Paleo Diet may cause weight gain and boost blood sugar, says nutritional study

Lab animals fed on the fad hunter-gatherer diet gained 15% of their body weight in two months

Paleo, Diet, Hunter Gatherer

The Paleo Diet discourages followers from eating anything that would not have been available to Stone-Age mankind [Flickr/Jaana-Mari]

In an era of fad eating regimens, the Paleo Diet has found favour from celebrities, propelling it to dietary prominence and stocking supermarkets stocking the kind of fare cavemen snacked on to entice eaters to shed the pounds. Only now a new study in ‘Nutrition & Diabetes’ suggests that the fad diet may actually lead to weight gain - and then some - instead.

The Australian researchers fed lab animals a steady Paleo-friendly diet, consisting of high-fat foods and reduced carbohydrates. Within two months of their new feeding regime, the animals had gained 15% of their body weight and had developed a number of diseases. Mice, in particular, presented with an increase in gluten intolerance, which can often lead to diabetes.

The Paleo Diet is founded on the concept of avoiding processed foods and adhering to a number of nutritional principles, modelled on the dietary habits of mankind during the Palaeolithic period. The diet recommends meals based on what might have been available to hunter-gatherers, suggesting diners avoid cereal grains, dairy, and refined sugar, replacing them with animal protein and plants.

Some doctors will recommend patients follow a higher fat, lower carb diet in order to manage weight loss, but the scientists behind this study expressed doubts that the Paleo Diet would be successful.

"Our results do not support the recommendation of a [low-carb, high-fat diet] for use in prediabetes; rather interventions aimed specifically at reducing obesity and improving insulin sensitivity should be pursued," the researchers concluded.

The research team also noted that their findings are based on observing mice, whose metabolism differs from mankind meaning both species may not respond to the same diet in the same way.

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