By Kristen Dold
If you’ve been abstaining from legumes, potatoes, dairy and bread as a follower of the Paleo diet, we’ve got some unfortunate news: Scientists at the University of Melbourne are suggesting that going Paleo could actually make you put on weight.
For the study, researchers fed overweight, pre-diabetic mice either a low-carb, high-fat diet (similar to the Paleo diet) or standard mouse fare. After nine weeks, the mice eating Paleo gained 15 percent of their body weight and their insulin levels rose, which is a precursor to diabetes. The mice that ate their regular grub didn’t experience the same changes.
While this news might drive you to eat all the pasta and cheese, we have to point out that the study has some pretty serious limitations. For starters, it was done on rodents, not humans. And we don’t know exactly what the mice were fed (but we’re guessing it wasn’t grilled chicken and roasted veggies.)
In a blog post responding to the study, Paleo founder Loren Cordain, wrote, “The study totally lacks the criteria and objectivity by which most of the scientific nutritional community uses to establish cause and effect between diet and disease.” She added: “To even suggest that a single mouse study can be extrapolated to show causality in humans is just bad science.”
We’ve also seen better research that suggests that low-carbohydrate, higher-fat diets, like Paleo, are effective for weight loss, and even beat out Vegan, Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets when it comes to knocking numbers off the scale.
A review of studies last year published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the Paleo diet led to greater short-term improvements in waist circumference and blood pressure than national nutrition guidelines, too.
At the end of the day, the healthiest diet is the one you can stick to without losing your marbles or missing out on any banging nutrients. We prefer a little more wiggle room (for say, a delicious, fibre-packed slice of whole grain bread), but if Paleo has you packing more veggies and lean protein on a plate, don’t let this small study keep you from doing the Neolithic thing.