U.S. News and World Report, a weekly news magazine with a penchant for ranking things, did not think much of the Paleo or “Caveman diet.”   It ranked the Paleo diet dead last.


But in the two weeks since U.S. News issued its “Best Diets” report, a funny thing has happened.   More people — far more people — have gone online to say caveman-style eating worked better for them than any of the other diets they’d tried.

As of mid-day Monday, more than 3,000 people said they lost weight with the Caveman diet, versus just 74 who said they did not. Only the Weight Watchers diet, which won the commercial plan category, came even close with just over 1,800 people saying the diet worked for them.  Another 775 said they’ve tried Weight Watchers, but it did not work for them.

The Dash diet, which won the overall category, had only 95 people saying it worked for them, versus 457 who claimed it did not work.

The rankings and the popularity of the diets, especially the spike in support for the Caveman diet, come as no surprise.  Colorado State University’s Loren Coirdain, a professor of health and exercise at the Fort Collins, CO-based campus, is a father of the “Caveman diet” and pushes the value of eating lean meat and wild plants.

Ever since those U.S. News rankings came out, Cordain has been busy defending the “Caveman diet, generating support on the Internet through his blogs and Facebook contributions.  He claims that the panel of nutritionists that U.S. News used to rank the diets simply didn’t know enough to make comparisons.

U.S. News ranked diets for weight loss, diabetes control, heart heath, and best commercial diet plan.  When the rankings came out, most attention focused on the “best commercial diet plan,” in which Weight Watchers bested Jenny Craig for the two top spots and Slim-Fast came in third.

But it’s been the overall weight-loss category, where the Paleo diet was ranked last among the 20 studied, that has generated attention ever since.

The low-carb diet most resembles the Atkins or eco-Atkins diets.  Its goals are weight loss and maintenance and prevention or control of diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It promises a healthier, fitter, disease-free life.

Paleolithic man — 10,000 year ago — did not eat junk food and pasta, but was a hunter and gatherer of plants and animal protein. The Paleo diet just turns back the clock to that healthier and happier time.

But U.S. News gave the Caveman diet low marks, largely because it has not been subjected to much research. The nutrition panel employed by U,S. News questioned how many people could give up bread and dairy products on a long-term basis.

But the many advocates who say eating like a caveman works for them say sticking to the high protein from wild game, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, will pay back by ending obesity and diabetes.  After all, those problems did not exist 10,000 years ago, says Professor Cordain.


  • Maybe my wife and I are unusual, but we’ve been on a paleo diet for a year now, and couldn’t be happier. Both of us dropped about 20 pounds, but we’ve also lost our habitual use of antacids, and I’ve stopped snoring altogether. There IS research showing that eliminating wheat products has a positive effect on health.

  • Wenchypoo

    Long before there was a Paleo diet, I had given up grains, beans, and dairy because of food allergies. Who can give up these foods long-term? I can, because the alternative isn’t a pleasant one.
    I haven’t lost weight, but that wasn’t my intention. However, in the journey, I did manage to get LDL plummeting, triglycerides down to a dull roar, blood pressure down to a reasonable level without meds, and HDL to get up off the floor and show itself.
    If any detractors did some actual research into how the digestive system works, they would find this irrefutable fact: grains break down into sugar, and are stored as fat. More grain consumption, more fat storage. Unless there’s a plan (lifestyle) in place to burn off the excess stored fat, you become obese.
    Another irrefutable fact: starches (beans, legumes, potatoes, etc.) also break down into sugar and store as fat. These are another source of excess fat storage and obesity.
    We DO NOT need carbs from these foods to maintain energy levels–the carbs from fruit and veggies is enough IF YOU BOTHER TO EAT THEM! The protein from meat is enough to keep you awake so you don’t crash from the produce carbs.
    On to longevity issues: the primary cause of aging is sugar. Sugar builds up in the system and binds with blood proteins to create glycation (look it up). These new bonded pairs become parts of muscle, tissue, and organs, and sugar is ACIDIC, inviting cancers to grow. Produce alkalinizes you so cancers have a tough time growing and multiplying. These bonded pairs can go on to become all your organs and tissues are made up of one day, and you have organ breakdown, skin breakdown, tissue breakdown, and susceptibility to infection and viruses.
    As for the commercial diets in the original article, this has about as much value to me as politics–whoever pays the most money gets top billing (or a cushy position). All of Consumer Reports is about marketing, and whoever pays to advertise in their magazines gets a favorable review. Rigged? You betcha! Why do you think GE scored so high in various appliance tests for the past…oh, I don’t know…how long has Obama been in office and had that GREEN INITIATIVE thing going? And how long has Jeff Immelt (CEO of GE) been on Obama’s energy task force committee?
    The Holy Grail of ultimate health only BEGINS with the Paleo diet and the accompanying exercise. The rest are just dressed-up ways to take your money.

  • Yeah, I’m going to have to go ahead and throw my lot in the the pro-Paleo/caveman camp. I did it for 30 days, and lost 8 pounds… Oh, and I wasn’t even trying to lose weight. Just kept doing what I did before for exercise.
    I plan on sticking with the Paleo indefinitely (with a few exceptions here and there…. alcohol is good for my social life)

  • dangermaus

    This has got to be the best way to eat. Eat food that looks like food!

  • I’m going to have to throw my vote to Paleo. I have been using Paleo, or something fairly similar, for 18 months now to overcome multiple sclerosis. It works. Not only did I lose 40 pounds, but my most recent MRI was cleaner than the MRI when I was diagnosed. And it works for me clients as well.
    Yes, you can give up bread and dairy.

  • Norma Bonar

    I have struggled with my health for the last 15+ years. Through trail and error I have found a diet that has worked for me. Only recently have I heard about the Paleo Diet and what a surprise it has been to find it is exactly what I have reached in diet. I could understand why I couldn’t eat sugar, wheat and dairy but rice, beans and potatoes puzzled me until I read the Paleo Diet Book. I wish I had known about this diet back when I started to search for answers to my health problems it would have saved me so much pain and frustration. I am no longer sick to my stomach, depressed and tired all the time. I feel amazing.

  • Asma

    I just lost 10 lbs on the paleo diet in a month, without exercising or restricting the quantity of food that I eat. I have never ever been able to stick to a diet before now. The food is absolutely delicious and I don’t have any desire for doritos or candy. Someone out there needs to do some good research on this…

  • I’ve been eating paleo for almost a year and I love it! It enables me to keep my weight and my non-celiac gluten intolerance under control, and I haven’t felt better in years. I do want to note though, paleo is not necessarily a low-carb diet; some paleo folks eat zero carb, some eat a couple hundred grams of carbs (in the form of veggies, fruits, sweet potatoes) per day, depending on the individual’s needs.

  • Greg Brissey

    Been on the Paleo diet for about 3 weeks, blood pressure went from 195/95 to 110/70, blood glucose went from 180 to 95, lost 13 pounds and have more engery than ever. Seems like the natural way to eat.

  • G. Recco

    Finishing last is a blessing in disguise. This will discourage the Food Industry from trying to bastardize Paleo–Caveman Cookies anyone??–the same way they have bastardized every other diet.