Feb 25

How Best To Start with Paleo Nutrition (for Beginners)

Written by Travis | posted in Paleo Diet | 28 Comments

How Best To Start with Paleo Nutrition

Paleo Diet Choices

When you first start to research the Paleo diet, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the different views on being strict or not, going Paleo cold turkey, or gradually easing into it. Until recently, I recommended that people new to the Paleo diet gradually replace their current food choices with Paleo approved choices. But I’ve changed my mind.

A License To Fail

At first, I thought having clients ease into the Paleo diet would attract more people and make it easier to convince them to switch to a Paleo diet so they, too, would reap the benefits.

I was wrong, way wrong. That’s giving clients a license to fail. They would dabble only when they wanted, and think, “Hmm, pizza tonight, Paleo tomorrow.” It’s a doomed way of thinking.

Toughen Up Buttercup, You May Not Like This

Now, I recommend only a cold turkey approach. It’s only a little harder in the beginning, but the results come quicker and are more dramatic. Yes, it sucks to have the sugar cravings for week or two, but once you’re over it, you’re over it.

When I started my Paleo journey I picked a day and went strict Paleo. The results came fast, and I felt energized after only five days into my new Paleo diet. I’m a very determined person, so this approach worked well for me.

On the other hand, if you’re eating only one Paleo meal a day and eating crap the rest of the day, it’s a start. A little one, but it’s still a start. You will NOT see the results you hope for if you choose to eat like this.

If you’re thinking of easing the Paleo diet, or know friends and family who wish to ease into the Paleo diet, you must understand that you will not see the results you wish for. And it’s easier to allow yourself to fail when you only half commit to a lifestyle change. Half committing to try something is easier than fully committing because if you decide you don’t like it, eh, no big deal right? You give yourself an excuse not to succeed.

Be Strong & Commit

Do yourself a favor and research the principles that make the foundation of the Paleo diet, pick a day, and commit 100 percent. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re currently on the Paleo diet, how did you start?

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Quick & Easy Paleo Diet Recipes

Photo by laverrue.


Travis is a functional fitness and healthy living junkie that lives in southern Louisiana. I run this blog to give you down-to-earth advice on achieving peak health through functional fitness and healthy living. You can follow me on Twitter or contact me here.

28 Responses so far, but there is still room for yours

  1. David Quackenbush says:

    I think you have to go “all in”. It’s not that hard, more mental than anything. What I discovered is more food I never thought I liked (vegetables). The preparation and cooking is not that big of a deal. However, being prepared throughout the day is important for people with dynamic daily schedules.

    • Travis says:

      Thank you for commenting David, and I agree, the best approach is go all in.

      Switching the way you eat is definitely a mental game. When I first Paleo, being prepared was the most difficult thing for me because I was always on the go.

      Thanks again for commenting!

      All the best,


  2. Sally JPA says:

    Going all in definitely made a huge difference for me and my husband . . . and me backsliding lately on the sugar has also made a huge negative difference lately, too. Sigh. I’m usually pretty spot-on with self-care, but I’ve been struggling since the holidays.

    • Travis says:


      You’ll be back on track before you know it. It’s difficult to get out of the holiday rut, but think back before the holidays when you felt awesome.

      You got this!

      All the best,


  3. Jared says:

    Great article. I have been fairly strict with the paleo diet for about a month and half. I have been dabbling in paleo since around May. I am not sure what you think of the occasional cheat meal, but I do that sometimes. I am strict Monday-Friday and then at most I may have two meals on the weekend that aren’t so paleo. Sometimes it gets tough when going out to dinner with the family and the only options are meat dishes with rice at a middle eastern restaurant.

    This diet has been great and I don’t plan on going back to sandwiches anytime soon. I feel and look stronger. It was amazing how fast I saw results.

    • Travis says:


      Thank you for commenting, I appreciate it. I have cheat meals every so often too (mostly family gatherings). When I eat out at a restaurant, I always ask for vegetables in place of the rice, potatoes, or noodles. Most will oblige at not extra charge. Give it a try.

      It’s frustrating when I look back at how I ate before the Paleo diet. Struggling with trying to become leaner, faster, and stronger went away quickly once I made the switch to the Paleo diet. It’s terrific you’re already seeing, and more importantly, feeling the changes it brings.

      All the best,


  4. kimboosan says:

    Hi! Here via the PaleoRodeo – I’m glad I found this article, I will point people to it. I was told by my nutritionist last fall that I’m gluten intolerant – not really a surprise, but it was motivation to DO something about my health. I had been reading about the paleo diet, and while everyone around me was pointing out “gluten-free bread” and “gluten-free pasta” I realized that the problem was bigger than that.

    I went cold turkey last November – yes, right before the carb-driven holiday season – and the difference was amazing. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but honestly I’m not sure I would have stuck with the new lifestyle if I had tried to do it piecemeal, especially given the time of year: temptations were rampant. Going 100% got my body adjusted faster, and got me off the “addictions” more quickly.

    The obvious change is a loss of 40 pounds, but the important changes to me are better skin, better sleep cycles, more energy…the list, as you know, goes on. I’m working on upping the exercise ante now but I’ll NEVER go off paleo, and I think my mindset come out of making the 100% commitment to it from the start. It’s great to see someone else promoting that!

    • Travis says:


      Ah! The Paleo Rodeo is awesome isn’t it?! Thank you for the kind words, and for helping spread the news.

      I admire you for going Paleo cold turkey, especially in entering the holiday season! And you’ve lost 40 lbs!! I have goose bumps because I love it when people can see, and even more, feel the changes after switching to the Paleo diet.

      Thank you stopping by!

      All the best,


  5. Dawn Marie Stager says:

    I am just starting the Paleo Diet…..and am a little nervous as I am a BIG soda drinker as well as LOVE sweets, and am terrible at mind over matter. I have been doing Cross Fit for about a year and love that I am stronger but really want to see results as far as weight loss or more to the point “loving my body” I am not fat but am not in a place where I love myself. I have an amazing supportive Cross Fit family and know they will help me get through the hard parts of changing my lifestyle (for the better) :) I’m just nervous to get started and make the changes I need for health and well being. I appreciate your website and am SO happy to have found it. Thank You for sharing. :)

    • Travis says:


      I believe, that if you stay determined, you’re going to be loving your body in a shorter time than you think. Adding the Paleo diet to your CrossFit lifestyle is going to rocket your performance in the box too. Double score!

      I’ll be interested in how it’s working for you once you’ve been Paleo for a couple weeks. Prepare to feel awesome. :)

      All the best,

      P.S. When you feel the urge to nibble chocolate or to sip soda, picture the body you’ll love in your mind and ask yourself if the chocolate or soda is helping you get that body. Works every time!

  6. Dawn Marie Stager says:

    Day 2 of Paleo and its going OK. Not Great but OK. I haven’t cheated which is amazing in itself….but I do find myself consumed all day long with thoughts of food. Not only “bad” food but what am I going to eat next…etc. I also have a KILLER headache that is almost making me sick to my stomach. I know that will go away just hoping sooner than later. I’m still focused and have done what you mentioned about feeling the urges. It has worked and I plan on using it throughout this journey until I no longer need it. Thanks so much for this website, I can’t tell you enough how much it helps me learn and BELIEVE in what I am doing.

    Thanks again,

    Dawn Marie

    • Travis says:


      First, great work on staying paleo! Yes, that is a victory because you’re still moving toward the body you desire. :)

      Change always seems to make you feel a bit out of sorts because your not in your old routine. It will pass, and soon you may realize that when you look back at your prepaleo routine you’ll wonder how you did it. Because now that you eat a paleo diet you’ll feel awesome, and that doesn’t go away. Remember, a worthy result doesn’t come without obstacles.

      You’re very, very welcome Dawn, and I’m rooting for you!

      All the best,


    • jules says:

      when i get cravings for food i try to focus it into something productive like looking up a recipe to try that night at dinner or as a chance to reflect on what i have had so far that day and see where i might be lacking. i also text, email, or call friends for a little support. my friend rita and i have a joke phrase of ‘thats sooo no paleo!’ when we are being tempted to cheat.

      i still drink coffee but use coconut milk (full fat) in it. i am a fan of the canned variety instead of the cartons or bottles. I also use seltzer, like perrier with lime or lemon, when i want soda. i always keep a stash of some fruit and nuts handy for when i just cant control a craving.

      i have never experienced the headaches or sluggishness that a lot of people say they have when first going paleo, but like anything else, you have to learn to walk before you run. we all fall down and cheat now and again (pizza is my kryptonite). don’t beat yourself up over it if it happen. reflect on why it happened, enjoy the moment, and move on. no one will remember the misses, they will be awed by your accomplishments and the new you you are creating.

      hope this helps a little.

  7. Alan says:

    Hi I truly don’t know where to start with the paleo diet as in what to eat morning noon and night all I see is meet meet meet for breakfast lunch and dinner ???

    • Travis says:

      We do eat a protein source with each meal, and on the Paleo diet we choose to eat meat for our protein source.

      Try an omelet with veggiess for breakfast, a grilled chicken salad for lunch, and a steak with a side of carrots for dinner. Voila! An easy Paleo diet day.

      All the best,


  8. Shane says:

    I joined a crossfit gym about 3 months ago and they’ve convinced me to try paleo. I’m 29 yrs old 5’11” and 155pds. My concern is losing a lot of weight, wich I really don’t want to do. I’ve tried researching for paleo for hardgainers but all I seem to find is how to lose weight with paleo. Do you have any advice for someone like me who’s not trying to drop a bunch of weight?

    • Travis says:


      Through my experiences, you will lose body fat weight (if you have any). Then your body will begin to build itself, especially with the combo of CrossFit and Paleo.

      Give it a go, and let us know how it works!

      All the best,


  9. karson says:

    I’m probably about 10 to 15 pounds overweight and am going to start the paleo diet cold turkey. I also exercise about 45 minutes to an hour everyday. I was wondering about how long you think it will take to see any results?

  10. karson says:

    and is it ok to have a “splurge meal” once a week? or will it throw my body and diet off track?

    • Travis says:


      You’ll feel the difference before you’ll see the difference. I recommend you take pictures in your swimming suit for yourself before you begin. It won’t take long to see the difference though, most see the changing beginning the first week. You need to push for a solid 30 days strict, and then add a few non-paleo foods back into the diet if you feel you must. You got this, you just have to start. :)

      All the best,


  11. Casey says:

    Randomly ran across this blog/post…
    I want to go full Paleo, but for the past two months I’ve only been able to muster 90% of the time or less. The cravings are so intense that by the end of the day I have managed to convince myself that “maybe Paleo isn’t the best approach.” I’m doing this for my health, more than weight loss, and I think I let the cravings help me question what I am doing despite all that I have read in support. I haven’t had the chance to feel the full benefits because I keep backtracking, and I know it’s just intense cravings.

    Any suggestions on how to shut that devil in the back of my head up? It’s awful to keep making myself sick with food because my body physically craves it too much. Why isn’t that knowledge enough?! :(

    • Travis says:


      You must focus on your ultimate goal by going Paleo. I see so many people attempt Paleo only to realize they have no real reason for the diet swap, and that makes it very easy to return to your old diet. So, my question to you is, what do you want from the Paleo diet? And even more, how bad do you want it?

      All the best,


  12. Kelly says:

    I do like your articke. I just really started Paleo. I am really excited to see how I feel after 3 weeks or so. I have ab undiagnosed movement disorder. I don’t even need to take meds. Im plateauing for3 months!! My older bro is a chiro/crossfitter. I can’t wait to follow him. Thanks!

  13. Rachel says:

    I came across this diet/lifestyle and am looking forward to starting it. I have been on many other diets such as atkins and the new york diet which were hard because there was no fruit involved, But it seems when i do introduce fruit back into my diet i cant get enough of it so i was wondering on how i could curb those cravings , i know it has alot to do with will power and portion sizes. I am 15 pounds away from my goal weight and want to be on a diet like this where i can eat nuts and fruit and carrots!

    I already dont eat dairy or any grains or potatoes and i try to limit my carb intake but any suggestions on how i can get the right portions and help loose weight?!

  14. Bev says:

    I went strict Paleo last June. I dropped 35 lbs and looked/felt amazing! Unfortunately, stressful situations in my life caused me to “fall off the wagon” and now I’m back where I began. It is VERY difficult to start again. I went back up to 204lbs. I get down to 200, and I’m feeling really motivated, but something causes me to go back to 204 no matter how strict I’m following the plan! I know this works, but this “yo-yoing” is just so frustrating. Why is it so hard this time around?!

  15. Vanesa says:

    I tried a few years ago to ease into the Paleo diet. Every once in a while I would cheat. That became a habbit. I would make an excuse to eat two french fries….then a cookie…then before I knew it, all I was doing was making excuses to eat crap! I heard it was okay to cheat one day a week. That’s not true either! You have to battle those cravings all over again. Why torture yourself like that?!? I went all out a few months ago. As soon as I get more used to it, my kid is going Paleo too.

  16. Cynthia says:

    Hi there! I’m so glad I came across your article, I’ve been searching endlessly online for some help with paleo. I’ve been doing CrossFit for about 4 months now, and only began working out 8 months ago. My diet was going good for the first 4 months, but as soon as I joined CrossFit… down the drain :( I had lost about 18 lbs. went from 27% body fat to 19% which was in mid September…

    Since then I managed to gain all of my weight + some :( I am 100% committed to CrossFit (5 days a week) and I told myself I’d do paleo, which I began January 2nd, I have been getting crazy mood swings (I am a JUNK FOOD QUEEN) well today was day 4 and unfortunately I ate some orange chicken… I couldn’t resist! HAHA.

    I find myself having some crazy trouble with this paleo thing due to the fact that everything seems to make me gag and I cannot seem to enjoy absolutely anything that I eat. I add spices, different veggies, lemon juice etc. to make my food taste a little better, but I have to force myself to eat as much as I possibly can off my plate. I know I am not eating enough, but I still do eat every few hours. When it’s enchiladas, burgers, pizza etc i’ll absorb everything on my plate within a matter of minutes, but if it’s something healthy like the past few days I’ll be sitting there for about 45 minutes at the very least just picking at my food. I do not look forward to another meal time coming along… I want rock hard abs and a bangin’ body, but I have been feeling so down about how difficult it is for me. I do try to think about the body that I want, I have a dream board and everything, but my nutrition is just hell, because for the past 8 months I have been 100% committed to going to the gym at least 5 days a week… AND I know you can’t out-train a bad diet, I just sometimes don’t believe in myself enough to get through this.


    Best Regards,

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Hi, I’m Travis Schefcik, and I write this blog to give people just like you down-to-earth functional fitness and healthy living tips and advice. I started Uncommon Wellness in early 2010 because wellness just isn’t common anymore.

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