Paleo 101: Your Ultimate Summer Paleo Starter Guide

Switching Up Your Nutrition, Cave Man Style

“The Paleo diet, unlike other ‘diets’, also goes beyond the dinner plate to also include healthy movement, sleep, stress management and the cultivation of supportive community to help its followers achieve optimal health.”  — Jessica Beacom, RDN & Stacie Hassing, RDN, LD — Co-founders of The Real Food Dietitians

Note from Mark Sisson of Primal Kitchen: 

Paleo 101
Mark Sisson, Primal Kitchen.


’ve spent three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal health. Once an elite endurance athlete, I lost both health and vitality through an oppressive training regimen and a highly inflammatory diet. I vowed then that I would find a way to be as fit, strong and healthy as possible, with the least amount of pain, suffering and sacrifice required. After extensive research and years of experimenting, I regained my health and enjoyment of life by simply changing how I ate. I was so blown away by the dramatic shifts in my own health that came from simply rethinking my food choices, that I started to wonder how many tens or hundreds of millions of others might be suffering the same fate.

I started blogging in 2006 at about my life’s transformation with this incredible new way of eating and living. Since then, millions of people have followed the advice in my blog and bestselling books, The Primal Blueprint and Primal Endurance, and have experienced similar remarkable turnarounds. THAT is the power of food: it can either lead you down a path of disease, pain and despair, or it can lift you up to new heights of wellness and vitality.

That’s where I set out to create Primal Kitchen, the world’s best tasting, health enhancing, real-food pantry staples. Nothing processed or artificial, no added sugars, partially hydrogenated or trans fats, soybean or canola oils. No more artificial flavors, colors, dyes, waxes or chemical preservatives. Just. Real. Food.

So what exactly does a paleo or primal diet entail? Focus on delicious portions of high-quality protein from grass-fed meat, fowl, eggs, wild-caught, mercury-free fish. Also enjoy healthy fats and oils (we’re talking nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut, olive, and algae) and plenty of colorful vegetables alongside moderate amounts of fruit.

Try to avoid processed foods, refined grains or other refined carbohydrates. Eliminate sugars, sugary drinks, or artificial sweeteners and avoid industrial seed oils, like soy, canola, and corn oils. Items to eat in moderation include full-fat dairy, properly prepared beans and legumes, wild rice, and quinoa.

A Primal / Paleo Diet Consists of:

Paleo 101
The Real Food Dietitians

High-quality sources of protein: meat, fowl, fish, eggs

Healthy fats and oils: nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut, olive, algae

Plants: lots of colorful vegetables, moderate amounts of fruits (mostly berries)

Eat in moderation: Full-fat dairy, properly prepared beans and legumes, wild rice, quinoa

Leave out: Processed foods: refined grains and other refined carbohydrates, sugars, sugary drinks and artificial sweeteners, Industrial seed oils: soy, canola, corn

Shopping List Essentials

With local farmer’s markets, there’s no need to run to the grocery to stock up on these nutritious must-haves.

  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Chiles
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Olive Oil
  • Wild Caught Fresh Fish
  • Grass-Fed, Pasture Raised Meats

What to Eat at Your Favorite Summer Events

Dip lover? Pair these snacks with Primal Kitchen’s Ranch Dressing or Chipotle Lime Mayo for a delicious flavor combo!

BBQ: Buffalo Cauliflower

Baseball Game: Beef Jerky

Beach Snacks: Paleo Granola with pumpkin seeds

Concerts: Dark Chocolate

Hiking: Nuts/homemade trail mix

Road Trip: Pork Rinds

Outdoor Movie: Seasoned Kale Chips

Quiz Yourself

Paleo 101
The Real Food Dietitians

How exactly does your diet match up? You may actually be following the paleo diet already. Answer these questions below and see how your current diet lines up with the lifestyle!

  1. Do you eat gluten free?
  2. Do you eat dairy?
  3. Do you have a high protein diet?
  4. Is fresh, locally sourced meat a priority for you?
  5. Do you mostly stick with whole fruits and vegetables?
  6. Do you tend to avoid processed foods?

If you said yes to 5 or more… 

You’re pretty much already paleo. It wouldn’t take much else for you to claim the lifestyle.

If you said yes to 3 or 4…

You’re halfway there. Maybe eliminating some processed snacks from your diet will get you closer to how our ancestors ate.

If you said yes to 2 or less…

So maybe you’re not there yet. That doesn’t mean you can’t try. Making an effort to be conscious of what you eat on a daily basis will help you get in line with the habits.

Did you know that cutting out processed foods will help your health in the long run? A Public Health Nutrition study found that people who cook at least five times a week are 47% more likely to be alive 10 years later compared to those who rely more on processed foods. So get out of the snack aisle and get to cooking!

Don’t have time to cook daily? Spend a few hours every Sunday (or one day a week) prepping meals and snacks for the upcoming week. Having prepared food will help you reach your nutrition goals, and keep you satisfied when hunger strikes.

Learn more about the Paleo Lifestyle at! For more information on Mark Sisson and Primal Kitchen, visit! Read More: Bacon Zoodle Breakfast Bowl with Primal Kitchen.

Related Posts