Whole Food Plant-Based Diet vs Paleo

On social media, we’re constantly bombarded with dietary recommendations from experts. Pretty people in fancy surroundings continuously promoting revolutionary products and eating regimens, which lack any sense of proof or reality. A true, scientifically-based diet plan can be hard to find among all that confusion.

The explosion of information has left most people disoriented and misguided, especially since a great discover in 2006. In this article, a comparison is made between two mainstream dietary approaches – the Whole Food Plant-Based Diet vs the Paleo Diet. Below you will discover what you need to know about these two dietary options.

The Paleo Diet

This diet is said to have been the ancient caveman diet during the Paleolithic era. Their meals were centered around animal products much like the typical American diet today. But the meats today, once lean and free of many toxins is now high in saturated fat and toxic contaminants such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. It is also ridden with polycyclic hydrocarbons, antibiotics, and cadmium. During the Paleolithic era, the diet was high in potatoes. legumes, and whole grains (starchy whole vegetables), which are rich in carbohydrates, fiber, nutrients, and protein. Today the paleo diet goal is to keep carbohydrate intake low. Conversely, the whole food plant food diet emphasizes carbohydrates high in dietary fiber, of which meat does not contain. The Paleo diet aims to exclude refined or processed food like trans fat, sugar, and dairy products.

Whole Food Plant-Based Diet vs Paleo

Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPB)

The WFPB diet emphasizes whole, unrefined plant food including not only vegetables and fruits, but also grains, and legumes, unlike the Paleo diet. Whole grains, high in complex carbohydrates are a very important part of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet. The dietary fiber, including soluble and insoluble fiber naturally function together to remove saturated fat and toxins from the body. Original studies done in 2006 in Japan, showed the remarkable discovery of TMAO, Trimethylamine N-oxide. This is a toxin derived from animal protein. It includes choline, primarily from eggs and additional carnitine from meat and dairy. Other chemicals are found in animal products such as PCBs and other carcinogenic toxins mentioned earlier. It is strongly urged to ultimately exclude these products to achieve the best and longest lasting results. A plethora of studies and happy people all around the world demonstrate the extraordinary benefits this way of eating provides. This is evidenced by cultures of whole food plant based eating around the world in what are called Blue Zones with lifelines of many over 100-115 years of age.

Are Both of These Diets Healthy?

Both eating plans eliminate processed food and include plenty of vegetables. The Paleo diet allows some processed food including oil from nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives. It restricts carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables. The WFPBD does not restrict complex carbohydrates from vegetables. Unfortunately, paleo diets tend to not distinguish between complex carbs and simple carbs. That is one reason they tend to fail in the long run. The WFPBD includes only whole forms of plants containing fat and oil, but still in limited amounts when it comes to avocado, coconut, olives, nuts, and seeds. The effort is made to avoid all processed oil including extra virgin olive oil, due to the increased levels of cholesterol and imbalance of omega 3 and 6. This imbalance leads to discrete inflammatory disease not easily distinguished or identified by many doctors and nutritionists. The most notable studies done to reduce cholesterol especially in those with a strong history of familial cholesterol complications are those that have been done by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. He has a very reputable study that has lasted for over two decades longitudinally with great success of patient recovery and survival.

Plants deliver high quality protein – legumes including beans, peas, and lentils and whole grains provide perfect amounts of protein for the human body. Animals products including fish, lean meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy for paleo diets provide too much protein and are not designed to reverse disease. The only way to reverse disease and achieve optimal health is by consuming a variety of whole plant food containing all the perfect portions of vitamins, minerals, soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, and phytochemicals found in plants.

The Five Principles of Healthy Eating

Any diet plan you follow should strive to hit these five marks to ensure it provides solid health benefits:

  • Minimally processed foods. A 2019 National Institutes of Health study concluded that eating a diet high in processed food leads to weight gain, elevated blood sugar, and high cholesterol levels. Even small amounts of processed food can lead to a whole host of inflammatory disease including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune reactions, skin problems and a many other interdependent inflammatory disease. The key is to redesign your microbiome consisting of over 39 trillion microorganisms. They live either in harmony or at war based on what you put in your mouth.  Avoid all processed food for optimal health.

  • Plenty of plants. Everything the human body needs has been provided to us from a variety of plants and the sun. Unfortunately some of our nature or God-given gifts have been destroyed by manmade chemicals that have damaged our supply of B12 and omega oils. People tend to spend a lot more time indoors, depleting themselves of the crucial Vitamin D3.  A plant based diet enriched with these few supplements will ensure you the most perfect health you can obtain.

  • Adequate protein. It is important to eat enough protein. Plants provide plenty of protein, especially in whole grains and legumes (beans, peas, and lentils). Meat contains overly high amounts of protein. Meat eaters tend to have a higher prevalence of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease as noted above. This is especially noted as people age. Fatty streaks are found in nearly 100% of children who consume animal products. This is not typically evident until we reach the third or fourth decade of our lives.  Being strong, healthy, and disease free requires healthy forms of protein, nutrients, sleep, hydration, and physical activity.

  • Limit or better yet, eliminate saturated fat, and processed oil, sugar, and salt  Consume sweets provided by nature such as bananas, raisins, dates, maple syrup, or honey. Get your salt fixes from natural sources made with soy. This helps reduce damage from salt that include hypertension and cancer.  Keep sodium intake below 2,000 milligrams per day. Over 3,400 milligrams are consumed by the average American.

  • Balance. You should select a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups to meet nutrient requirements. Nutrient-dense foods provide nutrients without adding excessive calories to your diet.

By following these five principles, you can ensure that your diet will make you healthy and happy. 

Refer to my book Eat Grass Kick Ass, Plant Based Done Right for all the resources and information you need to make sure you are on the right track.