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Can You Lose Weight by Eating Like a Caveman?

Caveman dietIf 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. So have you heard about the promise of the Paleo diet and decided to eat like a caveman?

When you want to lose a few pounds, the allure of new 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.

“I never agree with a meal plan that cuts out entire food groups,” says Virtua registered dietitian Denise Piscitelli, RD. “It’s important – and healthy – to eat a variety of foods.”

Piscitelli worries 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, I recommend eating a variety of foods – and higher fiber foods will 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,” advises Piscitelli.

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Virtua's registered dietitians assist individuals of all ages in making healthier choices by developing a food plan tailored to their needs. For more information or to make an appointment, call a Virtua Personal Health Navigator at 1-877-896-6267.

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