Are Paleo and Whole30 Superior Diets?

Posted On Jan 10, 2017 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Are Paleo and Whole30 Superior Diets


Paleo seems to be constantly changing and depending on what source you follow, the Paleo diet can look drastically different from one plate to another. But it also seems like it's around to stay; it's not just a passing fad. Paleo Diet experts argue back and forth about what the Paleolithic humans truly ate, whether or not foods such as alcohol, grains, and legumes are included or excluded. And the modern Paleo diet can be overrun with Paleo-approved baked goods made from nut flours, protein powders, and maple syrup or honey. These should still be treated as treats or splurges. The main premise of the Paleo diet is to eat whole, minimally processed foods.

Can't argue with this, as most people could benefit from eating more whole foods, but not everyone needs to, nor benefits from excluding ALL wheat, ALL grains, ALL dairy, and ALL sugar. It usually translates into eating more fruits, vegetables, healthy fats from fish, nuts, avocado, and healthy oils, lean protein and less sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. For some, because of the reduction in highly processed foods saturated with sugar, salt, and fat, cravings decrease or diminish and overall health and vitality improve.

Bottom line: Paleo is worth a try, especially if you have strong cravings for high-sugar and high-carb foods. But don't be fooled by all "Paleo" recipes and products. And a little food for thought: Cavemen had a lifespan of about 40 years, there's evidence they suffered from heart disease, and proof that humans have been consuming grains for thousands of years. Excluding all grains, like plain oats, brown rice, and quinoa, might not be necessary or guarantee better health.


The official Whole30 program is meant to be a 30-day jumpstart to weight loss and healthier eating. It's very similar to Paleo except that it's very strict in restricting all types of sweeteners and absolutely no grains (not even quinoa or ancient grains), dairy, legumes, or alcohol. If you feel like you need to live without for one month in order to get on track, you can still get adequate nutrition on the Whole30 diet. Long-term, I would recommend adding back in small amounts of whole grains and pseudo grains like quinoa. And unless you're sensitive to dairy there's no reason to exclude cheese and yogurt from your plate forever.

Bottom line: Same as with the Paleo diet, you can have small amounts of the "forbidden foods" and still be very healthy. Neither one is a guarantee for weight loss as portion sizes are still important no matter how healthy your diet.

Neither diet is a cure for every ailment known to man (fertility issues, skin issues, digestive issues, cancer, etc) either, as some people claim, although with improved nutrition comes improved overall health. In general, both Paleo and Whole30 are nutritious diets, but you don't have to be fanatical about following them to be healthy.

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