Paleo Challenge Handbook

Paleo Challenge Handbook

The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the only nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. Our Paleolithic ancestors were largely free of these diseases, you can be too!

The Paleo Diet is a lifestyle. It is an approach to diet that is based on the quality of foods you eat. It mimics the diets of our hunter-gatherer ancestors – consisting of lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. It excludes foods that came from agriculture or processing – dairy, grains, refined sugars, etc.

The basic concept is that these foods are the foods that we are genetically adapted to – after all, our diets have evolved and “modernized,” our bodies haven’t. There are many benefits to eating this way, including a naturally lean body, acne-free skin, improved athletic performance and recovery, and relief from numerous metabolic-related and autoimmune diseases.


There is a specific food guide provided on later, but here are the general rules:

  • Eat real food. Meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, oils (like EVOO or coconut). Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re fresh and natural.
  • No to processed foods. Pretty much anything in the middle of the grocery store. This includes protein shakes, processed bars (like protein bars), dairy-free creamers, etc. Can’t recognize it growing or running around in the wild? Don’t eat it.
  • • No to sugar. Agave, organic honey, molasses, pure spun golden sunshine….it doesn’t matter. They are all out – need we say more?
  • • No artificial sweeteners. These are not food! They are out too.
  • No grains. This includes bread, rice, pasta, cereal, oatmeal, corn and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa and sprouted grains
  • No to dairy. Eggs are not dairy. Milk, cheese, yogurt, etc
  • Less alcohol. No sugary mixers, no beer or alcohols containing gluten.
  • Fewer sweet fruits and starchy vegetables. Bananas, eating a bunch of apples, dried fruit, or white potatoes. (If you have serious inflammation issues like arthritis, you may want to consider avoiding all nightshades for 30 days.)


Protein should be the first thing making up your meal or snack. Depending on your individual needs, this can range between 3-9 ounces, but when all else fails, you can follow the general rule of having a serving of protein the size of your palm. When it comes to what kind of protein you should eat, remember that free range animals are healthier than commercially raised animals. Keeping that in mind, here are the general rules to follow:

  • ‘Leanish’ unprocessed meat: grass-fed, wild and free range animals
  • Beef, chicken, poultry, lamb, pork, venison, rabbit etc, including organ meats (ideally organic)
  • Bacon: use Nitrite and Nitrate free bacon (or any bacon that has no chemicals)
  • Seafood and shellfish: all types, your fish should be wild, not farm raised
  • Eggs

Carbohydrate foods: Veggies

You want to focus most of your meal with non-starchy carbs. Make sure you get variation, and eat a lot of them! Here are some things to keep in mind with vegetables:

  • Buy local, in season, organic if possible
  • Vegetables, colorful and green, non starch – eat lots
  • Starchy and root vegetables (not potatoes) – in moderation, depends on body type, metabolic issues like diabetes and exercise load
  • No to legumes. Peanuts, peanut-butter, beans, peas, lentils.

Carbohydrate foods: Fruit

Fruit is good for you in moderation. There is a hierarchy of fruit based on the fruits nutrient value and glycemic load. You should also consider how the fruit was grown. Think about the following in regards to fruit:

  • Buy local, seasonal, organic fruit
  • Fruit, fresh especially berries, in moderation
  • Avoid fruit juices


Despite what modern society has taught us to believe, fats are good for you. It is important to have the right balance of fats and the right kind of fats in your diet. On the paleo diet, your body is trained to burn fat instead of carbs for energy (this will make your energy levels more stable), so don’t skip the fat in your meals!

  • Buy oils (coconut, olive) organic and cold pressed so they remain chemically unchanged
  • Avocados
  • Coconut in all forms
  • Nuts, fresh unsalted (not peanuts), best nuts- lower in omega 6 – almonds, macadamia and cashews, limit if wanting to lose weight. Nuts are best soaked and oven dried to decrease phytic acid
  • Avoid canola (the oil is genetically modified, partially hydrogenated and highly refined), peanut, cottonseed, soybean, and wheat germ oils
  • Avoid trans fats (fats damaged by heat – can be made at home) and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils

Hydrating: Water

Drink water, coffee, and tea. If you drink coffee, drink it black or with an unsweetened almond milk. Almond milk (unsweetened), Coconut water (no added sugar)

Rules of the Game



You will be required to keep track of your eating in some sort of medium…computer, notebook, journal, phone, etc. From this log, you will give a daily score of 0-10 based on your compliance with the Paleo Diet. A score of TEN would represent a day of eating like a true hunter gatherer; nothing but meat, fish, eggs, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds. It is important if you do have something off the diet that you pay attention to a serving. For example most condiments, peanut butter, etc a serving would be comprised of 2 Tablespoons, a beverage would be measured by 8oz for a serving, a slice of bread would be a serving, a grain like rice would come in 2oz to a serving, etc. Again if you are super unsure of something please ask, and if you know the serving size but are unsure of exactly what you ate, lean on the high side as most don’t realize how large the portions of food are that they eat. 1 point off for every serving of: Bacon, sausage, deli meat (bacon and other meats are okay if they are all natural uncured, example being VT Smoke and Cure), beans, hummus, peanuts (yes these are legumes), agave, maple syrup, honey, heavily salted foods (check your label, anything with over 20% of your daily intake in a serving), peas, coffee (each cup in addition to your daily allotted 2 cups) most salad dressings (store bought, get in the habit of making your own, olive oil and vinegar and mustard). 2 points off for every serving of: Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, butter), soy products, quinoa 3 points off for every serving of: Cereal, grains, wheat, oats, corn, tortilla chips, bread, rice, pasta, noodles. 4 points off for every serving of: Soda (diet and full sugar), juice, sports drinks, potato (sweet potatoes are OK), fried food, chicken wings (store bought, homemade, un-breaded ones are fine, baked, grilled, fried in olive oil), most restaurant appetizers, cookies, baked goods, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sweets, pancakes, ketchup, processed marinades, BBQ sauce, sugar added dried fruit, beer, wine and all alcohol drinks, pizza. Note: If you are going off the reservation, it’s important to know how many servings you are eating…for example, 1 can of soda is 1.5 servings. This means that if you drink an entire can you’d be losing 6 of your 10 points for the day.

Bonus Points:

There is a potential for 7 extra bonus points per day…

  1. You get one extra bonus point for everyday you participate in a CrossFit workout. The benefits of Paleo are magnified when combines with a training program that combines constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements. Train Hard. Eat Clean. Live Life. You can receive up to 2 points a day here, if you are training twice a day 2 points are given out, this is the cap though, no more than 2 points a day for training.
  2. You get one extra bonus point for everyday you consume at least 3 grams of Fish oil (this means 3g or 3000mg of EPA and DHA. You need to pay attention to how much EPA and DHA is in your source. For example I use the cheap Costco fish oil capsules, while each capsule is 1000mg, it only has 300mg of EPA and DHA. So for me to get 3g of fish oil a day I need to take 10 of those capsules). One of our biggest goals with this challenge is to reduce Silent Inflammation. Silent inflammation is far more insidious than classic inflammation because it is at the molecular level and may not be detected until it’s too late! It doesn’t generate the pain associated with classic inflammation and therefore goes untreated for years or even decades. Virtually every type of chronic disease (heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s) has a significant inflammatory component as its underlying cause. Silent Inflammation is the first sign that your body is out of balance and no longer well. You can’t feel it, but it is grinding down your heart, your brain and your immune system. Your weight and health are greatly determined by how well you control the inflammatory process.
  3. You get one extra bonus point for everyday that you perform mobility and stretching work for more than 20 minutes (you Yoga goers get an extra point a day for going to Yoga).
  4. You get one extra bonus point for every night that you sleep 8 hours or more (must be one session of sleeping).
  5. You get one bonus point for brining some sort of post workout nutrition to the gym containing 30-45g of protein and 30-45g of carbohydrates and consuming it immediately upon completion of class. You can only get 1 point a day for this, you can’t receive 2 points for 2 post workout meals.
  6. You get one bonus point for drinking 1oz of water per 2lbs of bodyweight (this has to be water, seltzer, coffee, tea, do not count towards this. If you way 200lbs you need to consumer 100oz).


Total Daily Points:

First and foremost you can’t have a negative day in points, the lowest you can get for a day is 0 points. With that being said you can lose more than 10 points. If for instance you received 4 bonus points for the day leaving you with 14 points and then ate food that would net you 20 points points off you would lose all 14 points.

Post Workout:

Post workout is the one time we will allow a slight deviation from Paleo. If you are unable to stomach solid foods after training a protein drink is a great alternative, if you are able to stomach whole foods by all means bring in a chicken breast and sweet potatoes. For fast and complete recovery we suggest a post workout protein shake and some sweet potatoes. You should mix the protein with water (aim for 20-45 grams), and eat 3-9 ounces of sweet potatoes. If your primary goal is to decrease body fat and get leaner skip the potatoes. If you just finished “Murph”, “Eva”, “Badger” or other 25+ minute intense workouts, go higher on the starches to replace glycogen. Your performance the next day is dependent on it.

The Winner and Rankings:

At the end of the challenge the top 3 participants will be ranked based on the 3 above categories.


We are taking a small piece of the entry fees. Money will be distributed in the following manner. CVCF 10%, 1st place will receive 50% of the total entry fees, 2nd place 30%, and 3rd place 10% We are hoping that everyone in the gym jumps in on this, if so, that’ll leave $600 or more going to first place.

End of Challenge Scoring:

Each participant will be ranked in each one of the 3 categories. The final rankings will be judged by the net score of all 3 categories, the goal is to have the lowest possible score. Example: If you finished 3rd in Weight Change, 10th in Performance, and 15th in Nutrition, your final score would be 3 + 10 + 15 for 28 points. Your final ranking would be based on where your 28 points fits in with the rest of the participants. Lower the score the better.



Eggs (omega3 enhanced)


  • bass – bluefish
  • cod – drum
  • eel – flatfish
  • grouper – haddock
  • halibut – herring
  • mackerel – monkfish
  • mullet – N. pike
  • orange roughy
  • perch – red snapper
  • rockfish – salmon
  • scrod – striped bass
  • sunfish – tilapia
  • tuna – turbot
  • walleye
  • any other wild fish

Lean Beef

  • chuck steak
  • flank steak
  • extra lean hamburger
  • lean veal
  • london broil
  • top sirloin
  • any other lean cut

Lean Pork

  • lean cuts – pork chops
  • pork loin

Lean Poultry

  • chicken breast
  • hen breasts
  • turkey breasts

Organ Meat

  • liver (beef, lamb, pork, chicken)
  • marrow (beef, lamb,
  • “sweetbreads” (beef, lamb, pork)
  • tongue (beef, lamb,

Other Meat

  • alligator – bear
  • bison – caribou
  • elk – emu
  • goat – goose
  • kangaroo – ostrich
  • pheasant – quail
  • rabbit – rattlesnake
  • reindeer – squab
  • turtle – venison
  • wild boar – wild turkey


  • abalone – clams
  • crab – crayfish
  • lobster – mussels
  • oysters – scallops
  • shrimp


  • avocado – almonds
  • brazil nuts
  • cashews – chestnuts
  • coconut – coconut oil
  • flaxseed oil (refrigerated)
  • macadamia nuts
  • olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed)
  • pecans – pine nuts
  • pistachios
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • walnuts



  • artichoke – asparagus
  • beet greens
  • beets – bell pepper
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • cabbage – carrots
  • cauliflower – celery
  • collards – cucumber
  • dandelion – eggplant
  • endive – green onion
  • kale – kohlrab
  • lettuce – mushroom
  • mustard greens
  • onions – parsley
  • parsnip – peppers
  • pumpkin – purslane
  • radish – rutabaga
  • seaweed – seaweed
  • spinach – squash
  • swiss chard – tomatillos
  • tomato – turnips
  • turnip greens
  • watercress


  • apple – apricot
  • banana – blackberry
  • boysenberry
  • cantaloupe – carambola
  • cassava melon
  • cherimoya – cherries
  • cranberry – figs
  • gooseberry – grapefruit
  • grapes – guava
  • honeydew – kiwi
  • lemon – lime
  • lychee – mango
  • nectarine – orange
  • papaya
  • passion fruit
  • peaches – pears
  • persimmon – pineapple
  • plums
  • pomegranate
  • raspberry – rhubarb
  • star fruit – star fruit
  • strawberry – tangerine
  • watermelon



  • Dry Wine
  • Spirits (tequilla, gin)


  • Dried fruits



  • butter – cheese
  • creamer – ice cream
  • milk – yogurt


  • barley – corn
  • maize – millet
  • oats – rye
  • rice – sorghum
  • wheat – wild rice

Grain-like Seeds

  • amaranth
  • buckwheat
  • quinoa

High Glycemic Vegetables

  • cassava root
  • manioc – potatoes
  • tapioca


  • all beans
  • black-eyed peas
  • chickpeas
  • lentils – miso
  • peas
  • peanuts/peanut butter
  • soybean and soy products


  • candy – fruit drinks
  • honey – soft drink


What to Expect

The Hardest Part of Any Journey is the First Step. A New Diet is No Different.

Making the paleo switch comes with challenges. Depending on how heavy your diet is with grains and sugar before you switch, you will experience an adjustment period of varying degrees of intensity. You will experience a dip in your athletic performance and have times when you feel lethargic and cranky. The first week or two will be tough, as your body heals and adjusts to this new way of eating and your brain wraps itself around going without all those sweet tastes and sugar-driven energy spikes. And while you may start to feel better after a week or two… the healing process takes significantly longer. In addition, the mental addiction and emotional connections to sugary foods, large amounts of carbohydrates and over-the-top, chemically-altered flavors are going to take a lot longer to overcome. Keep in mind that your body is going through withdrawals and there is a light at the end of the adjustment tunnel.

Stick with it, and be patient with yourself.

You cannot reasonably expect to completely reverse decades of poor eating habits in just 45 days. The good news, however, is that improvements are front-loaded, and you will start to see significant benefits within the first month.

At some point, we promise you… the magic will happen. You’ll go to sleep easier, and sleep more soundly through the night. Your energy levels will increase and stabilize, and you’ll feel just as good first thing in the morning as you do at the peak of your day. Your body composition will start to change – your clothes will fit differently, and you’ll feel less bloated at the end of your day. Your performance, whether it’s in the gym, while playing sports or during a hike, will improve. Your recovery after exercise, a game or a hard day’s work will feel easier and more complete. Conditions, ailments, aches and pains will miraculously start to improve. And through all of it, you’ll be eating delicious, fresh, natural, real food… food that tastes good, and is physically satiating and mentally satisfying.

Plan Ahead

Part of the difficulty of starting paleo is the amount of preparation involved. Make sure you plan ahead so you aren’t stuck in a situation where you are left with no options. A lot of people like to use Sunday to prep for the week. Other people make lunch for the next day at the same time as they are making dinner, so they don’t feel like they are spending too much time in the kitchen. Find a system that works and stick to it.

There will be places or situations where you know you have difficulty staying on diet (i.e. at the office working late, where there is an endless supply of bagels, donuts and nothing else) – make sure you have options ready available to you. Talk to your family so they know what you are doing and you don’t come home to a meal filled with food you aren’t supposed to be eating.


Sample Menus

provided by

Sample Meal Plan: Weight Loss

Breakfast: Shrimp scramble with basil and steamed spinach. ¼ cup blueberries. Espresso.
Lunch: Chicken salad with red onions, romaine lettuce, artichoke hearts and mixed bell peppers. Dressing: Lemon/Olive Oil with a hint of garlic. Green tea with lemon.
Snack: Grilled shrimp & veggies with a handful of macadamias
Dinner: Baked pork loin with ginger cabbage and olive oil.
Desert: shaved almonds over ¼ cup mixed berries.

Sample Meal Plan: The Endurance Athlete

Let’s assume an early run, bike or swim interval session. Depending upon your preferences you may opt to train on an empty stomach. If you prefer a small snack before training here is a good way to start your day:
Pre-training: 2 oz chicken OR 2 scrambled eggs. 1/2 to 1/4 honey dew melon OR 1 cup of blueberries
Post-Training: Best if consumed within 30 min of training
Breakfast Salmon scramble, 1/2 honey dew or rock melon+1 cup of blueberries. OR Grilled salmon, sweet potato hash browns with olive oil and cinnamon.
Lunch: Grass fed ground beef marinara over baked spaghetti squash.
Snack Can of sardines, medium orange, hand full of almonds.
Dinner: Baked Halibut, large Artichoke. Garlic-pistachio “pesto” for the halibut and as a dipping sauce for the artichoke.

Sample Meal Plan: The Power Athlete

Breakfast: 4-6 egg omelet with 1 whole avocado. 1/2 cup blue berries.
Pre-workout: 2-4 oz grilled chicken, handful of almonds or macadamias
Post-workout: 6-8 oz grilled salmon, asparagus, mushroom, bamboo shoot, coconut milk curry.
Meal: Snack Canned salmon salad with olive oil, avocado, tomatoes and red onion.
Dinner: Grilled grass fed Rib eye with grilled shrimp. Large mixed salad with greens, red onions and ginger sesame dressing



Robb Wolf has dedicated himself to all things Paleo. This site is an endless resource. You can also find information on his podcast here.
Loren Cordain, Ph.D.’s site on paleo. This site is all business, it provides links to published research and nutritional tools, as well as addressing common paleo questions. Thorough database with links to blogs, books, cookbooks, media reports, dehydrators, etc. It also links to a well-researched paleo recipe collection, and a “paleo food mall.”
Mark Sisson’s life according to grok (his embodiment of exemplar primitive lifestyle behaviors as they pertain to diet, exercise, sleep, stress, etc.).
A website started by two people dedicated to clean paleo eating, and fitness. The website has a lot of good articles and recipes.


  • The Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf
  • The Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson
  • The Paleo Diet for Athletes, Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
  • Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival, T.S. Wiley


Recipes & Food Plans