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Can the Paleo Diet Lead to Weight Gain?

Low-carb, high-fat diets, like the Paleo diet, have gained popularity over the last 20 years. However, an animal study found these diets may tip your scale in the wrong direction and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Published in Nutrition & Diabetes, the study included 18 pre-diabetic, obese mice. For nine weeks, half of the mice were fed a low-carb, high-fat diet (6% carb, 81% fat, 13% protein) and the other half were fed a standard weight-maintenance diet (70% carb, 10% fat, 20% protein). Researchers measured the mice’s body weight, food intake, and blood sugar on a weekly basis, and ran other tests to assess the mice’s heart disease risk and ability to control blood sugar. Here is what they found:

  • Mice on the low-carb, high-fat diet experienced greater weight and body fat gain, and increased insulin resistance compared with the mice on the standard diet. These changes point to poor blood sugar control and an increased risk of diabetes.
  • Two markers of cardiovascular disease risk improved in mice on the low-carb, high-fat diet compared with those on the standard diet: their HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels increased and triglyceride levels dropped.

These findings suggest a low-carb, high-fat diet may not be a healthy choice for everyone, despite some of the improvements seen in the mice. They also highlight the need for more research in people, including people who are overweight, obese, or have diabetes, before a high-fat diet can be safely recommended. However, some Paleo enthusiasts would argue that the high-fat diet in this study contained much more fat than a typical Paleo diet, which tends to be more protein-focused. Of course, if you want to take a shot at a tried-and-true diet, include more vegetables and fruits in your meals, and eat lean sources of protein like beans, fish, and nuts. But remember, if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, talk with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new diet plan.

Source: Nutrition & Diabetes

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