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Paleo Diet - Dr Sue's Review

>> Monday, July 7, 2014

This summer and fall, I’ll be taking you on a journey of some of the most common diet plans out there.

Today, let’s talk about the Paleo diet.  The foundation of the Paleo diet is to eat the way we ate when we were hunters and gatherers, primarily focusing on animal protein and plants.  Essentially, the philosophy is that if the caveman didn’t eat it, neither should you.

Along this premise, there are definitely foods included which are good to eat: fish, poultry, fruits, and veggies are high on the list.

Paleo also recommends avoiding any product of the agricultural revolution: this includes dairy, legumes, and grains.  (Though, butter from a grain fed cow seems to be OK, as the Bulletproof Coffee (where butter is melted into your java) seems to be popular with some Paleo advocates).     

(Editorial comment: Did we really need to take Timmy's Double Double to the next level?)

It seems that the Paleo diet has some good things going for it:

  • Avoiding grains translates to avoiding a lot of packaged food, and avoiding quick grab foods of low nutrient value (eg bakery products).   
  • Protein consumed is generous, which is good, because protein gives more of a sense of fullness than carbs or fat.  (see study)

Negatives include:

  • The fat percent is too high (estimated at about 39% of daily calories for a typical Paleo diet). If you're trying to lose weight, this could present a challenge.  I also wondered if there would be an adverse effect of this high fat intake on cholesterol, although one study actually shows an improvement in cholesterol profile. 
  • Paleo doesn’t discriminate between healthier animal sources of protein (eg fish vs red meat)
  • Avoiding dairy is unfortunate, as there is a lot of nutritional value in low fat dairy products.  The same can be said for legumes and healthy grain choices.
  • It’s deficient in some vitamins and minerals, such as calcium.


So overall, I'm not a fan.  In any case, at the end of the day, the Paleo diet is difficult to follow long term; any diet that completely restricts complete food groups is going to be tough to stick to.  And as you’ve heard me say before, I don’t even like to use the word 'diet', because it implies that the change is temporary. Any change should be a permanent lifestyle change if it is going to result in permanent success!

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I am excited that you have arrived at my site, and I hope you are too - consider this the first step towards a Healthier New You!! As a medical doctor, Endocrinologist, and obesity specialist, I am absolutely passionate about helping people with weight management. Though there is certainly no magic cure for obesity, there IS a successful treatment plan out there for you - it is all about understanding the elements that contribute to your personal weight struggle, and then finding the treatment plan that suits your needs and your lifestyle. The way to finding your personal solution is to learn as much as you can about obesity: how our toxic environment has shaped us into an overweight society; the diversity of contributors to obesity; and what the treatment options out there are really all about. Knowledge Is Power!!

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