I should clarify that when I say “diet,” I don’t mean a set of rules to be followed for a determined amount of time. I’m talking about the food you consume on a regular, daily basis.
THE PALEOLITHIC DIET
I first heard of this diet in my nutrition studies, but I have seen it come up in the media, and have heard of runners adopting it. It is also known as the Hunter-Gatherer diet, or the caveman/caveperson diet.
This diet is a throw back to the foods consumed by ancient nomadic tribes who used caves for winter shelter. It is the diet of Paleolithic humans, currently carried on by a few tribal cultures.
Archeological speaking, these humans were tall, with strong and healthy bones, much like modern day athletes. Their longevity was similar to ours, but with much less chronic degenerative diseases. Their lifestyle incorporated vigorous exercise through hunting, gathering, and survival.
The components of this diet include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds as they are available on a seasonal basis. It is also high in protein (about 19-35%), but with meat being wild game (at a significantly lower fat content than the domestically raised meat we buy today). This meat would be comparable to the wild caribou in some parts of Canada, particularly Alaska. The fat content of these animals ranges from 2.9-16.6%, compared to 30% from feedlot-raised cattle.
This meat also includes a greater intake of omega-3 fatty acids (essential fat), and a low saturated fat content. Nuts and seeds in their raw form maximize the retention of these fats. The only sugar is from honey. Berries and vegetables shoot up the daily fiber intake. Baking, roasting, and steaming replace frying and sautéing. And the main beverage is water.
Exercise is also an important component to this lifestyle. Our ancestors did some distance running, along with some sprinting and other high intensity exercise.
All in all, this is a primarily vegetarian, seasonal diet with added occasional high-protein, low-fat meats. The real challenge around this diet is in its practical application. We don’t live in the same world that our ancestors did. Meat from wild game can be expensive. Fruits and vegetables are sprayed. Chemicals and preservatives abound. Different people will adapt this diet in different ways, but the focus is always towards a more natural and organic diet.
Here is a great resource for those interested in learning more about the Paleo diet.
I’ve been having a blast these past few days watching the World Cup games. I particularly love the photography that comes out around this time. Soccer is a passionate sport, and passion is crucial for any athlete. Here are some of my favourite shots.
It’s a beautiful game.