5 rules of the Paleo diet, which need a revision

5 rules of the Paleo diet, which need a revision

5 rules of the Paleo diet, which need a revision

Paleo diet gets both positive and negative feedback, like CrossFit training system and the Atkins diet. Paleo biggest defenders argue that keeping to its principles are the only correct way of life and its opponents argue that it is nothing more than a new trend.

Because of the hysteria about the Paleo diet we decided to check its pros and cons and based on some own research to choose a side in this kind of dispute.

What is actually the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo name comes from the term Paleolithic. Some call it also the diet of the cavemen because its main idea is to eat food that was consumed by our Paleolithic ancestors. If you’re going to eat something they could obtain back in the Paleolithic, then you are following the principles of the Paleo diet. Any food that did not exist at that time should be avoided.

Paleo Diet works on the following formula:

  • Allowed are wild fish, nuts, eggs, fruits, seeds, vegetables, healthy fats and lean meat only from animals fed with grass;
  • Forbidden are processed grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, salt, refined sugar and vegetable fats;

At first glance, it sounds healthy by avoiding refined sugar and modified ingredients. Moreover, its followers accuse the modern fast food chains that are responsible for obesity crisis of the modern man.

However, having studied in depth Paleo diet, we found some imperfections related to the prescriptions that professes.

Rule # 1: If your ancestors consumed particular foods, you also need to include them in your diet.

This rule is the foundation of the Paleo diet, but has it a real sense?

According to the US scientific journal Scientific American: “We are not biologically identical to our Paleolithic ancestors nor have access to the food they have consumed.”

As a beginning, vegetables that we now have and love have nothing in common with those who were available at the Paleolithic time. Today’s vegetables are modified in a way that removes their bitterness, excess seeds and their unpleasant appearance.

Have you seen how they look like or how looks the wild broccoli or how many seeds have the wild bananas? We guess not and there is nothing wrong because it is not necessary.

Modern conveniences have removed the need to look for food in nature and so have created conditions to use your brain for intellectual activities.

Does the Paleo diet differs depending on the location?

Think about it. If you inhabit a place with a colder climate during the winter, you will not have access to any fruits and vegetables. The only choice to survive is to consume mainly meat food. In case you migrate to a country with a warmer climate you will encounter with just the opposite.

Let’s say you live in Alaska and intend to start with the Paleo diet. Would you consume more wild meat than your friend from Florida who eats lots of tropical fruits and fish?

In the Paleo diet does not definite rule which climate conditions are suitable for most healthy way of life, because the concept of only one type of diet regardless of the local origin is mistaken.

Rule # 2: Whole grains and legumes should be avoided

Overly processed white bread, white rice and high-calorie sweets should not be part of your diet. This nutrient principle generally stays in almost all diets, as in the process of the processing grains, they have lost valuable nutrients.

But whole grains contained in foods such as brown rice, quinoa or whole grain bread, have ingredients that can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. According to the Council of whole grains it is about to 30-36% reduction in the risk of stroke, 21-30% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and 25-28% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Whole grains offer a range of health benefits that it seems that the Paleo diet ignores.

Legumes are also useful for the body.

As a complex carbohydrate that is digested more slowly than simple carbohydrates, beans have protein and fiber. When you eat beans and peas you feel full for a longer time, keep your blood sugar stable and calories that you get are not so many. So why give up these healthy products? The followers of the Paleo diet argue that our ancestors did not have access to such foods.

But as noted by the British newspaper “The Guardian”: “Researchers have discovered remains of date palms, seeds and legumes, including peas and beans on teeth of three Neanderthals found in caves in Iraq and Belgium.”

Do we really need to give up the consumption of legumes? The answer is no.

As legumes are forbidden list of the Paleo diet, its Followers obtain basic protein from meat.

Rule # 3: Eating red meat is useful

The meat we eat today has nothing to do with meat consumed our Paleolithic ancestors. The majority of today’s meat comes from animals which did not live free in the natural environment. They are raised in special farms and accept hormones and antibiotics. As a result, they are genetically different from their own ancestors. Today animals are fattened to be larger than their predecessors.

Furthermore, the animals that are grown in these farms consume foods that are unacceptable according to the Paleo diet. To avoid controversy, the proponents, insist to be consumed meat, but only from those animals that eat grass.

Most people would listen to this advice and would buy expensive meat from animals fed only with grass, because they believe it is healthier. But that is not true.

A diet which mainly contains meat does not change the fact that the red meat is actually harmful to your health. According to several studies the red meat hardened the blood vessels, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, and also the risk of diseases of the colon and the brain.

You may be wondering how did the human species has survived after meat consumed is unfavorable to the body. This question can force you to be interested more in-depth and it turned out that according to many studies people don’t have anatomical, physiological or genetic conditioning to consume meat. On the contrary, people are more adapted to eating plants. We have large molar teeth that help us to deal with fibrous plants, but no typical predatory teeth for crushing meat.

In the end it turns out that we are not adapted to the consumption of meat as claimed by the supporters of the Paleo diet, but also that this is not healthy at all.

Rule # 4: Do not eat potatoes

Despite some striking gaps in Paleo theory, its fans are right on one thing – cave people did not eat potatoes. Does this mean that you should not eat potatoes, too? Absolutely not.

If you your idea of eating potatoes is limited to fries and chips or baked potato with bacon, cheese and topped with plenty of sour cream, you should definitely avoid them.

But if you change your habits will find out about the amazing health benefits that potatoes provide. According to many studies baked potatoes are very healthy, low-calorie food with high fiber content. They offer significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer because they contain vitamin B6, B3 and vitamin C. They also have potassium, copper and phosphorus. Potatoes are an excellent source of natural energy for your muscles and vital organs such as the brain. If you opt out of them, you will be more prone to mental and physical fatigue.

Rule # 5: Olive oil is useful

Olive oil is recognized as extremely valuable for the health of all world famous and infamous nutritionists worldwide. Paleo followers cannot fight this fact and therefore include it to his “good” list of foods. Paleo supporters, however, ignore the fact that our ancestors did not have tools to extract oil.

Although olive oil is approved by the Paleo diet is really good for health? Olive oil and avocado fall into the category of those foods whose benefits have conflicting views.

The problem is that it is not advisable to get healthy fats only from refined oils such as olive oil. Ideally healthy fatty acids must be obtained through the consumption of nuts, seeds and avocado.

It is important to note that the Paleo way of life may not be suitable for everyone. Maybe some of your friends can swear that using precisely this regime has removed 9 kg for four weeks, but you should note the fact that the body of each person is different. Some people have imbalanced hormones that cause them to lose weight or gain weight regardless of the diet. Others are genetically predisposed to obesity. Do not forget to mention people with naturally high metabolism that seem to eat constantly and not gain a gram.

If a diet works for one person does not mean it will necessarily work for you. Universal diets acting for all people are impossible.

So what can you do to stay healthy while you lose weight? Focus on the principles of the Paleo diet that work:

  • Eat whole grains and stay away from processed ones;
  • Add to your diet generous amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables;
  • Eat a moderate amount of fruit with low sugar content;
  • Heart-healthy nuts are your friends;
  • Forget plant, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils;
  • Avoid anything with added sugar – soft drinks, packaged cakes or candies;
  • Eliminate artificial ingredients and preservatives;
  • Do not overdo with training, practice several times a week and let the series be brief, but intense.

Should I switch to Paleo Diet?

We cannot say what lifestyle will work best for your individual characteristics. We cannot even tell you that if you follow the Paleo diet, but with a revision of the above rules will get the results you want.

All we can do is to present the research we’ve conducted. However, the decision is entirely yours.

paleo principles


About Jane Peterson

Jane Peterson is a supportive nutrition and fitness coach and registered dietitian nutritionist known for her health advices and innovative ideas to inspire and motivate people to reach their goals. She has a passion for personal training and enjoys motivating people, using specific exercise programs and track their progression for success. As a parent herself, Jane Peterson knows what it means to have to work hard to keep a good shape during pregnancy and after having a baby. She is interested about improving the way children eat, pediatric nutrition and family meal planning. Jane has several years of personal and professional experience and is practicing as a freelance food and health writer. She works personally with a small number of hand picked clients, transforming their health and their physiques using her four key elements of wellness: lifestyle, exercise, nutrition and supplementation.