Differences Between the Weston A. Price Foundation Diet and the Paleo Diet

We are posting this information to clear up the considerable confusion about the Weston A. Price Foundation dietary principles and the “paleo diet.”  We feel it necessary to do this because we often hear the two diets mentioned together—“the Weston Price Paleo Diet”—and we feel it very important to notethat the principles of these two diets are not the same.

Rest assured, we are not doing this to “attack” anyone personally; we are posting this information because we have a duty to provide accurate information about nutrition.

We are aware that many people experience short-term benefits from the paleo diet, especially people coming off the Standard American Diet (SAD) or vegan/vegetarian diets. However, in the long term, the paleo diet can lead to cravings and serious deficiencies.

We also appreciate the fact that many people who have adopted paleo diets are supporting farmers and ranchers who produce pasture-raised animal foods; and many paleo dieters are members of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

We also realize that there are many versions of the paleo diet, some of which incorporate some of the WAPF dietary principles.  Nevertheless, the principles proposed by the two main spokesmen for the paleo diet—Loren Cordain and Robb Wolf—have virtually NO points in common with the WAPF principles.

For reviews of these two books, see

The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain: www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-down-reviews/paleo-diet

The Paleo Diet Solution by Robb Wolf: www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-down-reviews/the-paleo-solution-byrobb-wolf

A Google search for “Paleo Diet” brings up first the Loren Cordain and Robb Wolf websites, along with the Wikipedia entry for the paleo diet; The following analysis compares the WAPF diet with the paleodiet principles expressed in these websites and the books by Cordain and Wolf

Animal Foods Eat the whole animal, including the meat, fat, organ meats, bones, cartilage and skin (poultry, pork). Only lean muscle meats, no added fat
Meat Should be pasture-raisedfor higher levels of minerals, and vitamins, especially fat-soluble vitamins and minimal hormones, antibiotics and other harmful chemicals; always eat meat with the fat.  If the meat is lean, prepare it with added fat. Prefer pasture-raised because it is lean.
Organ Meats More important than muscle meats, should be consumed frequently No mention of organ meats
Poultry Always eat with the fat and skin; make pate with the livers and hearts; eat the gizzards also Skinless; no organ meats
Pork OK to consume when cured (bacon, ham), marinated in an acidic medium before cooking, or with a lacto-fermented food such as sauerkraut No special preparation needed.
Seafood Wild seafood, particularly shellfish, oily fish, fish heads, fish liver oils and fish eggs.  Prepare seafood with added fat. Eat the skin of the fish. Wild fish and shellfish, no added fat
Raw Animal Food All traditional cultures consumed some of their animal food raw; so it is important to include raw dairy, raw meat, raw fish and/or raw shellfish in the diet on a frequent basis. Not mentioned.
Eggs Preferably pastured-raised; emphasis on egg yolks rather than egg whites Allowed; no emphasis on pasture-feeding; extra egg whites encouraged.
Vegetables Raw or cooked, always with added fat, such as butter Raw or cooked, no added fat
Fruit Raw or cooked, some fruits more digestible when cooked; add fat (butter or cream) or consume in the context of a meal containing fat. Raw, no added fat
Grains Recommended on the observation that many healthy primitive and traditional peoples included grain in their diets; need to be properly prepared to neutralize anti-nutrients and improve digestibility. Individuals who have trouble with grains may be able to eat them (properly prepared) after following the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) protocol No grains, based on the theory that paleolithic peoples had no grains in their diet, and also because grains contain various anti-nutrients.
Legumes (beans, lentils, etc.) Should be included in the diet; need proper preparation to neutralize anti-nutrients.  Legumes are consumed as a major source of calories by many healthy traditional cultures throughout the world. Not allowed, because they contain anti-nutrients
Nuts Good to include in the diet after careful preparation to neutralize anti-nutrients. Allowed, even though nuts also contain anti-nutrients (just like grains and legumes). No special preparation recommended.
Starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes) Can be included in the diet.  Should be well cooked and consumed with a fat, like butter Potatoes/carbohydrates not allowed, although Wolf includes sweet potatoes in some of his recipes
Dairy (milk, cheese, cream, yoghurt, kefir, etc.) Should be raw, whole, full fat. Wonderful foods for growing children. Not allowed
Butter Consume liberally Consume only occasionally (Wolf) or not at all (Cordain)
Meat fats—lard, tallow, etc Consume liberally Not recommended.
Oils No industrial oils (corn, soy, canola, etc); Olive oil and coconut oil allowed, but the diet needs to also include liberal amounts of animal fats. No industrial oils (corn, soy, canola, etc).  Very small amounts of olive oil and coconut oil allowed.
Lacto-fermented foods Include with every meal. “Not worth the hassle” and a source of “too much salt.”  Take a probiotic pill instead.
Bone broths Consume liberally Not mentioned
Fat-soluble activators, Vitamins A, D and K Most important WAPF principle; consume liberally of foods that contain them. Wolf:  “Vitamins A, D and K, Who Cares?”
Vitamin D Needs to be consumed as part of food, in balance with vitamin A. Take 2-5000 IU per day as a supplement, with no supporting vitamin A
Vitamin A Animal form of vitamin A vital to health; vitamin A-rich foods need to be balanced by foods containing vitamin D. Precursors (carotenes) in plant foods are a poor source of vitamin A for humans; many lack the enzymes needed for conversion. Avoid animal form of vitamin A. Claims adequate vitamin A can be obtained from the pre-cursors in plant foods.
Calcium Best source is raw dairy foods; cultures that don’t have dairy foods made use of bones (fermented fish bones or bones of small birds and animals ground up and added to food). Paleo diets provide only about half the RDA of calcium, virtually all from plant foods. Oxalic acid, phytic acid and other mineral blockers make assimilation of calcium from plant foods difficult.
Protein No more than 20% of calories 30-35% of calories. Protein levels this high will deplete vitamin A.
Fats Can be anywhere from 30-80% of calories, with saturated fat predominating.  When fat intake is low, balance of calories needs to come from carbohydrates (which the body can turn into saturated fat). 39 % of calories, with monounsaturated fatty acids predominating
Saturated Fat No limit.  Saturated fats are critical for good health. Only 7% of calories (about 3 ½ teaspoons per day). No carbohydrate foods in the diet that the body can turn into saturated fat.
Carbohydrates Some carbohydrate in the diet is necessary.  Avoid refined carbs. Carbohydrates not necessary.  Avoid both refined and unrefined carbs.
Processed Foods No industrially processed foods; eat liberally of foods prepared by artisan processors (lacto-fermented foods and beverages, naturally cured meats, cheese, sourdough bread, etc) No processed foods
Fish liver oils Recommended as a daily supplement for vitamins A and D Not recommended
Fish oils Not recommended; can overload the body with omega-3 fatty acids and interfere with arachidonic acid.  Human requirements for omega-3 fatty acids like DHA are actually very low. Recommends up to 2 tablespoons fish oil per day.
Salt Very important; adults need at least 1½ teaspoons per day; we consumed up to 3 teaspoons per day in the past Little or no salt
Cholesterol Very important to have enough cholesterol for hormone production, production of bile salts, healing and repair, protection against cancer.  For men under 60, no additional risk for heart disease with cholesterol levels up to 300 mg/dl.  For women at any age, and for men over 60, higher cholesterol levels are associated with longevity; no need for these groups to reduce cholesterol levels even if very high. Total cholesterol should be kept at 120-140 mg/dl.  Very low levels of cholesterol in this range are associated with increased rates of cancer, intestinal diseases, violence and depression, accidents and suicide.
Chocolate Not recommended Allowed
Coffee (and tea) Not recommended Allowed
Alcohol Wine and unpasteurized beer in moderation with meals Tequila on an empty stomach.
Pre-Conceptual and Pregnancy Diet Nutrient-dense diet, rich if fat-soluble vitamins, extremely important to ensure the health of the next generation. No special diet recommended.


Letters on the Paleo Diet:  Link

Guts and Grease by Sally Fallon Morell:  http://www.westonaprice.org/traditional-diets/guts-and-grease

Precious Yet Perilous by Chris Masterjohn: http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/precious-yet-perilous

On the Trail of the Elusive X Factor by Chris Masterjohn: http://www.westonaprice.org/fat-soluble-activators/x-factor-is-vitamin-k2

The Right Price: http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/the-right-price

The Cod Liver Oil Debate: http://www.westonaprice.org/cod-liver-oil/cod-liver-oil-debate

 Tending the Wild by M Kat Anderson: http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-up-reviews/tending-the-wild-by-m-kat-anderson

The Biggest Estate on Earth by William Gammage: Link

30-35% of calories. Protein levels this high will deplete vitamin A.

20 Responses to Differences Between the Weston A. Price Foundation Diet and the Paleo Diet

  1. caramelos says:

    There are sugar-free chocolate chip cookies which use an
    equally sweet sugar substitute. The food pyramid breaks foodstuffs down
    into carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Nowadays, obesity is getting worse and several people are troubled from
    diabetes, several individuals are starting to turn to sugar free
    chocolate as a favorable choice to the calories and
    fat in the normal kind.

  2. Joe Mills says:

    I think anyone interested in health wouldn’t be eating cookies — sugar-free, gluten-free, Paleo-approved, or otherwise.

    • I love cookies! I don’t think it’s fair to say I don’t care about my health because of cookies.

      I have been a dedicated WAPF fan for six years.

      I eat homemade cookies, with real butter. No industrialized oils. No artificial sweeteners. Just real sugar, or one of those less-refined versions — Demerara, etc.?

      Not saying anyone should make a meal out of them. I don’t think a little dessert is such a bad thing, though.

    • Erik says:

      Cookies really aren’t unhealthy if they are prepared with the right ingredients. My wife is diabetic but she eats some cookies that I make for her that do not spike her blood sugars. They aren’t even sugar-free, just prepared properly with whole ingredients.

  3. Angel says:

    I am disappointed by the lack of research in this article. This is a good site to refer to
    http://paleoleap.com/ . Here you will find that the big difference between these diets is the
    consumption of grains. This article is based on only the ideas of 2 men.

    • Erik says:

      I believe that is because those two are the ones that coined the paleo diet. It has long since evolved from there but the “faithful” still refer to the rules set down by those two.

  4. Natalie says:

    I think whoever wrote this article is more than a bit biased against paleo. Maybe what those paleo recommendations say would have been true in it’s early conception, but most -if not all- paleo blogs and authors have adapted their views to suit what we now know about nutrition. Just from reading blogs such as MDA and Robb Wolf I know exactly what the WAPF teaches- Paleo now means sustainable real food, organ meats and bone broths are widely acclaimed as excellent for our heth. Also I don’t know many paleo blogs which wouldn’t recommend raw milk for those who can digest it- I started drinking it on the advice of paleo practitioners. Some more research done would have been nice rather than painting all those paleo with the same antiqutated brush.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I agree with Natalie. These claims were not well researched by the author (or they were excerpts from books that were written years ago, and author’s viewpoints/recommendations have changed). WAPF and PD do have many overlapping recommendations (I have heard from the main Paleo sources on numerous occasions how sprouting grains/legumes and consuming raw dairy is of benefit to those who can tolerate it). Also, Paleo is not a “minimal fat” diet. Quite the contrary; they suggest that people consume ample fats for optimal health.

  6. Christine says:

    I am somewhat surprised by this article. I have been following a paleo-ish diet for sometime, and everything I have come across seems to promote much of what weston price promotes. Going through the list, it all seems so wrong, not paleo at all. At least not the paleo diet that I have come to know through tons of food blogs and friends. I definitely think this needs more research, especially branching out from those two people, who btw, I have never heard of.

  7. Paul says:

    The comparison table in this article is poorly formatted thus difficult to read and neither of the links provided above are valid as they both get page not found. This alone is enough to cast doubt on the rest of the information contained within because it obviously was not reviewed by anyone with a lick of sense prior to publishing.

  8. Frank says:

    As a supporter of the Price foundation whose dear wife is exploring paleo, I look forward to a continued conversation about these two, true allies in the support of our health.

  9. Well, everybody who posted here, including Frank, supports Paleo, apparently. I wish more WAPF folks would post.

    As far as the allegedly poor formatting on the table: – I think there may be some tech-phobic folks at WAPF, which doesn’t really have anything to do with the contents of the table. Formatting in HTML is a horse of a different color from formatting for a hard copy.

    WAPF is based on decades of research and travel, as well as dedication.

    One of the above paleo fans claims that there is no minimal fat requirement for paleo. Yet, the front page of the “paleoleap” website specifies that you should keep healthy butterfat in dairy to a minimum.

    Another (or maybe the same?) post claims that the only difference is that paleo does not include grains, but the more important main difference I can see is that paleo does not advocate the consumption of cholesterol.

    Further, isn’t it obvious that paleoleap has some big corporate backers? I can tell that as soon as I see the website.

    Paleo is for weight loss. Nobody at WAPF ever talks about losing weight.

    Paleo is a theory of two contemporary guys. WAPF is based on the true lives of real traditional people, many of whom HAD BEEN (at the time Dr. Price visited them) maintaining their tradition since the paleolithic age. There’s a little bit about that in a book called, The City in History, by Lewis Mumford, who was the art and architecture critic for the New Yorker in the ’30′s.

  10. Really disappointing to see this kind of disparity of WAPF & Paleo Nutrition when it is very clear and has been made clear to Sally that both Loren & Robb have changed their POVs since their books were written YEARS AGO! Disappointing and definitively not in the best interest of anyone to put this type of comparison in writing on the internet, least of all WAPF. The Paleo Lifestyle, it is NOT a diet, it is a long term sustainable lifestyle that reaps long term health benefits and it’s very disappointing that such lack of care, disregard of research and responsibility for facts was taken in posting this comparison. For real facts about the paleo lifestyle, my suggestion is to attend many of the Paleo experts workshops, read their books or come to one of the Paleo f(x) events to see many of them in person. http://www.paleofx.com This comparison is NOT remotely accurate by any stretch of the imagination. My comment is in response to someone who saw this and was very confused and questioned me about it. All this article has done is lead to much confusion with NO ANSWERS, whatsoever.

    • I wish very much that I had time right now to do enough reading to show how incorrect Michell Norris’ statements are. I did click the link she includes in her comment.

      What I read at that website only confirmed everything I’ve already said. I feel more confident than ever before now that I have checked out her link. It’s a slickly produced corporate marketing website.

      I see no mention of soaked, sprouted or fermented foods.

      Yes, Paleo IS a diet. They mention weight loss frequently — not just once or twice, in passing. They call people “obese.” They also recommend supplements — something that WAPF NEVER does, except for supplements that are made of actual food. They also have muscle-building products.

      They say nothing at all about cholesterol. I don’t see any way in which they directly support small farms —- which WAPF does do, directly and legally, with the — is it the “Family Farm Defense.” (That’s not the proper name, I don’t think, but can’t think of it right now.) The only mention of family farms I can see on this Paleo website is “Get more veggies at the farmers’ market.”

      They have a book that they sell, which is supposed to show you what your individual physiology “needs.” (For what? — Weight loss, apparently, although it’s a little unclear.)

      I’d like to go into all these issues a little more, but I have study and work to do right now.

      Paleo is a fad and a cult. They’re not a non-profit organization, like WAPF is. They are trying to present themselves as a mini – WAPF, but if they were really as SIMILAR to WAPF as they keep claiming here, then why not just join WAPF? Nobody at WAPF is going to force you to eat grain, if you don’t want to.

      Paleo is not similar to WAPF at all. They are trying to profit from Dr. Price’s hard work. I don’t think Dr. Price made any profit from anything, but I’ll have to look that up to be sure. I know WAPF does not make a profit.

      I intend to write a longer article about this. It makes me really nervous the way these Paleo fanatics are logging in here to criticize Sally’s article. They have nothing specific to say, really. (Except the table is not formatted correctly. What about the contents of the table, though?)

      They seem to be on some sort of rampage. Maybe they’re not getting enough cholesterol? Or Vitamin K? Or fat?

      • Erik says:

        Someone is apparently raging…

        The problem is trying to compare Cordain and Wolf’s originating ideas with the current state of Paleo because Wolf and others have progressed it beyond Cordain and Wolf’s original ideas. Right now the primary differences with the WAPF diet seem to be the exclusion of grains, legumes, and possibly dairy, the specific goal to target a 1:1 O6:O3 fat ratio with no more than a 4:1 ratio, and (according to this chart) the lack of restriction against tea and chocolate. Otherwise they are pretty similar now.

        Sally’s article is supposedly a comparison of the differences between the two diet recommendations. The recommendations she references are out dated even for the date her article was written. People who see that have the right to comment and point out that discrepancy.

  11. Tyler says:

    I agree the paleo diet began overly restrictive but they have now reversed many of their positions on fat, cholesterol, starch and dairy is considered grey area. This is directly off of Loren Cordains site.
    “Despite its blood cholesterol raising effects, recent meta analyses (combined, large population studies) show that saturated fats have little adverse effect upon the risk for heart disease. We recommend that you should choose free-ranging or grass-produced meats over feedlot meats whenever possible. These meats are more healthful because they have nutritional characteristics similar to wild animals”.
    I listen to Rob wolfs paleo solution podcast and he frequently recommends bone broths, sauerkraut. He frequently talks about eating bacon and coconut oil and recommends it to listeners as breakfast.
    Chris Kresser is now one of the most influential people in the paleo diet and he has written many articles on the benefits of organ meats, starches, raw dairy, fermented foods and even did a piece on Dr Oz about how legumes are okay if well tolerated. I believe many of these ideas were pulled from WAPF that has help perpetuate the diet forward to a more sustainable long term diet such as WAPF diet.

  12. Tom says:

    I guess it is natural that ‘best selling’ popularisations be taken as defining a diet by the examples the give of what the author approves of. I had felt that Cordain’s fear of saturated fats came through in his book but thought it simply reflected an influence on his thinking because of current fashions of thought. I suspected that in fact presenting an assessment of traditional diet more in line with Dr Price’s observations might have been as difficult to get published as it was for awhile for modern dentists to not dismiss Dr Price’s warnings against root canals as based on shoddy work – the word ‘shoddy’ seems most bizarre to associate in any way with a careful scientist and observer like Dr. Price. Dr Timothy Noakes, a leading expert in exercise and sports science [in particular in connection with distance running, in his description during interviews of his positive experience with ‘Banting’ describes his regimen as consisting of very very low carbohydrates and healthful fats. I suspected this wording helped avoid the issue that saturated fats in fact could be part of his diet.

    I am not sure if this is the case but assumed this was an attempt to avoid having one’s message lost in the fuss over offending another sacred bias (how many biases can one step on before one’s entire message is lost?). Given Cordain’s suggestion of what ‘Paleo’ meant it seemed to me it could not mean excluding organ meat or full fat foods. I cannot really picture my ancient forebears carefully skinning an animal before eating it or discarding any fat at all.

    I remember when decades ago I was in the Far East and generally trying to follow a supposedly healthful diet as per Pritikin, a Chinese friend of traditional background expressing very strongly her astonished horror at the idea of wasting chicken fat and chicken skin and all sorts of other delicious affordable sources of beneficial nourishment. Given memories of what my grandparents apparently were accustomed to eat when they could get it in the villages they grew up in and remembering Chinese I knew who had grown up and lived most of their lives in very traditional settings I guess the thought of our Paleolithic forebears being so freaky about food as it comes to us naturally as to avoid organ meat or saturated fat never really occurred to me.

    So for years now I have assumed ‘Paleo’ not to mean at all what perhaps most people think it.

    I find the proportion of meat suggested in some versions of the Paleo diet staggering. Is the assumption that our ancestors managed to kill a buffalo and eat one every week? I find it difficult to believe given the bodies we have evolved with that too high a proportion of protein and omega-6 fatty acids did not also make our Paleo forebears feel rather sick… especially in a low carbohydrate diet it seems to me our bodies can feel horribly ill without enough saturated fat whereas having the fat seems to me at least to make my body feel better in my 70′s than I did in my 20′s.

  13. Suzanne says:

    Clearly the two books cited for the authors research are INCREDIBLY outdated. I would say those books were a mere starting point for the paleo I know (I follow marks daily apple). The paleo I live by is pretty much W.A.P. minus the sprouted grains dairy as I am allergic to milk and celiac. I can understand wanting to distance WAP from the old and outdated “idea” of paleo…but why not research what is really, currently happening in all the blogs with their millions of followers? That would be a better comparison, and would provide unity among two groups who really are trying for the same thing…whole food diet, local sustainable farmers, high quality NONindustrialized meats. This article just makes the people who wrote it seem biased, uninformed, and frankly, a little small.

    • Renee Katz says:

      I couldn’t disagree more. I think the paleo writers are the ones who seem uninformed and ‘a little small.’ Bluntly, the ‘paleo diet’ is completely irrelevent after Weston Price’s writings. (paleo should be renamed ‘the whole foods diet). The entire premise of paleo was false to begin with. They didn’t know and never knew what ‘Grok’ ate. The ‘new’ paleo was rewritten to fit Weston Price’s observations of primitive cultures, and WAP was not concerned with what our paleolithic ancestors ate anyway. His whole point is we don’t have to know what Grok ate, cause he found out what healthy human beings were eating in his day, which often included grains and dairy foods!! Also paleo tends to promote protein powders and fish oil pills, they are way too obsessed with o6 and o3s – while they ignore the fat soluable vitamins. All in all, paleo is an unprincipled, haphazard approach to nutrition. WAPF has principled, rational guidelines on how to eat, and they give good explanations for what they believe. Weston Price was a scientist and a genius. Wolf and Cordain are neither. They are just popular writers trying to cash in on Weston Price’s work.

  14. Renee Katz says:

    I love this comparison, but I wonder why the WAPF says some carbohydrates are necessary? I thought one of the most interesting things about Weston Price’s research was that there were cultures who had almost 0 plant foods who were very healthy. I eat a WAPF version of the ketogenic diet, with cod liver oil, beef liver, bone broth, probiotic foods, all that good stuff (no dairy cause of leaky gut issues). I mainly started avoiding carbs cause of the GAPS diet, but it works for me so I have just been zero carb for almost a year now.

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