Can You Lose Weight Eating Like a Caveman?
By Denise Piscitelli, RD – Registered Dietitian, Virtua Nutrition
If you’ve wanted to lose weight quickly, you’ve probably tried lots of fad diets like the cabbage soup diet, Atkins, South Beach, the 8-hour diet, the body-type diet and ON and ON.
Another diet that has gotten a lot of attention is the protein-rich Paleo diet—named for the foods cavemen might have eaten in that time period.
When you want to lose a few pounds, the allure of fad diets that promise fast weight loss are often too good to pass up. But like all of the others, you need to carefully consider what you’re getting into.
Following are the basic concepts of the Paleo diet:
- Eat grass-fed meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, and olive, walnut and flaxseed oils.
- DON’T eat cereal, grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes and processed foods.
A healthy meal plan should never cut out entire food groups. It’s important—and healthy—to eat a variety of foods.
Dietitians worry because the Paleo diet’s “off-limit” foods contain essential everyday nutrients.
Here’s what you lose when you exclude foods as recommended by the Paleo diet:
Legumes: Garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black eyed peas, baked beans, soybeans, peanuts and lentils
- Overall, legumes help reduce cholesterol levels, boost the immune system and protect against certain cancers.
- Garbanzo beans help relieve menopause symptoms.
- Lentils are high in zinc, calcium, and potassium.
Dairy: Skim milk, low-fat yogurt, pudding, frozen yogurt, low-fat and fat-free dairy products
- Dairy provides calcium and vitamin D to keep bones and muscles healthy.
- Having low vitamin-D levels can increase the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancers, multiple sclerosis and type-1 diabetes.
Grains: Cereals, pasta, rice, and bread (whole-grain is the healthiest)
- Whole grains often provide 5 or more grams of dietary fiber.
- Grains contain healthy B vitamins.
The Paleo diet just isn't realistic. If you want to lose weight, dietitians recommend eating a variety of foods—especially higher fiber foods that fill you up so you eat less. Watch your portion sizes, and drink lots of water since dehydration can make you think you’re hungry.
Updated April 3, 2018