The Cro-Magnon Diet: How Cavemen Survived

The Cro-Magnon man, through no fault of his own, adopted a healthy diet that kept him and his entire Cro-Magnon family healthy.

Another fad diet?

Sir, no, not another fad diet! There seem to be as many diet plans as there are fat people, myself included. No, I am not what I consider obese. I weigh 185 pounds and am 6 feet tall. But I have a great instinct. Many doctors agree that people come in three forms:

* slim and trim

* Pear shape

* apple-shaped

Of course, we all want to be slim and slim, right! But recent government figures suggest that two-thirds of the population is overweight. Based on the US Air Force height and weight chart, I could weigh up to 205 pounds at my height. But the large intestine is a problem.

The dangers of the “apple-shaped” figure

The gut puts me in the apple shape category. The body shape of the apple (body fat is stored around the middle, that is, the abdomen, chest, and surrounding internal organs such as the heart) is linked to health problems such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and gallbladder disease.

Doctors say that the pear shape (fat is stored around the hips, away from vital organs) is much safer, although it is an undesirable state. To lead a healthy life, we must be aware of two factors: diet and exercise. There’s that word again: diet. I had never officially been on a diet, until recently (more on that in a minute). I try to eat healthy food, but like most of the population, I often turn to junk food and sometimes fast food. I bet you thought junk food is FAST FOOD, or vice versa. Not so, say many nutritionists. Certain fast foods can be healthier than those we prepare in the home kitchen. But that is also another story.

The Caveman’s Diet

So what does all this have to do with cro-magnons, cavemen? Just this: I found one of those pay-per-click ads on a TV station’s website. It featured a drawing of a fat woman promoting a way to get rid of belly fat. Then I clicked and saw a very interesting video. The narrator said that we should eat like cavemen (and cavewomen) ate. Paleontologists (bone gatherers) say that Cro-Magnons were mostly muscular, lean beings with very little body fat. The unintended diet they followed was out of necessity. Yes, the market is littered with all kinds of diets – some include supplements (diet pills that ultimately don’t work), fad diets, low-carb diets, high-fat diets, etc.

Try to imagine what those ancestors of ours ate. During the warmer months, they found a large amount of fresh plant material: fruits (mostly berries) and a wide variety of wild vegetables. In winter they ate meat and could easily choose lean meat because they had all the animal to choose from. Many believe that cro-magnons varied their diet and caloric intake from day to day. They rarely ate the same foods two days in a row.

So they discovered, 30,000 years ago, an honest “Fat Burner” plant? Of course not. The body is the oven, it burns (converts) food into useful nutrients. Food itself doesn’t burn anything, so be careful with these “fat burning plans.” They probably won’t hurt you (at least I don’t think they will) but they will drain your wallet and still leave you fat.

The human body is not a machine

Your body is not a machine … but it adapts easily to what you feed it. If you feed him the same thing every day, his body says, “Hey … there’s no need to burn this food. I think I’ll store it as fat!” UPS! Therein lies the problem. This is exactly what happens when you eat the “typical” western diet. You end up with too much sugar and starchy carbohydrates, as well as unhealthy fats … and not the healthy fats we need for good health.

The ancients ate a lot of healthy fats! Worst of all, we get basically the same calories every day. Many of today’s fad diets require your caloric intake to be calculated based on your height, weight, and age. I found a nifty calorie counter on about.com that says that at my age, I should eat foods that provide 2,146 calories per day. But if you’re starting to believe that this caveman diet is real and stick to the calorie count on the calculator, your body will say, “I’m used to this … No thanks …”

Be flexible on caloric intake

OK so I need to be flexible from day to day on the caloric intake and the specific foods that I should eat … but I must vary these foods and not eat the same thing day after day. That doesn’t seem too difficult. In fact, it sounds so easy a caveman could do it!