Paleo Diet
Bacon is fried up in a pan in a kitchen in this photo illustration in Golden, Colorado, October 26, 2015. Reuters/Rick Wilking

Health enthusiasts and dieticians may not like to hear this, but the extremely popular Paleo diet may be causing more harm to followers than good. Researchers at University of Melbourne have warned that being on the diet for eight weeks can result in rapid weight gain and health problems.

According to the researchers, the Paleo diet has no scientific evidence to back up its weight loss claims and should be avoided at all cost. They branded the diet a fad and even urged authorities to issue a warning against the following of the diet, writes The Sun.

People with pre-diabetes and diabetes are especially at risk if they follow this low-carb, high fat (LCHF) Paleo diet.

“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,” said Prof. Sof Andrikopoulos, president of the Australian Diabetes Society.

Researchers took two groups of overweight mice and put one group on LCHF diet and the other on normal diet. Mice in both groups had pre-diabetes symptoms. After eight weeks, the LCHF group had their glucose intolerance worsened and gained more weight. Their insulin levels increased, too. Their fat mass doubled from two percent to nearly four percent the mice gained 15 percent of their body weight.

“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,” said Andrikopoulos.

The researchers did not notice any improvements in weight or symptoms. In fact, they got worse. Andrikopoulos held media responsible for creating hype around diets like Paleo. He added that these kinds of diets are popularised via celebrity weight-loss stories and celebrity chefs. Hollywood celebrities such as Jessica Biel and Matthew McConaughey are supporters of the Paleo diet. "My Kitchen Rules" chef judge Pete Evans is also an ardent endorser of the fad diet.