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Ideally one should eat a wide variety of proteins from as many animal sources as possible. One need not and should not avoid fatty cuts of meat, particularly if consuming pastured sources. An often overlooked piece of the paleo diet in popular culture is an over-reliance on standard cuts of meat, at the expense of organ meats, bone broth and other collagen sources. For more information on the historical and practical aspects of consuming a more balanced protein intake, check out the Weston A. Price Foundation. If weight-loss is a goal, protein makes you feel satisfied between meals.

Even if eating only foods available to hunter–gatherers in the Paleolithic made sense, it would be impossible. As Christina Warinner of the University of Zurich emphasizes in her 2012 TED talk, just about every single species commonly consumed today—whether a fruit, vegetable or animal—is drastically different from its Paleolithic predecessor. In most cases, we have transformed the species we eat through artificial selection: we have bred cows, chickens and goats to provide as much meat, milk and eggs as possible and have sown seeds only from plants with the most desirable traits—with the biggest fruits, plumpest kernels, sweetest flesh and fewest natural toxins. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale are all different cultivars of a single species, Brassica oleracea; generation by generation, we reshaped this one plant's leaves, stems and flowers into wildly different arrangements, the same way we bred Welsh corgis, pugs, dachshunds, Saint Bernards and greyhounds out of a single wolf species. Corn was once a straggly grass known as teosinte and tomatoes were once much smaller berries. And the wild ancestors of bananas were rife with seeds. 

We’re in a position to understand more of the benefits of the Paleo diet now that we have a basic understanding of which food sources are emphasized. One major benefit of the Paleo diet is an increased consumption of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant phytochemicals. Whole grains are not a good substitute for grass-produced or free-ranging meats, fruits, and veggies, as they contain no vitamin C, vitamin A, or vitamin B12. Many of the minerals and some of the B vitamins whole grains do contain are not absorbed efficiently by the body. The Paleo diet cuts out whole grains and replaces them with unprocessed, fresh foods.


The Paleo diet, while sometimes referred to as “the caveman diet“, is not a historical reenactment of our paleolithic ancestors from the Stone Age.  It’s not an all-meat or meat-heavy diet as it is sometimes portrayed, and in fact, the Paleo diet puts great emphasis on eating tons of veggies (8+ servings per day, see The Importance of Vegetables and The Link Between Meat and Cancer?).  The Paleo diet is not zero-carb, low-carb or ketogenic diet (see How Many Carbs Should You Eat? and Adverse Reactions to Ketogenic Diets).  Healthy sources of Paleo carbohydrates include fruit (apples, bananas, melons, berries, citrus, plantains… see Why Fruit is a Good Source of Carbohydrates) and root vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash, parsnips, yucca…).
Chris Masterjohn has Cholesterol: Your Life Depends on It!, another web site pointing out that the war on cholesterol and the push to put people on statins is misguided. The site argues it is actually polyunsaturated fats, not saturated fats or cholesterol, that contribute to heart disease, cancer, liver damage, and aging. He also has a popular blog.
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