The Paleo and Primal Diet. Eating Like a Caveman?

April 16, 2009

Here is a quick outline on the paleo diet, or what some call the primal diet. Some of my favorite fitness blogs on the internet are big advocates of this way of eating and I just wanted to touch on some of the basics. The amazing thing about this way of eating is how wonderful it makes you feel. I certainly don’t follow this 100%, but implement many of these ideas into my own diet. I still enjoy carbs a bit too much to be a true follower, but “go primal” when I can.

primal and paleo diet

[I don’t think I would enjoy cave exploration, especially back in the days of the caveman. I picture weird looking pale bald creatures with no eyes and sharp teeth running all over the place when you go too deep into a cave…and blood sucking mega-sized bats.]

A Quick Summary of the Paleo Diet

The paleo diet is based around quality sources of protein and healthy fats. The diet consists of meat, fish, eggs, nuts, roots, fruits and vegetation. Dairy, grains, gluten, refined sugar, trans fats, and hydrogenated fats are to be avoided. This is a low-carb diet focused on the way we ate before the agricultural era….the way we ate when we were “hunters and gatherers”.

Paleo and Primal Eaters Prefer Free Range and Organic Food

We all know that this is the way to go when it comes to eating fresh food. My girlfriend has recently turned me on to trying to go organic whenever possible. I must say that it makes a difference in the way I feel. It tastes better as well. All those steroids and chemicals do bad things to the body. One of the side effects of pesticides is an increase in estrogen which leads to stubborn body fat.

What I Like About This Diet

Whenever I want to get extra lean, I follow a diet of animal protein and green vegetables along with the occasional fruit. When I eat like this my body begins to use a lot more body fat for energy. Within 4-6 weeks I can get as lean as I desire eating this way and I feel great the whole time. I also enjoy the sense of energy that I feel. So if it helps me feel and look better, why don’t I eat this way all the time?

What I Don’t Like About Paleo and Primal Eating

Honestly, I simply enjoy fresh baked bread, pasta, rice, ice cream, cheese, and various other non-primal foods. Make no mistake about it, I agree with the followers of the primal diet for the most part…I just like some of this food too much to be 100% primal. I’m guessing beer is out of the question as well, so that has to be a “no” for me…I follow some, but not all principles.

A 5 Minute Video Put Together by My Friend Methuselah

Methuselah over at Pay Now Live Later put together one of the best videos I’ve ever seen explaining this diet. In fact, I think this video is an instant classic as far as Youtube videos go. You can learn more about this diet in 5 minutes, than reading on the topic for 4 hours.

[Methuselah is one of the best teachers as far as fitness bloggers go. I am a big fan of his blog and probably don’t comment on his site as much as I should. He has a really unique writing style that is hard to explain…until you read his site for a while.]

My Suggestion About the Primal/Paleo Diet

Take an afternoon and read up on the subject. Implement a few of the things that fit your lifestyle and you notice a difference in the way you feel. Even if you just switched to organic foods and replaced half of your grains with vegetables, you will get lean and feel less lethargic after meals. It isn’t all-or-nothing, you can “go primal” part of the week and get solid results.

Here Are Some Great Places to Begin Your Research

I’ve become friends with most of these bloggers, because all of us spend a big chunk of time building our fitness blogs. I am sure that I will miss many people, but here is a good list of starting points.

Mark’s Daily Apple: Mark Sisson has been talking about this way of eating for quite a few years. He has a book in the works on the subject, one of his most popular posts is called The Primal Blueprint.

Son of Grok: A man that goes by the name “SoG”…you gotta love it. He was inspired by Mark’s Primal Blueprint and put it to the test. You have to go to his About Me page and read his story (check out his slide show which shows the transformation). The guy went from flabby to ripped in less than 9 months and is extremely healthy.

Free the Animal: If there was a debate over paleo eating, I’d want Richard Nikoley in my corner. His whole site presents a strong case for going primal and eating the way our ancestors ate. This is another blog you will want to subscribe to. Here are his articles on Paleo Eating.

Art De Vany’s Evolutionary Fitness: This is a subscription blog, but some of his articles are free. When I have time I will probably order his DVD set…his methods are cutting edge. Another guy who I would want on my side in an argument. Art is a Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of California, Irvine. He is not only smart, he’s 71 and is in ridiculous shape. Go to Evolutionary Fitness to see what I mean.

The Paleo Cookbook, by Nikki Young: This seems to be the best selling cookbook on eating paleo to stay lean and healty. Nikki has included over 120 recipes. I haven’t read it yet, but may pick it up at some point to add in some variety into my eating. I hear it is solid info…The Paleo Cookbook

Note: I know I missed a ton of people who follow the primal-paleo way of eating. I just didn’t want to have dozens of links in the article. Please comment and tell me about your experiences with this way of eating.

Important Message: Although this site has received 25+ million visitors, I am starting from scratch and abandoning it. This site is dated and old school looking, terrible to read on mobile, etc.

It's like a Ford Pinto compared to my new site...which is like a Ferrari. Click the link to head over to my new site.

Starting Over...R.I.P. Fitness Black Book!


Thanks for reading all these years!



 

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron April 23, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Achintya & Rusty,

I just picked up a copy of “The Paleo Diet” (http://www.amazon.com/Paleo-Diet-Weight-Healthy-Designed/dp/0471267554/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240522754&sr=8-1). Looks like that website says almost verbatim what the book says.

I’m curious about that too. I’d like to know if the Modern Forager & Mark’s Daily Apple & Son of Grok & others agree/disagree with what this says.

The Spaniard April 24, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Hello Jason G. Well, as my name indicates I am not your average American. I was born, raised and fed in Spain with real organic food, not the pseudo-organic expensive food that has become so trendy today…back then (the 70’s), when you ate an apple (to give you an example) you could find a little surprise inside: a worm. Now, about the diet you are going to follow. I don’t know where you did your research or if you read every book written by all these diet gurus, but none of them have medical degrees. It doesn’t matter if you spend 1 hour working out or 12, a doctor can really tell you if the diet you want to follow has any risks. I know some guys that eat well, exercise, have no fat and yet their body produces high levels of cholesterol. I think is better to be safe than sorry. When my cholesterol shot up to 300 I was running every morning and following a balance diet (and I don’t mean the Mediterranean Diet because that is the same crap as the Paleo Diet and the South Beach Diet). All I did was to eat more eggs than usual.

Jason G April 24, 2009 at 5:07 pm

Hey Ron,

If your interested in nutrition I would also check out “The Omega Diet” by Artemis P. Simopoulos.

I believe that these two books complement each other. The Omega Diet does allow grains, but does not promote it(neither do I). However The Omega Diet educates people about healthy fats, and how they can help you live more healthy. By combining the ideas of these two books you will find yourself eating more fish, and adding olive oil to your salads and vegetables. Even though Loren Cordain allows these oils in his diet he does not put enough emphasis on how and why monounsaturated oils and omega 3 oils are important to maximize the health benefits of the Paleo diet. Combine these diets and you will be eating the healthiest diet on earth.

Jason G April 25, 2009 at 5:12 am

Spaniard I think eating two eggs a day is a risk (I agree with you), but it will ultimately depend on the genetics of the individual. However eggs are a cheap protein source and right now my budget is lower than normal. I am also not on my ideal diet right now. I am currently succeeding (I don’t try I do) at losing weight. Since December I have lost fifty pounds, which is not the healthiest rate of weight loss by any means. Health sometimes comes later. By the way the link you provided, that basically gives the Paleo diet two thumbs down, was written by a MD who advocates high amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol as healthy dietary sources (sounds like eggs to me!). That being said I would like to stay on topic (meaning the header of Rusty’s post) and ask you why specifically you think the Paleo diet is crap and/or unbalanced.

From a weight loss/Fitness Black Book fan perspective the Paleo diet is perfect. The average weight lifter looking to lose a few to a hundred pounds can follow this diet and keep their glycemic load low and provide their muscle with adequate amounts of protein. Perhaps by crap you mean unhealthy?

In the last six months I have read many diet and health books written by MD’s. I have also read books like The Paleo Diet which are supported by MD’s. One conclusion that I have came up with is that grains and dairy are not the ideal food source and can cause serious problems as stated in Dangerous Grains(James Barley M.D.) and The Ultra Mind Solution(Mark Hyman M.D.). So as far as the carbohydrate component (high amounts of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit) is concerned the Paleo diet is dead on. The high calorie intake of fruits and vegetables provides high amounts of fiber. Do you believe vegetable fiber to be bad?

The diet also promotes moderate levels of saturated fat and high levels of monounsaturated fat and Omega 3 fats. The medical community-including every health book I have read (many written by MD’s) do agree that these fats are vital for human functioning. So please do not come back at me with low fat diets are the key to ultimate health. Furthermore don’t quote Miss Milk Fat either (http://www.newtrendspublishing.com/SallyFallon/aboutSallyFallon.html), who’s anti Paleo diet mentality is obvious fueled by the money the milk industry pays her and maybe by her love for her cow Betsy.

The last component of the Paleo diet is the high amount of lean meat protein in the diet, which can be anywhere from 19% to 35% of the diet. Since you apparently support Miss Milk Fat who recommends high amounts of animal fat for optimal health I am not sure if you are against this part of the diet.

Based on my limited knowledge I see some room for improvement in this area. I think Loren Cordain limited legumes in his diet basically to support his anti-agriculture thesis. In his defense even though beans are a low fat protein source they do not have all of the essential amino acids and therefore are not essential. As you know I believe a larger portion of the diet should consist of fish. Loren Cordain promotes high Omega 3 fat through supplementation if necessary, so lack of emphasis on sea life is not enough to make this diet crappy.

Spaniard we are all here to learn from each other, so all of the bloggers here would be happy to hear the specifics of why you think the Paleo diet is crap. I refuse to talk about eggs anymore, and to be quite honest I am not even sure if I can eat them anymore. They have been tainted.

Anthony April 26, 2009 at 5:02 am

I always though that whole grains were good for you, and that we SHOULD have some kind of dairy. That being said, a bowl of Cheerios or Wheeties would be beneficial, or so I thought. If this stuff leads to illness, that is enough to make me switch.
I am going to give this a try.
The video is very persuasive. If there was a cure-all pill, one that actually helped us, the company wouldn’t make money. If medicine worked, we would not need to take it more than once or so. I agree with those points.
Here I am listening to the Frosted Mini-Wheats box saying I’ll be more attentive in class. The corn lobby is very powerful. Did you guys every wonder why processed food like the stuff served in McDonald’s is cheaper than organic, free-range stuff? It had to be made from scratch, yet can be sold for 99 cents. The corn lobby subsidizes the crop, and all those things in your Big Mac have high fructose corn syrup. I think 8 of the ingredients in Chicken McNuggets include corn. Long story short, this is why diabetes is so prevalent in poor communities: they can only afford fast food, and these places are abundant.
Rusty, what do you think about whole grains and dairy? They seem like stuff we can’t leave out of our diets, at least to me.

The Spaniard April 27, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Jason, I had written a long reply but I realized that people can do whatever they want. I could go on and on explaining why the Paleo Diet or the South Beach Diet or any other popular diet is a gimmick and quite often supported by a massive marketing budget. Exercise and eating a balanced healthy diet is the best for losing and maintaining weight loss and good health. The way you are losing weight makes me think that you were eating really bad. You can continue with this diet all your life and it could work, but what if one day you introduce wrong food in your diet? I find the video quite funny. When he says that our ancestors never had chicken from a farm I would like to ask him.. so every time I want to have chicken I have to start running after one and then kill it with my own hands? I would then become a hunter and I would eat organic. All these diets also promote a lot of supplements. Why? Because they are lacking in your diet. Our ancestors or Paleo people never had supplements, so actually, we are not really following the rules. I guess there was something wrong with their diets when their life span was so short. Just to finish. Have you seen Survivor? Have you seen how they look after one or two weeks? They are really following the Paleo Diet of our ancestors.

The Spaniard April 27, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Anthony, I think you are a little bit mistaken with the poor communities and diabetes. If they hardly have money for food, it is always cheaper to go to the supermarket and COOK your own food. At least that is what they do in poor nations. Ah, but it is easier to go to McDonalds to have a small hamburger and a large soda and fries…every single day. How come people in other countries where there is no access to fast food have no diabetes? They are also poor… many times even poorer than poor people in this country. You don’t think rich people have diabetes? Why, because they can afford better restaurants? How many of those restaurants cook with olive oil?

Jason G April 27, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Spaniard thanks for your comments. My high calorie deficit style of eating is probably not super healthy(at least for short term health). Luckily I have only about twenty more pounds until I hit the 10 percent body fat range. I have just recently lowered my deficit to help preserve muscle. Thanks, I look forward to talking with you on another post.

admin April 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Ron,

Hopefully those guys get back to you. You should consider visiting their sites and finding out what they think.

Anthony,

I like a bit of grain and dairy, but I don’t think that cereal is a good way to have energy in the morning. I will eat cereal, but more as an occasional treat at night. It usually makes me tired and a ready for sleep. Don’t eliminate them if you like these foods, but limit them when possible.

Rusty

pjnoir June 14, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Sort of new here, so I know I’m late here BUT…. Paleo and Primal and NOT the same thing. Both eat CLEAN- probably the most important thing in any diet but Paleo eats grains. Primal NEVER eats grains. As a diabetic grains are killers. I haven’t eaten grains (breads or pasta, etc) since Jan and have not missed them. Grains have no place in my diet or food supply therefore its Primal not Paleo for me. I use this around the Warrior diet.

Paleo Treats October 5, 2009 at 2:37 pm

You’re eating Paleo and you can’t find a good dessert that’s not just fruit. You work out hard, you eat clean, and now you’re realizing that Haagen Dazs or Chips Ahoy or whatever bullshit you ate before just ain’t in the cards for you anymore.

Enter Paleo Treats. Let’s start by making it clear: These are NOT the be all end all of Paleo desserts, but they are pretty damn good. All Paleo ingredients, all organic ingredients, NO soy, NO dairy, NO gluten. Each treat has 7 or less ingredients, and they’re all foods you can pronounce (and grow in your back yard if you had to.)

These are paleo treats. http://www.paleotreats.com

Get after it.

p.s. If you’re really into it, write and we’ll give you the whole story; cattle ranch, camel farm, small boats on the high seas, dirt bikes, athlete on the world stage etc. But that’s all pretty boring compared to the taste…enjoy!

Cheers,
Nik and the PT Crew

gazza February 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm

wife joined me on paleo eating ,now 1.5 stones lighter,OFF blood presssure medication first time in 3 years.We love our food, i still have a drink, probably to much. Gimmicks i see you say, give me more, life transforming. Found my way here via marks daily apple video link, great stuff, planks are now in for me and out will go those back breaking sit ups, some excellent stuff here keep it up.

HiLo January 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I’ve looked through all these diets and personally believe in the ancestry diet – the one based on your genetics. Me, I have North European heritage and guess what nothing tastes better than a piece of fish and vegetables. I’ll rephrase that, pizza and every junk food tastes better but the fish and veg the most internally satisfying. A parellel would be a mistress is great for your ego and your hormones, but a wife at the end of the day is more internally satisfying.
When I started on this similar to Paleo-diet eliminating dairy and eggs, my sense of smell started to get better, I stopped getting mouth ulcers, and I felt much better. With it I rediscovered that vegetables can taste just as good as junk food, if you allow your taste buds time to redevelop. I also discovered that my emotions became clearer because I had eliminated all the carbs and sugar from my diet. emotion. Thats all processed carbs and sugar were – suppressants.
On another note, one of the best ways to judge what you should and shouldn’t eat is too take a look at profit. What is most profitable for the companies, because where there is the most profit is where companies target you to go. Ask any restaurant owner and very few will tell you that the mark-up for salads, vegetables and fish are profitable. And at the end of the day all that ‘certain’ people want you to eat is something that is profitable for them. You could see the scenario now in a company boardroom somewhere, “ok, we have a great tasting veggie burger with a salad which we can make 20c profit on or we have a ground beef burger we can make 50c on. Well there are a lot of over weight people here so lets spend our advertising budget on promoting the veggie burger. Lets take the lower profit margin and do something for the community”. I’ll stick with the Paleo-type diet thanks.

Wendy February 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Love the Paleo Diet. I agree it is the best way to lose weight but difficult to sustain. I can recommend a new book “The Paleo Solution Diet” by Robb Wolf which is both funny and informative. (see my review on find-a-diet.com)

Spread the word April 22, 2011 at 2:23 am

“Spread the word” Eat Paleo!
What have we become; more IMPORTANTLY where are we heading. Now more then ever it is crucial that we “spread the message”. Are we aware of what we are eating? If not, why aren’t we aware. Eating is by far the most important thing we do with our day, whether we are an elite athlete or a stay at home mum, whether we are a high powered executive or a student. We NEED to be AWARE of what we are eating.
The Eat Paleo diet is a diet high in animal fat and proteins and low in carbohydrates. Commonly known as the caveman diet our purpose here at Eat Paleo control is to primarily invoke awareness and SPREAD THE WORD!
For more information, interesting facts, questionaires and “Spread the word” tools at your own conveience visit us at http://www.eatpaleo.info or “LIKE” US on our EAT PALEO face book page!
For more informaiton or suggestions feel free to email us at [email protected]

Nat April 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I’ve been reading up on Paleo Diet for the last 3 days as I’m an out of control carb junkie and was diagnosed a T2 diabetic 6 years ago. This is currently the best source of info so far – liking the way you write, the video and everyone else’s comments and feedback! I’m currently about 50 pounds overweight (Obese according to my BMI) and really feeling the need to try and manage to cut out or at the very least hugely reduce my carb intake. Obviously being new to the subject do you or anyone else know of other T2 diabetics that have started this diet? Am off to read Son of Grok and Free The Animal but will be back!

CherryVee June 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm

This sounds a lot like the Atkins diet, how is it different? Also, if we all ate like this, what implications on food demand/supply and the environment would this have? I was just discussing the benefits of this diet with a friend and he raised these questions. He sites an old article in The Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/8381375

CherryVee June 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm

oh yeah, is it just the organic element that makes it different to Aktins?

Rebecca January 26, 2012 at 8:29 am

Sounds like a great diet. I need to find something to do. My concern is this: Organic doesn’t mean chemical free. Many people think that being organic means no chemicals at all. That’s untrue. I grew up on a small family farm. We used (and still use) pesticides to protect our crops. Man made chemicals generally wash off, so buy local instead of buying corporate. Organic chemicals, especially those made from plants, can be absorbed into plants, fruits, vegetables etc. and that means your consuming those chemicals. We don’t yet know the long term effects of “natural” chemicals on human health.

I’m definitely cool with the non GMO and non steroid movement, but there are times when animals should get antibiotics and other medicines. As long as they’re slaughtered and processed after the medicines have metabolized and passed through their bodies, they’re safe.

Other than that, I think I’d like to try this diet and get my boyfriend to try it too. I like the idea of eating healthy and feeling better.

Thanks!

Kris July 16, 2012 at 10:20 pm

*bump

Sorry for the bump 

Just wanted to say that I lost 69kg without knowing I was eating a Paleo Diet. I just ate lean meats, vegetables and fruits like cucumber, bell peppers and tomato’s. And that was like 7 years ago. Also I think it’s wrong to call it a Diet. Now that I’m on my target weight and BF use 90/10 eating 90% of the time Paleo and maybe once or twice a month having some oats with yogurt. So you can go 80/20 or in my case 90/10 occasionally having some ice cream, bread like Rusty said and still maintain your good health.

sarah October 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

Because of an advanced breast cancer diagnosis and the resulting chemotherapy and physical upheavals, I put myself on what I called a “caveman” diet- not knowing until now that such a diet has a following. I have not had a recurrence for 4 years and lost 50lbs. I am now at a healthy 130, and experience only minimal chemo side effects. Thank God for this diet. Don’t think I’d be alive today without it

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Nick January 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm

The science really isn’t as clear-cut as that little video makes out. Most importantly, it’s completely untrue that humans haven’t evolved in response to diet over the last 10,000 years. For example, lactose tolerance rapidly became near-universal in Scandinavia within the last 10,000 years: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/beyond-otzi-european-evolutionary.html

paleo diet May 8, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I almost never leave comments, but i did some searching and wound
up here The Paleo and Primal Diet. Eating Like a Caveman?
– Fitness Black Book. And I actually do have some questions for you if you
tend not to mind. Could it be simply me or does it seem like some of these remarks appear like coming from brain dead people?
😛 And, if you are writing on additional online social sites, I’d like to follow everything fresh you have to post. Would you make a list of every one of all your communal sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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