WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
In recent years, the Paleo diet has been regarded by some as the panacea for weight loss. A new study has shown that this type of diet, which is low-carbohydrate and high-fat (LCHF), does not aid weight loss and actually causes weight gain.1
Research out of the University of Melbourne in Australia published earlier this year sought to determine if high-fat and low-carbohydrate foods would benefit people with pre-diabetes. The study observed the effects of the LCHF diet in mice, as the rodent’s biological, genetic and behavioral characteristics are very close to those of humans.
Mice were divided into two groups, both of which had pre-diabetic symptoms. Group 1 was put on the LCHF diet and Group 2 ate their typical diet. Group 1 was switched from a 3% fat diet to a 60% fat diet and their carbs were reduced by 20%.
Groups 1 and 2 continued their diets for eight weeks, after which their health and weight were reevaluated. After just eight weeks, mice in Group 1 had gained more weight, their glucose intolerance worsened, and their insulin levels rose. This group also gained a whopping 15% of their body weight and their fat mass doubled. At the end of the eight weeks, Group 1 mice were more likely to develop type II diabetes than their counterparts in Group 2. This is because multiple studies have shown that high-dietary fat causes impairments in the ability of insulin to reduce blood glucose, resulting in glucose intolerance.
WHY THIS MATTERS
While this study evaluated the effects of the LCHF diet in mice, the results are relevant to humans. The researchers noted that the Paleo diet has been heavily promoted by the mass media, particularly by celebrity chefs and through dramatic weight-loss stories circulated by the tabloid media. The potential for scientifically unverified diets to circulate widely and rapidly through these channels has increased the attention given to fad diets, such as the Paleo diet.
The lead researcher in the study, Professor Sof Andrikopoulos, states, “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.”2 Professor Andrikopoulos is a researcher at the University of Melbourne Department of Medicine.
This is a very important health message to anyone attempting to lose weight or establish a healthier lifestyle. While certain diets, such as the Paleo, gluten-free, Atkins, juicing and various detox diets, claim to deliver promising results, they are not backed by science. Professor Andrikopoulos notes, “You need to be very careful with fad diets, always seek professional advice for weight management and aim for diets backed by evidence.”2
Before undergoing any weight loss efforts, speak to your physician or healthcare provider. Together, you can discuss your goals and create a realistic, strategic plan to help you achieve your goals. Whether you’re aiming to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, the best way to do it is by eating nutritious meals every day. When you’re hungry, aim to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal and snack. The other critical component to weight loss and weight maintenance is physical activity and exercise. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week, or 30 minutes every day.
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