Following a “caveman diet” is quite a popular way to lose weight. This is not surprising because the caveman diet is known to be popular with several big-name celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Jones.
Don’t worry though. If you decide you want to try eating a caveman diet you won’t need to hunt dinosaurs and then club them to death. However, you may need to avoid some of your favorite foods.
Cakes and candies, potato chips, processed meats: if you normally have them in your larder, they will have to go. But that’s no bad thing. Regardless of what type of diet plan you follow, eating foods like these will not get you to where you want to be.
Also known as the Paleo Diet, the caveman diet only permits you to eat the types of food that would have been available to people living in the Paleolithic era.
Eating the caveman way can be very healthy but the diet has some disadvantages as well.
Can you lose weight with the caveman diet? Absolutely, but that does not guarantee it will be the best option to choose. This article will provide you with a few of the pros and cons.
Who Invented the Caveman Diet?
Who invented the diet? The obvious answer would be our Stone Age ancestors but let’s be honest, they never left us any recipe books.
The caveman diet is based on modern-day speculation about what the average Stone Age diet was likely to contain.
The diet appears to have originated in a 1975 book called Diet Cults. The book was written by a gastroenterologist named Matt Fitzgerald.
Ten years later, Melvin Konner (an expert in anthropology, neuroscience, and behavioral biology) and Stanley Boyd Eaton (a radiologist) got hold of the idea and wrote a paper on paleolithic nutrition.
Their paper was published in The New England Journal of Medicine and widely considered to be one of the main foundations for the caveman diet.
However, the diet’s popularity is also largely due to the scientist, Loren Cordain, PHD. He did a lot of research into the Stone Age diet and shared his finding via several books. His most famous one is The Paleo Diet, published in 2002.
Cordain strongly believes eating a caveman diet is a good way to lose weight. He also believes the diet can make people less vulnerable to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and many other serious conditions.
What You Can and Cannot Eat on a Caveman Diet
When we want to stock up on food, we head to the nearest store. Things were not so simple back in cavemen days. If they wanted to eat, our ancestors from the Paleolithic era had to go out and hunt or forage for food.
A typical caveman diet would have likely contained meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Eggs would have been available too.
Although it’s disputable if cavemen would have been able to refine vegetable oils, the modern spin on this old diet also permits olive oil, nut oils, and similar healthy options.
Needless to say, hot dogs and burgers have no place in a caveman diet. Neither do canned or processed goods. If a caveman couldn’t get it, the diet does not permit it.
Milk and dairy products are not allowed by the caveman diet either. This is a little surprising because, given the opportunity, it seems likely people living in the Paleolithic era would have drunk milk.
However cavemen milk is probably forbidden because cavemen did not tend farms to raise crops.
Potatoes are not allowed either. Neither is sugar, salt, wheat, or similar grains even though it could be argued they could have attained these things by foraging.
Did cavemen find potatoes or grains while foraging? How can anyone say for certain they did not. Let’s not forget the caveman diet is based on speculation about the kind of foods people were eating back in the days when all the best clubs were the ones you could hold in your hand.
The Advantages of Eating Like a Cavemen
Many people consider the Caveman Diet healthier than the average diet. This is probably true. A lot of people eat foods that are filled with colorings, preservatives, sweeteners, and other additives that don’t provide any benefits at all.
Although many food additives are deemed safe, some of them present concerns. (Further Reading: 12 Common Food Additives — Should You Avoid Them?)
Cavemen never had to worry about adverse reactions to additives in their food because it was fresh and natural. If you decide to go caveman at mealtimes you will not have to worry about adverse reactions either.
Caveman meals also tend to be quite filling, so if you are trying to lose weight with the caveman diet, you may not have such a great struggle with hunger.
Meat and fish take time to digest. The fiber in fruits and vegetables also offers this benefit. So as well as being filling, these foods burn extra calories during digestion.
As with any diet that has plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a well-balanced caveman diet plan will provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Another good thing about the caveman diet is you can tweak it to be vegan-friendly by simply avoiding animal-based foods. There’s actually an official name for this. It’s called the pegan diet.
A typical pegan diet plan probably won’t be too dissimilar to the diet normal vegans follow. The big difference is, you will have to place extra focus on finding fresh foods (preferably organic) and avoid anything that’s processed.
Caveman Diet Disadvantages
One of the disadvantages of the caveman diet is it may take a little longer to prepare meals. Instead of opening cans and boxes, you are more likely to be peeling, slicing, and chopping.
It’s also possible the foods you buy may not last as long as the ones you used to eat before. Most things can be frozen though. Technically, it could be seen as bending the rules because cavemen didn’t have freezers but if the fish, meats, and vegetables in your freezer are unprocessed and do not contain any additives, you will still be eating caveman-like foods.
One of the hardest parts of the caveman diet will probably be all the foods you miss. No more ice cream, no more cookies or cakes. Depending on your previous eating habits, making the transition could be a long, hard haul.
However, if you begin your caveman diet by following the guidelines in Cordain’s Paleo Diet book, you will be able to ease into the new lifestyle gradually. It allows caveman newbies to continue eating up to three “normal” meals per week while they make the transition.
Is the Caveman Diet Good for Losing Weight?
The caveman diet could help you to lose weight but simply changing the types of food you eat will not be enough. As with any other diet, you will need to focus on your calorie intake. A food journal can help you to do this.
If you want to lose weight, you need to force your body to begin burning its fat. It won’t do this unless your diet provides it with less energy than it needs.
The cold, hard truth is, there are no magic bullets. If you want to use the caveman diet for slimming, you may have to put extra thought into planning your meals. With most diets, you only need to track your calories. Losing weight with the caveman diet will still require you to do this, but you will have to make the appropriate food choices as well.