The paleo diet is currently marketed as the optimal diet for people trying to lose weight because it is free of refined foods and low in sugar. The diet will arguably assist with weight loss because this is the way our ancestors (caveman) ate. I want to share a list of contradictions that the diet makes so that you can draw conclusions on whether or not this is a fad, or the real deal.
1. Healthy fats
The paleo diet emphasizes eating healthy fats in the forms of coconut oil, nuts and seeds, but to avoid refined vegetable oils. The two contradictions that arise with this is advice are that A) all oils are refined, no matter if they are cold pressed from olives in Tuscany or stripped of their nutrients in a factory in Idaho. In order to extract the oil from its source (be it flax seeds, coconuts or anything else), the product must undergo a refining process where the fiber and other substances like protein and carbohydrates are being separated from their original source. That's why calling olive oil or any other type of oil a healthy, whole food is misleading, when in fact it is a saturated serving of only fat.
Fat can be found in all whole plant foods, but in whole form, their concentration balances with other macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates).
B) due to the complicated process of creating oils, it is arguably impossible for cavemen to have been able to extract the amounts of oil from foods that are currently being recommended on the paleo diet. To make 1 tablespoon of olive oil would require 20 olives. You do the math...
2. Eggs but not dairy
The paleo diet recommends eating butter (bulletproof coffee is commonly marketed as in adherence with the diet) but discourages from eating dairy. The diet suggests dairy has hormones that can causes bodily imbalances and may cause acne. However, butter is encouraged because it contains barely detectable concentrations of oxidized cholesterol.
I would like to remind you that cow milk and butter are a product of the exact same source.
Finally, Dr. Loren Cordain (founded of the paleo movement), suggests that cholesterol can be an issue and thus, followers of the diet should avoid clarified butter also known as ghee (ed note: what's the difference?). The doctor fails to realize that the amount of cholesterol found in ghee is only surpassed by the cholesterol found in eggs. One hard boiled egg (50g), contains 187mg of cholesterol. Three tablespoons of ghee (50g), contains 119mg of cholesterol.
4. Fruits but not grains
Fruit is recommended on the paleo diet because it is found in nature and was eaten by hunters and gatherers. Grains are discouraged due to modern industrial milling, genetic alteration and gluten. Unfortunately, none of these reasons have anything to do with the nutrient profile of our food. Granted, an individual with celiac disease or even someone with a gluten intolerance, may choose to avoid wheat and other grains for allergy reasons, but it will not cause them to gain weight. This advice is a contradiction because fruits and grains have the exact same macronutrient profile. Both are high in carbs and low in fat and protein. Both have glucose that will fill your cells with the energy they need to function. So why one and not the other? It's like saying you can eat green grapes but not red.
5. Veggies but not legumes or potatoes
I don't know if you know this, but potatoes are a vegetable! And you shouldn't be afraid of them unless your deep frying them in oil or topping them with sour cream. Potatoes are actually a whole plant food as they contain the entire macronutrient profile found in nature. You can live only off potatoes and not be deficient in any nutrients.
The argument against legumes is that they contain phytoestrogens (in the case of soy) or just generally don't digest well. The problem with this reasoning is that organic soy does not contain toxins, and it is actually a myth brought on by the dairy industry to avoid soy product consumption. The second problem is that if beans don't digest well for you, you are just not cooking them properly. Our bodies have lost their ability to digest complex fibers from whole foods and if we are returning to beans after a lifetime of eating junk food, it will take some getting used to. If you are buying canned beans, be sure to rinse them before eating and you will have no digestive problems, I promise.
I hope this list has led you to question some of the dietary information that is currently being propagated on the market and that you approach the information you read in diet books with a critical perspective.