Get the nutrition pros and cons of this caveman diet.
The paleo diet exploded onto the scene within the past several years, and you likely know at least one person who has tried it. The paleo diet is most commonly associated with gym buffs, particularly those in the muscle-building Crossfit scene. (Try this Crossfit-inspired workout to torch major calories.)
But what is paleo food, and is it eating paleo as healthy as people think?
Nutritionist Sharon Richter, RD, explains what is and isn’t permitted in paleo meals. The paleo diet avoids the following foods: dairy, legumes (beans, soy, peanuts), sugar, certain saturated fats, and most carbohydrates. Instead, the paleo diet emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, grass-fed meats, eggs, and non-legume proteins like almonds, walnuts, and seeds.
Notably, people on the paleo diet can substitute coconut or almond products for common, non-paleo items. For example, you can use coconut flour to make baked goods and swap in almond milk for dairy milk. Swaps like this make the paleo diet less restrictive than it may initially appear.
On the other hand, someone who claims to eat paleo but only eats pork chops and coconut flour brownies would not be eating particularly healthy. But, TBH, anyone on a “standard American diet” is at just as much of a risk of making this mistake as someone following a paleo diet.
Bottom line: The paleo diet can be a healthy way to eat as long as you follow proper meal planning. Maximizing variety on any diet will help you get the necessary nutrients your body craves.
Sharon Richter is a registered dietitian with a private nutrition practice in New York City.
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Hi, I'm Dr Preeti Parikh.
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Have your gym buddies been
raving about the paleo diet?
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What is a paleo diet?
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We called a registered
dietitian to find out.
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So Sharon, what is a paleo diet?
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So it's based on what we think
the paleolithic man would have eaten
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in the past.
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They do not permit some foods, like beans.
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They do not permit dairy.
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No sugar, no saturated fats.
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And most carbohydrates, you have to avoid.
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It really encourages a lot of fresh
vegetables, some fruits, some lean meats.
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So the problem with anything that's
restrictive and really eliminating a food
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group, once you start adding back in
foods that are not permitted on the diet,
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you're not following the plan any more,
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it's not gonna work in terms
of maintenance for somebody.
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Who do you recommend this diet for?
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I actually think it's a pretty good,
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It does get a little bit limiting for
someone like a vegetarian who would be
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very difficult, because their
source of protein is not available.
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They're not able to have tofu,
they're not able to have beans.
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But for a lot of people, it's somewhat
of a feasible meal plan to follow.
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Thanks for all the information Sharon.
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Weight loss and nutrition myths - "Going vegetarian." Bethesda, MD.: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2014. (Accessed on October 26, 2015 at http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/myths/Pages/weight-loss-and-nutrition-myths.aspx.)