What is the Paleolithic Diet?
Simple answer: Think of a caveman…what did he eat? You got it.
Bigger answer: The Paleolithic Age or “Old Stone Age” was from 2.5 million* years ago to about 10,000 B.C. Human’s genetic makeup has not changed much in the last 100,000 years. So, in theory what we as humans were eating 50,000 years ago is probably the best diet for our bodies today. At that time, and today, we were wired to desire the highest calorie foods in order to survive times of hunger. It wasn’t until 10,000 B.C., around the Neolithic Age, that we started moving together into cities and started farming to more efficiently get our calories. So we went from hunter-gatherers to being farmers. Hunter-gatherers would spend their days on their feet roaming the earth (considered exercise by some) hunting and gathering foods. Farmers learned to grow the highest calorie foods in small areas (what we needed to do at the time to feed our families more effectively). Fast forward to today and we find super-sized meal deals at McDonalds and artificial chemical sweeteners. See the changes and our problem?
I’m excited to share the Neo-Paleolithic Diet with you and how it is going to make you feel great, lose weight, get lean, and regain your youthful cholesterol, and insulin levels. We combine the lessons learned from the Paleolithic Diet with current day research on diet, exercise, diseases, and wellness, and we get what we’re calling within our team, the “Neo-Paleolithic Diet”.
What foods make up the Paleolithic Diet?
The Paleolithic Diet simply consists of lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts. It is thought that Paleolithic Man ate these foods in variety as they moved about the earth as hunter-gatherers.
Lean meats made a large portion of the caveman’s diet. How much protein versus carbohydrates and fats it tough to determine exactly. But, we think that protein was probably eaten in higher proportions than it is in today’s American diet. There are many researchers who believe that protein usually accounted for the MAJORITY of calories for paleolithic man.
Wild game would be the most like what paleolithic man ate. Because larger animals would have been worth more calories for a given effort of hunting them, you can bet that cavemen preferred larger animals over smaller. You can also bet that wild game was more lean that the hamburger we buy at the grocery store or McDonalds. So, choose leaner meats over the more fatty ones, especially if you are wanting to lose weight.
Another key to remember about the paleo diet is that it varied from day to day. So, the more variety you can get in your diet the better. There is a whole debate over whether saturated fats are good for you or not, and whether they should be considered “paleo.” But, if you eat a variety of wild-like meats you’d be better off.
Fish was eaten by Paleolithic cavemen 5x more that it is by us today. You know there are tons of dietary benefits to eating more fish, starting with reducing your overall saturated fat and increasing your Omega 3 to Omega 6 fat ratios.
Omega 3 fish oils have been show to be anti-inflammatory, so if you are battling any disease associated with inflammation, eating more fish will be beneficial.
Omega 3 fish oils have been shown to be fantastic for brain growth and maintenance as well as overll cardio health.
The biggest failure of our modern diets is the deficiency of fresh vegetables. Most of us consume most of our calories in the some form of wheat, which is not what a caveman would have done. You are missing vital nutrients and minerals when you skip the extra servings of vegetables everyday. Over time, missing out on these nutrients and anti-oxidants is going to wreak havoc on your health.
Although we may have slightly different vegetables available to us today, we know that our caveman counterparts out-ate us in vegetables by a large margin. Some vegetables we eat today that are surprisingly harmful were not even available to paleolithic man. Think of a caveman wandering around in a forest, he has to eat vegetables to survive. We all know that there are tons more nutrients and fiber in vegetables than in a Big Mac.
Mmmmm, the best tasting part of the paleo diet, fruits! Wow, packed with natural sugar you can get lots of quick energy and extremely important nutrients and anti-oxidants as well.
Just like vegetables, a caveman wandering around in a forest would be eating a lot of fruits and berries. Because of their great taste and color they were very appealing. Fruits and berries are power-packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and other great nutrients.
Finally, the main sources of fat for paleolithic man were nuts and the fat found in wild game. Nuts are overwhelmingly more nutritious than our modern sources of fat…butter, cream, french fry grease, etc. There have been numerous studies showing nuts to be helpful in preventing cancer and other ailments.
Each type of nut has it’s special benefits. Be sure to get a mixture of walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds (not really a nut), cashews, etc. For those of you with auto-immune or allergy concerns you may want to avoid peanuts, like paleo man most likely did.
Paleolithic Diet is an Exclusion Diet
The most difficult thing about the Paleolithic Diet is avoiding all other foods that aren’t on the diet. No pizza, dairy, cheeseburgers, bread, colas, etc. It can be very difficult to live the fast-food-lifestyle and eat only the Paleolithic Diet. Some of us are just too brainwashed into thinking that we must eat these other foods to quit. But, the rewards are lavish…lean body, good muscle mass, sharper thinking, less disease…see the other articles on this site for proof.
Paleolithic Diet Summary
So, in a nutshell (sorry for the pun), this is the traditional paleolithic diet. We are learning more all the time about what the Paleolithic Man must have eaten (and some of it is surprising us!). The Paleolithic Diet should serve as a basis for your dietary guidelines. Combining it with clinical studies to prove out additional theories, we are well on our way to the optimum diet. Shall we call it the “neo-paleolithic-diet”?
* Depending on your beliefs and the origins of the universe this number may be way off. I personally believe that humans have existed more on the order of thousands of years rather than millions of years.
Red Berries Picture Above: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dlbezaire/ / CC BY-SA 2.0
Salmon Photo Above: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlastras/ / CC BY 2.0
Chicken Breast Photo Above: http://www.flickr.com/photos/startcooking/ / CC BY 2.0
Vegetables Photo Above: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mckaysavage/ / CC BY 2.0
Berries Photo Above: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wandering_angel/ / CC BY 2.0
Almonds Photo Above:http://www.flickr.com/photos/melintur/ / CC BY 2.0