Posted by: elambend | September 18, 2007

Living like the Caveman you are

A little over a year ago I made what now seems like a small change in my diet that has lead to a pretty significant change to my build. I started trying to emulate the diet of our paleo-lithic ancestors who were hunter gatherers. I had first heard about this from the weblog of economist Art DeVany. Although an economists by profession and an accomplished one at that, DeVany became interested in diet because of his wife and son who were both Type I Diabetics.

The basic premise of the Paleo-diet, or as DeVany calls it, the evolutionary diet, is that our bodies’ system for digesting food and turning what we digest into energy was established over the course of hundreds of thousands of years and is virtually unchanged from our ancestors of 10,000 years ago, before the advent of farming. Therefore, our optimal diet (and exercise pattern) should emulate these ancestors.

In practice, this requires eliminating most all the food-stuffs that resulted from the neo-lithic era, primarily grains. Chemically, it means restricting the amount of glucose (i.e. sugar) you take in. Unfortunately, a modern American diet is awash in sugar.

The primary culprit is bread. As soon as bread hits your stomach it breaks down into sugar at a speed that rivals raw sugar, but it goes beyond just bread.

Here is a great explanation of the Paleolithic diet that I found randomly today.

DeVany combines his understanding of the paleo diet with exercise designed to mimic paleo activity: long periods of rest interrupted by brief, but intense exercise (running from cave bears) and lots of play (chasing cave women). This kind of exercise is known to most people as interval training and really does not take a lot of time during implement. DeVany has said that his workouts last no more than 40 minutes only occur two to three times a week.

This diet and exercise philosophy has served DeVany well as shown here in a picture he took on his 70th birthday.

About a year ago I started to seriously change my diet to match the paleo diet.  I have to admit that I’m a back-slider, every now and then I’ll have a cookie, etc.  However, on the average, day to day, I have maintained a diet that eschews sugar, bread, pasta, juices, potatoes or any other vector of sugar and starch.  There was, at first a quick drop in weight from about 220 to 213, then over the course of a year there as been a slow loss from 213 to a 203-206 range.  The last 5-7 pounds seem to show the most.

In hind-sight it seems easy, but at the beginning it was tough, I missed those Cheerios, and indeed your body becomes addicted to the constant sugar rushes, but once I got into a groove, it became easy.  One day, I just realized, “Hey, I’m one of those guys who eats salads (with steak).”  It’s okay, though because I’m just being a caveman.

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