The Wild Diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that may appeal to people who want to stop eating processed food and transition to a more traditional way of eating.
Like the paleo diet, the Wild Diet focuses on whole foods, such as lean protein, healthy fats and vegetables.
This article reviews the Wild Diet, including its health benefits, possible drawbacks and foods to eat and avoid.
DIET REVIEW SCORECARD
- Overall score: 3.67
- Weight loss: 3.5
- Healthy eating: 4
- Sustainability: 3.75
- Whole body health: 2.25
- Nutrition quality: 5
- Evidence based: 3.5
BOTTOM LINE: The Wild Diet emphasizes whole foods and discourages grains and processed foods. While it can be effective for weight loss, the diet cuts out many healthy foods and might lead to weight cycling.
The Wild Diet is a low-carb, high-fat eating plan created by Abel James, an entrepreneur and self-described “health crusader.”
James runs a website dedicated to the Wild Diet, low-carb recipes and outdoor workouts.
The Wild Diet is similar to the paleo diet in many ways, including in its emphasis on whole, traditional food sources, such as meat, fish and vegetables.
The principles of the diet are relatively straightforward:
- Avoid grains, processed foods and sugars: While following the Wild Diet, restrict your intake of processed foods, grains and added sugars.
- Prioritize whole foods: The diet emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods. Choosing organic produce, pasture-raised meats and wild-caught fish is encouraged.
- Maintain a low-to-moderate carb intake: The Wild Diet is a low-carb diet. Carb sources you can eat include fruits, a few starchy and many non-starchy vegetables.
- Eat plenty of protein and healthy fat: High-quality proteins, such as eggs, meat and fish, as well as healthy fats — such as olive oil, nuts and seeds — should be your main energy sources.
- Eat a wide variety of foods: Consume a wide variety of fresh produce, protein and fat to maximize your nutrient intake and prevent boredom.
- Have a weekly cheat meal: You may indulge in a cheat meal once or twice per week. This is meant to satisfy cravings, prevent binges and boost metabolism.
The Wild Plate
The Wild Diet is meant to boost your body’s ability to efficiently burn fat.
Meals on this diet should focus heavily on vegetables while also pulling from other food groups. Try to adhere to the following guidelines for each food group:
- Vegetables: Green, leafy vegetables should make up the majority of meals. Dieters should try to choose organic produce whenever possible.
- Proteins: Proteins, such as grass-fed beef, chicken, pork or eggs, should take up around a quarter of your plate — with one portion being about the size of the palm of your hand.
- Fats: Nutrient-dense fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, fatty meats or unsalted nuts, should be added to every meal.
- Fruits: You’re urged to keep fruit intake under two servings per day to maximize fat loss.
- Starches: Starches, such as sweet potatoes, are recommended only for particularly active individuals or those who are less tolerant of fats and proteins.
According to the Wild Diet website, your food composition should be about 65% plant foods and roughly 35% meats, fats and oils.
Potential dieters are encouraged to purchase the Wild Diet book or the Wild Diet 30-Day Fat Loss Program. You’re asked to stick with the regimen for at least 30 days to see maximum progress.
The Wild Diet does not involve counting calories. It simply encourages you to stay away from certain foods.
Abel James asserts that the Wild Diet is “not a diet, but a lifestyle” and that the program is completely customizable to individual tastes and goals.
The Wild Diet is low in carbs and high in fat and protein. It emphasizes whole, high-quality animal and plant foods.
Though studies specifically on The Wild Diet are unavailable, a good amount of evidence supports the use of low-carb, whole-food and high-protein diets to promote weight loss.
Low-carb diets have been proven to be an effective weight loss method.
For example, a study in 148 obese adults linked a low-carb diet — at less than 40 grams of net carbs per day — to more weight loss, fat loss and preservation of muscle mass compared to a low-fat diet (
A review of 53 studies in over 68,000 participants demonstrated that low-carb weight loss strategies led to an average of 2.54 pounds (1.15 kg) more long-term weight loss than low-fat versions (
The Wild Diet is also relatively high in protein, a powerful factor in weight loss.
Protein is the most satiating of all nutrients, meaning it helps keep you full between meals, which may prevent overeating and boost weight loss (
A review of nine studies in 418 people noted that those who followed higher-protein diets for 4–24 weeks experienced 4.58 pounds (2.08 kg) more weight loss than those on lower-protein diets (
Additionally, the Wild Diet emphasizes fresh produce like vegetables and fruit. Diets high in these foods are associated with lower body weight and greater weight loss (
What’s more, cutting out processed foods, such as sugar-laden beverages, candy and baked goods, is an excellent way to improve health and drop excess pounds.
Based on scientific evidence, a low-carb, whole-foods-based eating plan like the Wild Diet will most likely result in weight loss.
Evidence suggests that low-carb, high-protein, whole-foods diets like the Wild Diet are effective for weight loss.
Aside from potentially promoting weight loss, the Wild Diet may also offer additional benefits.
Promotes whole foods
The Wild Diet stresses the importance of consuming whole, nutritious foods.
Consuming whole foods like vegetables, healthy fats, poultry, eggs, fish and fruit is essential to your health (
These foods contain nutrients your body needs to thrive, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
No matter your dietary preference, a healthy eating plan should always be based on fresh, whole foods.
Doesn’t require counting calories
Many diets emphasize calorie restriction over high-quality, nutritious foods.
Diets that focus on calorie restriction often lead to weight cycling — repeated periods of weight loss followed by weight gain — because they’re hard to stick to in the long term (
Weight cycling — also known as yo-yo dieting — is not only associated with weight regain but also increased inflammation in the body (
Plus, focusing on quality over calories encourages you to form a healthy relationship with all foods, regardless of calorie content.
By restricting high-calorie, processed foods and consuming nutrient-dense, filling foods, followers of the Wild Diet can find success without having to worry about tracking calories.
May aid blood sugar control
Since the Wild Diet eliminates processed foods, such as added sugars and simple carbs, it may be a good choice for those struggling with blood sugar control.
Foods high in added sugars, such as sweetened beverages and candy, spike blood sugar levels and can increase insulin resistance, a contributing factor to type 2 diabetes, obesity and other health conditions (
The Wild Diet is high in fiber, protein, antioxidants and healthy fats — all of which are recommended for people with diabetes and prediabetes (
Studies show that the paleo diet — which is similar to the Wild Diet — improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (
May reduce chronic disease risk
Diets high in processed foods are associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers (
On the other hand, diets that focus on whole foods and limit processed foods are linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease.
For example, diets rich in vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits and seafood provide protection from heart disease, while consuming sweetened beverages and fast food increases heart disease risk (
Cutting out processed foods may also reduce your risk of certain cancers.
A study in 104,980 people found that a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with a greater than 10% increased risk of breast cancer and cancer overall (
What’s more, diets high in vegetables like the Wild Diet are associated with a lower risk of cancer (
The Wild Diet includes whole, nutrient-dense foods that may help reduce your risk of certain chronic diseases, benefit blood sugar control and lower your chances of yo-yo dieting.
Although the Wild Diet offers many benefits, it has some drawbacks as well.
Bans certain healthy foods
While the Wild Diet promotes many healthy foods, it excludes certain nutritious items.
For instance, grains are off-limits, and beans and lentils are discouraged unless soaked, strained and slow-cooked.
Plus, healthy starches, such as sweet potatoes, are restricted for anyone who isn’t highly active.
However, the same can be said for other low-carb eating plans, such as the paleo diet.
Cutting carbs can indeed spark weight loss and improve health. However, diets containing complex carbs, such as beans and whole grains, have also been shown to benefit health.
For example, the Mediterranean diet — which is high in fiber-rich beans and whole grains — has been proven one of the most effective diets for weight loss and overall health (
May promote drastic weight loss
Although the Wild Diet is promoted as a lifestyle, Abel James, its creator, sells 30-day fat loss systems that are meant to induce rapid weight loss.
While overall weight loss is healthy if you have excess body fat, testimonials on the Wild Diet website suggest that followers can lose as much as 50 pounds (22.7 kg) in six weeks (20).
While some people may find that the Wild Diet results in rapid weight loss, it’s best to aim for a healthy weight loss goal of 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week.
Slower weight loss may help preserve more muscle mass and is easier to maintain than more rapid weight loss programs (
May be difficult to follow for vegetarians and vegans
Even though James states that the Wild Diet can be adapted to fit vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, it cuts out some foods that plant-based diets rely on.
Because legumes are discouraged unless properly prepared and whole grains are barred, vegans and vegetarians may need to find alternate food sources while on the Wild Diet.
Although it’s possible for the Wild Diet to be adapted to meet vegetarian or vegan needs, careful meal planning would be necessary in order to avoid nutrient deficiencies.
The Wild Diet restricts certain healthy foods and may be difficult to follow for vegetarians and vegans. Plus, the rapid weight loss advertised on its website may be unrealistic for most people.
Only whole foods are allowed on the Wild Diet.
The following foods can be eaten liberally:
- Non-starchy vegetables: Spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, arugula, artichokes, peppers, tomato, cucumbers, etc.
- Fermented vegetables: Sauerkraut and kimchi.
- Meat and poultry: Grass-fed steak, pasture-raised pork, pasture-raised chicken or pasture-raised turkey. Organ meats are also encouraged.
- Seafood: Salmon, sea bass, cod, shrimp, oysters, crab, etc. Wild-caught is best.
- Eggs: Whole eggs and egg whites.
- Nuts and seeds: Walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and hazelnuts.
- Nut and seed butters: Almond butter, natural peanut butter, cashew butter, pumpkin-seed butter, etc.
- Fats and oils: Avocado, ghee, grass-fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
- Non-dairy milk: Almond milk, coconut milk and cashew milk.
- Beverages: Water, unsweetened tea, coffee and seltzer.
- Spices, herbs and seasonings: Garlic, cocoa, onion powder, salt, red pepper, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs.
- Natural sweeteners: Xylitol, erythritol, dates, maple syrup and stevia.
- Supplements: Unsweetened protein powders and greens powders are allowed.
The following foods are allowed on the Wild Diet but should be consumed in smaller amounts:
- Fruits: Whole fruits, such as berries, apples, citrus fruits and cherries — limited to fewer than two servings per day.
- Dairy: Grass-fed, whole-milk yogurt, goat-milk products, kefir, grass-fed cottage cheese, full-fat cheeses and butter. Fermented dairy products like kefir should be prioritized.
- Dark chocolate: High-quality dark chocolate is allowed as an occasional snack.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is allowed but must be kept under two drinks per day. Red wine is encouraged over other alcoholic beverages.
- Starches: Particularly active individuals are allowed to add a serving of starch, such as sweet potatoes, to a meal. However, most people are advised to avoid starches and other carbs.
The above foods should make up the majority of your intake on the Wild Diet.
Although the Wild Diet is mostly based on whole, nutritious foods, those following this meal plan are permitted 1–2 cheat meals per week.
During cheat meals, any food desired — including pizza, ice cream and pastries — may be consumed.
Non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats make up the majority of the Wild Diet regimen.
The Wild Diet is meant to closely resemble the whole-food diets of early humans.
For this reason, highly processed foods, added sugar and other refined foods are restricted.
The following foods and ingredients should be avoided on the Wild Diet:
- Added sugar and sweets: Table sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, sweetened creamers, etc.
- Artificial sweeteners and flavors: Aspartame, Splenda, sucralose, cyclamates and saccharin.
- Processed foods: Chips, crackers, protein bars, breakfast cereals, granola bars, fast food, frozen dinners, etc.
- Breads, pastas and baked goods: White bread, rolls, crackers, noodles, pasta, bagels, etc.
- Processed soy products: Isolated soy protein, textured vegetable protein, soy protein shakes and imitation cheese.
- Whole grains: Barley, quinoa, oats, bulgur, spelt, rye, brown rice, etc.
- Potatoes: White potatoes and red potatoes. Sweet potatoes can be consumed in limited amounts by active individuals.
- Legumes: Beans and lentils are restricted unless properly prepared by soaking, draining and cooking.
- Unhealthy fats: Margarine, hydrogenated oils, canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, soybean oil and safflower oil.
- Diet and low-fat foods: Diet snack bars, diet cookies, low-fat snack foods, etc.
- Caloric beverages: Sweetened teas, soda, juice, energy drinks and cocktails.
- Food additives: Dough conditioners, Ammonium sulfate, Sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium caseinate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), etc.
Added sugars, processed foods, potatoes, grains, bread and pasta are just some of the foods excluded from the Wild Diet.
Here is a one-week sample Wild Diet menu.
Keep in mind that grass-fed meat, organic vegetables, grass-fed dairy products, wild-caught fish and pastured eggs and poultry should be eaten whenever possible.
- Breakfast: Eggs, pasture-raised, uncured bacon and tomato with half a grapefruit.
- Lunch: Large green salad with avocado and chicken breast.
- Dinner: Steak stir-fry with plenty of non-starchy vegetables.
- Breakfast: Full-fat yogurt with berries, walnuts and cinnamon.
- Lunch: Salmon burger over greens.
- Dinner: Pork roast with kale and zucchini.
- Breakfast: Green smoothie of kale, coconut milk, unsweetened whey protein, avocado and berries.
- Lunch: Large salad made with arugula, nuts, feta cheese, avocado and non-starchy vegetables.
- Dinner: Chicken tikka masala with cauliflower rice.
- Breakfast: Three-egg omelet with cheddar, mushrooms, peppers and spinach.
- Lunch: Salmon, kale and avocado salad.
- Dinner: Chicken parmesan with mixed-green salad.
- Breakfast: Eggs fried in coconut oil served with sliced avocado, sauteed greens and sliced tomatoes.
- Lunch: Chicken and vegetable soup made with bone broth.
- Dinner: Shrimp scampi with zucchini noodles and walnut pesto.
- Breakfast: Green smoothie and coffee with ghee.
- Lunch: Large mixed-green salad topped with grilled chicken, roasted peppers, pumpkin seeds and feta cheese.
- Dinner: Macadamia-crusted sea bass with roasted Brussels sprouts topped with grass-fed butter.
- Breakfast: Mixed-vegetable omelet and sliced avocado.
- Lunch: Spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs.
- Dinner: Bacon burger atop a bed of mixed greens and non-starchy vegetables.
There are many tasty, nutritious snacks to enjoy on the Wild Diet.
Try out the following combinations:
- Apple slices dipped in natural cashew butter.
- Celery, pepper and carrot sticks topped with guacamole.
- Chia pudding made with coconut milk.
- Homemade flax crackers topped with cheese.
- Hard-boiled eggs topped with avocado.
- Full-fat yogurt with berries.
- Dark chocolate dipped in natural peanut butter.
- Veggie sticks served with homemade hummus.
- Trail mix made with nuts, dark chocolate and unsweetened coconut.
- Homemade bone broth.
- Homemade coconut macaroons.
- Pumpkin bread made with nut flour and sweetened with stevia.
- Chocolate pudding made with avocados, cocoa, coconut milk and stevia.
- Deviled eggs made with mustard, chives and bacon.
Since non-starchy vegetables like greens are unlimited on the Wild Diet, filling up on salads or snacking on raw vegetables is a great way to stay satisfied on this low-carb meal plan.
Wild Diet meals and snacks should incorporate fresh, whole foods like lean protein, healthy fats and vegetables.
The Wild Diet is a healthy, low-carb diet that emphasizes whole foods and cuts out highly processed foods.
It is high in protein, fiber and healthy fats, which may help promote weight loss.
However, the diet also bans many healthy foods and might lead to weight cycling.
That said, following any whole-foods diet may reduce your risk of certain illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes.
If you’re curious, you can start on the Wild Diet to see how it affects your health.