Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans (who visited the Fat Head farm in 2015) sent me a link to an article warning diabetics away from the paleo diet. Let’s take a look:
People with type 2 diabetes should ditch the paleo diet until there’s substantial clinical evidence supporting its health benefits, warns the head of the Australian Diabetes Society.
It may be popular among celebrities but there’s little evidence to support the dozens of claims it can help manage the disease, says Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos.
Andrikopoulos isn’t exactly a common name, yet it sounded familiar. So I searched the blog. Sure enough, I wrote a post about the Aussie perfesser back in February after he produced a study purporting to demonstrate that a paleo diet will makes us fat and sick. I say purporting because the (ahem) “study” was on mice … and the “paleo” diet tripled the furry little subjects’ sugar intake, provided all their protein in the form of casein (just like yer average paleo diet, eh?) and increased their normal fat intake by 2567 percent – with much of the fat coming from canola oil. Yup, sounds exactly like my paleo diet.
After reading about that (ahem) “study,” I concluded that perfesser Andrikopoulos is an intelligent imbecile. The article Pete Evans forwarded didn’t dissuade me from that conclusion:
“There have been only two trials worldwide of people with type 2 diabetes on what looks to be a paleo diet,” he [Andrikopoulos ] said. “Both studies had fewer than 20 participants, one had no control diet, and at 12 weeks or less, neither study lasted long enough for us to draw solid conclusions about the impact on weight or glycemic control.”
And here I thought the fact that millions of people around the world lived on paleo diets for hundreds of centuries counted as a test. I seem to recall that doctors who examined hunter-gatherer tribes in modern times found almost no evidence of obesity, cancer, diabetes or heart disease.
The controversial paleo diet, followed by many high profile people including celebrity chef Pete Evans, advocates a high consumption of meat and cuts out whole grains and dairy, which is problematic because it may forgo important sources of fibre and calcium, says Andrikopoulos.
That would explain why paleo humans had such weak bones and went extinct thousands of years ago.
“And high-fat, zero-carb diets promoted by some celebrities make this worse, as they can lead to rapid weight gain, as well as increase your risk of heart disease,” he said.
I see. So the perfesser believes:
1) There have only been two trials testing a paleo-type diet
2) Those trials aren’t relevant because they had fewer than 20 participants and lasted 12 weeks
3) LCHF diets lead to rapid weight gain
4) LCHF diets increase your risk of heart disease
Gee, if only we lived in an age where people could easily find information on published studies. Oh, wait – we do. So let me spend … oh, I don’t know, maybe 90 seconds .. searching my database of studies and see what I can find.
This study compared the effects of a low-carb vs. low-fat diet for a full year. (The perfesser may not know this, but a year is way longer than 12 weeks. It’s like, uh, 52 weeks or something.) Here are the results and conclusions:
Participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had greater decreases in weight, fat mass, ratio of total-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglyceride level and greater increases in HDL cholesterol level than those on the low-fat diet.
The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.
I’m no perfesser, but I’m pretty sure more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction is the exact opposite of rapid weight gain and increase your risk of heart disease.
This study of a low-carb vs. low-fat diet lasted 24 weeks, which, if my math skills haven’t slipped, is less than a year but still way more than 12 weeks. Here are the results and conclusions:
LC achieved greater reductions in triglycerides and glucose variance indices. LC induced greater HbA1c reductions and HDL cholesterol increases in participants.
This suggests an LC diet with low saturated fat may be an effective dietary approach for T2DM management if effects are sustained beyond 24 weeks.
Lower triglycerides and lower A1c (average blood glucose) on low-carb. Yes, I can see why the head of Diabetes Australia would be against such a wacky, untested diet.
Which leads us to wonder what the perfesser does believe. Well, we know he’s a stickler for good, solid science because of this quote:
“Both studies had fewer than 20 participants, one had no control diet, and at 12 weeks or less, neither study lasted long enough for us to draw solid conclusions about the impact on weight or glycemic control.”
Okay, then. We mustn’t draw conclusions from studies with fewer than 20 participants that only last 12 weeks. Got it, perfesser. Way to stand up for solid science.
Uh, but wait … let’s go back to that study of the “paleo” diet I wrote about back in February. The subjects were mice – just 17 of them. And the study lasted just eight weeks. Not exactly up to the perfesser’s standards, at least when he wants to diss studies of paleo diets. And yet, he touted his mouse (ahem) “study” as evidence that the paleo diet will make us fat and sick. (Assuming, of course, that a paleo diet triples sugar intake, wildly increases fat intake, and limits protein to a dairy product. And that the people consuming it are mice.)
Well, maybe we just caught the perfesser on a bad day. Let’s see what other research he has out there. Here are some quotes from another recent article titled How sugar with a burger could be healthier:
Forget just the fries with that— weight watchers may be better off sipping a sugary drink with their burger to protect against weight gain.
A shocking new finding in a Victorian study shows a burger and chips with coke appears to be better for us than opting for a water, juice or diet soft drink.
Better for us? So they must have measured health outcomes over a long period, eh? I’m sure perfesser Andrikopoulos would insist on such rigorous standards before reaching a conclusion.
In a trial, Austin Health fed participants burgers and different drinks combinations to see what effect it had on their health.
They found that those that had coke instead of a healthy drink with their meal were more likely to feel fuller for longer and perhaps stop them from over-eating later on.
The coke-drinkers reported feeling fuller, apparently after a test with exactly one meal … and from this, we make the leap to “perhaps stop them over-eating later on” … and then the leap to “chips with coke appears to be better for us.” Well, heck yes, that makes perfect scientific sense.
Dr Sof Andrikopoulos, Associate Professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne at Austin Health, said they thought that feeding mice meals that were high fat and sugar would lead to weight gain.
“In actual fact what we found what was the opposite,” Dr Andrikopoulos said.
“If we had animals on the fructose diet they gained weight, if we had them on the high fat diet they also gained weight, but if we combined the two fructose and the high fat diet together, they were prevented from gaining weight.”
Dr Andrikopoulos said if you have a fatty meal, it is probably worth having a fructose drink to make you feel full longer afterwards.
Because that’s what the stickler-for-rigorous-science perfesser saw in a one-meal study of “fullness” on humans, plus a very short study with mice … which means humans should probably have a sugary drink when eating a fatty meal. Great. I mean, it’s not like fat mixed with sugar is the worst possible combination or anything.
So to sum up:
Perfesser Andrikopoulos believes a low-carb paleo diet will make people fat and sick. He also believes that a sugary drink helps people feel fuller and might prevent them from overeating, thus leading to better health.
This is coming from the head of the Australian Diabetes Society. I believe that helps explain an ongoing tragedy reported by ABC News in Australia:
In the past year alone we’ve seen another 100,000 Australians diagnosed with diabetes.
But gosh no, don’t listen to Pete Evans. Listen to the (ahem) “experts.” They’ve done such a good job so far — and they’re such champions of solid, consistent science.