There is no denying that the weight loss and diet industry in the Western world is huge. For many people, inspiration comes from our very early ancestors, who are believed to have eaten a simple, healthy diet.
Because ancient people did not have access to the amount of processed and therefore unhealthy food that we do, people tend to assume that they were healthier than we are today. Furthermore, many hunter-gatherers lived extremely active lifestyles, often out hunting and foraging for food for long hours, meaning they burned a considerable amount of calories.
So how have people adapted ancient eating habits to modern diets, and how do these modern diets shape up when compared to the eating habits of our ancestors?
1. Paleo: The Ancient Stone Age Diet?
The most obvious place to begin, and perhaps the diet that comes to most people’s mind when the words ‘ ancient diet ’ is mentioned, is the paleo diet. Although this diet has been around for centuries, it has recently gained traction thanks to the internet and social media, where it is talked about a lot.
People who subscribe to the logic behind paleo dieting think that the way humans in the hunter-gatherer period ate is the ultimate form of diet. Therefore, people who eat a paleo diet cut out all processed foods.
People who follow the paleo diet argue that we share the same bodies as our ancestors, but we are now packing it full of artificial and processed food – something our ancestors did not have access to, and therefore, our body is not built for.
They believe that humans have actually evolved to eat how people did in the Paleolithic period about 2.6 million years ago. This was just at the beginning of the agricultural revolution when farm animals began to be used for meat and dairy. They go on to argue that our body has not had enough time to adapt to this different, agricultural way of eating and that instead, we should be eating like our Paleolithic ancestors.
In his book The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat , Loren Cordain stated that this Stone Age diet “is the only diet that ideally fits our genetic makeup.”