and lack of exercise could be hindering you in addition to dietary issues such as eating too little and then giving into cravings such as those you reported – potatoes, fast food etc. Here’s an article that discusses weight plateaus that went on the blog just today!

      I do think you would benefit from doing some type of exercise with consistency. We have a great fitness resource with exercises you can do anywhere!

      Since it sounds like eating from a Paleo template is currently working for you better than other diets have, why don’t you give it a solid try? Here’s a link to get you started, and you can try our Meal Plan service as well as Paleo Fit for free for two weeks!

      Wishing you the best on your Paleo journey,


  27. I’m on Paleo for severe health problems… Scoliosis, MS, Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and bulging disc throughout spine.

    For me, a woman at 5 ft. 4 in. and walk nearly everywhere I go, it takes a tremendous amount of food to keep weight on. My health conditions cause my body to burn more calories because it has to work harder than people w/out health issues.

    That being said, Paleo has allowed me to get off all medications for every health condition doctors wanted to prescribe.

    In the beginning I could not keep weight on. However, I’ve learned what and how often I need to eat. And yes, it is expensive to eat Paleo. But, I can keep pace with people half my age (I’m 60) and feel better than I did at 45.

    I now only see primary physician twice a year for blood work and my Physical Therapist once a month for neck and back work.

    People don’t believe me when I try to explain how Paleo can give back total and complete health. But, that’s their problem. It’s the way we were designed to eat from the beginning of creation.

    1. Anne,

      That is so excellent to hear! I am so pleased that Paleo has had such a profound influence on your life and well-being. Would you be interested in sharing your story on our blog? If so, please email me at I would love to be able to share your inspiring story with others who may need some hope and encouragement!

      Take care,

      Aimee McNew, MNT, Certified Nutritionist

  28. I’m on a severky strict paleo diet for stomach problems after a couple of parasites from Asia and the drugs to get rid of them. My stomach is a mess and I’m following a diet for leaky gut syndrome which is basically leafy greens and protein (chicken and fish.) I make protein shakes with avocado twice a day, protein powder coming from hemp or pea. All dairy, grains, starch, fruit, sugars are out. I’ve been on it nearly 4 weeks and two thing have happened.
    The bad part is that I’m already thin and can lose weight at the drop of a hat. Most 40 yr olds would love that but it drives me crazy and this diet is awful for it. I’m also weak as hell. Super low energy and have pretty much spent the month at home or working. It’s clearly not for me but for now I have to stick to it for ny stomach.
    The good part… I’ve had a dodgy shoulder for years, torn tendon. Haven’t been able to do any kind of work out with my arms since. I took to cycling.
    Noe on this diet I’ve been doing push ups, pull ups, dips, rows and the shoulder is great. No pain.
    Hoping to get the stomach sorted soon abd add a bit of carbs in like sweet potatoes, yucca etc. And fingers crossed find a balance between the anti inflamatory effects of the diet but avoid the low energy from zero carbs and fruit.

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