How should I start the Palaeo diet?

The Paleo Diet - close, but off the beaten track ...

You don't have to go to great lengths to convince yourself that you are in a Society of Abundance live:

Go to any supermarket and be amazed by 17 different cereal mixes, 5 types of natural yoghurt or the vegetable and fruit counter that is well-stocked in every season.

But our luxury poses problems: Firstly, we cannot even consume a large part of this supply - half of the food in our supermarkets ends up in the garbage.

Second - and that's what this post is about - we have to make a selection from this offer. We need to distinguish foods that are good for us from those that harm us.

We need orientation.

We need rules that we can adhere to when navigating our shopping carts through supermarket aisles. But our most popular dietary rules - FDH, food combining, low-carb, etc. - don't seem to be working:

Although we have never known better about nutrients, energy balances and metabolism than we are today, we are less efficient than ever before. We suffer from obesity, heart attacks, high blood pressure and diabetes - diseases that are closely related to our lifestyle and our eating habits, and which we therefore call "diseases of civilization".

What shall we eat?

“What should we eat?” We can approach the answer to this question by looking back at the past.

For most of their existence on earth, people have not given any thought to which foods they should and should not eat. Nevertheless, they survived - and without modern medicine, without bypasses, beta blockers and insulin injections.

Then happened two revolutions:

  • About 10,000 years ago, humans were sedentary. Hunters and gatherers became arable farmers and cattle breeders, and suddenly grain and the milk of other mammals were on our menu.
  • About 200 years ago industrial methods found their way into the production of food. Since then, we have stopped consuming a lot in its naturally occurring state. Instead, we consume highly processed products - artificially preserved, with flavor enhancers and synthetic aromas adapted to our preferences.

The result: in a vanishingly short period of time in evolutionary terms, we have each other far from the way of life and diet of our ancestors.

This is where the so-called Paleo or Stone Age diet comes in, which has been booming for some time, especially in the USA. The principle is simple: our bodies have adapted to their environment over the course of their hundred thousand year history. The answer to the question "What should we eat?" Is therefore - according to the followers of the Paleo diet - "What our ancestors ate more than 10,000 years ago!"

In a nutshell - The Paleo Diet

Here comes the bad news for vegetarians and the even worse news for vegans: a significant portion of what our ancestors ate more than 10,000 years ago was believed to be of animal origin. Let's take a closer look at the main features of the Paleo diet:

  • The following are allowed: Meat from animals living in the wild, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, nuts and tubers that can be eaten raw such as sweet potatoes. Only water and herbal teas can be used as drinks.
  • The following are prohibited: all dairy products, all cereals (wheat, rye, barley, oats, rice, maize, spelled) and pseudo-cereals (quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat), legumes (beans, peas, lentils) and starchy tubers such as potatoes. In addition, all industrially processed foods - including table sugar and alcohol.

For endurance athletes, especially for those who like to eat less animal-based foods or want to do without them entirely, this is difficult food in the truest sense of the word.

Because on the one hand there is a (especially for runners) important source of complex carbohydrates path. On the other hand, almost everyone stays vegetable source of protein outside: neither soy products (soy milk, tofu, tempeh) nor legumes or whole grain products may be consumed.

If you want to eat a vegetarian diet, but at the same time cannot manage to cover your protein needs exclusively with eggs, the paleo diet is simply not feasible.

Paleo - light and shadow

What do you like about the Stone Age diet? Personally, I like the rational approach of the concept: if we want to learn something about ourselves, it is in principle a good idea to focus on ours Evolutionary history looking back. Plus, Paleo isn't just another crash diet, it's a recommendation for you lasting lifestyle - another plus point.

And finally, many vegetarians and vegans will agree with the Stone Age foodists that fruit, vegetables and natural instead of industrially processed foods should be given a special place in our diet.

In addition to these positive aspects, the paleo diet also has a number of problems. The most common criticisms are:

  • Our ancestors had much higher caloric expenditure than we did - they hunted and traveled great distances in search of food. If we are following the Paleo diet without changing our lifestyle accordingly, we are taking it way too many calories to us.
  • The life expectancy of a Stone Age person is estimated to be around 25 years. While this is not an argument against the Paleo diet (many other factors play a role here), it does not necessarily speak in favor of its superiority over other forms of nutrition. The fact that people were old enough to reproduce at that time does not have to mean that their diet was optimal - it could also have been the best possible (in other words: the least bad) under the conditions at the time.
  • The paleo diet has a very high proportion of animal fats and proteins - both are associated with diseases such as cancer and diabetes as well as with cardiovascular diseases.
  • There is no such thing as “THE” Stone Age food. The evolution of the genus homo extends over many hundreds of thousands of years. During this period the ancestors of the modern homo sapiens lived in different climates and consequently had access to different foods.
  • Many of the comparatively "young" foods such as cereals and legumes have meanwhile proven themselves! Rice, for example, has been a staple food in Asia for thousands of years - and Asian cultures are known for their high life expectancy.
  • 10,000 years ago there were believed to be around 5 million people on earth. Today there are more than 7 billion - it is impossible to feed the entire world population on the basis of the Stone Age diet, since the production of meat is extremely inefficient and devours enormous resources. If you use the sustainability of a form of nutrition as a criterion for its quality, this is also an argument against the Paleo diet.

And then of course there is the thing with the animals. I am vegan because I believe that animals do not exist for the satisfaction of non-essential human needs. We differ from our Stone Age ancestors in another essential respect:

We can choose not to consume any animal products.

The people of the Stone Age couldn't do that - they would have starved to death.

What do you think of the paleo diet? Do you have a particular nutritional philosophy? Write a comment and tell us your opinion!