Paleo Diet Short- and Long-Term Effects (2024)

One of the catches of this approach is you’ve got to stick to a paleo menu to see improvements. That seems obvious, but many people find it difficult to stay on track because the approach is restrictive and is not always conducive to traveling or eating out. Some experts say it’s not an effective strategy for sustained weight loss for that reason. (6)

“Cutting out whole food groups, which is what the paleo diet does, results in a very restrictive diet, which is difficult to adhere to long term,” Dolinski says. “The key to good nutrition is moderation, variety, and balance, and the paleo diet lacks variety and balance.” Another barrier is that the diet can be expensive. Research suggests it can be 10 percent more costly than a diet with similar nutritional value. (7)

By cutting out entire food groups on the paleo diet, you may also miss out on key nutrients. Take dairy products like cheese,yogurt, and milk, for example. These can be great sources of calcium andvitamin D, both of which are critical to bone health, Dolinski says. One study found that people who followed a paleo diet had just 50 percent of the recommended dietary intake of calcium. (1) That’s whynutrient deficiencies are one health risk of the paleo diet.

Paleo dieters need to be careful about the types of meat they use to fill their plate. Red meat is high insaturated fat, which can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk ofheart diseaseandstroke. (8)Red meat should be consumed only in moderation, with no more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day if you’re following a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. (8) (If you’re eating fewer calories, your saturated fat intake should be less.) That limit is easy to hit — a 3-ounce steak and a tablespoon of butter will put you over.

Eating too much red meat can also be harmful to the kidneys, which play a role in metabolizing protein. One study found that replacing one serving of red meat with another type of protein — like chicken or seafood — can reduce the risk of end-stage kidney disease by 62 percent. (9)

Paleo Diet Short- and Long-Term Effects (2024)
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