The popular caveman-style Paleo diet could actually be making you gain weight and more susceptible to diabetes, according to a recent study.
The University of Melbourne study revealed that following a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for just eight weeks can lead to rapid weight gain and health complications, prompting researchers to issue a warning about putting faith in so-called fad diets with little or no scientific evidence.
Lead author, Sof Andrikopoulos says this type of diet, exemplified in many forms of the popular Paleo diet, is not recommended – particularly for people who are already overweight and lead sedentary lifestyles.
He says mass media hype around these diets, particularly driven by celebrity chefs, celebrity weight-loss stories in the tabloid media and reality TV shows, are leading to more people trying fad diets backed by little evidence. In people with pre-diabetes or diabetes, the low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet could be particularly risky, he said.
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, noted Andrikopoulos.
He added, “There is a very important public health message here. You need to be very careful with fad diets, always seek professional advice for weight management and always aim for diets backed by evidence.”
Researchers originally sought to test whether high-fat and low-carbohydrate foods would benefit the health of people with pre-diabetes. They took two groups of overweight mice with pre-diabetes symptoms, putting one group on the low-carb, high-fat diet and the other on their normal diet.
The Paleo group put on 15 per cent of their body weight, in only eight weeks. Andrikopoulos said that comparing this to a person, it would mean an 80-kilogram man would soon hit 92 kilograms on the scales.
Andrikopoulos further said that the Mediterranean diet is the best for people with pre-diabetes or diabetes.
The study appears in Nature journal Nutrition and Diabetes.