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What Did Hunter Gatherers Eat – Paleo Diet

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What did hunter gatherers eat thousands of years ago? Why is this diet designed to resemble that way of eating? Were they healthier than we are today? What about being overweight or even obese? Did they eat low-carb or high-carb food? Was food grown or did they gather it and hunt for it?

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The Paleo Diet

What Did Hunter Gatherers Eat - chickenThe paleo diet is based on eating food that was available during the paleolithic period which ended approximately 10 000 years ago. During that period people didn’t grow their food and didn’t have farms to get meat that way, food was gathered or hunted. The Paleo diet follows the same principle. So, what did hunter gatherers eat? They were eating plants they could find and the meat of animals they could catch, which means you can’t have dairy products, legumes, and grains, instead of that it depended on availability and location, so it is based on whole foods. Processed food should be avoided entirely, which makes it very similar to the Keto diet.

Why Eat The Paleo Way?

The goal of this diet is that we return to nutrition as it was during the paleolithic era. The reasoning for that is that the human body is not supposed to digest the food we eat today since that kind of food didn’t exist until 10 000 years ago. People have been on earth much longer than that, so you can see why that assumption makes sense. According to that idea, we are genetically defined to eat what we can hunt or gather.

What Did Hunter Gatherers Eat - barbeque ribsWhen people started farming and growing crops their nutrition changed. There was no need to hunt or gather food anymore, grains, legumes, beans, and other starchy food, as well as dairy products, replaced the previous way of eating. It was a sudden change of diet and the human body didn’t have the ability to adapt. Instead of adapting to it, we ended up with all kinds of modern era diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart, and cardiovascular diseases. If your goal is to lose weight, get rid of excess fat, or just keep your body healthy, this could be the right diet for you.

Foods to Eat

  • Eggs- free-range eggs rich with omega-3
  • Fruits- bananas, pears, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, avocados, and other
  • Meat- chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, wild game meat
  • Fish- tuna, salmon, trout, shrimps, bass- preferable caught in nature
  • What Did Hunter Gatherers Eat - seedsVeggies- peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, button sprouts, and other preferable organic
  • Nuts- Almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and more.
  • Fats and oils- olive oil, coconut oil
  • Spices- Himalayan salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, etc…
  • Hydration- in the paleolithic time there was only water, so that should be the way to hydrate your body ( some people drink tea and coffee too)

Food to Avoid

  • Sugar and corn syrup- sodas, soft drinks, fruit juices, sugar, cookies, pastries, chocolate, ice cream, candy…
  • Grains- bread, pasta, barley, wheat, and others
  • Sweeteners- aspartame, sucralose, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium
  • What Did Hunter Gatherers Eat - fruitsProcessed foods- all fast food, snacks, all food labeled as diet, low-fat, no sugar or zero sugar
  • Trans fats- margarine, non-dairy coffee creamer, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, baked goods, fried foods…
  • Legumes- beans, lentils, and many other
  • Dairy- most dairy products, especially low-fat (full-fat dairy like butter and cheese are OK)
  • Some oils- soy oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, rapeseed oil, and others.

If it doesn’t look like natural food and looks like something artificial and produced, don’t eat it.

Benefits and Risks

What Did Hunter Gatherers Eat - coconutWhen compared to some other diets there are very important benefits like weight loss, improved glucose tolerance, better blood pressure control, lower triglycerides, and better appetite management, no need to count calories either. That by itself is a great thing to achieve with a diet, but there are some concerns as well. The Paleo diet is rich in veggies, fruit, nuts, and quality meat which are all very healthy, but it lacks grains and legumes, the source of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients. There is also a lack of dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cream, and others crucial to get enough calcium. In our modern era, these are considered to be healthy foods.

The Bottom Line

What Did Hunter Gatherers Eat - all naturalThe Paleo diet is not so hard to follow, it is the way our ancestors were eating. This diet is great to lose weight (fat) or maintain the desired weight. A lot of modern-day diseases and health issues can be put under control with the Paleo diet. It is low in carbs, high in protein, it eliminates highly processed food, junk food, and added sugars. No need to count calories is great because there aren’t many diets that don’t require that. But, be aware that it may not be for everyone, because of some food restrictions people could find it difficult to stick to it. Overall the Paleo diet has a lot of similarities to the Keto diet or Atkins diet with a few differences, some things are added and some removed. This is one of the most popular diets today and worth trying if you have the ability to be disciplined.


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