The Giant Paleo Book Collection

Get our “getting started” mini-course:

 
Paleo book

As great as the internet can be, sitting down with an actual, physical book has its merits. It’s cozier. It reduces distractions. It’s more portable.  You can give a book as a present (somehow a pdf just isn’t quite the same). But which one to choose?

Instead of 5 or 10 books that might not be up your particular alley, here’s a giant list books on Paleo and related nutritional topics,  organized by category. Each one comes with links to reviews (both positive and negative!) that highlight something useful about the book, and a little bit of basic information to help you decide if it sounds good to you.

These aren’t necessarily books that you’ll completely agree with, or even that you should. They’re books that you may find interesting and worthwhile to read. A book can be interesting and worthwhile even if you disagree with part or all of it. It’s also OK to call out sloppy science, poor fact-checking, or just plain dumb arguments even if they happen to be coming from someone on your side.

Paleo Library

These are books that give a broad overview of what Paleo (or a very closely related diet, like Primal) is.  Some of them are higher-carb; some are lower-carb, but all of them fall roughly under the Paleo umbrella. If you want to buy someone a book about Paleo to start them off, one of these books will probably be it. Most people probably don’t need to read more than one or two.

Books are listed in alphabetical order.

Eat the Yolks, by Liz Wolfe

Main argument: low-fat nutrition is bogus and we need to go back to whole foods (including but not limited to the titular yolks).

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: Very whole foods-centric: think Michael Pollan, if Michael Pollan were Paleo.

Ease of reading: easy.

Tone: very casual tone that not everyone responds to.

History/culture or pure science? A little bit of both.

Meal plans and recipes? No.

 

It Starts With Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

Main argument: A lot of our modern health problems start with food. We need to eat foods that support healthy hormonal and psychological responses, gut health, and immune health.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: start with an  ultra-strict version of Paleo for 30 days, and then reintroduce foods one at a time to see what you can tolerate.

Ease of reading: easy.

Tone: tough-love/motivational.

History/culture or pure science? Almost all science, with some motivational psychology.

Meal plans and recipes? Yes.

 

The Paleo Cure (previously Your Personal Paleo Code), by Chris Kresser

Main argument: it’s important to find a version of Paleo that works for you specifically, regardless of what the “rules” are.

Here’s an excerpt published in Time magazine.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: start with a basic moderate-carb Paleo diet, and personalize it from there to meet your specific needs.

Ease of reading: easy.

Tone: approachable and readable, but not super informal.

History/culture or pure science? Mostly science.

Meal plans and recipes? Yes.

 

The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain

Main argument: for better health, we should eat like our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: high-protein, moderate-carb, moderate-fat Paleo with a lower-fat angle compared to some other Paleo books. This book has two editions and the nutritional recommendations change from the first to the second. The first addition is lower in fat, negative about saturated fat, and accepting of canola oil. The second, updated edition, is much closer to the Paleo mainstream.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: authoritative, but not dry.

History/culture or pure science? Some evolutionary history, but mostly science.

Meal plans and recipes? Example menus, but no recipes.

 

The Paleo Manifesto, by John Durant

Main argument: we can improve our lives by getting back to our evolutionary roots.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: generally high-fat, dairy-free Paleo, although the book isn’t focused so much on specific diet recommendations.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: accessible, but not extremely informal.

History/culture or pure science? A little bit of both, with a big emphasis on the evolutionary backstory of Paleo.

Meal plans and recipes? No.

 

The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf

Main argument: low-carb Paleo and a Paleo approach to sleep, stress, and exercise have helped a lot of people; you should try it, too.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: very low-carb Paleo. Since writing the book, Robb Wolf has eased up on carb restriction, but the book is very centered on it.

Ease of reading: easy.

Tone: very casual tone that not everyone responds to. Some people find it obnoxious; other people love it.

History/culture or pure science? Mostly science.

Meal plans and recipes? Yes.

 

Perfect Health Diet, by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet

Main argument: to achieve optimal health, we should find the ideal range for each nutrient.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: moderate-carb Paleo with a focus on highly nutritious foods and nutrient-density.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: not chatty, but approachable. This book would be good for people who find the informal tone of other intro books cutesy and irritating.

History/culture or pure science? Almost all science.

Meal plans and recipes? Very basic meal plan, but no recipes.

 

Practical Paleo, by Diane Sanfilippo

Main argument: you should eat Paleo, and here’s how.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: basic moderate-carb Paleo approach; no dairy.

Ease of reading: easy.

Tone: chatty.

History/culture or pure science? Science (low on the evolutionary backstory)

Meal plans and recipes? Yes, including meal plans for various different conditions.

 

The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson

Main argument: to regain our health, we need to learn from the diet and lifestyle habits of our pre-agricultural ancestors. The book covers diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors like sleep and stress.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: mostly low-carb/high-fat Paleo; no grains or legumes; dairy as a less-bad option. Exercise recommendations focus on walking, lifting, and sprinting, not cardio.

Ease of reading: easy.

Tone: very casual; some people might find it too jokey.

History/culture or pure science? mix of both.

Meal plans and recipes? yes.

 

Primal Body, Primal Mind, by Nora Gedgaudas

Main argument: evolutionary health requires a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: low-carb/ketogenic Paleo.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: accessible but not extremely causal.

History/culture or pure science? Mostly science, with some evolutionary history

Meal plans and recipes? No.

 

These books are either about specific aspects of Paleo (e.g. the autoimmune protocol) or about particular aspects of diet but not Paleo per se (e.g. vindication of dietary fat).

Books are listed in alphabetical order.

Deep Nutrition, by Cate Shanahan

Main argument: The food you eat affects your gene expression, which affects your health. For good health, we need to eat the traditional foods that support healthy gene expression.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: Eat the 4 “pillars of health:” meat on the bone (for cartilage and other important proteins), organ meats, raw foods, and fermented vegetables.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: slightly more literary and sometimes almost lyrical.

History/culture or pure science? Mostly science with some nutrition history

Meal plans and recipes? No.

 

Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes

Main argument: Dietary fat doesn’t cause heart disease; excess carbohydrates cause modern chronic disease, especially obesity.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: low-carb, but not Paleo specifically.

Ease of reading: medium (it’s also really long!)

Tone: accessible but not super casual.

History/culture or pure science? Mostly science.

Meal plans and recipes? No.

 

The Paleo Approach, by Sarah Ballantyne

Main argument: following the autoimmune protocol described in the book will help you heal from autoimmune disorders.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: Recommends her autoimmune protocol (Paleo without eggs, dairy, nightshades, nuts, or seeds) for people with autoimmune disorders.

Ease of reading: medium-hard. It’s very science-heavy.

Tone: accessible, but not extremely informal.

History/culture or pure science? Almost entirely science.

Meal plans and recipes? No, although in defense of the book, there’s an accompanying cookbook.

 

The Wahls Protocol, by Terry Wahls and Eve Adamson

Main argument: following the diet described in the book will help you heal from autoimmune disorders.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: Outlines 3 levels of her diet protocol for people with autoimmune disorders. A key element of the diet is 9 cups of vegetables every day, plus elimination of gluten, dairy, and eggs.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: accessible, but not extremely informal.

History/culture or pure science? Almost entirely science.

Meal plans and recipes? Meal plans, but no recipes.

 

Wheat Belly, by William Davis

Main argument: Modern wheat and processed carbohydrates in general cause most of our modern health problems.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: Gluten-free low-carb diet, with very low-carb/keto for diabetics.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: pretty informal, with some idiosyncratic names that might make some people cringe.

History/culture or pure science? A mix of both (history of wheat modification + science about wheat and carbohydrates in general)

Meal plans and recipes? Some recipes.

 

Most of these books touch on nutrition at least a little bit, but they’re really focused on politics, history, and culture.

Books are listed in alphabetical order.

The Big Fat Surprise, by Nina Teicholz

Main argument: saturated fat and fat in general have been unfairly demonized and are actually important to good health.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: Low-carb/high-fat. If you’ve read Good Calories, Bad Calories (or anything else by Gary Taubes), this book will be very familiar.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: accessible but not overly familiar.

History/culture or pure science? A mix of both (it’s the history of one particular strain of bad science).

Meal plans and recipes? No.

 

Death by Food Pyramid, by Denise Minger

Main argument: the Food Pyramid was based on bad science and industry lobbying to start with, and it’s not doing our health any favors.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: none in particular, other than “not the food pyramid.”

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: casual.

History/culture or pure science? A little of both: she’s explaining the history of the science behind the Food Pyramid, so it’s all mixed together.

Meal plans and recipes? No.

 

Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss

Main argument: food corporations deliberately design foods to overwhelm our ability to tell when we’re full and make us crave more even when we don’t need it.

Reviews

Diet recommendations: avoid processed food.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: accessible but not really informal.

History/culture or pure science? A little of both: there’s a lot of history of food processing and development, but also some neurological/behavioral science about the brain.

Meal plans and recipes? No.

 

The Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Keith

Main argument: agriculture (not just factory farms or industrial monoculture, but agriculture) is unsustainable.

Reviews:

Diet recommendations: None in particular, other than not-vegetarian.

Ease of reading: medium.

Tone: slightly literary and less down-to-earth than some other books about nutrition.

History/culture or pure science? A mix of both (history/culture of veganism and vegetarianism, plus science about meat and health)

Meal plans and recipes? No.

P.S. Have a look at Paleo Restart, our 30-day program. It lets you jump into Paleo, lose weight and start feeling great.

+ Paleo Leap Tribe is now also available. It's a set of tools that we've built to make Paleo work for you. It has a meal plan generator, a weight loss tracker & tons of visual cheat sheets.

Get a PDF with our top 35 recipes