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There are many structured eating plans available for weight loss. This post describes the Paleo Diet - what it is, the pros and cons, and whether or not it is effective for weight loss.
The Paleo Diet recommends eating and drinking as ancient pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers once did. This translates to a diet made up of whole and unprocessed foods. It is high in protein and relatively high in dietary fiber. The diet has been around since the 1990's and was founded by Loren Cordain, PhD. The modern American diet is saturated with processed foods, added sugars and low in dietary fiber. Cordain states the Paleo Diet will help to optimize health, assist with weight loss and decrease risk of chronic disease. You can learn more at The Paleo Diet.
Grass-fed meats, wild game, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, non-starchy vegetables, specific plant based fats and some fruits.
Dairy products, cereals, grains (think pasta, bread, rice, crackers), corn, soy, legumes (think beans, lentils, peanuts), processed sugars (think pastries, cookies, cakes, brownies, candy, soda), potatoes, certain oils that are refined such as canola oil and soybean oil, most types of alcohol and excessive salt.
Extra virgin olive oil
Macadamia nut oil
The diet could be too expensive for folks on a tight budget, especially if they are trying to feed a family Paleo-style. Foods such as grass-fed meats, wild game, nuts and certain vegetables are generally more expensive than complex carbohydrates such as beans, rice and oats.
In-person support: try www.meetup.com to locate and meet others who are following this eating plan. Online support at www.thepaleodiet.com. Also, MyNetDiary has a Community Forum that helps people connect with each other.
The paleo diet consists of many healthy components such as lean meats, high amounts of veggies, fruits and nuts. It is an improvement over the typical American diet consisting of fast food, high amounts of simple carbohydrates, added sugars and unhealthy fats. However the Paleo Diet omits 2 important food groups: whole grains and legumes. From a nutritional standpoint, whole grains and legumes provide dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals and they are convenient and affordable. For certain populations such as young, active individuals the Paleo Diet may not provide enough complex carbohydrates to fuel activity and recovery. Finally, the diet may be quite restrictive for some individuals which can mean added stress when planning, preparing meals and eating out.
This is a very individualized question. Each person must commit to the diet for some time and then decide for themselves if it is viable for the long haul. Some people in the paleo community have found a way to promote long term viability by creating the 85:15 rule. Essentially, this allows for 3 non-paleo meals a week.
There will never be one diet that meets the macronutrient, micronutrient needs and health goals of every individual. Nutrition is highly individualized. And yet the Paleo Diet contains many components of a nutritious diet such as lean meats, high amounts of vegetables, nuts and fruits while at the same time, avoiding processed foods with added sugars. If you are an omnivore looking for a new eating plan to explore, it is worth a try!
For basic information about other diets, I recommend WebMD's Weight Loss & Diet Plans A - Z and U.S. News & World Report's Best Weight Loss Diets.