Diets 101 – Paleo & Ferris

The Paleolithic Diet

Also known as the caveman diet, the paleo diet suggests that we eat things that our ancestors would have eaten thousands of years ago. The idea behind this lifestyle is that our genes have not changed much since the days of our Palaeolithic relatives, who would hunt and gather foods that were naturally available to them.  Because of this, our bodies are not used to eating products from agriculture and farming, which started a few thousand years ago.

When one compares the physiques of cavemen to modern men, there are clear differences that can be noted.  Our ancestors were lean and muscular, not only because they had to forage and hunt for food, but their living conditions required them to travel on foot, build their shelter and run away from predators.  Their life expectancy was shorter, but if they had a brick house to live in and no lions to eat them, then their lives could have been lengthened dramatically.  In contrast, the modern man is overweight, overworked, stressed, depressed, and suffering from a variety of lifestyle-related diseases.

Is agriculture to blame?  It possibly could be.  You can’t be a nomadic hunter when you have a few acres of crop to tend to.  People settled down, built towns and cities and down-graded to move less and eat more.  Now we have cereal boxes that display a food pyramid that recommends eating 6-11 servings of beans, lentils, breads and cereals a day.

So what did cave men eat?  Grass-fed, organic meat, poultry, fish and seafood (including organs), as well as heaps of seasonal and green leafy vegetables, eggs, fats like oils, nuts, and seeds, and fruit is optional.   Foodstuffs excluded from the paleo diet include legumes, grains, peanuts, corn, vegetable oils, and processed foods like white bread, pasta, and cereal.  Sugary products are also off the list, like soft drink, juices, lollies, cake and biscuits, as well as dairy products.

In relation to lifestyle, it is recommended to eat only when you’re hungry, reduce external stresses, get plenty of sleep, wake up with the sun, and have short, intense exercise sessions a few times a week.

The Ferris Diet aka Slow Carb Diet

Tim Ferriss is an author that underwent 10 years of experimentation and scientific consultation to find out what is the minimum affect required for the largest effect, then put his findings into a book called The 4-Hour Body.  This book covers a lot of things – losing weight, building muscle, sleeping better, running faster, living longer and reversing injuries – as well as the Ferriss diet, or slow carb diet.

The slow carb diet prescribes four meals a day, with four hours in between each meal and the first meal of the day needs to be eaten within an hour of waking up.  These meals need to be comprised of the same three things – protein, vegetables and low GI legumes.  Foods with a low glycemic index are broken down into glucose slower, which means that blood sugar levels are steadier throughout the day.  High GI white carbohydrates like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta are not allowed, as well as dairy, and fruits need to be limited due to fructose being converted into triglycerides in the liver, which leads to fat storage. Another rule of the slow carb diet is to not drink calories.  Replace milk, juice and soft drinks with unlimited amounts of water, unsweetened tea and coffee.  Red wine is allowed – up to two glasses a day.

Once a week, a whole day is dedicated to eating whatever the heart desires – burgers with chips, cakes and pastries, pizza with extra cheese, chocolate and more!  This will cause a caloric spike, which speeds up metabolism, but there are a few things that you can do to prevent fat gain during this binge day, such as squats before and after each naughty meal and using lemon juice to reduce blood sugar spikes.  All of these strange techniques are explained in Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Body, as well as other activities that promote fat loss like going for walks during winter and finishing your shower with cold water.