Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes: These are just a few of the health conditions that proponents of thePaleolithic diet, or caveman diet, blame on our sedentary lifestyles and modern diets, which are loaded with sugar, fat, and processed foods. Their proposed solution? Cut modern foods from our diet and return to the way our early hunter-gatherer ancestors ate.
The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet & Cookbook by Rachel Albert-Matesz and Don Matesz presents evidence for a diet of vegetables, fruits, and pasture-fed animal products. Provides a practical plan and 250 delicious, family-friendly, grain- and dairy-free recipes. Buy from the author's page The Garden of Eating. Rachel's blog The Healthy Cooking Coach. The cookbook maintains a perfect rating at Amazon.
^ Ramsden, C.; Faurot, K.; Carrera-Bastos, P.; Cordain, L.; De Lorgeril, M.; Sperling, L. (2009). "Dietary Fat Quality and Coronary Heart Disease Prevention: A Unified Theory Based on Evolutionary, Historical, Global, and Modern Perspectives". Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine. 11 (4): 289–301. doi:10.1007/s11936-009-0030-8. PMID 19627662.
The paleo diet runs on the same foods our hunter-gather ancestors supposedly ate: fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and nuts. "By following these nutritional guidelines, we put our diet more in line with the evolutionary pressures that shaped our current genetics, which in turn positively influences health and well being," says Loren Cordain, PhD, professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University and author of The Paleo Diet. He says the diet lessens the body's glycemic load, has a healthy ratio of saturated-to-unsaturated fatty acids, increases vitamin and nutrient consumption, and contains an optimal balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk writes that the idea that our genetic makeup today matches that of our ancestors is misconceived, and that in debate Cordain was "taken aback" when told that 10,000 years was "plenty of time" for an evolutionary change in human digestive abilities to have taken place.[4]:114 On this basis Zuk dismisses Cordain's claim that the paleo diet is "the one and only diet that fits our genetic makeup".[4]
After spending a week fine-tuning my new eating plan, I decided to add workouts back into my routine. On a typical week, I'll go to a cardio or strength class (I like boxing) once or twice and do some yoga or stretching at home another night. I dove right in and hit up my favorite boxing studio, Rumble. But I was really nervous. What if I didn't have enough energy? What if I passed out during class? What if I got so hungry I caved and bought a slice of pizza on the walk home from class?
In fact, the health benefits of the paleo diet are unproven. "Our ancestors ate this way and didn't have many of the chronic diseases we do, but that doesn't mean the food they ate is the reason why; drawing that conclusion would be like saying we live three times longer than our Paleolithic ancestors because we eat fast food," says Christopher Ochner, MD, research associate at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center at St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospitals. Still, a handful of small studies have tried to determine if a paleo diet is a healthier diet. One small study published in the journal Diabetologia found that the diet improved blood sugar over 12 weeks compared to a Mediterranean one that allowed grains, low-fat dairy, and oils, but it's hard to say whether researchers would come to the same results in a larger study.

Exercise is a vital part of the live-by-your-genetic-code equation. Surviving in the Stone Age meant a constant on-the-go lifestyle that probably required 4,000-plus calories a day, according to David L. Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. Even most people who hit the gym regularly won't need to eat that many calories, but the principle of using food as fuel to exercise still stands.
Cordain argues that chimpanzees and horses avoid meat, and they have big bellies that we would have if we didn’t ditch plants for meat. He also says meat increased human brain size, and decreased stomach size so we can have the six-pack abs that chimps can’t. But I looked at his endnotes with citations to research and couldn’t find the source for these theories. I also couldn’t find research showing that legumes and grains were invented by humans.
Cordain argues that chimpanzees and horses avoid meat, and they have big bellies that we would have if we didn’t ditch plants for meat. He also says meat increased human brain size, and decreased stomach size so we can have the six-pack abs that chimps can’t. But I looked at his endnotes with citations to research and couldn’t find the source for these theories. I also couldn’t find research showing that legumes and grains were invented by humans.
When the clock struck midnight, I couldn't wait any longer: I helped myself to a serving of plain white rice. I sat on my couch cross-legged, eating each spoonful with my eyes closed like one of the yogurt commercial ladies. I even smiled. The next day, I ate more gluten-free carbs, like rice and paleo pancakes. I also had wine and tequila, a grain-free liquor option. I didn't get bombed like I was worried about, but I did have a worse-than-usual hangover the next day. The fun night out was worth it, though.
A metaresearch group at Tilburg University in the Netherlands investigates scientists’ research methods and operations, scrutinizing questionable practices such as selective reporting of statistical tests and data massaging. The group instead advocates for practices such as preregistering studies and making experimental data immediately available for open external review and verification. Its members are optimistic that “the perverse incentives of careerist academia, to hoard data and sacrifice rigor for headline-generating findings, will ultimately be fixed.”
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