The paleo trend is super trendy right now, and you're likely to have heard success stories of people who have thrived off of this lifestyle. However, going paleo isn't for everyone, and there are ways that eating a paleo diet can hurt your health, as explained by John Berardi, Ph.D. and a founder of Precision Nutrition, over interview with Huffington Post. It's worth trying this type of eating style out, but if you find yourself reacting poorly, don't push yourself to continue.
As a certified health coach, I'm all about eating foods that fuel you and make you feel better in the day, and doing whatever feels best for your own body and lifestyle, no matter what others say. It's common to get caught up in other people's behaviors and advice, and if someone goes on a paleo diet, you might think you ought to in order to produce the same health results. Unfortunately, a diet is not alike for all. In my training in becoming a certified health coach, I learned about the concept of bioindividuality — how there are so many dietary theories and ways of eating to choose from, and not everything is for everyone. Paleo could be disastrous for some, but awesome for others. Here are 11 ways that eating paleo can actually worsen your health, and how to find a better way of eating for proper balance.
1. One-Size-Fits-All Is A Myth
According to certified holistic health coach and personal trainer Jen Bruno with J.B. Fitness, over email with Bustle, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all when it comes to diet and lifestyle patterns. You might have a friend who felt totally healthier and happier once going paleo, but that doesn't mean you will, too. Go with what make your body thrive and don't give into pressure from others.
2. Not Getting Enough Energy
Bruno advises that those who stick with a paleo diet can be at risk of not getting enough energy, if their bodies are accustomed to tolerate foods, such as dairy, whole grains, and legumes. These foods can be uplifting and provide great sources of energy, and it's a shame to miss out on these foods if your body can actually thrive off of them.
3. Anxiety From Rigid Dieting
Bruno says, "strictly following a list of off-limits, allowed, and not allowed foods can cause anxiety and stress in people," and such rigidity can also lead to poorer health long-term and lack of sustainable results. It's much better to create a way of eating that is inclusive and enjoyable, rather than too harsh and rule-oriented for many people.
4. It's Hard For Vegetarians
Eating a paleo diet can be great for those who eat animal protein, as it's a way to get in your daily intake of key nutrients and essentials to help your body function up to par, explains Bruno. Unfortunately, vegans and vegetarians could be at risk of not getting enough nutrients in the day due to a lack of animal meat and more difficulties with following a paleo lifestyle.
5. Too Much Protein
"It's important to speak with a trained expert when discussing your dietary preferences, especially if you're considering the paleo style of eating," explains Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, over email with Bustle. "Excessive amounts of extra dietary protein over a prolonged period of time can actually cause damage to your kidneys down the road. We all want to be trucking along well into our later years, so be sure before giving into a new, trendy diet to do your research and work with a registered dietitian who can help guide you in the right direction," Shaw advises.
6. High Cholesterol
"The Paleo diet may increase blood cholesterol levels due to higher intakes of saturated fat from red meats, butter, and ghee," advises Erin Holley, MS, RD, LD, from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center over email with Bustle. "We know from much research that saturated fat and cholesterol can increase risk of cardiovascular disease. If you choose to follow a Paleo diet, it would be recommended to choose protein sources that are leaner, such as poultry, fish, and lean beef," Holley says.
7. Increased Cravings
"The stereotypical Paleo diet promotes low carbohydrate intake, in particular by eliminating grains and starches," says Holley. "Going too low carb can actually backfire by increasing carb and sweet cravings. Eliminating grains can also lead to deficiencies in many important B vitamins," Holley warns. Be mindful before giving in to those cravings and grab a healthier snack.
8. Bone Density Loss
"If eliminating dairy while following the Paleo diet, this also increases risk for Vitamin D and calcium deficiencies, thus putting someone at risk for low bone density later in life. If someone is adamant about following this diet, I would recommend they take a multivitamin and mineral supplement, with adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D," advises Holley. "However, my first choice is always to include whole food low-fat dairy choices. There is evidence to support that our bodies respond more favorably to whole food choices for nutrients instead of supplement form," Holley adds.
9. Lower Mental Sharpness
Over email with Bustle, certified healthy lifestyle coach Liz Traines says that going paleo can lead to less mental stamina in the day, due to a lack of carbohydrates that can provide steady, and easily available fuel to power through the day. If you start to lose focus, consider ditching the paleo diet and trying a new way of eating.
10. Interference With Social Life
Going paleo, or any restrictive diet, can negatively affect your social life, explains Traines, as it can make it more stressful to go out with friends and family and order off the menu, partake in shared dishes, or go outside your comfort zone. This can lower quality of life and happiness, which can hurt your mental health long-term. If you find yourself missing out on engagements, forgo paleo.
11. Too Much Acidity
Traines also warns against making your body too acidic, as it thrives under alkaline conditions and excess acidity can interfere with digestion and reflux. Meat is incredibly acidic, so eating too much meat in a day can lead to greater acidity. Be careful with portion sizes if you're paleo, or consider a new way of eating.
While a paleo diet can be awesome for many people, it is not definitely not the only way to eat for great health results and a happier outlook. Go with however your body feels, and let it tell you what it needs when making a decision regarding a way of eating and lifestyle patterns that are sustainable and beneficial to your health.
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