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Celebrities embrace low-carb Paleo diet for weight loss and health benefits

Matthew McConaughey, Adriana Lima, Jessica Biel, Miley Cyrus, Uma Thurman and Jack Osbourne all follow the Paleo diet.
Wilson, Lawrie/Getty Images

The low-carb Paleo diet is the most popular diet around today, and has gained a huge celebrity following, including Tim McGraw, Megan Fox, Stacy Keibler, Chris Pratt, and supermodel Adriana Lima.

Proponents say the Paleo diet promotes weight loss without hunger, lowers blood pressure, and prevents cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression and Alzheimer's.

The Paleo diet emphasizes high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits, and excludes gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes, starches, alcohol and processed foods.

While the idea of eating foods that mimic our cavemen ancestors has been around for a while, it was first popularized by exercise physiologist Loren Cordain in his bestseller, The Paleo Diet.

LeBron James Goes Paleo

Since then, the Paleo diet has rocketed in popularity and boasts a large following among professional athletes, including NBA superstars LeBron James and Ray Allen.

However, it isn't without critics. Vegan biochemist T. Colin Campbell, author of The Low-Carb Fraud, criticized the low-carb Paleo, ketogenic, and Atkins diets as short-term weight-loss fixes that do more harm than good in the long run.

"Population studies consistently show that low-carb diets lead to higher rates of heart disease, cancers, and other degenerative diseases," Campbell told Elle. "A low-carb diet is great for losing body weight. But in the long term, low-carb, high-protein, high-fat diets cause high cholesterol — a major indicator of heart disease and cancer risks."

Meanwhile, low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) advocates slam Campbell's controversial comments, saying they are not supported by scientific research.

If anything, many leading medical experts now agree that low-carb, high-fat diets like the Paleo, Atkins, and ketogenic diets prevent almost all degenerative diseases known to man. It is the consumption of a high-carb diet that has fueled the global tsunami of obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer's and heart disease,they say.

Low-Carb Paleo Diet May Prevent Alzheimer's

Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, says a low-carb, high fat ketogenic diet prevents and even reverses Alzheimer's and ADHD. Cardiologist Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, said low-carb diets have been proven to reverse type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

And obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, director of the Duke University Obesity Clinic, has seen thousands of patients experience dramatic weight loss on the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic and Atkins diets.

"I tell my patients not to fear the fat," said Dr. Westman, author of New Atkins For a New You. "Eat lots of fat. Fat makes you feel full. There's no problem with fat. In fact, saturated fat — the fat that we've been taught not to eat — raises your good cholesterol best of all the foods you can eat."

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