You Are What Your Ancestors Ate

diet fitness health paleo primal weight loss

First of all, I use the phrase Paleo to describe how I eat because there is an accepted definition that approximates what I'm trying to do, even though my approach is more complex. Loren Cordain published a book called The Paleo Diet a while back which set out an eating plan that sort of approximated how hunter gatherers ate back in the day. The diet he recommended was based on eating a nutritional profile similar to the diets of our ancestors. The idea was that our bodies evolved eating certain kinds of foods, and adapted to work best with those foods over millions of years. Since we don't always eat those foods in modern times, our bodies are forced to compensate. It would be like feeding a carnivore bread; it will survive for a while, maybe a long while, but it will pay for it with its health and vitality.

The foods espoused by the Paleo diet are: no sugar, little starch, some fruit, lots of meat, and as many veggies as possible. Originally, Paleo meant lean meats and only certain kinds of fats, but it has been revised to include fatty meats and now excludes mainly seed oils (corn, canola, soybean). This basic profile (a vehement avoidance of sugar and a reliance on fat rather than carbs as the main source of energy) underlies a few other diets such as The Zone, the Primal Blueprint, and many traditional ethnic diets (according to Sally Fallon and the Weston Price Foundation).

The Prosecution

Some common arguments against this form of eating:

So, you can see most critisicms of why Paleo is wrong stem from the realities of modern food sources, not the underlying logic of "eat as your body was meant to eat."


Now, that logic doesn't necessarily mean, "eat like hunter gatherers did." I actually don't follow a strict Paleo diet. If there is sugar in a food for example, I'll still eat it as long as the total sugar content per serving is very low (10 grams or less). I try to apply the principles of conscious eating without necessarily being too strict about it. Most high performance diets that work (Zone, Paleo, traditional ethnic) are pretty low in sugar, and either low-carb or they find a way to assist in the digestion of carbohydrates through fermentation or sprouting. So this track seemed worth looking into. But I didn't make any assumptions, and I didn't just take peoples' word for it. I experimented and listened to my body. I've found that fermented dairy, in the form of yogurt, works very well for me, even though it's not technically Paleo.

My main point is that our diets should be the product of our own life experiences, not dictated by commercial and political interests. At no point in history did humans successfully subsist on a diet of boxed cereals and fast food. So even if you don't agree with a low-carb, high-fat diet, I challenge you to ask yourself why that is. Is it because you've heard that a high-fat diet is bad for you, or because you're attached to your sugary cereals and flavored coffees? Or is it because you have the body you want, and feel great all the time on your current diet? If you could stand to lose some weight, or want to feel better, or get over a chronic disease, I'd urge you to first look at the most fundamental aspect of your existence: what you are made of, aka, your diet.

And don't just take someone's word for something being healthy. Every cereal box out there says it's got added vitamins and minerals for strong kids, but if you honestly believe that Fruit Loops are as good as Cheerios are as good as oatmeal, you are simply delusional. Just because something says it's healthy doesn't mean it is. Only you can determine that. See what works for you. I know vegans who are in great shape, healthy, energetic. That doesn't mean I'm wrong, or they are. It just means they do better on vegan food. But you'll never know unless you actually do something different.

For more information on Paleo, The Zone, Primal (my favorite), traditional, and the Weston Price Foundation check out these links.

I hope I've opened up a can of worms. Tear me apart in the comments.

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