What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet is an eating plan that mimics what our human ancestors ate during the Paleolithic era. This eating strategy is based on the idea that the human body is genetically mismatched for foods that emerged with farming and modern day food processing.
Most people go on this diet to lose weight. There are no calorie or portion guidelines while on this diet. Instead, the Paleo Diet provides food choice guidelines.
Foods to eat
Unprocessed, lean meats
Fish and seafood
Nuts and seeds
Healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)
Foods to avoid
Cereal grains (such as pasta, breads, cereal, bagels, crackers, granola bars)
Legumes (including beans lentils, peanuts, peas)
Refined vegetable oils
Studies suggest that a diet of whole fresh foods of unprocessed lean meats, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and healthy oils may:
Reduce body weight, fat mass, and waist circumference
Increase satiety or feeling full between meals
Improve glucose tolerance
Improve blood lipid levels
Why not Paleo?
Studies touting the health benefits of the Paleo Diet have been based on small sample size and of short duration. Investigations with large numbers of people, for long durations are needed to understand the long term health effects of the Paleo Diet.
The dietary restrictions can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Absent from the diet are dairy, whole grains, and legumes. Whole grains and legumes are both considered good sources of fiber. Dairy is the primary source of dietary calcium. The health effects of calcium deficiency reported in the Paleo Diet are unknown. In general, calcium deficiency increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Furthermore, while the Paleo Diet shows weight loss that is on par or superior to other eating plans over the short term, sustained weight loss may be a challenge given the high cost of this restrictive diet.
Challa HJ, Bandlamudi M, Uppaluri KR. Paleolithic Diet. 2020 Jul 10. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan–.
Pitt CE. Cutting through the Paleo hype: The evidence for the Palaeolithic diet. Aust Fam Physician. 2016 Jan-Feb;45(1):35-8.