- Paleo diet claims to help with weight loss and building muscle strength
- Based on everyday foods that mimic the food hunter-gatherers ate
- But new study claims the low carb, high fat diet leads to weight gain
- Instead, it recommends people with diabetes follow Mediterranean diet
It has been hailed as the best way to lose weight and build muscle.
But the Paleo, or so-called caveman diet, may not reap the benefits promised, controversial research warns.
The eating plan is based upon everyday, modern foods that mimic the food groups of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors – and celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Biel are said to be fans.
Essentially a low-carb, high fat diet, followers can eat grass-produced meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds and ‘healthful’ oils.
Banned items include dairy, cereals and grains, potatoes, refined sugar, processed food and salt.
The Paleo, or so-called caveman diet, may not reap the benefits promised, controversial new research warns
It first came to the public’s attention in 2001, when Professor Loren Cordain, of Colorado State University’s health and exercise department published The Paleo Diet – and has since soared in popularity.
But the new study claims following the diet for just eight weeks can lead to rapid weight gain and health complications.
The surprise finding, by University of Melbourne researchers, has prompted them to issue a warning about so-called fad diets with little or no scientific evidence.
Instead, they recommend people with diabetes or pre-diabetes should eat a Mediterranean diet.
Lead author, Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos, claims this type of diet, exemplified in many forms of the popular Paleo diet, is not recommended – particularly for people who are already overweight and lead sedentary lifestyles.
He says mass media hype around these diets, particularly driven by celebrity chefs and celebrity weight-loss stories, is leading to more people trying fad diets backed by little evidence.
In people with pre-diabetes or diabetes, the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet could be particularly risky, he said.
‘Low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets are becoming more popular, but there is no scientific evidence that these diets work.
‘In fact, if you put an inactive individual on this type of diet, the chances are that person will gain weight,’ warned Professor Andrikopoulos, who is President of the Australian Diabetes Society.
‘There is a very important public health message here. You need to be very careful with fad diets, always seek professional advice for weight management and always aim for diets backed by evidence.’
He and his team sought to test whether high-fat and low-carbohydrate foods would benefit the health of people with pre-diabetes.
‘Low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets are becoming more popular, but there is no scientific evidence that these diets work,’ the researchers said
They took two groups of overweight mice with pre-diabetes symptoms and put one group on the LCHF diet.
The other group ate their normal diet. The mice were switched from a three per cent fat diet to a 60 per cent fat diet.
Their carbs were reduced to only 20 per cent.
After eight weeks, the group on the LCHF gained more weight, their glucose intolerance worsened, and their insulin levels rose.
THE DIET DEBATE RUMBLES ON…
While Professor Andrikopoulos believes low carb, high fat diets are dangerous, other medical experts are highly in favour of them.
In fact, fat is good for us and should be our medicine, Surrey-based cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra claimed this week.
He argues a mounting slew of evidence suggests that far from contributing to heart problems, having full fat dairy in your diet may actually protect you from heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The Paleo diet group gained 15 per cent of their body weight – and their fat mass doubled from 2 per cent to almost 4 per cent.
‘To put that in perspective, for a 100kg person, that’s the equivalent of 15kg in two months. That’s extreme weight gain,’ said Professor Andrikopoulos.
‘This level of weight gain will increase blood pressure and increase your risk of anxiety and depression and may cause bone issues and arthritis.
‘For someone who is already overweight, this diet would only further increase blood sugar and insulin levels and could actually pre-dispose them to diabetes.
‘We are told to eat zero carbs and lots of fat on the Paleo diet.
‘Our model tried to mimic that, but we didn’t see any improvements in weight or symptoms. In fact, they got worse. The bottom line is it’s not good to eat too much fat.’
Prof Andrikopoulos says the Mediterranean diet is the best for people with pre-diabetes or diabetes.
‘It’s backed by evidence and is a low-refined sugar diet with healthy oils and fats from fish and extra virgin olive oil, legumes and protein.’
The study was published in the Nature journal Nutrition and Diabetes,
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online