Paleo is bad for… Mice?

On Friday the media was a-flutter with “proof” that the Paleo diet can cause rapid weight gain. Melbourne University researchers fed overweight mice either a high fat low carb diet or a normal diet. Eight weeks later the high fat, low carb group had gained weight and had worsened several key health makers associated with type 2 diabetes.

Cue internet melt down and interested parties taking pot shots at researchers’ income sources.

I’ve made a conscious decision not to tackle the Paleo diet in the past because of all the hate mail I imagine would come my way. However, I think we’re at a stage where we do need to talk about it. It’s been a popular regime for a while now and it shows no sign of going away any time soon (unfortunately) and the latest study has only caused the ever charming Paleo poster boy to ramp up his… charm?

I read with interest Pete Evans’ response to the matter:

“The media and also the health organisations are once again clutching at straws. This time it is a study done on Mice – yep you heard that right…mice!” Corporate sponsors blah blah blah etc

Love him or hate him, he does have a point. Mice studies are not the best evidence and we can’t always infer that the results will translate well into humans.

Annnd then he lost me by copying an abstract from a 2015 paper that he claims proves the effectiveness of the Paleo diet.

I am sick of this!

You can find an article to support pretty much any point of view, which is why basing recommendations on a single study is not a good idea. For example, the aforementioned paper tested 14 people consuming a Paleo diet and 10 people following a “conventional” diet, based on American healthy eating guidelines. The subjects all had type 2 diabetes and the test diets ran for 14 days.

14 days?! That’s no time at all considering how long most of us a likely to live and you know… eat! The study found that both groups has improvements in some health markers, Paleo just happened to do a bit better of a job at it. But again, this study only went for 2 weeks and was conducted on a specific (sick) population!

Instead of relying on single studies to inform our opinions, we have systematic reviews, meta analyses and position papers for that.  If you’re interested, you can click here for a handy summary on all the available evidence on the Paleo diet. Spoiler alert- it doesn’t look promising for Paleo.

So now that we’ve go that out of the way, can we just all move on? Time and time again I have highlighted the ineffectiveness of diets in general so I fail to see how talking about yet study about yet another diet is going to help us all achieve better health.


4 thoughts on “Paleo is bad for… Mice?

  1. GlenysO says:

    Agreed! And I find the litmus test for any diet is whether the person enjoys it enough to stay on if if it didn’t make them lose weight. Of someone just loooves eating paleo, fine; if it’s something they do to give them a certain body and they wouldn’t bother otherwise or they are having massive cravings for restricted food, then it’s just another diet.


    • Courtney says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Glenys O! You make a really valid point – for some people paleo might work but its good to qualify what “work” means. Great to connect with like minded people – I always look forward to reading your blog posts 🙂


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