The Paleo Diet: So Easy a Caveman Can Do It?

Categories: For Your Health

fruit.jpg
Photos by Molly Dunn
Eat beautiful fruit like these plums every meal.
If I had a dollar for every fad diet, I'd be rich. The main reason people grab hold of these diets is because the ads are glamorous and make everyone believe they can lose weight in a snap.

It's interesting that one of the newest diet sensations goes back to the time when cavemen roamed the land -- not as pretty as the South Beach Diet appears. The Paleo Diet sets up an eating plan similar to that of the cavemen, meaning all of the starches, artificial sweeteners, dairy, grains and yes, alcohol, that cavemen didn't have are considered "bad foods."

Recently, a slew of cookbooks and how-to books have been released promoting the Paleo Diet. Could this be the new thing to solve weight loss problems and create healthier lifestyles in the world? Probably not, but the motives behind it aren't so bad.

The premise of the caveman diet is to have a high-protein, high-fruit and high-vegetable diet -- basically these were the only things available to cavemen -- and to promote healthier lifestyles and fight against diseases. Sounds pretty good, right?

Chicken breasts, top sirloin steak, pork loin and bison encompass a few of the lean proteins in the Paleo Diet food plan. Fish and shellfish are also highly recommended as sources of protein. Increasing the amount of protein contributes to a more satisfied feeling after each meal and an increased metabolism, allowing for easier weight loss.

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Fish, tomatoes and eggplant make a perfect meal to fit the Paleo Diet standards.
Each meal must include protein, fruits, vegetables, as well as healthy nuts, seeds and fats. This means no dairy, grains, processed foods and sugars, legumes, starches and alcohol.

The Paleo Diet is a good plan to follow, if you're an athlete in training, but eliminating so many other types of food seems a little drastic. I'm all for eating healthy, but the Paleo Diet is an extreme path that's not for everyone. Whatever happened to everything in moderation?

Keep things under control, and you'll live a healthy life. If we have been eating the foods the Paleo Diet deems "bad" for hundreds of years, then why doesn't everyone have heart diseases, cancer or diabetes? These foods only hurt us if we aren't sensible with what we are eating.

Has anyone tried this diet?



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28 comments
Paleo_Huntress
Paleo_Huntress

My question is where did you get so much misinformation about primitive diets? You clearly didn't do much research or read any of the books.

Dion Kerfont
Dion Kerfont

 You don't need a lot of sugar... at least not as much as you probably think.  What little we do need can be obtained from fruits and vegetables as you say, but you can also get it from protein... as the liver converts protein to glucose as well... which is why it is important not to get too much protein as well.  Too much sugar is what's killing us right now more than anything else.

Potatoes Make Me Sad
Potatoes Make Me Sad

·         You know you are eating a healthy diet when you don’t have to count calories, as what you are putting into your body is getting burnt as energy rather than being stored as fat. Diets based on cutting out carbs only allow quality sustenance to fuel the body, nothing that will get stored as fat. Bring on a life without counting calories.

Potatoes Make Me Sad
Potatoes Make Me Sad

·         This is not a diet, but a lifestyle choice. Intelligently telling you to cut out unnatural refined man made carbs and enjoy the produce that is naturally available.

Tessa
Tessa

Umm...we have one of the worst health crisis currently underway in our country with virtually half of our population overweight, diabetes in children, cancer, rampant heart disease...sorry, our country doesn't do moderation, the proof is in the pudding.

Pegheinemancihocki
Pegheinemancihocki

Physical discomfort is not the only sign that a food is unhealthy.  Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with your not eliminating foods you enjoy. That's your choice and your right.  Just saying you can't use physical discomfort as a barometer for what's healthy or not. I don't get any physical discomfort from consuming grains, either.  But I do know that cancer feeds on glucose (exclusively) and sugar, grains and starches are the best sources of glucose in our diets.  I also know a diet high in sugar and starch raises risk factors for heart disease. I'd prefer to avoid cancer and heart disease, so, rather than eating them in moderation, I avoid sugar and starch as much as possible. 

Steve Moore
Steve Moore

Isn't this just Atkins with new marketing? There's not a lot of fossil record regarding what our stone age ancestors ate but I'm pretty sure it didn't involve complex preparations and coconut flour. There is some evidence that carrion was involved. In the real world where there's science, there have been lots of peer-reviewed studies supporting good outcomes from consuming whole grains.

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

" Look around you--doesn't it seem nearly everybody DOES have heart disease, cancer, or diabetes?" No.

Ddd
Ddd

sister-in-law went from being a vegetarian to a caveman..i dunno i have a new fad diet! run 15-20 miles a week and you can eat anything diet i need to write a book and i can make millions!

Geezy
Geezy

Gotta agree with my man Hex here, although certain parts of this Paleo diet I do agree with and practice.  But with the whole Crossfit craze these past few years the Paleo diet has really gotta more attention since it's a staple in the training routine.  Still, at the end of the day moderation and exercise is all that's needed. 

Laurie Rivera
Laurie Rivera

Agreed... not one single thriving vegan culture in the WORLD. Doesn't seem especially healthy. Of course, there are still more than 100 hunter-gatherer cultures with an average animal food intake of 70%.  Empirical evidence is the bomb.

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

3/4 of my grandparents. My aunts and uncles. My neighbor, a few weeks ago. Let's not get crazy here, Don. Lots and lots of people die of old age--still. Quick question--who dies of acne or arthritis these days? Your comments are not convincing me this diet is awesome.

Don Wiss
Don Wiss

"Fish, tomatoes and eggplant make a perfect meal to fit the Paleo Diet standards." Actually, while it does meet paleo diet standards, it is not the perfect meal. Both the tomatoes and eggplant are in the nightshade family. A specific subcategory of saponins found in nightshade plants are called glycoalkaloids. Saponins are noxious not only for insects and microbes that eat plants containing these compounds, but also for humans. If we eat saponins in high enough amounts, they can become lethally toxic. Even at low doses, they may cause a leaky gut. Work by Dr. Fasano's group, as well as by other scientists worldwide, shows that a leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability plays a vital initial step in initiating some, if not all, autoimmune diseases.

Steve Bruhn
Steve Bruhn

There is nothing "drastic" about eating the way nature intended, and not the way marketing and economics intended! What is "drastic" is the changes made in the human diet since agriculture and the diseases that follow. The short lifespan of cave-people is not the issue. They had saber-tooth tigers to run from and no antibiotics. I've tried every diet and the Paleo approach makes the most sense, improves health, and lowers weight the most. "Everything in moderation" is a myth. It assumes "everything" was meant to be there in the first place. Show me how nature intended for us to have sugar drinks, cookies, and gluten intolerance in "moderation." If you want to follow everything in moderation, eat bacon and eggs, and stop eating bacon when you are full. :)

Terry Lee Ballard
Terry Lee Ballard

From the research I've seen, wheat is just plain bad for you. I'm all for moderation, but needlessly poisoning yourself moderately just doesn't work for me. My wife and I have been on this diet for over two years and never felt better. Best result was that I stopped snoring, and also gave up daily doses of antacids.

Terry Lee Ballard
Terry Lee Ballard

If you want the truth of the matter instead of throwing in a flea-bitten cheap shot, there are a number of studies of primitive tribes in the twentieth century whose diet was similar to Paleo - obesity, heart disease and tooth decay were unknown until they were given the modern diet of grains and sugar.

Jim Corcoran
Jim Corcoran

If the Paleo Diet fad is so healthy and responsible for brain growth, then why didn't the Neanderthals survive and thrive? They had 300,000 years in Europe following the diet to make themselves into "Einsteins!" Speaking of Albert Einstein, this is what he had to say on the subject of health and survival: "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." http://www.veganfitness.net/viewtopic.php?t=723 & http://nutritionfacts.org/

Matthew
Matthew

didn't cavemen only live till their 30's?

big red
big red

This diet seems ideal for people with limited cooking skills.

Dave Berndt
Dave Berndt

Ummmmm......have you noticed that the statistics for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are pretty darn high? Higher then they have ever been. Duh! I don't consider a diet that is high in protein, fresh veggies, and fresh fruit as being drastic. It is only drastic if you compare it to eating flour, sugar, artificial ingredients and other grains which were not consumed by the humans until recently on the evolutionary scale. 

Jorge C
Jorge C

I have had great success with the Paleo Diet, and I have to agree it is a bit extreme by today's standards of diets. Because of the amount of carbohydrates (bread, pasta, etc) that we eat, and processed foods. The Paleo Diet does have such extreme results that it does not take much convincing to remain on the diet, whether that is in the form of weight loss, energy, and improved digestion. Also, Paleo Diet reccommends restricted consumption of fruits and nuts. And a true paleo, and healthy diet would also severly restrict, if not ban consumption of seeds. In response to the comment, paleo diet would be ideal for an athlete in training, that is not the case, the paleo diet was designed for average people with low-to-moderate activity levels, as the paleo diet will keep their nutrition and health in line. For an athlete in training, paleo dieticians would recommend diets higher in starches, like sweet potatoes, and other paleo dieticians may even recomment white rice as a healthy source of carbohydrates prior to and following exercise, to avoid glucogenesis that occurs when we are limited in carbohydrates during exercise. Great diet, worth a try!!

Guest
Guest

@Paleo_Huntress

Just as an FYI, Paleo Huntress is a well-known troll who does NOT represent the Paleo lifestyle. She simply trolls sites looking for an argument and then actually creates others IDs to agree or ask question that she can then answer. Her’s is a very small world. Check it out… go right to the comments and you’ll see she was caught red-handed… this is just ONE of many. Let’s not feed the trolls, who thrive on any attention. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/changing-our-taste-buds/ -

Pegheinemancihocki
Pegheinemancihocki

Actually, this isn't just Atkins with new marketing.  Atkins was low carb with no guidelines as to where one's carbohydrates come from. The Paleo diet isn't necessarily low carb at all, but does recommend getting carbs from whole foods that aren't grains or dairy. The study of isotopes in bones of our stone age ancestors indicate they ate mostly meat. All those peer reviewed studies supporting good outcomes from consuming whole grains were comparing consuming whole grains to consuming refined grains. Show me a study--just one--that shows eating whole grains is better than not eating grains at all.  I don't believe such a study exists, but I've got an open mind. And I do live in the real world where there's science.

Elizabeth Leitch-Devlin
Elizabeth Leitch-Devlin

You can't out run a bad diet. Many runners drop dead from heart attacks, and their carbo-loading won't be helping.

AnnoyedByPaleofrauds
AnnoyedByPaleofrauds

@Laurie Rivera Atkins, Taubes, Cordain, Wheatbelly . . . those fatsos are your evidence.  All those plant-based gurus are lean and mean.

Pegheinemancihocki
Pegheinemancihocki

Actually, the Neanderthals did survive. Or at least some of their genes did. There was some interbreeding between Neanderthals and neighboring populations, so their genes were absorbed into our gene pool.  So did the Neanderthal become extinct or just become part of what is human today? Some certainly died out, but not all!

Pegheinemancihocki
Pegheinemancihocki

You are confusing AVERAGE life span, which is affected by such things as infant mortality, dying young of infectious disease, being mauled by a lion, etc.  Doesn't mean those who escaped such fates didn't live to a ripe old age, which they probably did.

Pegheinemancihocki
Pegheinemancihocki

A diet that is higher in carbohydrates because it includes roots and tubers like sweet potatoes and yams is still a Paleo diet and is perfect for athletes in training. Paleo is not necessarily low carbohydrate, though it can be. Only the addition of rice would deem it non Paleo.  And it's a complete myth that athletes need to load up on carbohydrates before or after exercise. An athlete who has adapted to using fat for energy and includes plenty of it in his/her diet doesn't need a lot of carbs to maintain glycogen stores, because burning fat conserves glycogen. For the same reason, an athlete who can burn fat for energy doesn't need a huge bank of glycogen.  Fat is a wonderful source of energy and a true Paleo diet includes plenty of it. And the Paleo diet is not a fad diet--unless you think a diet that has sustained humans for millions of years is a fad.

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