lean meat lean body
Charred, blackened, and cooked, the morsel was brought to the mouth and chewed, contemplated, and swallowed with relish. There was no sauce or seasoning and no consideration for aesthetics or art. Yet the combination of meat and fire yielded something revolutionary. Cooked meat made man happy. - Tony Federico
The paleo diet, also known as the caveman diet, is based on the idea that humans should eat the same foods that were available to our prehistoric ancestors. The core principles of the paleo diet include:
Eating whole, unprocessed foods: The paleo diet emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods that are free from additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients.
Eating lean proteins: The paleo diet emphasizes lean proteins, such as grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and wild-caught fish.
Eating fruits and vegetables: The paleo diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, which provide important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Avoiding grains and legumes: The paleo diet excludes grains, legumes, and other modern processed foods that were not available to our ancestors.
Avoiding dairy: The paleo diet excludes dairy products, which were not consumed by our prehistoric ancestors.
Eating healthy fats: The paleo diet includes healthy fats from sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil.
The paleo diet is focused on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods that are free from additives and processed ingredients. Simple and clean.
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The paleo diet is based on the idea that our bodies are not well adapted to the modern diet that has emerged since the advent of agriculture. This diet includes processed foods, refined sugars, grains, and legumes that are believed to contribute to chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. While, the paleo diet emphasizes whole, nutrient-dense foods that were available to our prehistoric ancestors, such as meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and are believed to support optimal health and wellbeing.
The paleo diet also emphasizes the importance of eating lean proteins, such as grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and wild-caught fish. These protein sources are believed to be more nutrient-dense and have a better balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than conventionally-raised meats. In addition to avoiding grains and legumes, the paleo diet also excludes dairy products, which were not consumed by our prehistoric ancestors. Instead, the diet includes healthy fats from sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil.
The paleo diet is focused on eating whole, unprocessed foods that are free from additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. While some research suggests that the paleo diet may have health benefits, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before making any significant dietary changes.
To the sick, indeed, nature is sick, but to the well, a fountain of health. — Henry David Thoreau
First popularized in the 1970s, the Paleo Diet encourages the consumption of foods ancient humans are thought to have eaten hundreds of thousands of years ago—before the dawn of modern agriculture. Think: roots, seeds, fruits, fish, game, and other morsels people could easily gather or club to death. That way, you can maximize the diet’s benefits while minimizing the diet’s pitfalls.
In the Paleo era, people ran around all day and rarely lived past 40, so their risk of developing the so-called diseases of civilization is unknown - obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome etc. It seems these days that every other person I meet has tried the Paleo diet, on the Paleo diet, or is planning to try the Paleo diet. So, why shouldn’t you dear reader?
The main premise of the Paleo diet: If the cave men didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either. But is this sound nutritional advice?
Let’s start with a few basics:
There is no such thing as “a” Paleo diet. The Paleolithic era lasted 2.5 million years and involved different and continually evolving populations with a wide dietary range determined by climate, geography, season and availability.
Human beings today and the composition of the foods they eat are not the same as they were in the Paleolithic era. Genetic changes and breeding have resulted in very different organisms for both.
There have been no studies of large groups of people who have followed the currently popular versions of the Paleo diet for decades to assess their long-term health effects.
Keep in mind that the life expectancy of people before the advent of agriculture 15,000 years ago rarely reached or exceeded 40 (this is a simple heuristic and getting into the details as to why this is not 100% factual is outside the scope of this essay), so their risk of developing the so-called diseases of civilization is unknown.
There is one basic premise of the Paleo diet that could benefit everyone’s health: Avoid all foods that are packaged and processed. Roam the outer regions of the grocery store as much as possible. That said, consider a daily menu of ~2,200 calories. A breakdown of macros is doable if one knows one’s own lean body mass : 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass, 1g of carb per pound of lean body mass and .5g of fat per pound of lean body mass. So, if you have 180lbs of lean body mass = 720 calories of protein, 720 calories of carbohydrates, and 810 calories from fat or 2,225 calories.
Breakfast: 12 oz. broiled salmon, 1-3/4 cups cantaloupe
Lunch: 3 oz. broiled chicken, 4-1/2 cups salad dressed only with lemon juice.
Dinner: 8 oz. lean sirloin tip roast, 3 cups steamed broccoli, 4-1/2 cups salad (include olive oil), 1 cup strawberries.
Snacks: ½ orange, ¾ cup carrots, 1 cup celery.
There are several common misconceptions about the paleo diet, including:
The paleo diet is all about eating meat: While the paleo diet does include lean proteins, it also emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The idea is to eat a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients and free from processed foods.
The paleo diet is too restrictive: While the paleo diet does exclude certain modern foods, it still allows for a wide variety of whole, unprocessed foods. With a little creativity, it is possible to enjoy a diverse and satisfying diet that meets all of your nutritional needs.
The paleo diet is a fad: While the paleo diet has gained popularity in recent years, it is based on sound principles that are rooted in evolutionary biology. The idea is to eat the same foods that our prehistoric ancestors ate, which are believed to promote optimal health and wellness
The Particulars Matter
According to some in the Paleo community, our ancient human genetic blueprint doesn’t match our modern diet and lifestyle.
Until about 10,000 years ago, humans ate what they hunted (meat, fish) or gathered (fruit, vegetables, roots, tubers, nuts, seeds, eggs, honey).
Then most of the world figured out agriculture. We moved from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic period. Planting and farming provided us with a consistent and relatively reliable food supply, without which modern civilization could never have developed.
Some in the Paleo community claim that eating like our ancient ancestors will improve your health and our well-being.
The Paleo diet also makes some key evolutionary assumptions:
Paleolithic hunter-gatherers were robust and healthy. If they didn’t die young from accident or infectious diseases, they lived about as long as we do now.
When Paleolithic hunter-gatherers shifted to Neolithic agriculture, they got relatively sicker, shorter, and spindlier.
Modern hunter-gatherers are healthy, and their health declines when they switch to a modern diet.
Hunter-gatherers were not pristine models of health To begin with, they harbored various parasites. They were also subject to many infectious diseases.
What’s more, a study in The Lancet looked at 137 mummies from societies ranging all over the world—from Egypt, Peru, the American Southwest, and the Aleutian Islands—to search for signs of hardening of the arteries (a condition known as atherosclerosis). They noted probable or definite atherosclerosis in 47 of 137 mummies from all four geographical regions, regardless of whether the people had been farmers or hunter-gatherers, peasants, or societal elite.
The deciding factor? It was age, not diet. Mummies who were older than 40 when they died tended to have hardening in several arteries, compared to mummies who’d died at younger ages.
There wasn’t just one Paleo diet—there were many different ones. Our ancestors lived pretty much all over the world, in diverse environments, eating varied diets. And some of them did indeed consume foods that are typically shunned on the Paleo diet. Like grains, cereals and beans.
Ancient humans may have begun eating grains and cereals before the Paleolithic era even began—up to three or even four million years ago, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And not only did our Paleolithic ancestors eat legumes, these were actually an important part of their diet, several research reviews reveal. In other words, the idea that Paleolithic humans never ate grains, cereals, and beans appears to be a bit of an exaggeration. I am cracking my peanut butter jar as I write this.
Modern fruits and vegetables aren’t like the ones our ancestors ate. Early fruits and vegetables were often bitter, much smaller, tougher to harvest, and sometimes toxic.
Over time, we’ve bred plants with the most preferable and enticing traits—the biggest fruits, prettiest colors, sweetest flesh, fewest natural toxins, and largest yields. We’ve also diversified plant types—creating new varieties such as hundreds of cultivars of potatoes or tomatoes from a few ancestral varieties.
For example, over many years, farmers selectively bred Brassica oleracea—also known as wild mustard—into plants with bigger leaves, thicker stalks, or larger buds. This eventually created the many different vegetables of the Brassica family: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and kohlrabi.
These vegetables seem quite different from one another, but all originated from the same plant species.
Most modern animal foods aren’t the same. Beef (even if grass-fed) isn’t the same as wild game such as bison or deer meat. Because wild game move around a lot more than domesticated animals, they’re leaner and their meat contains less fat.
This doesn’t make modern produce or modern meat inherently inferior or superior. It’s just different from nearly anything available in Paleolithic times. So, the claim that we should eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and meats because we’re evolved to eat precisely those foods is suspect. The food we eat today didn’t even exist in Paleolithic times.
Paleo Diet Pros
Paleo-style eating emphasizes whole foods. This is a massive improvement over the average Western diet. The top six calorie sources in the U.S. diet today are grain-based desserts (cake, cookies), yeast breads, chicken-based dishes (and you know that doesn’t mean a grilled chicken salad - fried chicken is nearly ubiquitous in most of The West), sweetened beverages, pizza, and alcoholic drinks.
Those aren’t ancestral foods—nor foods that, when consumed in abundance, promote good health. So when proponents of the Paleo diet claim that our modern Western diet isn’t healthy for us, they’re absolutely correct.
Paleo-style eating has been extremely effective for improving several chronic diseases. According to several studies, the Paleo diet can help improve blood pressure, glucose tolerance, inflammation, thyroid levels, and blood lipids.
Sickness is poor-spirited, and cannot serve anyone; it must husband its resources to live. But health or fullness answers its own ends, and has to spare, runs over, and inundates the neighborhoods and creeks of other men's necessities. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Paleo will likely leave you feeling satisfied. The Paleo diet may be more satiating per calorie than some other eating styles. Why? Paleo encourages the consumption of vegetables and meat—two food groups that dampen hunger and increase post-meal satiety. Vegetables contain relatively fewer calories than other foods. Meat is rich in protein, which helps to trigger the release of appetite-regulating hormones.
Paleo Diet Cons
All restrictive diets, including Paleo, share two potential pitfalls: inconsistent compliance and nutritional deficiency.
Paleo can be tough to maintain. Restrictive diets like Paleo can be easier in the short term because you don’t have many decisions to make. It’s simple—just eat the foods the diet says to eat. Don’t eat the foods the diet says not to eat.
No thinking. No measuring. But long term? It’s harder—because not everyone in your life is following Paleo. Not every restaurant serves Paleo meals. Plus, some of the foods on your “don’t eat” list may be foods you love. Like fresh-baked bread, most desserts and sugary caffeinated beverages. Drink your coffee black and like it!
This is why strictly following a list of “good” and “bad” or “allowed” and “not allowed” foods tends to be problematic for many people. It’s less effective over the long-term—because ultimately, it decreases our consistency. So, it makes a lot of sense that people struggle to remain consistent on Paleo over the long term.
In a study of 250 people, only 35 percent of dieters stuck with the Paleo diet for a full year, compared to 57 percent of people on the Mediterranean diet and 54 percent of people who tried intermittent fasting. When compared to the two other diets, people who tried Paleo lost less weight, too.
Restrictive diets make deficiency more likely. Anytime you cut out foods and food groups, you must work harder to replace what you lose. It takes more effort to get the nutrients you need. In the case of Paleo, you’ll have to work harder to get enough of these nutrients:
Calcium: Dairy offers a rich source of highly absorbable calcium. As the chart below shows, our bodies take up 97 percent of the calcium from cheese, yogurt, and milk—but much less from non-dairy sources. To get enough calcium while on Paleo, make sure you’re eating at least a fistful of dark leafy greens (collards, kale, bok choy) every day.
Riboflavin and Thiamin: These B vitamins are present in high amounts in cereals, grains, beans, and milk—all foods that are off limits on Paleo. To make sure you’re getting enough, consume plenty of green veggies, fish, mussels, and eggs.
Carbohydrate: If you train intensely, you may struggle to get enough carbohydrate on the Paleo diet. If you exercise intensely on a regular basis, the modified Paleo diet may be a better option.
Fiber: Early humans actually ate a lot of fiber—as much as 100 grams a day. Many health organizations recommend somewhere between 25 and 35 daily grams—and most people consume half that amount, even when they’re not omitting fiber-rich beans, legumes, or grains for the Paleo diet.
To make up for the fiber from those foods, consume high-fiber produce several times a day. Good options include beets, apples, figs, berries, spinach, okra, Brussels sprouts, pears, and avocados.
Modified Paleo Diet
Because of the pitfalls just mentioned, the Paleo diet has evolved to include moderate amounts of starch (especially sweet potatoes, but also white potatoes and white rice), as well as some dark chocolate, red wine and non-grain spirits (such as tequila), and limited amounts of grass-fed dairy.
Beyond making life more pleasant, these additions make social situations a lot easier to navigate. They also make healthy eating more attractive and achievable. In the end, moderation, sanity, and your personal preferences are more important than any specific food list.
What to eat
Traditionally, the Paleo plate includes:
animals (meat, fish, reptiles, insects) and usually, almost all parts of the animal, including organs, bone marrow, and cartilage
animal products (such as eggs and honey)
roots/tubers, leaves, flowers and stems (in other words, vegetables)
raw nuts and seeds, coconut, avocados, and olives
Start with the above, then slowly gravitate to the modified Paleo diet by introducing grass-fed dairy (mostly yogurt and other cultured options), and small amounts of legumes that have been soaked overnight.
There is no one-size-fits-all Paleo diet. You’ll find myriad “eat this / not that” Paleo lists all over the internet, but even Paleo experts aren’t all in agreement. My advice: Focus on minimally-processed whole foods while also keeping your overall fat intake in balance.
Don’t try to be perfect. Doing a few good things pretty well (like eating more veggies or protein) is much better than trying to get a lot of things perfect (and then giving up completely because it’s impossible). And by introducing small changes slowly over time, you increase your chances of long-term success.
Does it work?
There’s really only one proven way to know if the Paleo diet works for you:
Try it. Treat it like an experiment. Go all-in—for at least four weeks. No matter your results, remember this: it’s only an experiment and if it doesn't work, simply recalibrate and try a new experiment.
Even if you never quite master the Paleo diet and instead gravitate toward a “Paleo Lite” style of eating (80-90% Paleo, 10-20% non-Paleo), you’ll most likely still see benefits. That’s because just slight shifts toward the “eat more” foods and away from many of the “eat less” foods can make an enormous difference.
And if you decide that Paleo isn’t for you? No love lost. It’s not the only eating style around. There are many other ways to eat—Mediterranean, vegetarian, fully plant-based (vegan), Keto, carb cycling, reverse dieting—that can also help you reach your goals. Keep experimenting with new foods, new strategies, and new eating styles. Adopt what works. Axe what doesn’t. Eventually, you’ll discover the best diet—for you or you won’t and you end up dead like the rest of us anyway.
A man is as unhappy as he has convinced himself he is. And complaining away about one’s sufferings after they are over is something I think should be banned. Even if all this is true, it is past history. What’s the good of dragging up sufferings which are over, of being unhappy now just because you were then?— Seneca
Finally, there remains one other critical aspect of Paleolithic populations that is vastly different from how most Americans live today. Paleo people were hunter-gatherers and spent most of their waking hours walking and running around in search of food, with additional time and effort spent preparing it for consumption. If you’re willing to do all that, go for it. So, move as much as you can and eat clean to attain and or maintain optimal health.
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