Fad Diets: The Paleo Diet

So you woke up today and you decided that you want to try and lose some weight. Why not try a “Fad Diet?” They are popular and a lot of people swear by them, so they seem like they would work right?

One of the most popular Fad Diets out there today is the Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet operates on one simple theme: If the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either. 20,000 years ago potato chips, chocolate bars, and pasta did not exist. However, foods  that could be hunted or gathered: nuts, berries, fruits, vegetables, and meat did exist.  There are different versions of the Paleo diet depending on your weight goals, but across the board the diet consists of red meat, poultry, fish, fruits, and vegetables. The thought behind this diet is that cutting out processed foods and junk foods will reduce the diseases of modern society (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc.).

The Paleo diet bids farewell to all foods containing refined sugars, preservatives, dairy, legumes, grains, and anything else that came after the Agricultural Revolution (remember, the cavemen also didn’t have farms yet). Yes, that means you may have to give up your favorite restaurant; which may not be such a bad thing every now and again.

Is eating like a caveman healthy or even possible in our world today? On the one hand, following the Paleo way of eating does have a healthy premise. First of all, you’re cutting out refined sugars, processed foods and junk. What’s wrong with that?! Not so fast! The Paleo Diet can be too restrictive particularly for athletes with elevated nutritional needs. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies and poor performance.

With such a large reduction in dairy, legumes and grains there are possible side effects. Dairy products are the main natural source of calcium, and calcium deficiencies can lead to bone and teeth fractures and breaks. Grains provide the body’s primary source of energy (carbohydrates) which happens to be the brain and muscle’s preferred fuel source. Whole grains also are a great source of fiber. Legumes are a great natural source of non-animal protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.

A dramatic change in your diet like this one will require a very strong commitment to it (that means no cheating!). You will notice a very big difference in how you feel within the first few weeks of trying this diet. For some, reports of feeling more energetic and overall “better” are reported. However, for the athletes out there, this most likely will not be the case due to the missing food groups essential for performance. Cutting out these essential food groups can lead to headaches, nausea, and irritability mostly due to the dramatic drop in carbohydrate intake. You may find that it will become difficult to even think clearly. Exercise will also become more difficult because of the new carbohydrate restrictions. Celebrities and other supporters of this diet will tell you that you just have to push through the “rough part” and you will enjoy the results.

Is it really necessary to go through these kinds of negatives to lose weight? In fact, in the U.S. News 2014 Rankings of “Best Diets Overall” the Paleo Diet tied for the bottom spot (No. 31). This diet will leave you supplementing vitamins and minerals that you will be neglecting, most importantly: vitamin D and calcium.  After all, there’s a reason the cavemen didn’t live very long right?

This video may help you decide on committing to this diet



Written by Amber Hodge


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