Women are expected by the conventional medical model to accept a laundry list of health problems once they reach menopause, which can range from annoying (hot flashes) to dangerous (bone loss). One of these is menopausal weight gain, which can be quite distressing as a woman’s youthful figure seems to disappear forever. But what if there was a relatively inexpensive way to keep abdominal fat off, and the bikinis on?
Why Not “Regular” Nutritional Recommendations?
The Paleo diet claims to be a close match to how humans have eaten for most of our history. This diet allows plenty of unsaturated fats and complex carbohydrates, emphasising vegetables, seafood, lean meat, fruits, nuts and seeds. Grains, cereals, dairy are typically forbidden, with no processed or artificial foods allowed. Either way, research has shown that it could be one of the best diets for women to follow once their fertile years are over. Researchers from the Umea University of Sweden put 70 post-menopausal volunteers on either the Paleo diet, or the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations diet. The NNR diet is similar, but allows refined sugar, added salt, milk, cereals and grains. The women had an average BMI of 27, which is in the overweight range. Neither group was instructed to restrict their calorie intake, only to follow the guidelines of their diets.
Over the two years, women on the Paleo diet lost nine kilograms, and women on the NNR diet lost six kilograms on average. They saw a superior reduction in abdominal fat and in markers linked to a higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Women on the Paleo diet lost fat and abdominal diameter faster, and maintained their achievements too. This is despite a return to eating dairy foods, though whether or not these were fermented or low in sugar was unspecified. Expression of genes related to fat metabolism was significantly altered in women following the Paleo diet, compared to the NNR. The inflammatory markers measured by the researchers all significantly dropped in the Paleo diet group, though some temporarily rose in the NNR group.
The Stone Age Difference
The Paleo diet was around 30% protein, 40% fat and 40% carbohydrates, contrary to the common belief that it is very low in carbohydrates. The NNR diet, however, was only 15% protein, 25% fat and 55% carbohydrates. This also defies the long-held notion that eating fat automatically leads to weight gain. Diets higher in protein have been found in other studies to aid weight loss without reducing muscle mass, and are linked with higher adherence. Previous studies had found that volunteers often regained their weight after the study period, unlike this trial where adherence and maintenance were high. Menopausal weight gain is expected in conventional circles to creep on over time, which was not seen in this study. Its success is also likely to be down to the lack of energy restriction, which does not lead to hormonal alterations that cause overeating and fat gain. Group sessions covering the topics of nutrition, cooking and exercise, along with self-monitoring, may have increased motivation to stay on their diets.
Overall, the Paleo diet is not a laughable fad, it may be the best option for many women to retain their youthful figures – and their health. If you are sruggling to keep your youthful figure, message me here or on my Facebook page to book a consultation.