How Does the Paleo Diet Stack Up Scientifically?
For those of you eating Paleo and wondering how it stacks up scientifically, here's a bit of data, courtesy of Mark Sisson.
1. A population of Australian aborigines living the typical "city" life were asked to revert to a traditional aboriginal diet consisting of primarily animals and plants. This sick overweight population lost an average of 17.6 lbs, and fasting and postmeal sugar dropped from the diabetic into the non diabetic range. Insulin levels (linked to a variety of health problems when elevated) plummeted and triglycerides (a dangerous form of cholesterol) dropped significantly.
2. Patients with high cholesterol. This study took a group of patients with high cholesterol and had them follow the typical American Heart Association recommendations for 4 months (the usual nonsense about low saturated fat and low cholesterol, lots of "healthy" whole grains, and also fish, fruit and veggies and low salt) and then 4 months eating paleo. On the American Heart Ass. diet none of the goals for cholesterol, LDL, HDL or triglycerides were met. On a Paleolithic diet, the same group despite substantially higher animal meat and egg intake had an improvement in total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides. They also lost more weight and ate fewer calories without being asked to..... The takeaway is ....... remove dairy and grains and replace them with more healthy fat.......and you get healthier.
3. Postmenopausal women followed either a typical low fat diet or a Paleo diet for 2 years. The group eating Paleo at 6, 12, 18 months lost more body fat (especially abdominal fat), and had greater drops in triglycerides and blood pressure than the other group. These changes were sustained, until the Paleo group decided to "liberalize" food choices by around 2 years. This shows that blood and body changes are sustained on this diet......as long as you do it. Like many diets, it isn't easy to persist. Remember the Angela Duckworth comment...."Life is Meant to be Lived Like a Marathon, not a Sprint."
4. Patients with heart disease. These patients had known heart disease, were overweight, and pre diabetic or diabetic. They were randomized to either a Mediterranean diet or a Paleo diet.
5. The Paleo diet was based on eggs, meat, fish, nuts, veggies and fruits and root vegetables. The Mediterranean diet was based on whole grains, fish, low fat dairy, fruits and veggies. This study was short and didn't track any outcomes but did show that the Paleo diet was more satiating. People on the Paleo diet needed an average of 1400 calories to feel full while the Mediterranean group needed 1800 to feel full. These differences likely reflect the insulinogenic (insulin raising) properties of dairy and grains. High insulin = want to eat more.