Is the Paleo Diet Unhealthy
While the paleo diet isn’t necessarily unhealthy, it may lead to nutrient deficiencies because it requires cutting out dairy, grains, and legumes

While the paleo diet isn’t necessarily unhealthy, it may lead to nutrient deficiencies because it requires cutting out dairy, grains, and legumes.

The paleo diet is a diet similar that focuses on eating foods similar to what our Paleolithic ancestors ate long before fast food was invented and even before humans began harvesting grains for nourishment.

Since the diet emphasizes eating lean meats, good fats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, it is often good for people who have diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and high blood pressure. The lack of dairy, grains, and legumes may also help people with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel disease.

However, dairy is a source of calcium and vitamin D, and legumes and grains are important sources of complex carbs and fiber. Cutting these from the diet all together may do more harm than good. Additionally, there is no portion control criteria with the paleo diet, which can lead to weight gain.

What are the cons of the paleo diet?

  • High in red meat: Eating a diet high in red meat increases fat storage in the body. Meat may also contain toxic chemicals that cause inflammation in the body and lead to medical conditions such as:
  • Nutrient deficiencies: Milk and other dairy products, grains, lentils, and beans are not allowed in the paleo diet, which can cause serious deficiencies of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals that strengthen bones.
  • Not for vegetarians and vegans: Because it is a meat-based diet plan, it is not suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Not for athletes: Eating the paleo diet teaches your body to burn fat more efficiently as fuel rather than relying entirely on carbs. Hence, it is not suitable for athletes who require rapid energy from carbs.
  • Weight management: The paleo diet is not for good long-term weight loss goals. If a person stops following the paleo diet after reaching their weight loss goal and returns to a conventional diet, there is a potential that they will regain the weight they lost.
  • Costs: The diet is not cost-effective because the foods that are recommended tend to be more expensive.
  • Not enough carbs: Studies have reported that lifespan is reduced when regular carbohydrates are completely replaced with animal protein diet.
  • Side effects: Side effects of the paleo diet may include:


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

What is the paleo diet?

The paleo diet promotes the intake of unprocessed foods such as seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, wild game, and eggs while eliminating dairy products, beans, grains, cereals, salt, alcohol, coffee, and processed foods introduced by farming and industry. 

Paleo dieters believe that the body is not designed to handle food generated by agricultural or industrial methods and that food sourced from these sources is the root cause of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

When choosing a diet plan, it is very important to consider the pros and cons and to consult a dietitian for advice.

Which foods are included and excluded in the paleo diet?

Foods that are included

  • All non-dry fresh fruits:
    • Avocados
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Blueberries
    • Grapes
    • Kiwis
    • Oranges
    • Pears
    • Raspberries
    • Strawberries
  • Non starchy fresh vegetables:
    • Eggplant
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Zucchini
    • Garlic
    • Kale
    • Bok choy
    • Peppers
    • Potatoes
    • Spinach
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Swiss chard
    • Tomatoes
  • Animal meat:
    • Beef
    • Pork
    • Goose
    • Wild boar
    • Wild turkey
    • Pheasant
    • Quail
    • Lean poultry
  • Seafood:
    • Salmon
    • Cod
    • Haddock
    • Plaice
    • Tuna
    • Seabass
    • White fish
    • Trout
    • Prawns
    • Mussels
    • Oysters
    • Crab
    • Lobster
    • Scallops
  • Unsalted and unsweetened nuts:
    • Pistachios
    • Cashew nuts
    • Hazelnuts
    • Brazil nuts
  • Seeds:
    • Poppy
    • Chia
    • Hemp
    • Sunflower
    • Pumpkin
  • Healthy oils:
    • Flaxseed
    • Olive
    • Extra virgin olive
    • Avocado
    • Coconut

Foods that are excluded

  • Processed foods:
    • Chips
    • Sweets
  • Refined vegetable oils:
    • Grapeseed oil
    • Soybean oil
    • Sunflower oil
  • Milk and milk products:
    • Butter
    • Cheese
    • Cream
    • Yogurt
  • Meats with fat:
    • Bacon
    • Ribs
    • Chicken legs, thighs, wings, and skin
    • Pork or lamb chops
  • Grains and cereals:
    • Bread
    • Pasta
    • Rice
    • Oats
    • Barley
    • Rye
    • Spelt
    • Wheat
    • Maize
  • Legumes:
    • Beans
    • Chickpeas
    • Peas
    • Lentils
    • Peanuts
    • Soybean products
  • Refined sugars:
  • Starchy vegetables:
    • Potatoes and all potato products
    • Cassava root
    • Tapioca pudding
    • Yams
  • Salty food:
    • Salad dressings
    • Condiments
    • Ham
    • Olives
    • Pickled foods
    • Chips
    • Processed meats
    • Sausages
    • Smoked or dried or salted meat
    • Canned meat
    • Fish
  • Alcohol

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Medically Reviewed on 3/2/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

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