5 Reasons Why I Don’t Like The Paleo Diet

I wanted to title this article  5 Reasons Why The Paleo Diet Sucks , but I thought that might be a bit harsh.

For those that don’t know, the paleo diet is a trendy eating pattern that is based on the premise that humans are only meant to consume the foods that were supposedly available to our ancestors.  

Although the diet can be incorporated and interpreted in different ways, it mostly comes down to a list of foods you should eat, and a list of foods you should avoid. 

Paleo Approved Foods: Grass-fed meat, fish/seafood, fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and eggs.

Paleo Unapproved Foods: Cereal grains, legumes, dairy, potatoes and anything else not in the first group of foods.

So now that you know what it is, let me tell you the 5 reasons why I don’t like it.

1. It is a tad elitist: From a financial perspective, it is absurd to suggest that an individual should be consuming all of their calories from the foods in the Paleo diet approved list.  When you omit foods such as rice, potatoes and legumes, you are omitting an affordable source of nutrient rich calories that most of the population relies on to remain well-fed. In other words, you need to have cash to burn to follow a true Paleo diet.

2. It is a re-packaged version of low-carb:  Paint the picture however you’d like, but there is no getting around the fact that the Paleo diet is just a glorified low-carbohydrate diet. There is no strong long-term evidence that there is anything particularly useful about low carb diets.

3. It omits so many important foods:  From a nutrition perspective, the Paleo diet omits so many important food’s that it is almost laughable.  As a dietitian, I can speak volumes about the important role that foods such as  whole grains ( oatmeal, brown rice , quinoa) and  legumes ( chickpeas , lentils) play in the diet of the average person. These are foods that are associated with positive health outcomes and are rich in many of the important nutrients that we need for optimal health.

4. It is not ideal for athletes: The Paleo diet is often associated with the Cross Fit movement, and I feel that this gives the impression to people that Paleo is the path to elite performance. The irony is that a low carbohydrate diet is never recommended for athletes. All of the best available scientific evidence points to athletes needing to consume 5-10 grams of carbohydrate per kg of body weight. That is a minimum of 375 grams of carbohydate for an 165 pound man. In other words, that is a whole lot of fruit.

5. It over emphasizes meat:  I am not a vegan, but I am active on social media and I can feel the power of the plant-based movement.  I believe that we are at a critical time in society where awareness surrounding the consumption of the earths natural resources, animals included, is at an all time high. It is generally accepted that reducing meat intake is associated with positive health outcomes, especially since many of us eat too much to begin with. Unfortunately, legumes and tofu, two of the primary candidates to replace meat as a protein source in meals, are not Paleo approved foods.

There you have it folks, my objective account of why I just don’t like the Paleo diet.


Andy De Santis RD MPH