Are you ready to embark on a journey back in time, when our ancestors roamed the Earth and feasted on the bounties of nature? If you've heard of the paleo diet, you're in for a treat. One crucial aspect of this diet is protein intake, and in this article, we'll dive deep into the world of paleo-friendly proteins. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to discover "What protein can you eat on paleo?"

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What You Can Eat on the Paleo Diet | Dietitian Q&A | EatingWell
If you’re trying to find ways to eat healthier, you may have come across the paleo diet. Short for Paleolithic, this diet is meant to mimic that of our hunte…

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The Paleo Diet in a Nutshell

Before we delve into the delicious world of paleo-friendly proteins, let's quickly recap what the paleo diet is all about. The paleo diet is based on the premise that our bodies are better adapted to the types of foods our ancient ancestors ate. This means avoiding processed foods, grains, legumes, dairy, and sugar. Instead, you'll focus on eating foods that can be hunted, gathered, or plucked from the earth. The emphasis is on whole, natural foods that are nutrient-dense and free from artificial additives.

Protein: The Foundation of the Paleo Diet

Protein is a cornerstone of the paleo diet. Our ancestors relied on protein for energy, muscle development, and overall health. In the modern world, we have a wide variety of protein sources at our disposal, but not all of them align with the paleo philosophy. So, let's explore which protein sources are paleo-approved!

A woman making a paleo diet.
A woman making a paleo diet.

The Paleo-Friendly Protein Powerhouse

Lean Meats

- Beef

Beef is a paleo powerhouse when it comes to protein. It's rich in essential nutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Opt for grass-fed beef to ensure you're getting the highest quality meat without added hormones or antibiotics.

- Pork

Pork is another excellent source of protein on the paleo diet. Look for cuts that are free from added preservatives and go for the leaner options to keep your paleo journey on track.

- Poultry

Chicken and turkey are lean, protein-packed options that fit perfectly into the paleo lifestyle. Remember to choose free-range or pasture-raised poultry to ensure the best quality.

Wild-caught Fish

Fish is a fantastic source of lean protein and healthy fats. It's also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for heart health and reducing inflammation. Here are some paleo-approved fish options:

- Salmon

Salmon is a superstar in the world of paleo protein. It's not only delicious but also loaded with omega-3s and vitamin D. Go for wild-caught salmon for the best quality.

- Tuna

Tuna is another fish that's rich in protein. Opt for canned tuna in water or olive oil, and you'll have a convenient paleo-friendly protein source.

- Sardines

Sardines might not be everyone's cup of tea, but they are packed with nutrients and protein. They're also low on the food chain, making them a sustainable choice.

Game Meat

Game meat might not be as readily available as beef or chicken, but it's a true paleo delicacy. These meats come from wild animals like deer, elk, or bison, and they are typically lean and protein-rich.

- Venison

Venison, or deer meat, is a lean protein source with a rich, earthy flavor. It's an excellent choice for diversifying your protein intake on the paleo diet.

- Elk

Elk meat is similar to venison and provides a lean and flavorful protein source. It's a bit less common but worth trying if you have the opportunity.

- Bison

Bison meat is not only lean but also packed with protein. It's becoming more widely available in grocery stores and online, making it a convenient paleo option.

A woman making and debunking the paleo diet.
A woman making and debunking the paleo diet.


Eggs are a versatile and budget-friendly source of protein. They are also a great way to start your day with a paleo-friendly breakfast. Look for pasture-raised or free-range eggs to ensure they come from hens with a natural diet.


Don't forget about the bounty of the sea when it comes to paleo protein options. Shellfish is not only delicious but also nutritious.

- Shrimp

Shrimp is a low-calorie, high-protein seafood choice. It's easy to prepare and can be used in various paleo-friendly recipes.

Shrimp is a low-calorie, high-protein seafood choice. It's easy to prepare and can be used in various paleo-friendly recipes.

- Crab

Crab meat is sweet and delicate, making it a delightful addition to your paleo menu. It's also packed with protein and essential minerals.

- Lobster

While lobster may be considered a luxury food, it's a paleo-approved indulgence. Enjoy it occasionally as a treat while staying true to your paleo principles.


In the Quest, What protein can you eat on paleo? the paleo diet offers a robust selection of protein sources that can keep your taste buds happy and your body nourished. From lean meats to wild-caught fish and even game meat, you have a wide array of options to choose from. Just remember to prioritize quality and opt for grass-fed, free-range, or wild-caught options whenever possible.

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Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Can I eat dairy on the paleo diet?

No, dairy is not allowed on the paleo diet. Our ancestors did not consume dairy products, so they are off the menu. Look for dairy-free alternatives if you're craving something creamy.

What about plant-based proteins?

While the paleo diet primarily focuses on animal-based proteins, some plant-based options like nuts and seeds can be included in moderation. Just be mindful of their calorie density.

Is bacon paleo-friendly?

Bacon can be enjoyed on the paleo diet, but it's essential to choose bacon that is free from additives, preservatives, and added sugars. Look for sugar-free bacon options.

Can I have protein shakes on the paleo diet?

Protein shakes are a bit of a gray area. Some paleo enthusiasts enjoy them, while others prefer to get their protein from whole foods. If you choose protein shakes, make sure they are free from dairy and artificial ingredients.

Are there any fruits that are good sources of protein on the paleo diet?

While fruits are not typically high in protein, some like guava, blackberries, and oranges contain small amounts. However, for your primary protein intake, focus on the animal-based sources mentioned earlier.