A study, published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that obese people actually lose more weight, have less blood fat and get a slimmer waist on a Paleolithic-type diet (PD) than on a diet that follows the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR).
”The Stone Age diet appears to have more beneficial health effects than the nutrition recommendations, at least for obese people. However, it is obviously important to figure out whether it is actually realistic to follow such a diet before you start recommending it over other diets,” says Thomas Meinert Larsen, an associate professor at the Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. He researches into diet and obesity, but did not take part in this study.
Scientists from Umeå University in Sweden and Cambridge University, UK, divided 70 obese postmenopausal women into two groups.
Both groups were allowed to eat the amount of food they wanted, but one group was asked to stick to the principles of a PD, while the other was put on a diet based on the NNR.
- After six months, the women in the PD group had lost an average of 6.2 kilos of total fat mass and had an 11-centimetre reduction in waist circumference.
- Meanwhile, the NNR group had only lost 2.6 kilos of total fat mass and their waist circumference decreased by 5.8 centimetres.
- All the women had their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity checked, but on these health parameters no significant differences were found. Both groups benefited from their diets.
- Triglyceride, or blood fat, levels decreased significantly in the PD group.
“The lower levels of triglycerides in the blood and the reduction of fat around the abdomen suggest that obese women who follow the PD reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and that’s very positive,” says Larsen.
Although the research team only used women aged around 60 in their study, the effect will probably also be seen in men and women of all ages, according to Inge Tetens, a professor at the Danish National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark. She did not take part in this study, but she helped develop the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations for 2013:
“The fact that we’re using postmenopausal women in our study is not central to our results. The weight loss and the slimmer waistline probably also apply to other obese people, as long as they follow the dietary principles,” she says.