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A website in the US has named the paleo diet the worst diet of 2013.
US News ranked 29 diets based on advice from health experts, and rated paleo equal last along with the Dukan diet.
The diets were judged on criteria including weight loss, heart health, nutrition, and how easy they are to follow.
The best performing diet was the DASH Diet, designed to prevent and lower high blood pressure.
Paleo is a high fat and protein diet that looks back to the Paleolithic era (which ended about 10000 years ago) for its guidelines. Fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat and fish, plus nuts, seeds and 'good fats' like olive and coconut oils make up the bulk of the paleo menu, while grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods are out.
The paleo diet has been earning criticism closer to home too. The Dietitians Association of Australia questions the diet's benefits, calling it a "fad".
According to the DAA website, "by banning certain nutritious foods, followers of the diet will be at a greater risk of falling short on important nutrients, such as calcium."
Not true, says paleo blogger Irena Macri. "If you follow a varied paleo diet which includes plenty of dark leafy vegetables, sardines, nut and seeds...you will be getting sufficient calcium intake."
While the DAA ackowledges that paleo has its good points, such as promoting fruit and vegetables, lean meat and fish, ultimately the professional body is unhappy that "it excludes nutritious core foods such as breads and cereals, and dairy foods".
Critics of the diet also claim it's short on fibre owing to the lack of complex carbohydrates (Victoria Government's Better Health website recommends four serves of bread and cereals a day).
Irena says it's a misconception that you need to eat grains and legumes to stay regular.
"Recommended fibre consumption is 25 to 35 grams per day," she says. "One apple contains 4 to 5 grams, one cup of broccoli contains 5 or 6 grams, a handful of almonds has 3.5 grams, 1 cup raspberries has 8 grams - I think I'm almost there and that's not even close to all the fibre you would be consuming each day."
Supporters of the paleo diet are outraged that controversial diets such as Slim-Fast and Medifast outperformed a regime that promotes eating whole, unprocessed foods.
"How a diet of liquid chemicals with flavours such as cookie dough and fudge brownie could be recommended over whole foods baffles me," vented one commenter at the Eat Drink Paleo Facebook page.
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