In the past people based their nutrition on beliefs, unproven assumptions and short-term thinking. Often only focused on weight loss, not on long-term health and longevity. Fortunately, a far better, scientific way of tackling the challenge has emerged.
The Evolutionary Approach
Rather than a strict diet, the evolutionary approach is a way of looking at the whole challenge of optimum nutrition, rooted in the discovery that in prehistoric times and even today in the last existing hunter/gatherer communities most of the diseases of civilization that plague us today virtually do not exist at all.
Evolution has optimized our body and all of its processes throughout more than 2.5 million years. Modern agriculture and its products like sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy are less than 10.000 years old, sometimes even only hundreds of years or in the case of the wheat that we consume today just over 30 years. Our body and its genetic setup have had no time (in evolutionary terms) to adapt to the new and radically different foods available now. In addition to the genetic incompatibility, most of our industrialized food is outright poisonous and detrimental to our health in the mid and long term.
It is about feeding the body what it was designed for by evolution and omitting everything that it is not suited to consume. And it's about easy to prepare, incredibly delicious food that easily rivals and often exceeds what we used to eat before. It offers the opportunity to directly experience the tremendous positive potential our approach can have on all of our lives today and even more so in the future.
Cookbooks - Recipes (Reading List)
Numerous Proven Health Benefits
By applying the latest scientific knowledge in an evolutionary diet, we can dramatically improve our health, reverse chronic diseases and substantially lower the probability to get caught by the diseases of civilization in the first place. So we just don't need a cure where any exists today.
This is a brief overview of chronic diseases known to be directly connected to nutrition that can be avoided, reversed or at least eased substantially by following an evolutionary lifestyle.
Primal Body, Primal Mind (Reading List)
... and many more
Effortless Weight Loss
Most amazingly eating evolutionary results in effortless weight loss, often up to 1 kg / 2 pounds per week. All without the need to count calories or the feeling of deprivation. Quite the contrary, eating healthy allows us to eat as much as we want.
Evolution has given us hunger and appetite for a particular reason and not primary to cause pain or pleasure. Appetite and taste control what food we want to eat and reward us for choosing the right food with the nutrients the body requires. Hunger controls how much of the food we consume. Unfortunately, our modern diet with its abundance of unhealthy and nutrient deprived food complete misleads the basic instincts that tell us what is good for our body and renders them dysfunctional. Thus leading us to make choices far from optimal for our health.
However, after some time on the evolutionary diet, usually, 2-4 weeks, after the body has cleansed itself, and we are relieved from our sugar and wheat addiction, our natural feelings for hunger and appetite return and choosing the right type and amount of food becomes natural and effortless for us again.
And since at the same time our body has shifted its primary energy source from carbohydrates to fat, it can easily access its fat deposits and directly process them for energy which facilitates fat loss dramatically.
It is ok when switching, to just drop the unwanted food sources and change to healthy food, not considering calories. We will lose weight anyhow. However, after some time, if we want to become even leaner, we have to watch our consumption of bacon, nuts, and honey. In general, we try to be reasonable in regards to what we consume, since even on an evolutionary diet we can overeat on dense energy food.
Using Healthy Fats as the Main Energy Source
When life evolved on earth, evolution developed three different means by which cells can be provided with energy.
At first, all cells could only burn carbohydrates for fuel. It is the crudest form of operation, does not require oxygen, is not very elegant but gets the job done.
On top of this evolved the ability to turn protein into carbohydrates and use those generated carbs as fuel. Quite handy when no carbs were available to enable our body to break down tissue (aka muscle) to obtain protein to be converted to ensure survival even when no food was available. In our body burning carbs requires insulin to unlock the cells to enable glucose to enter. Both glucose and insulin are very damaging to our body when they exceed certain levels, which unfortunately happens quite often on our modern diet.
The latest evolutionary addition was the ability to burn fat for fuel, this process requires oxygen, and no insulin is needed for fat to enter the cells. This is the most elegant and efficient way of fueling our cells. Processing fat for energy if a much cleaner process than burning carbs. Neither glucose nor insulin is required so their levels can remain low, which is healthy for us. And it allows the body to almost directly using stored fat as fuel. Amazingly all of our cells can operate in this fat burning mode.
Unfortunately with our modern diet providing mostly carbohydrates as an energy source (>65%) and fat only playing a minor role (<20%) our cells have lazily reverted to the crude processing of carbs for energy. Excess carbohydrates or protein are converted into fat and stored in the fat cells. In this mode, since our cells are not attuned to burning fat, if not enough carbs are present, the body instead breaks down tissue to obtain protein to be converted than starting to burn fat which would be a more complex process, since stored fat has to be converted first. Breaking down tissue translates to we primarily loose muscle instead of fat when we diet for weight loss.
By switching to an evolutionary-style diet with fat as the primary fuel source, we re-train our cells to process fat instead of carbs as their primary fuel source. Once our cells regain their capability to process fat, directly we can easily burn our stored fat and operate our bodies on a cleaner energy source and far lower glucose and insulin levels, which is so much healthier for us.
Switching to an evolutionary diet is amazingly easy. There is no need to get everything perfectly balanced right from the beginning. Just start doing it. Grabbing a copy of Practical Paleo or browsing some of the Recipe Blogs is a good start. Optimizing the diet comes naturally after getting used to the basics and is not even needed for weight loss.
To get off the ground quickly and easily, we found a "tabula rasa" approach the most helpful. Completely clean out the kitchen, disposing of anything that is not suited and organic (which in some cases might be most of the kitchen's content). Then, using the Shopping List, we restock at a local organic market or online. Adding fresh organic produce like veggies, eggs, avocados, and some organic meat, poultry or fish we are good to go, and everything that comes out of the kitchen is entirely organic and healthy.
Not Everybody should consume Saturated Fats
Even so, we tried to keep things as simple as possible on this first page; there is one thing that we should be aware of when choosing our diet.
Some diets often put an emphasis on liberally consuming saturated fat by using coconut oil, palm oil, butter, ghee, fatty meat, dark chocolate, etc. which are nowadays deemed safe for consumption.
If we view the population as a statistical whole, switching from an average unhealthy diet to a clean, healthy diet even if it is high in saturated fats lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, if we break down the numbers, this is only true for those of us that don't carry the APOE4 gene.
For carriers of the APOE4 gene consuming saturated fat can substantially raise the risk of Cardio Vascular Disease
Unfortunately, the wider community has not yet realized this important fact and still promotes the consumption of saturated fat to everyone, potentially putting people in harm's way.
However, eating healthy at its core is not about saturated fat but about eating clean and healthy food that our bodies were designed for by evolution. If we carry APOE4, we can easily do a variant low in saturated fat.
As a general rule of thumb, we buy only stuff that someone from ancient times would recognize as food
Things to Eat
Only if saturated fats are tolerated:
Stuff to avoid
For more in-depth info, we have a quick rundown and explanation on the dos and donts of food.