A Paleolithic diet is more satiating (filling) per calorie than a Mediterranean-like diet. Finally, there has been the first known randomized, controlled study on the health effects of a Paleolithic diet — with people who already have ischemic heart disease.
Researchers found that people eating a Paleolithic diet feel satisfied, fuller, and not hungry as quickly as those with ischemic heart disease (clogged coronary arteries) on a Mediterranean diet. Lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, eggs and nuts makes up the Paleolithic diet, according to the study, “A systematic review of the evidence supporting a causal link between dietary factors and coronary heart disease.” Authors are Mente A, de Koning L, Shannon HS, and Anand SS. Arch Intern Med. April 1, 2009.
In a study comparing the Paleolithic diet to the Mediterranean diet for participants who already had ischemic heart disease, the control subjects followed a Mediterranean-like diet based on whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, fruit and vegetables. But the Mediterranean-type diet didn’t significantly improve their glucose tolerance despite significant decreases of weight and waist circumference. Also check out the 2012 study, “Evaluation of biological and clinical potential of Paleolithic diet,”Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2012;63(1):9-15.
The main differences in food consumption, as reported in four day weighed food records, were a much lower intake of cereals and dairy products, a higher intake of fruit and nuts and a trend for higher intake of vegetables in the Paleolithic group compared to the Mediterranean group.
Researchers found a causal link between Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular disease
Scientists found strong evidence for a protective effect of vegetables, nuts and monounsaturated fat on coronary heart disease. On the other hand, evidence for whole grain was moderate and for milk products weak. The issue is where does the Modified Mediterranean diet become more of a Paleolithic diet — when cereals, grains, and dairy products–everything in a Neolithic diet–are removed?
Researchers examined the differences between Paleolithic and Mediterranean diets
The scientists concluded that the study showed further evidence for a specific role of the Paleolithic diet on protection of the heart. The more pronounced improvement of glucose tolerance in the Paleolithic group was independent of similar weight loss in both groups (-5.0 kg vs. -3.8 kg, Paleolithic vs. Mediterranean) and a greater decrease in waist circumference (-5.6 cm and -2.9 cm, Paleolithic vs. Mediterranean) and lower reported energy intake in the Paleolithic group (5.6 MJ/day vs. 7.5 MJ/day, Paleolithic vs. Mediterranean) diets, according to the 2009 study, “Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet.” The study is published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
You may want to check out the November 30, 2010 study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, “A paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease.” Nutrition and Metabolism (London) 2010.
Researchers found marked improvement of glucose tolerance and lower dietary energy intake in ischemic heart disease (IHD) patients after advice to follow a Paleolithic diet, as compared to a Mediterranean-like diet. The study reports findings on subjective ratings of satiety at meals and data on the satiety hormone leptin and the soluble leptin receptor from the same study.
The twenty-nine male ischemic heart disease (IHD) patients with impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes type 2, and waist circumference > 94 cm, were randomized to eat a Paleolithic diet based on lean meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, root vegetables, eggs, and nuts, or a Mediterranean-like diet based on whole grains, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruit, fish, and oils, and also margarine during 12 weeks.
Paleolithic diet participants were more satisfied and not hungry too quickly after eating
After a meal, you’re supposed to feel more energy. Did you ever go to a restaurant where you were eating a lot of vegetables and rice and two hours later you were very hungry again, just not feeling satiated and satisfied for many hour after that kind of meal?
Or maybe an hour or two after eating you felt your energy wane, and you felt like taking a nap. In the study, researchers measured the leptin index. Leptin and leptin receptor was measured at baseline and after 6 and 12 weeks. Free leptin index was calculated as the ratio leptin/leptin receptor. The results showed that the Paleolithic group were as satiated (satified and not quickly hungry again) as the Mediterranean group but consumed less energy per day (5.8 MJ/day vs. 7.6 MJ/day, Paleolithic vs. Mediterranean, p = 0.04).
Paleo diet participants consumed less energy per day than those on the Mediterranean diet
Satiety during meal and mean consumed energy from food and drink were higher in the Paleolithic group (p = 0.03). Also, there was a strong trend for greater Satiety Quotient for energy in the Paleolithic group (p = 0.057). Leptin decreased by 31% in the Paleolithic group and by 18% in the Mediterranean group with a trend for greater relative decrease of leptin in the Paleolithic group. Relative changes in leptin and changes in weight and waist circumference correlated significantly in the Paleolithic group (p < 0.001) but not in the Mediterranean group. Changes in leptin receptor and free leptin index were not significant. The study was a clinical trial (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00419497).
Marked improvement of glucose tolerance on the Paleolithic diet for those already having ischemic heart disease
Researchers found marked improvement of glucose tolerance in ischemic heart disease (IHD) patients with impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes type 2 after advice to follow a Paleolithic diet, as compared to a Mediterranean-like diet. For more information, check out the study, “A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease.” Authors are Lindeberg S, Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Borgstrand E, Soffman J, Sjostrom K, and Ahren B. The study is published in the journal Diabetologia. Epub 2007 Jun 22, 2007.
Why was the Paleolithic diet more satiating?
The Paleolithic diet was more satiating per calorie despite no group difference in supposedly satiating fiber intake, which also did not correlate with measures of satiety per calorie. This greater satiating capacity may instead have been caused by the trend for lower energy density of the Paleolithic diet, although energy density did not correlate with measures of satiety per calorie either. Water incorporated into a food increases its satiating capacity through reduced energy density. The scientists didn’t find any difference between groups in calculated water content of respective diets or any correlation with measures of satiety per calorie.
Another possible explanation of the Paleolithic diets greater satiating capacity is the significantly higher relative intake of protein in the Paleolithic group, 27 ± 6% of dietary energy, compared to 20.5 ± 3.6% in the Mediterranean group. Was it the higher protein diet?
Instead, the significantly lower carbohydrate intake in both absolute and relative terms, paired with the greater relative protein intake, could cause the greater satiating capacity of the Paleolithic diet. The Paleolithic diet in this study plays out as a low-carbohydrate diet, and the short-term effects on weight loss from low-carbohydrate diets suggesting greater satiety could be the controlling factor behind the greater satiating effect of the Paleolithic diet in the study.
Was it the difference in the type of carbohydrate consumed?
The major source of carbohydrate in the Mediterranean group were cereals, which, are less satiating than fruit, the major source of carbohydrate in the Paleolithic group. However, cereal and fruit intake did not correlate with measures of satiety per calorie. Yet another conceivable cause of the differences in satiating capacity is the significantly lower salt intake in the Paleolithic group, approximately 3.8 gram salt daily, compared to approximately 8.0 gram salt daily in the Mediterranean group.
If you look at various indigenous tribes around the world, for example, the Australian aborigines, they have for thousands of years cooked their food without adding salt, getting their salt from whatever salt already is in the natural foods. In the study, scientists found that a Paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a Mediterranean-like diet. You may want to take a look at the study, “Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet.”Authors are Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC Jr, and Sebastian A: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009. Or check out the study, “Role of leptin in the cardiovascular and endocrine complications of metabolic syndrome.” Authors are Correia ML et al. The study is published in the journal Diabetes Obes Metab 2006.
Not related to the research of these studies mentioned also is another study you may be interested in looking at on the topic of what’s in our food–for example in some types of commercial potatoes. See, “The content of some nutrients and potentially harmful components in edible potatoes purchased in the retail network.”