I had to stop and make sure my readers — if they haven’t already — see what I’m going to link to, as it’s critically important.
First, let me give you an intro from my perspective. I have some fears that the "paleo" phenomena –seemingly growing in popularity — risks becoming a victim of its own success. I’m seeing more and more of things I personally find distasteful, such as:
- Romanticizing the primitive. I wouldn’t trade my modern comforts for a primitive existence for anything. There’s just no substitute for a warm, soft bed, a dry place to live sheltered from the elements, and modern transportation. I know nobody else would either, but it’s often hard to tell from some things I’m seeing out there.
- Eschewing the modern simply because it’s modern and/or not explicitly based on some aspect of our evolution. The barefooting movement is an example. I go barefoot because I love it when conditions are suitable and other times I use the Vibrams. But I thank god for shoes. They’re absolutely necessary and, sure, while probably not as orthopedically optimal as barefooting, assess the risk against smashing a toe, driving a stick through your foot, ripping off nails and other serious trauma that shoes deliver some protection for.
- Inflexibility & dogma. Look, the myth of "authority" is what got us into this modern health disaster and being authoritative in a dogmatic fashion is going to eventually bring unintended and unforeseen consequences. Lighten up.
Now, before I steal too much of Kurt’s thunder, go read his post.
Let’s say involuntary periods of hunger were something that we are so adapted to that we metabolically depend on them to avoid some diseases. Maybe we are less likely to get cancer if these periods happen to us with some regularity not found in a modern food-abundant environment. Because intermittent fasting might enhance our modern health, do we then say this was a "good" part of paleolithic life, even though the experience might have been uncomfortable and terrifying for paleo man or may have killed weaker members of his kin when it happened?
Yea, I have certainly had good success with IF and have even found it uplifting, at times. But I also know I can end it at any time. It makes a critical difference. Plenty more great insights where that came from.
In the end, I think it’s best to keep it simple. It’s about tweaking as much as you can from your own genetic makeup by synthesizing an environment for yourself that might, just maybe, fool your genes into keeping you around far longer than they give a damn about doing so (reproduction). While it’s [educated] guesswork, we have reason to believe we’re on the right track simply because of the body composition and health improvements of so many we’ve witnessed.
- Eat real food (meat, fowl, fish, natural fats from animals, coconuts & olives; veggies, fruits, & nuts) that you shop for and prepare yourself most of the time. Add a little dairy if you like it and can tolerate it. Find the range of balance that works best for you in terms of fat, protein & carbohydrate ratios. I say ‘range’ because I think you ought to mix things up; seasonally, or whatever method works for you. Especially: cut out grains, sugar and vegetable oils. Consider supplementing with omega-3 fats.
- Allow yourself to go hungry every day, at least a little (first meal of the day is a good time — don’t eat until you’re truly hungry). Every once in a while, go hungry for a whole day.
- Get plenty of sunlight; and, probably supplement vitamin D.
- Run very fast sometimes, play hard when you can, and push and lift heavy things around when you have the urge. Do it briefly and intensely; not too often and not too long. Once to twice per week for 20-30 minutes each is plenty. But always push yourself for that brief time.
- Get lots of sleep.
Now, the above is really nothing like Paleoman lived since his existence was, by definition, genuine. We’re just crudely modeling, so perhaps a little less romanticization is in order; and especially, dogma. Seriously, I read some comments on various blogs and forums, and it makes me think how utterly ridiculous it would be for the Inuit to try and tell the Kitavans how to eat & live, and vice versa — assuming they would even if they could, of course, which is doubtful.