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 ?

3,332 Comments.

  1. I purchased the PHD book some years back and am very interested in the ongoing advice and findings which embrace the PHD. Also, I find it always interesting to look at genetics. My late father – who ate a normal English diet all his life – was in his 91st year when he diedm having NEVER been ill. My mother dies at almost 100, having eaten a normal diet all her life and her sister was 107, having also eaten a normal everyday diet. Both mother and my aunt died from Alzheimer’s disease, otherwise they would have lived longer. So today, in this changed world we need to look at the PHD in the context of all that has affected our overall health. This is why I am a subscriber. I looked at the ‘Okinawa Diet’ decades ago and also noted the health regime of my martial arts teacher (Japanese) who was of very high world ranking. At the end of the day nature has provided an answer to perhaps every dietary question and in its ancient wisdom, knows best. Wild animals can feed without the need of instructional texts! It remains for us to discover the hidden agenda, much like the unknown universe beyond. But with caution.

  2. This is a very confusing infographic. Meat gets half the plate, yet makes up less than a quarter of the diet? Seems like a real plate would look much like the USDA myplate, except paleo and without the dairy glass.

  3. First thing in the morning I’ve been drinking the juice of 1/2 lemon in warm water. Will this stop autophagy?

  4. Paul, what do you recommend for a multi modular goiter? Can PHD help with this? Thanks!

    • Hi just started the diet. I am a big guy. 6feet tall and 117kg and I am finding it difficult to eat 3 pounds of vegetables a day!? It seems like a lot. Especially the in ground sweet ones like beets or carrots. A kg of carrots lasts me a week. I don’t know how I could eat nearly half a kilo of them Per Day??? Does anyone else find this amount difficult to consume?

      • Hi Glen,

        I assume you mean 3 pounds of plant foods? PHD calls for 1 pound of starches (preferably tubers), 1 pound of sweet plants including fruit, and 1 pound of vegetables. The pound of sweet plants is equivalent to 3 pieces of fruit so if you eat a piece of fruit twice a day then you’ve cut down the number of carrots to 150 g per day which is the kilogram per week. Cooking the vegetables will also make it easier to eat them. I don’t think a pound is that much, you’ll see it goes down pretty easily in time.

        Best, Paul

        • Thanks so much for answering Paul. I’m in Australia so I do get a bit confused about converting the weight of things from imperial to metric. So 3 pounds of plant food is approx 1.5 kilos correct? I think I need to get some kitchen scales. I still don’t know if I can eat that much plant food per day.

  5. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your website.

    Does your book contain any advice about dieting to treat candida? I am on a low carb diet (100 grams a day) to treat it and I’ve read your post about how ketones will feed the candida. I’m interested to read more.

    Also, is brown rice a safe carb? The diagram only refers to rice.

    Thank you for your time.

    • White rice only. The oils in the husk of brown rice tend to go rancid.

      • I nearly died from the massive use of brown rice in the macrobiotic diet which may be cancer promoting for some. His teachings, Michio Kushi, were not sustainable for the human body that wants to thrive and be strong.

  6. Thanks Randy Siler!

  7. Hi Paul. Due to being obese, I am attempting intermittent fasting. I had previously been eating a Paleo diet that meant breakfast was my largest meal and the meal at night was the smallest. Trying to skip breakfast has therefore been quite difficult. I guess it will get easier with time. My question though is if I finish eating by 6pm, is it OK and will the ketogenic fasting still work if I then eat again by 10am?

    • Hi Glen,

      You want to eat in an 8 hour window, but earlier in the day may be better. If you can eat 10 am to 6 pm that would be great, especially if most calories are around mid-day.

      Best, Paul

      • Thanks again for replying. So I’m not better off having the 8 hour window for eating from 12 to 8pm? 10am to 6pm is how I ate anyway before starting PhD so that would be easier for me. Also any knowledge or ideas about game meats. In Australia that mainly means free range kangaroo, Buffalo, and venison. Thank you for your book and all your work. I am only on my first week of PhD but already feeling better. Sleeping well and energy levels more even throughout the day and I don’t go into the 3.30pm slump where I usually craved caffeine and sugar or wanted to sleep. I out this down to having previously been on VLC Paleo Diet.

  8. Can someone please tell me if yucca root/cassava is an acceptable safe starch? I can’t seem to find any info on this.

    Also, I must follow a low oxalate diet, which pretty much eliminates potatoes, sweet potatoes and plantains. I can only do carrots in very small quantities. Has anyone been able to successfully follow a PHD and eat low oxalate at the same time?

    Paul – Do you have any suggestions for my situation? Thank you!

  9. As I’m digging deeper and deeper into PHD and reading more, I’m coming up with more questions!

    1. I’ve been following Dr. Jack Kruse for a while and doing his “leptin reset” where I eat a huge breakfast with at least 50 grams of protein. Now I feel like my body is just so used to this and needs it every morning. This seems to negate PHD. Thoughts? How should I try to shift my breakfast?

    2. Are there any examples of what meals should look like? I’m a 40-year old female, 128 lbs. I’d like to lose maybe 5-10 lbs, so I don’t think I should be eating a 2,000 calorie diet.

  10. Is hemp protein powder ok? Has high magnesium content at 60% rda. Tried taking the magnesium citrate and messed up my sleeping pattern.

    • Hi Simon,

      I don’t know anything about hemp protein powder in particular, but PHD is usually suspicious of plant protein.

      But if you want to get enough magnesium without taking supplements — I do know you can get enough magnesium just from ordinary PHD foods: For example, I obtain about 550 mg / day of magnesium by eating tubers for safe starches (which have more magnesium and other nutrients than white rice), in addition to eating double the suggested quantity of low-calorie vegetables — including butternut and acorn squash, which are high in magnesium; and a variety of green vegetables like spinach, chard, kale, seaweed, avocado, broccoli, etc (all of which are rich in magnesium because magnesium is required for the function of chlorophyll, which is what makes these foods green).

      And if you don’t like these, other PHD food sources of magnesium include chocolate and many brands of mineral water.

      Best,
      -Eric

    • Hi Simon,

      Also: What time of day were you taking the magnesium citrate? If you were taking it the morning, does taking it in the evening mess up your sleep pattern? (Or vice versa — if you were taking it in the evening, does taking it in the morning mess up your sleep pattern?)

      Best,
      -Eric

  11. Thanks for responding Eric. I work graveyard, I usually take it around 2 or 3
    In the afternoon in bed at 5 or 6. I was averaging 4-5 hours sleep on week days before taking the citrate. After taking it for two weeks average of 2 hours during the week.

  12. please, your book in Spanish language ! so fast 😛 , thank’s

  13. Hi.

    I have been wondering if I should start this diet, the diet I’m currently on is really close as I bought the book, but adjusted the portions to my liking.

    I work out almost 4 hours 5 days per. week, the amount of nutrition I need high.

    What’s your opinion on diet for someone who is very active in sports?

    I’m already doing intermittent fasting, from 10-11 at night to 12 the next day.

    Best Regards Gabriel

  14. Hi! Would this program be good for someone without a thyroid? It was removed in 2008 due to papillary thyroid cancer and Hashimoto’s. I keep gaining weight even though I am not an over eater, junk food eater, etc. I need to lose about 20 pounds. I’m 50 years old. I’ve always suspected that although I keep getting heavier, I am actually “starving” – that’s why I thought the Keto Diet would be good with the heavy fats, etc. but it hasn’t helped at all. What do you think? Thanks!

  15. Hi Kelly, my wife had papillary carcinoma of the thyroid in 2001 right after the birth of our daughter. She too is 50. She has been doing regular PHD with me for almost 2 years. She too at times struggles with her weight, but considering her history she is doing very well. The problem is that you are most likely still hypothyroid, and until you fix that no matter how well you eat you will lose very little to no weight. Talk to your endocrinologist and ask him or her for a T4/T3 combo. If they disagree, find another Dr. Hang in there and continue PHD.

    Bob

    • Hi, Bob. I AM still hypothyroid – my TSH as of a month ago was 12.59 and Free T4 was 0.7. Those are the only two things my endocrinologist checks. Does your wife take desiccated thyroid? Iodine? I’m happy she is doing well – my levels haven’t been stable since the surgery which is why I started looking into nutrition. I’ve been eating keto for over a month but recently, I’ve learned it is actually bad for someone like me so now I’m ordering the PHD book. Ugh. Thanks for your reply!

  16. Hi Kelly. As I stated earlier I would contact your endo and express your symptoms and demand a t4/t3 combo. Practice intermittent fasting, circadian rhythm enhancement and optimize your vitamin D. Eat PHD carbs, and don’t go any lower than 60 grams. Best of luck

    Bob

  17. Does anyone have any knowledge about or experience with “Thrive” oil, a micro algae produced oil. The company gave a bottle to my husband because he’s an angel investor and they looked at investing in the company. But I’m hesitant to use it unless I know it’s truly healthy. On Amazon there are nearly 300 reviews with a solid 5 stars, but that isn’t convincing enough to for me. Has anyone researched it or vetted it’s touted benefits? Label claims can be used at very high heat, and apparently it’s tasteless:
    https://www.amazon.com/Thrive-Culinary-Algae-Launch-Ounce/dp/B01C7SGOWU?th=1
    Thanks, Susan

  18. what do parsnips count as? safe starch, sweet plant or root? Thanks for the book and everything you’ve put out!

    • Hi Max,

      Sweet plant would be more accurate than safe starch or vegetable.

      Parsnips have about 50 fructose calories plus 200 glucose calories per pound. So if you wanted to be overly precise, you could call them 50% sweet plant + 35% safe starch + 15% vegetable, or something like that.

      Best,
      -Eric

      • Thanks Eric. Is there a good place to find nutritional data like you have above?

        • Hi Max,

          I like using https://cronometer.com/.

          First make an account.

          Then adjust your preferences to show some useful information hidden by default: Click on the “Profile” tab, and scroll down to the box labelled “Nutritional Targets”. Under the “Vitamins” tab: For vitamin A — check the “visible” box on the line that says “retinol”. For choline — check the “visible” box. Under the “Carbohydrates” tab: Uncheck the “visible” box for starch and total carbs; instead check the “visible” box for net carbs. For sugars — uncheck the “visible” box for total sugars, and instead check the “visible” boxes on the lines saying fructose, galactose, lactose, and sucrose.

          Back on the “Diary” tab, click on “Add Food”, and enter 16 oz (1 pound) of parsnips.

          It says that much parsnips has 59.4 grams of net carbs, 2.4 grams fructose, 19.4 grams sucrose, 0.0 grams lactose and 0.0 grams galactose. Now you can easily calculate:

          Fructose calories = 4 * (fructose) + 2 * (sucrose) = 4 * 2.4 + 2 * 19.4 = 48.4

          Galactose calories = 4 * (galactose) + 2 * (lactose) = 4 * 0 + 2 * 0 = 0

          Carb calories = 4 * (net carbs) = 4 * 59.4 = 237.6

          Glucose calories = (Carb calories) – (Fructose calories) – (Galactose calories) = 237.6 – 48.4 – 0 = 189.2.

          So about 200 glucose calories plus 50 fructose calories, as I said.

          As a bonus, you don’t have to do this individually for each food. Just once for all the food you eat that day.

          By default, cronometer will show red if you’re eating more than their target for a given nutrient, yellow if you’re eating less, and green if you’re eating within their suggest range. To make this more useful, you could change the targets to match PHD recommendations.

          Here are the target I set, and why:

          Fiber: 40–60 g
          Net Carbs: 130–200 g
          Fructose: —
          Galactose: —
          Lactose: —
          Sucrose: —

          I did not set targets for the individual sugars. But you can calculate fructose, glucose, and galactose calories as I described above, and compare them to PHD recommendations.

          Fat: —
          Monounsaturated: —
          Polyunsaturated: —
          Omega-3: 1–4 g
          Omega-6: 2–9 g
          Saturated: —
          Trans-fat: —
          Cholesterol: —

          Protein: 50–100 g
          Amino acids (all): —

          Amino acid data in cron-o-meter is missing for soup stock, tendon, and everything else rich in extracellular matrix, making it of limited usefulness for PHD dieters.

          Vitamin B1: 2– mg
          Vitamin B12: —

          Tracking of B12 is not useful, because most cases of vitamin B12 deficiency are due to problems with absorption, not to inadequate intake.

          Vitamin B2: 3– mg
          Vitamin B3: 16–40 mg
          Vitamin B5: 15– mg
          Vitamin B6: 3– mg
          Choline: 700– mg
          Folate: 400–1000 mcg
          Vitamin A: 10000– IU
          Retinol: 1500–3000 mcg
          Vitamin C: 500– mg
          Vitamin D: —

          Tracking of vitamin D is not useful, because it comes primarily from sunlight, not from food, and PHD suggests blood tests anyway.

          Vitamin E: 15– mg
          Vitamin K: 200– mcg

          Calcium: 700–1300 mg
          Copper: 2–5 mg
          Iron: —

          Tracking of iron is not useful, because most cases of iron deficiency or excess are due to problems with absorption, not to inadequate or excess intake.

          Magnesium: 400–800 mg
          Manganese: 2.3–11 mg
          Phosphorus: 700–4000 mg
          Potassium: 4700–10500 mg
          Selenium: 180–360 mcg
          Sodium: 1500–4500 mg
          Zinc: 15–30 mg

          Best,
          -Eric

  19. Dear Paul what is a Typical meal for you lately?? ingredients??

  20. Dear Paul,
    I just ordered your book and may find the answers to my question there, but I thought I’d ask here anyway (I’m impatient!) I have some kind of candida/dysbiosis in the gut and bladder. I’ve been on a very low carb diet for 2 months now (which has helped a lot) and am going off it now and switching to your diet, after having read your blog about the risks of VLC. Just had some rice, we’ll see how it sits with me. My question is, how much carbs do you recommend when overcoming candida? Is it the same as your overall diet, or less? I tried to find a post on this on your site, and forgive me if I missed it. I don’t see a candida category on your list of diseases. Thanks so much for your extremely helpful blog.

  21. I am 44 years old and gained 25 pounds in a year. I recently found out that my thyroid is week and I’m insulin resistant, my numbers indicated that I am close to being prediabetic. My husband and I followed PHD for about a year in 2014 (After that we continued to eat approved foods, but not in the correct quantities). He lost about 25 pounds in 3 months. Although, I didn’t lose weight, I felt good and ran a mile a minute faster than I ever have. The best thing for my current issues is to lose this 25 pounds, but it won’t budge. I tried keto and intermittent fasting for two months and lost nothing. I’m back on track with PHD, but the scale won’t budge. Do you have any specific advice for insulin resistance? I’ve lowered my calories to 1200, having a hard time deciding on how many grams or percentage of each macro. If I reduce the fat a little to reduce calories, change macro percent to 35 carbs, 25 protein, 40 fat? I need to start losing so I can fix my insulin resistance and be healthy again.

    • Hi Serena, my advice for insulin resistance can primarily be found in this video: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2014/08/ancestral-health-symposium-tak-weight-loss/. As Bob says, you should get your hypothyroidism treated with replacement hormone, aim for a TSH between 1.5 and 2.0. 35% carbs, 25% protein, 40% fat is fine for weight loss. Don’t focus on weight, focus on health. If you were able to increase your running speed, that is a good sign of improved health. For prediabetes, be sure to do intermittent fasting, circadian rhythm entrainment, optimize vitamins A and D, supplement vitamin C, taurine, N-acetylcysteine, and glycine, and 2 tbsp vinegar and 3 egg yolks per day.

      Best, Paul

  22. Hi Serena,
    It’s been said many times that if your thyroid hormones are not in check, it may be impossible to lose weight. I would get your levels tested and to start get on a T4 supplement and go from there. It may be all you need.

    Best of luck

  23. Of all the “perfect health” foods, which ones would be most affordable to people on very low incomes? I am working on a list that will help a young person transition from eating whatever breads and pastas are cheapest, to whatever is the least cost per nutrient…

    • Minced beef is inexpensive; rice, potatoes and beef dripping likewise. A can of sardines in tomato sauce gives 3 grams of Ω3’s for pennies. Carrots and onions are key vegetables that cost very little. That’s 2/3 of the day’s kcals at quite low cost.

      20 servings of dried fruit might cost the same as a serving of fresh berries in my locale (fits the macros if you properly monitor the sugar content of the servings).

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