Paleolithic (Caveman) Diet

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Paleolithic Diet:

This popular diet is commonly also referred to as "The Caveman Diet", the "Hunter-Gatherer Diet", and the "Stone Age Diet".

Basic Premise:

Eat foods that are based on the presumed diet of those persons who inhabited the Paleolithic era, such as wild plants and animals.

Allowable Foods:

  • Fish
  • Grass-fed pastured meats
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Fungi
  • Roots
  • Nuts

Exclusions include grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salts and sugars, and processed oils

Brief History:

Conceptualized in the mid 1970s by Walter L. Voegtlin, a gastroenterologis, it quickly became popular. It is based on the principle that human genetics have changed insignificantly since agricultural's dawn, and modern humans are genetically adapted to the diet maintained by their Paleolithic ancestors.

Voegtlin argued humans are carnivorous animals and his prescriptions were based on his own medical treatments of digestive problems like colitis, Crohn's disease, IBS, and indegestion.

Through the 80s and 90s the diet found many supporters in the medical community and studies showed a decline in health afflictions in small, study-group populations and native cultures that generally followed the dietary recommendations. So much so, that in the late 90s a number of doctors and nutritionists advocated a return to the Paleolithic diet.

The dietary concepts have been adapted in several books and academic journals by a number of researchers and authors. Proponents argue those who follow these dietary recommendations are largely free of diseases of affluence (diseases attributed to wealth and comfort such as heart disease, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and obesity). However, other dietitians and anthropologists are opposed to the theories and consider it a fad diet based on the claims that the genetic assumptions cannot be accepted in black and white terms and are impacted by other genetic assumptions, and that cereals were, indeed, part of early man's diet, and that the diseases said to be prevented were not part of early man's life because they are diseases of old age and modern man lives longer than early man.

Dietary Practice:

The Paleolithic diet is based upon commonly available modern foods and includes cultivated plants and domesticated animal meat. It consists of foods that can be fished and hunted, and foods that can be gathered like vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, seeds, nuts, eggs and fruits. The recommended meants should be free of food additives (organic) and preferably wild game or grass-fed beef. Water is permitted as the primary drink, and some advocates recommend tea as well. All foods may be cooked, without restrictions.

Physical Activity:

In accordance with the Paleolithic lifestyle, researchers recommend high levels of physical activity. Compared to ancestral humans, modern man shows increased body fact and substantially less lean muscle, which is one risk factor for insulin resistance. However, it is unclear, historically, whether activity cycles were of the prolongued endurance type or of the shorter, higher-intensity type.


DISCLAIMER: For all dietary recommendations, consult your primary physician to determine what is best for your
individual goals and health conditions.

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