I came across an interesting discussion board over the weekend where a guy is working on creating a book detailing the cons of the Paleo Diet. I’ve never been a person who follows trends, diets, workout routines or any sort of fad so I hadn’t really thought about if there were any cons. The only ones I had seen mentioned previously were the caution about being grumpy the first couple weeks of the diet as your body weans itself off of the carbs and opiates in grain.
As I was reading the discussion thread what occurred to me is that some people will take anything to the extreme. It’s as if you tell them a little bit of something is a good thing and they automatically jump to the assumption that if a little bit is a good thing then a lot must be better. I’m not quite sure how that logic works. If a little bit of taxes are a good thing then a lot of taxes must be better. If a few bee stings can stimulate your immune system then walking into a bee hive must be better. If a few days a week of heavy weights is good for you then 24/7 weightlifting must be better. If a little bit of wine is good for your stomach then drinking until you have alcohol poisoning must be better.
The main thread of the discussion was people who had taken the low carb aspect of Paleo to the extreme. In my reading on the Paleo Diet, I’ve seen it mentioned multiple places that if your main goal of going Paleo is weight loss, you should avoid fruits. Most people who are doing Paleo also avoid potatoes. I still haven’t seen a really stellar reason to avoid potatoes but it seems it’s to avoid carbs. These people who have tried the Paleo lifestyle and have issues seem to have gone to the extreme of carb avoidance.
I saw mention in the thread that they had ended up in a Ketogenic diet and from the reference I assumed “that must be bad”. I’ve done some research on the Ketogenic diet and it’s actually not that bad. Reading up on it on Wikipedia I found it’s used to treat seizures in people who have epilepsy. It’s especially effective with children who have epilepsy but can also be used to treat adults. Even in the Ketogenic diet, a registered dietician is used to maintain a certain level of carbs. In extreme cases, with additional health problems, a Ketogenic diet can cause acidosis, coma and death. That only occurs if you have a disorder where you are unable to metabolize fatty acids.
Another thing I found interesting about the Ketogenic diet is it can be used to treat cancer, astrocytomas, Autism, depression, migraine headaches, polycystic ovary syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The reason I found that interesting is because those are some of the same diseases/health issues that Dr. Cordain has claimed the Paleo Diet will help counteract.
So, I guess the take away from all of this is that if you take the Paleo Diet to an extreme, you may experience health problems. I have not seen anyone, on any website; suggest that you should go to such an extreme. If your goal is weight loss and you want to speed that process along, you should avoid carbs. Not cut carbs out of your life forevermore and never eat another thing with carbs. Just avoid carbs. If you’re doing heavy exercise while on the Paleo Diet there is a modified version I haven’t looked into yet. Loren Cordain has written a whole book on the topic.
I personally have not cut carbs out. I eat as much fruit as I want. I typically eat two or three pieces of fruit per day. I have not cut potatoes out of my diet either. I occasionally have some mashed potatoes with nothing on them. I also occasionally eat some hash browns with my eggs. I’ve also found eating a banana right after my workout helps me not feel quite so drained.
Hopefully, anyone who tries the Paleo Diet will use a little bit of brains while trying it. Don’t deprive your body of essential nutrition. In addition, every version of the diet I’ve seen allows a certain percentage of “cheat days”. Loren Cordain recommends an 85/15 split and Mark Sisson recommends an 80/20 split. A person must ALWAYS listen to their body. If you start having health issue you’ve never had before, it’s a good idea to do something different. Don’t just assume being constipated for a week is “normal”.