Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to the Paleo diet in seven categories by nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and heart disease, and other diet experts on a ratings panel assembled by U.S. News. (See our Best Diets methodology.) The Paleo diet came out at or near the bottom in every category, and tied with the Dukan diet as dead last overall. Ratings above a 2 were rare; the experts were especially critical of its nutritional completeness, cost, and its applicability for weight loss and for preventing or controlling diabetes and heart disease. Most seemed to agree with one panelist's summing up: "This diet should go back where it came from."
Short-Term Weight Loss
Although the Paleo diet has been evaluated in a few small, controlled trials for its short-term weight-loss potential, experts were unimpressed by the findings. They put it at the bottom in this category, their scores averaging to just a hair over 2 stars.
Long-Term Weight Loss
The Paleo diet was the lowest scorer on this measure. Without any good research to convince them the Paleo diet can deliver sustainable weight loss, our panelists dished out low scores, which averaged to just above 1½ stars.
Easy to Follow
Restricting entire food groups makes the Paleo diet "extremely" or "somewhat" difficult to follow, most of our panelists found. The diet mustered slightly more than 1½ stars, placing it behind most of its competitors.
While its focus on veggies and lean meat is admirable, experts couldn't get past the fact that entire food groups, like dairy and grains, are excluded on Paleo diets. "The risk of nutrient deficiency is real, unless the person takes a multivitamin," one panelist commented. Here, its rating lagged a full two or more stars behind many other diets.
Experts worried about dieters missing out on key nutrients on the Paleo diet, given that it shirks entire food groups. Its rating of just over 2 stars classifies it as "somewhat unsafe." It was among the poorest performers in this category.
Most of the other diets are better options for preventing or controlling diabetes, according to experts' scores in this category. A lack of research showing its worth gave experts little option than to hand out poor scores, shooting it to the bottom of the bunch.
For Heart Health
Experts showed little confidence in the Paleo diet's ability to prevent or manage cardiovascular disease. It was among the lowest-scoring diets in this category. Other diets made away with more than 4 stars, while Paleo just made it to 2.
Last updated by Kurtis Hiatt | January 02, 2013
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