Paleolithic Nutrition

‘Going paleo’ is fast becoming the most attractive way to plan your nutrition, especially for women. Despite being considered a ‘modern nutritional plan’, you could argue it’s in fact the oldest.

The term paleo comes from the word paleolithic – a period in human history. Paleo eating is centred around the idea of trying to eat what our ancestors would have eaten around 20,000 years ago.

So what are the benefits then?

Paleolithic nutrition divides all foods into one of two categories – what’s allowed, and what isn’t. In theory this makes it very easy to follow – simply check if the food is allowed.

In fact, many people that adopt this lifestyle don’t even consider it a ‘diet’, they just see it as a lifestyle change.

Essentially we are talking about, ‘if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me’. Now obviously life expectancy was far lower 20,000 years ago, but our genetics have barely changed in that time. So theoretically, if the cavemen didn’t eat it, you don’t need to.

Ambassadors of going paleo will argue that one major advantage of this type of nutrition is that it eradicates diseases of affluence, or western diseases. These include alcoholism, type 2 diabetes and obesity

How do we know that this actually works?

Well evolutionary theory tells us that over time natural selection will take place, or ‘survival of the fittest’. Those supporting the idea of a paleo lifestyle believe that it has stood the test of time, and therefore must be beneficial.

Not to mention the success stories. Seriously, go and Google ‘paleo transformations’. You will find page after page of people that have not only tried paleo nutrition, but they have stuck with it because of the remarkable results.

Similarly, try and find the horror stories. There aren’t forums out there discussing how going paleo ruined people’s lives, only how it helped. Especially in the 21st century, this is a vital indicator.

Let’s face it, if you wanted a new laptop you’d look at reviews online and go with the general consensus, right? Well if we did that with nutritional plans we’d all be going paleo.

The only thing increasing faster than its success stories is its popularity. More and more people are trying it out, and more and more people are sticking with it.

This is the part where you expect me to tear into it now, where it’s assumed the whole concept is fueled by some evil company that are tearing down the rain forest, or something like that.

Fortunately not, but this plan won’t suit everyone. It is a fairly strict regime – if it’s not a completely natural food that our ancestors had access to, you’re generally supposed to avoid them.

Here are a few things that are suitable to eat:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

And now a few to avoid:

  • Processed foods
  • Dairy
  • Starches
  • Alcohol

It really doesn’t matter if you believe that you are eating like a caveman or not. I mean, does anyone really know how they ate? It’s not like there was a pre-historic Jamie Oliver cookbook.

What is important is what you get from however you structure your nutrition. The idea hasn’t changed much since you were in primary school – you need a balanced diet. This means you need to be getting as much of the nutrients you need from natural foods.

If by using paleo nutrition you do that, great – stick with it. It might not work for you though. Particularly if you’re looking to build muscle, paleolithic nutrition has been identified as potentially lacking in the carbohydrates required to be able to bulk.

I’ll tell you the same with this as I would with any nutritional plan. If you’ve seen it, or heard someone else is trying it out, then give it a go. Obviously make sure it’s suitable, but then there is no harm in experimentation.

This is how you’ll find what works best for you. It’s not for me to ridicule paleolithic nutrition, nor is it for me to advocate it. If you know it won’t detriment your health, just try it!


Ollie Lawrence
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