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Lessons from the Paleo Diet (Part 2)

July 18, 2013 by Andrea Godfreyson, Registered Dietitian

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…In Part 1 of this blog post, we covered the basics of the Paleo diet. Now let’s tackle the pros, cons and whether or not it’s right for you.

Are there benefits to trying the Paleo diet?

The Paleo diet is high in protein, fat and fibre, which may leave you feeling more satisfied than when you eat meals that are mainly refined carbohydrates. For example, a Paleo-friendly omelet loaded with veggies may ward off hunger longer than a bagel and a large specialty coffee drink. You may be able to eat less while still feeling satisfied.As Canadians, about 22% of our energy (calories) intake (based on 2004 data) comes from foods that are not part of the four food groups. These ‘other foods’ include things like sugary drinks, salad dressing, added sugars, alcohol and fruit drinks. Focusing on eating plant foods, like vegetables and fruit instead of highly processed foods can have a positive impact on our health.

Are there any risks to trying the Paleo diet?

Whole grains, legumes and milk and alternatives provide important vitamins and minerals including fibre, B vitamins and calcium. Eliminating these foods can make it difficult to meet your nutrient needs. Also, people who do endurance activities may find it difficult to meet their carbohydrate needs on the Paleo diet as it omits many of the carbohydrate sources that provide energy for activity.

So, should you ‘go Paleo’?

Research supports the benefits of whole grains, legumes and milk and alternatives as part of a healthy diet. If these (or any other food group foods) are eliminated from your diet, careful attention needs to be paid to make sure your nutrient needs are met.

I see the Paleo diet as a good reminder to get back to the basics of healthy eating. Here are three lessons from the Paleo diet I think we can all agree on:

  1. Eat a variety of foods in their whole form. (For example, whole fruit instead of juice.)
  2. Focus on eating plant foods, like vegetables and fruit. 
  3. Limit highly processed foods, added sugar and salt. 

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