FED: What diet makes sense?

We think of civilisations such as the Incans and the Romans as ancient. But humans have only been living in cities and cultivating crops for a tiny fraction of our existence.

For the vast majority of time anatomically modern humans have been on the face of the earth, we were hunter-gatherers, living a nomadic lifestyle and eating what nature provided for us.

When we look at humans who still live this way today, their diets have several things in common.

  1. Their diets all include animal protein
  2. Their diets are seasonal, eating what they can find when it is available
  3. The majority of their calories come from animals, not plants
  4. Food can be scarce at some times, and at other times is in incredible abundance. Humans eat what and when we can, taking advantage of every opportunity for calories
  5. Nothing is wasted.

This is very different to modern Western eating patterns, in which

  1. We often include no animal protein, or animal products at all
  2. We often largely ignore the seasons, with almost all foods available almost all year around. Seasonality and locality are virtually irrelevant
  3. The majority of our calories come from plant products, plant oils and processed plant foods
  4. Food is incredibly abundant all the time. It is difficult to avoid food and food availability
  5. Vast amounts of food are wasted.

THE EXPERTS SEEM CONFUSED!

Medical practitioners talk about a “high quality diet” but what this means seems to vary according to eat “expert”. Some experts seem to push a plant-only diet (which historical humans have never eaten!), while others seem to advocate no change from modern, disease-causing dietary habits at all.

Little of it seems to make a lot of sense!

RETURN TO EVIDENCE, HISTORY AND COMMON-SENSE

This is why I think it makes sense to throw out modern trends and fashionable diets, and instead look at ancient evidence, backed up by millennia of historical human eating patterns.

If we look at the evidence of history, a healthy eating pattern clearly:

  1. Includes a majority of calories from unprocessed animal sources, ideally local. This includes whole animal products such as offal, high fat cuts, skin and bone products (marrow). Choose cheaper and fattier, rather than lean and expensive, cuts of meat.
  2. Include seasonal greens, fruits, nuts and herbs. Grow a garden if you can. Eat edible peels / skins and stalks.
  3. Avoid all processed plant oils. Instead cook with hard animal fats, locally sourced if possible.
  4. Make fasting a part of your lifestyle, mimicking feast / famine cycles of natural living.
  5. Waste nothing. Compost leftovers or, if possible, keep chickens to dispose of food that cannot be consumed. Then eat old / spent chickens once their laying cycle is ended.

Over coming posts, I’ll talk more about great meal options that are healthy and affordable, and ways to eat well even when you’re unavoidably eating out with friends at junkfood chains.

Modern evidence: The “Alone” show

What would YOU eat if you were stuck out in the wild on your own, to live as long as you could, with nothing but ten survival items (and no gun)?

This is the premise of History Channel’s “Alone” show. It is riveting viewing. Ten individuals are send to different challenging wilderness locations to survive as well as they can, for as long as they can, with virtually nothing apart from a tent, sleeping bag, a knife, and a fire starter. They film their own footage, and they have to find whatever food they can to survive.

Last man – or woman – standing will win.

The show, which has run for a few seasons now, is a real eye-opener. Straight away you realise how calorie-rich our modern society is, and how different things much have been not so long ago in our history.

As you can imagine, some individuals don’t last very long at all, but some do – and their experiences are everything from heartbreaking to glorious.

Regardless of how long these people survive in the wild, their dietary experiences are all the same, they all live on the same things.

They fish, hunt, trap, gather greens, some insects, find a few berries. Mostly fishing.

Overnight they all become hunter-gatherers. And the diet they follow is the keto diet. Meat and plants, fish and plants, insects and plants. With the vast majority of their calories coming from animals.

When we watch the “Alone” show, we’re looking at our own history, and what we too would have eaten, not so long ago. The show teaches a new respect for the land, and illustrates brutally how far removed we have become from nature in our modern society.

I strongly suggest watching the show to catch a glimpse at what life might have been like – minus the cameras and the modern equipment, of course. But it does give a glimpse into how we may have eaten.

It also provides more strong evidence for what the natural human diet, outside of modern society, may be.

If you can’t access the show, Bear Grylls did similar survival shows which are available on YouTube. Look for them, and you’ll see the same dietary patterns emerging.

To my mind, the evidence is clear.

Looking to our ancestors for lifestyle evidence

Asking the big question: What is the natural human diet?

There is a lot of debate about what the correct / natural human diet is. This isn’t surprising, because humans live all across the world in everything from ice and snow (the Inuit) through the Africa and Australian deserts. We’re very adaptable, and clearly very flexible with our diet.

Until very recently with the development of supplements that enabled the arrival of the modern vegan diet in 1944 (which is not even a blip on the scale of human history), no human society on earth has evolved or subsisted on a completely animal-free diet. All societies and cultures consume and use animal products to greater or lesser extents, and the vast majority consume animals as a significant part of their diet.

Furthermore, as more than 90% of human history predates agriculture and the advent of farming, humans developed as hunter-gatherers, and I believe it is safe to say our bodies and brains naturally evolved and are suited to this lifestyle.

Farming is very recent to humanity. Agriculture is believed to have been developed about 10000 years ago in the area that is now Israel and Syria. China is believed to have developed rice cultivation approximately 6000 years ago. By comparison, anatomically modern humans have been hunter-gatherers for at least 200,000 years. Some societies around the world never developed agriculture and are still hunter-gatherers.

WHAT DO HUNTER-GATHERERS EAT?

Hunter-gatherers eat by consuming wild animals and plants, and do not generally have a fixed meal routine (i.e. three meals a day, eating a standard number of calories every day).

Their nutrition is very seasonal, their food is local, and there are often significant differences between the periods of feast (particularly in spring and summer) and famine (in autumn and winter).

Contrary to common beliefs, archaeological and modern evidence suggests human hunter-gatherers were and are, for the most part, well nourished and well fed, rather than starving.

Typical foods for human hunter-gatherers include large game animals, seafood, nuts, eggs, fruits and insects.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM ALL THIS?

We can learn the following from all this:

  • Physiologically speaking, human bodies are primarily “designed” for hunting and gathering, as for more than 90% of our history this is exactly what we were doing.
  • All human societies included animal products in their diet. Typical animal foods included big game, seafood, eggs and insects.
  • Some human societies, such as the Inuit, consume virtually no plant-based foods yet remain completely healthy, which indicates that plant-based foods do not have to be the core of the human diet.
  • Hunting and gathering included irregular eating, periods of fasting (no eating) and no set meal schedule.
  • Food was seasonal, local and unprocessed. Fruits in particular would have been available only seasonally.
  • The foods of farming (bread, cereal crops, grains, processed sugars and refined oils) came much later on and much more recently.
  • All hunter-gatherer societies included significant movement in their lfestyles, but none needed to go to a gym to keep fit and well!

Introduction

Fit, Fed and Fasted is a complete lifestyle transformation. It is a completely new, holistic approach to diet and well-being, based on science, modern data and ancient knowledge.

It is an alternative to the common and ineffective “eat less, move more” advice routinely offered by physicians. If the standard advice offered by doctors actually worked, being fat would rare. People would simply follow their doctor’s advice and their weight problems would be solved.

Fit, Fed and Fasted is different. We’re putting together a powerful mix of changes that actually work.

Fit, Fed and Fasted is a three-pronged approach to lifestyle change:

  1. FIT We build fitness, strength and well-being through sensible, enjoyable, regular movement and exercise which will become habitual for you.
  2. FED We work to reduce poor quality foods in the diet and eliminate bad habits one by one, while increasing the percentage of good quality, affordable foods in your diet that are wholesome and nutritious.
  3. FASTED We support the above two changes with the weight loss powerhouse that is intermittent fasting.

Here at this site we’ll give you all the information you need to lose your excess weight, achieve a healthy weight, and become fit and well.

HOW DO I KNOW THIS WORKS?

A personal journey – real time, right now!

You’ll know this works because I’ll be doing the program right along with you! I’m a middle-aged mum dealing with middle-aged spread, and I’ll be using this program to lose the 30 kgs / 66 pounds that I need to lose to reach my goal weight over the coming months.

I’m so convinced that this program works, that I’ll track my changes right here on the blog, so you can see this is working. That’s your proof! I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. Then, when I’m done, I’ll prove to you that this program can not only help you lose large amounts of weight, but keep that weight off!

HOW DO I KNOW IT WORKS IF I’M STILL OVERWEIGHT?

I’ve been doing this program for two weeks now, and already I’ve lost 7 kilograms / 15 pounds.

But that’s not how I know it works. I know it works because I understand science, and the evidence and data is all on my side.

Subscribe, and over the next few months I’ll explain the evidence behind the Fit, Fed and Fasted approach, and why I am certain it will help you just the same as it is helping me right now.