Paleo is gaining popularity every single day, and not without reason – the benefits of the Paleo diet are quite impressive. There are thousands of testimonials about how Paleo improved people’s lives. Nevertheless, some skeptics keep arguing that there’s not enough scientific proof to back up those claims.

The diet itself is quite demanding. In fact, you’ll need to change pretty much every aspect of your lifestyle if you decide to go Paleo. Saying no to bread, dairy, cheese, sugar and other processed products isn’t easy, and you surely won’t do that without a good reason.

In this article, I’ll review six paleo diet benefits that are actually backed up by scientific research. You’ll find the references at the end of the text.

Let’s start with number one:

paleo diet weight loss

#1 Weight Loss

Many people go Paleo only to lose the undesired pounds. Do they achieve the desired results? Studies show that yes. In fact, Paleo diet (PD) is more efficient than the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR). [10]
Now, we are not talking about short-term results. This study monitored the control group of seventy people for two years. The results were stable and easy to track. Paleo diet had a beneficial effect on fat mass, triglyceride levels and abdominal obesity.

The diet also proved to provide relatively fast results. In only 6 months, the average decrease of body weight was 24.4 lb. in the PD group, compared to 12.7 lb. in the NNR one.

Paleo hunger management

#2 Paleo Diet Benefits Include Hunger Management

Hunger management come hand-in-hand with anger management. Ever had a hard time keeping a positive mood while dieting? Yeah, I know, and you’re not alone. In fact, emotional recession is one of the main factors that make people quit dieting.
There are several studies that are aimed to explain and find a solution to the problem. Looks like the moodiness, associated with dieting has two main reasons:

  • Physiological: cutting out calories means eating less, which leads to the decrease of blood sugar and serotonin levels. Those two directly affect our emotional state. [9]
  • Psychological: there’s probably no human being who could stay in a good mood while suffering from a constant and insatiable feeling of hunger.

Good news is, Paleo is not like the other diets out there. Randomized controlled studies show that Paleo boosts satiation even when you consume fewer calories. [12] There are several reasons behind this, which include:

  •  Paleo diet motivates people to consume more protein. Protein proved to induce satiety.
  •  By cutting out processed sugars, we allow our body to restore the functionality of gut microorganisms, which produce a number of essential micronutrients. As you probably know, hunger is often caused by the lack of one or more essential micronutrients rather than by caloric deficit.
  • There are also several other theories that strive to explain this unique benefit of the Paleo diet. Some scientists speculate that the effect is due to the fiber content and macronutrient composition of the diet [13]. Others claim that wheat, sugar and other agricultural foods contribute to leptin resistance, which causes an unnecessary increase in appetite. [14]

#3 Helps to Overcome Constipation

Gastrointestinal problems are quite common in our society. In fact, statistics show that 10-15% of the world population suffers of constipation. About 42 million people are affected by this syndrome in the United States alone. [6] (Definition and Facts for Constipation)

There are several causes of constipation, which vary from dehydration to psychological problems. Nevertheless, low fiber intake remains one of the main reasons behind the issue. That’s rather sad, because fiber is accessible to everyone. [7] Lisa Bernstein, MD, among others, is convinced that the average person could use more fiber in their diet. [8]

While Paleo dieting alone cannot be considered a cure to constipation, it does help you to achieve a higher fiber intake. Green leaf vegetables and nuts are a great source of fiber, and you’ll be eating plenty of those if you choose to go Paleo.

blood pressure

#4 Improves Blood Pressure and Glucose Tolerance

Obviously, it’s impossible to improve your health and lose weight overnight. We’re used to the thought that it takes months to start reaping the benefits of dieting. While that’s true, a study shown that Paleo gives almost instant results. [5] (Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet)

We’re not talking about crazy weight loss. In fact, the Paleo diet is meant to stabilize your metabolism rather than inducing “raw” weight loss. The lost pounds are merely a result of a healthier metabolism.

The study consisted in cutting out non-Paleolithic type foods from the diet for 10 days. Those non-Paleo foods included cereal grains, dairy and legumes. In only 10 days, the nine subjects of the experiment experienced improved glucose tolerance, blood pressure and insulin sensitivity, decreased insulin secretion and improved lipid profiles.

Another study shows that the Paleo diet improves glucose tolerance more efficiently than a Mediterranean diet. The study lasted for 12 weeks and there was a 26% decrease of AUC Glucose in the Paleolithic group. [11]

#5 Paleo Diet benefits to Your Gastrointestinal System

Modern processed food often comes saturated with carbs. For example, compare sugar or flour to an orange or even to meat. We all know that 2.6 millions years ago there was no processed food. Nutrients were found only in animal and vegetable cells.

Of course, modern processed food contains lots of chemical additives that are potentially harmful for the human body, but there’s more to it. According to a study [3], our bodies are not adapted to foods with such an elevated density in carbohydrates. Therefore, the consumption of processed food leads to the alteration of the gut microorganisms, which are meant to assist us with micronutrient production.

That’s right, our ancestors could synthesize most of the vitamins and other nutrients they needed. Even today, non-Westernized populations (which basically follow a paleo diet) have a better metabolism and less satiety issues. In conclusion, the study shows that Paleo diet contributes to micronutrient synthesizing and prevents different kinds of gastrointestinal inflammations.

#6 Paleo Diet Does Not Contributes to Cancer

This is worth mentioning even if this is a myth bust. As you know, one of the main arguments against Paleo is the belief that eating red meat contributes to cancer. No matter how healthy Paleo might be, many people prefer to go vegan in order to reduce cancer risk.

It is a proven fact that meat consumption contributes to the formation of toxic N-nitroso compounds in the gastrointestinal tract. Nevertheless, there is no consistent proof that those formations contribute to cancer risks. In fact, studies shown that vegetarians have the same risk of developing cancer than meat eaters [2] (Bingham SA. High-meat diets and cancer risk. Proc Nutr Soc. 1999 May;58(2):243-8.)

There are a couple of different studies that contradict what I just said here. Many anti-paleo activists cite those studies in every single debate. While it’s true that the consumption of some meat contributes to cancer, those studies omit the fact that only processed meat has these negative effects. Let’s not forget that heavily processed meat contains ten times more times more NOC than fresh meat. [4] (Haorah J, Zhou L, Wang X, Xu G, Mirvish SS. Determination of total N-nitroso compounds and their precursors in frankfurters, fresh meat, dried salted fish, sauces, tobacco, and tobacco smoke particulates. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Dec;49(12):6068-78)


The Bottom Line

There will be always people who say that the diet does not work. In fact, you can find negative feedback about any kind of diet. Looks like there is no universal diet plan that would please everyone.

Dieting requires discipline and consistency, and Paleo is no exception. In fact, you probably will need to adopt a new lifestyle if you decide to go Paleo. Now, is it worth it? While some people complain about the “amateurishness” of the diet, looks like scientific evidence points out the opposite. Paleo diet benefits are quite impressive and definitely worth the struggle.

What do you think? Start a conversation below!

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2 years 8 months ago

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