Popular ‘fad’ diet could cause rapid weight gain

By on February 19, 2016


Paleolithic-style dish: Roast pork with cooked and raw vegetables and fruit (Photo courtesy of Warren Dew/Wikipedia).
Paleolithic-style dish: Roast pork with cooked and raw vegetables and fruit (Photo courtesy of Warren Dew/Wikipedia).

MELBOURNE—The extreme Paleo diet, which recommends the exclusive consumption of food available to early humans, increases weight gain according to experts.

A new study undertaken by scientists at the University of Melbourne has found that low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets such as Paleo can prompt rapid weight gain and health complications.

Prof. Sof Andrikopoulos, author of the research paper published in Nutrition and Diabetes on Friday, said media hype around these “fad” diets that have no scientific backing leads to more people following.

“Low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets are becoming more popular but there is no scientific evidence that these diets work. In fact, if you put an inactive individual on this type of diet the chances are the person will gain weight,” Andrikopoulos said in a media release on Friday.

“There is a very important public health message here. You need to be very careful with fad diets, always seek professional advice for weight management and aim for diets backed by evidence.”

Researchers at the University of Melbourne took two groups of overweight mice and placed one group on a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet and the other on a regular diet.

After eight weeks, the group on LCHF diet gained more weight as well as displaying a worse intolerance to gluten and higher insulin levels while their fat mass doubled.

“To put that in perspective for a 100 kilogram person that’s the equivalent of 15 kilograms in two months. That’s extreme weight gain,” Andrikopoulos said.

“This level of weight gain will increase blood pressure and increase your risk of anxiety and depression and may cause bone issues and arthritis.”

The Paleo diet, based on what was available to humans in the Paleolithic era, restricts followers to eating mostly seafood, meat, fruits, nuts and vegetables.