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High protein Paleo diet suppresses appetite and promotes weight loss

High-protein Paleo diet suppresses hunger and aids weight loss, says study
Megan Fox is a Paleo diet fan. (Photo: Kempin/Getty)

The modern Paleo diet is effective for suppressing appetite and promoting weight loss because of its focus on high-protein foods, according to a study published in the medical journal mBio.

But in a surprise revelation, scientists at Imperial College London discovered that the Paleo diet followed by our caveman ancestors probably was less effective at appetite suppression than the modern version of the popular eating plan.

Study: Plant-Based Not Effective For Curbing Hunger

Dr. Gary Frost, chairman of the department of nutrition and dietetics at Imperial College London, led the study. According to Frost, our ancestors' Paleo diet was more plant-based than protein-focused, which likely accounts for why it wasn't as good for suppressing appetite than the modern Paleo diet, which is meat-centric.

These findings suggest that diets that are largely plant-based may have the opposite effect on appetite suppression. “This hints that protein might play a greater role in appetite suppression than the breakdown of starch or fiber,” said Dr. Timothy Barraclough, co-author of the study.

Meanwhile, the popularity of the "modern" Paleo diet continues unabated. It is the most popular diet around today, and has been adopted as the unofficial diet of the Los Angeles Lakers and other NBA superstars, including Miami Heat guard Ray Allen and Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin.

Celebrities including Megan Fox, Kellan Lutz, supermodel Adriana Lima, and singer Tim McGraw have also embraced the Paleo diet, which emphasizes high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables, and excludes gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes, starches, alcohol and processed foods

Paleo Diet Twice as Effective for Weight Loss As Low-Fat Diet

The Paleo diet's soaring popularity has been buoyed by recent studies that show it's twice as effective for producing weight loss and melting belly fat as low-fat diets.

A two-year study conducted by scientists at Cambridge University and Umeå University in Sweden tracked 70 overweight, post-menopausal women who either followed a low-fat diet or a lower-carb (and higher-fat) Paleo diet. The results were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Study participants were measured for weight, cholesterol and blood sugars after six months on their respective diets, and again after two years. The results showed the Paleo dieters lost more than twice as much weight (14 pounds) as the low-fat dieters (5.7 pounds). What's more, the low-carb, high-fat Paleo dieters lost 4 inches from their waists after six months, compared to just 2 inches for the low-fat dieters.

In previous studies, the Paleo diet has routinely beaten other diets for controlling cholesterol and diabetes. Proponents say the low-carb Paleo diet promotes rapid weight loss, lowers blood pressure, and prevents cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and even Alzheimer's.

Curbs Pro-Inflammatory Blood-Sugar Spikes

Research shows the Paleo diet works especially well for women because it reduces the blood sugar spikes and hormone surges that fuel overeating and mood swings, said Nell Stephenson, author of Paleoista: Gain Energy, Get Lean.

“Clinical trials have shown the Paleo diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, reduce acne, promote optimum health and athletic performance,” Dr. Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorada State University and author of The Paleo Answer.

The weight-loss and many health benefits of the Paleo diet aren't surprising to nutritionist Dr. John Briffa. "As 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," said Briffa, author of Escape the Diet Trap.

The latest study bolsters claims by leading weight-loss experts who say low-carb diets like the Paleo and ketogenic diets accelerate weight loss, reverse type 2 diabetes, and prevent epilepsy and dementia.

Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter told me the low-carb, high-fat Paleo and ketogenic diets prevent Alzheimer's. "Carbs are devastating for the brain," said Perlmutter, the author of Grain Brain. "Even slight elevations in blood sugar have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease."

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