FOR all the modern advice on how to shed the pounds, the best way to lose weight is by copying our ancient ancestors, a study suggests.
The 'caveman' diet popular with celebrities, including Uma Thurman and Tom Jones, has been given the seal of approval by scientists.
Women who adopted the so-called Palaeolithic diet lost twice as much weight within six months as those who followed a modern programme based on official health guidelines.
The diet involves eating plenty of berries, vegetables and lean meats such as chicken. Bread, rice, pasta and dairy products are banned.
The diet is designed to simulate what our ancestors ate before the advent of farming about 12,000 years ago, meaning followers can eat whatever they like except for certain types of food containing grains, refined sugars and salt.
A typical breakfast might be eggs supplemented with chicken or turkey, and fruits such as grapefruit, melon, avocados and tomatoes.
In the latest study, published in the 'European Journal of Clinical Nutrition', researchers divided 70 post-menopausal, heavily overweight women into two groups.
One was told to follow a Palaeolithic diet, and the other a Nordic diet based on whole-grain cereals, low-fat dairy products, fruit, pulses, fish and vegetable oils. Participants were asked to gain about 30pc of their total energy intake from protein.
However, they found it difficult to reach that level and compensated by eating extra carbohydrates.
"They lost weight probably due to a low energy intake," said Dr Caroline Mellberg, who led the study at Sweden's Umea University with help from Cambridge University researchers.
"It is quite hard to eat enough fruit and vegetables to fill your energy needs. None of them complained about being hungry, so I guess the foods are quite filling. They ate a lot."
After six months, those on the Palaeolithic diet had lost an average of just under a stone (6.2kg) of fat and 4.3in (11cm) from their waistlines, compared with 6lbs (2.6kg) and 2.3in (5.8cm) in the other group. (© Daily Telegraph, London)