Experts estimate that our ancestors consumed a one-to-one ratio of calories from meats to produce. Since you have to eat a lot of salad to consume the same amount of calories in a steak, the paleo diet should ideally include mostly fruits and vegetables, Katz says. However, many people don't realize that and eat too much meat. Consuming excess protein and not enough carbs can cause kidney damage and also increase your risk of osteoporosis, Dr. Ochner says. Plus, since most of today's meats are higher in saturated fat than those of yesteryear, it can increase the risk of heart disease, Dr. Katz says.
Even if eating only foods available to hunter–gatherers in the Paleolithic made sense, it would be impossible. As Christina Warinner of the University of Zurich emphasizes in her 2012 TED talk, just about every single species commonly consumed today—whether a fruit, vegetable or animal—is drastically different from its Paleolithic predecessor. In most cases, we have transformed the species we eat through artificial selection: we have bred cows, chickens and goats to provide as much meat, milk and eggs as possible and have sown seeds only from plants with the most desirable traits—with the biggest fruits, plumpest kernels, sweetest flesh and fewest natural toxins. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale are all different cultivars of a single species, Brassica oleracea; generation by generation, we reshaped this one plant's leaves, stems and flowers into wildly different arrangements, the same way we bred Welsh corgis, pugs, dachshunds, Saint Bernards and greyhounds out of a single wolf species. Corn was once a straggly grass known as teosinte and tomatoes were once much smaller berries. And the wild ancestors of bananas were rife with seeds.
Our ancestors didn't chase cows and chickens around in the wild. They hunted game, antelopes, buffalo, and probably some animals we've never heard of that are long extinct. Their meat was generally quite lean, and provided more healthy omega 3s than meats from modern day animals, even the grass-fed ones, according to Dr. Katz. Many of the plants that thrived back then are also extinct today, making it impossible to truly follow their meal plan, he says.
To determine the diet rankings, US News & World Report selected a 25-person expert panel from the country's top dietitians, dietary consultants, and physicians specializing in diabetes, heart health, and weight loss. The panel included Lisa Sasson, MS, RDN, CDN, a clinical assistant professor and dietetic internship director in the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University; Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, a nutrition and diabetes expert; and David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM, founding director of Yale University's Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and founder of the True Health Initiative.4
When following the Paleo diet, you will cut the trans fats and the omega-6 polyunsaturated fats in your diet and increase the healthful monounsaturated and omega-3 fats that were the mainstays of our ancestors. Recent large population studies, known as meta analyses, show that saturated fats have little or no adverse effects upon cardiovascular disease risk.
Primarily aimed at reducing inflammation, balancing blood sugar and hormones, and increasing cognitive performance, all achieved by improving fat metabolism. Based around the popular “Bulletproof Coffee.” Bulletproof differs from Paleo because of its emphasis on “Bulletproof” supplements and shunning of higher carbohydrate foods like fruit and tubers. The Bulletproof Diet lies somewhere between Keto and Paleo. Check out The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey.
Food and Western Disease: Health and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective by Staffan Lindeberg (MD at Lund University in Sweden) is the newest book promoting the paleo diet. It covers the link between diet and disease in the Western world (all major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, obesity, stroke and dementia) and towards a greater knowledge of what can be defined as the optimal human diet. Benefits and risks are detailed. The Amazon reviews are all 5 stars. Especially read Susan Schenck's detailed review. You can read a preview at Google Books
As our dietary recommendations tend to eliminate many of the staples typically consumed on a Vegan or Vegetarian diet (such as grains, legumes, soy, most vegetable oils and/or conventional dairy) your protein choices may be significantly limited to strictly pastured sources of dairy products and eggs and you may likely require more supplementation to compensate for those food sources (including meat) which we eliminate in the program. Also, since a vegetarian diet is typically very rich in antigenic foods (endemic to a post-agricultural diet), sensitivities to some foods may unfortunately be more common. We strongly encourage openness to incorporating high quality, healthfully, humanely and sustainably raised animal source foods and seafood over time.
If you're interested in the paleo plan but don't think you want to be so strict, you don't have to be all-or-nothing with your approach. Consider adopting some eating patterns from paleo and skipping the ones that don't work for you. For example, try just eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting down on added sugars. If you feel unsure about grains or dairy, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine what's best for your body.
The Paleo concept is new for most people and this newness can spark many questions. We like people to not only read about and educate themselves on this topic but also to “get in and do it.” Experience is perhaps the best teacher and often cuts through any confusion surrounding this way of eating. Now, all that considered, there are still some common counter arguments to the Paleo diet that happen with sufficient frequency that a whole paper was written on it. Enjoy: Evolutionary Health Promotion. A consideration of common counter-arguments.
Similarly, any foods that were not easily available to Paleolithic humans are off-limits in this diet, Holley explains. That means processed foods — many of which contain added butter, margarine, and sugar — should not be a part of the paleo diet. The same goes for dairy, which may not have been accessible to Paleolithic humans, and legumes, which many proponents of the diet believe are not easily digestible by the body.
Joel Runyon is the founder of Ultimate Paleo Guide and CEO of Paleo Meal Plans. He's a precision nutrition, and Gym Jones Level 1 certified, and helped millions of people get healthy and lose weight since 2012. Joel is also an ultra runner and endurance athlete - and in 2017, he became the the youngest person to run an ultra marathon on every continent in the world to build 7 schools with Pencils of Promise in developing countries.Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Athlinks and read his full bio here.