What is Paleo?
by Ian Craig
in Blogs

One of my favourite nutrition books is The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, top researcher in evolutionary medicine. The premise of this original book on the Paleo diet was that we should be eating more like our ancient ancestors who lived 10,000 to 20,000 year ago in the pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer era. What these hunter-gatherers ate was just that: what they could effectively kill and gather from nearby areas. It included lean meat, poultry, seafood (if they lived near water), fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts and seeds. Very significantly for our modern learning, was that they didn’t consume grains, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), dairy, refined sugars, processed foods, or many high-glycemic fruit and vegetables. 

I think, so far so good. To an extent, we should have left things there and accepted Cordain’s easy to understand principles of what is Paleo. But almost a decade has passed and an awful lot of money has been earned from the term ‘Paleo’. 1001 Paleo products have been developed in the name of this evolutionary period in time – bars, shakes, cereals, nut butters, coconut creams, milks and butters, dried fruit; the list goes on. 

My problem with these commercialised products that are supposed to represent a by-gone era, is that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t picture a caveman pulling open the wrapper of a protein bar for his mid-morning snack, nor can I imagine his wife spreading almond butter on flax crackers to share with the cave-kids. 

In the excitement to make a few bucks, we’ve forgotten that inclusion on Cordain’s list; processed foods. Sure, protein bars that use dried fruit, nuts and egg protein powder, but no added rubbish, are almost always better than the offerings from the muscle brands, but don’t call them Paleo. Just call them healthy protein bars, for goodness sake! 

This is an extract of a larger article that was published in the Total Sports Performance magazine.

Click here to view the whole article.