The Paleo Diet May Make You Fat or Kill You


Eating fresh, local, in-season veggies with wild fish and avocado is dangerous? And it’s going to cause you to get fat? Check with any of the experts who really, truly know what it is.

Dr. Cordain, in his first book, The Paleo Diet[1], explains how: “by eating your fill of satisfying and delicious meats and fish, fresh fruits, snacks, and non-starchy vegetables, you can lose weight and prevent and treat heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, and many other illnesses.

And before Dr. Cordain, Dr. S. Boyd Eaton, MD, who studied Paleolithic Nutrition extensively and wrote The Paleolithic Prescription[2], explained “The Paleo diet includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, meat, and organ meats while excluding foods such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, and alcohol or coffee. The diet is based on avoiding not just modern processed foods, but rather the foods that humans began eating after the Neolithic Revolution.

Odd enough that it’s touted as ‘breakthrough’, since it is a nutrition program based on eating the foods we were genetically designed to eat meats, fish, fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds and other foods that made up the food groups of our Paleolithic (Stone Age) ancestors, but that is what the Paleo diet is.

So if you’re doing anything other than the above and claiming Paleo doesn’t work / made you sick/ made you fat, before you get on the soapbox and scream to the masses that Paleo is the root of all evil, take a quick check to see if what you’ve been doing is what Paleo really is.

We’ve all been hearing the hype over the past week, after the Australian Mice Study made headlines.

“Diabetes expert warns paleo diet is dangerous and leads to weight gain” warned the South China Morning Post[3], followed by a summary in which we learn that followers of a new study has revealed that following a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for just eight weeks can lead to rapid weight gain and health complications.

The study’s lead author, associate professor Sofa Andrikopoulos of the University of Melbourne, says this type of diet, exemplified in many forms of the popular paleo diet, is not recommended – particularly for people who are already overweight and lead sedentary lifestyles.

“There is no scientific evidence that low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets work. In fact, if you put an inactive individual on this type of diet, the chances are that person will gain weight,” says Andrikopoulos, president of the Australian Diabetes Society.

Hmmm… what might the diabetes society have at stake if the public dared to cut down on refined, grain and sugar based products?

Well, given that the recommendations[4] include eating a wide variety of ‘cereal grain foods, breads, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley’ and that the Dietitians Association of Australia’s (DAA) sponsors include Nestlé, Unilever, Dairy Australia, has important members who work for Kellogg and PepsiCo and has a spokesperson who is paid by Coca-Cola to present his research denying a connection between sugars and obesity[5], I’d say there’s more than concern for public health in between the lines of these recommendations.

In response, on his website[6], Dr. Cordain points out, “To even suggest, that a single mouse study can be extrapolated to show causality in humans is just bad science. The Australian press should be ashamed of itself for misleading the public.”

Then, we have an article in the Huff Post[7] in which the author shares why “The Paleo Diet Didn’t Work for Him”. We learn that despite the weight melting off, he didn’t feel well and references eating “a kilo of broccoli, causing his stomach to moan for mercy”. Finally, while he admits that Paleo opened his eyes to the amount of sugar in many, many food products, it still ‘has significant flaws, leaving him suspicious of it ass a sleekly-marketed con peddled by a diet industry looking for its next big villain. We, as hungry for a weight loss shortcut as we are for Chinese takeout, are only too happy to swallow the high-fat, high-protein snake oil.”

So, where does it say that eating a kilo of broccoli in one sitting is a good idea? And what makes Paleo different from any other eating approach in that it’s subject to being completely bastardized in its interpretation?

Think gluten-free.

If one eats gluten free cereal and breakfast, gluten-free energy bars for snacks, gluten-free pizza for lunch and gluten-free pasta at dinner and gains weight and becomes pre-diabetic, does that mean ‘gluten free doesn’t work’?

The danger here is not from eating foods typical of a real, paleo regime.

The danger is taking pieces out of any approach to diet out of context, manipulations them to try to fit a slightly less offensive version of the Standard American Special and then saying the original idea was corrupt.

And so many, many people who may have otherwise benefitted from what it really is, end up never even giving it a try.

That’s the danger.

Eating real, fresh food in a balanced manner is not going to make us fat or kill us.

Think about it and apply a little common sense.

[1] Cordain, Loren. The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2011. Prin

[2] Eaton, S. Boyd., Marjorie Shostak, and Melvin Konner. The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet & Exercise and a Design for Living. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Prin

[3] “Paleo Diet Can Be Dangerous to Your Health, Study Shows.” South China Morning Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2016

[4] “Healthy Eating for Adults.” Australian Dietary Guidelines (n.d.): n. pag. Diabetes Australia. Web

[5] “And Now a Word from Our Sponsors: The Dietitians Association of Australia.” Food Politics by Marion Nestle And Now a Word from Our Sponsors The Dietitians Association of Australia Comments. Food Politics, 17 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 Mar. 2016

[6] “Loren Cordain | Response to Mouse Study | The Paleo Diet.” The Paleo Diet. N.p., 23 Feb. 2016. Web. 01 Mar. 2016

[7] Weir, Christopher. “The Case for Carbs: Why the Paleo Diet Didn’t Work for Me.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2016