U.S. News and World Report, a weekly news magazine with a penchant for ranking things, did not think much of the Paleo or “Caveman diet.” It ranked the Paleo diet dead last.
But in the two weeks since U.S. News issued its “Best Diets” report, a funny thing has happened. More people — far more people — have gone online to say caveman-style eating worked better for them than any of the other diets they’d tried.
As of mid-day Monday, more than 3,000 people said they lost weight with the Caveman diet, versus just 74 who said they did not. Only the Weight Watchers diet, which won the commercial plan category, came even close with just over 1,800 people saying the diet worked for them. Another 775 said they’ve tried Weight Watchers, but it did not work for them.
The Dash diet, which won the overall category, had only 95 people saying it worked for them, versus 457 who claimed it did not work.
The rankings and the popularity of the diets, especially the spike in support for the Caveman diet, come as no surprise. Colorado State University’s Loren Coirdain, a professor of health and exercise at the Fort Collins, CO-based campus, is a father of the “Caveman diet” and pushes the value of eating lean meat and wild plants.
Ever since those U.S. News rankings came out, Cordain has been busy defending the “Caveman diet, generating support on the Internet through his blogs and Facebook contributions. He claims that the panel of nutritionists that U.S. News used to rank the diets simply didn’t know enough to make comparisons.
U.S. News ranked diets for weight loss, diabetes control, heart heath, and best commercial diet plan. When the rankings came out, most attention focused on the “best commercial diet plan,” in which Weight Watchers bested Jenny Craig for the two top spots and Slim-Fast came in third.
But it’s been the overall weight-loss category, where the Paleo diet was ranked last among the 20 studied, that has generated attention ever since.
The low-carb diet most resembles the Atkins or eco-Atkins diets. Its goals are weight loss and maintenance and prevention or control of diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It promises a healthier, fitter, disease-free life.
Paleolithic man — 10,000 year ago — did not eat junk food and pasta, but was a hunter and gatherer of plants and animal protein. The Paleo diet just turns back the clock to that healthier and happier time.
But U.S. News gave the Caveman diet low marks, largely because it has not been subjected to much research. The nutrition panel employed by U,S. News questioned how many people could give up bread and dairy products on a long-term basis.
But the many advocates who say eating like a caveman works for them say sticking to the high protein from wild game, and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, will pay back by ending obesity and diabetes. After all, those problems did not exist 10,000 years ago, says Professor Cordain.