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My Paleo Diet Experiment: The Results Are In

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When I began my Paleo Diet experiment on July 20, 2011 I had two goals in mind.  One was to lose more weight than my wife who was following the vegan diet simultaneously, and the other was lose some inches from anywhere on my body.  Well, the experiment is over and it’s time to provide the results.

The objective of my Paleo Diet experiment was to determine if a person would lose more weight following the Paleo versus a vegan diet.  My wife, who is vegetarian, followed vegan principles while I followed the Paleo Diet.  One the first day of the experiment, we took our weight and measured the following areas on our bodies: chest, waist, hips, arm (around the bicep and triceps).  On the final day of the experiment we again weighed ourselves and took the same body measurements.

Results

Paleo Diet vs. Vegan Diet Change in Body Mass Comparison

 

Paleo Diet

Vegan Diet

 

Start

Finish

Start

Finish

 

 

 

 

 

Chest

49″

48″

41″

40.5″

Waist

46.5″

45″

37″

34″

Hips

46″

44″

43″

41.5″

Arms

15″

14.5″

13″

13″

Weight

225 lbs.

224 lbs.

155lbs.

150 lbs.


Net inches lost

The participant of each plan lost a total of 5”

Total weight lost

 Paleo Diet:  net loss of 1 lb.

Vegan Diet:  net loss of 5 lbs.

 

Exercise Routines

The vegan participant performed more intensive cardio training on average than the Paleo participant.

Both participants performed identical weight training programs over the six week period.

Observations

It was easier for the Paleo participant to meal plan.  The wide variety of protein sources made it easy to create many different types of meals.  The Paleo Diet follower increased his intake of fish and seafood during the experiment as compared to earlier dietary habits.  In order to obtain adequate protein, the Vegan follower had to increase her consumption of soy products and beans.  The Vegan participant had trouble “learning to like tofu and tempah”.

The Vegan participant decreased the amount of grains she consumed during the experiment as compared to normal consumption.  This was the result of her partner’s commitment to Paleo eating.  With no grains available for easy eating, she inadvertently reaped the benefit of being in a Paleo Diet environment.

The participant in the Vegan Diet lost 4 more pounds than the Paleo Diet follower.  However, this statistic may not reveal the full truth.  The fact that the Paleo Diet participant lost 5 inches of total body mass in 6 weeks indicates that the amount of body fat the person carried decreased by more than 1 pound.    

The Paleo diet follower gained more muscle mass than the Vegan follower as is evidenced by the same loss of body mass but less net weight loss overall.   This result shouldn’t be surprising.  Nancy Clark in The Power of Protein from the journal The Physician and Sports Medicine expresses caution that although vegetarian athletes can consume adequate protein from their diet, they have to be willing to eat large amounts of plant proteins. This is often easier for men with hearty appetites than for weight-conscious women.  Perhaps this is what happened in this case.  The Vegan participant may not have eaten enough protein to develop as much muscle as the Paleo Diet participant.

Conclusions

Both the Paleo Diet and Vegan Diet offer effective methods for healthy weight loss.  The participants of both diets each lost a total of five inches of body mass and both experienced weight loss over the experiment period. 

From a net weight loss perspective, the Vegan diet had more success.

The Paleo diet enabled the participant to lose the same amount of body mass as the vegan participant yet, by providing ample protein sources for muscle building, the Paleo Diet participant gained more muscle mass over the experimental period.

So, if your only goal is to lose weight, either the Paleo Diet or Vegan diet will do the trick.  However, if you want to lose weight and build muscle mass at the same time, this goal will be more easily accomplished by following the Paleo Diet.  This way of eating provides more readily available and more easily consumed protein sources.  Early man ate plenty of fish, seafood and meat.  They didn’t eat soy or tempah.  Maybe we shouldn’t eat it too.

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About Layne Pennell

  • Wenchypoo

    Paleo is a MARATHON, not a sprint. Continue your experiment over the course of 6 months to a year, then check back. Along the way, check the things that really matter, like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.–there YOU will be the clear winner over her, because grains force the liver to pump out more LDL, jacking up the bad cholesterol levels. No grains = a dramatic drop in LDL. Lots of Omega-3 consumption (as per the diet) = jacked UP levels of HDL. Paleo diets also lower blood pressure, and amp up immunity and disease resistance.

    Please go for longer than a month or two to REALLY see the benefits.

  • Michael

    If you continue the experiment (or do another) I would suggest that you purchase a reputable scale that provides body fat percentages and track that at the same time each day. The measurements that you took are all well and good, but do not prove that muscle mass was gained or retained in and of themselves. You simply assumed that to be the case, and went from there. The only way to accurately arrive at that conclusion, is to measure body fat percentage both before and after (if not during).

  • luvourmother

    This is ridiculous! you can’t compare results effectively between a man and a women, we lose weight and gain muscle differently.
    Also, vegans don’t need tofu and tempeh, if she couldn’t cook it just eat something else.

  • Heather W

    This is a really poorly designed comparison, because you can’t compare the effect of a diet on a man vs. a woman. Women and men have completely different metabolisms, in fact, men will almost always lose more weight than a woman in the same time period on the same plan. This makes me think the vegan diet was actually much more effective than the paleo diet, because the woman, who would have a harder time losing weight to begin with, lost more weight. However, nobody does studies just with two people. When push comes to shove, simply comparing two people on anything gives absolutely no real useable data.

  • http://www.paleocookbookdiet.net Layne Pennell

    Heather and luvourmother are right. A larger pool of participants are needed to make for more accurate results.

    I would love to conduct a larger study with more people. If these two people would be interested in contributing to better results, please contact me through my website and we will perform another experiment.

    Any reader who is interested in participating in a Paleo Diet experiment, feel free to contact me [Personal contact info deleted]

  • josh

    one male vs one female with no exercise control? please.

  • Mrs. Bernie Madoff

    This wasnt a fair comparison, you need to do it longer. With either two men or two women. Against each other, or more people for more acurate outcome. Whatever the out come Im still going to try it, ive seen to many good reviews, to let this crap above deter me….:)

  • Mike Raposo

    I always like when people make trollish statements but don’t have the courage to post with their real name. Right “Mrs. Bernie Madoff”?

  • MistifiedByThisBlog

    I’ve really had it up to here [points to the ceiling] with these vegan Vs Paleo comparisons. They are completely different, and simply can’t be compared in this over-simplified unscientific way. There are long term clinical trials being done on Paleo.. think I’ll wait for those. Been paleo for two months and lost 8 kilos with no exercise at all. I don’t need to compare that with anything. Each to their own and what works for them…. set your own goals, we’re all inidividuals.

  • Sailer

    Sounds like the wife didn’t cheat maybe?