Is Paleo the Right Way to Go?

Nutrition // 12WBT Staff

Losing weight and being healthy have led to a whole heap of diet options. The choice is bewildering. We’ve seen the Atkin’s diet, veganism, the raw food diet, the lemon detox diet and even the baby food diet (apparently one of Reese Witherspoon’s favourites!). So when all we want is to be healthy and do right by our bodies, how do we sift through the array of diets out there and find what is best for us?

The Paleo Diet

One of the latest food regimes receiving growing popularity is the Paleo diet. With its natural ingredients, elimination of processed foods and boasted benefits, it seems to be a good option for those looking to keep things simple and make a healthy change. But is it the right choice?

It’s worth questioning whether sticking to such a prescriptive diet and limiting our bodies of so many food groups is really the answer. And also, is it right for YOU?

What is the Paleo Diet?

Put simply, the diet focuses around the eating habits of our late ancestors: basically, if cavemen didn’t eat it, then neither should we. What’s great is that Paleo blacklists many foods that we could definitely benefit from cutting down on: cheese, wine, sugar and preservatives. What remains is a strict diet of fish, poultry, red meat, seeds, nuts and certain non-starchy vegetables. And they’re all things that are very good for us!

The diet hinges its success on claims that it helps with sleep, digestion, weight loss and even certain pains and allergies.

Many celebrities have come out in support of Paleo, fuelling its momentum and popularity. While it all sounds ah-mazing, a key point to consider is that we can not and possibly should not fully mimic the diet of our caveman ancestors: and don’t forget they had a much shorter life expectancy than us!

Paleo excludes essential foods (and food groups!) such as legumes, chickpeas, dairy, tofu and even many grains, potatoes and quinoa. By cutting out two major food groups (dairy and whole grains) you are in danger of compromising your nutrition.

The Health Risks of the Paleo Diet

Leading nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton points out that the claimed benefits of cutting out grains, dairy and legumes from your diet, while also increasing meat consumption, are not scientifically based.

Some have raised health concerns about the Paleo diet, specifically that a diet high in meat and low in whole grains has been linked with bowel cancer and heart disease. We also require calcium from dairy and other foods to assist in bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Unlike us, the cavemen did not live long enough to develop osteoporosis. And dairy products can actually help with weight loss.

Can Paleo Work Long Term?

Another thing is that the Paleo diet is just that – a diet. The rigidity of the plan may not cater for those juggling a busy lifestyle and it doesn’t offer ongoing expert and community support. There’s nothing better for our minds and bodies than eating nutritionally balanced meals and exercising. Paleo does not focus on mindset or attitude, and does not provide a holistic approach to weight loss.

Losing weight is hard and definitely not always fun. While following a Paleo diet leads to cutting out a lot of unhealthy processed foods, for most people there’s no need to cut out whole food groups.

And for those thinking that a Paleo diet is a road to pure weight loss success, remember: support, exercise and consistency are all paramount.

12WBT offers nutritionally balanced Meal Plans, as well as Exercise Plans to suit your goals, Mindset Lessons to help you stay consistent, and vital support from our amazing crew of nutrition and fitness experts.


What Other Experts Have to Say About the Paleo Diet