The Diet

The Perfect Health Diet

Here’s our Perfect Health Diet food plate:

PHD_Apple_plate cropped

NOTE: This is our new food plate, updated 2015. Foreign translations of the original food plate may be found here.

We recommend:

  • About 3 pounds [1.4 kg] of plant foods per day, including:
    • About 1 pound [0.45 kg] of safe starches, such as white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and taro;
    • About 1 pound [0.45 kg] of sugary in-ground vegetables (such as beets or carrots), fruits, and berries;
    • Low-calorie vegetables to taste, including fermented vegetables and green leafy vegetables.
  • One-half to one pound [0.25 to 0.5 kg] per day of meat or fish, which should include organ meats, and should be drawn primarily from:
    • ruminants (beef, lamb, goat);
    • birds (especially duck and wild or naturally raised birds);
    • Shellfish and freshwater and marine fish.
  • Low omega-6 fats and oils from animal or tropical plant sources, to taste. Good sources include:
    • butter, sour cream, beef tallow, duck fat;
    • coconut milk or oil
    • palm oil, palm kernel oil, olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut butter, almond butter, cashew butter
  • Acids to taste, especially citric acid (lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice), lactic acid from fermented or pickled vegetables, vinegars, tannic acids from wine, and tomatoes.
  • Broths or stocks made from animal bones and joints.
  • Snacks or desserts from our pleasure foods: fruits and berries, nuts, alcohol, chocolate, cream, and fructose-free sweeteners like dextrose or rice syrup.

By weight, the diet works out to about 3/4 plant foods, 1/4 animal foods. By calories, it works out to about 600 carb calories, primarily from starches; around 300 protein calories; and fats supply a majority (50-60%) of daily calories.

In the shadow of the apple are foods forbidden because of their high toxin content. Notably:

  • Do not eat cereal grains — wheat, barley, oats, corn — or foods made from them — bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, oatmeal. The exception is white rice, which we count among our “safe starches.” Rice noodles, rice crackers, and the like are fine, as are gluten-free foods made from a mix of rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch.
  • Do not eat calorie-rich legumes. Peas and green beans are fine. Soy and peanuts should be absolutely excluded. Beans might be acceptable with suitable preparation, but we recommend avoiding them.
  • Do not eat foods with added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Do not drink anything that contains sugar: healthy drinks are water, tea, and coffee.
  • Polyunsaturated fats should be a small fraction of the diet (~4% of total calories). To achieve this, do not eat seed oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, or the like.

We highly recommend certain foods for their micronutrients. These include liver, kidney, egg yolks, seaweeds, shellfish, fermented vegetables, and bone broths.

We also recommend augmenting the diet with certain supplements. See our Supplement Recommendations page. These nutrients are deficient in modern diets due to removal of minerals from drinking water by treatment, depletion of minerals from soil by agriculture, or modern lifestyles that deprive us of vitamin D by indoor living.

We recommend tweaking the diet for certain diseases. Neurological disorders often benefit from a diet that is ketogenic; other conditions may benefit from lower carb diets. These variations are discussed in the book:


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Leave a comment ?

3,431 Comments.

  1. Izaskun Azurmendi

    Hello From Spain!!
    I have read the book through some Australian friends. I have doubts about fasting adn some other things :smileWhere can I write to explain more about them? A friend has high potasium and cholesterol (familiar problem). What is the best she can do? Very interesting your book and work!!! 🙂 Thank you

  2. Paul,
    Talking with Alex leaf on the FB page, he believes and his wrote about, high fat with carbs causing insulin and glucose problems. He sited and wrote about studies showing over 15 grams fat with starch causing big issues. What is your take on this issue?? The studies looked true and was not hyper caloric. In fact a meal with 40+ fat and starch was very damaging in the text.

    • Paul,
      Does this issue matter👆👆? PHD meals for me adds up to 190 carbs and around 140 to 150 fat…Alex shows this causes insulin resistance even when not in caloric excess..

      • Hi Keven, I don’t know what the studies are, maybe you could link the thread you referred to. But transient insulin resistance in response to large meals is normal and not a matter for concern.

        Best, Paul

          • Melancholy Aeon

            I think Paul many people conceive of it as “normal healthy people have no insulin resistance ever” & “pre-diabetes & diabetic people have insulin resistance all the time.” It’s not well understood that it’s normal human physiology to have transient temporary insulin resistance after meals as a metabolic brake. It’s one of body’s many protective mechanisms. There are a lot of these false dichotomies in the common internet Paleo “wisdom.” Would you agree?

          • That would certainly be a big mistake, I don’t know how many people in the Paleo world would make that mistake.

            The bigger issue here is that macronutrients are toxins, insulin is not. So in a healthy person there’s no reason to be alarmed by transiently high levels of insulin or insulin resistance, it just means you ate a lot of food and your body is directing it to the safest places. Glucose enters the brain across a concentration gradient, hyperglycemia in the blood leads to toxicity to neurons, so hyperglycemia is potentially toxic; high insulin is not if it is physiological.

            Maybe in diabetics there is an issue with combining fat and starch, but in healthy people, it’s likely to be beneficial.

  3. Awesome! I’m learning a lot of things. Congratulations!

  4. Paul,
    Do you think spikes in blood sugar 140 to 150 then back is safe for longevity. I have been keto but looking to return PHD just can not get past this blood sugar spike

    • Hi Keven,

      That’s within the normal range for postprandial response, so I’m not sure it’s fair to characterize that as a spike. On low-carb you’re almost certain to go into that range after eating some carbs, because you’ll be naturally insulin resistant. The way to lower that number is to eat more carbs, more regularly. But I’m not convinced you need to lower the number. You may be worrying overmuch about a trivial concern.

      Best, Paul

    • Melancholy Aeon

      Hi Keven:

      I hear ya. Keto seems like a box you can’t get out of safely, once you find out it doesn’t work for you. Just as it takes time to adapt to keto, it takes a while to adapt back. I had to add starchy veggies back very slowly week by week. It took me about 12 weeks honestly to get back to PHD real food. You may just be going too fast for yourself at the moment. Good luck! 😀 😀

      • Melanchloy,
        Its a hard cycle to enter and exit from. My problem in full ketosis I improve in just about every area of my life, but my latest cardiovascular markers came back so messed up I had to rethink everything. Going for a cac test tomorrow, hope to find its just ketosis that has markers so far off..

        • Melancholy Aeon

          Hi again Keven:

          I hear ya. Just last night Peter Attia posted a blog update in which he finally admits ketosis only works for some guys, sometimes. Until it doesn’t, as sadly was your experience. Altho’ he has evangelized it, note he himself hasn’t followed it since 2014. I think he has more ‘splainin’ on this to do, and maybe even an apology for evangelizing from his medical position before he had any useful clinical experience. And yet I like Attia, I admire that he manned up & admitted his errors, which is more than many would do. Good luck with PHD to straighten out your health!

          • I still have to say though, I have never felt physically and mentely better than being deep in ketosis. I had a cac scan after with a 0 score so my fears is cut back on my markers. To be fair peter never said ketosis does not work and he stated he saw massive improvement in his pratcice and with his sister… I think this is such a tough topic to deal with.

          • Melancholy Aeon

            Happy May Day Keven!

            I’m glad you feel better. Ketosis worked for me for 8 years – until it really didn’t. Many people – perhaps the majority over time – share my experience, but I hope it works for you. I wish you well.

            As for Attia, listen to his recent 3 hour ramble with Joe Rogan, where in the last 45 minutes he confesses how often ketosis doesn’t work, admits finally how over-confident he was about it & his understanding of it & throws up his hands on his “broken patients.”

            Again, I like Attia – seems like a fun guy who cops to his habit of emotional eating. I admire his intellectual honesty to admit he was wrong in a public way. At the same time, I can’t imagine Paul calling people “broken” & giving up on them.

            Paul seemed eager to “unbreak” people by fixing their setpoints & deep metabolism in his retreats, which is something Attia hasn’t been able to achieve by his own admission. But Attia’s fundamentally on the same page as PHD, so I’m not downing him at all.

            Best wishes!

          • I did try to listen to that podcast, but did not even make it through the intro because of the language.. Thanks for your kind words!!!

  5. Paul, I have been following PHD for about a year now. For the first 8 or so months, I did well with the intermittent fasting (eating within 8 hour window) piece of the plan. But in the past 4 months, I’ve struggled in the sense that I feel very hungry first thing in the morning along with tired and drained and generally lousy. I haven’t made any changes to my diet during this time. Do you have any ideas about what might be causing this and suggestions for how to resolve it. I want to continue doing IT, especially because I’m prone to SIBO and I know that IT helps with this. Thank you. Mary

    • Hi Mary,

      Most likely is that you aren’t eating enough, either of food as a whole or of some part of the diet like carbs or protein. Have you been losing weight? I would try eating more first.

      Another possibility is that your eating window is too late in the day. You could try shifting it earlier. If you get hungry in the morning, snack. Make lunch your biggest meal — try to stuff yourself. Then try to finish eating a bit earlier in the day.

      For SIBO, 3 egg yolks a day, vinegar, vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine, vitamin D and A optimization will all help.

      Best, Paul

  6. Hi Paul,

    What course of action do you recommend for severe facial acne in women 20 years of age?

    Thanks,
    Sean

  7. Hi Paul,

    Is there anything to suggest that this diet could help alleviate or eliminate postorgasmic illness syndrome (POIS)? Apparently autoimmunity and hyperglycemia may be potential causes. Wondering how you might think about the relationship.

    Best,
    Patrick

  8. Paul,
    I am curious about some best practices regarding acids. 1. Is vinegar or citrus juice preferred over the other, or should one not worry and just mix it up?
    2. Does it matter if the acid is added to drinking water, or is it better to add to food?
    3. Is an otherwise-healthy individual missing out on something if they follow PHD, but neglect acids?
    4. Is there a best time of day to consume? Would drinking early in morning with water negatively affect intermittent fasting/circadian rhythm entertainment?
    Thank you so much for your time!

  9. Dan Braunstein

    Hey Paul,

    What is your take on the nightshades? I have direct evidence that potatoes cause inflammation. I’m just interested on your take because you allow potatoes.

    Thanks, Dan

  10. Dan Braunstein

    Do you mind explaining the difference? I’m not sure I understand the difference between them. Wow. That’s interesting. Aren’t all potatoes tubers? This is really good stuff.

  11. I have oxalate issues and plaintains and taro are
    high in these. I can eat some small red potatoes
    and small amount of white rice. Any other ideas on
    how to increase starches?

    • Hi Linda, try supplementing with N-acetylcysteine and zinc and eat adequate copper. Those may reduce endogenous oxalate production and enable you to tolerate more foods.

      Best, Paul

  12. In your book you recommend getting all your folate
    from food, I have MTHFR and Compt and have been
    supplementing with 400mcg of methyfolate – your
    feelings on this?

    Thanks,
    Linda

  13. Hi Paul,
    I suffer from hormonal migraines. I will get an attack at least once a month and they usually last from 5- 10 days. I have seen many specialists. Do you think this diet can help me. I have had them for about 20 years.

  14. Paul, I’m 6’3, 190lbs and I compete in weightlifting. Is it possible on the PHD to increase my Protein to 100g a day on the while lowering my Carbs to 80g a day and keeping fats at 65% of my Macros?

  15. Hello
    I am very new to the PHD. I am 72, spent most of my adult life at around 300 lb but over the last 3 years (since retirement) I exercise daily about 2-3 hours with a trainer. I went on the Keto diet a year ago and am now about 220 lbs. I have stalled in weight loss and would like to do the PHD. I understand the basic diet as you present it but I am confused about the weight loss PHD program. Can you suggest a place where I can see a few typical meal plans or a further discussion. I do not understand 500 calories in Ca bs, 300 in protein AND 500 calories in fat (but this group should not be in added fat such as coconut or MCT oil but in eggs, liver, beef and seafood etc). Aren’t these last protein? How is the 500 fat calories differ from the 300 protein calories?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Anita,

      For weight loss, best is to start by watching this talk: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2014/08/ancestral-health-symposium-tak-weight-loss/.

      The most important single steps for weight loss are:
      – Eat natural whole foods — no processed foods with first ingredients starch/sugar/oil.
      – Minimize omega-6 fats. Avoid anything made from/with an oil that is high in omega-6 (e.g. soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil). In your own cooking, use coconut oil, dairy (butter, cream, sour cream, cream cheese), beef fat, or avocado oil/olive oil.
      – Eat 3 egg yolks per day, put vinegar on food, and generally optimize nutrition.
      – Circadian rhythm entrainment – this is described in Part V of the book.
      – After the above, next step would be intermittent fasting.

      Start with these and then you can refine from there. It’s hard to implement everything at once, so start with these key aspects.

      Best, Paul

  16. Hi Mr. Jaminet. Thoroughly enjoyed the book and I just wanted to ask a question regarding the dangers of omega 3 fats combined with alcohol and fructose. It will be easy for me to avoid alcohol when consuming my omega 3’s (which I will obtain from oily fish) but would you advise omitting the sugary plants and fruits on the days I have the fish or can I eat these a few hours either side of the fish? I like to try and have a little fruit and some carrots or beets every day, but if this is potentially dangerously if combined with oily fish then I will have to miss them out on those days if this is the safest option?
    Thanks for any advice,regards, steve

    • Hi Steve, I wouldn’t worry about fructose from natural whole foods like fruit and carrots, as the quantity is small. But if you indulge in processed foods with sugar such as soft drinks, or anything with added sugar, then stop doing it when eating omega-3 fats. Best, Paul

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