Caveman Diet

For the past 40 years, our government and certain “associations” have engrained into our brains that fat is bad.  Especially saturated fat.  Always interested in nutrition and diet, I believed this and always thought of complex carbohydrates as your main source of energy.  However, this past weekend I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Fat Head.”  I almost shut it off because the first 30 minutes were somewhat slow, but needless to say, I continued watching.  The movie proves that a lower carb, high fat diet is superior to our current fat-phobia diets.

The man in the documentary actually lowered his LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and raised his HDL (“good” cholesterol) on this high saturated fat diet.  The key to this was to keep his carbohydrates under 100g per day.  When I saw this, I was thinking that would make no sense for motocross.  However, if you are not eating carbohydrates, the fat eaten throughout the day becomes your fuel.  Fat is easier to breakdown and has more caloric energy than carbohydrates.

Even more convincing is insulin resistance.  Every time you consume a carbohydrate (made of sugar), your body releases insulin.  In theory, carbo-loading constantly can result in massive spikes in blood sugar and insulin, which ultimately leads to said insulin resistance.  At this point, your pancreas has been run into the ground.  Imagine running your bike with little or no oil; you are going to burn your motor up.

The name caveman diet refers to the fact that our bodies have not adapted to the high amounts of grains we are now consuming.  In Paleolithic times, man consumed fatty animal protein, vegetables and fruits.   The food you consume through the day is provides you with energy, not the carbs eaten yesterday.  In addition to this, saturated fat has been shown in many studies to increase testosterone.  With an increase of this male hormone, subjects felt an increase in strength and energy.

After reading Coach Seiji’s blog about this diet and hearing Greg at Concept2 singing its praises, I have decided to plunge into the primal times!  I am setting up an appointment to get a blood test.  That way I will have a base line for my cholesterol, HDL and LDL levels.  I will keep updates coming weekly or daily if I feel any changes.

Posted on Mar 15 2011, under Nutrition | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Caveman Diet”

  1. Looking forward to your progress !

  2. This diet can really not be good for you’re heart man, i mean you will surely lose weight but you’re bloodcirculation and heart will probably get clogged up? Maybe I’m wrong! 🙂

  3. Mattias,

    that is the whole idea of cutting out the grains. The fat and cholesterol is not the substance clogging your arteries, but it is the “bad” form of LDL produced by the high insulin levels (from the grains). As the bad LDL oxidizes in a small laceration or wound in the artery, it seeps through and that’s when things become clogged. In the documentary, the man actually lowered his cholesterol and LDL levels, while he raised his HDL (good cholesterol).

  4. uh oh. Better go back and amend your Racer’s Diet post 🙂 I’m not completely sold on the Caveman theory but think it definitely has merits.

  5. Tim,

    You are right. I’m giving it a shot and we will see how I feel after 3 months. If it goes well I’ll take the post off, but if it doesn’t then it’s advice not to try it! haha

  6. I have a few issues to bring up with regards to your statements on nutrition. First is that “bad” cholesterol is not caused by insulin but is in fact, the “good” cholesterol from the animal you just eat. Cholesterol is made by the liver. Once heated the LDL from the cow, chicken, fish becomes Saturated and effectively LDL. The only time you’ll have LDL in your system is if you eat it.There is no other way.

    Your recommending Salmon… Not a good idea. Salmon is 50% fat. Of that fat only 30% is the good fat or Omega 3, the rest is the bad kind and there is way to high a percentage of it in salmon, not to mention mercury and other pollutants.

    With regards to the caveman diet, what made the caveman’s diet a “good” one is that he never really got to over eat and when he did eat he had nothing processed in anyway, in fact, rarely was his food even cooked. This resulted in unaltered proteins, (protein is rendered useless to the body when heated) so if you really want to get the protein from your steak, which resides in it, you need to eat it raw.

    Berries. It is a bad idea to eat any kind of berries unless you know for sure they are organic. Blue berries are one of the heaviest sprayed crops you’ll find. Washing non organic fruit really has no effect in removing the toxins as these chemicals leach into the flesh of the fruit and can not be removed… If athletic performance is your goal organic food is your best bet, if living a long disease free life is you goal then eating organic is your only choice.

  7. Hey Michael,

    You are right in the sense that the “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, is not caused by insulin. However, insulin might have a role in determining the amount of LDL we have and whether the LDL is the bigger, “fluffier” type or the smaller, denser type. The smaller LDL’s are the ones that have a higher chance of getting caught in arterial cracks resulting in atherosclerosis. I found this interesting article on insulin and LDL

    As far as LDL being in your system, you are going to have cholesterol in your body whether you eat it or not. Like you said, the hormone cholesterol is produced by the liver. Even if you ate only organic lettuce, the body will still have LDL.

    I am not sure on the exact protein/fat ratios in salmon, but I know there is more than 30% of the “good” fat. Here are the nutritional facts for salmon. You can see that out of 13g of fat, there is only 2g of the “bad” fat, or saturated fat. I agree to a certain extent that there are rising levels of mercury and pollutants in the fish, but eating a fillet once or twice a week won’t hurt.

    Again, I agree with you in that cavemen rarely over ate and I think that is a huge problem here in America: portion control. Again, I am totally with you on the processed food in our modern diets and that it causes many health issues. Heating meat can alter proteins during cooking, however, the body does not just use the whole protein. Even if the protein is altered, the pH of the acid in the stomach will break the protein down into amino acids, which is what we really need. After all, amino acids are the “building blocks of life.”

    As far as the berries being sprayed, I found that no one can agree on what is actually the heaviest sprayed. I’ve read every crop from strawberries to cotton are most often sprayed. Organic is somewhat of a funny thing. Just because a label says it is organic does not mean it was prepared like it was organic. But, I like the idea of organic; the less chemicals in my food the better.

  8. Dear readers,
    I’m sorry to disappoint you but there is no such thing as bad or good cholesterol. Unless you add oxidized cholesterol to the list, that one is bad. LDL, VLDL or HDL are no more than transport mechanisms (lipo-proteins) to move fatty substances through the body. Otherwise your arteries would get pretty much messed up. Fat doesn’t go well together with watery substances, like your blood.
    There is nothing, but nothing wrong with cholesterol. It is only an indication for what else is wrong in your body. Like; if you lack vitamin C, you will suffer from leaky blood vessels. Cholesterol will help you to fix it. If you are stressed out, your adrenals ran out of stress hormones (cortisol). Since that’s a serious situation, the body will activate the mevalonate pathway to produce more cholesterol. Cholesterol is the pre-cursor for many hormones, like cortisol. So it goes up to solve the problem. But the doctor will give you the magic pill (statins) to stop the solution. Result; your health will look better on paper, your real health will go down the drain.
    About eating salmon; it is thousands of times better to eat fish (even with the mercury) than to not eat it, with less mercury. The benefits of the fish will outweigh the risk of all other parameters, by thousands of times. What is bad? eat the fish roasted on a grill and have it burned (like on a bbq) so the meat turns black. That’s about the only time fish is not recommended.
    And please, be informed that saturated fats are not wrong at all, unless the animals producing these fats are loaded with chemicals, pesticides, rHGh and antibiotics. Saturated fats from plants, like palm and cocos, are among the healthiest nutrients on the planet.

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