This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
All these different diets can get confusing when you’re trying to lose weight. One of them is the paleo diet. Is it good for weight loss?
The paleo diet is a collection of dietary guidelines made to resemble what our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic area which was about 2,5 million to 10.000 years ago.
The reasoning behind the paleo diet is that the human body has evolved to eat these kinds of food. That your body has not completely adapted to the modern-day diet. The theory is that because of that the modern foods cause negative health effects and that by avoiding these you should feel better and get to a healthy weight.
Paleo diet rules
It’s not always 100% certain what our ancestors ate in that period but there seems to be an agreement on certain foods.
What you can eat on paleo
- Meat (preferably grass-fed or wild game)
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy fats and oils (for example olive oil, nut oils)
- Salt & spices
What you need to avoid on paleo
- Grains, such as wheat, oats and barley
- Legumes, such as beans, lentils, peanuts and peas
- Dairy products
- Refined sugar
- Soft drinks
- Processed foods
- Trans fats and margarine
As with most diets, there are some variants of the paleo diet. As a general rule you can use “if it looks like it’s made in a factory, don’t eat it”.
Is the paleo diet safe?
Your diet isn’t only about “doing more good”. Sometimes it’s just as important as not doing damage. Let’s go over some things you should think about when starting a new diet plan.
Micronutrients is the name for smaller kinds of nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Your body needs these to survive and thrive. They help for long term health and weight loss.
The micronutrients in the foods you can’t eat on the paleo diet are fairly easily found in other foods.
The guidelines of the paleo diet don’t really say anything about macronutrient ratios. This means you could do the paleo diet in different ways with different consequences.
For example eating too much protein can have negative health effects. On top of that, the protein sources on paleo are often accompanied by relatively high amounts of saturated fat. This can potentially increase the risk of negative health side effects (1).
If you or anyone in your family has a history of heart disease and/or high cholesterol you may want to avoid making fat heavy animal meats a big part of your diet to play it safe.
Protein sources like fish, nuts, and seeds are generally the better choice in terms of health.
Calories are not the only important thing about your diet but they do matter.
The paleo diet again doesn’t say anything specific about the amount of calories you can consume.
Because of the increase in whole foods it will likely become harder to overeat. This will probably benefit your weight loss.
Do keep in mind that not enough calories isn’t good either. If done for too long a big calorie deficit can damage your metabolism. Try to lose weight at a healthy rate.
Can you lose weight on a paleo diet?
One of the main reasons of being overweight is eating too much processed foods high in refined carbohydrates.
Your body has built in processes to suppress overeating. However, these processed foods are able to bypass them.
The paleo diet forbids you from eating these foods that make it easier for you to gain weight. You will also almost inevitably eat more vitamins, minerals, and fiber on the paleo diet.
Fiber helps you feel less hungry and feeds your microbiome which in turn improves your health and weight.
The paleo diet might not be completely perfect for your weight and health but for most people it’s a big improvement and a great first step in the right direction. You will most likely see awesome results on the paleo diet.
Do keep in mind that the paleo diet can be done in different ways. Some more healthy than others. For example if you or anyone in your family has a history of heart disease and/or high cholesterol you don’t want to overdo it with fat-heavy types of animal meat.
If you decide to follow the paleo diet make sure you implement enough vegetables and healthy protein sources.