The Truth about the Paleo Diet

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By: , – Kamal Patel, Director of Examine.com
8/4/2014 12:00 AM   :  44 comments   :  98,240 Views

If you've been in touch with diet trends over the past few years, chances are that you've heard of the Paleo diet. When you Google the word "Paleo" or "Paleo diet," you'll find thousands of blogs, recipes, articles and best-selling nutrition books. But what exactly is Paleo—and is its popularity warranted? Is it all hype and marketing, or is this truly the best diet to adopt for optimal human health? Let's take a look at what the evidence says. 
 
First, what exactly is the Paleo diet?
This is a tough question, believe it or not. The Paleo diet is more of a concept than a precise, regimented plan; some would even go so far as to say that it is a lifestyle rather than a diet. Furthermore, no one person is responsible for actually developing the Paleo diet (although the term ''The Paleo Diet'' is actually copyrighted by seminal researcher Loren Cordain), and there are many different interpretations of what is and is not Paleo.
 
With that being said, here is the most basic tenet of Paleo in a nutshell: Throughout the process of evolution, we humans gravitated toward foods that helped us survive, while avoiding harmful foods that were poisonous or ill-suited for our physiology. Through a process of evolutionary trial and error, our ancestors eventually became well-adapted to eating certain foods. The Paleo diet posits that modern-day humans have not yet adapted to the foods that came from the agricultural revolution, like grains, dairy and refined sugars. Paleo supporters claim that by eating the whole, minimally-processed foods of our Paleolithic ancestors, we can lose weight, gain more energy, and even reverse common modern lifestyle diseases.
 
So, what can you eat on the Paleo diet?
In general, Paleo-eaters advocate a diet heavy in foods that our ancestors would have been able to hunt or forage. This means that vegetables, meat and seafood, eggs, fruits, nuts and seeds are encouraged, while grains, dairy, legumes, soy, added sugar and other processed foods are avoided. The Paleo diet does not recommend counting any calories and/or macronutrients as much as some other diets do; just as our ancestors did, you simply eat until you are satisfied.
 
No whole grains, dairy products, or beans? But I thought these foods were healthy!
Okay, so the elimination of added sugars and processed foods makes sense; a perpetually-growing body of research has shown that these foods contribute to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. But wait! What's wrong with whole grains, dairy and beans? Dietitians and FDA guidelines have been telling us for years that we should eat multiple servings of these foods per day. Are these seemingly wholesome staples of our diet really that unhealthy?
 
This is where Paleo logic can get a little shaky. Humans are crafty omnivores who can thrive on many different types of foods, so pinpointing exactly what we should eat for optimal health is a difficult task. It's true that food intolerances do exist, but not all post-agricultural foods are harmful for everyone. Although dairy and beans weren’t eaten much in Paleolithic times, these foods haven’t caused many adverse health effects in studies (and have actually shown health benefits). Therefore, although the Paleo diet recommends against post-agricultural foods, many people tailor the diet based on their individual food reactions and personal health goals.
 
Does the Paleo diet actually work? What do the studies say?
Followers of the Paleo diet claim that eating like a caveman can reverse chronic diseases, improve sleep, clear up skin, increase energy, spur weight loss, and boost the immune system, among other benefits. However, there has not been much research to support these claims, and the evidence is mainly anecdotal. There have only been a handful of direct studies on the effects of the diet. Before summarizing these studies, it’s important to note that publication bias is rampant in diet and nutrition studies. Studies showing positive results get published more often, and study authors often have a vested interest in the nutrient or diet they are studying. Plus, diet studies are often too short to assess long-term effects and diet compliance. Of the published Paleo studies that have been completed, some lasted just a couple weeks and none went over 12 weeks. That being said, the study results we have to work with are very positive so far.
 
Since we can currently count the number of completed Paleo studies on one hand, let’s quickly review each one. The first, from 2007, showed a Paleo diet to reduce waist circumference and improve glycemic control better than the Mediterranean diet. Another comparative study in 2009 showed that a Paleo diet reduced cardiovascular risk factors in patients with diabetes more effectively than other diet protocols.

The other three studies did not include a comparison group, so the evidence isn’t as strong since improvements can happen just from adopting a new diet. With that said, these study results were all positive, showing that adopting a Paleo diet led to a reduction in blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, and some markers of heart disease.

Despite the excellent results, we cannot reasonably conclude that a Paleo diet was the sole reason for the health improvements in these particular studies. When you adopt a Paleo diet, you tend to lower both your calorie and carb intake while increasing your protein intake. This often happens because there are fewer food options available to you on a Paleo diet. You can’t grab a bag of chips, a cookie, or a sugary drink at Starbucks. Instead, your options are narrowed down to fruits, nuts, raw veggies, or one of a few other options that don’t exactly encourage overeating.
 
It's possible that any other diet that reduced calories and sugar would have worked just as well as a Paleo diet in these studies, but there is not enough evidence to say just yet. Despite their small scope, the existing Paleo diet studies are a good starting point, and will hopefully spur longer-term studies with a variety of different comparison groups for more robust and definitive results.
 
What's the bottom line? Should I try eating like a caveman?
When you look past the details to the big picture, the Paleo diet focuses on eating high-quality foods until you are satisfied. One thing you can't argue is that focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods is a good way to start eating healthier. But this isn't a new concept. People have been eating natural foods for millennia; they just didn't slap a Paleo label on their way of eating. I quickly learned this after explaining the concept of Paleo to a fellow nutrition researcher from Nigeria, who just laughed at silly Americans and their diets while eating her hearty (Paleo?) Nigerian stew.

It’s less important to know whether something is ''Paleo'' than it is to know how it affects your particular body and supports your health goals. If eating a Paleo diet helps you eat more of the good stuff while eliminating excess sugar and processed foods from your diet, then by all means, go for it! Just remember that while it’s important to have a diet rich in nutrients, there are many ways to get to old age, and few foods are absolutely necessary, and even fewer are absolutely going to kill you.
 
There have been thousands of trials conducted on different nutrients, foods, and ways of eating. You can pick and choose among these studies to support a variety of different diets. But the best diet for one person is not the best diet for everyone. So the next time someone touts Paleo as being a cure-all, take their advice with several grains of salt. While there isn’t much direct evidence for Paleo, the few studies show promise and basing a diet on natural foods is a wise move. Just don’t get caught up in the hype.
 
Sources:
 
Frassetto, L.A., Schloetter, M., Mietus-Snyder, M., Morris, R.C. Jr., Sebastian, A. "Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet," European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
 
Jonsson, T., Granfeldt, Y., Ahren, B., Branell, U.C., Palsson, G., Hansson, A., Soderstrom, M., Lindeberg, S. "Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study," Cardiovascular Diabetology.
 
Lindeberg, S., Jonsson, T., Granfeldt, Y., Borgstrand, E., Soffman, J., Sjostrom, K., Ahren, B. "A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease," Diabetologia.
 
Osterdahl, M., Kocturk, T., Koochek, A., Wandell, P.E. "Effects of a short-term intervention with a Paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers," European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
 
Ryberg, M., Sandberg, S., Mellberg, C., Stegle, O., Lindahl, B., Larsson, C., Hauksson, J., Olsson, T. "A Palaeolithic-type diet causes strong tissue-specific effects on ectopic fat deposition in obese postmenopausal women," Journal of Internal Medicine.


About the Author
Kamal Patel is the director of Examine.com. He has an MBA and an MPH (Master of Public Health) from Johns Hopkins University, and was pursuing his PhD in nutrition when he opted to go on hiatus to join Examine.com. He is dedicated in making scientific research in nutrition and supplementation accessible to everyone. Both Examine.com and Kamal are on Facebook.






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Comments

  • 44
    I have not tired the paleo diet,,,but I can not understand all the doubt of milk allergies more or less...we all different. i have allergies to many foods including fish. No one is a carbon copy of someone else. I have always drank milk without a problem...now I can not have it in large amounts or at times at all. - 9/9/2014   11:21:04 PM
  • 43
    I tried the paleo way of eating for about a month, and felt so good! I was not following it to the T, cause I like my rice and beans too much. I wouldn't give that up. But then, I also refused to give up pizza, tortillas and a little pasta. LOL! In the end I just focused on cutting back on the sodas and chips. Quit eating desserts. On paleo my meals got a little boring, ? I guess. Cause I don't care much for sweet potatoes. I don't know the diff between a yam and a sweet potato. The orange ones, I got so tired of eating. Orange sweet potatoes and eggs for breakfast. I'm thinking of trying paleo again. I bought a few cookbooks this time. It would be interesting to see how much weight would fall off this time!! I absolutely love eating wild game now, especially buffalo and fish, we fish alot! - 9/3/2014   1:04:32 AM
  • FOXGLOVE999
    42
    This discussion about lactose is absurd. Lactose is in breast milk. All mammals have the ability to digest lactose, or they would die very quickly. Some people develop issues with it. Personally, I have trouble digesting fiber. That doesn't make fiber bad.

    Like someone else commented, cavemen died young. Why would eating like them be healthy? We have no idea what the long term effects of their diet would be, because they died in the short term. - 8/30/2014   5:56:45 PM
  • 41
    My sister recently saw a married couple whom she had not seen in awhile. She observed that they had lost a lot of weight! The couple told her that they were on the Paleo plan. This made us look more into the plan. I just don't like the eating restrictions. - 8/20/2014   6:24:28 AM
  • 40
    Thanks for such a great article! I appreciate the balanced perspective. I have been considering going in a more Paleo direction, and think I'm going to give it a go (without placing all my eggs in the Paleo basket). I'm hopeful I will find a balance that will work for me! - 8/19/2014   11:03:03 PM
  • 39
    I'm just interested in what works for me. I met a lady at a crossfit competition I was in who recommended it and I tried the paleo way. I last 7% body fat in the first six weeks and increased my energy level. I also reduced my need for breathing medicine. In the second month almost full elimination of meds and allergies. I was told that it needs to be personally tailored. Obviously different energy levels and sports require different nutritional intake. It worked for me - 8/11/2014   11:30:51 AM
  • 38
    There are so many comments about this it's hard to begin.
    1. Most African Americans ( whose ancestors were slaves in America) are lactose intolerant. It is not the same milk from cows in Africa.
    2. The Paleo diet can be used for weight loss, but it is another way of eating foods. Just imagine no mac and cheese, tv dinners, luncheon meats, hot dogs, sausages. Now imagine a plate of various veggies from fresh or frozen (no sauces) cooked with herbs (fresh, frozen or dried) in olive oil. A protein, fish or meat (not from a can, nor box nor frozen with added ingredients) topped with an fresh herb.
    Just imagine...A food without added stuff you can't pronounce. Have you seen the ingredients in liquid eggs? Did you know chicken/fish is in a salt soultion?

    My testimony is: lost inches, got firmer, no more GERD, indigestion, phosphrous is way down. CDK4 is now a CDK2 (kidney-renal disease). Glucose level is now a 4, from 7. I sneak in 5 ingredients ice cream. This is just a start. Happy eating.
    - 8/8/2014   6:59:09 PM
  • 37
    I use it for natural bodybuilding! I love the Paleo Diet, because it's about eating whole foods, avoiding junk and processed foods of all types. Low glycemic index foods that slow your body down. I look and feel 10 years younger. I'm 53 now and most people think I'm about 40! Read how to use it for your workouts here: thepaleodiet.biz/the-paleo-diet-for
    -athletes/ - 8/7/2014   2:54:48 PM
  • 36
    Speaking as an R.N. who worked as a supervisor, head nurse, med-surg nurse, coronary nurse, ICU nurse, dialysis nurse, and diet counselor I can say without reservation that diets like Paleo and Primal are some of the best diets, especially for people with certain medical conditions. It's ridiculous to accuse a diet that is focusing on whole foods while avoiding highly processed ones, junk food, and sugar to be a fad diet. I don't agree with these diets 100% but then I don't agree with any diet 100% because they all have restrictions or allowances that I don't agree with completely. Diets like this can easily be tweaked to fit most needs. - 8/7/2014   9:06:43 AM
  • 35
    Africans, as adults, are "lactose intolerant"? \Where did you get that information, and to which "Africans" are you referring? My husband (who was Motswana, ie, a person form Botswana) and I (born and raised in the USA) lived in Botswana for many years. One of Botswana's chief exports is beef. The number of cows you own demonstrates your wealth. Eating beef and drinking milk (or mixing it w/ corn meal) is what most children in Botswana are raised on and continue eating as adults. Neither my husband nor I ever heard of anyone in Botswana being "lactose intolerant".

    The biggest problem in Botswana was getting enough to eat. It was VERY rare to find anyone, especially children, complaining about what they ate. They were all too happy to have ENOUGH of whatever. I understand from my daughter (also born and raised in Botswana) that the economy is much improved since I lived there, so more people have more to eat. Still, no one has yet called the Batswana (natives of Botswana) "lactose intolerant". Where do you get this stuff? - 8/6/2014   6:24:58 PM
  • 34
    The "paleo diet" works because it eliminates processed foods. Otherwise the science behind it is shaky, or not even science at all.

    "Cavemen" were hunter-gatherers, and ate whatever was edible, whenever they could get it. Some of their protein quite likely came from grubs and other insects, things most of us wouldn't dream of eating.

    "Cavemen" would have eaten some grains, if they were hungry enough. Grains were available in wild form and some of them are edible. And they definitely would have eaten legumes; those are common plants and their seed pods are edible raw. There is no reason to avoid legumes.

    As for dairy, well, there is no way to tell. It is clear Africans, as adults, are lactose intolerant, and our genetic history as Europeans is African; there is considerable evidence lactase production (which lets us digest milk sugar) has only been common since the domestication of animals. So it is not likely "cavemen" drank milk... but it is not impossible to imagine, either.

    To make this clear, nobody took records during "caveman times", we have found very few preserved stomach contents from prior to 12,000 years ago (the development of agriculture), the idea of a "caveman diet" has absolutely no basis in fact except on things we know were not available then (Twinkie, anyone?), and it is false to extrapolate behavior of nomadic hunter-gatherers to modern urban living.

    And guess what? Modern hunter-gatherers (which is what we "cavemen" were) don't eat a paleo diet.

    Finally, the paleo diet assumes our genetics hasn't changed in 12,000 years. I am sorry to tell you, it has, many times, albeit in subtle ways. For example, I mention above that adult Africans are generally lactose-intolerant... but Europeans are generally NOT lactose-intolerant. That is a genetic difference in the ability to produce lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose.

    At least the paleo diet seems harmless, and has the advantage of cutting processed foods. However, it's long-term effects are not known. - 8/6/2014   5:12:10 PM
  • ITHRIC
    33
    The paleo diet probably works to some degree, but the creator/s of the plan are not true scientists who know anything about nutrition, the evolution of humans, or plant life that existed 10,000 years ago. The paleo label is more a marketing gimmick than a plan based on real "cavemen," (an amateurish label). Unless the paleo diet creators have seriously researched the Paleolithic Age, their claims about what cavemen ate are just guesses based on inductive reasoning. For example, I could say cavemen didn't have hammers because there are no nails or wood that bear hammer marks, but my statement is shaky and illogical.

    The notion of a perfectly balanced caveman specimen (aka "Grok") is silly. Humans have always fought against their environment to survive. Also, genetics made us adapt to process lactose, a function we could not do until evolution turned our lactose-processing gene on. How did that happen? It happened by the usual way: people ate lactose and got sick, probably died, but some of them survived, and their genes mutated to adapt to the lactose intolerance. Survivors passed the adapted gene on, and the inheritors multiplied.
    But the paleo diet claims lactose is evil stuff - don't drink it! Why? Because the caveman didn't. Yet paleo treats human beings like absolutes - we've never been absolutes. We've adapted to eat milk and beans and wheat and have done so for millennia. Paleo cannot argue that the past 10,000 years of milk, wheat and bean-eating was harmful. It probably started out harmful, but we adapted to it.

    One glaring point to examine is that the cavemen were much more physically active than we are today. They hunted, fished, scouted, and cleaned game for cooking. All that hunting burned calories. Raise your spear if you hunt for your day's meals. I thought so.

    My point is, take the paleo diet w/a grain of salt (but not too much salt since it raises blood pressure) because there is no scientific evidence to back up their claims, and more importantly, there is a lack of scientific research that supports the effectiveness of the paleo diet. - 8/6/2014   10:17:29 AM
  • MAMAZON
    32
    Wasn't the life expectancy of "cavemen" about 30? I think I will stick with a modern diet, thank you. - 8/5/2014   9:26:24 PM
  • 31
    Can someone please tell me an example of what one day meal consist of on this diet plan? What are the common foods to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snaks? Thank you.... - 8/5/2014   8:16:25 PM
  • LORILZT
    30
    PLEASE, PLEASE READ ME!!!!! NO ONE should comment on the Paleo lifestyle until they've tried it for a month!! I am a HUGE fan of it. We (my husband and daughters) did not go on this diet to lose weight (even though we all needed to), but rather because of everything I had researched about what it could do. Plus, our doctor's GI daughter recommended it. Then I started running into people who are Paleo. A University of Wisconsin professor we know started teaching us about it. It cured his diabetes. He is no longer on insulin. My husband's co-worker's spouse, a scientist, started talking to us about it and how it reversed their daughter's MS. It has literally changed all of our lives. I don't care how many conclusive studies that have not been done, you cannot deny the results of every single person who goes on this and lives by it. We've been on it for two years now and are not tempted to stop it at all. In fact, when we do fall off, we can't wait to go back on (like after traveling). Paleo results for us: After living with high cholesterol levels for over 20 years, my husband finally normalized his without statins. My asthma is cured. I've been on a high dose of Advair for 8 years, used albuterol for 15. I'm no longer on those. I have no seasonal or food allergies whatsoever now. Have suffered from both for almost 25 years. No antihistimines for the first time in eons this last spring. My GERD -- gone. Our daughter's ecinophilic esophigitus isses -- gone. Our other daughter's ADHD issues -- gone. Our daughter's Asperger symptoms lowered to the point you would not be able to tell she has it. My hip joint issues -- gone. (My mother in law's hip joint aches completely gone after a month on Paleo, too. No more Aleve on a daily basis for her.) You just cannot argue the results of what the Paleo does for everyone. I don't care WHO you are, you will benefit from it. No matter WHAT body type you have, you will benefit from this. Having said all this, we fall off the Paleo a fair amount. It's very hard to stay on it 100% of the time, especially when traveling, but for the first 3 months, we were hard-core Paleo, and we will never stray far from the Paleo. Find someone you know who lives Paleo, and you will be amazed at what it can cure. Research testimonies and see what it does. PLEASE don't be skeptical for as long as I was. I wish I would have started the Paleo years ago. Oh, by the way, everyone in my family has lost on average 35 to 45 lbs. each, and that was with eating more than what we used to and exercising less. I used to work out every other day for almost two hours, now I do half of that amount. I've always been a healthy eater as I love vegetables and consumed whole grain all the time. Now it's all about fat, veggies, fruits, meats, nuts, seeds, home-made desserts. We are saving so much money on not having to buy prescriptions now. This country can't afford to NOT change our eating habits. We have more obese people than any other country and illnesses are on the rise. Take back your bodies and have an open mind. It will change your life beautifully! Good luck to all of you! - 8/5/2014   3:17:43 PM
  • 29
    One thing Iíd add is that this diet is no better or worse than any other diet. All diets work and all diets fail. It really depends on the individual and the level of effort put into it. A diet isnít magical and wonít work for you merely because it has worked for hundreds of people just like a diet that failed for hundreds of other people doesnít mean it will fail for you. - 8/5/2014   1:40:19 PM
  • SUERAE01
    28
    Our "cavemen ancestors" also ate insects, rodents, lizards, and other sources of protein we would not even think about putting in our mouths today, in fact people still eat many of these sources to day, need I remind you of Brunswick (squirrel) stew. If you're going to go Paleo shouldn't you go all the way? BTW most people who follow Paleo eat way more red meat then our ancestors did, yep they had a big feast for a week when a bison, moose, etc was captured, but they mostly ate wild grains, fruits, fish/seafood - and the above mentioned for sources day to day - what animal protein the got, was based on the season and where they lived. - 8/5/2014   1:40:05 PM
  • 27
    Of course it works. All diets "work." And then they fail when the person's motivation lags. I suggest reading Matt Fitzgerald's "Diet Cults." While it's sure to offend you as he skewers your favorite sacred cow, the biggest take-away is that there is no one right diet. What works for you may or may not work for me. And perhaps when we ALL start framing the discussion that way, we'll be on our way to a healthier life.

    I'm so tired of reading "Carbs are bad" "Gluten is bad" "Soy is bad" "Meat is bad," etc., etc., etc. None of these things are bad. You may find you do better without them, and that's good for you; so tell me, "I've found it easier to manage my health conditions since I cut out (insert your issue)" instead of telling me that I need to stop eating them. I commute by bike and I'm training for triathlon. Endurance athletes need sugar during extended aerobic exercise. And I'd rather die than give up white rice. - 8/5/2014   1:22:19 PM
  • 26
    Nonsense! - 8/5/2014   12:40:25 PM
  • 25
    One thing I like to remember is that there is no one diet that is ideal for "humans." We're all different: different hormone balances, body types, preferences, levels of will power, cultural needs, allergies, etc. And like the article said, we are accomplished omnivores. Many people don't realize, we were scavengers in those Paleolithic days. Hunters? Oh, no. I mean, we did and could, but picking the bones of someone else's dangerous attack was so much safer.
    I have a friend who once a year will spend one month on what I think is an insane vegetables-only cleanse thing that I couldn't survive. I went three days on her plan, and I was hungry all the time. My body couldn't do it. Furthermore, she had great results, lost a ton of weight and felt energized. She was at the gym every day. I was just tired, too exhausted to exercise.
    On Paleo, I drop weight quickly, feel satisfied, have a big burst of energy, and my acne clears up. It's because something in dairy, I've found through trial and error, completely messes up my hormone balances. When I eat dairy, I break out and have bad periods as well as retaining a ton of water. I've talked to a lot of other Paleo women who have the same problem. And I've also found through trial and error that whenever I eat bread, I get very tired right after eating it. Call my day done, I'm going to bed. This is how my body works. Maybe it's some kind of mild allergy. Maybe my hormones are overly sensitive to the sugar responses in these kinds of foods (family history of diabetes, and when I was younger I had Pre Menstrual Disforic Dysfunction.) Doesn't matter why. This works for me, and it doesn't work for my friend. Vegetables works for her.
    I have another friend, the only thing she can do is portion control because denying herself her Starbucks just sends her into a depression. We're all different. We have a rule that we don't preach at each other, and we don't judge. - 8/5/2014   12:25:37 PM
  • 24
    I am Primal Paleo, and so far it's working for me, I feel great and I can see a difference. - 8/5/2014   11:40:55 AM
  • EJACOB4
    23
    I have diabetes. Sugar is bad for me. In an hour carbs turn to sugars and are bad for me. Diets achieve specific ends. Mine is to stay off diabetes drugs and live. I eat far more vegetables by volume than protein. Depending on your body and your environment, you have to do a thing that works, Thoughtlessly doing or not doing anything is dangerous and stupid. - 8/5/2014   11:23:49 AM
  • PPACLEV1
    22
    I have been on a Paleo style diet for the last few weeks now. I had reached a plateau and needed a boost, so I started this. My breakfast consists of 3 eggs. My Lunches and dinners consist of a protein with some greens and mixed veggies. This lifestyle eating change is working very well, and you just gotta stick to it. HOWEVER. This diet is not a diet I intend to stay on. While it will allow me to cut weight to the level I want, I need to rebuild from there so my body will get more of what it needs.
    I am shredding the pounds off with this eating style and my workouts. - 8/5/2014   10:28:24 AM
  • 21
    What people will do for good marketing never so ceases to amaze me. - 8/5/2014   10:01:16 AM
  • 20
    As a follow-up, one writer was surprised at the amount her bad cholesterol had risen. As with any other diet, one should not adopt a paleo-style diet without adding exercise. If you are doing a great deal of walking/physical activity, your bad cholesterol is unlikely to have risen - unless the diet uncovered other underlying health issues. My triglycerides plummeted from September 2013 to May 2014, when I had my annual physical. I, too, was apprehensive about what this was doing to my cholesterol, but my ratios were much better than my previous physical. When you diet, remember your water consumption and your physical activity. If you are drinking the water and you are physically active and your bad cholesterol STILL rises, you really need to see a physician and find out why. - 8/5/2014   9:43:36 AM
  • 19
    I adopted a Paleo-style diet in September 2013 when I was started my first Whole Life Challenge. While it takes more ingenuity to come up with work-day lunches, I will be continuing to follow this diet. I have lost 65 pounds thus far, and have not experienced a sense of having been deprived. Some health issues that were beginning to bother me are no longer in evidence, nor have they been since several weeks after I started on the diet.

    Humans need to take responsibility for their own weight loss journey. There are no magic pills or potions, although we wish there were. I hear, on a daily basis, from people who think it's too hard to give up grains or dairy. Remember that our food choices are simply that - choices. Which is more important - the gall bladder that swells up and pains you, or your pasta addiction? If it's the latter, perhaps the length of your life is less important than what you're eating. That may sound alarmist, but it may boil down to that. - 8/5/2014   9:36:10 AM
  • 18
    Think of Paleo as an elimination diet. Most people feel wonderful on it. Some might have actually had sensitivities to dairy or grains that they were never aware of. They quickly find out if they are able to tolerate them when they try to add them back in. Some people can actually tolerate grains and dairy well, but many people are surprised to find that every time they add them back they feel less well, and some feel downright sick.

    But the number one reason to try it for those people who are trying to lose weight? No hunger. No cravings. Did you get that? No gnawing hunger pangs and desperate cravings. - 8/5/2014   9:11:16 AM
  • NICOLEELIZANETH
    17
    I met friends who lost about 17 lbs on the Paleo diet. They looked great. My daughter lost about 15 lbs on the 17day diet,( very similar to Paleo), and she too looked terrific. All these young women have kept the weight off for two years at this point in time. The reason that they were able to stay on the diet and lose the weight was that it was easy to do. Often times it is difficult to take small portions of all foods when you get out of control after a small taste.The women ate as much protein as they wanted coupled with all kinds of vegetables and fruit. For the limited time that they adhered to the diet they remained healthy and active. Once a week they pick a day to eat what ever they want, and then go nack to the maintenence part of the program.It's better to lose the fat than eat so called healthy foods and remain over weight.
    I don't believe in any health claims in terms of any diet protecting you against certain diseases which are genetically triggored.
    I've read some of the recipes on Sparks, and know that I would not be able to stop eating one portion. I wouldn't knock this diet because I have seen it work.

    elizaneth - 8/5/2014   9:01:28 AM
  • ALCROUSE77
    16
    Feb 2013 I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had been feeling like I had the flu for a month and not sleeping. I knew my diet had to change. I began the Paleo diet Feb 12 and within three days was feeling myself again. A month later I was 10 pounds lighter. Mind you I had tried everything to lose weight. Through the course of this new way of eating I have removed the need to take several of my supplements and lost over 100 pounds!!!! And I did not cut out dairy or beans, just limited them. I do occasionally enjoy a gluten free treat or at gatherings will indulge in whatever is available which I tend to regret. My body does not like the processed garbage in any way! The Paleo diet is perfect because you can tailor it to what works for you and your life and still feel its effects! - 8/5/2014   8:44:13 AM
  • LA_391
    15
    I've tried eating paleo a number of times and found it too restrictive. Sure, there are tons of veggies, fats and proteins to choose from but I missed dairy, legumes and some grains. I also found that when I approached paleo this way, I likened it to being on a diet. I want to eat for life and now am eating non processed, high quality meats (grass fed where possible), good fats and legumes and grains when I feel like them. Hardcore paleo bloggers will argue till the sun comes up about how grains etc. are evil but I think that if you aren't food sensitive to certain foods and don't have GI issues then you can eat them in moderation. I am trying to lose weight so have found that eating high amounts of grains, bread and legumes won't work right now. This is where the moderation comes in. It drives me nuts when people take a dietary trend to the extreme. Just because it works for you and because you can eat that way, doesn't mean that everyone should eat the same way. - 8/5/2014   7:38:35 AM
  • 14
    I suppose if you want to live only until 30, like our remote ancestors did, that primitive diet would work for you! - 8/5/2014   6:56:07 AM
  • DADKAJ
    13
    and Lilithd said it too: not only the meat is different, also the plants are different today. everything is different today than what it was few millennia ago, even we have changed and are still evolving. i have tried low-carb diet, which had some effect on weight, but the low-fat is more satisfying for me, more varied, with more flavors and textures and i actually crave and enjoy vegetables more than meat! grains and pulses give me satisfaction and without a guilt for animals suffering during all their miserable life because most of the meat produced today comes from unhappy animals. only few lucky ones can have the pastured meat or eggs and to be confident about their quality. wild game is a special treat - not for everyone. - 8/5/2014   5:09:22 AM
  • DADKAJ
    12
    "our ancestors did, you simply eat until you are satisfied." in times of plenty. there were times when the food was scarce and that is why we have developed a very effective fat storage system in our bodies. paleo diet certainly has many positives, but as it was said: the known effects were only of a short duration, we do not know the chronic conditions, as also the average lifespan in paleolithic times was much shorter than is today and so many conditions did not have chance to show up on a large scale. paleo advocates refuse the pulses because our ancestors did not eat them - there is a misconception in this: this was not a matter of choice, but of necessity. so, as this article also mentions, pulses have many health benefits and there is no reason to avoid them when we can cook them and get the maximum of them. we also do not have that healthy game, wild game, as our ancestors did have, and we no longer hunt this game, which is another reason why we are different. the truth is that the less meat people eat nowadays, the better for them. i still would include some free pastured eggs though and the grains, such as barley are not bad. i had some yesterday with my chicken and broccoli and it was fantastic. the population is too large now and if everyone has eaten like paleo, it would be an environmental disaster. again: paleo did not eat grains that much because they were not at that stage of development, which is another example of necessity, not the choice. let's be real: we do not live like paleo people, we no longer have the meat of that quality as paleo people had, there is too many of us now - cutting down on meat and getting energy from starches is no worse, when doing it correctly. and our kidneys, which do not have to excrete high amount of urea due to high intake of proteins, will also feel better and serve us for longer in good health. - 8/5/2014   4:57:12 AM
  • OCHOTO
    11
    It's extrange that knowing Staffan Lindeberg's previous work you don't know the ADILAN study which addresses your concerns about calory and sugar restriction. You should definitely check it out:

    goo.gl/4FE6oz
    goo.gl/PTOsZ8
    - 8/5/2014   4:49:08 AM
  • 10
    Great well researched and balanced article. I'm glad you brought a voice of reason to this topic rather than the blind "kill them all" attitude many of the people in both camps (for vs against) have. - 8/5/2014   4:38:11 AM
  • HULTHEN
    9
    What doesn't make any sense is the claim that dairy and"whole grains" should be a part of the human diet. Of the top 5 food sensitivities wheat, corn and dairy are three of them! Most people are walking around with a food sensitivity of varying degrees to dairy and wheat or corn and not even know it. Dairy has been linked to many many common GI tract problems. When I tested for these food I was shocked to find out that I have sensitivities to them but when I am able to completely eliminate them (which isn't easy given that if you read the label they are in everything!) I feel amazing. - 8/5/2014   3:00:36 AM
  • FRECKLEPUP
    8
    The Paleo diet is a vegetarian's nightmare. So much death on a plate with this diet. - 8/5/2014   2:36:28 AM
  • 7
    First time I have been able to lose weight was when I started reading paleo a few weeks back. It's working for me. - 8/4/2014   8:17:17 PM
  • LMARUSKA
    6
    Well written article, did not appear to be biased. I personally try to go as paleo as I can, without missing out too often on the tasty non-paleo foods. This seems to work for me, but others say vegetarian diets work best for them. Whatever works for the individual I suppose. - 8/4/2014   4:59:03 PM
  • 5
    I am following a concept of ancestral eating defined as primal. having restricted my diet for a period, and then allowed dairy and some legumes back with no adverse affects. This concept is outlined in the book My Personal Paleo Code, by Kris Kessler. - 8/4/2014   8:51:51 AM
  • 4
    I tried this for a few months recently. When I went in to the doctor for a checkup, I was surprised how much my bad cholesterol had risen, and my good cholesterol had taken a nosedive. I decided to still eat mostly whole foods, but to add the high fiber grains back into my diet, since those help to keep cholesterol in check. - 8/4/2014   8:20:38 AM
  • 3
    The article ignores the fact that the FDA and Dieticians have NO science to back up their claims of the health of the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets that they have been recommending for the past 50 years. In fact, all the science backs up the idea that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat and high-protein diet is healthiest.
    My issue with Paleo is the restriction on dairy, as I happen to love milk, butter, and cheese and find them to be good sources of protein and fats. - 8/4/2014   6:05:27 AM
  • 2
    Actually, some people have adapted to eating dairy. There are at least two known mutations that allow people to digest lactose as adults. One is found in the Masai; the other in people of Middle Eastern and European descent. - 8/4/2014   5:36:38 AM
  • 1
    I have heard recently that most of the foods eaten on a "paleo" diet weren't really around during paleolithic times. Like tomatoes were really just small berries back then, not the large juicy berries they are now. In essence, we can't really eat like a paleolithic "cave man" because flora have changed drastically since then. - 8/4/2014   1:25:25 AM

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