The Evo Lab approach to Nutrition follows the Paleolithic diet, seeking to reduce or eliminate evolutionarily novel food sources that have negative impact on our health.
In a nutshell, Paleo nutrition consists of organic meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, in that general order. The diet avoids all grains, refined sugars, legumes, and also seeks to rectify the skewed ratios of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids in the modern diet.
The shift from a hunter gatherer (HG) based diet to an agrarian, grain-based diet has been disastrous for our collective health. The so-called “Diseases of Civilization” such as heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc, are not present to any significant degree in extant HG societies. The reason modern diets are so deleterious to our health can be summed up in four key points:
- Consistently High Levels of Carbohydrates – A diet in which the majority of calories are derived from carbohydrates will lead to a persistently high level of insulin in the blood. Combine this with a generally sedentary lifestyle and you are left with an environment where your liver and muscles are saturated with glycogen (the stored form of glucose) and become insulin-resistant, leading all remaining glucose to be stored as fat. Insulin itself can also be inflammatory to the system in high amounts.
- Anti-Predation Defenses in Grains and Legumes – Grains and legumes contain anti predation defenses called lectins that the human body has difficulty digesting. Gluten is also present in certain grains and can cause significant problems for people who consume them, even without a diagnosis of Celiac disease. Gluten and lectins can lead to intestinal permeability issues, sustained systemic inflammation, and a plethora of autoimmune conditions.
- Poor Quality or Dangerous Fats – Paleo differs from the established USDA health and nutrition guidelines in not demonizing fat or cholesterol. However, certain fats should be avoided at all costs. Trans Fats, partially and fully hydrogenated oils should be avoided at all costs. In addition, the recommended ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) should be at 1:1 or 1:2 at the most. The average modern diet yields a staggering 1:20 ratio, leading to a high level of system inflammation.
- Overall Hypercaloric Intake – In general, the rampant consumption of pre-packaged calorie-dense foods (or pseudo-foods) combined with a general lack of activity has led to widespread overeating.
But what about Calories In, Calories Out?
The laws of thermodynamics tell us this must be true. The body cannot spontaneously generate energy that it isn’t supplied, and by decreasing “energy in” or increasing “energy out” we should be able to affect a change in body composition. The issue is that the human body is not a simple system. Our metabolism can adjust for a variety of reasons, becoming more or less energy efficient as the situation warrants. That being said, one of the reasons the Paleo diet works so effectively is that cutting out extremely calorie-dense bread products and refined sugars will immediately cause a reduction in overall calories. Eating a healthy, organic, natural diet is generally lower calorie, and fats and proteins have a more positive effect on satiety than carbohydrates do. Eating a fat and protein rich diet will lead you to feel more full and therefore eat less.
For more info, please visit Robb Wolf’s excellent FAQ.