The paleolithic diet, also known as the Stone Age Diet or Caveman Diet, is simply a return to eating the foods that humans would have consumed before agriculture and farming became common. Also, it emphasises eating raw foods, as cooking would have been a rarity. It is the oldest known diet to man!
The paleolithic diet is intended to emulate the ancient diet of wild plants and animals that humans consumed up until the end of the stone age, which was about 10,000 years ago.
It is based upon commonly available modern foods, including lean meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts. It mostly excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils. Some salt and dairy (fresh goats milk etc.) may have been consumed, but not on a large scale. Although fire was used in cooking it may not have been a daily luxury.
The Original Paleo Diet for Weight Loss
To start a Paleo Diet you just need the Paleo Cookbook from www.paleocookbooks.com.
It was first popularized in the mid 1970s by a gastroenterologist named Walter L. Voegtlin. Building upon the principles of evolutionary medicine, it is based on the premise that modern humans are genetically adapted to the diet of their Paleolithic ancestors and that human genetics have scarcely changed since the dawn of agriculture, and therefore that an ideal diet for human health and well-being is one that resembles this ancestral diet.
This dietary approach is a controversial topic amongst nutritionists and anthropologists. Advocates argue that modern human populations subsisting on traditional diets similar to those of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers are largely free of diseases of affluence, and that such diets produce beneficial health outcomes in controlled medical studies.
Supporters point to several potentially therapeutic nutritional characteristics of pre-agricultural diets. Critics of this nutritional approach have taken issue with its underlying evolutionary logic, and have disputed certain dietary prescriptions on the grounds that they pose health risks and may not reflect the features of ancient Paleolithic diets. It is not a realistic alternative for everyone.
Why is the Palaeolithic Diet The Popular New Approach to Weight Loss?
Since the end of the Paleolithic period, foods that humans would have rarely or never consumed during previous stages of their evolution have been introduced as staples in their diet, namely dairy products, beans, cereals, alcohol, salt and fatty domestic meats.
In the last 150 years agriculture has boomed, with the production of refined cereals, refined sugars and refined vegetable oils, as well fattier domestic meats, which have become major components of Western diets. These dietary compositional changes have been implicated as risk factors in the many of the “diseases of civilization”, which include obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune-related diseases and cancer. In many ways folowing a caveman / paleo diet is very much like following a more conventional low GI diet plan.
Healthiest Foods to Eat on the Stone Age, Hunter-Gather Diet
There are too many foods that can be eaten, and that should be avoided, to list here. For a full list of foods you can eat download a Paleo Cookbook. Some of the allowed foods are also super foods, so we shall concentrate on these for now:
- Salmon: Salmon packs a great source of protein coupled with omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is also a good source of vitamins B6 and B12. Choose wild salmon whenever possible.
- Blueberries: A powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants which neutralize cell damage that can lead to heart disease and cancer.
- Kale: One of the best leafy greens. It is proven at fighting cancer and detoxifying. Kale provides a good source of Vitamin A and beta carotene; both essential for eye health and to prevent degenerative macular conditions like glaucoma. Kale contains 88% of the RDA of Vitamin C.
- Apples: Healthy, high in fiber. The sweetness of an apple is due to fructose, a slow-digesting sugar that won’t spike your blood sugar. Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar and can control appetite better than other fruits. Apples are one of the foods we strongly recommend you purchase organic, and be sure to eat the peel.
- Grass Fed Beef: Organic grass-fed beef makes our list of the ten healthiest palaeolithic foods. The beef produced from grass-fed cattle is lean and comparable to the wild meats in a classic cave man diet. Grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 essential fatty acids and beta carotene.
- Almonds: High in monounsaturated fats, decrease cholesterol levels and aid in preventing heart disease. Eaten with a meal decrease the post meal blood sugar spike.
- Beets: Red color gives them cancer-fighting properties. They lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease. Also full of antioxidants.
- Avocado: Source of potassium and folate, lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They also help you absorb more of the fat-soluble vitamins from the other vegetables.
- Garlic: Great for your heart; reduces blood pressure. High in vitamin C, B6, selenium, and manganese. Choose fresh garlic over powders or even garlic sold pre-chopped in jars.
- Carrots Cheap, versatile, full of vitamins and nutrients. One of the richest natural sources of carotenoids, have been linked to the prevention and fighting of several common types of cancer. Can be enjoyed raw or cooked.
So, time to act more like a cave man (or cave woman) and less like a junkie. Eating a natural diet like this will strengthen your immune system as well as your body. Bone strength and density is related to diet, as is a healthy cardiovascular system. If you want to be strong like a caveman, then eat like Captain Caveman!
Ape Man Diet – Natural Eating from the Prehistoric Period
In January 2007 the BBC reported on a very interesting diet experiment whereby a group of volunteers adopted a strict ape-like diet. A group of volunteers stopped eating all processed foods and saturated fats and instead ate a diet of mostly raw fruits and vegetables.
The rules of the diet were simple. The diet was plant based, like the diet eaten by apes, who genetically are our closest relatives. Their digestive systems are not very different from our own, and therefore a healthy diet for an ape is also a healthy diet for humans.
The diet consisted of fruit, vegetables, nuts and honey, and all items during the first week were eaten raw. The diet provided the daily nutritional requirements for both sexes taking part. Many of the volunteers struggled at first with the new diet, mostly problems being caused by a sudden increase in the amount of fibre consumed.
Also, the only liquid drunk during the first week was water. In the second week the volunteers also ate mackerel, which provide essential nutrients such as omega 3, which it is believed helped our brains to evolve at a greater rate.
The group’s average blood pressure fell from a level of 140/83 – almost hypertensive – to 122/76. Though it was not intended to be a weight loss diet, they dropped 4.4kg (9.7lbs), on average.
All the volunteers lost weight during the experiment. There was also a dramatic reduction in risk of coronary heart disease and stroke due to noticeable reductions in cholesterol, blood fats and blood pressure in all volunteers.
Overall, the cholesterol levels dropped 23%, an amount usually achieved only through anti-cholesterol drugs statins.
For many people this was no real revelation. Many vegetarians and vegans eat a diet like this already. But for the average person, this experiment provided solid proof that today’s fast food, high fat, high salt diet culture is the cause of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, plus many other ailments and disorders.
Eating healthily does not need to be as extreme as this experiment, but the “ape-like diet” provides a good foundation for a healthy diet.
The main criticism for the diet that the volunteers followed was that it was not a “bush diet”. It is very likely that our ancestors ate a diet that consisted of a lot of protein from grubs and insects. Many societies still consume a lot of insects today, including ants, grubs, silk worms, spiders and even scorpions. As well as eating raw insects people also used to eat shellfish, especially those found in fresh water and on beaches.
So a real stone age diet would have consisted of a lot of foods which the volunteers did not eat at all. For obvious reasons our ancient ancestors would not have eaten mackerel. Although we cannot know when humans first started fishing it is logical to assume that it was not until after our brains have evolved from generations of eating foods rich is omega 3 fatty acids which would have been derived mostly from shell fish.
In recent years this form of dieting has become more popular. Many fitness instructors are now promoting an caveman / stone age diet to their clients who want to lose fat and build muscle. Typically a diet will consist of a low GI diet with lean proteins, but also include beef and chicken in addition to seafood and fish.
However, what is most important is what we take from these studies and not whether or not the study was an accurate portrayal of a prehistoric diet. We know that saturated fat leads to cholesterol building up in the blood and that processed junk food causes obesity. These are the types of foods we need to reduce or eliminate completely to live a healthier and fitter life.
Also, modern nutrition is obviously much better than in ancient times. We are now able to ensure that we maintain a healthy diet all year round as food is plentiful, both in terms of volume and variety. Whereas our ancestors may have become malnourished and weakened in winter months we can maintain a diet rich in vitamins and minerals all year. This goes a long way to making us much healthier and able to fight off disease and infection.
So, to live a healthy life we should stop eating processed foods which are high in added sugar and saturated fat and eat a healthier diet that is closer to how stone-age man would have eaten, but not as restrictive.
Peter Andre Does The Caveman Diet
Peter Andre did the caveman diet for around 6 weeks to help lose some fat. The caveman diet is a simple diet that tries to mimic what humans would have eaten in the days before agriculture. Allowed foods are generally raw fruits and vegetables, and if you are brave you can eat grubs. Actually, some meats are allowed, but ideally these should be organic. Fish and seafood are also allowed as there is a lot of evidence for “cavemen” fishing.
The main difference between a caveman diet and a modern western diet is the presence wheat and other grains, sugar, salt and saturated fat. Most of the foods we eat today would have been available to prehistoric people in one part of the world or another. However, to really get the feel of a caveman diet you should eat only locally grown produce that is organically farmed. So no bananas, unless they grow locally to you.
Peter Andre’s diet is not quite the same as what Walter L. Voegtlin set out. Peter Andre’s diet rules include:
- Beef steak with a handful of nuts for breakfast
- All nuts are OK
- No pasta
- No white rice
- No bread
- No chips (fries)
- No fruit
- No sugar and sweets
- No wheat
- No dairy
He has not revealed all the details of the diet to the public on his show yet, hopefully we will learn more soon. Fruit is not allowed, which is slightly odd as fruit is freely available and would have been one of the main carbohydrate sources in prehistoric times. Maybe he has been advised to reduce sugar consumption, and this includes fructose (sugar found in fruits).
This is the type of food that we believe prehistoric humans ate and not the list of allowed foods eaten by Peter Andre on his “caveman diet”.
Peter Andre is also doing weight training to help build muscle, lose fat and get fitter. He says that the main purpose of the diet is to be able to lose fat and build muscle at the same time without risking over training and being tired and run down.
Last year Peter Andre said that he did not diet, instead he relied on exercise to stay in shape. It seems that he has now realised that he is not the young 20 something he used to be who never needed to diet, but is now a 30 something guy (he will be 39 in February 2012) who needs to work much harder to stop that middle-aged spread.
Fast Weight Loss With Jon Benson – Caveman Diet and HIT
Jon Benson is a personal fitness trainer. He developed a diet plan and a weight training system to help you lose weight and get strong. The two systems are complete solutions in there own right, but if you combine the two you can make excellent progress with losing weight and building muscle. The weight loss plan is the Every Other Day Diet and the weight training system is 7 Minute Muscle (you can read reviews of the ebooks here and here).
Arthur Jones and the Caveman
Arthur Jones is one of the bodybuilders that popularised the High Intensity Training method back in the 1970′s. The main principal behind high intensity training is that by lifting heavier weights fewer times you shock your body into accelerated muscle growth. There are three main benefits of high intensity training – reduce time exercising, reduce risk of injury, faster recovery time.
The 7 Minute Muscle strength training method takes the HIT system to the extreme. You are taught how to lift weights for just 7 minutes a day for 5 days a week (or 14 minutes 3 times a week) to get excellent muscle growth and development.
Traditional bodybuilding training requires many repetitions to be completed for each exercise. This is because muscle tissue responds differently under different conditions. More reps leads to bigger muscles, few reps with a greater weight leads to stronger but smaller muscle tissue. This is why athletes remain smaller even though they do a lot of weight lifting.
The Caveman Diet is a weight loss diet plan that has become very popular in the last few years. It teaches you how to eat in a more natural way. Prior to the agricultural revolution humans mostly ate raw fruits and vegetables and lean meats. This provided a very nutritious and lean diet. Agriculture has lead to us eating a diet that is far more energy dense and nutrient deficient. The Every Other Day Diet helps you to reverse this by teaching you to eat in a way that our ancestors ate. The focus is on more sporadic eating, with limited calories some days and more on others.
Some parts of the Every Other Day Diet are not so healthy though, as it encourages you to eat whatever you like on the eating days. This does result in some people eating junk food on their off days, so this is not strictly in keeping with the Caveman Diet, but it still very effectively helps you to manage your weight.
By combining these two systems you can lose fat while gaining muscle. On your weight training days you eat more carbohydrates and proteins and on the diet days you restrict calories so that you burn more fat.
More research is being completed that shows that this form of dieting provides a good way to lose weight and also improve health.
Really the best name for this type of dieting is possible a Hunter-Gatherer diet. It was during the Stone Age that humans started to farm and produce grains, so a diet that avoids grains cannot really be called a stone age diet. Humans were generally hunter-gatherers prior to the stone age, moving around as the seasons progressed to follow animals and gather seasonal foods. However, regardless of the name given to this diet plan, it is not only effective at managing weight but may also help to improve health.
You can get recipes and more information about the Paleo Diet in the Paleo Cookbook which can be ordered from www.paleocookbooks.com (ebook format).
“A paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease” by Tommy Jönsson, Yvonne Granfeldt, Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, Bo Ahrén and Staffan Lindeberg. NUTRITION & METABOLISM, Volume 7, Number 1, 85, DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-85
“A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease” by S. Lindeberg, T. Jönsson, Y. Granfeldt, E. Borgstrand, J. Soffman, K. Sjöström and B. Ahrén. Diabetologia. 2007 Sep;50(9):1795-807. Epub 2007 Jun 22.
“The Paleo Cookbook” (ebook) by Walter L. Voegtlin.