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:

See the “Buy the Book” page for other purchase options.

Leave a comment ?


  1. I cannot understand from everything I have read how to get 50-60% of calories from fat. I know a lot comes from the protein, but how do I know how much more fat to eat. Can you really get enough fat from a couple of tablespoons of butter or coconut oil? What about cream? And do I count yoghurt as a protein or dairy?

    I am losing weight on a keto diet and don’t want to gain it back if I go with this plan. I am also afraid of ending up with too few calories and ending up messing up my metabolism, so I am concerned to get enough fat in my diet.

    • Hi Kate,

      Many whole foods recommended on PHD are rich in fat. A days worth of protein from meats would provide 200–400 fat calories (up to 600 if fattier cuts are selected all the time); three egg yolks would provide 100 fat calories; half a large avocado would provide 130 fat calories; two tablespoons of coconut milk (not oil) would provide 50 fat calories; half a teaspoon of red palm oil (useful for vitamin E) would provide 20 fat calories; fermentation of vegetable fiber into short chain fats by the gut microbiome would provide about 50 fat calories. So far, we’re at 450–650 fat calories (up to 850 if fatty meats are selected all the time) without adding any oils or butter.

      The 50–60% of calories from fat is for individuals who aren’t trying to loose weight; see “Restriction of SaFA and MUFA for Weight Loss” (page 141 of the book). For individuals who are trying to loose weight, about 500 fat calories are suggested. Comparing that with the numbers above, that means you should select leaner meats most of the time and not eat added fats like butter or coconut oil (which are not necessary if you cook food by boiling or steaming).

      If you’re not trying to loose any more weight (just trying to not regain it), there are many other potential sources of fat: For example, an ounce of macadamia nuts provides about 200 fat calories; an ounce of chocolate provides 100 fat calories; an additional 1/4 cup of coconut milk or sour cream provides 100 fat calories; a tablespoon or butter or coconut oil provides 100 fat calories.

      If you added each of those (choosing one where I said “or”), that would bring you to 950–1150 fat calories (i.e. 48–58% of calories on a 2000-calorie diet), which is about right for PHD. Alternatively, you could skip some of the added fats while eating fattier cuts of meat all the time.

      So I doubt you’d need to eat more than a tablespoon or two of butter or coconut oil.


    • This has been a sticking point for me too Kate, as the fat section of the book seems to be the only one without specific amounts per day. The diet is described as a moderate to low carbohydrate one and it recommends an average person needs about 160g of carbohydrate per day. So if 160g of carbohydrate is low/moderate, then do we need to double this amount of fat to get our 50-60% of calories from fats? Is that 320g of fat per day? Or, if fat has 4 times the amount of calories per gram do we only need 40g of fat per day? I’m loving the diet and I am basically using fats to fry in and adding butter to my mashed potato’s etc and using full fat yogurts, sour cream in dressings and eating fatty meats and fish. I see the book recommends microwaving food too?…..I thought this was a general no-no too?

      • People tend to overcomplicate this stuff. It’s not that hard. Carbs and protein have 4 calories per gram, while fat has 9, roughly the double, not four times. Generalizing:

        1g carb = 4 calories
        1g protein = 4 calories
        1g fat = 9 calories

        Say you want to eat 2000 calories and have half of them coming from fat. You’d need 1000 fat calories. That’s about 115g of fat (115*9 = 1035).

        160g of carbs = 640 calories
        75g of protein = 300 calories
        115g of fat = 1035 calories

        1975 calories in total. Play around with those numbers, add some chocolate or something else and you’ll get to the elusive 2000.

        • Thanks for the reply….. now, if what you have just written was included at the end of the fat section in the book then people like myself and Kate wouldn’t be over complicating things…. we’re just trying to make sure we do things right. Also, I don’t know about other people, but I’m struggling to eat a pound of vegetables on top of the 450 g of safe starches and another 450g of sugary foods and my fats. I definitely feel fuller for longer though. I have one last question if you can help at all? On page 103 under ‘eat vegetables but don’t count them as carbohydrate sources’ do I count onions and carrots? as they are listed in the nutritional content of sugary foods table…. thanks for any help….again! Regards, Mark

          • I know it can be confusing. Even in bodybuilding circles, where they’re all about counting calories and tracking macros, some people have a hard time figuring out that stuff.

            I think you should eat vegetables to taste, follow your apetite and also ask yourself what are your goals. Vegetables are a great source of micronutrients, and while they offer a lot of bulk, which can be very useful when pursuing weight loss, they are not a significant source of calories. Back in the day I was eating tons of raw big ass salads on top of the starches and sugary foods. I felt misserable and was bloated all the time. I realised that massive amounts of uncooked plant matter don’t agree with me. Now I probably eat a bit less, add them to stews, combine them with rice or steam them. My digestion is much better than before.

            Answering to your last question. Carrots, yes, since they’re basically sucrose and have a little starch; just keep in mind that they’re still low calorie. Onions, I guess you could if you want to micro manage to such an extent and are eating a kilo of them every day, but I personally don’t bother. They’re usually just a garnish, not the main component of a meal and certainly not a significant energy source. In either case, I don’t freak out if I get an ‘excess’ of carbs because of an additional carrot I ate on a particular day.

          • Hi Shizuka, and thanks again for the reply…. i think it is going to be easier for me to just follow the 160g carb/75g protein/115g fat per day to be honest, because i am now confused about raspberries.They are listed on page 101 in the ‘Nutritional content of sugary foods’ table and they too have less than 40 calories of glucose per 450g (which is the same as most vegetables) and page 103 tells us not to count vegetables with this amount of glucose as carb calories….so are low glucose fruits like raspberries also to be ignored as carb calories like low glucose vegatables? If so, why are raspberries included as part of the breakfast on Monday in the weekly meal planner? And, speaking of the meal suggestions on the meal planner, i struggle to see where the 1lb of sugary foods/fruits and berries are each day? and where the 100 fructose calories are? as well as the 1lb a day of other vegetables?In general it looks like sound advice re avoiding veg oils, grains, high levels of omega 6’s etc, but practically the advice looks confusing and it just seems to advise far too much plant food, which isn’t replicated on the meal planner as far as i can see.
            I definitely don’t want to come across as having a go at the advice, because i have been a low carb eater for 20 years and including more starchy foods is definitely making me feel better, it’s just that i don’t see the same amounts of foods being eaten on the meal planner as is advised on the healthy eating plate diagram at the top of the screen??? I guess if you stick to the carb/protein/fat ratio’s above, and eat natural foods and avoid the bad guys,then you can’t go far wrong.

          • A pound of raspberries has 98 carb calories, that is if you don’t count the fiber at all, evenly split between free fructose and glucose. Fructose is still a sugar that in large amounts contributes to energy balance. Now, why count the fructose content in berries and not in tomatoes? Because the amount of fructose in the latter is nelegible, while in the former is rather high.

            I think the one big problem with PHD is the lack of more didactic material. For one reason or another (the retreats and Paul and Shou-Ching’s endevours in cancer therapy) the cookbook has been postponed for a long time. Some people just need a visual approach.

            I suggest you to check Russ Crandall’s blog, The Domestic Man. It’s pretty much PHD:

            Ten Minute Meals, while not longer updated, is a good place to get ideas:

            Someone posted this some time ago:
            It’s a good example of what a PHD day of eating would look like, albeit a little too low carbish for my taste. Keep in mind that Paul no longer recommends eating spoonfuls of coconut oil anymore, and I wouldn’t encourage that either. I never believed in BP coffee anyway, not even in my keto days, and I was basically a zero carb zealot (I also nuked my thyroid in the process, but that’s another story).

          • After reading PHD I wanted to better understand carb quantities, so I made this chart.

            Each food listed is 50g of carbohydrate or 200 carb calories, about 1/3 of daily.

            It demonstrates as PHD advises, vegetables are not a serious source of carbs. Even potato or sweet potato (we call kumara) one needs to eat a fair amount.

            Turned out I had been VLC for years despite eating a lot of vegetables.

            The bottom chart shows the modest amount of butter or coconut oil required to balance out the carbs, keep fat in the 50% range.


  2. My thoughts exactly Kate, I love the book but fat seems to be the only grey area regarding actual grams per day. The amounts of carbs, starches and protein per day are clearly laid out, but like you I was left thinking, so I only need two tablespoons of butter/lard/tallow per day? And this I is a high fat/moderate carb eating plan?! It’s the only ‘fault’ I can find really and not a major criticism, I just think the information in Eriks reply could have been more clearly made in the fat section of the book itself. So red meat, egg yolk, avocado, full fat dairy, nuts and chocolate will provide ample fat with possibly the two tablespoons per day? The thing is, I don’t see all this amount of food in the daily eating menu plans either?! I’m sure I will get there in the end however. I have been a low carb eater for years and simply adding safe starches and honey (which were previously unheard of for me) has made an immediate improvement to my energy levels. Brilliant book in general. Every schoolchild should be given a copy!

  3. Hi. I have just discovered and read your book. I understand one should limit to their fructose intake to just 100 calories per day, but what if you get less or none – is there any danger to this? I have removed table sugar from the diet, would rarely eat honey and only have say a couple of pieces of fruit a week. I am not an athlete, just would be lightly to moderately active.

    • Hi Pat,

      Some fructose is helpful for glycemic control. Also sweet plants — especially beets, carrots, parsnips, and other sugary in-ground vegetables — are fantastic sources of potassium and other important micronutrients. So while excessive fructose is problematic, some is better than none.


  4. Kindly tell me why white rice on the PHD as opposed to brown rice? I was always under the impression that brown is much healthier. Thanks.

    • Hi Arlene,

      To quote from from “Rice in Human Nutrition”, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (

      “Antinutrition factors in the rice grain are concentrated in the bran fraction (embryo and aleurone layer). They include phytin (phytate), trypsin inhibitor, oryzacystatin and haemagglutinin-lectin…

      …Phytin is located in 1- to 3-µm globoids in the aleurone and embryo protein bodies as the potassium magnesium salt. Its phosphate groups can readily complex with cations such as calcium, zinc and iron and with protein. It is heat stable and is responsible for the observed poorer mineral balance of subjects fed brown rice diets in comparison to that of subjects fed milled [white] rice diets

      …Steaming rice bran for 6 minutes at 100°C inactivates the trypsin inhibitor…

      …Rice-bran [haemagglutinin-] lectin… sharply loses activity after 30 minutes at 80°C or 2 minutes at 100°C…

      …Oryzacystatin is a proteinaceous (globulin) cysteine proteinase inhibitor (cystatin) from rice seed and is probably the first well-defined cystatin superfamily member of plant origin (Kondo, Abe and Arai, 1989). Incubation at pH 7 for 30 minutes at 100°C had no effect on its activity but inhibition decreased 15 percent at 110°C and 45 percent at 120°C…”


  5. Hi.I have a serious question regarding the advice in the book to base most meals on red meat ruminants and restrict chicken and pork. Now i understand that in our evolutionary past we had to eat animals daily to obtain our complete protein, which is obtained by vegetarians through eating a combination of grains, peas, beans and legumes. My question is whether or not the meats we ate were mainly lean, white, low iron content meats, or fattier, high iron content red meats? I ask this because i am reading a fascinating article on the freetheanimal website (which, by the way is where i found the recommendation and link to purchase this very book….and i did) about iron overload and the potential serious health implications of it. The evidence looks very convincing and just by looking at the famous ‘Blue Zone’ diets e.g we see a very fit and healthy set of peoples who consume very little heme iron. I then look at the RDA’s for iron here in the UK and see adult males require 8mg of iron per day and females a whopping 18mg per day. I really struggle to see how on earth we can achieve those amounts eating low iron lean meats. However, the Blue Zone populations don’t consume this much and don’t have signs of iron deficiencies. As you will all know, The Perfect Health Diet book advises basing most meals on red meat, high iron ruminants (beef, lamb and goat) and limiting lean meats like pork and chicken (basically the complete opposite of the advice on the iron overload article/blog!) so i am now very confused! So, finding out if the meats we ate were mainly high iron reds, or lower iron whites would be a massive help as this seems that getting our iron intake right is very very important stuff. Thanks in advance if anyone can help

    • Hi mark,

      Getting the right amount of iron from food is not important enough to dictate what meats we should eat. Because you can regularly monitor iron stores (with the ferritin blood test), and donate blood if your iron stores are too high (or supplement if they are too low).


    • You can also pair high iron food with dairy, coffee, tea and green stuff such as cilantro. All of those are iron chelators, so you won’t absorb all of it. If you do eat properly prepared legumes, it’s a good idea to eat them along with meats. Phytic acid is not the devil many paleos claim. Also, ditch iron cookware.

      In any case, the biggest problem here is fortification.

      • Thanks for the replies. I do believe that fortification is the major contributor with regards to iron overload, so eating red meat every day shouldn’t be a problem. The blue zone populations still nag away at the back of my mind however, and with all due respect Eric, donating blood and having ferritin blood tests just doesn’t seem a very biological approach if you know what I mean? I would rather try and take in similar amounts of iron that our ancestors did, but it appears I am at a bit of a crossroads here. The book recommends high iron from mainly red meat sources, the blue zones and blog advise the opposite……sigh….. lol. Oh well, thank you both for your thoughts on the matter….looks like I will just have to try each and see how I go….
        Best, mark

  6. Ok, just looking at the meal planner guide in the book and I am sorry if I am missing anything here, but I am sure the advice is to eat 450g of safe starches and another 450g of sugary plants/fruits per day and 115g of fats per 2000 calorie day? Yet I can only see mention of sugary plants or fruits on Monday and Saturday and not a lot of fat mentioned on any day…..especially not 115g worth. As regards calcium alone, the book mentions bone broths as the best source then doesn’t mention them at all in the meal planner! Where are the fruits and sugary plants every day? Where is the calcium every day? Where is the iron on Wednesday and Friday? and if ruminants are the main source of iron how does a woman get 18mg of iron a day if she only absorbs a third of iron per meal and only has one main meal a day?! Ah, I’m just getting myself more and more confused the more I read….. sorry folks, I’m going for a lie down….sigh…..

  7. Hi, I am currently 8 weeks pregnant and have been on the perfect health diet for the past 3 months. Previously, I had been on a really low carb diet and when I got a sinus infection began to have panic attacks in the middle of the night and extreme anxiety all day. I found the Perfect Health Diet and slowly upped my intake of starches which after a month or so helped eliminate the anxiety. Now I am pregnant and having severe nausea day and night. I have developed an extreme aversion to the sweet potatoes I had been consuming as my safe starch and gag when I try to swallow them. The only thing I can swallow and does not make me gag is white string cheese. I have only been able to eat that in the last 48 hrs. Yesterday, I began to feel the anxiety once agin and finally tonight around 4 a.m. I woke up with the same panicky feeling I used to get on my low carb diet. I am at a loss as to what to do. Could it be a glycogen issue already due to me only being able to eat the cheese for the past three days? I just started taking vitamin b6 yesterday to see if it helps with the nausea. Any recommendations on what to do? Also, I see prenatal vitamins are not recommended but since I am not able to swallow liver etc. for now what would be the best way to handle this?

    • Hi Sarah,

      The nausea is a sign of malnourishment. Eating only white string cheese is going to make it worse – and it has, based on the anxiety coming back. You need to be eating lots of egg yolks (aim for 7 per day) and a great deal more carbs to begin with. Try eating rice or white potatoes in quantity, a pound per day as a minimum. Also, supplement (or eat nutrient-rich foods) for the most important prenatal supplements including iodine, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin D, phospholipids/choline, iron (get that tested), zinc, copper, taurine, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, plus a B-50 complex with extra B12 at least once per week.

      Best, Paul

      • Thank you so much for your response. It means so much! I am now worried about the fact that this extreme nausea and gagging reflex points to malnourishment and the impact that could be having on the baby. I am praying that God intervenes and I can start eating what you have recommended as soon as possible. I was eating 400 grams of safe starch ( cooked sweet potatoes) before the morning sickness started. If I understand correctly I should shoot for at least 453 grams rice or potato ( cooked weight) daily. Is this correct? Also, if I add the grassfed beef liver, chicken liver ,egg yolks and grassfed butter to my diet in sufficient quantities; would I still need to supplement? I have your book but need to go over it again to see if recommendations for pregnancy are outlined. Thank you again, Sarah

  8. Paul,
    I hope all is well with you and your family!! I was wanting to ask if you still believe in and practice intermittent fasting? I have seen people like Bill from calories proper come out against it here lately. I know I feel best when doing intermittent fasting but was curious as to the effects of 2 pound Meals twice a day?

  9. Hi I’m in a transition from a low carb Paleo to PHD and so far feeling more energy and a big reduction in cravings so all good ! Can you confirm for me if Quinoa is allowed on PHD, I see its classed as a seed not a grain but I’m still unsure if I can use it as a safe starch . Thank you Jane

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