Paleo Zone, How to Get Started – A Step by Step Guide

Hello! I am so happy you have come across my blog!  This means you are looking into Paleo or Paleo Zone nutrition and that excites me. When I started paleo zoning the results were absolutely amazing!

I leaned out, my body has regulated itself, my performance output  increased, I felt healthier and look younger , my mind is clearer and after years of improper sleep I finally started sleeping through the night! The benefits from eating Paleo Zone just goes on.  I know you will have similar results if you make the commitment to clean eating.

I have written this blog with the hope of providing you some guidance, support and helpful tips to ensure your success with the Paleo Zone.

Eat and shop like a caveman

Going Paleo Zone can be daunting for those who are new to the concept so I have put together an easy step by step guide to help you get started. Welcome to Paleo Zone for Dummies!

First I would like to give you a brief explanation of what Paleo Zone is.

What is the Paleo Diet?

Eating a Paleo Diet means you eat food that would’ve been available to you had you existed during the paleolithic era  that started about 2.5 millions years ago. It is also referred to as  the Paleolithic Diet, Caveman Diet or Hunter Gatherer diet.  The idea is that your genes and physiology evolved through the process of natural selection and are most adapted to be nourished with the food in your natural environment. Or in much simpler terms; Eat what a caveman would’ve eaten. This would’ve included the whole spectrum of animal food; beef, fish, shellfish, poultry, pork, lamb, bison, …you get the idea, this also included their fat and organs! (Yes, I know this probably seems gross but remember you’re a caveman/woman damnit!)  You would have also eaten eggs and seasonal vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries that were edible in their raw form. The idea is to replicate this way nourishing our bodies to the best of our ability in a modern world, which can be very tricky depending on your geographical location.                                                   Just remember to eat like this:

To give you a better visual here are 2 Paleo Food Pyramids:


 Pryamid 1.

Paleo Diet Food Pyramid


This Paleo Pyramid is a very good representation of how I eat. I know there is a bit of controversy when it comes to diary and the paleo diet. In thestrict Paleo sense, dairy of any form was not consumed in the paleolithic era, other than human milk in infancy of course. It just wasn’t very practical to milk wild game. However just because something isn’t paleo doesn’t  make it bad, and because something IS Paleo doesn’t mean it is healthy. You must pay very close attention to your body and how it reacts to different foods. If you are considering  keeping dairy in your meal plans I STRONGLY suggest you do the research of the benefits of non pasteurized/non homogenized diary vs pasteurized/homogenized dairy.  If you do chose to keep dairy in your diet I recommend to ONLY consume raw, free range, full fat and grass fed dairy ,  HERE is a link to help you find raw milk & dairy in your area .

Pyramid 2.

Courtesy of

What’s Right For You?

As you can see there are variations of the Paleo Pyramid. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer here. Not everyone’s bodies will have the same reactions to this diet.  Listen and pay attention to YOUR body and how it reacts with different foods and  you will know what food combinations work best for you. No one knows your body better than you do.

It is up to you as an individual to choose if Paleo is right for you and how to implement the diet into your life

What is Zone Diet?

Zone eating  is creating a balance of Macronutrients or what you commonly hear them referred to as:

Protein (lean, natural meats are preferred)

Fat (one of the most important macronutrients!)

Carbohydrate (mostly low glycemic-load fruits and vegetables)

Balancing the ratios of these 3 components in your diet is called a  Zone diet or Getting in the Zone. This is simply eating all of your foods  in proportions that balance the body’s hormonal response to food.

Hormonal balance affects all important components of your wellness: body composition, energy utilization, blood chemistry, and much more.  Food is just like a drug. Confused? But just think about it for a second… Ok your second is up! Ingesting drugs causes physiological changes in your body.  Ingesting food has the same effect.  It can bring about positive or negative changes in your body.  Would you take 17 Tylenol capsules for a headache? Hell NO!  Would you consume expired, low-quality medicine?  Of course not.  Then why would you expect different results when you feed your body  more food than it requires and comprise your diet with low-quality processed garbage that has no nutritional value?  Ok I think you get the point – lecture is over 🙂

 Getting Started

Congratulations! This is your first step to getting into the Zone : CLICK HERE  this link takes you to a Zone calculator that calculates how many meals/snacks you are allotted per day &  how many blocks per meal/snack you should have based on 3 factors:

1. Body weight

2. Body fat percentage

3. Weekly activity levels

You will get a Personal Daily Zone Prescription, I will explain my Zone Prescription with you as an example so it is easier to understand:

block example


 A  nifty spreadsheet tool that allows you to calculate your Zone serving sizes!! It does the math for you! WHEW!! Aren’t you relieved!? I certainly was!

Download! CLICK HERE!*

*This version is not editable, you must download your own version of the spreadsheet to edit it.

  It looks like this:


Zone Speadsheet

Let’s recap shall we:

If you scroll back up to my Personal Daily Zone Prescription, you will remember I am allotted 3 Blocks for breakfast, so I enter “3” where it ask for the number of blocks

If I want eggs for breakfast, 1 egg = 1 Protein Block
I’m allotted 3 Protein blocks for Breakfast  so I will eat 3 eggs

Now for Fats, I love avocado!  1 tbsp of avocado = 1 Fat Block
I’m allotted 3 Fat block for Breakfast  so I will eat 3 tbsp of avocado

Carbohydrates, let’s have some Cherries. 7 Cherries = 1 Carbohydrate Block
I’m allotted 3 carbohydrate blocks for Breakfast, I can eat 21 Cherries.

Now if you reference my Personal Daily Zone Prescription you will see that I am allotted 1 block snacks,  now I go back to the Zone Block Calculator spreadsheet and enter “1” and all the measurements change for 1 block servings. Now I will choose 1 Protein block, 1 fat block and 1 carbohydrate block.

So whatever your block allowance you just plug that number in and all of the measurements will change accordingly!

I suggest that you download the The Food Zone Calculator, It is a great food reference guide & if you’re really smart & you have one of those super smart-smartphones you’ll download it on to that wonderfully evolved electronic device so that you always have it! I personally have it on my phone & a printed copy I keep in my car, in case my phone dies, My “in the car copy” I printed with 1 Block calculated so if  ( I will give you more food reference guides later in the blog)

When I first started Zoning I panicked that I would be hungry and that the food allowance wasn’t enough. I held out on meals when I was hungry to avoid eating up all meal and going to bed on an empty stomach…DO NOT DO THIS!! Just eat and make sure you get all of your blocks in and do not exceed your block allowance. It may take a few days for your body to adjust, but I promise, it will adjust and become very easy.

Opps! I almost forgot, Tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet!

The Block Calc The Welcome tab will give you a run down of how the spreadsheet works in it’s entirety.

All of the other tabs are block calculators for the different food categories.

The Block Guides Tab is more of a breakdown of macronutrients. Unless you are seasoned with Paleo Zone and understand “Macros” this really will not be relevant to you. Again I will do a follow up blog on Micronutrients for those interested

Starting to Catch on? Great! Now lets mix things up a bit! You might’ve noticed you are required to eat carbohydrates and ALOT of them especially the green leafy carbs in order to meet your block requirements. If you haven’t gotten this far yet just take a look below:Carb blocks

12 spears of asparagus, 2.25 cups of cabbage and 7.5 cups of alfalfa sprouts!!! Each of those is 1 carbohydrate block!  I like to mix them up myself. Instead of 12 spears of asparagus or 2 cups of raw broccoli for a 1 block snack (because my snacks are 1 block) I will divide them in 1/2 and have 6 asparagus spears and 1 cup of raw broccoli or especially like to have vegetables and some fruit for a good carbohydrate mix.

Another good mix for variety,  nuts and seeds!  For example: Lets say I am having a 3 block meal, I know I am allotted 3 blocks of Protein,3 blocks of fats and 3 blocks of Carbohydrates. I will enter “1” into the Zone Block Calculator and pick 3 different 1 block servings out of the fat category and mix them up. For us visual learners ….


ALWAYS, always Always!!!! Eat out of each category when you eat a meal or a snack. DO NOT hoard or save up your favorite category to eat all at once. For instance, I happen to have a sugar monster that lives inside of me and if that nasty little monster had its way I would use up over half my carbohydrate allotments in one sitting munching up fruit!!

This completely defeats the point of Zone eating. It is pertinent that you follow your Personal Prescription in order to get the awesome results you have heard about.  It is all about balancing your macro-nutrients, which I will explain in detail in another blog post.


NOW, on the to the fun part of this: EATING!

Paleo Foods & List

Paleo diet consists of foods that could’ve been hunted, fished and gathered.  This includes seafood (caught in the “wild” not farmed) and lean cuts of meat, free of food additives and preferably from grass-fed/free range animals; they typically contain higher levels of omega-3 fats compared to grain-produced domestic meats. Let’s not forget eggs, nuts, seeds and berries that could’ve been gathered!

Here is a detailed list of Paleo Preferred Foods:

Beef, Flank steak, Top sirloin steak, Hamburger, London broil, Chuck steak, Veal, Pork, Pork loin, Pork chops, Rabbit, Goat, Lamb.

Game meat:
Alligator, Bear, Bison (buffalo), Caribou, Elk, Emu, Goose, Kangaroo, Muscovy duck, New Zealand cervena deer, Ostrich, Pheasant, Quail, Rattlesnake, Reindeer, Squab, Turtle, Venison, Wild boar, Wild turkey.

Organ meats:
Beef, lamb, pork and chicken livers, Beef, pork and lamb tongues, Beef, lamb and pork marrow, Beef, lamb and pork “sweetbreads”

Chicken breast, Turkey breast, Game Hen breasts.

Chicken, Duck, Goose.

Bass, Bluefish, Cod, Drum, Eel, Flatfish, Grouper, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, Mackerel, Monkfish, Mullet, Northern pike, Orange roughy, Perch, Red snapper, Rockfish, Salmon, Scrod, Shark, Striped bass, Sunfish, Tilapia, Trout, Tuna, Turbot, Walleye, Any other commercially available fish.

Abalone, Clams, Crab, Crayfish, Lobster, Mussels, Oysters, Scallops, Shrimp.


This a link to the American Grassfed Association  list  of approved meat producers. AGA defines grassfed products from ruminants, including cattle, bison, goats and sheep, as those food products from animals that have eaten nothing but their mother’s milk and fresh grass or grass-type hay from their birth.

Another great site for grass-fed food & facts is Eat Wild. This link will take you to state-by-state Directory of farms that provide beef, dairy, fruits and veggies.


Now on to Carbohydrates

Artichoke, Asparagus, Beet greens, Beets, Bell peppers, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Collards, Cucumber, Dandelion, Eggplant, Endive, Green onions, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard greens, Onions, Parsley, Parsnip, Peppers (all kinds), Pumpkin, Purslane, Radish, Rutabaga, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash (all kinds), Swiss chard, Tomatillos, Tomato ( a fruit that thinks it is a vegetable), Turnip greens, Turnips, Watercress.

Apple, Apricot, Avocado, Banana, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cantaloupe, Carambola, Cassava melon, Cherimoya, Cherries, Cranberries, Figs, Gooseberries, Grapefruit, Grapes, Guava, Honeydew melon, Kiwi, Lemon, Lime, Lychee, Mango, Nectarine, Orange, Papaya, Passion fruit, Peaches, Pears, Persimmon, Pineapple, Plums, Pomegranate, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Star fruit, Strawberries, Tangerine, Watermelon and most all other fruits.

Now my Favourite:


Nuts & Seeds:
Almonds, Brazil nuts, Chestnuts, Hazelnuts (filberts), Macadamia nuts, Pecans, Pine nuts, Pistachios (unsalted), Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts.

*No peanuts; they are a legume/ No cashews; Cashews are in the same family as poison ivy and poison sumac. Like the others in this family, the cashew plant contains powerful but natural chemical irritants, so handling and eating raw cashews will cause the familiar itchy skin reaction. They must be baked or roasted to be eaten. Paleo rule of thumb: it is can’t be eaten in it’s natural/raw state: YOU DON’T eat it!

Oils :
Olive, avocado, walnut, flax seed, coconut.


Helpful Tip for Success!

Focus on quality of food by shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. Buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. Buy frozen vegetables and meat only if you must. It is acceptable to venture down the aisles for a few select things like nuts, beans, canned tuna, olives, etc. The aisles are generally one big processed,  nutritionally worthless carb-fest
Read your labels!! If the ingredients are anything more than the food itself  & it’s not natural it’s a Paleo no-no (if you buy a bag of almonds, ingredients should say “almonds” nothing more)
Pick a day to weigh and prepackage your meats & poultry. I measure them into meal and snack  Block servings (3 blocks for meals and 1 block for snack.  I then put the meats or poultry into a freezer bag and spread it flat so that is will thaw very quickly for those last minute or unplanned meals.
Get a big lunch cooler and pack it FULL every morning before you leave the house no matter what your plans or how little time you think they may be, you never want to be stuck! I personally keep a set of measuring spoons, a small scale and a 1 cup measuring cup in it, because I don’t always want what I’ve packed, so this gives me the option to stop by the supermarket and stay in the zone.
If you have a smart phone I recommend downloading your food list in single block measurements (This makes it easy to calculate for meals and snacks,  simply multiply the the food allotment by your block allowance) abd also print it out and take it to Kinkos and laminate  just in case your phone dies!  Make sure it is ALWAYS in your car. This is for those times you’re out and about for an extended amount of time and haven’t packed your food or enough food.
Here is a link to the CrossFit Journals/LarryLendemans Quick Zone Block Reference Food List! This list is calculated in 1block measurements

I had a difficult time remembering what meals I had during the day so I created the food block check list below for myself and found it works very well for tracking meals. I draw it by hand daily and am planning to  laminate it and use dry erase markers to conserve paper. I check off the the blocks as I eat  to ensure I am getting them all in. The reason I break the meals down by block rather than category is for when I split the blocks. It makes it easier to keep track of what I have eaten.


daily zone check list

I know this all seems like a lot, I promise you it gets easier.  For the first week or so you will be walking around with that list in your hand constantly, you will feel lost in the supermarket and the days you package your food will seem like forever! Do not be discouraged by this! It is just the beginning! You will find your groove and you will LOVE IT!

 A Paleo to Faileo Timeline




34 thoughts on “Paleo Zone, How to Get Started – A Step by Step Guide

  1. Pingback: Carbohydrate as your Paleo post-workout nutrition? | Paleo Village

  2. Lynn says:

    Thank you for such an informative and complete blog. I have been seriously considering making the change towards the Paleo/Zone plan primarily for my health. With your links it will make it easier for me to begin.

  3. Overkast says:

    OMG your awesome. I completely get it now and the spreadsheet totally rocks!!. I hit the wall with just Paleo and was looking at the Zone diet but was just confused as to how to break things down. The spreadsheet it going to help so much. Thanks.

  4. Semore Heinee says:

    This was a great read. After reading this I purchased a caveman club and hit my wife in the head. I grabbed a handful of hair and dragged her in the house and made her make me a paleo zone meal. After a few hits with the club I just had to point and grunt and she made me a meal. Thanks for making me feel like a caveman. My wife might have a different opinion but as long as I control the club I control her.

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  8. Kelsey Schmelsey says:

    Thank you so much for this blog. I have been considering Paleo for a while and was too confused and too scared of how and what to do. My friend and brother-in-law have been doing it for some time now and the results are amazing. They love it. I am officially on board and feel a lot more prepared having read this.

    Thank you, Thank you

  9. Pingback: Paleo Zone Challenge Scoring and Tools « Reebok CrossFit Bare Cove

  10. Shelby says:

    I am so excited I found ur blog. I have been seriously crossfitting since Feb n did a 100% paleo challenge during lent this year. My results were fair regarding weight loss but I felt amazing. I need to drop about 20 pounds n after reading ur blog I was eating too much based in the zone/paleo chart. I will be back to your blog. I just started a 30 day challenge today and I will be trying the zone/paleo mix and hoping for better results re: dropping some lbs!

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  12. Swinggcat says:

    Thank you for all this information !
    On the awesome spreadsheet, eggs are only protein block but my app in my phone thinks it’s also made of fat, which is exact.
    Why does it only count as protein on most Zone docs ?
    Thank you so much 🙂

    • Anitra says:

      Most all foods are made up of at least 2 of the 3 micro-nutrients, the spreadsheet put it in the category of which it is most comprised of. there are an average of 6.3 grams of protein and 4.8 grams of fat, therefore I put in the Protein category.

  13. DeAnne says:

    WOW. That was some of the most helpful hints and spreadsheets!! Following any program is tough and I love how organized you are! I would love more tips or tools you may have 🙂

  14. Theresa says:

    I stumbled upon your AMAZING breakdown of the paleo/zone diet. I really find it nice and easy to follow. My only thing is there is neither almond nor coconut milk on the list as well as almond butter. I know those things are paleo friendly. Also is it possible to use grass fed whey powder for protein when it comes to the snacks? Thank you for any answers that you may provide.

  15. swissfitchick says:

    Hi Anitra!
    Just found this article and so glad I did! I am considering trying the Zone Diet, I am a CrossFitter since January and I would love to try it out.
    This is probably a really stupid question and I am sorry for that, but I downloaded the Excel sheet, but I can not edit it. I guess it is not meant to be, so we create our own? Sorry and thank you for your reply!

  16. Albert Hernandez says:

    Aweomse stuff! One question. If i want to lower my weight and fat percentage how do i adjust my blocks for that? and what are you opinions on supplementation like after a workout having a shake or something like that

  17. sunny shakhawala says:

    Hey everyone! I’m scouring the internet for a meal replacement / supplement bar that is paleo & zone friendly but can’t seem to find one anywhere!! Some bars are Paleo, but the macro ratio is out of whack. Even the bars on the zone website don’t follow the 7/9/3 p/c/f ratio. Has anyone comes across anything that actually follows the zone ratio? has anyone come across anything that is zone AND paleo? If so, please let me know. I’m getting a bit tired of my same old 1 scoop, 1 banana, 9 almond smoothie snack.



  18. jules says:

    The spreadsheet is GENIUS! I’ve downloaded an excel program to my phone, but Tue link doesn’t seem to load, can someone tell me how I can get this to work on a phone? Thanks!!

  19. Matt says:

    I am curious about the Paleo Zone option, and I found your blog. I tried to download the spreadsheet so that I can review it more detail to wrap my head around this. However the link didn’t work. Any suggestions?

  20. Sherri says:

    This is a great blog. My husband and I are going to start zone/paleo and this was very helpful.
    It seems that the links to the spread sheets are not working. They take me to a blank page. Any chance you can check the links? I would love to utilize them in my planning. Thanks!

  21. Pingback: Paleo vs Zone: The Ultimate CrossFit Diet Resource - The Best of Fitness

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