Paleo diet effective for weight loss

The popular Paleo diet plan is more effective for weight loss than previously thought, research finds.

A Paleo diet encourages consumption of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts and eggs, and is based on foods presumed to be available to Paleolithic humans. Legumes, processed oils and dairy products are banned.

As part of research into the diet, experts from Australia’s Edith Cowan University (ECU) put 39 healthy women on either a standard diet or a Paleo regime for four weeks. Following the trial, lead researcher Angela Genoni said women on the Paleo diet lost an average of two kilograms (4.4 pounds) more over the period than the standard diet control group.

“While both groups lost weight over the period, the Paleo group lost an average of 4.3 per cent of their body weight over the testing period, compared to 1.6 per cent for the recommended dietary guidelines group,” she said, according to ABC News.

Those on the standard diet were asked to increase vegetable and fruit intake and whole grain products, reduce fat intake, and consume low fat dairy products.

“Advice was also given to reduce intake of discretionary food items, such as cakes, biscuits, sugary drinks and candy,” the report noted.

Researchers also compared the impact of the diets on cardiovascular health and found no significant difference between the two diets. But as the long-term health effects of eating a Paleo diet remain unclear, and despite the weight loss on a Paleo diet, they were careful not to advocate for any diet that cuts out whole food groups.

For instance, the researchers found that while the reduction in carbohydrate consumption did not impact on fiber intake in the Paleolithic group, significant reductions in thiamin, riboflavin and calcium levels were noted.

“Significantly, the Paleo diet markedly reduces the calcium intake relative to the (standard healthy guidelines) diet because it excludes all dairy products, which could have a negative impact on bone strength, particularly in older people,” Genoni said.

The researchers are planning further studies to investigate the impact of the Paleo diet on gut heath as well as to assess the impact of such diets over a longer term.

The study results were first published in the Nutrients journal.