To me, just eating real food is the main key aspect of our diet that makes it work. Personally I think any diet that advocates that is going to make you healthier and therefore produce results over SAD.
That being said, eating real food means slightly different things to different folks. From the paleo world this does not include grains, diary, and legumes. For a vegan they would choose to include grains and legumes.
This is where it gets interesting. I think most of the people on Paleo are doing well because they are not eating real food, and for the first time are providing their body with wide range of nutrients. For many the avoidance of grains, diary, and legumes can have immediate effects since they might have allergies/sensitivities to these foods. For others, it might more of a long term prevention. The point is Paleo stresses that foods that are toxic to our body should be avoided, eliminated, or limited. All food has toxic elements, but some more than others.
To me paleo provides a framework, blueprint, and long term solution for healthy diet. Some of these benefits we get right away, others, hopefully later in life. I don't think we are guilty of anything other than looking for the most optimal diet for humans.