Paleo: your questions answered

by Mar 27, 2017Blog

Paleo is one of the most popular diets in the country at present.  So, with this in mind, I thought I’d share my answers to some of the most common paleo questions I’m asked…

Q1. Is paleo a fad diet?
A ‘fad diet’ is defined as any diet which cuts out core food groups and/or promises incredible results without research to back up their claim.  As such, I would call paleo a fad diet as it cuts out grains, dairy and legumes.

Q2. Is the paleo diet dangerous? 
Personally, I wouldn’t call it dangerous.  In fact, I think there are a lot of good features about the paleo diet.  For example, I love its focus on fresh fruit and vegetables, and on reducing your intake of highly processed foods.  However, as it cuts out some core food groups, you could be missing out on some key parts of your diet – if you don’t replace them with other food sources.

Q3. Are carbs bad for me?
Nope.  In fact, a recent meta-analysis (which is the strongest type of research there is) found that people who follow low carb diets were more likely to die earlier than people who ate them.  See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23372809

Q4. Do carbs cause weight gain?
Carbohydrates provide 16 kilojoules per gram, which is not a lot when you compare it against fat which provides 37 kilojoules per gram.  Carbs are found in a wide range of food (including grains, legumes, fruit and dairy).  Like most foods, if you eat too much of it, you’ll gain weight.  Often people lose weight just by restricting the variety in their diet, because suddenly, you’re forced to focus on exactly what you put into your mouth.  Research shows that people usually lose weight just by keeping a food diary!  Furthermore, low carb diets can be great in the short term, but research shows that in the long term, a low carb diet (like paleo) and carb-containing diets tend to have similar amounts of weight loss.  See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23588462.

Personally, my recommendation is that it depends on the individual.  You need to find a diet that works for you; for your medical conditions, medications and lifestyle.

Q5. If dairy foods are so important for the prevention of osteoporosis, why do people in countries that don’t consume dairy have lower rates of osteoporosis than we do?
You’re right in saying that Australia has a high level of osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis is caused by a combination of factors which include low calcium intakes, low levels of vitamin D and/or low levels of weight-bearing exercise.  People living in countries where osteoporosis levels are low, often undertake more weight-bearing exercise and get more vitamin D than we do.  It’s also important to remember that dairy products aren’t the only source of calcium.  Green leafy vegetables, fish bones and tahini are also very good sources.  However, most Aussies don’t consume many of these products either.  So, if you’re going to cut dairy from your diet, it’s important to replace it with other calcium-rich food sources.

If you’ve got more questions about the paleo diet, feel free to ask them in the comments section below…

Download my cheat sheet for more information on how to meet your calcium requirements from non-dairy food sources.

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