Paleolithic Diet Beats Mediterranean for Satiety and Appetite Control

December 15, 2011

Paleolithic Diet Beats Mediterranean for Satiety and Appetite Control 

 Reference:  T Jonsson Nutrition and Metabolism 2010:7;85 

 Want to lose weight?  The holidays are around the corner with lots of parties going on right now.  Pretty easy to pack on 3-4 pounds in the next two weeks.  Consider a strategy to not do that, and you come out 4 pounds ahead if you just break even.  Better yet, as you contemplate the New Year and want to think how to do it,  consider asking Santa for a Paleolithic Cook Book.  Understanding how to control your weight, and lose weight is one of our most important personal health strategies.  

Weight loss depends on satiety.  Satiety depends on leptin.  So, here is my Holiday Gift to You! We have lots of literature on the Mediterranean Diet.  Eat more fish, abundant vegetables, whole grains, healthy olive oil, less red meat and less sugar.  In this study from Sweden, the Mediterranean diet is what the study subjects were naturally given as they leave the ICU after having a heart attack.    All the subjects in the study qualified as “metabolic syndrome” with slightly big tummies (>37 inches) and abnormal glucose.  

We all have been encouraged to use the Mediterranean diet for the last 15 years as an alternative to the Standard American Diet of fried food, white bread, abundant carbohydrates based on wheat, corn and soy, and most everything packaged, convenient and highly processed.   And it has shown benefits.  The Lyon Heart Study showed remarkable reductions in cardiac mortality using the Mediterranean diet with a touch of extra fish oil. 

 Now, following these 29 patients from the ICU at Lund Hospital in Sweden, we have a comparison of two groups given different dietary advice.  Their ad litem food consumption was precisely followed (even being weighed for 4 days), total calorie intake, weight loss and leptin changes were recorded.  The new variable was using the Paleolithic Diet instead of the Mediterranean.  

The difference in food intake was essentially to teach how our diet has changed in the last 10,000 years with new use of dairy, sugar and cultivated grains.  A Paleo diet doesn’t have dairy at all.   Doesn’t have wheat.  Doesn’t have sugar.   No soft drinks.  No beer.  What they could have was walnuts, an egg a day, increased intake of lean meats, fish, fruit and vegetables.  They were allowed a potato a day and olive oil or canola oil but otherwise not much oil.  All the vegetables they wanted.  Lots and lots and lots of vegetables. And what happened? 

 Interestingly enough, the Paleo group ate less food and felt less hungry.  They lost 5 kg vs 3.8 kgs, but that was not statistically significant.  Their leptin changed about the same.  The “satiety score” they used was 2.7 for the Paleo group and 1.8 for the Mediterranean group.   That was significant.  The Paleo group ended up having a higher proportion of protein, but only because they ate less calories.  They also had less calcium and fell below the current recommendations of calcium intake.  However, the authors point out that current calcium recommendations are under scrutiny with widespread skepticism over our present recommendations. 

 That’s what it takes to lose weight.  You have to feel less hungry to eat less.  Our lizard brains drive our behavior one way or another if we don’t feel full. 

 WWW. What will work for me?  I’m fascinated to find another confirmation of our metabolism conforming to how we were designed by our Creator, or our evolution, however you wish to structure your own belief.  But the last 200 years have been rough on us, and it’s getting worse in the last 30.  Our foray into low fat diets in the 70s and 80s was a public health disaster.  We all gained a pound a year in the 80s and 90s and here we are, obese, sedentary and chronically ill.  Time to get Paleo.  Ask Santa for a book to read this coming year.   You don’t have to ask for a spear and arrows to go hunting, just read the book and avoid the sugar, the milk and the flour.   At the Christmas/Holiday Party, focus on your friendships and not the cookies. 

Pop Quiz

1.     A paleo diet is based on what we might have obtained in Paleolithic times: say 10,000 years ago.   Wheat was added to the human food chain when?            Answer:   5,000 years ago at about the same time as Quinoa was discovered in Peru and Rice in China.

2.     What notable items are also missing from a paleo diet?               Answer: start with sugar. No sugar, no dairy, no alcohol,

3,     And what was the emphasis on?                A bit of grass raised meat and lots of vegetables.

4.     Who feels less hungry, a Paleo dieter or a Mediterranean dieter?                    Answer: Paleo

 Column written by John Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic,  262-784-5300