November 3, 2010
If you thought popular diet plans couldn't get any crazier than the recent "baby food diet" trend, then you haven't heard of the newest nutritional fad that encourages people to eat like a caveman.
Known as the Paleo Diet, this nutrition plan is rapidly gaining in popularity, and celebrities such as Megan Fox are rumored to owe their hot bodies to this ancient diet plan.
So, is this Paleo fad really worth trying, or should it go the way of the saber-tooth tiger?
According to proponents of the Paleo Diet, the human body works best (and looks best) when it is fed foods that Stone Age humans originally lived on, such as meat, fish and other game, in addition to plant life such as vegetables and fruits.
Processed foods are a big no-no, as is sugar, dairy, beans, grains and potatoes. Anything early man did not have access to is not allowed, whether that is a salt shaker or a baked potato.
Sounds simple, right? However, we must question whether we can be absolutely sure what our cavemen ancestors ate. Certainly, we know they lived off game and the fruits of the earth, but is it true that they abstained from grains?
Interestingly, just as this diet is beginning to gain popularity, a recent study has come out that refutes some of its basic tenets. Findings from archeological digs in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic suggest that cavemen did not only rely on meat for sustenance, as evidenced by traces of starch grains found on stones used for grinding and preparing food.
Archeologists were shocked to discover that our carnivorous ancestors actually were making and preparing foods such as roots, vegetables and perhaps even cracker-like foods.
These recent findings suggest that man cannot live on meat alone, but that hasn't stopped thousands of people from signing up for the Paleo Diet. Although there are plenty of people who have accomplished weight loss goals with this diet, I still fear it's not the healthiest diet program.
While I heartily support the idea of cutting out processed foods (including caffeine and high-fructose corn syrup), a meat-heavy diet isn't recommended for most people. Not only do I discourage any diet that disallows entire food groups, but cholesterol levels are directly linked to the ingestion of animal products.
Eating a steak three times a day can potentially whittle your waistline, but the impact it's having on your insides might not be as attractive. Sadly, Paleo dieters also are encouraged to limit fruit to small helpings, as it believed that our ancestors didn't have access to the amazing produce offerings that we now do.
Not only are these diet choices somewhat questionable, it's also worth pointing out that our Stone Age ancestors were not eating factory-farmed meat, which is full of chemicals and hormones. Unless you have a spear handy and access to unlimited buffalo, you are going to have a hard time truly eating like a caveman.
Finally, any diet that is as restrictive as the Paleo Diet is problematic because it requires cavemen-sized willpower, which means many people will soon abandon their hunks of meat for a modern-day helping of lasagna.
Ultimately, I encourage everyone to choose a diet that makes them look and feel their best, but when it comes down to it, there is no secret behind the body of your favorite celebrity.
It all comes down to hard work, exercise, and of course, staying away from Big Macs and deep-dish pizza. And, remember, it's important to always talk to your doctor or nutritionist before beginning any new diet or exercise regime.