Friday, January 24, 2014

5 Studies on The Paleo Diet – Does it Actually Work?

© Authority Nutrition
5 Studies on The Paleo Diet – Does it Actually Work?
Jan 23, 2014 | Authority Nutrition | Kris Gunnars

To date, 5 human intervention studies have been done on the paleo diet.

In this article, I take a look at each of these studies and their conclusions, then I summarize the findings at the end.

The paleo diet emulates the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, based on the premise that they did not suffer from the same diseases as modern humans.
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This diet advocates consumption of unprocessed animals and plants, including meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

It shuns processed foods, sugar, dairy and grains, although some of the more modern “versions” of paleo do allow foods like dairy and rice.

The Studies 

All of these studies are done in humans and are published in respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals.
 
1. Lindeberg S, et al. A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia, 2007.

Details: 29 men with heart disease and elevated blood sugars or type 2 diabetes, were randomized to either a paleolithic diet (n=14) or a Mediterranean-like diet (n=15). Neither group was calorie restricted.

The main outcomes measured were glucose tolerance, insulin levels, weight and waist circumference. This study went on for 12 weeks.

Glucose Tolerance: The glucose tolerance test measures how quickly glucose is cleared from the blood. It is a marker for insulin resistance and diabetes.

This graph shows the difference between groups. The solid dots are the baseline, the open dots are after 12 weeks on the diet. Paleo group is on the left, control group on the right.

As you can clearly see from the graphs, only the paleo diet group saw a significant improvement in glucose tolerance.

Weight Loss: Both groups lost a significant amount of weight, 5 kg (11 lbs) in the paleo group and 3.8 kg (8.4 lbs) in the control group. However, the difference was not statistically significant between groups.

The paleo diet group had a 5.6 cm (2.2 inches) reduction in waist circumference, compared to 2.9 cm (1.1 inches) in the control group. The difference was statistically significant.

A few important points:
  • The 2-hour Area Under the Curve (AUC) for blood glucose went down by 36% in the paleo group, compared to 7% in the control group.
  • Every patient in the paleo group ended up having normal blood sugars, compared to 7 of 15 patients in the control group.
  • The paleo group ended up eating 451 fewer calories per day (1344 compared to 1795) without intentionally restricting calories or portions.
Conclusion: A paleolithic diet lead to greater improvements in waist circumference and glycemic control, compared to a Mediterranean-like diet.

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