January 5, 2013

The real 'paleodiet' was rich in carbs

Beets and acorns is the real paleofood... or at least part of it.

From Science Nordic (h/t Pileta):

Stone Age hunters liked their carbs

Analyses of Stone Age settlements reveal that the hunters were healthy and would gladly eat anything they could get their hands on, including carbohydrates – contrary to the modern definition of the Paleolithic, or Stone Age diet.

The Stone Age hunter’s food contained large amounts of protein from fish, lean mean, herbs and coarse vegetables and has formed the basis of one of today’s hottest health trends: the paleo diet.

The modern version of the Stone Age diet excludes foods rich in carbohydrates. This exclusion of carbs is based on the idea that Stone Age hunters didn’t have access to bread, rice or pasta.

But is it true that Stone Age hunters and gatherers didn’t eat any carbohydrates at all?

Sabine Karg, an external lecturer at Copenhagen University’s Saxo Institute, specialises in archaeobotany. She says that Stone Age hunters, unlike many followers of the modern Stone Age diet, joyfully munched away at carbs when the opportunity presented itself.

“Carbohydrates have been part of their diet. In flooded settlements from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, traces of roots and seeds from various aquatic plants and wild grasses have been found.”

... continue reading at Science Nordic

Acorn "bread" was widely used in Atlantic Europe until recently because cereals were not always reliable enough in this humid climate. Beets soon became a common agricultural produce.


  1. Curtis W. Marean has long support the idea that hunter groups also gathered. See

    "Hunter–Gatherer Foraging Strategies in Tropical Grasslands: Model Building and Testing in the East African Middle and Later Stone Age"

    ARTICLE NO. AA970309


    Nothing new here, really.

    I've vaguely noticed the Paleolithic Diet thing. Eyeroll.

    I've also run across papers showing that gathered seeds formed part of pre Neolithic diets.

    1. You can't believe how many people, notably in their 50s and such, seem to believe that our Paleolithic ancestors ate almost only meat. On the other hand it is of course "nothing new".

  2. I've spent a lot of time on my blog discussing game following behavior, but perhaps with the exception of the Inuit, it has certainly never been the case that people ate only meat. Even the Inuit probably ate berries and fish, when available.

    Probably, the "Paleolithic Diet" looked a lot more like the "Julia Child Diet" than the meat only diet.

  3. Marnie, you may find this article of interest:

    "Chad Weller, a Miami-based ultra athlete and running coach, has kept to a vegan diet for 18 of his 35 years on earth. He's been an endurance runner for 15 of those, and has competed in more than one hundred races to date, 10 of which were 100-milers"

    "The (Thailand) North Face 100K will take runners through fruit plantations, past Thai temples, and into wild and somewhat unpredictable territory. But it isn't the possibility of poisonous snake bites or even running out of hummus wraps on the trail that concerns Weller the most --- it's the heat."

    "Fruits and vegetables come from the earth, so you can think and feel lighter. And meat's something heavy, and there are so many things that have to happen for you to get the meat to your table. Vegetables, you just pick them out of the garden, and you either grill them or eat them raw."

    1. Sure. I don't recall the details but I did watch a documentary on TV on these matters and the experiments were demolishing: high protein diets are not good for high performance at all (in the short term at least). Also eating small portions (instead of fewer big meals) helps to keep you alert and efficient through the workday (as you don't spend much energy in digestion, which brings you to nap-state).


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