By Ryan Raman
The paleo diet is one of the most popular diets around.
It consists of whole, unprocessed foods and emulates how hunter-gatherers ate.
Advocates of the diet believe it can reduce the risk of modern health issues, pointing out that hunter-gathers did not face the same diseases that people today do, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
What Is the Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet promotes eating whole, unprocessed animal and plant foods like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts.
It avoids processed foods, sugar, dairy and grains, although some alternative versions of the paleo diet do allow options like dairy and rice.
Unlike most diets, a paleo diet does not involve counting calories. Instead, it restricts the above food groups, all of which are major sources of calories in the modern diet.
Research shows that diets that emphasize whole foods are better for weight loss and overall health. They are more filling, have fewer calories and reduce the intake of processed foods, which are linked to many diseases (4, 5, 6).
Summary: The paleo diet imitates a hunter-gatherer diet and aims to reduce the risk of modern diseases. It promotes eating whole, unprocessed foods and restricts foods like grains, sugar, dairy and processed foods.
Several Studies Show It Helps You Lose Weight
In one study, 14 healthy medical students were told to follow a paleo diet for three weeks.
During the study, they lost an average of 5.1 pounds (2.3 kgs) and reduced their waist circumference by 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) (3).
Interestingly, some studies comparing the paleo diet and traditional low-fat diets have found that the paleo diet is more effective for weight loss, even with similar calorie intakes.
In one study, 70 obese women aged 60 and over followed either a paleo diet or a low-fat, high-fiber diet for 24 months. Women on the paleo diet lost 2.5 times more weight after six months and two times more weight after 12 months.
By the two-year mark, both groups had regained some weight, but the paleo group had still lost 1.6 times more weight overall (21).
Another study observed 13 individuals with type 2 diabetes who followed a paleo diet and then a diabetes diet (low-fat and moderate-to-higher carb) over two consecutive three-month periods.
On average, those on the paleo diet lost 6.6 pounds (3 kgs) and 1.6 inches (4 cm) more from their waistlines than those on the diabetes diet (22).
Unfortunately, most research on the paleo diet is fairly new. Thus, there are very few published studies on its long-term effects.
It's also worth noting that very few studies on the paleo diet compare its effects on weight loss to other diets' effects on weight loss. While studies suggest that the paleo diet is superior, comparing it to more diets would strengthen this argument.
Summary: Many studies find that the paleo diet can help you lose weight and is more effective for weight loss than traditional, low-fat diets.
It Improves Several Other Aspects of Health
In addition to its effects on weight loss, the paleo diet has been linked to many other health benefits.
May Reduce Belly Fat
Belly fat is extremely unhealthy and increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and many other health conditions (24).
Studies have shown that the paleo diet is effective at reducing belly fat.
In one study, 10 healthy women followed a paleo diet for five weeks. On average, they experienced a 3-inch (8-cm) reduction in waist circumference, which is an indicator of belly fat, and around a 10-pound (4.6-kg) weight loss overall (23).
May Increase Insulin Sensitivity and Reduce Blood Sugar
Insulin sensitivity refers to how easily your cells respond to insulin.
Increasing your insulin sensitivity is a good thing, as it makes your body more efficient at removing sugar from your blood.
In a two-week study, 24 obese people with type 2 diabetes followed either a paleo diet or a diet with moderate salt, low-fat dairy, whole grains and legumes.
At the end of the study, both groups experienced increased insulin sensitivity, but the effects were stronger in the paleo group. Notably, only in the paleo group did those who were most insulin resistant experience increased insulin sensitivity (25).
May Reduce Heart Disease Risk Factors
A paleo diet is quite similar to diets recommended to promote heart health.
It's low in salt and encourages lean sources of protein, healthy fats and fresh fruits and vegetables.
That's why it's no coincidence that studies have shown that a paleo diet may reduce risk factors linked to heart disease, including:
- Blood pressure: An analysis of four studies with 159 individuals found that a paleo diet reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.64 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.48 mmHg, on average (1).
- Triglycerides: Several studies have found that eating a paleo diet could reduce total blood triglycerides by up to 44 percent (26, 27).
- LDL cholesterol: Several studies have found that eating a paleo diet could reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol by up to 36 percent (24, 26, 27).
May Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body heal and fight infections.
However, chronic inflammation is harmful and can increase the risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes (28).
The paleo diet emphasizes certain foods that can help reduce chronic inflammation.
It promotes eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which are great sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants help bind and neutralize free radicals in the body that damage cells during chronic inflammation.
The paleo diet also recommends fish as a source of protein. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce chronic inflammation by suppressing hormones that promote chronic inflammation, including TNF-α, IL-1 and IL-6 (29).
Summary: A paleo diet may provide you with many health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity and reduced belly fat, heart disease risk factors and inflammation.
Tips to Maximize Weight Loss on a Paleo Diet
If you'd like to try a paleo diet, here are a few tips to help you lose weight:
- Eat more veggies: They are low in calories and contain fiber, helping you stay full for longer.
- Eat a variety of fruits: Fruit is nutritious and incredibly filling. Aim to eat 2–5 pieces per day.
- Prepare in advance: Prevent temptation by preparing a few meals in advance to help you through busy days.
- Get plenty of sleep: A good night's sleep can help you burn fat by keeping your fat-burning hormones regular.
- Stay active: Regular exercise helps burn extra calories to increase weight loss.
Summary: A few tips to help you lose weight on a paleo diet include eating more veggies, prepping ahead and staying active.
The Bottom Line
It's well known that following a paleo diet can help you lose weight.
It's high in protein, low in carbs, may reduce appetite and eliminates highly processed foods and added sugar.
If you don't like counting calories, evidence suggests the paleo diet could be a great option.
However, it's important to note that the paleo diet may not be for everyone.
For example, those who struggle with food restriction may find it difficult adapting to the choices on the paleo diet.
5 Ways a Paleo Diet Can Help You Lose Weight:
High in Protein
Protein is the most important nutrient for weight loss.
Paleo diets encourage eating protein-rich foods like lean meats, fish and eggs.
In fact, the average paleo diet provides between 25–35 percent calories from protein.
Low in Carbs
Reducing your carb intake is one of the best ways to lose weight.
Paleo diets reduce your carb intake by eliminating common sources of carbs like bread, rice and potatoes.
It's important to note that carbs aren't necessarily bad for you, but restricting your carb intake can lower your daily calorie intake and help you lose weight.
Reduces Calorie Intake
To lose weight, you generally need to reduce your calorie intake.
That's why it's important to choose foods that are filling, as they can fend off hunger and help you eat less.
If you struggle with hunger, then a paleo diet could be great for you, as it is incredibly filling.
Furthermore, studies have shown that a paleo diet could help you produce more hormones that keep you full after a meal, such as GLP-1, PYY and GIP, compared to diets based on traditional guidelines (15).
Eliminates Highly Processed Foods
The modern diet is a major reason why obesity is on the rise.
It encourages eating highly processed foods, which are packed with calories, low in nutrients and may increase your risk of many diseases (16).
The paleo diet restricts highly processed foods, as they were not available during the Paleolithic time period.
Instead, it encourages eating lean sources of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats, which are lower in calories and rich in nutrients.
Eliminates Added Sugar
Like highly processed foods, eating too much added sugar can be detrimental to your weight loss efforts and health in general.
The paleo diet eliminates added sugar altogether and instead promotes natural sources of sugar from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Although fruits and vegetables have natural sugars, they also provide many essential nutrients like vitamins, fiber and water, all of which are beneficial for health.
Summary: A paleo diet can help you lose weight because it's high in protein, low in carbs and incredibly filling. It also eliminates highly processed foods and added sugar.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Mark Hertsgaard
What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.
Will the White House Turn Green?<p>Whether the White House changes hands is the most important climate question of the 2020 elections. President Donald Trump rejects climate science, is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, and has accelerated fossil fuel development. His climate policy seems to be, as he tweeted in January when rejecting a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to protect New York City from storm surges, "Get your mops and buckets ready."</p><p>Joe Biden, who started the 2020 campaign with a climate position so weak that activists gave it an "F," called Trump a "climate arsonist" during California's recent wildfires. Biden backs a $2 trillion plan to create millions of jobs while slashing emissions—a Green New Deal in all but name. Equally striking, his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, has endorsed phasing out fossil fuel production—a politically explosive scientific imperative.</p><p>The race will be decided in a handful of battleground states, five of which already face grave climate dangers: Florida (hurricanes and sea-level rise), North Carolina (ditto), Texas (storms and drought), Michigan (floods), and Arizona (heat waves and drought). <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us/" target="_blank">Public concern is rising</a> in these states, but will that concern translate into votes?</p>
Will Democrats Flip the Senate, and by Enough to Pass a Green New Deal?<p>With Democrats all but certain to maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate will determine whether a potential Biden administration can actually deliver climate progress. Democrats need to pick up three seats to flip the Senate if Biden wins, four if he doesn't. But since aggressive climate policy is shunned by some Democrats, notably Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia, Democrats probably need to gain five or six Senate seats to pass a Green New Deal.</p><p>Environmentalists, including the League of Conservation Voters, are targeting six Republicans who polls suggest are vulnerable.</p><ul><li>Steve Daines of Montana, who denies climate science</li><li>Martha McSally of Arizona</li><li>Thom Tillis of North Carolina</li><li>Susan Collins of Maine</li><li>Joni Ernst of Iowa (bankrolled by Charles Koch)</li><li>John James of Michigan (also a Koch beneficiary)</li></ul><p>Republican Senators are even at risk in conservative Kansas and Alaska. In both states, the Democratic candidates are physicians—not a bad credential amid a pandemic—who support climate action. In Kansas, Barbara Bollier faces an incumbent funded by Charles Koch. In Alaska, Al Gross urges a transition away from oil, though his openness to limited drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve dims his appeal to green groups. He faces incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, who receives an 8 percent lifetime voting record from the League of Conservation Voters.</p>
Will Local and State Races Advance Climate Progress?<h4>THE CLIMATE HAWKS</h4><p>Under Democratic and Republican leadership alike, Washington has long been a graveyard for strong climate action. But governors can boost or block renewable energy; the Vermont and New Hampshire races are worth watching. Attorneys general can sue fossil fuel companies for lying about climate change; climate hawks are running for the top law enforcement seats in Montana and North Carolina. State legislatures can accelerate or delay climate progress, as the new Democratic majorities in Virginia have shown. Here, races to watch include Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado.</p><h4>THE CLIMATE POLICY MAKERS</h4><p>Perhaps the most powerful, and most overlooked, climate policy makers are public utility commissions. They control whether pipelines and other energy infrastructure gets built; they regulate whether electric utilities expand solar and energy efficiency or stick with the carbon-heavy status quo. Regulatory capture and outright corruption are not uncommon.</p><p>A prime example is Arizona, where a former two-term commissioner known as the godfather of solar in the state is seeking a comeback. Bill Mundell argues that since Arizona law permits utilities to contribute to commissioners' electoral campaigns, the companies can buy their own regulators. Which may explain why super-sunny Arizona has so little installed solar capacity.</p><p>In South Dakota, Remi Bald Eagle, a Native American U.S. Army veteran, seeks a seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which rules on the Standing Rock oil pipeline. And in what <em>HuffPost</em> called "the most important environmental race in the country," Democrat Chrysta Castaneda, who favors phasing out oil production, is running for the Texas Railroad Commission, which despite its name decides what oil, gas, and electric companies in America's leading petro-state can build.</p>
Will the Influencers Usher in a Green New Era?<h4>THE UNCOUNTED</h4><p>The story that goes largely under-reported in every U.S. election is how few Americans vote. In 2016, some 90 million, <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roughly four out of every 10 eligible voters</a>, did not cast a ballot. Attorney Nathaniel Stinnett claims that 10 million of these nonvoters nevertheless identify as environmentalists: They support green policies, even donate to activist groups; they just don't vote. Stinnett's <a href="https://www.environmentalvoter.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Voter Project</a> works to awaken this sleeping giant.</p><h4>THE SUNRISE MOVEMENT</h4><p>Meanwhile, the young climate activists of the <a href="http://www.sunrisemovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sunrise Movement</a> are already winning elections with an unabashedly Green New Deal message. More than any other group, Sunrise pushed the Green New Deal into the national political conversation, helping Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey draft the eponymous congressional resolution. In 2020, Sunrise has helped Green New Deal champions defeat centrists in Democratic primaries, with Markey dealing Representative Joe Kennedy Jr. the first defeat a Kennedy has ever suffered in a Massachusetts election. But can Sunrise also be successful against Republicans in the general elections this fall?</p><h4>THE STARPOWER</h4><p>And an intriguing wild card: celebrity firepower, grassroots activism, and big-bucks marketing have converged behind a campaign to get Latina mothers to vote climate in 2020. Latinos have long been the U.S. demographic most concerned about climate change. Now, <a href="https://votelikeamadre.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vote Like A Madre</a> aims to get 5 million Latina mothers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona to the polls. Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayak, and Lin-Manuel Miranda are urging mothers to make a "pinky promise" to vote for their kids' climate future in November. Turning out even a quarter of those 5 million voters, though no easy task, could swing the results in three states Trump must win to remain president, which brings us back to the first category, "Will the White House Turn Green?"</p>
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By Tony Carnie
South Africa is home to around 1,300 of the world's roughly 7,100 remaining cheetahs. It's also the only country in the world with significant cheetah population growth, thanks largely to a nongovernmental conservation project that depends on careful and intensive human management of small, fenced-in cheetah populations. Because most of the reserves are privately funded and properly fenced, the animals benefit from higher levels of security than in the increasingly thinly funded state reserves.
Vincent van der Merwe at a cheetah translocation. Endangered Wildlife Trust
Under Pressure<p>Cheetah populations elsewhere in Southern Africa have not prospered over the past 50 years. In Zimbabwe, cheetah numbers have crashed from 1,500 in 1975, to just 170 today. Botswana's cheetah population has held steady at around 1,500 over the same period, but illegal capture for captive breeding and conflicts with farmers and the growing human population are increasing. In Namibia, there were an estimated 3,000 cheetah in in 1975; roughly 1,400 remain today.</p><p>In contrast, South Africa's cheetah numbers have grown from about 500 in 1975 to nearly 1,300 today. Van der Merwe, who is also a Ph.D. student at the University of Cape Town's Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa (iCWild), says he's confident that South Africa will soon overtake Namibia and Botswana, largely because the majority of South African cheetahs are protected and managed behind fences, whereas most of the animals in the neighboring countries remain more vulnerable on mainly unfenced lands.</p><p>Wildlife researchers Florian Weise and colleagues have reported that private stock owners in Namibia still trap cheetahs mainly for translocation, but there are few public or private reserves large enough to contain them. Weise says that conservation efforts need to focus on improving tolerance toward cheetahs in commercial livestock and game farming areas to reduce indiscriminate trapping.</p><p>Van der Merwe says fences can be both a blessing and a curse. While these barriers prevent cheetahs and other wild animals from migrating naturally to breed and feed, they also protect cheetahs from the growing tide of threats from humanity and agriculture.</p><p>To simulate natural dispersion patterns that guard against inbreeding, the trust helps landowners swap their animals with other cheetah reserves elsewhere in the country. The South African metapopulation project has been so successful in boosting numbers that the trust is having to look beyond national boundaries to secure new translocation areas in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.</p><p>Cheetah translocations have been going on in South Africa since the mid-1960s, when the first unsuccessful attempts were made to move scores of these animals from Namibia. These relocations were mostly unsuccessful.</p>
Charli de Vos uses a VHF antenna to locate cheetahs in Phinda Game Reserve. Tony Carnie for Mongabay
Swinging for the Fences<p>But other wildlife conservation leaders have a different perspective on cheetah conservation strategy.</p><p>Gus Mills, a senior carnivore researcher retired in 2006 from SANParks, the agency that manages South Africa's national parks, after a career of more than 30 years in Kalahari and Kruger national parks. He says the focus should be on quality of living spaces rather than the quantity of cheetahs.</p><p>Mills, who was the founder of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Carnivore Conservation Group in 1995, and who also spent six years after retirement studying cheetahs in the Kalahari, says it's more important to properly protect and, where possible, expand the size of existing protected areas.</p><p>He also advocates a triage approach to cheetah conservation, in which scarce funds and resources are focused on protecting cheetahs in formally protected areas, rather than diluting scarce resources in an attempt to try and save every single remaining cheetah population.</p><p>"People have an obsession with numbers. But I believe that it is more important to protect large landscape and habitats properly," Mills said.</p><p>He suggests that cheetahs enclosed within small reserves live in artificial conditions: "It's almost like glorified farming."</p><p>"In the long run we have to focus on consolidating formally protected areas," he added. "Africa's human population will double by 2050, so cheetah populations in unfenced areas will become unsustainable if they are eating people's livestock."</p>
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