It has been often suggested that quality of food is an important tenet of the paleo diet. But macro-nutrient ratios also comes into play. Is my diet still considered paleo if I eat meat, veggies, and nuts, but at a balanced protein/carb ratio?
asked byDavid_Csonka (6082)
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on February 16, 2010
at 06:17 PM
It's clearly not by definition low carb, but it could be seen to be necessarily low-moderate carb. Limiting yourself to paleo foods (fruit and vegetables, not too much fructose) could be seen to require that, at most, you get moderate carbohydrate.
I think an interesting secondary question is whether you can have high carb paleo, e.g. a diet high in exclusively paleo carbs (perhaps sweet potato or other tubers a la the kitavans). (I'll take healthy protein levels as a given).
I think the kitavans case does show that such a high carb diet can be healthy. Obviously healthy isn't optimal though (as noted by panu). Stephan at Wholehealthsource seems to suggest that there's no reason why such a diet shouldn't be considered perfectly acceptable (i.e. there's no evidence that, on a practical level, the kitavan HC population do any worse than a optimal paleo LC). Personally I think there's deeper scientific (non-population) evidence that LC would be preferable though, e.g. something like the JK 'Optimal Diet', ketosis (or close) bringing 'metabolic magic.'
Another connected question (looking at it from the reverse angle) is whether high (sweet potato) carb would be truly paleo, since even if the carb source is entirely paleo, the amount isn't. Here I think it's entirely plausible to argue that even if no paleo communities would have had access to high carb for a significant part of our evolution, it may be just as good a diet for all that, because our bodies are just as good at processing (the novel) 80% carb as (the modal) 20% carb.
I think a final way of looking at things to bear in mind in judging whether high carb would be acceptable is that protein (and needing animal products) is a given, so carb is really just a replacement for fat. Not least in the sense that it's evolutionary 'purpose' is plausibly to top up our fat reserves which our metabolisms then largely run off. Looking at it that way it seems plausible that a HC diet could be just as good (if our metabolism is running off fat anyway). The counter to that would be if (as panu has neatly argued), getting saturated fat into your body by eating some carb just produces more metabolic downsides and stress than simply eating the fat. This seems plausible, but I suspect that large amounts of other nutrients and phytonutrients (such as in sweet potato) would more or less offset (or even exceed) the intrinsic metabolic downsides of the carb.
on April 24, 2010
at 11:15 PM
I'd say that actual Paleo diets were arguably normal-carb, and that our definitions of what is low-carb has been seriously skewed by neolithic diet-based conventional wisdom.
on April 24, 2010
at 09:42 PM
There seems to be a lot of talk about eating low-carb now. I personaly see no reason to eat any particular macronutrient ratio. If anyone wants to avoid carbs fine, but it wont make them any more or less paleo. Studies of surviving hunter-gatherer groups show a high average consumption of animal products but a large variation between groups. Groups closer to the equator ate more carbs and less animals than those closer to the poles. However fewer hunter-gatherer groups survive close to the equator so the average plant consumption is probably decreased in this average.
Any particular macronutrient ratio would have varied greatly from day to day. For example my very hypothetical hunter-gatherer week (do not take to seriously):
Monday - Poor hunt, only small rabbit with baked tubers and berries the women had gathered to eat.
Tuesday - Find bees while out hunting. Eat honey till feel sick.
Wednesday - Nut tree in season. Everyone eats nothing but nuts all day.
Thursday - Good hunt. Eat organs and fat. Dry some of the meat.
Friday - Bone marrow and meat.
Saturday - Meat and a few plants/berries.
Sunday - Dried meat and baked tubers again. Time to go hunting again.
You could try and work out the average macronutrient ratios for the whole week but I don't think it would be very usefull.
on February 16, 2010
at 10:38 PM
First ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. - If you just want to get rid of allergies for example I don't think it's necessary to go (very) low carb at all. That would probably go for most gut-related health problems.
If you're diabetic or looking for optimal health or even just want to loose weight I think going at least moderately low-carb is a must. (I'm not talking ketogenic.)
Also ask yourself why you want to eat 'higher' carb? I mean, sweet potato doesn't exactly sound all that tasty so it can't be huge cravings :P