Eating Like a Caveman

10 03 2010

You may have heard of something called the paleo diet, the idea being that to live healthy, humans should probably eat what their bodies evolved to eat. Cavemen did not eat Lucky Charms, Pop Tarts, Hot Pockets, or even bread. Recently, I’ve been reading stuff over at Free The Animal, a blog by Richard Nikoley, who went paleo three years ago and lost 60 pounds since. He avoids eating grains, vegetable oils, and the products derived from them. He also avoids grain-fed meat. He does not avoid all carbs and does not intentionally avoid any kind of animal fat. He maintains that a good paleo diet can be zero-carb or can include lots of starchy vegetables.

What I like about him is that he is not at all dogmatic about it. He does not care much to argue what exactly humans were eating in the Paleolithic era, as some paleo folks do, rather he uses the likely Paleolithic diet as a foundation and goes from there looking into scientific research. For example, humans have probably been eating wheat for a while, maybe we’ve adapted to it.

I’ve understood for some time that eating carbohydrates causes your pancreas to produce insulin which causes your body to store fat, while eating excess fat causes your body to simply burn it off. In other words, low-carb is good for weight lots and low-fat isn’t. However, we are told that avoiding cholesterol and fat, saturated fat in particular, is necessary for good heart health. Richard links to a lot of science showing this to be nonsense. First off, the cholesterol problem is more complicated than good (HDL) and bad (LDL). Second, your body produces almost all of the cholesterol in your blood. Eating more or less has basically no effect.

I want to eat like he does. The two difficulties I see would be finding and affording meat that is not grain-fed and avoiding wheat. Still, even if I just move partly toward this diet, my health should improve.

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5 responses

10 03 2010
noreligion

Cholesterol is complicated but you are passing some incorrect information. You said “eating more or less has basically no effect.” While it is true your liver synthesizes between 1500-2000 mg daily, what you take in from diet does effect your blood levels, more or less it ‘regulates’ it. Let me clarify that, I don’t mean it regulates as in controls it. I mean in the sense that as your exogenous intake goes down more endogenous cholesterol is used. So you are mostly correct that the LDL numbers will remain fairly constant but the immediate effect or endogenous cholesterol on TGL and VLDL is enormous.

10 03 2010
Thras

“The two difficulties I see would be finding and affording meat that is not grain-fed and avoiding wheat.”

The benefits of the first are a lot more dubious than the benefits of the second. Eat more lamb if it’s a real concern to you what the animal that you’re eating was eating for the last two weeks of its life.

11 03 2010
Joe

Your last sentence is spot on. I don’t eat perfectly paleo either, even richard says he doesn’t. It’s not about being perfect, just doing better.

As for grass fed meat: as I understand it, mammals are more sensitive toward what they eat than other animals. As in, the fatty acid profile will change more for mammals. The reason grass fed is better is because of the omega3 to omega6 ratio. I may be wrong, so maybe you should look this up. So if you eat more seafood and chicken, and less beef, grain fed shouldn’t be as bad. Did that make sense?

Avoiding wheat’s not that tough, is it? You can eat some starchy stuff like sweet potatoes and yams. Even rice is better than wheat.

11 03 2010
Richard Nikoley

Thanks for the mention and compliments.

13 03 2010
Is it okay to go on a no carb diet when your trying to get pregnant? | A Womans Life

[…] Eating Like a Caveman « Unfrozen Caveman […]

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