Dr. Cordain Answers Common Questions About Paleo | The Paleo Diet®
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Commonly Asked Questions with Dr. Loren Cordain

By Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Founder of The Paleo Diet
April 12, 2013
Volodymyr Hryshchenko/ Unsplash.com
Volodymyr Hryshchenko/ Unsplash.com

Why go Paleo?

In your opinion, what is the main reason people choose not to go Paleo?

They are either unaware of the concept, or shy away from it because they have pre-conceived notions that it is "too restrictive." In fact, these are the same people who consume 70% of their calories from only 4 foods: refined sugars, refined grains, refined vegetable oils and dairy. When prospective Paleo dieters remove these 4 foods, they will suddenly find themselves eating a more varied and nutrient-rich diet than ever before. Fresh fruits, vegetables, grass produced meats, and seafood become their staple foods.

What do you think is the most important food for us to cut out of our diets?

The Paleo Diet cuts out a lot of foods from the average human diet. What do you think is the most important food for us to cut out of our diets? Sugar, dairy products, grains, legumes, unhealthy fats/oils, etc.? Or, is this question impossible to answer since each of these foods affect our health differently?

As I pointed out in the previous question, these same 4 foods comprise 70% or more of the calories in the typical Western diet. I think you would find it hard to discover a nutritionist anywhere who would not believe that we could improve our health by reducing our intake of refined sugars, refined grains, refined vegetable oils and processed foods made from a combination of these ingredients. Remember that in addition to reducing or eliminating these nutrient poor foods, the Paleo Diet also encourages people to eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood and grass produced meats and poultry.

Why should you avoid dairy and grains?

If a person has never shown a hypersensitivity to milk, legumes, or grains will they feel the benefits of The Paleo Diet?

Yes. These foods contain a variety of antinutrients and nutritional qualities which may adversely affect health in a manner that is not always obvious to the consumer.

How does The Paleo Diet help people lose weight?

Since there is no calorie counting involved in the Paleo Diet, how can a person lose weight?

Refined sugars, refined grains, refined vegetable oils and dairy comprise 70% of the calories in the US diet. By reducing these foods and replacing them with fresh fruits, vegetables, grass produced meats, fish, and seafood we can make our diets more nutritionally dense and increase the satiety value of our foods. Both of which will help to promote weight loss, along with the elimination of processed foods.

Can you overeat on The Paleo Diet?

If there really is "no limit" on how much to eat, how do you approach a healthy balance of the appropriate foods?

Real foods such as grass produced or free ranging meats, fish, seafood, fruits, and vegetables are self-limiting. Your body gives your brain signals to stop eating with these foods when you are full. Whereas it is quite easy to overeat nutrient depleted processed foods made from refined sugars, grains and vegetable oils, etc.

Do you need any supplements on The Paleo Diet?

What is your opinion on the use supplements for vitamins and minerals?

Except for vitamin D and fish oil (if you don't regularly eat fatty fish), most antioxidant vitamins and minerals actually increase mortality from all causes. See my most recent book, The Paleo Answer, for further information.

How do Paleo followers get enough vitamin D?

There is no Vitamin D consumption when following the Paleo Diet. In your article, "The Nutritional Characteristics of a Contemporary Diet Based Upon Paleolithic Food Groups," you write that sunlight is the only way our ancestors got Vitamin D. Today, with all the new research, how do you suggest we get our Vitamin D?

I suggest taking between 2,000 to 4,000 IU of vitamin daily if you cannot obtain regular sun exposure.

Is The Paleo Diet sustainable for all humankind?

Do you think there are enough resources for our entire country and world to sustain a strict Paleo Diet?

No. But in the US and other countries, we are not suffering from diseases of under-consumption, but rather from diseases of over consumption. Hence, most middle class US citizens can afford to eat high quality foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, grass produced meats and poultry, fish and seafood.

Are there any drawbacks to The Paleo Diet?

What is the most dangerous thing about following The Paleo Diet?

In most people, there are no known adverse health effects of the diet. Pregnant women should not exceed 25% of their calories from protein, as the liver is less able to detoxify protein during pregnancy.

How has The Paleo Diet impacted Dr. Cordain's life?

How has the Paleo diet personally effected your life?

It is most gratifying for me to see how people worldwide have improved their health and well-being and in achieving their personal fitness and health goals.

Give the diet two weeks and see how you feel. Also, have your blood drawn before and after two weeks on the diet and show your results to your physician.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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