If you've flipped though a health and fitness magazine or website anytime since the early 2000s, you've most definitely heard of the Paleo diet. The diet, which got its name from its cave-man style of cuisine, has long been a favourite among those looking to slim down and get lean.
But a new study out of the University of Melbourne now says the diet may actually cause weight gain and can even increase one's odds of developing diabetes.
"Low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets are becoming more popular, but there is no scientific evidence that these diets work,” University of Melbourne associate professor Sof Andrikopolous says.
We are nowhere near as active as the hunter-gatherers who inspired the diet we're trying to duplicate.
The professor, who presented his findings in a paper for the Nature Journal: Nutrition and Diabetes, conducted his study on two groups of overweight mice with pre-diabetes symptoms. One group was placed on a low-carbohydrate diet while the other was placed on a high fat diet. Both of which are similar to the Paleo diet.
After eight weeks, the mice on the high fat diet gained 15 per cent of their body weight and saw a rise in their insulin levels.
For his part, Andrikopolous says he was shocked by the lack of weight loss that occurred during the eight-week span, but as he explains, it just goes to show that calories matter. "If you eat more calories, you will put on more weight."
But more importantly, Andrikopolous believes, putting someone with a sedentary lifestyle on a high-fat, low-carb diet will result in that person gaining weight and, as he notes in his study, since we're nowhere near as active as the hunter-gatherers who inspired the diet we're trying to duplicate. Even those who are mildly active run the risk of weight gain as well.
While Andrikopolous considers the paleo diet a fad trend that is both unhealthy and fattening, he does offer up a diet suggestion for those looking to get healthy — the Mediterranean diet, which he notes is "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.”