The Paleo Diet, touted for weight loss, has a growing number of followers. What is this diet? Is it right for you? The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet or Stone Age Diet, refers to foods available during the Paleolithic Age, when early ancestors weren’t farmers but hunters and gatherers. They depended on food caught or gathered from open fields and forests.
According to Paleo enthusiasts, the diet includes lean meats, shellfish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and healthy oils (olive and coconut). Restricted foods include dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, salt, refined vegetable oils (such as canola), grains, and all processed foods.
A recent study of older women on this diet caught my attention. The study included thirty-five post-menopausal women who followed the diet for two years and lost significant weight. A researcher not involved in the study pointed out that those conducting the study veered from a true Paleo Diet to one that mimicked much of the Mediterranean Diet, an acceptable plan for healthy eating. A study of only thirty-five subjects concerned me.
What can we believe? In January 2016, the U. S. News & World Report listed scores of the most common diets based on a scale from 0 to 5. The Paleo diet had a 2.0 overall score. On weight loss, it scored 1.9. The score for healthy eating was 2.1, and the magazine ranked “ease to follow” at 1.7.
The magazine rated thirty-eight diets, divided into nine categories. How did the Paleo Diet fare? For Best Overall Diet, it ranked number thirty-six, tied for next to last place with the Dukan Diet, and came in last for Best Weight-loss Diet. Not only that, to follow this diet requires more home preparation, thus more kitchen time ― a sparse commodity for busy families. It also tends to cost more.
Supporters of this diet claim it leads to a healthier, fitter, disease-free life. In actuality, it fails to provide a number of needed nutrients. Exclusion of dairy makes it difficult to get recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D. Limited grains and pulses (legumes) restrict needed fiber in the diet.
Before we embark on any diet plan, it’s wise to learn the pros and cons. When tempted to follow popular diets whose claims sound too good to be true, think again. They probably are.