Why is the Paleo diet getting such a bad rap?

The Paleo diet, or “Caveman’s diet”, is a diet that focusses on plenty of lean animal-based protein, healthy saturated fats, nuts and fresh vegetables. Basically, what it comes down to is that we should eat like our Neolithic ancestors did. Consequently, the Paleo diet is also exceptionally low in carbohydrates, sugar and dairy.

Let’s face it, once you start cutting down on your sugar and carbohydrate-heavy junk foods, you are already doing your health a massive favour.

In fact, the health benefits of the Paleo diet have been proven time and again. It’s great for maintaining your ideal weight, it aids in combatting diabetes and obesity while also boosting your heart health.

But there’s a caveat: The Paleo diet is in conflict with many mainstream dietary guidelines, like the very common low-fat recommendations. (We all know that to improve the taste of those low-fat products sugar is added.)

So, it came as no surprise when I read about a study, published in The Quarterly Review of Biology, which says there no such thing as a “true” Paleo diet.

According to the researchers, early humans were most likely dietary “jacks-of-all-trades”. They added that there is very little evidence that our ancestors followed specialised diets or that there were specific food categories that seemed particularly important to them.

It’s quite clear that the authors of this study were not in favour of the Paleo diet. Or let me rather say, the Paleo philosophy of eating fresh, seasonal and organic food did not sit well with them.

But, I wholeheartedly agree with them on all those points: As hunter-gatherers, our ancestors certainly did not have any special dietary needs because they ate what they could find. So, while they did not purposefully stick to a particular (and specialised) diet, they still followed one – even if it was as a result of their environment and circumstances. They weren’t exactly spoiled for choice like we are today.

In short, they ate a healthy, organic and wholefood diet because that was all that was available to them.

One researcher also said: “Everyone would agree that ancestral diets didn’t include Twinkies, but I’m sure our ancestors would have eaten them if they grew on trees.”

What a silly thing to say. Twinkies on trees?

The truth is, the “advances” of modern civilisation like preservatives, genetically modified foods, and the mountains of added and hidden sugar found in almost every form of packaged food have not done us any favours. For one, the incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer has been on the rise since WWII – exactly the same time when humans started to eat more manufactured food.

So while we can forever debate about what types of foods early humans ate, one thing is certain: They ate fewer carbohydrates, added sugar and no manufactured “low-fat” foods.

And like I’ve said earlier, the benefits of matching these eating habits have been proven by numerous studies showing that people who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat – even saturated fat – lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow low-fat, high-carb-heavy diets.

To a healthier life,

Thomas Smith

Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


“Blood, Bulbs, and Bunodonts: On Evolutionary Ecology and the Diets of Ardipithecus, Australopithecus, and Early Homo.” The Quarterly Review of Biology. 2014 89(4):319-57

“Did cavemen really stick to the Paleo diet?” CBS News, 12/17/14

“The Paleo diet and cavemen: There may not be a connection after all,” Medical Daily, 12/20/14

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  1. The Paleo Diet has benefited me and my family greatly. I highly recommend following it – no sugar, no refined carbs, lots of fresh fruit and veg… what can be unhealthy about. Nothing!

    1. I totally agree with S.Field. The Paleo Diet has helped me lose weight as well as maintain a healthy weight. No more yo-yo dieting! I’ve also been able to control my blood sugar levels, have loads more energy and my cholesterol levels have dropped too.

    2. You are so right. Since we’ve cut sugar and carbs and started to focus on organic fresh produce as the main source of our food at home, our family’s health has improved drastically.

    3. Totally! In our house we love eating Paleo and what I’ve noticed is that my skin and complexion look so much better. Must be because I’m not consuming a lot of refined sugar. The only sugar we really eat at home comes from fresh fruit – nothing like a sweet peach!!!

  2. My mom recommended the Paleo diet to me and my husband. We both have been overweight and once we started following this diet we saw that it was not only easy to prepare food but delicious too. We know have berries for dessert instead of sickly sweet ice cream and my husband makes a delicious chicken and apricot salad. Needless to say we are dropping those extra pounds are in a much better, healthier and happier place. Paleo is the way forward.

  3. I couldn’t agree more… I know of absolutely no valid science showing that such a nutritious diet have ever harmed anyone’s health… whereas there is ample proof that the modern western diet – consisting of sugar-laden processed foods – is killing people with cancer, diabetes and obesity to mention but a few horrible diseases, which I believe are all lifestyle-related.

  4. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the Paleo diet. people just like to complain when there is something out there that proves to be healthy for others. We are not all made the same, you know.

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