What Is a Paleo Diet?
Participating in a month-long diet challenge is one of the many things that people do to try and lose weight. For those who have no desire to lose weight, it is a way to try out a new cuisine or as a way to better their health. If you have been looking for one such challenge, then a 30 day paleo meal plan could be next on your list.
However, before delving into this challenge, learn more about what this eating plan could do for you. Could the paleo diet: 30 day meal plan aid in weight loss? Could eating like this for a month give you more energy, better skin and nails, and reduce bloating? Let’s find out!
Also known as the paleolithic diet, the stone age diet, hunter-gatherer diet, or caveman diet, it is an eating plan that requires people to consume only food that our ancestors ate in the past before civilization. This means that on the paleo 30 day challenge meal plan, you can only consume foods that could only be obtained 10,000 years ago through hunting and gathering (12).
What Foods Can You Eat On a 30 Day Paleo Weight Loss Meal Plan?
As stated above, the paleo diet only includes food that were present during the stone age period. Followers of this eating plan believe that since human evolution stopped about 10,000 years ago (3), the human body and our genetic makeup are ill-equipped to cope with our modern diet and lifestyle.
If you are interested in finding out more about this approach (14), here are the caveman diet-approved foods that should be included in your 30 day paleo diet meal plan.
1. Fruits and vegetables
While the paleo diet disapproves of any foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago, fruit and vegetables do not fall into this category. They grew all over the forest during the Paleolithic era and thus can be consumed while on the caveman diet.
2. Dark leafy greens
Leafy greens are low in carbohydrates, sodium, and cholesterol but high in fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamins, and calcium (4). Great examples include spinach, Swiss chard, kale, Romaine lettuce, and collard green.
Hunting was a big part of the caveman period, meat should be included on your 30 day paleo meal plan. You can choose from multiple options such as beef, lamb, pork and poultry options like chicken, duck, and turkey. To aid in weight loss, forgo the fatty cuts and opt for lean cuts as they are low in calories and fat. Meat reduces your appetite and increases your metabolism, increases muscle mass, improves bone density and strength, and helps the body’s ability to absorb iron (9).
4. Fatty fish
They include fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and herring among others. Not only are oily fish fantastic sources of protein, but they are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and potentially lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis (7). You can also consume other seafood such as oysters, shrimp, shellfish, lobsters, and crabs.
Like meat, eggs make up a big part of the paleo diet. They are nutritious, low in calories, high in protein and thus can keep you fuller for longer. The fact that they help with satiety (2) makes them a good option for your 30 day paleo weight loss meal plan. Eggs also have all the 9 essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body. These amino acids help stimulate muscle growth, repair, and regeneration, enable protein synthesis, hormone and enzyme production, boost your metabolism and tissue growth and increase the absorption of zinc, calcium and selenium (6).
6. Nuts and seeds
They are great sources of protein, healthy fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals. Healthwise, they improve cholesterol profiles in your body, help prevent arrhythmias, reduce blood clotting, relax blood vessels which eases blood flow, and also help keep you full. Nuts and seeds also raise the levels of glucagon-like peptide 1, which helps to control glucose levels and to lower insulin levels in people with prediabetes (15).
7. Plant-based milk
While people during the stone-age did not drink milk, you can still have plant-based milk like nut milk if you make it yourself at home. Examples of this include almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, hemp milk, hazelnut milk and coconut milk (10) among others.
What Foods Should You Avoid On the 30 Day Paleo Meal Plan?
Since farming and industrialization had not been established during the stone-age era, the paleo diet does not allow food that coming directly from farming or food that is highly processed. Examples of food that is not allowed on the paleo 30 day challenge meal plan include (13):
- Grains, including wheat, spelt, oats, rye, and barley.
- Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas.
- Dairy and dairy products.
- Foods high in trans fats, such as margarine, baked goods, frozen pizza, and fried foods.
- Refined sugars. Stay away from sodas, energy drinks, ice-cream, and other food that is high in sugar. You should also avoid table sugar and other artificial sweeteners.
- Low-fat or diet products. While they are considered as healthier alternatives in other diets, they are usually highly processed and this is not allowed on the 30 day paleo meal plan.
- Some vegetable oils. Examples include soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil among others.
Is Rice Paleo?
Like quinoa (8) and other grains mentioned above, rice is not allowed on this diet and thus you should not consume it while on the 30 day paleo meal plan.
Sample Of a 30 Day Paleo Meal Plan With Recipes
Chocolate banana bread
4 bananas, 4 eggs, 140 g almond butter, 4 tbsp melted coconut oil, 75 g coconut flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 170 g dark chocolate, and a pinch of salt.
Mix all the ingredients together, pour the batter into a 9×5 inches loaf pan and bake at 177 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes to an hour. Once its done, take it out to cool and slice it up into 12 equal slices.
Calories for 1 slice/serving: 267. Fats: 18 g, Proteins: 6 g, Carbs: 20 g.
Mushroom, Scallion and Grilled Chicken Cauliflower Rice
Ingredients – 85 g grilled chicken, 285 g cauliflower rice, 131 g medium mushrooms, 3 scallions, 1.5 tbsp coconut aminos, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 tbsp avocado oil, 1/2 tbsp lime juice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste
Method – In a large pan, sauté the mushrooms and scallions for one minute. Add cauliflower rice, coconut aminos, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender. Add the grilled chicken and stir-fry for 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in lime juice, remaining scallions, and salt and pepper once done.
Calories: 179. Fats: 5.5 g, Proteins: 21.5 g, Carbs: 12.8 g.
Sausage, butternut and Kale bake
Ingredients – 96 g sausages, 160 g butternut squash, 1 deseeded red chilli, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 150 g coconut yogurt, 1 garlic clove, juice of half a lemon, 200 g kale
Method – Put the sausages, squash, chilli, cumin seeds and oil in a large roasting tin and toss. Roast for 40 minutes at 200°C. Be sure to turn the sausages after 20 minutes. After 40 minutes add the kale, toss and roast for another 5 minutes. Once done serve with a drizzle of a mixture of yogurt, garlic, lemon and salt.
Calories: 540. Fats: 22 g, Proteins: 28 g, Carbs: 64 g.
1 tsp coconut oil, 3 large portobello mushroom caps, 0.5 small onion, 0.25-pound ground turkey, a handful of baby spinach leaves, 3 grape tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste
Calories: 233. Fats: 13 g, Proteins: 24 g, Carbs: 7 g.
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1219. Fats: 58.5 g, Proteins: 79.5 g, Carbs: 103.8 g.
Orange Banana Smoothie
2 medium-sized bananas, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 medium-sized oranges
Calories: 360. Fats: 2 g, Proteins: 6 g, Carbs: 86 g.
Chicken Kale Salad
3/4 tbsp olive oil, 3/4 cup chopped butternut squash, 2 cups kale, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 small apple, 113 g grilled chicken, 1 tbsp raisins, 7.5 g pecans, salt and pepper to taste
Calories: 551. Fats: 19 g, Proteins: 31 g, Carbs: 76 g.
Ingredients – 75.6 g boneless skinless chicken breast, 4.93 ml coconut aminos, 2.46 ml dry sherry, 19.67 g arrowroot powder, 10 g coconut flour, 28 g honey, 10 g lemon juice, 0.82 ml fresh grated ginger, salt and pepper to taste
Method – Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and toss with coconut aminos, sherry, and 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder and set aside. Mix the honey, lemon juice, grated ginger, 2 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder, and 2 pinches salt. Place on the heat and simmer until the mixture is thick. Shallow fry the chicken pieces after covering them again with a mix of arrowroot powder, the coconut flour, salt and ground pepper.
Calories: 262. Fats: 3 g, Proteins: 18 g, Carbs: 40 g.
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1173. Fats: 24 g, Proteins: 55 g, Carbs: 202 g
Sausage-egg and sweet potato bowl
Ingredients – 1/2 kg spicy sausage, 2 sweet potatoes, 113 g spinach, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp avocado oil, 4 hard-boiled eggs
Method – Cube the sweet potatoes and bake them in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes at 204°C tossing once halfway through. As for the sausage meatballs, use a small ice-cream scoop to make 12 meatballs and bake them under the same heat for 20 minutes. This recipe makes 4 servings.
Calories for one serving: 420. Fats: 25 g, Proteins: 27 g, Carbs: 16 g.
Chicken Sweet Potato salad
1/2 large red bell pepper, 1/4 small onion, 1/4 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 boiled medium-sized sweet potato, 2 chicken sausages, 113 g Romaine lettuce leaves
Calories: 481. Fats: 20 g, Proteins: 34 g, Carbs: 26 g.
Baked salmon and avocado salsa
For the salmon – 170 g salmon, 1/4 tbsp olive oil, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 tsp chilli powder, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp onion powder, salt and black pepper to taste
For the salsa – 1 ripe medium-sized avocado, 1.5 tomatoes, 2 tbsp chopped onions, 2 tbsp cilantro, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice
Method – Stir the olive oil and other spices in a small bowl and then rub the mixture on the salmon. Place it on a pan and bake it at 200°C for 12 to 15 minutes. You can also cook it on a stove on a heavy-duty non-stick pan for 5-6 minutes per side. Mix the salsa ingredients together and serve.
Calories: 591. Fats: 40 g, Proteins: 40 g, Carbs: 24 g.
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1429. Fats: 90 g, Proteins: 101 g, Carbs: 66 g.
Coconut Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup
Pancakes ingredients – 1/4 cup coconut flour, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp honey, 1/2 medium-sized very ripe banana, 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
Syrup ingredients – 2/3 cup blueberries and 2 tbsp maple syrup
Mix all the pancakes ingredients (dry ingredients first) and cook them as you normally would. For the syrup, place maple syrup and blueberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Wait until mixture begins to simmer and boil, and stir every few minutes. Cook the mixture for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and serve over the pancakes while still warm.
Calories for one serving (3 pancakes): 272. Fats: 14.4 g, Proteins: 11.9 g, Carbs: 21.4 g.
Oven-baked salmon and veggies
1/2 tbsp minced garlic, 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary, 1/2 tbsp dried oregano, 1/2 tbsp dried basil, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 salmon fillets, 1/2 large zucchini, 34 g mushrooms, 1/2 yellow bell pepper, 235 g cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste
Bake everything in one pan at 200°C for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are bursting and salmon flakes easily. This recipe makes 2 servings.
Calories for one serving: 408. Fats: 27 g, Proteins: 28 g, Carbs: 12 g.
Lamb chops with aubergine salad
Ingredients – 1/4 aubergine, 0.75 tbsp olive oil, 1 lamb cutlet, lemon juice and a pinch paprika, 1/2 tsp chopped dill, 1/4 tbsp toasted pine nut
Method – Brush the aubergine slices with oil and fry them for about 8 -10 minutes. Griddle chops for 4 mins on each side. Place the chops and aubergine on a plate then drizzle them with the lemon juice, paprika and half the dill dressing.
Calories: 424. Fats: 33 g, Proteins: 27 g, Carbs: 4 g.
Icelandic cod with olives and tomatoes
Ingredients – 44 g black olives, 1/4 large onion, 100 g chopped tomatoes, 175 g Icelandic cod
Method – In an ovenproof pan, place the onion and stir well, leave to cook for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then add the olives. Place the fish in a 200°C oven and bake the fish for 15 minutes.
Calories: 424. Fats: 33 g, Proteins: 27 g, Carbs: 4 g.
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1327. Fats: 80.4 g, Proteins: 100.9 g, Carbs: 44.4g.
Banana Pancakes and Fruit
For the pancakes – 1 large banana, 2 large eggs, 1/8 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Method – Mash the banana and once it achieves a pudding-like consistency with no lumps add in the eggs and dry ingredients.
Serve with 1/2 cup of raspberries and 1/2 a small apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Calories: 399. Fats: 11 g, Proteins: 14 g, Carbs: 66 g
Baked Chicken Sweet Potato Salad
Ingredients – 133 g baked sweet potato, 1 tbsp olive oil, 113 g baked chicken breast, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 133 g baby spinach, 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds, salt and pepper to taste
Method – Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy.
Calories: 455. Fats: 16 g, Proteins: 38 g, Carbs: 41 g.
Mixed greens salad
1 cup chopped kale, 6 Brussel sprouts, 2 cups raw shredded radicchio, 2 tbsp dried cranberries, 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 226 g boiled chicken
Calories: 441. Fats: 8 g. Proteins: 65 g. Carbs: 37 g.
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1295. Fats: 35 g. Proteins: 117 g. Carbs: 144 g.
5 large shrimp, 3 eggs, 2 grape tomatoes, 1/2 handful spinach, 1/8 onion, 1/2 tbsp sriracha salt, 1/2 sprig parsley, 1/8 tsp cayenne
Calories: 329. Fats: 17 g, Proteins: 36 g, Carbs: 4 g
Ingredients – 226 g skirt steak, 1 tbsp coconut aminos, 1/2 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1/2 tsp arrowroot starch, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 2 tbsp olive oil
Method – Marinate the beef with coconut aminos, fish sauce, sesame oil, arrowroot starch, and baking soda.
Calories: 543. Fats: 32 g, Proteins: 50 g, Carbs: 5 g.
Salmon, avocado & cucumber salad
For the salmon – 100 g skinless salmon fillets, 3/4 avocado, 1/4 large cucumber, 100 g mixed salad leaves.
For the dressing – 1 tbsp chopped mint, grated zest and juice from 1/4 lime, 1/2 tsp honey, 3/4 tbsp olive oil
Method – Mix the dressing and use half of it to rub on the salmon. Place it on a hot non-stick pan and cook it for 3-4 mins on each side. Take it off the heat and drizzle the rest of the dressing on it.
Calories: 543. Fats: 32 g, Proteins: 50 g, Carbs: 5 g.
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1330. Fats: 87 g, Proteins: 109 g, Carbs: 16 g.
Ingredients – 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 1 matcha packet, 1/2 medium-sized avocado, 7 almonds, 1/2 cup strawberry almonds
Method – Blend the coconut milk, matcha, 1 tbsp of chia seed and avocado. Pour the mixture into a cup and then top it with 1 tbsp of chia seeds, sliced almonds and strawberries
Calories: 417. Fats: 31 g, Proteins: 8 g, Carbs: 32 g.
Ingredients – 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 4 oz chicken breast, 1/2 large carrot, 1/2 large yellow bell pepper, 1/2 small onion, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 medium-sized avocado, juice of 1 large lime, 1 cup Roma tomatoes, 1 large cucumber, 1/4 cup cilantro, 30 g fresh spinach
Method – Cook the chicken breast on a large chicken breast with 1/2 tbsp olive oil until its golden brown. Add the carrots and cook for another 3 minutes then turn down the heat. Add in the pepper, onion and garlic then cook until soft and the outsides begin to look charred.
Calories: 550. Fats: 21 g, Proteins: 60 g, Carbs: 31 g.
For the patties – 1/2 kg shrimp, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1 egg, 2 tbsp finely diced red onion, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp lemon zest, 1 tbsp oil
For the sauce – 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, 1 tbsp chopped parsley
For the toppings – 1 medium tomato, 2 pickles, and 1/2 red onion all thinly sliced, and 1 head iceberg lettuce
Method – Pulse the shrimp until they are about the size of a pea. Place all of the shrimp in a bowl along with the almond flour, egg, finely diced onion, chopped parsley, lemon juice/zest, salt and pepper and stir until well combined. Form the batter into balls the size of a small fist and flatten slightly then freeze then for 15 minutes. Cook the patties for 4 minutes per side until golden in colour. Assemble the patties with the lettuce and toppings then drizzle the sauce on them.
Calories: 215. Fats: 12 g, Proteins: 20 g, Carbs: 9 g.
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1182. Fats: 64 g, Proteins: 88 g, Carbs: 72 g.
Is the Paleo Diet Healthy?
While the paleo diet has multiple health benefits such as weight loss, lowered blood pressure, reduced risk of diabetes (13), increased insulin sensitivity, improved heart health, less inflammation, and increased overall energy levels (1). Following such a meal plan can have the following consequences:
It may cause nutrient deficiencies
Since the 30 day paleo meal plan excludes healthy foods like grain, legumes, lentils, and dairy, it puts you at a risk of nutrient deficiencies of calcium, vitamin D, and B complex vitamins. These deficiencies can lead to neurological issues and problems with bone health leading to osteoporosis and fractures (11).
Higher risk of chronic illnesses
A high consumption of red meat can put you at a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and death (5).
The Bottom Line: Should You Try the 30 Day Paleo Meal Plan?
If you are looking to lose weight, you might be tempted to try the 30 day paleo weight loss meal plan as it has been proven to be a powerful weight loss tool. However, the results of this are only short-term. Instead of trying this diet, please speak to your doctor or dietitian, so that they could refine your plan or help you come up with a balanced diet that will not put you at a risk of nutrient deficiencies or other illnesses and will help you achieve your desired weight loss and health goals.
If you are interested in healthy meal plans, you may be curious about other methods of supporting your body health. Supplement your diet with some exercise to double your results.