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Digest: Debating Nutrient Density and the Paleo Diet

By The Paleo Diet Team
October 26, 2016
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It’s hard not to feel pretty satisfied when you hit a homerun in a debate. But sometimes, you hear an argument so many times that even if you can hit it out of the park, you get tired of repeating the same old counterpoints.

That seems to be the case with The Paleo Diet and nutrient density. How often have do we read or hear someone claim that “by eliminating several food groups, the Paleo diet prevents dieters from getting the critical nutrients they need.”

It was the main argument used in the US News and World Report’s Best Diet Rankings to keep the Paleo diet at the bottom of the ranks. A rationale that seems even a little more biased when you consider that the vegetarian diet, which also eliminates food groups, is high in their ranks.

So it’s not too surprising that when a positive study or review of the Paleo diet appears, the same old argument quickly rears its ugly head. Case in point, this spring a two-year study exploring the effects of an ad libitum Paleo diet on weight loss and lipid profiles in obese postmenopausal women was presented at the 2016 Endocrine Society Annual Meeting. The promising results showed improved weight loss and a better lipid profile among the women in the Paleo diet group.

Soon afterwards an article about the study made the rounds on the web written by HealthDay reporter Dennis Thompson. While he outlined the positive results, the article quickly shifted to an interview with Connie Diekman, former president of the Academy of nutrition and Dietetics, offering the usual rhetoric about nutrient deficiencies on the Paleo diet.

We decided enough-was-enough and it was time to address this argument once and for all. So welcome to our series on why the Paleo diet is actually a high-nutrient density diet despite eliminating food groups. We think it’s a home run argument. We hope you enjoy!


Please check back over the course of the next week as our team takes on the critics and explains why the Paleo diet is a nutrient dense diet. Here’s a taste of what’s to come:

Dr. Cordain Responds to Critics of a Recent Paleo Diet Study


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By Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s make bold claims to Dr Cordain without backing them up with a lot of science. We promise he’ll come equipped with a stack of research when he responds to you. In part one of our series, Dr Cordain addresses Diekman’s criticism with a pile of research that will make it hard to say her arguments hold scientific water.

A Critic Shares Her Perspective on Nutrient Density and Other Concerns with the Paleo Diet

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By the Paleo Diet Team

Caroline Apovian, Ph.D. Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center was also interviewed in Thompsons article. However, she provided a more open and dual-sided perspective on the Paleo diet. We were interested in her insights and caught up with her for a short talk.


Eliminating Non-Paleo Foods Improves Nutrient Density

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The argument that the Paleo diet leads to nutrient deficiencies is based on flawed logic. Critics talk about the food groups that are eliminated but forget that they have to be replaced by other food. And as we show in this article, Paleo-friendly foods are consistently more nutrient dense than non-Paleo foods which means that replacing them leads to a denser diet. But the proof is in the details and we provide you with a series of tables showing clearly why the Paleo diet is necessarily more nutrient dense than even diets considered healthy by the nutrition community.

A Few Paleo Recipes to Maximize Your Nutrient Density

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By Lorrie Cordain

The Paleo diet is naturally nutrient dense, but if you’re still interested in super-charging your mineral and vitamin intake, here’s a few recipes to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need and more.

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