I’ve occasionally researched the various diet fads out there, including the Keto diet (whose acolytes I regularly pan, just to be irritating), the Carnivore diet (who get the same mistreatment as the Keto types, for the same reason), and the Vegan diet (a diet that is a total non-starter for me). My own diet is sort of Ket-ish, but not quite. No true Southerner like myself can completely eliminate fried food (even though that’s not great for me), I occasionally find that adding some grain as a base is good, and I don’t completely eliminate bread. Especially if it’s part of a sandwich.
But one diet I’ve heard of but not really looked into (until recently) is the Paleo diet. Referencing the period of time where all humans were a bunch of cavemen and cavewomen. The Stone Age, in other words. And the diet mimics what people in that time would have eaten. In other words, you return to your inner hunter/gatherer.
So what did cavemen eat? Basically everything that people eat on Naked and Afraid. Stuff that isn’t the product of agriculture or soulless food processing plants that produce boxes full of future heart attacks. This includes certain things that Ketovores and Vegans agree on, like vegetables. But most of the other things on the Paleo diet are things that one or the other finds horrifying.
For example, fruits and nuts are perfectly fine on the Paleo diet. And fruits are generally good for you, as are nuts. But Ketovores have a weird aversion to the first of these two. Fruits have (gasp) sugar. The quasi-religious followers of Keto Almighty don’t appear to fully grasp the difference between natural sugars and processed sugars and have appear to be repulsed by either. An apple is to a Ketovore as, say, a crucifix is to Dracula. Nuts on the other hand are fine for them, in moderation. Although given the size of some of the porterhouses I see Ketovores posting on Instagram, I’m not convinced they know what “moderation” means.
The Paleo diet also allows you to eat lots of fish. Which Ketovores also love to post pictures of on their Instagram. Especially salmon, which they fetishize almost to the point of liver. The latter of which you should never eat, because offal is awful. But the diet also involves lean meats, which are anathema to a Keto adherent. Based on those steak pictures they like to post, they seem to prefer cuts from the most morbidly obese cows they could find. Fat is something that gives the Keto types near sexual pleasure. But this is out of bounds in Paleo world. And for me too. I’ve noticed leaner cuts reduce the calories in a cut of meat by as much as 40%.
Meanwhile, there are certain things the cavemen avoid. Such as grains. Of course. No caveman living in a pre-agriculture world would eat…the product of agriculture. It defies the laws of physics. To do so would cause a temporal contradiction which would likely destroy the universe. Well, maybe not. But eating too much of these things could potentially lead to, say, insulin resistance, which is almost as bad. This means no wheat, no oats and no barley. And sadly, it means the liquid products of barley are off limits too. Although it’s good to avoid that anyway.
But this avoidance of agricultural products also means that certain products of animal husbandry are off limits as well, such as dairy. Vegans love this, but Ketovores would be numb with horror at the thought of no dairy. Piling cheese on top of eggs and beef is one of their most sacred rituals. Although, as I’ve noted before, it’s generally not good to pile too much stuff (cheese included) on anything. Having said that, if I have no dairy in a day, I have a hard time getting enough calcium. So this is a part of the Paleo diet I have to pass on. I’m totally with my Keto bros on this one.
And another reason I have to pass on Paleo is because Paleo is heretical to certain of my Celtic ancestors. Because another thing Paleo types avoid are potatoes, the center of Irish cuisine. Not that Irish cuisine is particularly impressive or anything. Both Irish and their Celtic cousins the Scottish are great at making whiskey, but terrible at making food. Paleo and Keto types have a weird aversion to potatoes, though. But personally, I’m with the Vegans on this one. I think they’re fine. A good baked potato is a good, light meal. Especially with sour cream and cheese and bacon, although I probably lose the Vegans at that point.
But the most important thing about the Paleo diet (and probably what makes the diet effective) is that the diet avoids highly processed foods with refined sugars. Processed foods are probably the source of the excess calories we get. Although it’s not just about the sugars, it’s also about the added fats and oils.
Most of the foods on the Paleo diet are healthy, as explained by the numerous shameless, self-referential links to other posts of mine. In general, like Keto, Paleo is low-carb and high-protein, which can make it a good way to lose weight. This is probably why cavemen only wore loincloths. They were super sexy and ripped and wanted to show it off. Although they were probably a bit hairy. But I guess some people are into that.
So this is a good diet to lose weight and stay healthy, like any whole foods diet. Personally, I don’t bother, since I find that just by tracking micronutrients and calories, I can eat anything I want as long as I keep the portions reasonable. But for someone who doesn’t want to bother with that, you could avoid all of the measurement work and just behave like a caveman. Sure, you won’t get the same level of cardio a caveman got by hunting wooly mammoths or running away from saber-toothed tigers. But you will get the benefits of the diet, because it forces you to avoid the pitfalls of eating too much processed food. Pitfalls like obesity and heart disease. So go ahead and act like a caveman. Except, don’t walk around in a loincloth. Unless you’re super sexy, in which case you should send pics on Instagram.