According to a new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, overweight postmenopausal women followed a Paleo-style diet for 5 weeks and lost an average of 10 pounds. What’s more, they experienced significant improvements in markers for health including blood sugar, insulin, lipids, markers for inflammation, blood pressure and much more.
Researchers in Sweden set out to evaluate the effectiveness of a Paleo diet for overweight postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women were studied because it’s a time when excess body fat accumulates rapidly from declines in estrogen.
Ten overweight, postmenopausal women enrolled in the study and were instructed to follow a Paleo diet. The diet provides 30% of calorie from protein (about double of the typical us diet); 40% fat; and 30% of calories from carbohydrates. In essence, they swapped out carbohydrates for protein and healthy, unsaturated fat from primarily canola and olive oil. Subjects met with dietitians and kept food records so that the researchers could monitor adherence to the diet prescription.
The diet instruction was straightforward: Eat lean meats, seafood and poultry; enjoy veggies (including root vegetables); eggs and nuts and fresh fruit. Use olive oil and canola oil liberally. Dairy, cereals, beans and processed fats and sugary foods were off limits. So too were all sodas, baked goods and other treats. They were also advised to drink no more than 2 glasses of red wine per week. They were not given advice about calorie counting or limiting food intake.
After five weeks, the subjects lost an average of 1o pounds. They ate about 22% fewer calories, lost 7% off their waists, which is the most harmful area to carry extra body fat. In terms of liver fat, that was also reduced by nearly 50%, and excess liver fat (called fatty liver) is a major contributor to several types of chronic diseases, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition, despite the high-fat content of the diet, their cholesterol levels improved, triglycerides and blood glucose dropped, insulin levels declined and much more.
Paleo diets, also referred to as ancestral eating, caveman or hunter-gatherer diets are all the rage right now. CrossFit gym-goers are huge advocates while many nutrition pros and experts feel they’re simply a more whole foods approach to an Atkins diet. Despite the controversy over whether or not Paleo diets, most people lose weight when following them because the vast majority of calories in the typical US diet come from foods and beverages not allowed on strict Paleo diets, like sweets, baked goods, grains, crackers, desserts and sweetened beverages.
I see no harm in trying to follow the basic principles of a Paleo diet below. If you can stick to this approach to eating, then by all means, keep with it. Most people I know have a hard time following this eating style long-term. In that case, you can try something like “Paleo after breakfast” which is also quite popular and helps athletes who exercise in the a.m. have a good source of carbs like oatmeal before eating fewer carbs for the rest of the day.
I’m all for Paleo-inspired approaches to eating as I believe it helps you wean yourself off of many carbohydrate-rich, nutrient-poor processed foods that most of us eat waaay too much of. It will also make sure that you eat plenty of veggies, and that’s always a good thing.
9 Principles of Ancestral Eating for Modern Man
* Eat whole, natural foods instead of those that are highly processed
* Enjoy plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and limit refined grains and sugars.
* Increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, fish oil, and plant sources
* Avoid trans-fats and limit saturated fats by eliminating fried foods, hard margarine, commercial baked goods, and most packaged and processed snack foods.
* Substitute monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (ie, olive oil and canola oil) fats for saturated fats
* Increase consumption of lean protein, such as skinless poultry, fish, and game meats and lean cuts of red meat. Cuts with the words round or loin in the name usually are lean.
* Avoid high-fat dairy and fatty, salty processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats
* Drink water as your primary fluid.
* Enjoy a wide variety of physical activity, including aerobic conditioning and strength training and stretching.
Adapted from: O’Keefe and Cordain, Mayo Clinic Proceedings [/sws_green_box]
For more on Paleo diets:
Reference: Ryberg M, Sandberg S, Mellberg O, et al. A Palaeolithic-type diet causes strong tissue-specific effects on ectopic fat deposition in obese postmenopausal women. J Int Med. 2013. DOI: 10.1111/joim.12048