On one hand, this way of eating encourages the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables and cutting out added sugar and sodium — which aligns with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The combination of plant foods and a diet rich in protein can help control blood sugar, regulate blood pressure, contribute to weight loss and prevent Type 2 diabetes, says White.
But a typical plan also exceeds the Dietary Guidelines for daily fat and protein intake and falls short on carbohydrate recommendations, according to a review from U.S. News & World Report. The exclusion of whole grains, legumes and dairy can be risky as well. "These foods are nutrient-rich and contain important vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D. Without these foods, supplementation is necessary," says White. "Eating this way … can be very healthy but the lack of certain foods may result in certain deficiencies."
Eliminating whole grains and dairy is not necessarily the ticket to ending disease and ensuring weight loss. Whole grains contain dietary fiber, which may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and other health complications. And, studies suggest that dairy may play a role in weight loss. "The crux of the problem, with respect to grains and dairy, stem from over consumption, and, as with anything, excess quantities will become problematic," explains White.
The Paleo diet might also be hard to sustain. "We live in a society where it is not possible to eat exactly as our ancestors ate. For example, wild game is not readily available as most of the meat we consume has been domesticated. And the plant food we eat has also been processed rather than grown and gathered in the wild," says White. "While strict conformity is not realistic, it is possible to modify the plan, eating only wild caught fish, grass-fed meat and organic fruits and vegetables." But even that can be hard to follow because of lack of variety, need for planning, supplementation and cost, White adds.