Paleo – The Caveman Diet

Eat exactly like a Caveman.

If the caveman eats it, dig in; if a caveman does not, steer clear!

So, in short, what were the foods that cavemen and cave-women chowed down on? As per archaeological records, we know that they mostly lived on fruits, nuts, leafy greens, local vegetables, meats, fish and some seeds. Clearly, they did not have a doorstep pizza delivery!

The Paleo Diet is primarily focussed on eating the right kinds of foods as opposed to going bonkers over counting calories. The cave people didn’t quite stick to the perfectly partitioned portions. Very unlike the nutritionists of today. A number of people across the world swear by this diet that has totally transformed their lives!

Benefits of Paleo:

    • Lose the Fat: One of the first things that happen to the body when you shift into this diet is the flab loss. Quite magically you start shedding pounds without much effort.
    • Pack in some lean muscle: Club this diet with a mean workout and you will be ripping them sleeves with your biceps.
    • No Slump Meals: Any meal rich in sugars is sure to leave you in dumps beyond the crazy rush. Since Paleo is a zero sugar diet, the highs and lows are way more smooth & mellow.
  • More energy. Better focus. Better agility: Well these are just the by-products of this super diet and some exercise. What else would you expect if you ate like a Caveman?!

The Paleo Diet, unlike all other fad-diets, could be considered one of the most time-tested diets, ever. You ask why? Well, because this was the only diet that Humans stuck to 150,000 years ago! Yup, this is way before the time people even heard the word Ice Cream.

Our ancestors thrived as hunter-gatherers. The average person was muscular, athletic, sharp on the senses and incredibly agile. And this was just by default. They did not have aerobics and gym routines back then. Today the average human is stressed out, unhappy and sleep deprived. He/she is mostly out of shape, addicted to fast food, suffering and dying from preventable diseases all due to lifestyle choices. So where was the turning point? How did that agile Tarzan become today’s couch potato? Well, the answer is quite simple… Agriculture!

We have existed as a species for the past 150,000 years. And it is only in the last 10,000 years that we took to “Farming”. From wild hunter-gatherers, we became sober agriculturists. We left behind our nomadic ways to settle down and build communities. And it took the next 10,000 years for the human society to slowly evolve into what it is today – fast cars, 3D gaming and high-speed internet. While this is no doubt awesome, there are some setbacks. Our bodies have not yet adjusted to this butt-on-seat lifestyle.

Dr. Loren Cordain, one of the Paleo-Gurus explains it this way: Imagine a 100-yard football field. The first 99.5 yards represents Homo-sapiens living as hunter-gatherers. And through those 99.5 yards, our ancestors got pretty well accustomed to living that way. The last half yard represents our history after the discovery of agriculture. Our diet saw a world of a shift, but we still wear them caveman genes! 

Instead of diving into super nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits and bush meat, we became dependent on grains. And not just grain in its natural form but all the products that we create from it like bread, cakes, pasta, rice and corn. 

More than 60% of the US population is overweight among which 32% is considered obese. And these figures are only soaring higher. Something is clearly not going right.

The Paleo Diet is an effort to back to living and eating the way our super agile ancestors did. Tapping into our genetic potential to boost up our health immediately. So what is the Paleo Diet?

Features of the Paleo Diet:

1. No Grains: One of the key features of the Paleo Diet is the absence of Grains! The hunter-gatherer did not depend on grains for any of his/her nutritional needs. Grains as we all know, are a rich source of carbohydrates. These carbs transform into sugar within our bodies. And this sugar is either burned during intense exercise or stored as fat. The ‘grains’ basically the prime culprits in us gaining weight. Besides the overdose of sugar, grains are also loaded with a whole range of anti-nutrients. Gluten and lectins being some of the better known from amongst the others. 

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Over time, we have come to see that most of the human population is gluten-intolerant. Over time those who are intolerant start developing an array of medical conditions. This includes dermatitis, joint pain, acid reflux to the more serious celiac disease.

Lectins, on the other hand, are natural toxins that exist within grains. Well, why are they there? A plant does not really want all of us eating her young ones aka the seeds/grains. So the plant loads up these grains with mild toxins to prevent animals, including us, from eating them.

2. No Sugar: One other key feature of the Paleo Diet is the absence of sugar and its multitude of forms. Unless of course, its sugar from fresh fruit. Sugar causes a rush of energy in the system and unless it is used immediately, it wreaks havoc. Try imagining a caveman with a soda can! A lot of people would have the doubt if we aren’t getting our 300+ grams of carb every day, where do we get energy from?

What most of us never realize is that our bodies are designed to function at their peak on low amounts of carbohydrates. If you reduce the carb intake, the body reverts back to the default system. Juicing out energy from proteins and fats. In fact, only when the carbs are cut out from our diet, does the body start using the fat reserves in the body to release energy. This process is called Ketogenesis.

In short, our bodies are pretty awesome at extracting nutrition from every single morsel we consume. That is why we have survived to this day.

Are carbs bad?

Let’s look at it this way: Vegetables, sweet potatoes, tapioca, and fruits are a much better source of carbs. You ask why? Only because these are naturally occurring in the wild and don’t need heavy processing. Besides, these are completely devoid of anti-nutrients which we find in grains.

Beyond all that vegetables are super dense with vitamins and minerals absolutely essential for the body.

3. No Dairy: There is no other animal in the entire animal kingdom that drinks milk all its life. Also, no other animal dares drink the milk of another creature. Hunter-gatherers didn’t really tally around cattle with them. Only infants consumed their mother’s milk for a few initial years. Beyond that, there was no question of drinking milk at all.

As with grains, our bodies are not designed for the dairy consumption styles of today. Over the years, some of us have surely gotten accustomed to dairy. But that adaptation is restricted to cultures involved in herding cattle. And this does not cover a majority of the population.

4. No Processed Foods: Cavemen and women did not have the drive-in restaurants then. They grabbed fresh fruit off the trees, vegetables off the ground and hunted down all the meat. Remember that all the hunting happened with the simplest tools. They roasted, grilled, boiled and steamed at most. Today we have food manufacturing industries passing our food through hundreds of processes before they hit the shelf. Not to forget, all the preservatives and chemicals pumped into tin cans and tetra packs to keep them “fresh”.

So what DO you Eat on the Paleo Diet?

1. Grass-fed meat. (Not grain-fed meat. Feeding grain to the animals creates the same problems we face)

2. Fowl – That includes chicken, duck, hen, turkey and pretty much anything else that has wings and tries to fly.

3. Wild Fish – as opposed to farmed fish that is. The farmed ones are packed with Mercury.

4. Eggs – Free range eggs from birds that fly/try flying/run around grasslands eating what they ought to be eating.

5. Vegetables – Seasonal and local vegetables are always welcome as long as they aren’t deep fried. You can never overeat vegetables.

6. Oils – Cold pressed nut-based oils like those from coconut, olive, and avocado.

7. Fruits – Locally available seasonal fruits. You cannot overeat these either.

8. Nuts – Super-nutritious. It would wise not to overeat them.

9. Tubers – Sweet potatoes, yams, tapioca, potatoes. A great source of healthy starchy sugars.

Remember that grain fed meat is still better than Grains themselves!

So what does the meal look like?

Steaks, omelets, boiled sweet potatoes, grilled chicken salads, apples dipped in almond butter. It sure ain’t as bad as you imagine it to be after reading all those rules.

So does one not get fat eating all of this?

The foods on the paleo just nutritious and wholesome foods. They are protein-fat-nutrition-dense foods as opposed to sugar/carb-calorie dense. Satisfying your hunger with any of the foods on the list is enough to keep you satiated for hours on end. Compare that to carb rich foods which make you hungry again in no time!

Some pointers to keep in mind while shifting to Paleo:

Don’t shift too fast. Go easy on yourself. The body takes about 21 days to adapt to a new diet. So change 20% at a time consistently and stick to it. The more natural foods and the less processed foods you eat, the better. Baby steps work.

Eat full meals as opposed to snacking all day long.

If you aren’t feeling full enough immediately after your shift, add some healthy fats. You could try avocados or nuts.

Keep it Simple – Ensure that you find the simplest meal solutions. So you don’t have to break your head planning hours on end for the next meal.

Make sure you balance out fruits, nuts along with vegetables and meat. Don’t overdo one category and ignore the others.

Eat when hungry. If you aren’t hungry, do not force yourself to eat. It is okay to skip a meal every now and then. Also, stop eating when you feel full.

Give this diet a Whole 30 days to have an effect on your before you give up. Do give this a fair shot before you decide to switch back to your candy bars!

Disclaimer: The above article is sponsored by Thyrve, the world’s first Gut Health Program that incorporates microbiome testing and personalized probiotics to ensure a healthier gut, happier life, and a brighter future.