Paleolithic Diet

Last Updated: September 28 2022

Paleo diets are a set of eating patterns that limit or exclude foods that were unavailable to our Paleolithic ancestors. Randomized trials suggest well-formulated paleo diets may be as effective as other healthy diets for weight loss and improving markers of metabolic health. Risks of a well-formulated paleo diet are minimal, but more restrictive versions can cause nutrient deficiencies and health issues.

Paleolithic Diet is most often used for

What is a paleo diet?

Paleolithic (paleo) diets are a group of dietary patterns that approximate what our Paleolithic ancestors ate. They are usually minimally processed, whole-food diets full of plants and animal products. Paleo diets commonly limit or completely exclude grains, dairy, legumes, starchy root vegetables, and processed foods.[1]

What are paleo diets used for?

While paleo may be considered a panacea in some popular circles, randomized trials have shown that paleo can be used for modest positive effects on weight loss,[2][3][4] glucose regulation,[5][6] blood lipids,[7][4] and other markers of cardiometabolic health.[3][7][4][5] These effects are comparable to those seen with other healthy diets, but paleo may lead to greater weight loss, especially in the short term.[8][3]

How safe is paleo?

Moderate paleo diets are generally safe, but more extreme paleo diets may pose risks.

Extremely carbohydrate-restricted paleo diets can lead to lactation ketoacidosis (a rare condition that may arise when a lactating woman’s energy needs are not being met through diet) in breastfeeding women.[9]

Paleo diets that are very high in protein (>2.5 grams protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day, or about one-third of calories from protein) may increase risk of kidney stones and kidney dysfunction.[10] The relationship has not been confirmed in more rigorous randomized trials, and does not apply to paleo diets with more moderate levels of protein.[11]

A balanced paleo diet should include sources of iodine, calcium, and vitamin D to prevent nutrient insufficiency or deficiency.[12][13][13][14][15]

How does the paleo diet work?

Paleo diets may lead to weight loss by making calorie restriction easier with nutrient-dense, highly satiating foods that emphasize fiber, protein, and fat.[16][17] The positive effects on blood pressure, blood lipids, and other cardiometabolic outcomes may be due to the inclusion of particular nutrients (omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium) and the exclusion of others (sugar, salt, high-glycemic carbohydrates, excessive saturated fat).[18][19][20][13][8][5]

What else is Paleolithic Diet known as?
Note that Paleolithic Diet is also known as:
  • Ancestral diet
  • Paleo diet
  • Hunter-gatherer diet
Paleolithic Diet should not be confused with:
  • Carnivore diet
  • Ketogenic diet
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