All involve eating whole foods (as opposed to packaged and processed) and filling your plate with quality sources of protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and vitamin-, mineral-, and fiber-rich vegetables. (Again, we’re talking about the ones that fall somewhere on the healthy spectrum, not unhealthy fad diets like, ahem, the Grapefruit Diet.)
Optimal Diet is a dietary model of human nutrition devised and implemented by Dr. Jan Kwasniewski. Lots of fat and low in carbs. Lots and lots of articles collected from various places. He has an out-of-print book: Optimal Nutrition. The book is explained at the Australian Homo Optimus Association website. A thorough analysis is the first post here: Dr. Kwasniewski's Optimal Diet: Sanity, Clarity, Facts.
Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, MD. A renowned cardiologist explains how eliminating wheat from our diets can prevent fat storage, shrink unsightly "wheat belly" bulges, and reverse myriad health problems, like minor rashes and high blood sugar. The author contends that every single human will experience health improvement by giving up modern wheat. The book provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new, wheat-free lifestyle. Informed by cutting-edge science and nutrition, along with case studies from men and women who have experienced life-changing transformations in their health after waving goodbye to wheat. The author's blog. Published August 30, 2011.
If you're interested in the paleo plan but don't think you want to be so strict, you don't have to be all-or-nothing with your approach. Consider adopting some eating patterns from paleo and skipping the ones that don't work for you. For example, try just eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting down on added sugars. If you feel unsure about grains or dairy, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine what's best for your body.
Another 2014 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the effects of the Paleo plan to those of a standard low-fat diet on 70 obese, postmenopausal women. After six months, the Paleo group lost 14 pounds on average, while the other group lost nearly 6 pounds. After a year, the Paleo group had lost 19 pounds on average, and the low-fat dieters had dropped 10 pounds. A year later, both groups had regained some weight: The Paleo group was still down 10 pounds, while the low-fat group had dropped an average of more than 6 pounds.
Experts estimate that our ancestors consumed a one-to-one ratio of calories from meats to produce. Since you have to eat a lot of salad to consume the same amount of calories in a steak, the paleo diet should ideally include mostly fruits and vegetables, Katz says. However, many people don't realize that and eat too much meat. Consuming excess protein and not enough carbs can cause kidney damage and also increase your risk of osteoporosis, Dr. Ochner says. Plus, since most of today's meats are higher in saturated fat than those of yesteryear, it can increase the risk of heart disease, Dr. Katz says.
Cooking becomes an overwhelming chore when we get too wrapped up in complicated, time-consuming recipes. To be practical and sustainable, ancestral nutrition has to be easy. As a working mom, I’m always on the lookout for shortcuts in the kitchen, and often rely on modern conveniences that cavemen never enjoyed, like pressure cookers, slow cookers, and food processors. (I also appreciate indoor plumbing, for what it’s worth.)
These researchers point out that there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the low-fat-is-good-health hypothesis has now effectively failed the test of time. In particular, that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that started around the early 1980’s, and that this was coincident with the rise of the low-fat dogma. (Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, also rose significantly through this period.)
A strict paleo diet does not allow dairy products because hunter-gatherers did not milk cows. Some paleo dieters say dairy is OK, especially if it is grass-fed because grass-fed butter, for example, has more omega-3s. Fermented dairy products are also OK for some paleo eaters because they have a lower content of lactose and casein, the two concerns paleo dieters have with dairy.
1. Meat: It’s not always for dinner. Cooking meat transforms it: Roasting it or braising it for hours in liquid unlocks complex smells and flavors that are hard to resist. In addition to converting it into something we crave, intense heat also breaks down the meat into nutrients that we can more easily access. Our ancient ancestors likely loved the smell of meat on an open fire as much as we do.