This week, Playboy published an article called Screw The Paleo Diet: Here’s To Evolved Eating. The article has caused uproar in the paleo community and has been dubbed “The worst article I’ve ever read on paleo” by the paleo Reddit community.
The article starts out by explaining that the paleo diet often appeals to men because it’s apparently more socially acceptable to boast about ripping meat off a bone than it is to suggest that you count calories. While the article alludes to a valid concern – that it’s less socially acceptable for men to be concerned with health and weight loss than it is for women -, the article quickly turns to slating the paleo diet.
Here are the arguments put forward, along with the Ultimate Paleo Guide responses to them.
The “Cavemen Weren’t Hot” Argument
“I’ve seen skeletons and mummies of ancient men, and not one of them looks as if he could have played on a decent high school basketball team, much less banged Raquel Welch in 1966. Not one Centerfold in this magazine has ever listed under her turn-ons “short, hairy, smelly men who will never own a home.”
The writer might want to bear in mind that not everyone is obsessed with how they look. Many or perhaps even most paleo eaters are motivated by looking after their bodies rather than prepping them for a Playboy photo shoot.
Besides, take a look at the Ultimate Paleo Guide and Paleoso writers. We don’t think they look too bad.
The “Cavemen Didn’t Really Eat That Way” Argument
“Here’s precisely what our ancestors ate, according to science: whatever the fuck they could find.”
“I also know our ancient forefathers didn’t have access to flaxseed oil—which the paleo diet recommends—because not even our regular fathers had access to flaxseed oil.”
We’ve spoken before about how eating paleo isn’t about trying to be a caveman or trying recreate a caveman’s diet. Of course cavemen didn’t have the healthiest lifestyles and, due to scientific and technological advancements, we’re much better equipped to look after our bodies these days.
But paleo followers aren’t concerned with what other people used to eat. They’re concerned with what they eat and how it affects them. People eat paleo because they’ve tried it and felt, looked, and performed better while on it.
It’s irrelevant what cavemen ate and what they did and didn’t have access to. The point is to experiment with natural food to find out what works for your body.
The “Cavemen Died Young” Argument
“Paleo dieters claim that the postagricultural diet—which saves us about 23 hours a day in foraging and hunting, most of which we squander on creating inane diets—causes illnesses of affluence such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease and cancer. But I would argue the reason ancient man didn’t get these diseases was because he died before the age of 50.”
Again, cavemen didn’t have access to all of the technology, medications, and scientific knowledge that we have today. They were exposed to a lot more danger than we are today, so, yes, they probably did die young, but not necessarily because of the way they ate.
The argument that the average lifespan of a caveman was only twenty-five has been misunderstood. An average lifespan of twenty-five years could mean that Caveman #1 lived to be only five and that Caveman #2 lived to be forty-five. The high infant mortality rate skews the numbers, so it’s hard to get an accurate picture of how long cavemen actually lived. For more on this, read this article.
The “We Are Not Cavemen” Argument
“We now have totally different bacteria in our guts, which have developed to digest the huge variety of interesting, nutritious foods we’ve cultivated, such as the modern varieties of corn, bananas and tomatoes that people eat on the paleo diet but our ancestors didn’t have. Progress has, in nearly every case besides Facebook, made our lives longer, easier and more fun.”
While humans have evolved, they haven’t evolved as much as you might think. Humans have been around in some shape or form for hundreds of thousands of years. During the majority of that time, we’ve eaten a paleo-style diet.
It’s only been in the last ten to fifteen thousand years that agriculture has changed the way we eat. Our bodies have not yet fully adapted to be able to deal with grains, legumes, and dairy, so it makes sense that if we want to look after our bodies, we should feed them food that they know how to process.
The quote included here also demonstrates the author’s lack of research, as corn most definitely is not paleo.
The “There Are Other Ways To Lose Weight” Argument
“Paleolithic man was miserable, cold, desperate, sick and stupid. But he wasn’t so stupid that he would have turned down pasta. I get that we’ve gained weight because of processed foods. So eat less. But don’t make a big deal out of it and turn it into a philosophy romanticizing a simpler time.”
Eating paleo isn’t simply about losing weight. People eat paleo for many different reasons, though usually these reasons involve improved health or managing an autoimmune disease. We don’t eat paleo purely to consume fewer calories and to lose weight. We eat paleo because we want to give our bodies exactly what they need to function well.
But for those who are looking to lose weight, the paleo diet is a phenomenal option because it delivers results. You only have to look at a few case studies to see that. Plus, paleo is a very simple diet to follow. It doesn’t involve calorie counting and you don’t have to starve yourself. In fact, you can feel full and enjoy your food. It’s therefore a very appealing way to lose weight.
While the writer is upfront about his lack of expertise on the subject, and while this article does make for a fairly entertaining read, we recommend that you do not rely on Playboy for your nutritional information.