It seems that on a weekly basis we hear negative (and often downright ignorant) claims around the validity of a paleo or ancestral diet. From “top health experts” calling the paleo diet unmaintainable, to the dietitian down the street deeming it nutritionally imbalanced, it seems that around every corner is another “expert” criticizing this lifestyle. Recently, US News and World Report established a panel of experts to examine the most popular current diets and ranked paleo as the worst.

This report reviewed 32 diets of 2014 and gave each a scorecard based on eight categories including overall effectiveness, long term weight loss, short term weight loss, ease to follow, nutrition, safety, and diabetes and heart disease. The expert panel behind this report was composed of 22 health professionals including dietitians, medical doctors, pediatricians, cardiologists, scientists, and even a psychologist. Some of the diets reviewed in this report included Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, Jenny Craig, and even the Biggest Loser diet, all of which were ranked higher than the paleo diet.

[pullquote]USDA guidelines … tend to focus more on the best interests of the United States Department of Agriculture rather than the concerns of the average American.[/pullquote]

Ranked at the top of the charts was the DASH diet, which is designed to prevent and lower high blood pressure by reducing sodium intake and emphasizing fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat dairy while shunning “calorie and fat-laden sweets and red meat.” It would make sense that a diet rich in whole grains and low fat dairy would be popular among mainstream dietary experts as most of their education is based on the USDA guidelines, which tend to focus more on the best interests of the United States Department of Agriculture rather than the concerns of the average American.

Also among the top five ranked diets is the Weight Watchers diet, which claims “there is a lot more to dieting than counting calories,” yet bases its entire premise on counting points which have been created on each food’s nutritional composition (fruits and vegetables carry zero points while higher fat/calorie foods are worth more points). So basically with Weight Watchers, you can eat fruit all day long then choose to use your points towards chocolate cake or a Big Mac, and according to the experts behind this ridiculous report, you’ll still be better off than following an ancestral lifestyle. How can counting points on a daily basis be better than simply opting for balanced portions of the naturally low-sodium, high fiber, nutrient-dense whole foods (found in a paleo diet) that our bodies were genetically designed to function on?