The Paleo Diet urges us to mimic our prehistoric ancestors’ food choices. In practice, this means eschewing dairy products, cereals, pulses and processed sugar, and consuming vegetables, fruit, nuts, pasture-raised meat and wild-caught seafood instead.
The Paleo Diet’s proponents contend that by eating this way, we will lose weight and reduce our risk of chronic diseases.
The roots of the Paleo Diet can be traced to the 1950s, but it owes its current popularity to a book by Loren Cordain called The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat, the first edition of which was released in 2001.
In the 22 years since the publication of Cordain’s book, the Paleo Diet has been adopted by several million people and a multi-billion dollar industry has developed in connection with it, including premium-priced foods and a certification scheme.
While the Paleo Diet has many adherents, clinical research has yet to substantiate its purported health benefits.
To begin with, it does not seem to outperform conventional recommended diets as a means of losing weight in the medium- to long-term. The only published multi-year study to have evaluated the Paleo Diet’s impact on weight loss found that following the Paleo Diet was no more effective than following the Nordic countries’ official nutrition recommendations after two years.
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