The benefits of a low-carb Paleo Diet

The benefits of a ‘low-carb’ diet such as the ‘Paleo Diet’?

Steve Parker MD has been engaging in the debate on healthy eating for many years. And his review of a large body of science-based research over this time has made him an advocate of the type of low carbohydrate diet typified by the ‘Paleo Diet’.

Steve has some great posts on his well maintained blog. One of his latest posts (titled ‘Low-Carb Research Update’) comments:

“In the early 2000s, a flurry of scientific reports demonstrated that very-low-carb eating (as in the style of Dr. Robert Atkins) was safe and effective for short-term weight management and control of diabetes”

Interestingly he goes on to say:

”The evidence convinced me that the relatively high fat content of many low-carb diets was nothing to worry about long-term.”

Now for many of you who follow a low carbohydrate diet you may also tend to avoid a lot of high fat foods as suggested on the ‘Atkins Diet’. And in fact Steve’s post isn’t one that focuses specifically on this debate. However it is a subject that may interest those who struggle to reduce their carbohydrate intake without upping their intake of higher fat foods.

The ‘Atkins’ diet (devised by Dr. Robert Atkins) was the low carbohydrate diet that grabbed worldwide attention in recent years. The Atkins diet had a huge following of users singing its praises for rapid weight loss. Understandably the diet also had a lot of critics who slated its high fat content.

Some people engage on a diet really with a sole focus of weight loss. However the natural effect of successfully loosing excess weight, and eating healthier foods, is improved physical and mental ‘well being’ too. And in particular moving away long-term from a diet loaded with sugars, salts and processed foods research tells us ought to significantly reduce the risk of a whole host of ailments and diseases – again both mental and physical.

Steve latest blog post has a fantastic summary of research findings from the last few years specifically on the low carb diet. The link to this blog post is below, a brief summary of some of the post highlights are:

  • The paleo diet averages about 30% of total calories from carbohydrates, with a range of about 22 to 40%. That 30% average is much lower than the standard 50–60% in the developed world.
  • Low-carb diets reduce weight, reduce blood pressure, lower triglyceride levels (a healthy move), and raise HDL cholesterol (another good trend). These improvements should help reduce your risk of heart disease. (In the journal Obesity Reviews, 2012.)
  • Dietary fat, including saturated fat, is not a cause of vascular disease such as heart attacks and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). (Multiple research reports.)
  • If you’re overweight and replace two sugary drinks a day with diet soda or water, you’ll lose about four pounds over the next six months. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012.)
  • A very-low-carb diet improves the memory of those with age-related mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is a precursor to dementia. (University of Cincinnati, 2012.)
  • Diets low in sugar and refined starches are linked to lower risk of age-related macular degeneration in women. Macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness. (University of Wisconsin, 2011.)
  • A ketogenic (very-low-carb) Mediterranean diet cures metabolic syndrome (Journal of Medicinal Food, 2011.)
  • High-carbohydrate eating doubles the risk of heart disease (coronary artery disease) in women. (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010.)
  • One criticism of low-carb diets is that they may be high in protein, which in turn may cause bone thinning (osteoporosis). A 2010 study shows this is not a problem, at least in women. Men were not studied. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.)
  • High-carbohydrate eating increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.)

The relevant Cancer Research UK article: Steve Parker Low Carb Diet Update

Last updated on 16th December 2014 by


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