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Spartan936
09-05-2004, 05:16 PM
If you take a look back at our ancestors up to 2 million years ago (homo habilis to be precise) their diets consisted primarily of vegetables, fruits, and meat. Only 10,000 years ago did humans begin eating cooked starches (like grains), dairy, and cooked food. My question is, if humans have not evolved to eat these things, are they healthy?

I know this would mean a low-carbohydrate diet, and that does sound insane, but how much do humans really know about themselves?

Assuming we evolved from apes (I won't debate that topic, lol), then that means were are genetically programmed to eat certain foods. Just as cows can survive only on grass and wolves only on meat. Humans had no means of eating foods such as rice, wheat, dairy (cows milk), and starches (potatoes, legumes...). Only around 8000 bc did these things become availible. My point is that for over 2 million years, evolving humans consumed only plants that could be eaten raw, and the raw meat they could catch.

Here's some info: http://www.panix.com/~paleodiet/

I came upon all of this recently. You see, I struggle with my health, and I have noticed that changes in my diet make me feel significantly better. I now eat the traditional bodybuilding diet (whole grains, meats, etc...) but I am interested in this for the sake of health. I am also interested in muscle gains.

So I suppose I have two questions:

1- What is your opinion on the evolution of the human diet, and what should we be eating today for optimum health?

2- Can a human being make good muscle gains from a diet of only vegetables, fruits, meat, and oils?

Aspect
09-06-2004, 04:58 AM
Paleo diets are quite compelling; it's difficult to argue with the way we've evolved. Eating a paleo-style diet would certainly be healthy - in the past I've eaten a Paleo diet and felt great on it.

However, you have to conceed the differences between today's world and 10,000+ years ago. Our lives are generally busier, meaning our caloric needs are greater; we have far better access to food; the world itself has changed massively, with a far different climate, new hazards such as pollution etc.; and of course, we have completely different aims in life to our ancestors.

I personally now believe that a "Paleo" diet is a great starting point, but that it can and should be modified to match your own personal goals. It can be modified in a number of ways to give a diet that's realistic to follow and matches your aims.

For example, a number of distance athletes (e.g. long-course triathletes) are eating what is basically a Paleo diet, but during training they quite happily consume energy drinks, bars, gels etc., and eat starches as post-workout meals. All other meals are comprised of a lean source of protein along with fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and/or oils. They'll also consume dairy if they can tolerate it well. There are some elite level athletes following this kind of diet and making great progress (e.g. Gordo Byrn, who placed second at IronMan Canada recently, and the athletes he coaches).

For bodybuilding, there's no reason that a Paleo diet couldn't allow you to progress, but you could probably progress faster by modifying the diet while still retaining the benefits. Judicious use of dairy (if well tolerated), and of whole-grain starches and potatoes, can make meeting your caloric needs far easier. Remember, bodybuilding is an unnatural activity, and isn't something any of our forebears would have attempted. You need to consume far more calories than any paleolithic person would.

If you want to follow this kind of diet, I personally might suggest taking the following approach. Set some "lower limits" for various foods - for example, you might decide you want to eat at least 4 portions of lean protein per day, at least 4 pieces of fruit, at least 6 servings of veg, at least 30g of nuts and/or seeds, at least 20g of oil (these are example figures; you'd need to spend some time and decide what you need to set them to).

Try to make sure you eat this food every day. Beyond that, make up the balance of your calories from any combination of lean protein, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains (whether that's whole grain cereal, rice, pasta, bread), and starchy root vegetables. If you can tolerate dairy, then add milk, cottage cheese and butter to that list. In particular, use whole grains or starches in your pre- and post-workout meals along with some lean protein.

Eating this way you'll get the benefits of the Paleo diet - you'll be getting a load of micronutrients, plenty of fibre, and eliminating processed, salty, and sugary foods. However, you'll find it easier to get the calories in, easier to stick to the diet, and hopefully easier to make progress. Even if you desperately want to cheat and eat a chocolate bar or whatever, by eating at least your minimum amounts of healthful foods you're guaranteeing your body the nutrients it needs.

That's how I personally would approach it.

Spartan936
09-06-2004, 09:25 AM
Nice post, Aspect. I agree 100%. It is difficult to argue with the paleolithic / caveman diet. lol, I thought I would be flamed.

Today I'm going shopping to purchase all sorts of meat, veggies, fruit, nuts, and oils. Occasionally I will consume whole-grains. My biggest challenge will be getting sufficient calories for bulking. Within a few days I'll start posting in my journal, and I'll keep you all updated with my progress. I've heard of successful weight loss on these diets, so let's see how effectively one can gain wieght.

Manveet
09-06-2004, 09:31 AM
So I suppose I have two questions:

1- What is your opinion on the evolution of the human diet, and what should we be eating today for optimum health?

2- Can a human being make good muscle gains from a diet of only vegetables, fruits, meat, and oils?


1. Eating a variety foods, which are not heavily processed.

2. Yes.

txjames
09-06-2004, 10:51 AM
I've read the same thing about the paleo diet. I've also seen the argument in the introductions of various low carb diet books to support their plans. I know I personally feel best when I keep my carbs fairly low and stick to whole grains, but I don't feel as good when I cut them too low.

I also think that not all change is bad. Our ancestors did not live nearly as long as we do today. Obviously there are myriad reasons for this, but maybe diet has something to do with it too.

By the way, according to the blood type diet (another one that discusses how we evolved) I should pretty much be only a meat eater and my wife should pretty much eat vegetables. Neither one of us feel good eating like that. I think the logic for these diets is flawed. Surely there's some truth, but as an example, I read in one diet book about how our ancestors in 1900 didn't have as many people suffering from cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, so their diet must have been better. First of all, they died much younger than we do, even in 1900. Maybe they didn't live long enough to get these diseases or notice them. Secondly, they did not study these things, so how do they know - by studying a few exhumed corpses? I think it's a lot of hype, but I am not an expert.

I surely don't know the answer, but I will stick to eating unprocessed meats, poultry, seafood, and good carbs like sweet pototoes, brown rice, oats, and whole grains. Once a week or so, I'll cheat and eat some pizza and/or ice cream. That's what makes me feel and perform the best.

SalahG
09-06-2004, 11:05 AM
Paleo diets are quite compelling; it's difficult to argue with the way we've evolved. Eating a paleo-style diet would certainly be healthy - in the past I've eaten a Paleo diet and felt great on it.

However, you have to conceed the differences between today's world and 10,000+ years ago. Our lives are generally busier, meaning our caloric needs are greater; we have far better access to food; the world itself has changed massively, with a far different climate, new hazards such as pollution etc.; and of course, we have completely different aims in life to our ancestors.

I personally now believe that a "Paleo" diet is a great starting point, but that it can and should be modified to match your own personal goals. It can be modified in a number of ways to give a diet that's realistic to follow and matches your aims.

For example, a number of distance athletes (e.g. long-course triathletes) are eating what is basically a Paleo diet, but during training they quite happily consume energy drinks, bars, gels etc., and eat starches as post-workout meals. All other meals are comprised of a lean source of protein along with fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and/or oils. They'll also consume dairy if they can tolerate it well. There are some elite level athletes following this kind of diet and making great progress (e.g. Gordo Byrn, who placed second at IronMan Canada recently, and the athletes he coaches).

For bodybuilding, there's no reason that a Paleo diet couldn't allow you to progress, but you could probably progress faster by modifying the diet while still retaining the benefits. Judicious use of dairy (if well tolerated), and of whole-grain starches and potatoes, can make meeting your caloric needs far easier. Remember, bodybuilding is an unnatural activity, and isn't something any of our forebears would have attempted. You need to consume far more calories than any paleolithic person would.

If you want to follow this kind of diet, I personally might suggest taking the following approach. Set some "lower limits" for various foods - for example, you might decide you want to eat at least 4 portions of lean protein per day, at least 4 pieces of fruit, at least 6 servings of veg, at least 30g of nuts and/or seeds, at least 20g of oil (these are example figures; you'd need to spend some time and decide what you need to set them to).

Try to make sure you eat this food every day. Beyond that, make up the balance of your calories from any combination of lean protein, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains (whether that's whole grain cereal, rice, pasta, bread), and starchy root vegetables. If you can tolerate dairy, then add milk, cottage cheese and butter to that list. In particular, use whole grains or starches in your pre- and post-workout meals along with some lean protein.

Eating this way you'll get the benefits of the Paleo diet - you'll be getting a load of micronutrients, plenty of fibre, and eliminating processed, salty, and sugary foods. However, you'll find it easier to get the calories in, easier to stick to the diet, and hopefully easier to make progress. Even if you desperately want to cheat and eat a chocolate bar or whatever, by eating at least your minimum amounts of healthful foods you're guaranteeing your body the nutrients it needs.

That's how I personally would approach it.
How can you say our caloric needs are greater now a days? Everyday in ancient times was a struggle to find food, hunting, moving, finding new water sources, avoiding hazardous animals. Now we have cars to transport us to places, the only hunting we do is in a super market, and for the most part, we spend our days sitting around a great deal(in school, at work, etc..). Just a thought.

restless
09-06-2004, 11:07 AM
Check this one out:

http://www.wannabebigforums.com/showthread.php?t=21295&highlight=grains+evolution

Aspect
09-07-2004, 03:52 AM
SalahG, when I say our caloric needs are higher, bear in mind that we're discussing a diet suitable for substantial mass gains. We're not talking about an average sedentary adult. Also, while hunting and gathering may have used a lot of calories, it would be interspersed with frequent and probably lengthy bouts of inactivity; most of what I've read points to paleolithic times being less strenuous than may peoples' modern lives. Of course, no one knows for sure; but one thing we do know is that no one back then would be eating superfluous food with the aim of getting larger muscles.

shootermcgavin7
09-07-2004, 10:00 AM
Someone has already touched on this; but we live a hell of a lot longer nowadays than humans did 2 million years ago.

galileo
09-07-2004, 10:51 AM
Someone has already touched on this; but we live a hell of a lot longer nowadays than humans did 2 million years ago.

I doubt completely that this has much to do with diet. If anything, our modern diet is hindering our expectancy. Modern medicine likely has a lot to do with our life-span along with some evolution.

shootermcgavin7
09-07-2004, 11:02 AM
Modern medicine likely has a lot to do with our life-span along with some evolution.


I'll agree with the modern medicine bit. However, evolution should have nothing to do with it, staying within the ranges of the original argument.
The entire argument of the Paleo Diet is that our bodies HAVE NOT evolved very much.

I'm not saying the Paleo diet is bad. Anything that restricts sugar and processed foods, and puts an emphasis on protein and veggies is fine in my book.

AllUp
09-07-2004, 11:05 AM
I doubt completely that this has much to do with diet. If anything, our modern diet is hindering our expectancy.
That statement makes it seem like eating fast food everyday and living off TV dinners with 2800mg sodium is a BAD thing. :p

Modern medicine likely has a lot to do with our life-span along with some evolution.
Yeah, nowadays people could eat crap foods and just take their blood pressure, cholesterol medications or get a heart-bypass surgery to squeeze out a few more years of bad eating :/

galileo
09-07-2004, 11:16 AM
I'll agree with the modern medicine bit. However, evolution should have nothing to do with it, staying within the ranges of the original argument.
The entire argument of the Paleo Diet is that our bodies HAVE NOT evolved very much.

I'm not saying the Paleo diet is bad. Anything that restricts sugar and processed foods, and puts an emphasis on protein and veggies is fine in my book.

The argument is that we still require a certain type of diet as we evolved on it, but that's not to say our bodies immune system has not evolved at all in the last 2 million years. The premise suggested (that we've not evolved much) isn't really viable as we've witnessed statistical changes in measurable data such as average height, bone density, etc. over the years. I would agree that some has to do with interracial breeding, but the populations sampled in these studies took that into account.

rookiebldr
09-07-2004, 11:40 AM
2 million years is still a long time evolutionary terms. Homo sapiens have only been around for 120,000 years or so. We've evolved a bit since Homo habilis was around 2 million years ago.

shootermcgavin7
09-07-2004, 01:51 PM
The argument is that we still require a certain type of diet as we evolved on it, but that's not to say our bodies immune system has not evolved at all in the last 2 million years. The premise suggested (that we've not evolved much) isn't really viable as we've witnessed statistical changes in measurable data such as average height, bone density, etc. over the years. I would agree that some has to do with interracial breeding, but the populations sampled in these studies took that into account.


I completely agree we've evolved.

I'm saying, following the argument of a lot of the people who are extremely big on this diet (of which dozens of versions exist), the reason that people should eat it is that we haven't evolved much.

I think the diet itself has some very good features, I just think the underlying logic is false. 2 million years ago people might have been lean, but it is likely more due to the fact that 2 million years ago, peoples' average day consisted of trying to avoid starving to death, and running around the woods hunting all day long.

wrestlemaniac
09-07-2004, 08:59 PM
On a related topic one thing I always wondered was how herbavores get so big eating just leaves. Like I don't know a lifter or athlete in the world who wouldn't want to be built like a moose or deer and all they eat are tree leaves. No soy protien or peanut butter or anything, just salads. Same with Gorillas and lots of other animals.

Isaac Wilkins
09-07-2004, 09:41 PM
They have different digestive systems than we do. They can break down cellulose, for example.

My animal physiology isn't up to par, but I'd assume that they can synthesize the amino acids that we cannot so as to make the appropriate tissues.

Shane
09-07-2004, 09:51 PM
On a related topic one thing I always wondered was how herbavores get so big eating just leaves. Like I don't know a lifter or athlete in the world who wouldn't want to be built like a moose or deer and all they eat are tree leaves. No soy protien or peanut butter or anything, just salads. Same with Gorillas and lots of other animals.

Simply put: their physiology is different. Take a horse for instance. It can produce certain amino acids that humans cant and therefore it does not need them in its diet to survive, let alone build large amounts of muscle.

I agree with Manveet, galileo, and shooter. I also think that even if we were going to consider the arguments in favor of a paleo-diet, then we might have to give a bit of thought to the regions of our recent ancestors. If my recent ancestors (the past few millenium) were from rural China my 'optimal' diet might need to be a bit different than if they were from Norway. One of my Japanese friends tells me that lactose intolerance is more common among Japanese than most Anglos and this is most likely due to dietary habits in the different geographical regions over the course of generations. I think there is a bit of truth to this but not enough to make a signficant impact on how we 'should' eat. IMO, what Manveet said is right on.

Spartan936
09-08-2004, 01:58 PM
Thanks for the intelligent output, guys. Mostly a one-sided arguement, lol.

Shadowless
09-08-2004, 09:27 PM
Nice post, Aspect. I agree 100%. It is difficult to argue with the paleolithic / caveman diet. lol, I thought I would be flamed.

Today I'm going shopping to purchase all sorts of meat, veggies, fruit, nuts, and oils. Occasionally I will consume whole-grains. My biggest challenge will be getting sufficient calories for bulking. Within a few days I'll start posting in my journal, and I'll keep you all updated with my progress. I've heard of successful weight loss on these diets, so let's see how effectively one can gain wieght.

Good luck with that. I'm a week into the same diet minus the meat. It's a pain in the butt to get the veggies and fruits and to keep them from going bad. I go to the store every 2 or 3 days.

I also suggest getting/using a juicer. You will really get the vitamins and minerals this way.

shootermcgavin7
09-09-2004, 06:22 AM
Good luck with that. I'm a week into the same diet minus the meat. It's a pain in the butt to get the veggies and fruits and to keep them from going bad. I go to the store every 2 or 3 days.

I also suggest getting/using a juicer. You will really get the vitamins and minerals this way.


How are you getting any protein from a diet that forbids beans, etc, if you aren't eating any meat?

Shadowless
09-09-2004, 10:33 AM
You don't honestly believe that the only sourse of protein is meat do you?

shootermcgavin7
09-09-2004, 10:50 AM
You don't honestly believe that the only sourse of protein is meat do you?


Not at all. Beans is another good one that comes to mind. I was just remarking that you'll likely have a hell of a time eating enough protein following a diet that forbids beans, and without eating meat.

Manveet
09-09-2004, 10:52 AM
Not at all. Beans is another good one that comes to mind. I was just remarking that you'll likely have a hell of a time eating enough protein following a diet that forbids beans, and without eating meat.

I agree. I can't think of any root vegetables, or fruits that are high in protein. Usually you would want to consume some grain and legume products.

Shadowless
09-09-2004, 11:06 AM
Not at all. Beans is another good one that comes to mind. I was just remarking that you'll likely have a hell of a time eating enough protein following a diet that forbids beans, and without eating meat.


Well from what I know, there's nothing wrong with eating beans, beans are actually healthy for you from what I read.

shootermcgavin7
09-09-2004, 11:45 AM
Well from what I know, there's nothing wrong with eating beans, beans are actually healthy for you from what I read.


Ah, but the Paleo diet forbids them....

raniali
09-09-2004, 11:54 AM
the real question is: just how much protein do we REALLY need (not what we have been led to believe we need)?

http://ag.arizona.edu/NSC/new/sn/03Protein%20Needs.pdf (using my wt of 166lbs, i would need less than 100g/day)

http://www.diet-i.com/protein-intake-in-daily-diet.htm (basically an athlete needs 05.-0.6g/LB, so i would still require less than a 100g each day)


a nicely referenced article --
http://www.mercola.com/2002/aug/21/protein.htm
"Although strength athletes can increase muscle growth with supplemental protein, this effect seems to attain a plateau at protein intakes (1.4 g/kg) far below intakes typical of experienced bodybuilders. " (still, this puts me at about 100g/day)

having said all that, i do realize that many people believe that excess protein is beneficial or necessary (myself included). apparently all the science studies out there say otherwise (if you are a natty).

i found this thread timely, because i am experimenting with a much lower protein approach after a heated nutrition discussion the other day. i can not agree to go vegetarian again, so i will still include meat sources, but less frequently and in smaller portions. anywho - i am not saying any of this is right or wrong, just something to think about and make your own decisions.

Shadowless
09-09-2004, 01:09 PM
Ah, but the Paleo diet forbids them....


Well I'm not sure, I don't really follow the Paleo diet to the tee. But in my case I never liked beans so I wouldn't really know much more. I will eat them though if they are there but won't go out of my way.

And I like the fact about protein and how much we really need and are led to believe we need. Very true and makes you wonder.

Aspect
09-10-2004, 02:59 AM
I'd guess that a vegetarian Paleo diet would rely on nuts and seeds for most of the protein, though you'd also get a decent amount from the massive quantities of fruit and vegetables you'd need to eat (protein may only appear in small amounts in most fruit and veg., but eat enough and it adds up).

raniali also makes a good point; I think that most trainees overestimate their protein requirements. The scientific evidence points to relatively modest protein intakes being perfectly adequate, but the massive marketing power of supplement companies (and the bodybuilding press's pandering to these sources of revenue) leaves most of us convinced we need far more protein than is actually the case.

raniali
09-10-2004, 11:45 AM
it's not just the point that we may be consuming too much protein, but causing more harm than good. what's the hardest thing for your body to digest and metabolize: protein. if we eat far too much, we add undo stress on our digestive system. maybe our bodies could be more efficient in digestion, absorption, repair, immunity, etc. if we ate at optimal nutrient levels - one being much LESS protein than bb'ers usually consume. that's what i am experimenting with. obviously there are a lot of other variables to consider, but i am interested at the moment in protein consumption.

just food for thought.

shootermcgavin7
09-11-2004, 10:55 PM
raniali, I agree that people (including myself) perhaps put an overemphasis on protein consumption. However, with a "vegetarian Paleo" diet one would likely struggle even to meet the FDA's (too low, IMO) recommended daily value of protein.

Shadowless
09-12-2004, 09:25 AM
Not really, you would be surprised how many nuts and seeds have high protein counts. And if you are eating fruits, veggies they too contain protein as well.

shootermcgavin7
09-12-2004, 03:09 PM
Not really, you would be surprised how many nuts and seeds have high protein counts. And if you are eating fruits, veggies they too contain protein as well.



I agree. However, I think I would be incredibly sick trying to consume 200 g of protein from nuts, seeds, and fruits.

Shadowless
09-12-2004, 04:21 PM
HAHHAHAH

Yeah well perhaps since you are bigger. I only weigh 120. You get more protein from veggies then fruits. My new crave is sunflower seeds. They taste great and provide tons of protein. I think I get 1/4th my needed supply from them alone.

Spartan936
09-12-2004, 08:45 PM
Update: I've been doing a strict Paleo diet for a little over a week. I've lost about two pounds (fat I assume, I hope), and my squat, bench, and deadlifts have gone up about 15 pounds each. I feel quite a bit better as well (asthma not as frequent). I'll keep with it. :nod:

Spartan936
09-12-2004, 08:50 PM
HAHHAHAH

Yeah well perhaps since you are bigger. I only weigh 120. You get more protein from veggies then fruits. My new crave is sunflower seeds. They taste great and provide tons of protein. I think I get 1/4th my needed supply from them alone.

I'm sure you can get plenty of protein, but the only reason I see for not eating meat would be an ethical / religious one. Animal flesh is your friend, lol. To clear up some misconceptions, a paleolithic diet is NOT a vegetarian diet. A paleolithic diet consists entirely of meat, vegetables, fruits, and certain oils. It does not allow any starches or grains. :D

Shadowless
09-12-2004, 09:29 PM
I also changed my diet, you can see for the most part what I eat in the "Jucing for better or worse thread"

I try to cut out meets though. I eat mostly vegies, and fruits. I also pretty much only shop at the natural food store. I eat natural and organic snacks and cereals, and I stick to soy milk as well. I also take wheatgrass supplaments (powder) about 2 times a day and take one capsule of kelp a day during mid day meal. I do feel alot better then before always being tired and weak.

thetopdog
09-12-2004, 10:45 PM
I also changed my diet, you can see for the most part what I eat in the "Jucing for better or worse thread"

I try to cut out meets though. I eat mostly vegies, and fruits. I also pretty much only shop at the natural food store. I eat natural and organic snacks and cereals, and I stick to soy milk as well. I also take wheatgrass supplaments (powder) about 2 times a day and take one capsule of kelp a day during mid day meal. I do feel alot better then before always being tired and weak.

You might want to limit the soy milk intake due to a number of factors. Maybe somebody else can elaborate or provide a link for you

Shadowless
09-13-2004, 10:15 AM
Yeah someone please lol I didn't know Soy Milk was bad. But would only using a little for cereal be bad?

raniali
09-13-2004, 10:20 AM
You might want to limit the soy milk intake due to a number of factors. Maybe somebody else can elaborate or provide a link for you


there have been numerous threads on the "harms" of soy products, none of which have been substantiated. what are these "number of factors" you are considering?

SalahG
09-13-2004, 10:23 AM
there have been numerous threads on the "harms" of soy products, none of which have been substantiated. what are these "number of factors" you are considering?
I think he's talking about if the soy milk will raise estrogen level's in men. I've seen studie's go both way's on that subject.

galileo
09-13-2004, 11:45 AM
I'd also limit my controllable intake of Omega-6's.