New Study Suggests Paleo Diet Could Cause Weight Gain

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Judge of My Kitchen Rules and paleo devotee Pete Evans has blasted reports that the cavemen-style diet could cause weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes.

Researches from Melbourne University carried out a study on mice and discovered that being on the Paleo diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, for eight weeks could cause a rise in insulin levels and rapid weight gain.

The celebrity chef took to Facebook to question the accuracy of the results and the methodology of the study. He posted the results of a different study which found more positive results. His post was liked by 3,569 people, shared by more than 600 people and gained 518 comments, most of which were supportive. Many of those commenting described their own experiences of achieving positive results through the Paleo diet. One commenter even said her doctor was impressed by the results of her diet.

Mr Evans argued that the Melbourne University findings couldn’t be conclusive because the study was carried out on mice, not humans. He said health organisations and the media are “clutching at straws”.

He said many people had contacted him to let it know the diet had improved their type 2 diabetes. Mr Evans said many of the people who have got in touch have been able to stop taking their medication thanks to the Paleo diet. He cited other findings from April last year about the impact of the diet, which can be found in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This study was carried out on humans and revealed the benefits the Paleo diet had for lipid profiles and glucose control.

Despite this, the findings from the Melbourne University study are so worrying that lead author Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos has issued a warning about the diet, stating that it could be particularly risky for those who are overweight already and live sedentary lifestyles. He also said it could be even riskier for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Published online in Nutrition and Diabetes, the original intention of the study was to look into the advantages of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet for people with pre-diabetes. Researchers took two groups of overweight mice with symptoms of pre-diabetes and put one group on a diet similar to the Paleo diet. The proportion of fat in their diet rose from 3 percent to 60 percent and the carbohydrates in their diet were reduce to 20 percent. The second group continued their usual diet.

Eight weeks later, the weight of the mice on the Paleo diet rose by 15 percent and their fat mass doubled to nearly 4 percent.

The researchers believe that the results would be mirrored in humans due to the similarities in human and mouse genomes.

Professor Andrikopoulos said that this level of weight gain in humans would increase blood pressure and the risk of depression and anxiety and could even cause arthritis and bone problems. He said that celebrity advocates of diets like Paleo often lead active lifestyles and can handle higher levels of fat in the diet, whereas someone with a sedentary lifestyle is more likely to gain weight if they consume too much fat.

He recommends a Mediterranean diet for people with pre-diabetes or diabetes.