Thursday 4th June 2009
Paleolithic Dieters lose both fat and muscle mass

Another diet trend anyone? Well this trend was first popularised in the 1970's but is again sweeping across Australia and across the world, it's the Paleolithic diet. In effect it promotes eating fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and nuts. Things to avoid include most processed food, bread, dairy, tea and coffee and alcohol. So is this just another low-carb diet or are they on to something?

My first impression is that the name is a bit silly, the diet promoters are trying to give the impression that the last human hunter gather tribes of the Paleolithic era feasted on healthy vegetables and meat, and were, as a result healthy and slim. Of course the early humans living that lifestyle in fact had a very low life expectancy, and if they were slim, it is likely through lack of abundant food in their environment. Many of the modern fruits and vegetables suggested also simply didn't exist in that era.

However, there is an argument that we as a species have developed as a result of our ancestors' diet and that modern foods are unfamiliar to our bodies. We have evolved on nutrition provided by the hunter gatherer lifestyle and modern processed and junk foods can lead to heart failure and other diseases.

By observing hunter gatherers today, it is possible to observe very little chronic disease in those communities. Studies have also shown that when such people adopt a western diet later in life they often suffer diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and increased cancer risk.

Of course weight loss is important, and many people find that they are able to lose weight quickly but responsibly with this diet. This is often in the form of lost fat but can also be attributed to loss of muscle mass in many cases. In a recent study by SBS's Food Investigators programme, one man lost 5 kilos of weight but 80% of this was lost muscle mass. It was suggested that the modern sedentary lifestyle does not combine well with the diet and more exercise was needed to maintain muscle mass.

Comments (1)

Carmen said, 15th Jun 2009 @ 3:05
This doesn't sound suitable to me, I've got puny enough muscles as it is :)  

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