How To Make Small Changes To The Meal Plan To Fit Your Needs

Paleo Plan Meal Plan Weekly Menu

We sometimes get emails from meal plan subscribers who are either experiencing fatigue and/or hunger. We also get emails from people on the meal plan who aren’t losing weight as quickly as they’d like on the plan. My first questions to both of these kinds of people are:

-How big of a person are you?
-How active are you?
-And are you tweaking the meal plan to fit your personal needs at all?

Are You Eating Enough, Too Much, Or Too Little On The Plan?

Those are my questions because I’m wondering if that fatigued person on the meal plan is eating enough and I’m wondering if that person who’s not losing weight is eating too much. If you’re a 6’1″, 180 pound guy doing CrossFit 5 times a week, the meal plan on its own isn’t going to cut it for you. It’s as simple as that. You’re going to be hungry and feel weak and fatigued. Your performance will suffer because you’re not getting enough calories. Even if you’re trying to cut calories to lose weight, you’ll be cutting WAY too many calories to be sustainable. For instance, a 25 year-old, 6’1″, perfectly fit guy at a lean 180 pounds doing CrossFit 3-5 times a week might need up to 3,300 calories a day to maintain his weight.

What The Meal Plan Provides

The meal plan provides between 1,489 and 1,974 calories per day on its own. Here’s a post on the average nutritional content of a weekly meal plan at Paleo Plan. The reason we provide this many calories is that it’s way easier to add to the menu than to take away in our opinion. If we gave a 45 year old, 5’0″, 150 pound, fairly inactive woman who’s trying to lose weight 3,000 calories a day, she’d gain weight faster than you can say Paleo Diet. She actually only needs about 1,650 calories a day, and that’s to maintain her weight – not to lose weight.

So, if you’re that big guy we talked about before, or even a 27 year old, 5’7″, 140 pound guy who’s moderately active and doesn’t need to lose weight (who needs roughly 2,150 calories a day to maintain his weight), you need to add food to the meal plan.

How Many Calories Do YOU Need?

Now, figure out how many calories you need. Your result is an APPROXIMATE. I can’t stress that enough, but it will at least give you an idea of how much or little you should be eating every day, and therefore how you should or shouldn’t tweak the meal plan.

If you want to know how much you should eat if you’re trying to lose weight, subtract 200 or 300 calories from that a day and you’ll likely start losing weight. If you want to get more detailed about it, go sign up for a free account at, and in the set-up process, it’ll tell you how many calories you should be eating in order to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week. By the way, that is a healthy and sustainable amount to lose per week and it may end up being more or less than that, depending on your metabolism, stress levels, sleep habits, etc.

How To Add Food To The Meal Plan

When the grocery list says to buy 1 pound of meat, you buy more, depending on how many more calories per day you need. Oil is a relatively cheap thing to eat more of, and fat is a great source of energy. Just lather your meals in it if you need more calories. And carbs. Don’t forget the carbs if you’re that active person who needs more calories. DON’T FEAR THE CARBS (if you’re active, that is)!

Add Protein
3.5 oz chicken breast with skin = 197 calories
3.5 oz sirloin steak broiled = 212 calories
3.5 oz wild Atlantic salmon broiled = 182 calories

Add Fat
1 tbs coconut oil = 117 calories
1 tbs olive oil = 119 calories
1 tbs coconut milk (canned) = 112 calories
1/2 avocado = 160 calories

Add Carbs
2 cups raspberries (raw or frozen) = 128 calories/30 grams carbs
1 medium (2″ diameter x 5″ long) baked sweet potato = 180 calories/24 grams carbs
1 large banana (8-9″ long) = 121 calories/31 grams carbs

All of this information is from the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, by the way.

How To Subtract Food From The Meal Plan

  • Subtract snacks from the meal plan. Just don’t buy that jerky or the nuts – it’s pretty easy. Then cut your lunch in half. Eat one half for lunch and one half as your snack.
  • Use less oil when you cook. As you can see, a tablespoon of oil is over 100 calories, so if you use half a teaspoon (or none, like I do) instead of a teaspoon, it will add up over the day.
  • If you find that your partner on the plan needs more food and you need less food than you’re getting, then give your partner more food and you take less. No more even portions for two very differently proportioned people.

Remember that the meal plan is a template. Everyone has their own special caloric needs, and you might have to do just a little bit of research to figure out what yours are, and what you need to add or subtract from the meal plan, if anything, to make it work for you. I’m happy to answer questions to help you make it fit you better. Just email me at


  1. Hi Neely,

    I am just starting out on Paleo (so new that I am trying to put together my first shopping list). My boyfriend and I are going to do it together so we will split the 2-person meals 60/40. What I am curious about is the calorie calculation. I have a great deal of muscle (would like to lose some!) so my weight is high for my size. Should I significantly lower my calorie intake or will that harm my body?

    1. Hi SarahBeth – If you’re already only eating 40% of the meal plan intake, then you may be significantly lowering your calorie intake already, depending on your size and activity level. If you want to lose muscle, though, you either have to stop working out or sort of starve your body. So significantly lowering your calorie intake may be what you need to do. Then we start bordering on eating disorders, though… You could also intermittently fast, but if what they say is true, you won’t necessarily be losing muscle. It really just depends on what your personal situation is.

  2. Hi, Im thinking about getting on this paleo plan, but the problem I have is, where I live in Australia its hard to sometimes get some of the ingredients. Anyway can find out what to substitute instead or similar info.

  3. Hi Neely,

    I am 71 yrs old with high cholesterol, it’s been high all my life. I cannot take statin drugs and I’m trying to do a low carb/low fat diet. I’m a carnivore, love meat, and would love to try Paleo but I’m afraid my cholesterol will go up even higher. What should I do? I need to lose weight and because of my age, it’s NOW or NEVER! I’ve been heavy all my life and when I leave this earth I’d like to leave it a little smaller. HELP!

    1. Beverly – There’s a ton of information out there supporting the fact that the Paleo diet will help your overall health, and that cholesterol markers are not perhaps what we thought they were cracked up to be. Meaning that they’re not the best markers for heart disease. I’d do some research on the truth about eating fats, as it might just be your answer to good health. Here’s a blog post I recently wrote on the myths of cholesterol and saturated fat.

  4. Hi Neely,

    I totally agree with your blog about cholesterol and sat fat. I am skeptical of what all the doctors are telling me about cholesterol. First of all, my cholesterol levels have been high most of my life and evidently my liver makes more cholesterol than “most”. I tried a statin drug years ago and was almost crippled from it. I figured it out for myself..stopped the drug and the crippling went away. I told my doctor I will not take any more drugs for my cholesterol and haven’t since. Actually, I think they “push” drugs on people that don’t need them..especially people my age and older. I’m not your “usual” senior citizen, don’t look it, don’t act it, and I am not gullible like some. I feel sorry for the elderly that are “preyed on” ..and there are many that believe anything they are told.

    I do use coconut oil and olive oil, the only two oils I will use. I have a wheat allergy, not celiac disease, and try to eat as much gluten free foods as possible. I love almonds and found out that I have sensitivities to all nuts BUT peanuts and hazelnuts. I used almond flour for cooking/baking a few years ago and stopped using it because of the my sensitivity to almonds.Being that it is not a full blown allergy, I will try using it again and see what happens. I also have coconut flour that I can use.

    Will look forward to joining Paleo soon!

  5. Hi Neely

    So just to make sure I understand correctly, “The meal plan provides between 1,489 and 1,974 calories per day on its own” is that per person or the total would then be split by two people? Basically my question is a 6’1″ 27 yr old single guy do I need to double everything or just by the fact there is only one of me, doubling already?


    1. hiimrif – Those figures were PER PERSON and the meal plan feeds two people. So in all, the meal plan would provide about 3,000 to 4,000 calories per day if you were to eat the whole thing by yourself. Just make changes as you see fit. For instance, if you need just 1.5 times what one normal person would eat, then multiply everything by .75 and that should do the trick. If you have specific questions on this, just email me at and we’ll figure it out together.

  6. Hi Neely, thanks for all you do! Quick question: I seem to have hit a weight loss wall: I’ve been on a strict Paleo diet for about 4 mths. I’m 5’4″, 44 yrs old, and I’ve been fluctuating between 137 and 138 for several weeks now (started at 146.5 4 mths ago); my weight loss has been very slow but now I seem stuck; I do Crossfit 5 times a week on average; I eat a lot of almonds so I’ve thought about cutting back on those; any other ideas to jump start my weight loss again? several folks have mentioned that it could be hormone related since I’m 44 (not menopausal yet as far as I can tell, but could be in the early stages of it?); I did put on a quick 10 lbs in my early 40s that has been very stubborn – especially around the belly; I’ve lost most of that 10 lbs now (and the belly fat looks much better) but it’s been a difficult fight; I feel that with my intense Crossfit workouts and strict Paleo diet I should weigh at least 10 lbs less than I do by now. Any ideas?

    1. Allison – It’s really hard to say what’s going on with you without knowing a few things. Here are my suggestions for now, and if you need further help, let’s schedule an appointment, ok? Calories, carbs, fat, sleep, stress, and overtraining are all very important factors in stubborn weight loss. Log your food for a few days in and see where you’re at. Change things as necessary. If you’re eating way too much food, you probably won’t lose weight. If you’re eating too few carbs, you won’t lose weight unless you’re eating a ton of fat to compensate for it to to fuel your workouts. If you’re eating too many carbs, you probably won’t lose weight. 5 CF bouts a week is a lot. Consider decreasing it. How much do you sleep? If it’s not 8 hours a night on average, work on that. Especially with the amount of exercise you’re doing, your body needs adequate rest or it’ll get stressed out and build up fat, especially in your belly area. Hope this helps!

  7. I would like to start eating a Paleo diet for a number of reasons (including to lose weight and to eliminate many toxins found in a conventional diet), but am a nursing mother of a 2 month old baby. Is this a good diet to start while nursing? Does anyone have an experience with supply when on a Paleo diet? I worked really hard at getting my supply up after a month long bout of every breast issue there is. I do not get much time to work out, but would like to at least start walking. Should I add calories to the diet beacuse I am a nursing mother? Are there foods not included in the diet I should add because I am nursing? Thanks!

  8. Hi Neely, My daughter has shared this with me, but I have a problem. I am vegetarian. I was wondering how to use this diet without eating meat?

  9. Neely,

    Just curious…I have been on Paleo Plan for three weeks now. For the most part, I have felt great! I have IBS and have not had belly pain since about day 2. That is HUGE for me!! However, in the past couple of days, I have had belly pain (colon pain). I have followed the plan “to a tee”, not cheating at all!! I don’t know why this would be. Should I try some pro-biotics? I used to eat Greek Yogurt (which I love), but I’m so afraid to try anything off the diet. Any suggestions?

    Thanks so much!!

    1. lkennepp – Congrats on your success so far! It’s really hard for me to say what it could be. However, sometimes people go paleo and they starting eating the crap out of nuts, and that can be really hard on your digestive system. When I eat nuts I get terrible pain in my colon. Just an idea. And yes, a probiotic is a great idea.

  10. Neely,

    I am a 26yr old guy, 6’2 and 203 last time i weighed myself. I am a regular social drinker but it will be easy for me to cut that out, so lets assume I won’t be drinking at all, or maybe one time a week I’ll have a few drinks at the most. Currently I’m in good shape, I just have a small belly from drinking. I just started doing the paleo diet pretty strictly. I’ve been using myfitnesspal to track my calories as well, and I’ve been staying pretty close to 1500 calories, no more than 2000 calories each day. A lot of the calorie counters recommend I consume a lot more calories for my size, but I want to lose weight/get toned in the mid section. I am experienced with running so along with the diet I’ve been running 2+ miles every day and I also play hockey at least 2 times a week. Will it be harmful for me to stay around the 1500-2000 calorie mark? I haven’t been starving myself – I just don’t eat unless I’m hungry.

    Thank you so much for any feedback !

    1. Bryce – If you’re not feeling hungry or weak or dizzy at that amount of food, then I say stick with it. But if you start to feel any of those things, reconsider and add more food in.

  11. I’m confused by being able to use almond or coconut milk. Even the unsweetened seems to contain several of the ingredients on the ‘restricted’ list – like organic dried cane syrup, carrageenan, etc.

  12. Hi, I am a 64 yo white male, weigh 200, Total Cholesterol 260 HDL 52. Want to lose about 25 lbs. I’ve got some metabolic or horomonal problem going on because with 6-8 hours of tennis per wk plus a couple of hours at the gym and or road biking, I am not losing any weight even at about 1300 calories per day on the Eat to Live diet. My weight is primarily in my belly. Hope this diet plan works.
    Question: How much should I cut the recommended 7 day plan or other suggested meals in the Cookbook?

    1. Scott Snyder – I would just eat it as is and see what happens with your weight. If you gain weight, cut it down, and if you lose weight and you don’t feel too hungry, keep it as is. Also, if there’s something hormonal going on, it may be worth a visit to a naturopathic doc…

  13. Some questions for you please!! I’m really interested in trying paleo. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole adult life and unfortunately have yo-yo dieted. I’m female, 5 ft tall and 135-140 pounds. I want to be 110 pounds. I also find my stomach is often upset…by something or another. I was recently told my iron levels are very low so overall…I have many reasons for trying paleo. I think it will help my iron deficiency, stomach problems and (I hope) weight loss goals. For activity, I was doing Insanity 60 day program but had to stop due to illness the last month.


    – I plan to start Insanity again. But I’m thinking that I will first start paleo eating and give that a month before I add in exercise. Does that sound sensible?
    – I want to lose weight. I’ve been told I maintain on 1,500 calories. So I’d like to aim for 1,200 calories (no exercise for now). I was reading around the site and I saw that you recommend first trying the meal plan AS IS. And then adjusting from there rather than trying to calorie count (which I hate). But the meal plan ranges from 1,489 and 1,974 calories per day. Should I really go for this? I’m deathly afraid of gaining more weight. Or am I better off making my own meal plan using the recipes here and counting their calories?

    I really appreciate any advice you can give. I’m so new to this but really desperate for change!

    1. Nadia – Well, you’re talking to the right person, since I’m 5’0″ too! I can tell you that when I go down to 1200 calories, with or without exercise – I feel VERY hungry and weak. However, everyone is different. I’d just hate to see you set yourself up for failure by restricting calories so much that you’re so hungry that you cheat. Know what I mean? So I’d start with the meal plan, but listen to your body’s hunger cues! If you’re not hungry for the rest of your meal in front of you, push it away and save it for later. If you’re not hungry at snack time, don’t eat the snack. Have food, and plenty of it, available for yourself. I bet just by virtue of removing grains, dairy, and sugar, you’ll lose weight, especially in the first month. Then you can start tweaking things from there.

  14. I’ve been reading many of the articles on here but I haven’t seen anything about substitution. My husband and I are fixing to start using the Paleo plan but I seen things like tomatoes and avocados that I do not like no matter how you prepare them. Tomatoes can easily be substituted but avocados aren’t as easy. Is there a source that helps you with in situations like this?? I’ve also read somewhere that root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots are not allowed on a “true” paleo diet but I see the first breakfast in week 28 has sweet potatoes. Is there a good rule of thumb to use when make decisions on what is ok and what is not?

  15. Just signed up. I am allergic to Chicken. I can eat eggs, but not the actual chicken. When I get my meal plan how should I modify for that?

  16. Taste similar to dairy milk used in many Paleo recipes.
    A Paleo food list contains the most natural foods available today: seeds,
    fish, meats, fruits, eggs and vegetables. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose.

    1. Hi Claudia,

      Protein powders are a two sided issue. Some in the Paleo community who avoid dairy, still use whey based protein powders after workouts and some stick with meat based powders or won’t use any protein powders at all. However, in general, it seems that hydrolyzed beef protein shakes are accepted as “Paleo” more than whey. Here’s two articles describing the problems with whey protein, and And here’s Chris Kresser’s recommendation, It’s a long article so I’ll tell you that he likes PurePaleo, a hydrolyzed beef protein by Designs for Health,

      The bottom line is that you should use a product that you feel good about and that works best for you!


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