A low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet as exemplified by the Paleo diet, can cause weight gain and other health problems. The researchers from the University of Melbourne, whose study was published in the journal Nature, advise people not to quickly fall for fad diets as these are not backed up by scientific evidence.

Lead author, Sof Andrikopoulos, the president of the Australian Diabetes Society, says that this type of diet is not good for inactive and overweight people. Diabetics and those who are at risk for diabetes are especially susceptible to suffering complications if they follow a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet.

“Low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets are becoming more popular, but there is no scientific evidence that these diets work. In fact, if you put an inactive individual on this type of diet, the chances are that person will gain weight,” notes Andrikopoulos. “There is a very important public health message here. You need to be very careful with fad diets, always seek professional advice for weight management and always aim for diets backed by evidence.”

The researchers gave a LCHF diet to mice that were overweight and which manifested pre-diabetes symptoms. Another group ate normally. The researchers increased their fat diet from three percent up to 60 percent and decreased their carbohydrate intake by 20 percent.

The University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne

The team observed that the group that ate the LCHF diet experienced weight gain, increased glucose intolerance and increased insulin levels after eight weeks. This group put on 15 percent more weight and two to four percent fat mass, double their original fat mass.

“To put that in perspective, for a 100 kilogramme person, that’s the equivalent of 15 kilogrammes in two months. That’s extreme weight gain. This level of weight gain will increase blood pressure and increase your risk of anxiety and depression and may cause bone issues and arthritis. For someone who is already overweight, this diet would only further increase blood sugar and insulin levels and could actually pre-dispose them to diabetes,” adds Andrikopoulos.

Despite eating no carbohydrates and high amount of fat with the Paleo diet, no weight improvements can be achieved. Andrikopoulos recommends the Mediterranean diet for pre-diabetics and diabetics. Basically, the researchers assert that eating too much fat is not good for one’s health.