Through scientific research, we know more about how our bodies function in this day and age than in any time in our history on this earth. Yet one thing that many scientists seem to agree on is that although we have made great social advances and have become cleverer with time, our bodies have not made the same leaps forward as have our brains. Whilst our brains may be 21st Century in design, our bodies are still back in the stone age.
And this is exactly where we should look to find the best way of feeding our bodies and keeping excess fat at bay.
That’s according to the Paleolithic diet, also known as the Paleo diet, the Hunter-Gatherer, the Warrior or Caveman diet. You get the idea from the names that they’re all based on the idea that we need to go back to our primary function as human beings and strip away all modern patterns of eating, ridding our diet of all modern convenience food. People who support the Caveman diet say that basing our diet on plants and wild animals will give us the right blend of nutrients that we actually need, and will also reduce our risk of disease.
Professor Loren Cordain, who wrote The Paleo Diet, said, “Clinical trials have shown that the Paleo diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, reduce acne and promote optimum health and athletic performance.”
It’s certainly true that a Western diet, typically high in saturated fat, red meat and sugar, will if eaten to excess lead to obesity, diabetes and heart problems.
However, the Caveman diet is not rich in pulses, potatoes, whole grains, legumes and dairy products, which are all generally accepted by most nutritionists as being necessary for a healthy diet. Caveman diet supporters, though, say that our guts are not designed to accept these products and eating them can lead to inflammation of the gut and cause disease. The foods our cavemen ancestors ate would have been things like meat and fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit. Short of going out hunting wildlife, though, it’s a hard diet to follow religiously, as most meats are processed and/or from domesticated animals, and plants are cultivated. It is gluten-free, though, which many people accept as being a good thing for our digestive system.
You can drink water on the diet, and if you want something sweet it would have to be raw honey or palm sugar.
Some people say that following the Caveman diet 80% of the time will make it easier to stick to and will still do you a lot of good. You need to be active, too, since few of our stone age ancestors would have spent much of their time sitting around: they needed to be out hunting or providing shelter.
If you follow the diet you would only eat one main meal per day, in the evening – this is probably when stone age people would have eaten, when the hunters came back with their quarry.
It seems a bit faddy and a bit contradictory to how we know our metabolism works – if we are hungry, our bodies go into ‘starvation mode’, meaning that when we do get something to eat we hold onto the calories rather than burning them off. This is thought to stem from times in our historical past when food was not available regularly…