What Are the Disadvantages to the Paleo Diet?

For one thing, it's not exactly quick and easy.

Photo by: Mike Kemp/Getty

Mike Kemp/Getty

Quick and easy are not usually words that come to mind when doing the Paleo diet. The so-called "Caveman Diet" focuses on whole, unprocessed foods — with meal prep a critical component of success. And there were certainly no fast food restaurants in caveman days. Disadvantages to the Paleo diet are a matter of opinion; you may actually consider some of the following to be advantages of the Paleo diet.

Meal prep is critical

You will not be grabbing supermarket convenience items for short-cut cooking. Instead, you will be doing a lot of veggie chopping. The healthiest way to do Paleo is to include lots of heart-healthy greens like kale, Swiss chard and spinach. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts require washing and chopping to avoid languishing in the veggie bin. And to prevent antioxidant-rich herbs from becoming food-waste slime, they should be prepped and stored correctly.

Though the emphasis is on fresh food, frozen fruits and veggies can certainly remove some of the food-prep burden — as long as you have the freezer space while also storing grass-fed beef from the farmers' market.

Ditch dining out

This can be a healthy habit. But it certainly makes brunches with friends, grab-and-go lunches and dinner dates tricky. Paleo-friendly restaurant options are sometimes available. But your dining companions may become uncomfortable while you ask questions of the server about whether refined oils are used, or if the meatballs contain breadcrumbs or soy sauce.

However, if you do your homework and look up the nutrition of menu items or call the restaurant ahead of time — which is healthy advice for anyone — you can enjoy dinners out without compromising your Paleo plans. Soup-and-salad combos (check dressing ingredients), meats without breading, plain fish, grass-fed steaks, sandwiches without bread, omelets or egg dishes (without cheese), fresh fruit, baked potatoes and steamed vegetables can all usually fit.

Consider health concerns

Upon the advice of doctors, and with the help of dietitians, many people with Type 2 diabetes reduce carbs as a way to help manage diabetes. A focus on foods that are closer to their whole state means that meals plans include lean meats, an egg a day, nuts and seeds as snacks, more seafood and lots of fruits and vegetables. Baked goods, bread, added sugars are all off the table, but so are heart-healthy whole grains.

People who have been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance may find the paloe diet a useful tool to feel satiated. Searching for paleo recipes and meal plans will yield gluten-free options, however they won’t include whole grains, which are important nutrient sources.

Try it short-term

Just make sure you check with your health care professional before beginning this diet – especially if you have any health issues like heart disease or metabolic disease.

And most importantly, enjoy your paleo food – because that’s a healthy habit too. If you’re not enjoying all that caveman food, maybe agriculture was a good thing.

Serena Ball, MS, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist, food writer, and recipe developer. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com and is the author of the best-selling The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Follow her @TspCurry on Twitter and Instagram.

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