September 9th, 2011
10:21 AM ET

Is the Paleo diet healthy?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Courtney L. from Pittsburgh:

I am obese and have been working on losing weight for three years. I have been working with nutritionists and personal trainers instead of fad dieting. On the Web, I stumbled upon the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet. Is this lifestyle change beneficial despite the promotion of saturated fats and cholesterol?

Expert answer

Hi, Courtney. I applaud you for staying away from fad diets in an attempt to lose weight. Most fad diets are simply not sustainable long term, which leads to weight regain, and their impact on overall health has not been established.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Paleo diet falls into the fad diet category.

While there are many different versions of the diet with slightly different rules, the general principle of the diet involves eating foods that can be hunted and fished (meat, seafood - grass-fed, wild and organic are encouraged) or gathered (eggs, fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and herbs).

Dairy, legumes, salt, grains, refined sugar, processed oils, potatoes (including sweet potatoes) and alcohol are excluded from the diet.

Basically, this is a high-protein, relatively low-carb diet. The positive aspects of this diet are that it eliminates processed foods, a major source of added sugar, salt and fat in the American diet.

The diet also eliminates sugar and refined grains, both of which contribute to obesity and diabetes and can lead to increases in dangerous belly fat, which has been linked to heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

In addition, the diet encourages a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts (except peanuts, which are legumes) and seeds, all of which are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The cons are:

1. The diet eliminates dairy, an affordable and widely available source of bone-building calcium (and vitamin D when dairy foods are fortified) and protein (yes, calcium can be obtained from greens and other foods, but it is more challenging to consume adequate amounts.)

2. The diet eliminates all grains, including whole grains, which are a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and heart healthy fiber, and foods such as beans, peanuts and sweet potatoes, all of which have numerous health-promoting qualities.

3. The diet is high in animal protein, which could lead to an excess intake of saturated fat, resulting in elevated cholesterol levels, an increased risk of heart disease and increased risk of certain types of cancer.

4. Finally, the diet can be expensive (grass-fed, organic meats and eggs are more expensive) and inconvenient due to the limitation of food choices, both of which make this diet less practical for the average person long term.

Overall, I would steer clear of the Paleo diet, but we can take away something from our ancestors by eating foods closer to their natural state (less processed), which are more nutrient-dense and digested more slowly by the body. In most cases, they lead to better hunger control, more stable blood sugar levels and weight loss if calories are reduced and exercise is increased (as it sounds like they are in your case).

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soundoff (1,577 Responses)
  1. John

    Not a fan of the Paleo diet, especially after I read http://blog.wannabuddy.com/2011/07/paleo-diet.html and talked with some people who tried it. Bad for your health and a few months after you stop the diet all the weight (and a few pounds more) come back. Slow and steady dieting is the way I'm trying to get healthy again.

    Thanks for the blog! More people need to know about fad diets like this.

    September 9, 2011 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Colin Pistell

      So... let me get this straight... your friends switched to a paleo like diet, lost some weight, then STOPPED, returned to a Standard American Diet and the weight came back. Yes, clearly it was the paleo diet.

      I think this points to a really sad truth in Western nutrition – the word "diet" has become associated with a temporary measure taken to drop a few pounds. The whole paleo idea is to shift the way you eat forever – away from refined foodlike substances and towards real food. Sadly, there is a lot of hype surrounding paleo, usually generated by people who don't understand what it really is (this article is a prime example.)

      September 9, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      So you know people who ate paleo and lost weight but then stopped and started eating crap again and gained the weight back. Isn't this proof that paleo does work? See, you are suppose to eat healthy, whole foods all the time....for the rest of your life if you want to be healthy. There is no quick fix fad diet that well keep you healthy and allow you to eat junk at the same time. Quit searching for the magic pill and just eat how humans always did(until the last 100 years).

      September 9, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • M

      DUH, they stopped the diet because they were DIETING. Paleo is not a 'diet'. It's how you live. At first I thought I'd want to cheat on bread and sugar, but now I feel SO GOOD I don't even think of those things as food.

      September 9, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
  2. celisti

    the only thing works is veggies and fruits, and limit on diary, sugar and even grains (which is fat source for some type of people). even better, become a vegan, and you will be thin for life.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam

      A lot of current paleo's are former vegans.

      September 9, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • glwilliamskc

      'fruits and veggies' are not the only thing that works. paleo works for me, and for the majority of people who try and stick with it as a permanent way of eating instead of looking at it as another quick fix. if you stop, sure, you're gonna gain the weight back, as is true of any diet. furthermore, i am a former vegetarian, during which time i became fat. i ate a lot of nonfoods, such as veggie patties and soy based items, and a lot of whole grains, thinking i was doing the right thing, but just ultimately further digging myself into a hole. eating paleo, i've lost weight, i have more energy, and have gained the ability to do many things i never thought i'd be able to do. in addition, with this way of eating, i'm eating more veggies than i ever thought of as a vegetarian. and i keep track of what i eat on fitday.com, where i'm meeting and exceeding the RDA for many vitamins and minerals. i'm thriving under paleo. i could never use the word 'thrive' to describe my life as a vegetarian.

      September 9, 2011 at 14:05 | Report abuse |
    • M

      ex-vegan here. Veganism left me miserable, bloated, and exhausted for FOUR YEARS. Never again. I give my body what it needs now... meat, veggies, nuts, and fruit as a nice treat. My blood pressure and cholesterol are amazing. P.A.L.E.O.!

      September 9, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • KC

      "Veganism left me miserable, bloated, and exhausted" - sounds like celiac disease (gluten intolerance) or perhaps a similar reaction to soy (which is one of the Top Ten food allergens). Soy makes me violently ill, so I can never become a vegan.

      September 9, 2011 at 18:13 | Report abuse |
    • Karen Pendergrass

      Vegetarianism almost killed me! Guess how many people that happened to in the paleo community!!

      September 9, 2011 at 19:09 | Report abuse |
    • Jo @JAGSfitnessblog.com

      Yeah, because being thin is the epitome of being healthy *rolls eyes*

      September 14, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  3. veggal

    Celisti – Though I do agree people should become vegan, it doesn't always guarantee that you'll be thin for life. Vegans can have unhealthy diets just like omnivores and still pack on the pounds. If you want to lose weight and maintain it, eat a healthy, whole foods diet and exercise.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Santa Claus

    Needs more bacon

    September 9, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Al

    As with any "diet" one needs to assess how it affects their health, and not go simply on hearsay and conjecture. While it's true that Neolithic foodstuffs such as grains, refined sugars, and vegetable oils are restricted or eliminated by the Paleo diet, it is certainly not a rigid reenactment of our hunter-gatherer past. It should serve as a framework for making better choices about what to consume. Generally speaking, whole, natural foods devoid of pesticides, nutrient-removing processing, and the ilk are what our bodies are designed to run on. Whether you need more plant matter or animal matter will come down to your own physiological makeup. You have to be involved enough to seek change, and not just read a book and assume that's the end all be all. Tinker with different things and find out what works best for you. I will guarantee that eating whole, natural foods will serve you better than anything that comes from a box or a can.
    Tubers are not explicitly left out of the Paleo diet, but in the process of reversing metabolic syndrome and dealing with autoimmune issues removing as many potential contributors is crucial. It's also pretty widely acknowledged that the average American consumes way more carbohydrates than their body requires resulting in pretty rapid weight gain. Most folks would do just fine on <150 g of carbs per day instead of the 300+ many people consume.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dennis

      Yes, this is exactly what someone who actually knows about the Paleo lifestyle should understand and not be swayed by some "physician nutritionist specialist" who reads a book and thinks they have it all understood...first it's not a fad diet, i'm sorry but millions of years of evolution of the human animal and it's accompanying diet is not a fad, sure we give it a catchy name like "paleo" and some people talk about cavemen and hunting-gathering, but this is not a reenactment diet!! It's using the knowledge of the past to better understand how to eat properly for our biology...we are animals people and food is the one major thing we have control over in our health, the other being the envirnoment of which we have much less control over...so eat right, eat paleo, lift some heavy stuff, run some sprints, and start feeling good and healing your gut! no grains...sweet potatoes are fine as mentioned by AI if you are free of metabolic derangement and autoimmune issues...get educated!

      September 9, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
  6. Chris

    Let's see, it encourages people to eat lots of vegetables, fruit, good fats and a variety of unprocessed proteins (including fish and eggs). It also recommends that they decrease their intake of sugars, HFCS, manufactured ingredients ("vegetable oil", crisco). I would think doctors would love this...

    But all this is bad because it omits grains and legumes? I heartily disagree. There are no nutrients missed from cutting out "celiac inducing whole grains" or "flatulence inducing legumes" that are not found in the other things listed above.

    And as an aside, dairy is a gray area, many people continue to eat greek yogurt, cottage cheese, etc, but avoid "processed cheese food".

    September 9, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GI

      Celiac disease is not caused by whole grains. It is caused by gluten sensitivty or intolerance. Yes, gluten is in whole grains, but eating them does not cause celiac disease. Gluten-free is as much as diet trend as anything. Very few people have true celiac disease or celiac sprue, though do to over-vigilance in our population its numbers are growing. Celiac disease has more symptoms and can be life-threatening, not just that bloated yucky feeling from eating badly

      September 9, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • R2

      Actually, GI, that is exactly how it works. If your DNA makes you susceptible to celiac (20-30% of humans are at this point, not including other forms of gluten intolerance), you can go years (or your entire life) without actually having celiac only to have the disease triggered (flipping the switch that turns it on effectively) by over consumption of gluten.

      September 9, 2011 at 21:01 | Report abuse |
    • GI

      Once again, just by eating gluten within your diet doesn't cause celiac disease. Yes, gluten causes people the horrible symptoms associated with celiac disease and intolerance. But, just having gluten within your diet does not mean you will develop celiac disease. It is most commonly a genetic predisposition, though there can be cross sensitivity with lactose intolerance and other forms of irritable bowel disease such as microscopic colitis. Those that have celiac disease, celiac sprue, or gluten sensitivity are still a minority of people. True celiac disease isn't just a crummy stomach, it is a whole constellation of symptoms and positive evidence either in endoscopy with biopsy or serum testing. Plus most "gluten-free" products still contain gluten within them, since gluten is considered by the FDA a safe additive. So the diet fad of "gluten-free" foods are just a ploy to make more money. I feel for those with active sprue or severe disease, most are on tube feeds and multiple medications with serious side effects to control their disease.

      To me, it is eat fresh, eat in moderation, and exercise. All that canned, packaged, bottled, frozen, and processed crap is not good for the digestive system, the heart, or your waist line. Plus, fresh stuff tastes better anyways.

      September 10, 2011 at 21:39 | Report abuse |
  7. Andrew Badenoch

    So your answer to "Is the Paleo Diet Healthy?" is basically: Don't eat healthy because you can't afford it. Brilliant!

    Also insightful is the claim that grains are high in vitamins in minerals. Mhmm... so high that products made from them need to be "fortified" with added vitamins and minerals so they have something to list in the Nutrition Facts box.

    It's amazing how many things this article gets wrong for how short it is; for that I commend you.

    Paleo, the 3,000,000 year old fad diet.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bethany Davis

      Here, here!! Andrew said it all.

      September 9, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • Pat P

      It's not because something was good 3,000,000 year ago that it still applies today. Back then (even up to 100 years ago) people were actually moving, running, climbing, hunting to gather their food. Today we sit at a desk and extend our arm out to the microwave.
      This diet is way to doesnt make any sense in today's world and our society.

      September 9, 2011 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
    • Colin Pistell

      I also enjoyed the implied statement that fiber can only come from grains. Last time I checked an avocado had way more fiber than a stack of the wholest-of-the-whole grain bread.

      September 9, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      @ Pat P – almost every Paleo enthusiast I know of considers it more than just a diet. It involves getting out and moving, not sitting all day, getting some sunshine on a regular basis, etc. With that said, a sedentary person would still do better eating Paleo than reaching for that microwave box of stuff they dress up as "healthy diet food".

      September 9, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • Jake C

      Well said Androlvify. The argument that the healthiest diet is the one that costs the least just doesn't hold water I'm afraid. And the last time I checked most paleoesque folks were pretty keen on sweet potatoes... Hell, I grow my own.

      Pat P... "This diet is way to doesnt make any sense in today's world and our society."

      This statement is way to doesnt have good grammer make sense

      September 9, 2011 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
  8. Papa S

    Amazing humans even managed to survive before the advent of agriculture (grains, legumes, etc.)….must have been pure luck.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sara

      But don't you know.... we all lived short brutish lives before Cap'n Crunch came to rescue us all!!!

      September 9, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • David Csonka

      I almost choked to death on Capt. Crunch as a small child. True story

      September 9, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Ahh yes.....A bowl of Captain Crunch will leave your mouth looking like you just ate a bucket of razor blades.

      September 9, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
  9. David Csonka

    Since when does animal protein contain saturated fat? Protein is protein, fat is fat, sometimes animal "meat" contains saturated fat. Either way, the lipid hypothesis of heart disease has already been debunked – welcome to 2011, but if you worry about saturated fat intake just eat chicken breasts or fish. Oops, problem solved.

    This article is such a giant straw man, I hereby dub it a wicker man. That's like a level 10 straw man.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melanie

      Exactly. Turkey breast is 94% protein. Shrimp is 9% protein. High fat???

      September 10, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
    • Melanie

      Oops. Meant to say:
      Exactly. Turkey breast is 94% protein. Shrimp is 90% protein. High fat???

      September 10, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
  10. Alan


    September 9, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jonathan

    "Expert" answers like this make me so sad. Where to begin?

    Dairy? Why does this "expert" make no distinction between pasteurized and non-pasteurized dairy? And why not distinguish between factory farm animals, and organically raised animals (where the difference in the quality of dairy is IMMENSE).

    And why not point out that your body does not very well absorb the calcium and vit D in milk very well? There are much better sources of both of these.

    And "excess saturated fat"? Are we still living in the 90's? Why no distinction between good saturated fats, and bad ones? Why are we lumping all the sources together? Yes, you don't want too much, but our bodies actually need saturated fat (from organic sources).

    And of course the diet is more expensive. Those who care about their health with sacrifice in other areas of their lives to make sure they are getting the premium fuel their "premium bodies" demand.

    I've put together a free resource that debunks a lot of the popular myths that unfortunately this expert doesn't acknowledge. Check my profile for the link.

    September 9, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melanie

      People would rather spend money on cable tv, cell phones, etc than food/fuel/health.

      September 10, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    I was overweight for the last 8 years, i finnaly decided to do something about it,
    following strict personal training and a slightly modified paelo diet ( just adding fat free milk and greek yogurt) i have lost over 50 lbs and am so much healthier, and am now only 10lbs from my goal weight, have run several 10ks and am in training for my first half marathon. I have never felt healthier on this lifestyle diet and had more energy,
    I have only had a couple of times when i have strayed from the change and had something i shouldnt have had, ice cream or bread, and both times, i am left for the next day or so with deflated energy and lethargy.
    IThe sad thing is that , many nutritionists dont like to promote these lifestyle diets as it cuts out two of the main food groups on the so called food pyramid, grains and dairy which government pushes down our throats as being good for us, because well theres a profit to be made if we consume what we are told.

    September 9, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kristin

      So true!

      September 9, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
  13. Kristin

    I disagree with this article. I have been eating mostly "Paleo" for almost 2 years now and find it to be a great way to eat (not a diet). First of all, you can eat sweet potatoes, which are very good for you. Second, I am young athletic and very active woman who has high cholesterol due to heredity. My totals improved substantially once I started this way of eating and I was able to stop taking medication vs when I was eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) way which included everything thought to be healthy and cholesterol lowering (whole grains, etc). Also, this is a way of eating that goes along with being very active. That's why Crossfit has adopted it. You can always treat yourself sometimes but I would say that about 80% Paleo, once you get into it, makes such a big difference in your health and how you feel.

    September 9, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kristin

      By the 20% treating yourself, I mean quality dairy (which is still Primal) and Paleo desserts made with agave or maple syrup. Also red wines and tequila aren't terribly frowned upon.

      September 9, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  14. Brock Brown

    1. I wonder where other animals get their calcium from if they aren't drinking the milk of other animals in their adult years??
    2. The nutrient profile of meats and vegetables far exceeds those of grains.
    3. Davis Csonka already said it all about sat fat.
    4. If you factor in the money saved by not buying all of the processed foods, candy, pop and 'snacks' and you don't eat like a fancy Gourmand, the cost is about the same as the average American grocery bill.

    Seriously try it for 30 days and see what it can do for you!

    September 9, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MadBiker

      True, true, true, and true. I feed a family of four (2 adults, one toddler, one infant who is partially breastfed and partially on solids) for less than $500 a month. I pay a premium for raw milk (we're not sensitive to dairy in our house; kids eat it more regularly than we do) and turn it into yogurt and cheeses, and toddler drinks warm raw milk before bedtime. I make them (mostly) primal treats for special occasions or once in a while to keep their diet varied and fun. You can do paleo/primal on a budget if you are scrupulous and frugal. Save your meat and veggie scraps and make stock; turn whey from cheese into ricotta to mix with ground meat and stuff eggplant rollatini with it; take the money you would have spent on processed cheese-products, cookies, bread, snacks, etc. and splurge on some wild caught salmon or Kerry Gold butter. Raise your own chickens, if you can (we luckily can and do) or find a farmers market that sells home-grown eggs. Really, people in urban, suburban, and rural areas can do this if they just do what they

      September 9, 2011 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
    • Duncare

      @MadBiker: I agree with everything said. I too have a family of 4 (2 adults a 10 year old with autism and a 7 year old) to feed and we do it on a 500 – 550 budget. We have all been Paleo for a little over a month. I have lost almost 20 lbs and my wife has lost almost 12 lbs. It is so awesome. I still have 30+ pounds to go, but I am looking forward to getting there. The removal of dairy and gluten from my son's diet has helped enormously in curbing his behaviors and self injury. I recommend to all parents I meet with Autistic children to cut out grains and dairy and see if it helps. I was told that autistic children process gluten and dairy as more of a drug. My son would literally have his eyes gloss over and his pupils dilate, then the behaviors become erratic and dangerous like he wasn't even there. Just my thoughts

      December 20, 2013 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
  15. James

    Excluding grains and dairy (except butter) and sugar from my diet has been the absolute best thing I have done for myself. I was 50 pounds overweight until switching to the Paleo/Primal diet and now no longer have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or hypoglycemia. I feel stronger and more energetic than ever and my mood has improved since incorporating more healthy fats into my diet and excluding the bad ones (trans and veggie/seed oils). Sorry folks but the lipid hypothesis has been debunked and we need to catch up with the times. Certain fats are very good for you and in fact are necessary for your well-being. I was vegan for 4 years and never felt worse. It was fine for the first year but my health quickly deteriorated after that.

    Also, grains and dairy are not particularly nutritious. By eating grains and dairy you displace more nutrient dense foods like veggies and fruit from the diet. Grains and dairy can also be pro-inflammatory for a lot of folks so avoiding those two would actually clear up a lot of the autoimmune and other inflammation related conditions for some folks.

    For those of you on the fence, check out Robb Wolf's book The Paleo Solution and/or Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint.

    September 9, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      Oh, and if you decide to still incorporate dairy into a paleo/primal like diet, raw dairy is the way to go if you can get your hands on it. The other crap at the store (yes, even organic) is just processed junk devoid of any beneficial bacteria for the gut.

      September 9, 2011 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
  16. Mike Paleovillage

    Ok, so you want a lifestyle where you can eat all the crap in the world, as much as you want, cheapest you get, be a couch potato and be healthy? C'mon, let's be reasonable...

    1. Dairy is a gray area for Paleo promoters. I am in a Paleo lifestyle and consume daily self made kefir and yogurt, that I do from unpasteurized milk (Raw milk). So, yes, I consume dairy, in the form of kefir, yogurt, butter and cheese from time to time.

    2. Eliminating the grains (including whole grains) had more positives than negatives. The only negatives that I can tell are the pleasure of eating some pastry or fresh baked bread which I used to love. Positives are getting rid of gluten and massive amount of sugar grains contain.

    3. The high protein diet. Well, that can vary from person to person, I’m sure I consume less protein than the average American. But what I consume is the highest quality. I eat eggs, beef from time to time, lot of fish, and tons of vegetables. Actually, I bet I eat more veggies than a Vegan… Trying to figure out what deficiencies this lifestyle can have?

    4. Expensive? Well, counting that I'm never sick and at 41 and I look more around 30, and I can enjoy the life everyday, I think it's worth it. I'd rather spend money on quality stuff for myself than paying doctor bills and being in hospitals forever. Your pick? I blog about the paleo Lifestle at PaleoVillage.com. Take a look, maybe it will fit you.

    September 9, 2011 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike Paleovillage

      Ah, I forgot to add, this Paleo lifestyle changed my life. I had over 300 lb two years ago when I started. I lost over 110 lb doing this diet which transformed itself in a lifestyle. Practically, saved my life. Anyone is thinking that for me there is any turning back?

      September 9, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  17. Karen Pendergrass

    Who is this "Expert" you are quoting here? Because obviously just calling them "Expert" doesn't really show credentials. Furthermore, your "EXPERT" hasn't read a single study on the diet in his life, and fails to understand the basic premise. Nice try, CNN, but this another one of your countless failed attempts to discredit the Paleo Diet.

    September 9, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Auth

      I had to do the Paleo/Candida diet last month when I finally faced the reialty that candida was taking over my life. I was diagnosed with Celiac 4 years ago and ever since have had issues with Candida, but because my diet was already so restricted I couldn't think of putting more restrictions on myself. That changed when my enzymes stopped working and nothing seemed to really help. Going candida free and using the Paleo diet cookbook has helped tremendously. I am hoping after three months I can introduce small bits of gluten free grains back into my diet with moderation. The diet has leaned me out and really helped my digestion. If you are overweight on the Gluten Free diet, I highly suggest doing the Paleo diet for three months to really feel and see the difference in how your body works. As a Pilates Instructor, I notice a big difference in my engery levels and strength.

      March 5, 2012 at 20:40 | Report abuse |
  18. Dave

    This Expert needs to go back to school and learn to do some basic research on insulin resistance and leptin.... then talk about a "FAD" sorry... this response sounds like a highschool student's response with no research to back it up.

    September 9, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Chris Burns

    Gotta avoid all those artery-clogging-saturated-fats.

    September 9, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Maryann

    love how "the expert" says in one breath that that grains contribute to obesity, heart disease and diabetes, then the next breath says that grains are a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and heart healthy fiber. WHATEVER!!!

    September 9, 2011 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sharon

      She was talking about refined grains vs. whole grains. Perhaps you should read the article again.

      September 9, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
    • maryann

      an amazing point... the average glycemic index of whole wheat bread (70-73) is higher than that of simple table sugar (65). Explain please how whole grains are better for us than processed grains. All grains? Keep them.

      September 10, 2011 at 23:25 | Report abuse |
  21. Patrick

    Exactly, this doctor needs to do a bit more research on the subject before acting as a diet expert. I've actually dropped my cholesterol 50 points in the past 8 months eating Palio...

    September 9, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Bryan


    I think many doctors are in the paleolithic age as far as nutritional understanding goes. I have been doing a similar diet that banishes sugar, fruit, and grains and my bloodwork and other salient data are the best they have been in years. I am losing weight and feel great.
    Paleo is not a fad diet. Most of its principles make sense and there is actually a fair variety of foods you can eat. Rejecting a diet because of how much it might cost is silly. Dairy isn't exactly without its health risks and one certainly can choose leaner cuts of meat. This type of diet is much healthier than the diets eaten by most Americans.

    September 9, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Bryan

    Notice also that this doctor markets her own line of processed protein bars.


    September 9, 2011 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Bryan

    Some science:


    September 9, 2011 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. M

    Seriously, CNN? There are so many FLAWS in this article! Do your research! Grains and dairy ARE A FAD DIET to the human race, considering how recent they are as additions to our millions of years of existence!

    September 9, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Karen Fischer

    Love Paleo, never felt better. My mood is better than before Paleo. I know the grains were wreaking my body. I do have dairy. I eat meat that is not grass fed sometimes but I take fish oil. I had salmon and salad for lunch. yogurt and sausage for breakfast. Nuts for a snack. This is a fad? I don't have to buy any "Brand" of special foods. My spouse loves the transformation and He is all for the grass-fed meat if we can get it. He even bought a new grill this week! I don't have to count calories ever again!

    September 9, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Petros

    LIVING paleo has transformed my views on life, culture and diet... I've lost approximately 80 lbs so far and more importantly completely healed all my problems to do with digestive health and anxiety/adrenal function in the past. This lifestyle when done in a sensible way is great for you're mind, body, the environment, animal welfare and much more. These "experts" are told what to write by lawyers and the media outlet behind them; do you're own research.

    September 9, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Really

    It really frightens me when a supposed expert, like the Dr. in this article, is giving advice saying that Paleo is a fad diet. As noted by a poster, this is how we evolved. We didn't eat grains or legumes. We primarily ate animals and whatever vegetables we could gather. Fruits were a rare treat. All that scary saturated fat was commonplace. I believe the nutritionists have been brainwashed by poor education in their studies to simply regurgitate what has been written in their textbooks rather than really thinking or investigating.

    September 9, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Kim

    Let's define "fad", shall we?

    A fad is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior's being perceived as novel in some way.[1] A fad is said to "catch on" when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone.[1]

    And now for "trend"–

    Though the term trend may be used interchangeably with fad, a fad is generally considered a fleeting behavior whereas a trend is considered to be a behavior that evolves into a relatively permanent change.[3]

    A healthy, sustainable diet that WORKS–which hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people have adopted as their lifestyle–is not a FAD, it's a TREND. There are people who have been Paleo/Primal for YEARS by now, have seen results and have stuck with it, despite idiots like this "nutrition specialist" who try and discourage a natural, healthy way of eating.

    September 9, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. M

    I think EpicMealTime should do a paleo episode! BACON! <3

    September 9, 2011 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Scott

    There are already enough comments here that expose this "expert" response as completely flawed and inaccurate. Paleo is not a fad diet, it is the correct human diet. Paleo has improved my health and performance in countless ways.

    September 9, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Leon

    I went on the Cabana Banana diet. I didn't lose any weigh, but boy, can I climb trees now.....

    September 9, 2011 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Mahna Mahna

    The fad diet called the American standard diet will eventually fade. What we call Paleo now will become the standard diet once again and Americans will be so fit and healthy that we may actually get out of this recession. If you do a little research you will notice that countries where carbs are staple have much higher Diabetes rates than countries where animal and insect proteins are the main food source. Grains cause fat to be stored into fat cells and I don't really need to get into it because any educated person would know the details. It's just common sense. Enough with this outdated Victorian pseudo-science garbage that was acceptable in text books 20 years ago because we didn't know any better. Grain should be at the top of the pyramid, not the bottom.
    I was raised in Italy, and although I'm from an island where seafood and healthy fats are staple (including lamb, fish, squid, shellfish, octopus, quail etc...), grains are still used in certain amounts but nowhere near as much as on main land or even Sicily. Sardinians live to be 100+ years old and could live longer if they got rid of grains all together. Anyone who suffers from bloating and indigestion should try eliminating grains. You'll see a big difference.

    September 9, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Ryan

    Just frigging eat normal food, don't drink sugar and go for a walk. It's not a difficult concept.

    September 9, 2011 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Michelle

    I would like to know what the author's direct experience with Paleo has been because it doesn't sound like they are very familiar with it. Citations? What did they read that explained the Paleo diet? Who did they interview? Where are the studies proving how horrible it is?


    September 9, 2011 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. primaltim

    CNN you've done it again, managed to put on a so called "expert" who has no clue whatsoever about nutrition!!

    PALEO IS NOT A FAD DIET!! It is a lifestyle change!! Your expert bashes the heck out of it, and then at the end puts the benefits between 2 lines of crap!! THIS IS WHAT IT SHOULD READ

    but we can take away something from our ancestors by eating foods closer to their natural state (less processed), which are more nutrient-dense and digested more slowly by the body. In most cases, they lead to better hunger control, more stable blood sugar levels and weight loss.

    Guess what I HAVE CURED T2 DIABETES BEING ON PALEO!! I will never eat any other way again for the rest of my life!!

    Do your research, do not listen to a single "expert" trained by the ADA!!

    My cholesterol is better, my diabetes is gone, i've lost almost 40lbs in 4 months, I have no inflammation in my body!! Anyone who says it doesn't work either didn't follow it correctly.

    Also, depending on who you follow, dairy, nuts, fruits, are all allowable if you don't have insulin resistance and are otherwise healthy. If you suffer from T2, and obesity, then you cut these things out until you are of a healthy weight and then you incorporate it back in. GRAINS AND SUGAR ARE WHAT IS MAKING AMERICA FAT, LAZY, CAUSING HEART DISEASE, HIGH CHOLESTEROL AND DIABETIC!!

    Do the research...see what sugar does to your body!! ALL CARBOHYDRATES CONVERT TO SUGAR IN OUR BODIES!! ALL!!!


    Eat BACON!! Eat healthy organic grass fed meats, if you can't afford them then just eat the CAFO meat and take an Omega 3 fish oil supplement!!

    The time has come for people to rise up against the 'EXPERTS" AND GOVERNMENT who pushes this dietary crap info on the American public and the world!! Don't believe me, click on my name and visit my blog!! Find me on facebook, I'll point you in the right direction!!

    September 9, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • grs

      Doing drugs is also a lifestyle change, that doesn't make it healthy.

      I do believe that changing your diet combined with proper exercise is the only long term solution to stopping weight gain. That is in fact what I did over 2 years ago. I lost over 50lbs and have kept it off with very little effort.

      My diet did change to eliminate most processed foods, refined sugar, etc. I also increased my exercise (important since I sit in front of a computer most of the day). I feel good, have plenty of energy and my health has improved tremendously. However, I do eat many foods that are either very restricted or pretty much banned by the Paleo diet.

      But, in my opinion, demonizing whole "natural" food groups including whole grains like oatmeal and vegetables like Yams, is a bit over the top. I did read about the Paleo diet and understand its premise, I just don't agree with it. If you want to follow it, and it helps you maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle, go for it. But I feel that it is wrong to insist that it is the "only" way to life a healthy lifestyle.

      It always amuses me how people seem to react to a common sense article like this, which pointed out both good and not so good parts of the Paleo diet with an almost religious fervor.

      September 9, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      @ grs – There is nothing particularly healthy about grains or dairy. You can get the same nutrients by eating far more nutrient dense foods like veggies, fruit, nuts, eggs, and meat. By eating grains, you're just displacing these nutrient dense foods. Not to mention grains generally have anti-nutrients (phytates) and lectins that make them even less appealing in my opinion. And who said yams aren't paleo? Paleo does NOT equal low carb. It's more about food quality and type, although the paleo/primal diet is generally lower than the standard American diet, it does not have to do with macro-nutrients.

      September 9, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
    • Karen Pendergrass

      GRS the only way you can think it's bad to vilify grains is ONLY because you clearly don't know what we know about them 😉

      September 9, 2011 at 19:14 | Report abuse |
  37. J

    Unacceptable CNN.

    September 9, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. GrokGurl

    Paleo falls into the FAD DIET category? Wow, that was funny. Not. Paleo is not a fad diet. So many people have NO idea that food allergens can cause issues w/ weight loss and even promote weight gain and not even know it. Instead, of looking into the root cause of their struggles, they just get into the excessive cardio routine. Some fail and some "succeed" then suffer with burn out. Ever heard of gluten intolerances? Nope, not a buzz word. It's real. Trying nixing all of the frankenfoods including grains and see if you feel a difference. Load up on quality protein and FAT. Yes, I said fat.

    I think folks need to really look into what the Paleolithic Diet is all about. In fact, it isn't really a diet. It is a way of life. You don't just do it for a few months, get the results you want and then go back to your regular and possibly poor eating habits.

    September 9, 2011 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Abe

    Expensive "diet" and robust life or expensive medical bills once my body is wrecked with disease from eating processed grains and foods? Hmmm

    September 9, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Izzy

    I've been paleo for a year now and it has basically saved my life. Paleo is a way of life, it's not a FAD diet as you call it. I have celiac disease (among a million other things) and did not improve on a traditional gluten-free diet. Everything is fine now with me. No more diabetes, no high blood pressure, no hiigh cholesterol and rheumatoid athritis. I think you have to look at people like me who's life was saved by this "fad" diet that you call. I tried to be vegan about 8 yrs ago, it was the worst thing I did for myself. My symptoms worsened. Anyway, give paleo a try, you just might never look back. I know I won't. My whole family is paleo. Once they saw how much better I am, they all wanted to see if it might help them too. Of course it did tremendously.
    The comment about grass-fed beef being expensive...well that's true but food is what fuels your body and I think you can probably make a few cuts in other things in your budget. Don't ever scrimp on food items.

    September 9, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Dano

    Did people in paleolithic times only live to be like 25 anyway?

    Keep it up, or off, Courtney L. Drive and determination will get you a long long way. I wish you the best in your efforts.

    September 9, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      The average lifespan was 35, but that was due to the fact that the infant mortality rate was high, not to mention you had to worry about accidents or getting eaten by a predator. If you survived living past 2 years old it wasn't uncommon for people to live to be 60+ years. In other words it had nothing to do with diet and more to do with a lack of of access to modern medicine. Also, it's widely known that humans shrank and became more disease ridden when we switched to agriculture. The average lifespan actually decreased once we switched from hunting/gathering to agriculture, until only about 100 years ago.

      September 9, 2011 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • James


      September 9, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
  42. Mark

    She first says: "The diet also eliminates sugar and refined grains, both of which contribute to obesity and diabetes and can lead to increases in dangerous belly fat, which has been linked to heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer." but then says: "Overall, I would steer clear of the Paleo diet"????????

    Look, it is a hard diet to stick to for the long term due to limited food choices but it is a very healthy diet. slanted in a negative direction with some obvious preconceived options. The Pros are in paragraph form and hard to find and the Cons are all listed out, numbered, and easy to see.

    Please think for yourself. Remember, doctors' do not hold the secrets to the universe in their back pocket. This article is

    September 9, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melanie

      Paleo is EASY to follow long-term. Just eat REAL foods, not processed crap. I can always find several things on restaurant menus that are Paleo. I may need to request they skip the starch and serve me 2x the veggie but most restaurants will do that with no problem. And at home, we don't buy/stock non-Paleo so we automatically eat Paleo at home.

      September 10, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse |
  43. James Howell

    Interesting. On the paleo diet I lose 35 pounds of fat, my blood pressure drops from 140/110 to 105/70, I haven't had a gout attack in a year, my blood glucose drops from around 165 to around 85, and I haven't had the flu or a cold. I had no idea all this was bad for me. I guess I'd best quit my diet of meat and saturated fat and get back to my old diet of pasta and bread, oatmeal, overly sweet fruit, etc. I wonder how mankind ever survived all those millions of years on his meat and saturated fat diet instead of our civilized high-carb diet. Weird.

    September 9, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. James Howell

    I forgot to mention that my medical bills have gone from about $1500 per year to exactly zero dollars per year on the paleo diet.

    September 9, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Laura

    In six weeks I've lost 12 pounds. I feel better than ever. I sleep better than I have in years. I FEEL like moving. My mood is so much better and level that I can hardly believe it. My daughter has lost almost two sizes. My husband has also lost a size and his blood sugars are starting to normalize (he's a diabetic). His blood pressure has dropped and his cholesterol is better, so much so that his is off both his blood pressure and his cholesterol medicine. Yep, the Paleo diet is just a fad and in attention it's probably going to kill us too. btw, the food is AMAZING

    September 9, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Mad Russian

    I've been on the paleo diet for the last couple of months and have noticed a complete change to my energy levels, body mass, etc. I love doctors like this that think they have a clue but are part of the government and corporate conspiracy to keep up bloated, sick, and most off customers of the health care industry that is full of scammers making a profit off of us being sick. You know why this diet is expensive, it's because it doesn't rely on the cheap grains of corn, wheat, and soybean to support it. Those are the cheapest and easiest grains to grow and manipulate into the many products lining grocery store shelves. The conglomerates make billions off of this cheap food and they know what it does to us. I can't obtain the minerals I need from the foods in this diet? Complete bunk from a corporate supported stooge that has the nerve to consider himself a good doctor. As Izzy stated, it's a way of life, not a fad. Hilarious.

    September 9, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Josie

    Dear Courtney L.,
    As you can tell from the commenters, a paleo lifestyle will bring you health and well-being. Also, I guarantee that as a side effect you will lose weight. Probably most of the excess weight you may have. It is safe. Way safer than more conventional ways of eating. I've been where you are...fat and frustrated, right? Give it a try.

    September 9, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Eileen

    WHOA! I am a former vegetarian who has struggled with food addiction my entire life. It was a very big deal for me to "Go Paleo".

    Why did I do it? Because I could not deny the results of my peers who were paleo.

    I love how I feel, how I eat, how I perform, after 45 years of struggle. Paleo is a lifestyle, it's not a diet. There are paleo people who include dairy.. there are paleo people who eat some grains. The point is to CUT OUT ALL THE CRAP and eat clean, wholesome foods that are not filled with CRAP. If you call it Paleo, or if you call it cut out the CRAP... the principles are the same.

    To call this a FAD is outright ridiculous. It shows that the person writing has not done more than superficial research.

    September 9, 2011 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Eileen

    Mark, I think it's a very easy way of eating that you can stick to longterm. The whole point is that you wean yourself off of the urge to stick crap in your body. There are great food choices. And you can include cheat meals, cheat days... you don't have to deny yourself. I guarantee that whoever is reading this, if you go CLEAN (Paleo) for one month, then add in one or two cheat meals a month, and do that for six months, your entire way of thinking about food will change.

    I don't say this lightly. I know how hard it is to change. I am so happy now.

    September 9, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. TruthAndJustice

    When are people going to learn? The same people that are telling us meat is bad are the same people who are trying to tell that global warming is caused by man, that paying people to not work will stimulate the economy, that Islam is a religion of peace, and that mass killings of unborn babies is perfectly acceptable.

    If you're seriously dumb enough to think you meat is bad for you health then go ahead, that leaves more meat for us paleos. I eat ~15lbs of fatty beef steaks drenched in butter and covered in salt every week and my lipid profile, cholesterol profile, and blood pressure are perfect and have been for years. I also only eat 1-2 servings of vegetables a week, 2-3 of fruit a month, have a senditary office job, and the only exercise I get is 2-3 one hour weightling sessions a week. If the average american diet of .21 lbs of meat and 2.5 servings of vegetables a day can lead to an obesity epidemic, then explain how my 2.1 lbs of meat and .25 servings of vegetables per day does have me dead in just a few short years? Think about it people.

    September 9, 2011 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alan

      I'm paleo/primal, but I think your statements of bigotry and intolerance disgust me.

      September 12, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      I agree with Alan, carry on.

      September 12, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse |
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