The Paleo Diet as a Revolt Against the Modern World

What makes the Paleo diet different is that it isn’t just a diet — it’s part of a lifestyle, and a revolutionary one at that. The Paleo rallying cry is that the artificial, top-down, and shrink-wrapped environment we’ve been conned into accepting is killing us. The good news is that we can free ourselves and live healthier, longer lives by taking responsibility for our health and survival.

However, judging from discussions and articles I’ve seen on pro-Paleo sites, many who think they’re living the Paleo life don’t understand the vital importance of physical fitness. And many more still depend exclusively on technology — firearms — for self-defense. I’d like to propose a pro-Paleo regimen that fills in these gaps.

When I first read about the Paleo lifestyle, I was already exercising, and thought I was eating properly. However, what I learned about Paleo turned my world upside down. I’d been starving myself trying to lose stubborn inches around my belly, and was failing miserably. But only six months after I started the Paleo diet, I dropped from 195 to 165 pounds, and shrank my waistline from 40 to 34 inches. And I’ve kept it off.

What really struck me about the Paleo revolution was how it dovetailed into a way of living that promoted personal liberty. Paleo’s basic message is that we have adapted a lifestyle that’s counter to our hunter-gatherer nature. A sedentary lifestyle plus a diet of over-processed, high-carb, sugary food has all but crippled us, as the increase of obesity, heart disease, various cancers, gluten intolerance, and depression indicates.

Worse, this counter-productive lifestyle has the blessing and backing of both the FDA and the Department of Agriculture, as well as their corporate kin Big Pharma and Big Agra. Meanwhile, Madison Avenue portrays this toxic way of life as not only fun, but glamorous. “Consume mass quantities” of the stuff touted in ads and in TV sit-coms, and you, too, can be cool and popular.

The Paleo diet is a revolt from the fare prescribed for us by government nutritionists. In fact, the Paleo diet recommends the very foods our dietary overseers condemn, such as meats and eggs. Add tree-borne nuts, fruits, fish, and poultry, and you’re approximating what our Paleolithic ancestors ate.

But the diet is just part of the Paleo lifestyle, which stresses giving the body everything it needs, including the activities it was designed for, such as lifting, running, and throwing. It also makes us confront the forces that have herded us into our modern, unhealthy lifestyles. Those forces are aligned with Big Government and Big Business, which want you to be dependent on them for everything, including your diet and personal safety. The Paleo lifestyle encourages breaking away and relying on your own resources.

Keeping in shape is a vital part of living Paleo, and fitness is vital to self-defense. There are a number of reasons we shouldn’t rely exclusively on firearms for defending ourselves and loved ones. Guns may not be readily available when you need them. Guns may be more than what you need in a given situation. And guns, even when properly maintained, can fail. So it’s nice to have other options.

Strength training is the most effective means of boosting your self-defense capabilities. Not only have weight lifting programs been proven to increase testosterone levels, which are very handy in a fight, they also improve cognitive abilities, including selective attention and conflict resolution skills. (I fully subscribe to the philosophy that avoiding a fight is the best way to win one.)

While we’re talking about basics, there’s nothing more basic to self-defense than the art of knowing how to make and use your fists. A recent article in the Journal of Experimental Biology argues that human fists evolved for punching. A daily workout with a punching bag will teach you a great deal about how to throw a hard, fast punch. If you’re unsure about your form, take a quick course in boxing and basic self-defense. Should you be even more ambitious, learn martial arts. For the older set, I suggest those forms that emphasize low kicks, such as Ishin-ryu, rather than Muay Tai and Taekwondo.

If you want to really go Paleo in your fitness and self-defense training, learn how to use primitive weapons. If you take oriental martial arts, you’ll be introduced to the bo (fighting staff), the nunchaku, and the tonfa (T-baton). These are very practical weapons, and learning how to use them will teach you how to improvise weapons from available resources.

And there’s nothing more Paleo than such primitive weapons as the sling or atl-atl (dart-thrower). They’re easy to make, and are deadly long-distance weapons. There are a number of online resources that will show you how to make and use them. I thoroughly enjoy target practice with the sling. It’s something you can do in a municipal park — just find a deserted soccer of baseball field. Tennis and golf balls make effective substitutes for stone and lead projectiles.

To paraphrase Paleo guru Mark Sisson, if you really want to challenge the status quo and try something old, work out and learn the ancient arts of self-defense. Even if you never have to use these skills, the confidence you’ll build and the sense of accomplishment you’ll gain will make the effort well worth the investment. favicon

M. C. Tuggle is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina. An avid weightlifter, outdoorsman, collector of American Indian relics, and student of martial arts, he is also a student of military history, and has given presentations on Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign to several historical societies. His novella Aztec Midnight has just been published by The Novel Fox.

9 thoughts on “The Paleo Diet as a Revolt Against the Modern World”

  1. Great post. The recommendation of Ishin-ryu is something I haven’t seen before, but I’m sure that’s helpful for older readers.

    The spear is so much a part of our being that our shoulders have improved for spear throwing. And our ability to sweat makes us able to run for longer periods than our prey. So, aerobic exercise is very natural for us. I’m not really a believer in evolution, but I certainly believe in small adaptations over time.

    As a teen, I often had too little energy, a minor issue not major. I’ve since realised the culprit was my diet. I wasn’t eating enough protein.

    Eating well, combined with basic exercise, has helped me to become more efficient. It’s also helped me to relax, lower my stress level. Most people seem to believe cutting out bacon is necessary for healthy living, but it is not. Sugar is, in my experience, much worse for the health.

    I am a believer in good fats vs. bad fats, but I also believe sugar is much more significant, at least in excess.

  2. Just an addition, while hours of body building combined with a carefully planned diet might be necessary to achieve the physique in the opening picture, a quick daily routine will help a great deal.

    I’ve heard male bodybuilders, and women, say calories are everything: To lose weight, either eat fewer calories or burn more. While this is presumably true, the approach that works best for me is to eat the right things and not worry about amount. I suppose healthier carbs like brown rice, beans, sweet potatoes, and steel-cut oats have a lower caloric value though, so they fill you up with fewer calories maybe.

    One more thing, weight lifting burns more calories, but in my experience it’s aerobic exercise that improves health most. I’ve never been much overweight though, so for one losing weight perhaps the focus should be more on protein and weight lifting, to burn calories.

  3. Weaver1,

    Thanks for that. It’s interesting that articles are now coming out about how wrong the USDA was about eggs being bad for you. I must admit to having believed them, though I often wondered how my grandparents managed to live so long with a diet of unpasteurized milk, pork, and lots of eggs.

  4. I do both. Running, tennis, shadow-boxing, and katas are great ways to keep up your wind. Strength training has been shown to improve mental ability as well as enabling one to recover from injury faster.

  5. Eggs do have a lot arachidonic acid, which can be troublesome for people sensitive to it, but I can eat eggs all day without ill effects.

    Because of good genes I produce abnormally low amounts of cholesterol, but the -sterol part is what makes steroids, and I am a quart low on testosterone and other useful steroids as a result. It irks me that women can get hormone replacement therapy on demand, but my doctor refuses test supplements for me.

    My own grandmother from Iowa thought it was not a meal without meat and it was not meat if it wasn’t some sort of pig. She lived to 100.

  6. The carbs you mention are all promoted as “better” carbs because their fiber modulates the body’s response to the simple sugars and starches also in them. The don’t cause a rapid glucose response and are safer for diabetics for this reason as well.

  7. If I eat a large number of chicken eggs, they make me lethargic for whatever reason. If I eat a similar amount of fish, I don’t seem to have that issue. My solution has just been to not eat so many at once, simple enough; but it is curious to me. Perhaps it is arachidonic acid sensitivity.

  8. The article does not mention the origins of paleodiet thought. Behind all the obvious benefits, the goal of a paleo lifestyle is also to remove any foods which cannot be safely eaten raw. There are many, many foods that are only edible when cooked – but we did not evolve to successfully assimilate them, because cooking is too recent to factor into human evolution. It is the partial edibility of cooked foods, according to this theory, that results in end-of-life poisoning by decades of eating subacute amounts of toxic material. To the most involved paleo types, aging itself is thought to be a buildup of these detrimental actors.

    A friend of mine nearly got purged from his high school (in the 1960s) for observing, in his history class, that the Northern tribes would necessarily be more warlike and stronger and smarter, simply because there are fewer and fewer vegetables to live on as you go north, so you need to catch prey animals and avoid being something else’s prey animal. And tomatoes rarely fight back, run off, hide, etc. The guys who today have “there’s no government like no government” bumper stickers would follow glacier melt North to keep away from the domestic types.

  9. If folks are worried about parasites but want to try eating raw meat for a while to get the benefits, deep freezing has the same sterilizing effects as cooking, although the freeze has to be for a week or more. The proteins don’t denature in the freezer.

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