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Posts Tagged ‘Paleo Diet’

The Paleo Diet, touted for weight loss, has a growing number of followers. What is this diet? Is it right for you? The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet or Stone Age Diet, refers to foods available during the Paleolithic Age, when early ancestors weren’t farmers but hunters and gatherers. They depended on food caught or gathered from open fields and forests.

According to Paleo enthusiasts, the diet includes lean meats, shellfish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and healthy oils (olive and coconut). Restricted foods include dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, salt, refined vegetable oils (such as canola), grains, and all processed foods.

A recent study of older women on this diet caught my attention. The study included thirty-five post-menopausal women who followed the diet for two years and lost significant weight. A researcher not involved in the study pointed out that those conducting the study veered from a true Paleo Diet to one that mimicked much of the Mediterranean Diet, an acceptable plan for healthy eating. A study of only thirty-five subjects concerned me.

What can we believe? In January 2016, the U. S. News & World Report listed scores of the most common diets based on a scale from 0 to 5. The Paleo diet had a 2.0 overall score. On weight loss, it scored 1.9. The score for healthy eating was 2.1, and the magazine ranked “ease to follow” at 1.7.

The magazine rated thirty-eight diets, divided into nine categories. How did the Paleo Diet fare? For Best Overall Diet, it ranked number thirty-six, tied for next to last place with the Dukan Diet, and came in last for Best Weight-loss Diet. Not only that, to follow this diet requires more home preparation, thus more kitchen time ― a sparse commodity for busy families. It also tends to cost more.

Supporters of this diet claim it leads to a healthier, fitter, disease-free life. In actuality, it fails to provide a number of needed nutrients. Exclusion of dairy makes it difficult to get recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D. Limited grains and pulses (legumes) restrict needed fiber in the diet.

Before we embark on any diet plan, it’s wise to learn the pros and cons. When tempted to follow popular diets whose claims sound too good to be true, think again. They probably are.

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A panel of health experts evaluated and ranked 35 diets for U. S. News & World Report. While the DASH Diet scored at the top of diets reviewed, the TLC Diet (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) created by the National Institute of Health, took the number two spotlight. Tied for third place were the Mayo Clinic Diet, Mediterranean Diet, and Weight Watchers Diet. Any of these make excellent choices to follow in reaching your healthy eating goals.

But which diets scored the lowest? Coming in at number 30 was the Fast Food Diet. Experts thought this choice could lead to poor food selections. The Atkins Diet—the popular low-carb diet—and the Raw Food Diet tied for number 32. Reviewers considered the latter as nearly impossible to follow. Tying for number 34 were the Dukan Diet and the Paleo Diet, both ranking low in every category,

So what makes these diets poor choices? The Dukan Diet, created in 2000 by Pierre Dukan, touts weight loss of ten pounds in one week without regaining in the following months. The diet allows unsweetened caffeinated beverages and artificial sweeteners but restricts some nutritionally sound foods and may be difficult to follow. Four phases make up this diet.

  • The “attack” phase, lasting from one to ten days, allows eating unlimited lean protein plus requiring one and one-half tablespoon of oat bran with at least six cups of water daily.
  • The “cruise” phase, lasting several months, adds unlimited non-starchy vegetables every other day plus two tablespoons oat bran daily.
  • The “consolidated” phase, based on five days for every pound lost, permits non-starchy vegetables every day plus two servings of starchy vegetables. Also added are one piece of fruit, two slices of whole grain bread, and one serving of hard cheese. The diet adds one to two celebration days to eat anything desired.
  • The “stabilization” phase permits whatever you like for six days each week. On the other day, you follow the “attack” phase, changing to three tablespoons of oat bran every day plus 20 minutes of daily walking.

The premise for the Paleo Diet is that we eat too many processed foods, and if we ate more like our ancestors, we would be healthier. The diet encourages abundance of meat from grass-fed animals, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. It includes olive, walnut, flaxseed, avocado, and coconut oils. Forbidden foods consist of all grains, legumes, potatoes, dairy products, processed foods, refined sugars, and salt.

Even though we can agree that modern diets should limit excessive salt, sugar, or processed foods, this diet is based on false assumptions. Experts consider the diet too restrictive.

While experts evaluated only 35 diets, many more exist. Diets much worse than those at the bottom of this list abound. Be wary. If you decide to follow a specific diet plan, make sure it is nutritionally sound and easy to follow.

 

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