Paleo Diet Side Effects

One of the more recent popular diets is the Paleo diet named for our Paleolithic caveman ancestors.  The goal is to eat like a caveman as opposed to a modern man.  The diet avoids carbohydrates, sugars, dairy, and processed foods which are abundant in our modern society.  It emphasizes eating organic meat, nuts, eggs, vegetables, and seafood which is what Paleolithic man ate.  I agree with the part of the diet which avoids sugars and processed foods as these items are not good for our health.

Avoiding carbohydrates altogether has a tendency to produce what is known as a low carbohydrate flu.  The symptoms consist of fatigue, shakiness, diarrhea, and difficulty sleeping and can last for 3-4 weeks.  These symptoms, incidentally, are also found in people afflicted with hypothyroidism.  One of the ways to minimize the carbohydrate flu symptoms is to slowly eliminate carbohydrates from the diet over the span of two weeks instead of eliminating the carbohydrates abruptly.  The thinking is that eliminating the carbohydrates should cause the body to burn fats as opposed to carbohydrates, thus resulting in weight loss.

One of the side effects of the diet is ketotic breath.  This is a result of the fat being consumed by the body.  Ketosis produces acetone in the breath which has a distinctive smell.  This may be bothersome to some people, and I have seen recommendations to chew on mint or cilantro to minimize the smell.  Obviously, this is something that will go away after the diet is discontinued.

People can expect to lose about six pounds in a two week period.

The paleo diet is high in protein, and can increase the bad LDL cholesterol and lower the good HDL cholesterol.  This alteration in cholesterol can increase the possibility of heart disease.  The increased protein can also be hard on the kidneys.  People should always consult their physician prior to starting a diet, but this is especially true for people with renal conditions who are considering this diet.

With the exception of the “bad breath” and the shift in cholesterol, the diet appears safe.  I would recommend not being on the diet long term, but a period of two or three weeks should be acceptable.  I don’t know that putting up with the side effects of the diet, however, would be worth going on the diet in the first place.  Again, I am not a big fan of diets, but the paleo diet appears to be safer than most of the other diets out there.

One common complaint of people participating in this diet is the inability to exercise due to the extreme fatigue which is initially experienced.  I am a firm believer in the benefits of exercise, and not being able to exercise while on the diet is a negative in my opinion.

I would still recommend eating wisely, and exercising regularly to achieve your weight loss and maintenance goals.  I would recommend this exercise and eating wisely regimen to anyone before I would recommend a diet.  Again, if you feel you must diet, this diet does not appear harmful in the short run.

Wishing you continued success in your weight loss and maintenance, Pablo.


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