This post review the best paleo books. Books that describe the paleo diet, provide paleo recipes, as well as books that help review nutritional information and the benefits of eating a real food diet based on the foods that our ancestors ate and that humans evolved on.
Over the years I have read many books related to health, nutrition and wellness. Some of which have been instrumental to my healing journey, others which I thought were total bogus or not very helpful. As someone who followed a paleo diet for almost 15 years I have read many books on the topic and decided it was finally time to make a review of the books that I think are the most helpful.
If you are just starting on your real food or health journey I know it can be overwhelming trying to find quality resources, so I wanted to weed through some of the junk out there and share the books that I think you might be interested in. And I am always looking for more reading material, so if you think I have missed an important resource please let me know!
And if you are following a paleo diet you will be thrilled to learn that I have hundreds of free paleo recipes on this site for you to enjoy.
Disclaimer: some of the links in this post are affiliate links where I make a small commission if you purchase the item through that link. This doesn't cost you anything extra and helps me keep this website running.
The best paleo books
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo Practical Paleo was one of the first paleo books on the market. Since publishing this book, Dianne Sanfilippo has become an authority in the paleo world, and for very good reason. This book is awesome. It is both a cookbook and a great resource. The recipes are not only delicious but are also very easy to make. There are over 150 recipes in this book and there is also a 30 day paleo meal plan inside.
This is usually the first book I recommend to my friends when they ask me for a great paleo resource. The introduction into why eating paleo is a good idea is extremely thorough, and she explains how to actually go about starting this diet. The ingredients you need, the tools you should invest in etc. There is a reason this is one of the top selling cookbooks on the market (and not just in the paleo world).
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain is another one of the original books published on the paleo diet. This books has more information in it than Practical Paleo does, and it goes into great detail as to why the modern North American style diet is not ideal when it comes to health, and why eating like our ancestors did (ie. the paleo way) is ideal for health. This book also includes paleo recipes and a 6 week meal plan.
Breaking the Vicious Cycle
Breaking the Viscious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall is the book that started my healing journey through food. After having only minimal results by going gluten and dairy free, the health care practitioner I was seeing suggested I try the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) which is what the book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle is all about. Now I had never heard of this diet but this book explains it all.
The SCD diet was originally created for patients with inflammatory bowel disease but has since been adopted for many other health conditions. And while this isn't necessarily a "paleo" book, the diet is very similar. The one major exception is that the SCD diet allows some forms of dairy. I owe the start of my healing journey to this book, and highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to start a real food diet or who is struggling with digestive issues. This is where I first learned about the healing powers of bone broth, the importance of the gut microbiome and is how I started to think of food as a form of medicine.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price was the second book I came across on my healing journey. I had heard about the Weston A Price Foundation through various channels and wanted to learn more about the man who started this movement. Weston A Price was a dentist who travelled the world looking at traditional cultures, their dietary practices, and how the implementation of a "modern, white man's diet" changed their dentition and overall health. And what he found was dramatic. In the span of just one generation, the detrimental health impacts of refined sugars, white flour and processed ingredients completely changed not only the dental health of these people, but their overall health as well.
While this book isn't about the paleo diet per se, it really outlines the dramatic health changes you can see from switching from a real foods, ancestral diet, to one high in refined foods. Now I will warn you that this book is long so it may not be for everyone but it is very eye opening and very informative.
Eat the Yolks
Eat the Yolks by Liz Wolfe is a great read if you like a little humour mixed in with your facts. Liz has a no-nonsense way of discussing food and how it relates to your health. Her sense of humour and non-stop jokes make this book extremely easy to read. The book is broken up into various chapters, categorized by food group - fats, protein, carbohydrates - which make it easy to digest (no pun intended) and understand. One of the best chapters is the one on fat, where she outlines why dietary cholesterol is not the enemy, and why low fat diets are not ideal.
The Omnivore's Dilemma
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan is by far one of my favourite nutrition related books. Now this is not a book oriented to a specific diet or eating style, so it isn't a specific paleo diet book, but what it is is a thorough documentation of how our current food choices have evolved over the last few decades. It is both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. Michael Pollan did an extensive amount of hands on research to write this book, and the things he saw and experienced were rather incredible. He does an amazing job of documenting how the food we are eating today has NOT been guided by evidence related to better health, but instead by corporations and individuals with political influence who have their own best interests at heart.
He describes the horrific conditions in which modern animals are raised to produce mass amounts of food at low prices, and how the evolution of a few genetically modified products (namely corn) have allowed this all to happen. Ever since reading this book I have made a conscious effort to try and avoid any meat or animal products that haven't been ethically raised. His words are that powerful. I actually shed a tear or two reading this book. If you are an animal lover like me you may also find it disturbing. I could rave about this book forever, but the bottom line is that if you are at all interested in where your food is coming from and how it is affecting your health, you need to read this book.
The Wahl's Protocol
The Wahl's Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls is a book that includes paleo diet principles, but it also goes into much more than that as well. I have so much respect for Dr. Wahl's. She is a physician who was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), ended up wheelchair bound, and through her own extensive research developed a protocol of nutrition and supplements that has allowed her to walk again and reverse many of the symptoms of her disease.
She spent countless hours researching the advice that is given in her book, which covers everything from diet, to exercise to the supplements you should be taking. And while the book was written with MS in mind, the lessons in here can be applied to many other autoimmune conditions. This book also goes further into functional medicine than any of the other books that I have recommended. Not familiar with this form of medicine? In brief, it is almost like "personalized medicine" where treatments are based on your bodies biochemical test results. This is a very simplified explanation, but it would take an entire post to explain it properly. The bottom line is that many people who cannot find solutions through conventional medicine often find success using functional medicine principles. If you are interested in the science behind why diet and supplements work, this is another great one for you to add to your book collection.
The Gut and Psychology Syndrome
The Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride is not specifically a paleo diet book, but instead discusses The Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (also known as the GAPS diet) which is similar to the paleo diet, but does have a few more limitations. This diet is very similar to the SCD diet which I discussed earlier, however, this protocol was originally developed for neurological and mental health conditions including autism, depression, ADD, schizophrenia and many more.
However, I know many people, including those with autoimmune diseases who have done extremely well with this diet. One of the main differences between this diet and the SCD diet is the greater emphasis on quality meats and ingredients (think grass fed beef, pasture raised pork etc). The full GAPS diet also allows chocolate (hooray!) but does not permit dairy. And you may wonder if you really need to read both this book and the SCD book? Well that depends. The evidence presented in each book is quite different, and if you are one who likes to see the scientific evidence behind things (like myself) then I would recommend reading both. Plus the subtle differences in the two protocols can really be a game changer for some people.
There you have it. Those are my favourite paleo diet books and books related to real food nutrition. Are there any other books you would have added to my list? Please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments. I always love finding new great reads.
Other information you will be interested in:
- Paleo diet tips for beginners
- Carnivore diet food list
- Carnivore diet meal plan
- How I healed my keratosis pilaris with nutrition
Dr. Erin Carter, MD, FRCPC, is a physician with board certifications in internal medicine and rheumatology. She is passionate about nutrition, environmental health and low toxicity living and has been doing research and publishing information in this area for years. She is also a self-trained chef and has been creating and publishing recipes since 2015. Her recipes have been featured on many different websites and online publications.