The paleo or “caveman” diet focusses on eating food which was available to our ancient ancestors. This essentially means no processed foods, really no foods that aren’t more than 10,000-ish years old. That means no sweets, no sugar, and no bread. The diet is mostly based on meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, eggs and nuts and is widely considered very healthy.
But does the science back this up? Well, a 2010 study found that a Paleo diet was more filling than a Mediterranean diet, even when the calories were the same, and Mediterranean diets are notoriously healthy. The same scientists a few years earlier also showed that the Paleo diet led to greater glucose tolerance – that means the people eating the Paleo diet were better able to deal with the glucose in their blood! Good, news for diabetics.
The Paleo diet even outperformed a specifically designed diabetes diet for people with diabetes. It was shown to lower HbA1c (haemoglobin in the blood that has joined with glucose), which is important because in diabetes patients higher levels of HbA1c are associated with complications. The Paleo diet also reduced triglyceride levels, blood pressure, weight, BMI and waist measurements all while increasing good cholesterol!
Eating fewer cereals, which is one of the central tenets of the Paleo diet, and more fruit than usual led to lower waist measurements. Paleo dieters also had lower Leptin levels. Leptin is the “satiety” hormone that lets us know we are full. It might seem counterintuitive that this was lower with a decreasing waistline, but the scientists think this was because the Paleo group were becoming more sensitive to the effects of Leptin, so they didn’t need as much of it.
The takeaway – Studies on the Paleo diet show it leads to weight loss and slimmer waists. So embrace you inner caveperson and skip those sweets.