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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Diet Watch: Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet is currently one of the most popular fad diets out there.  I probably get asked more about the Paleo diet than any other diet trend. 

Paleo Regimen:

  • Fruits, veggies & nuts
  • Seafood, grass-fed meats and eggs
  • Avoid processed salt, sugar & oils
  • Avoid grains, legumes, potatoes & dairy products


  • Following an ancestral, caveman or hunter-gatherer diet is what our genes adapted to and thus must provide us with optimal health. 
  • Weight loss
  • Reduction in modern-day disease states

Assessment from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist:

Practicality Rating: C
  • There are quite a few foods that you can choose from to eat.  However, with the elimination of two major food groups, it makes cooking and eating in groups or with others a challenge.  
  • Having to revamp your menus, use new recipes etc. is also a hassle.  
  • It can also be an expensive diet to follow.

Health Rating: C-
  • First of all, the premise of the caveman as our health ideal is a bit of a stretch.  Also, unless you are careful to monitor your fruit intake, it can be difficult to maintain enough carbohydrate in your system to provide energy.  If this happens, your body has to resort to breaking down protein to do so, and this can add stress to the kidneys.  If you are using protein for energy, your body cannot use it to build muscle as you follow the intense exercise regimen that often accompanies the diet.  

  • Reducing your salt, sugar and processed fat intake while increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is certainly something we should all embrace, but increasing the amount of animal protein is not.  As Americans, we consume more protein than our bodies need - particularly animal protein.  This not only brings the potential for increased saturated fat and the disease states that follow (cardiovascular disease in particular) but excessive amounts of animal protein have been shown to increase cancer growth, and increase risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  

  • Calcium and vitamin D are glaring omissions in this diet and not only affect bone health, but weight management, immune function and heart health.  

  • Any time a diet eliminates legumes - a red flag should go up.  High in fiber, protein, iron, and a host of other nutrients, dried beans are about as healthy as one food gets.  So the elimination of them simply because they don't fit the historical picture on which the diet is based seems rather foolish.  

Sustainability Rating: C-
  • Do you really want to give up grains for the rest of your life?  Does that even make good common sense?  
  • Do you want to live without yogurt or ice cream, or even the occasional chocolate chip cookie with a tall glass of milk?  I didn't think so.  
  • While you may find initial weight loss with the elimination of a lot of processed foods, there is a much healthier way to go about it without eliminating beneficial food groups.  

 Want to know how to healthily achieve weight loss, healthier heart, less risk of diabetes and other disease?  Contact me for a consult:

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