The Real Paleo Diet

Since the 1970’s there’s been this fad diet that keeps going in and out of fashion. and one can generally assume that fad diets are…. well fads in five years people lose interest again and it will have turned out that we should have been eating more vegetables and fewer chips and less sugar water but we won’t do that because those things are delicious. The Paleo diet is based on the idea that humans evolved eating a specific diet and because we aren’t eating the food we evolved to eat we aren’t healthy. Leaving aside the fact that humans are now vastly more healthy than we were 50,000 years ago because of advances in complicated techonologies like toothpaste and soap there is a certain amount of logic to this, so it’s worth looking at. What diet did humans evolve eating? And would we be healthier if we matched it? The trouble with the whole idea of matching what Paleolithic humans ate is that if they were anything like today’s hunter- gatherer cultures, and we think they were, they ate very different things. A 2000 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed the diets of over 200 different hunter gatherer cultures and showed a huge range. Carbohydrates were between 22 and 40 percent with roughly the same spread for fat, and protein was 19 to 56 percent of their diets. The studies also found that these cultures had a wide variety of calorie sources: The Masai subsist mostly on meat, milk and blood while cultures in New Guinea derive almost all of their nutrition from plants. There are certainly massive differences between what we eat and what hunter gatherers eat, and we would be well suited to include more dietary fiber, less salt and way less sugar and refined carbohydrates but none of that is new information. There was no one diet that fit all Paleolithic peoples, because their goal was to survive and they did that however they could, which they did marvelously and ingeniously. All we can really say for sure about Paleolithic people is that they did whatever they had to to stay alive. But even if we did pick one of those cultures and tried to eat what they ate, we wouldn’t be able to, because what they ate aside from deer and bison isn’t really available to us. Almost all of the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store have been selectively bred for thousands of years to create the most nutritious and useful produce. And the claim that our bodies haven’t kept up with the changes in our diets doesn’t really hold up either. The idea that humans can’t have evolved very much since the Paleolithic era isn’t really true. Studies suggest that we’ve developed a few new adaptations just within the last few thousand years. One of the more famous examples is that all adults used to be lactose intolerant but thanks to a relatively recent mutation about 30% of the world can now eat ice cream. And according to research published in 2007 in the journal Nature Genetics the ability to better digest starch also evolved over time The researchers tested 7 different populations 3 with high starch diets and 4 with low starch diets. They found that people from the high starch populations were almost twice as likely to have extra copies of a gene called AMY1 that codes for the starch digesting protein in saliva. It didn’t matter whether they were European Americans or Hadza hunter gatherers, they still had more copies. It’s unlikely that the extra copies of AMY1 came from one mutation that spread because they were found in groups that wouldn’t have had much contact. Instead the researchers suggest that people with extra copies of the gene were naturally selected for in all the groups because they were able to get more nutrition out of their starch rich diets. Our bodies are versatile and they’re equipped to handle a slice of bread or two. Thanks for watching this episode of Sci Schow which was brought to you by our patrons on Patreon. All of the people giving a buck or two or five a month makes Sci Show possible. Thank you all. If you want to keep learning about our world and ourselves head to and subscribe.

100 Replies to “The Real Paleo Diet”

  1. i have IBD and thyroid disease I eat a diet similar to this and  mostly have remission.. so there's something to it.

  2. Now We've one's body generate an income wanted it, I been able to lose a great deal of weight. I lost 20 pounds which has a super effective diet. The dietary plan has arrived

  3. I think the diet is better as a way to look at what you're eating and maybe a handicap to limit ways sugar and fats can get in. The rules are only eating meats and fruit/vegetables. Yes you get to eat foods from anywhere in the world and some added years of artificial selection but eating 8oz of meat doesn't make you lose weight it's feeling full after that instead of 10 hotdogs with too much barbecue sauce

  4. Sure, if you're talking about health. I think most people do it for losing weight. 1) That we're healthier now than 50,000 years ago proves nothing about a paleo diet's effectiveness for losing weight. 2) You're looking at today's hunter-gatherers. Humans are all over the globe now. Of course they're eating a wide variety of foods. 3) We've bred food to be more nutritious. Fine, if you're talking about health. I'm talking about weight loss. 4) I would argue that our bodies have Not kept up with changes in our diet. That's why so many Americans are obese. From eating fast carbs like sugar and flour, which we didn't evolve to eat. 5) Recent mutations? We haven't changed so much that we can be healthy eating 5,000 calories a day of processed crap. So there's one gene that is starting to help some people digest more starch. Not nearly enough. Think about how much bread and fried food Americans eat. 6) Low-fat diets don't work for me. Low-carb does. That's why most of us diet. To lose weight. I wouldn't suggest a low-carb diet for healthy, thinner people. I would suggest it for people with a lot of weight to lose. Because I know first-hand that it works.

  5. yes look at how healthy we are, humans used to kill mastodons with sticks and now we have girlie men bashing windows at anti-trump rallys.

  6. Yeah, but the paleo diet is just a name for a high protein diet with plenty of veggies ,few breads and little sugar. Generaly that is a healty diet when compared to the high sugar diet of most people in rich country's. Paleo is just a reference to the idealized mountain men of ye olden times for marketing purposes. So this is kinda low hanging fruit guys.

  7. fuck you patreon. wtf would anybody donate money to a business. ? if they couldn't make enough cash from other means of revenue, they wouldn't be on YouTube.

  8. when youre trying to survive in the wild, im sure you wouldnt care if your food is Non-GMO, gluten free, 5g of sugar…. you would eat whatever you could find.

  9. To listen to audiobooks while I work and not loose track of anything I have to eat nothing but oranges for 3 days before.

  10. I am sure that there's no diet that is "good/healthy" for everyone in this world. It depends on a mix of where they live, daily habits as in the amount and type of work, and climate…..

  11. just a side note: Paleolithic diets were also very high in calories when they could eat that much, but with them traveling as much as they had they burned the calories. In my opinion you really should just eat what you want when you want it to a certain degree.

  12. good, but I ask, what was the diet in Europe? We know that the Neanderthals are barley, and that the species Homo is omnivorous. Plenty of wild greens, roots, nuts, seed,berries, csrob pods, acorns, shellfish, insects, eggs, fungi,flesh,fish,and fowl. How was it prepared? Small game and the organs of large game were cooked, the meat of large game was dried. Honey would have been on the list. Drying food is one of the best ways to preserve it, and it usually doesn't require cooking. So,this is my take on a Palæo Diet.

  13. I think the skeptical tone of this video is misleading. Many more people eat ice cream than are able to digest it well. I read that 99% of Asians are lactose intolerant. Only like 40% of Caucasians aren't lactose intolerant. And yes, I've given up many "delicious foods" so that I can feel better and enjoy better health, confirmed by doctors.

  14. Thank you ancestors for evolving to eat almost anything you could find. It now lies on our current generation to tweak our DNA. To subsist entirely on Pizza, Chocolate, and Soda!

    only 30% of us can have dairy products
    I am thankful to enjoy cheese but ironically going vegan from companies allowing blood and puss into the same milk because of the pasteurization process "destroys it all" then being replaced

    hot damn

  16. Hmm, I think I better suit a paleo diet. Maybe white people have evolved to suit their diet, but I've been living in organic fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed fresh meat literally every generation before me. Also I made some bread and it didn't bloat my mom like it normally does.

    I have a gross misunderstanding of the word paleo. I mean pre-industrial more than anything.

  17. I'm just an uneducated fool here reading up on some of these health fads right now. Since I'm in the middle of reading up, I have no idea whether some of these things they claim are actually true or not. However, I have noticed that many arguments on both sides are simply a load of crap. Allow me to explain.

    0:35 "Humans are vastly more healthy than 50,000 years ago". I'm sure a science channel can understand that correlation does not imply causation. Just because in this era we have better health, does not mean some other thing we also have in this era is related to that. It might be, but this argument does not demonstrate that; it's a simple fallacy.

    After this, the argument is presented that we can't really eat like the Paleolithians because their diets were vastly different among one another and because their foods are not available to us. However, this is not the point of the diet as far as I have read or heard anywhere. I've only heard about the idea being that you start to rely on fat as the main source of energy by entering a state known as "ketosis" simply by eating lots of fatty foods and no carbohydrates. Do I know if that's actually a responsible and healthy thing to do? No, I have no idea. But I do know that their point isn't to directly copy whatever people used to eat. The idea is to match their macro-nutrient ratios because that's what our bodies have adapted to. Again, no idea if that is a good idea, but this is clearly not dealt with in the video at all and thus I'm still left in the woods.

    After that, the idea is presented that we had enough time to adapt to our more starch-based diets, stating the example of lactose intolerance and a gene that regulates the excretion of an enzyme that breaks down starches. However, that's a rather limited answer. That is saying "we have made some changes, therefore starch-based diets are better". It's not conclusively showing that fat-based diets are worse for your health; it's just saying we have already made some adaptations to our newfound starch-based ones. Again, is one enzyme adaptation enough to justify a starch-based diet? What about if we did not have that enzyme? I'm not sure, and this video is not helping me.

    And that's it, end of video. Even the most rudimentary principle behind Paleo was not covered. Here's a fallacy, here's something irrelevant because we don't understand the basics of the diet or are unable to refute them and here's another fallacy.

    I could do the same thing on most Paleo diet videos. My point is not that I'm a health nut and I am about to switch over to Paleo. My point is that the amount of improper arguing on both sides greatly obscures the whole matter and makes it very hard to determine the truth. The comment section is even worse. "Wait, aren't we still evolving?" Lacks rudimentary understanding; totally irrelevant. "Because the food people with absolutely no medical or scientific knowledge ate was somehow healthier…" – That is indeed a good possibility. The people that took up farming had very little to no scientific or medical knowledge as well. However, that too is irrelevant, of course. The point is that Paleolithians were around for so long that our bodies evolved to adapt to their diets and we've been around for so short that our body is still relatively bad at processing our current diet. Key word here is evolution, not knowledge. And the list goes on and on about people that know even less about Paleo than I do trying to refute it with one simple sentence. It's bothersome.

    But yeah, don't get me wrong, I've heard fibers are kind of really good for your digestive tract and I have no idea if ketosis is a healthy state to be in, let alone the practical issues with this diet, so I'm not switching the off button on the bread intake any time soon.

  18. The only way to really do the paleo diet right is to generally remain on the verge of starvation. Beyond that, the composition of your diet doesn't matter much.

  19. Since I first heard about 'paleo' (having already known about geographical dietary differences), I have wondered if, just maybe, some people might have better luck with weight management and whatnot if they tried to stick to a diet that more closely resembled what their nearest ancestors may have had access too. So for me, having a lot of south american and maya genetics in me, I have wondered if I would feel better and be a little healthier on a diet that consisted of foods more like the local native options in south america. Things the maya had subsisted on like squash perhaps, might be better for me if it was more prevalent in my diet. Just as a curiosity. I have a lot of health problems related to agent orange exposure my mother suffered so it complicates things for me, but I wonder(ed) all the same.

    Actual composition of diet aside, I have a feeling what kept ancient man 'healthy' and powerful was the fact that they were just always moving and working. A lot of modern health problems come from eating too much, not necessarily eating wrong, per se. That, and just a generally sedentary lifestyle. Intake should be based on activity, and otherwise be minimal. That way your body doesn't have excess anything to process, and it keeps your internal systems working hard and properly. You can see this is captive animals like tigers and bears at zoos. Even if fed a proper diet, lack of exercise and stimulation alone can be cause for obesity and depression in zoo beasts. It's an easy correlation to make, if a bit simple.

    All of the above taken into consideration, I think it is very important to remember a point brought up here as well: that we are no longer ancient man. They preceded us, and we are the remains of those who oulasted/oubred, meaning something was happening right for us to end up here now. Even dogs have made similar adjustments like we have, being able to digest more starch than wolves, for example. It only takes a few thousand years for certain gene adjustments to occur, and even between generations there can be changes in behavior and/or environment that affect the children to come and how their genetic blueprint is outlined.

    We just need to practice a bit more caution and a lot more portion control in regards to food and treats. A responsible pet owner won't give their dog a whole bag of treats in a day, knowing it is bad for pup. So we just need to have the same respect for ourselves and not eat entire bags of chips at once, purely as a comparison.

  20. "Paleo diet" does indeed sound very gimmicky, but the premises sound a bit similar to ketogenic diets. How does that compare to paleo and frankly any diet out there?
    As far as I understand, ketogenic diets are based on science and there's a whole subreddit dedicated to compiling information and scientific studies on ketosis and ketogenic diets. Go to to see what I'm tslking about. You can discuss keto there meaning it's not a propaganda safe space.

  21. Yes BUT there ability to metabolise starch did not increase their chance of reaching reproducing. Therefore it was not a mutation naturally selected, increasing it's gene frequency in the gene pool, hence, not evolution. More likely the process is an adaptation or switching process of genes already in the pool. Maybe. Possibly. ?

  22. Bread was made out of desperation not because it was the best choice maybe the best choice When comparing two evils but still not because it's the better

  23. If I were to follow the paleo diet to a T, wouldnt a percentage of my caloric intake be human flesh? Sweet sweet cannibalism!

  24. I'm doing a keto diet with a focus on getting all your vitamins and minerals from vegetables. I know this isn't for everyone, but I feel so mich better now =)

  25. A bunch of the animals we used to eat are now extinct. That is probably some kind of factor. Except the brains of dead children. We ate and totally still can eat those. Paleo diet was metal like that.

  26. Ah, sugar water. The foundation of the American diet.
    Treat it the same way we treat cigarettes (or more harshly, since cigarettes are far safer), and the "obesity epidemic" is over.

  27. Waaaiiiiitttt. Only 30% of the world can eat icecream?!?! Just when I thought I was down in my luck. I find out that 4 billion people can't enjoy the tastiest frozen treat

  28. What makes you assume that our hunter gatherer ancestors from 50 000 years ago were less healthy then. Looking at surviving hunter gatherer societies they are both very happy and very healthy. While it is is true humans are very good at adapting and there is no true paleo diet there are some things we can see in common in indigenous cultures eating habits. Raw and often whole foods are easier to get so hence they ate it. Most Indigenous cultures also experienced regular fasting. Fasting is good for you wether it be extended or intermittent. And finally like you said tribes adapt to foods in their area. Often their ancestors ate the same foods and hence they are slightly different from external human population populations in that they're adapted to a specific type of food. So eating foods that match your ancestry, that are mostly raw (50-90%) and not eating for a few days or only eating once a day is key for most people.

  29. So, other than mutations to existing genes, there is a mutation process that "randomly" clones whole genes onto, perhaps unused sections of dna? How does that work. I mean, seriously, why are so many mutations beneficial. Or, why aren't there more mutations that might make life more unpleasant, but not enough to really effect apparent fitness to breed and pass those mutations on?

  30. I guess if we had to chase our food for about 10 miles every day or every other day we would be a lot fitter.

  31. When I start living on my own I really want to try to stick to what I call the “casual paleo” which is basically only eat it if it grows or comes from something that grows. So basically nothing processed

  32. Please do a video about Keto and why it's stupid

    All of my friends are gonna die at 40 with the way these fad diets are going

  33. Not to mention, they were lucky to make it to their late 30s back then. But paleo enthusiasts neglect to mention that part

  34. Probably the real objective differences from us to all of them is that they eat (far) less and exercise far more…

  35. The real paleo diet: give all the fruits and vegetables in your fridge to children. Pay them to hide it around the neighbourhood. Spend hours walking around gathering it. Next, give a steak to a kid on a bicycle. Run the kid down on foot until you can hit him or her with a Nerf gun to 'kill" your prey. Then walk home and cook everything you managed to find over a fire in the backyard. Repeat until skinny.

  36. Which kind of research those guys have done? Some of the tribes that they studied, like the Masaai and the cultures of New Guinea, are in fact composed by farmers and herders, not hunter gatherers…

  37. I know this is an old video, but wasn't the Paleo diet more focused on eating unproccessed food rather than era specific?

  38. Are you sure that the domesticated versions of fruits and veggies are more nutrient-dense?
    Markets mostly care about looks, taste, and easy growth. So selective breeding may have greatly neglected healthiness in that,.

  39. So what you're telling me is that humans can eat a varied diet so long as they get all the required nutrients? That thing we've been doing for the last 800 000 years? that thing I've been doing for 22 years and been healthy as a goat? But a trendy magazine my roommate bought that I read on the toilet said that carbs and fat make me fat? I just don't know what to believe…

  40. One thing we do know about today's hunter gatherers as well as ancient paleo man. They don't and didn't eat salt. That is the one common thread among modern healthy diets no matter what they are. They all eliminate processed food where 75/80 percent of our sodium comes from.

  41. Paleo Diet: Do not eat anything that didnt exist during stone age. Not Paleo Diet: Eat what they ate during stone age. Big difference. Read the books before trying to debunk. Asshats.

  42. Wonderful video. We think Paleo is fantastic. Here's our take on it-

  43. Maasai are NOT hunter-gatherers, they are herders, Papuans are NOT hunter-gatherers, they are one of the oldest agricultural peoples on Earth, although their staple is sago (an edible tree) and not grain, (and why do you show Australian Aborigines in the image who are or at least used to be until very recently?)

    Also we now live a lot longer than just a century ago, why? Because of antibiotics (and other advances in medicine, and maybe some better nutrition, but mostly because antibiotics, which you don't mention at all).

    Junk science is not science!

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