The Paleo diet is making its way into the mainstream. Basically, it advocates the eating style of our ancestors. Eat meat, nuts, and berries. Eliminate all grains, dairy, beans, sugar, packaged foods and cooking oil. I don’t claim to know a lot about this diet, but I am aware of concerns from some dieticians, and I tend to agree with them.
I agree that the more unprocessed our diets, the better. Having said that, I don’t recommend eliminating every single processed food made by man. Whole-grain pasta is processed. So is olive oil, dried fruit, red wine, and Greek yogurt. Paleo eliminates the whole-grain food group and plant-based legumes–foods that are full of good fiber and phytochemicals. Skipping out on these foods deprives you of some important health benefits. In addition, these foods can actually help you lose weight, according to studies.
“People who eat diets high in whole grains, beans, and low-fat dairy tend to be healthier because these foods are nutrient-rich and there are mountains of research about the health benefits of diets that include, not exclude, these foods,” says Keith Ayoob, EDd, RD, an assistant professor at New York’s Albert Einstien School of Medicine.
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, says, “This diet has some great aspects, but the limitations make it another diet that people go on but can’t sustain for a number of reasons, including a lack of variety, [cost], and potential nutrient inadequacies” due to the elimination of certain food groups.
There will always be those who swear by these types of restrictive diets, and that’s fine. But they’re not always the best for your body, and they’re not necessary to achieve your health and weight loss goals. I hear so often–Don’t eat any carbs, they’re bad! Gluten–Evil. Bananas, white potatoes, corn, dairy–Bad, bad, bad, bad. (In regards to fruit and veggies, in my view any natural food that can be picked off a tree, plant or pulled out of the ground is not, in itself, “bad.”) Can eating too many carbs and not enough other stuff make you gain weight? Yes. And can eating processed carbs help you gain weight? Sure. But can you make healthy carbs a percentage of your diet while also limiting your total calorie intake? Yes! I lost 40 pounds doing this.
I always say this, but in my opinion, it’s all about balance. You don’t need to “diet” to lose fat. Just eat healthy…and move your body. Eat whole foods. Yes, watch added sugar, processed foods and portions, but there’s no food-group elimination required. If the cave people were alive today, maybe even they would agree.