April 22, 2015

The Pioneers of Paleo

It wasn't long ago that if you said you were Paleo, people had no idea what you were talking about. Back then when you explained that you ate like a caveman people would be perplexed and ask if you killed your own food with a club. Thankfully, Paleo is starting to become more mainstream as celebrities are talking about it and people are seeing the amazing health benefits from it. Because of this, we wanted to take some time to recognize the Pioneers of Paleo. 

Beginnings:  1985-2009

Drs Eatin & KonnerS. Boyd Eaton & Melvin Konner - You may not realize that Doctors Eaton and Konner were writing about Paleolithic Nutrition in 1985. Following the Paleo diet for thirty years, Dr. Eaton’s health has benefited greatly from following the hunter/gatherer diet and lifestyle. Dr. Konner applies science to human nature and experience explaining that 'primitive' people have much lower cholestorol, much less diabetes, and much better aerobic fitness than average Americans. Eaton and Konner are often referred to as the “Founding Fathers of Paleo.”

Dr. Loren CordainDr. Loren Cordain - Author of The Paleo Diet, Dr. Loren Cordain is known as the world’s leading expert on Paleo. He first became interested in nutrition during his childhood. Throughout his life he was eager to learn how to use his diet to improve his sports performance. All of this ultimately led to discovering the healthy diet/lifestyle that Paleo is today. He has not only authored several Paleo books, but has also published multiple scientific papers studying the adverse health effects of the typical western diet.

"I wouldn’t necessarily agree that contemporary Paleo diets 'strip our diets down,' but rather the opposite—they enrich our diets by reducing nutrient-depleted foods that are ubiquitous in the typical western diet." - Dr. Loren Cordain

Ray AudetteRay Audette - Author of NeanderThin, Mr. Audette has credited the Paleo diet for curing his diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis. He researched and studied the diet and lifestyle of our cavemen ancestors to help him with his health issues when his doctors gave him very little information at age 33. He wrote his book in only 60 days time, however it took him a decade to research. Ray wrote and used NeanderThin to bring the Paleo diet and lifestyle to the everyday person by explaining the benefits and why it works so well in a way that anyone can understand.

Robb WolfRobb Wolf – Formerly a student of Dr. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf utilizes his blog, iTunes podcasts, book (The Paleo Solution), and seminars to help transform the lives of people around the world. Robb combines genetics research, with biochemistry, and anthropology to explain how Paleo helps you look, feel and perform your best. Robb is no stranger to exercise. He is a former California State Powerlifting Champion and a 6-0 amateur kickboxer.

Sarah FragosoSarah Fragoso – Sarah led the Paleo cookbook charge with her still amazing Everyday Paleo. A busy mom of 3, Sarah started her Paleo journey at Robb Wolf's gym back in 2008. In the vanguard of promoting Paleo to every family and not just knuckle dragging club wielding cavemen, Sarah uses her own experience in making the transition from unhealthy to rocking the Paleo diet to help thousands of others as they navigate the ocean of Paleo information.  Sarah's podcast, co-hosted with Jason Seib, is one of the most popular in the Paleosphere.

Mark SissonMark Sisson – Mark Sisson is lifelong athlete and nutrition nut who saw the need for natural supplements to address the concerns of aging baby--boomers to help them achieve better health. He was eager to find nutritional solutions for many of the calamities that are typically treated with multiple medications. With his research and science background, he designed natural nutritional supplements and has written several books. He also runs Mark's Daily Apple, a site about “primal living in the modern world.”

Art De VanyArt De Vany is a lifelong student of metabolism and fitness, and has lived as a Paleo athlete for some 30 years. He is often referred to as the patriarch of the Paleo movement. He has blogged on the subject since the 1990s and continues to blog on the subject on his Evolutionary Fitness blog at www.arthurdevany.com. Art’s book, The New Evolution Diet, explains that by eliminating carbohydrates, dairy and processed foods, we can undo the damage that our western modern diet has caused. Art creates a roadmap in this book to get us back to the health of our ancestors by using simple principles of eating healthy meals,

Steve LiberatiSteve Liberati You may know Steve as the man behind Steve’s PaleoGoods, which provides healthy packages of grass-fed beef jerky, raw nuts, dried fruits, dressings and marinades – all Paleo approved packaged goods, which are few and far between. However, Steve is not solely focused on Paleo nutrition. He came up with PaleoKits when he began his organization, Steve’s Club in 2007. Steve’s Club’s purpose is to bring exercise (in the form of CrossFit) and nutrition education (this is where PaleoKits came into play) to at risk teens/communities which would otherwise not have access to it.

Diane SanfillipoDiane Sanfillipo – Diane is well-known in the Paleo world as a holistic nutritionist that specializes in Paleo nutrition, 21 Day Sugar Detox, food allergies, digestive health, and blood sugar regulation. She has not only written several cookbooks and Paleo guides, but also hosts a weekly podcast.

John DurantJohn Durant – John is a leader in the ancestral health movement, using evolutionary principles to combat the global epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other chronic health conditions. In his book, The Paleo Manifesto, John explains that we are happiest and healthiest when we eat like hunter-gatherers, sticking primarily to seafood, animal products, wild game, veggies, fruit, nuts, eggs. He also stresses that exercise should be for the purpose of functional movement, not just being healthy. "He keeps a freezer chest full of organ meats in the bedroom of his Manhattan apartment, and he is fully aware of how strange that is."

Nell StephensonNell Stephenson – Nell Stephenson has been following the Paleo diet since 2005 and credits it as the most important thing she’s done that’s changed her life. She spent her life prior to Paleo struggling with mysterious GI issues. After not getting sufficient answers from multiple physicians, she did her own research and found The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain. After switching to Paleo for three days, she began to feel better. Nell co-wrote The Paleo Diet Cookbook in 2010 with Dr. Loren Cordain and his wife. She helps educate others, especially women, about the benefits of Paleo through her Paleoista website.

Terry WahlsTerry Wahls, M.D. – Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in 2000. Within 3 years time, she had transitioned to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and was underoing chemotherapy in an attempt to slow the disease. She was confined to a wheelchair due to the muscle weakness she experienced and it was becoming increasingly clear that she would be bedridden soon if she didn’t do something. Fortunately in 2007, Dr. Wahls discovered Functional Medicine and used that knowledge, along with knowledge on the Hunter-Gatherer diet to create a food plan for herself that would eventually become what we now call the Wahls Protocol.

Chris Kresser, M.S., L.AcChris Kresser - Chris has been involved in helping people heal through non-traditional modalities for over 15 years, and has helped people understand just why the Paleo diet is so helpful. Chris has personal experience with the healing power of food and is a trusted advisor for folks looking for paleo answers.  He is very supportive of making Paleo work for you, writing the book "Your Personal Paleo Code" to help people navigate the complex waters of the diet.

Nik & LeePaleo Treats® – Paleo Treats Inc was started in San Diego in May 2009 by Dave, Lee, and Nik. Long before Paleo Treats' existence, Dave, Lee, and Nik were Paleo eaters and athletes. With core values of excellence, integrity, peace, love, and joy, you can trust Paleo Treats® to give you the best quality ingredients when you need a little Paleo sweet treat in your life. Dave's moved on, but Lee, and Nik make their Paleo Treats® much like how I feed my family: using organic when possible, keeping local when they can, and making sure their delectable paleo desserts are as unprocessed as possible.


Michelle TamMichelle Tam – Michelle, also known as the Martha Stewart of Paleo, aims to make eating healthy FUN. A food nerd and working mom, she and her husband Henry Rong wrote Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans, and can be found blogging at Nom Nom Paleo. Michelle holds a degree in nutrition and food science, as well as a doctorate in pharmacy. She discovered the science and benefits of Paleo in 2010 when she was looking for a way to lose a little weight, while also boosting her energy to raise her two kids. Michelle is not afraid to mix up the Paleo menu with some white rice and potatoes from time to time, which goes to show that there is not one Paleo diet for everyone. It really can be customized to fit your health and nutrition needs.

Abel James, the fat burning manAbel James - Abel is a poster child of Paleo, although he might not admit to being strict Paleo. His Wild Diet and Fat Burning Man books and podcasts have helped millions of people discover the power of primal and evolutionary eating. Totally worth checking out, Abel provides a wealth of free information on all things Paleo & Primal.

Juli BauerJuli Bauer - Juli doesn't care about the science behind why Paleo is good for you; her goal is to help people, not educate people necessarily on the science behind why paleo is good for you but rather how to eat healthier and live better. She is the co-author of The Paleo Kitchen, written with George Bryant, and her blog, PaleOMG, lets you into the head of a food, fashion, and exercise infatuated woman.

Bill & Hayley from Primal PalateThe Primal Palate couple (Bill & Hayley) - Health, wellness, nutrition, and exercise were a part of both Bill and Hayley's childhoods. A Paleo Power Couple if we ever knew one, Bill and Hayley were a new couple when they started on the Paleo journey together. Their passion is to share their cooking creations with the world through their website, and have written several cookbooks that help people cook Paleo meals for themselves and also for social gatherings.

George BryantGeorge Bryant – George is also known as the Civilized Caveman and recently co-authored The Paleo Kitchen with Juli Bauer. He was overweight as a child and young adult and was actually denied from joining the Marines due to being overweight. George was determined to lose the weight needed to enlist and began reading, researching, running and working out. He went back and was able to enlist with the Marine Corps just 4 short months after being denied. He shares his struggle with bulimia and even being confined to a wheelchair on his blog. in 2010, he began CrossFit and adopted the Paleo lifestyle and has never felt better.

Pete & SarahPete and Sarah Servold are best known as being behind Pete's Paleo, but you may not know that they also have a fantastic cookbook, Paleo By Season. Along with playing golf and raising a young Paleo baby, Pete’s Paleo aims to make clean paleo eating accessible to those who might not know where to start in the kitchen (or might not have time to cook). 

Stephanie GaudreauStephanie Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo found Paleo and as a result her health, performance as an athlete and her overall life improved. She stopped getting wacky sugar cravings, adult acne and bloating and fainting spells. Through her blog, Stupid Easy Paleo she encourages others to get on board with Paleo by creating simple but delicious Paleo meals that anyone can make in a short amount of time.

Sean Croxton Underground WellnessSean Croxton (Founder of Underground Wellness) has had a lifelong love of fitness and health. He began his journey as a personal trainer and found that many of his clients were getting heavier and sicker while following the standard Food Guide Pyramid. After researching and educating himself on Paleo, Sean now works with his clients to uncover the root causes of their health issues using a holistic functional approach. 

Dave Asprey & Bulletproof CoffeeDave Asprey is the creator of Bulletproof coffee and The Bulletproof Diet, Dave makes sure you’ll never be tempted to try another day of fat-free eating. We sure are thankful that he shared his recipe for Bulletproof coffee with us so we can achieve the brain and the body we deserve.

Cain CredicottCain Credicott is the creator of Paleo Magazine which brings modern day primal living to its subscribers providing “further proof that Paleo is a lot more than just a ‘fad’ diet.” Cain founded the magazine in 2011 after switching to Paleo to help him overcome food allergies and Celiac disease.

Vanessa BarajasVanessa Barajas blogs over at Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind and stresses the importance of not living your life without dessert, and who are we to disagree with Vanessa? Though it’s not a fantastic idea for many people to eat sweets or treats every day, even Paleo Treats®, there is a time and a place for them. When you are feeling creative in the kitchen, or have run out of your favorite Paleo Treats® make sure you check out her recipes for some delicious dessert creations.

The Paleo ParentsThe Paleo Parents Matt & Stacy are making it way easier for your lil' ones to stay Paleo.  With their kiddos Cole, Finian, and Wesley running the taste testing operation they have a great resource over at PaleoParents.com, sharing their families journey on the Paleo path.

Where to turn for Paleo Information:

There are so many resources out there for Paleo living, it can be difficult to know where to turn for information. Thankfully these Pioneers of Paleo listed above make it simple to get accurate guidance when making the change to a Paleo life. Do you remember who provided you with your first glimpse into Paleo? Leave a comment below! We'd love to hear from you.

Liked this article on the Pioneers of Paleo?

Nik Hawks


Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!

Too much reading...
How about dessert?

Too Much Reading...How About Dessert?



February 22, 2020

Jerry should have checked out Dr. Terry Wahls…

Arnold Wiseman
Arnold Wiseman

February 22, 2020

Apparently, you overlooked one of the ORIGINAL “Paleo” movement players…
MR PALEO. Find me on LinkedIn…


October 16, 2018

Hi Jerry,
Do a Google search for neuropathy and Paleo, you should find a few articles discussing it, specifically addressed by Chris Kresser. Cheers, Nik


October 16, 2018

I have had chronic neuropathy for 13 years. My PCP prescribed Lyrica for pain management. It is ineffective and has many negative side effects. I began researching neuropathy and found multiple articles about Paleo. I began a Paleo diet and immediately my neuropathy improved. During my search I didn’t find any research studies supporting Paleo as a treatment for neuropathy. Are there any research studies connecting Paleo diet and neuropathy? Please reply.

Mike Parish
Mike Parish

April 23, 2015

Nora Gedgaudas would have to be one of the world authorities on the Paleo lifestyle. I think that her book Primal Body Primal Mind is one the best health books that I have ever read. Nora has had a massive influence in Australia. Her take on Paleo is backed by research and her own clinical evidence of her practise. Moderating protein intake which differers from some Paleo experts who say to eat heaps, which makes sense in our modern lifestyle.

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