What prehistoric man ate should be best for us now, right?
If we want to lose weight, we should do what they did by following a Paleo approach limiting calories to meat, nuts, sparse fruits, and some veggies.
Not so fast there my Paleo nut friend.
What does the research say?
“A greater reliance on fatty acids for fuel, along with the ability to conserve and replenish muscle glycogen, offered a distinct survival advantage as it allowed our Paleolithic ancestors to work (i.e., hunt and gather) longer and more often” –Loretta DiPietro, PhD, MPH
Metabolic Flexibility is the Most Paleo of All Paleo Diets!
If you want to live long and follow a “paleo approach” that is totally cool with me, but ancient man (and women) were best served by being as metabolically flexible as possible. That is the ultimate Paleolithic weight loss approach.
Find a big hairy Woolly Mammoth! Kill it and eat it.
Find some berries and nuts. Kill them (ok, I guess just pick them) and eat them too. We all know that acai berries have magical fat loss properties!
Steal a bunch of honey from some angry bees. Eat it.
Honey seeker depicted on 6000 year old cave painting near Valencia, Spain
Source By fr:Utilisateur:Achillea [GPL], via Wikimedia Commons
Do you really think Paleo Man is going to pass that up and go “nope, I must not eat those carbs since I know they are bad for me.”
He would eat as much as possible and move on his way tracking another Woolly Mammoth or whatever he was after, eating whatever he could find along the way. if there was no food, his body better be able to burn some body fat or it was lights out. Since our body is programmed for survival, fasting is actually a great way to increase metabolic flexibility.
The goal is to have a metabolism that is flexible enough to switch from eating fats and using them for fuel to switching to carbs for fuel in the shortest amount of time. The person that can do this the best, is at an advantage.
Hmmm, food…. (source)
Humans eat mixed meals (protein, fats, and carbs) currently and through out history and this was an advantage. While there may be times of all 3 or other times of just 2 like proteins and fats after slaying a big Wolly Mamoth.
Ok, now that I pissed everyone off (feeling a bit punchy today), the goal is to find what works best for you.
The goal is to be as ADAPTABLE as possible.
Foods should not be singled out as being “good” and “bad” solely based on what some guru says. Test it for yourself and see. Over time, work to expand your variabiltiy (food intakes, times, etc) while minimizing the “side effects” (bad blood levels of glucose, triglycerdies, fat gain, energy level).
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Chakravarthy MV and Booth FW. Eating, exercise, and “thrifty” genotypes: connecting the dots toward an evolutionary understanding of modern chronic diseases. J Appl Physiol. 96:3-10, 2004.
Loretta DiPietro ”Exercise Training and Fat Metabolism after Menopause: Implications for Improved Metabolic Flexibility in Aging” J Appl Physiol (September 30, 2010). doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01152.2010 Department of Exercise Science, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington, DC