Skip to main content

See also:

Paleo diet best for weight loss in study, but some feel it is too restrictive

What's best for weight loss?
What's best for weight loss?Creative Commons

What's the newest research on what really works for weight loss? Turn back the clock to travel through time and eat what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, reported the UK Express on April 7. But although the latest study shows that the low-carb Paleo diet wins for weight loss, some experts criticize it as too restrictive.

To conduct the study, researchers assigned groups of overweight women to different diets. The women who followed the low carb Paleo diet lost twice as much weight in six months as those on a traditional low-fat diet.

Nutrition expert Dr. John Briffa, author of "Escape the Diet Trap: Lose weight for good without calorie-counting, extensive exercise or hunger," praises the Paleo diet for its foundation. Because it's "based on foods that precede the agricultural era," the low-carb Paleo plan eliminates grains, dairy and foods with added sugar.

To those who criticize the Paleo diet for its restrictions, Briffa notes that "gluten and dairy typically cause sensitivities in a lot of people."

In addition, because the Paleo diet "removes a lot of the foods that tend to cause spikes in insulin levels, particularly sugar and starchy carbohydrates, it aids fat loss," explains Briffa.

He feels that the combination of foods higher in protein and fat minus the traditional starchy and sugary foods also combat food cravings and suppress hunger, making weight loss easier.

Alison Clark, dietician and spokesman for the British Dietetic Association, disagrees. She feels that the elimination of dairy "puts you at risk of osteoporosis."

In addition, says, Clark, "without grains you are missing out on complex high-fiber carbohydrates which contain essential B vitamins."

Disagreeing even more strongly with the premise of the Paleo diet: Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of "The Low Carb Fraud."

Because low carb diets usually involving eating large amounts of animal protein and fat, they raise your risk of diseases such as cancer and heart conditions, Campbell told Redbook magaizne in a recent interview. In addition, he warns that low carb diets"produce more halitosis (bad breath), headaches, rash, constipation, and muscle cramps."

As for the increasingly popular Paleo diet, Campbell calls it "nothing more than a slightly-tweaked version of what’s been around for years—Atkins, the South Beach Diet, etc. All are very low in total carbs and very high in protein and fat."

Offering a different twist on why Paleo diets are best: John Durant, author of "The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health" (click for details).

Durant contends that Paleo diets are beneficial largely because they correct "a mismatch between our primal genes and our primal biology, and how we evolved, and the lifestyles we lead today: our diet and sedentary activity patterns."

By shifting both our lifestyles and diets to copy our ancestors, "you can prevent the onset of a lot of these chronic health conditions," from obesity to diabetes to autoimmune diseases.

Durant links politics to the shift to eating more grains.

"In the 1970s, George McGovern chaired a Senate committee that established dietary goals for the United States. That's when a lot of the anti-fat orthodoxy got put into place officially, and when you started to see a greater push by the government to eat less fat-[which] usually meant fewer animal products-and eat more carbohydrates, which usually meant grains: wheat, corn, and legumes like soy," he added.

And in terms of politics, "that's when you start to see the shift to what I believe to be incorrect dietary" guidelines, Durant declared.