What is the Paleo/Primal/Caveman/Hunter-Gatherer diet? Is it good for me? Are their risks? I’ve heard of it, but am skeptical because my doctor says there’s risks, what should I do?
Okay. So you’ve got a lot of questions. Great! Because at Caveman College it’s time to take a big step back and look at the basics. Let’s start by defining the diet:
There are several different names for what is essentially the same thing. Caveman, Hunter-Gatherer, Paleo, Primal . . . they’re all based on some of the same key components with the only differences being minor details. For now, we will use the name “Paleo” in reference to all of these names.
What the heck is this?
As Robb Wolf likes to say, “there are two ways to explain the paleo diet.” The first is the “inclusive way,” a.k.a. what you do eat. The second is the “exclusive way,” what you don’t eat.
- The Inclusive: While many heretics of the Paleo diet think of it as a very limiting diet, in truth, it is the exact opposite. The Paleo diet consists of delicious, fatty animal proteins (especially fish), eggs, colorful, non-starchy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, cheese (if you can handle it) and other healthy fats likecoconut, olive, and rendered animal fat (Sweet potatoes can be added if workload grants it). Eating this way will keep you satisfied, energized, and ready to take on the challenges of college life and beyond.
- The Exclusive: The Paleo diet does not allow a few things for a number of reasons. On the Paleo diet, one does not consume: Grains (corn, wheat, barley, whole grains, oats, etc. etc.), Legumes (beans, soy, peanuts, etc.), Dairy, Vegetable oils, highly processed foods, and any products with added sugar. (Click on the links of the foods to find out more!)
How did we come to this conclusion?
The research began on one man’s quest for perfect teeth. That’s right, perfect teeth. Weston A. Price (a dentist) and his wife traveled the world looking for a culture with “perfect health” where they assumed they would find perfect dental stature. A culture where western disease’s like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease had no trace. On this quest, Price realized the link between nutrition and overall health. He found “that beautiful straight teeth, freedom from decay, stalwart bodies, resistance to disease and fine characters were typical of primitives on their traditional diets, rich in essential food factors.” This traditional diet consisted of “milk, green vegetables, sea foods, organs of animals and the reinforcement of the fat-soluble vitamins by very high vitamin butter and high vitamin natural cod liver oil.” All this, while the US government was busy shunning any and all saturated fat from our nutritional guidelines.
This is the primitive, hunter-gatherer history side of the Paleo diet. This is the diets namesake. However, it is not the end of the story. Large scale research has been done proving the legitimacy of the paleo diet. Many studies of the sort can be found here. The gist of this research is that high-fat, low-carb diets work. The difference, however, between the Paleo diet and say, Atkins, has to do with what kinds of food we eat.
Out of all the things that the Paleo diet is, when it comes down to it, the most important part is just eating real food (J.E.R.F). Cutting out all the crap in your diet will make you a better, healthier person. What is the “crap?” Crap is any overly-processed, cheap “foods.” These are the foods that will be highest in refined sugars, processed vegetable oils, and refined dairy products, all things that you want to avoid.
Why is this diet better than any other diet?
The Paleo diet not only helps you lose weight, but it will keep you at a normal weight. The Paleo diet teaches your body how to keep weight off by a process called ketosis. A state of ketosis is basically when your body uses stored fat for energy. So, if you are in ketosis, you won’t have to cut calories, or fat, or cholesterol, from your diet because your body is naturally burning off your stored fat, and converting it to energy. Along with the dramatic weight loss, you will truly be a healthier person.
The Paleo diet consists of many animal fats and vegetables. The reason why this is optimal for your health is because nutrient absorption can only take full effect with the use of fat. In most cases, that fat needs to be from animal products for full absorption. When your body completely absorbs these essential vitamins and minerals, you become a nutrient dense being. When you are nutrient dense, you can fight off sickness, and disease like cancer, chronic heart disease, and diabetes.
Now that you’ve got all the general information, here are the basics to get you started.
Have you had success on the Paleo diet? Drop us a comment below.