The controversial Paleo diet may make you gain weight and cause pre-diabetes symptoms, according to new research.
The findings – revealed by a team of researchers from The University of Melbourne in science journal Nature – compared the differences in weight loss of mice who ate a Paleo style diet and mice who stayed on their normal diet.
Researchers observed that following the caveman style diet for eight weeks could increase the incidence of weight gain, health problems and speed up pre-diabetes symptoms for those already overweight.
Scientists were stunned when the tests, originally designed to uncover the benefits of the low-carbohydrate high-fat diet, resulted in 15 per cent weight gain and soaring levels of insulin.
“The hypothesis was that the Paleo diet group would gain less weight and we would see improvements in glycemic control,” Associate Professor Andrikopoulos told The University of Melbourne’s Pursuit publication.
“In humans, this level of weight gain will increase blood pressure and the risk of anxiety and depression and may cause even cause bone issues and arthritis.
“For someone who is already overweight, this diet would increase blood sugar and insulin levels and could actually pre-dispose that person to diabetes.”
The researcher said hype around Paleo diets was fuelled by celebrity chefs, misleading before-and-after magazine celebrity weight-loss stories, and quick weight-loss reality TV shows.
He said more people were turning to potentially dangerous fad diets for a quick fix.
“These diets are becoming more popular because of the media and social media. Instead of scientific literature, we get endorsement from individuals who’ve lost 20 kilograms talking about it on social media,” Associate Professor Andrikopoulos said.
Overall, the study concluded: “Our results do not support the recommendation of an LCHFD [low-carb high-fat diet] for use in pre-diabetes”.
“Rather interventions aimed specifically at reducing obesity and improving insulin sensitivity should be pursued.”
The Paleo diet came under intense scrutiny in 2015 when a Paleo recipe book for babies by Evans was pulled from bookshelves due to safety fears.