New research shows that a ‘modern’ paleolithic diet is better than a low fat/high fibre diet in terms of obesity, abdominal fat and triglyceride levels.
The ‘paleo’ diet, also known as the ‘stoneage’, ‘caveman’ or ‘hunter/gatherer’ diet has been popular in recent years and involves eating foods that were available to our ancestors before farming was introduced about 10,000 years ago.
What you can eat on the ‘paleo’ diet:
- Insects (and larva)
- Seafood (fish and shellfish)
- Root vegetables that can be eaten raw
- Herbs and spices
- Honey, maple sugar, date sugar (natural sugars)
What you can’t eat on the ‘paleo’ diet
- Grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats etc)
- Peanuts, beans (legumes), peas, cashews, tofu, soy milk
- Root vegetables that cannot be eaten raw (potato, tapioca, parsnips, sweet potato, yam)
- Refined sugars
- Separated fats and oils (vegetable and seed oils)
- Foods that contain yeast
- Juices, sodas, coffee
- Dairy products
- Processed meats
The 2 year study tested dietary advice based on the ‘paleo’ diet as opposed to more conventional healthy eating recommendations.
The study comprised a group of obese postmenopausal women who were given advice on the ‘paleo’ diet which is based on lean meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits including berries and nuts. They excluded dairy products, cereals, added salt, refined fats and sugar. The control group were advised on standard ‘healthy diet’ recommendations. Neither group was required to restrict calories.
The ‘paleo’ group ate increased protein, less dietary carbohydrate, more fats including omega 3 fatty acids (found in oily fish, pasture fed meats, some seeds), less omega 6 fatty acids (found in grains and seeds), and less dietary cholesterol.
After 6 months, the ‘paleo’ dieters had lost an average of 6.5kg as opposed to 2.6kg in the control group. After 2 years the loss was 4.6 kg against 2.9kg. The ‘paleo’ group also showed decreased abdominal obesity and improved triglyceride levels.
Even if you are reluctant to adopt all of the ‘paleo’ recommendations – insects and larvae for tea anyone!? – you can easily reduce many of the ‘no go’ foods such as refined sugars and carbohydrates and make sure you include plenty of vegetables and salads, meats and fish – if you are veggie use nuts and eggs – and enjoy the benefits to your health.
Mellberg C, Sandberg S, Ryberg M, et al. Long-term effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: a 2-year randomized trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Mar;68(3):350-7.