The Cave Girl Diet & Exercise Plan
I have spent years upon years testing out different diets - The Zone Diet, The Atkins Diet, The South Beach Diet, Low Carb Diets, Good Carb Diets - you name it, I've ditched it. I also tried various workouts to help me lose weight, like the Spartacus Workout, high weight, low repetition workouts, light weight, high repetition workouts, and again I've ditched them all.
Complaining to my boyfriend one day that I was never able to lose the weight I wanted, he made a simple suggestion that has actually helped me lose weight for once. He said "why don't you forget the weights and the fad diets and just live like an early human would have - since they HAD to be in shape to survive, they must have done something right or we wouldn't be here." Lightbulb!
I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier. Early humans didn't have gyms. They didn't have Starbucks. They didn't have bread makers or martini shakers. What they DID have was berries and fish and birds and nuts and natural foods. They had the advantage of being both predators AND prey, so they could run like the wind and scale mountains and trees. They crouched, jumped, ran, crawled, stretched, shimmied and scurried. They simply ate what they had available to them, they ate when they were hungry, they hunted when they needed food, and they didn't worry about calories, carbs, sugars, or fats.
Alas, the Cave Girl Diet, also known as the Paleolithic Diet or Stone Age Diet, piqued my interest and I hopped on board.
What Is The Cave Girl Diet?
So, scientists would probably jump all over anyone for labeling this diet as a "cave girl" diet because there are obviously certain foods that wouldn't have been available to early humans until after the onset of agriculture - you probably wouldn't find a "cottage cheese tree" out in the wilderness. But the basic idea is this: eat as many natural, unprocessed foods that you might actually find in nature as you can - meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. As to the variations that a diet these days would require, there are some basic rules to follow, and after that you have some room to grow, and hopefully also shrink back into your skinny jeans.
Similar to a no flour, no sugar diet, eating this way means that you'll be spending a lot of time in the produce section - get used to it and embrace it. I buy ridiculous amounts of fruits and veggies, and I buy them often. Part of eating like you may have eaten back during our nomadic days means that you would be gathering as much food as possible in addition to hunting for meat.
This diet strictly contains no bread, pasta, etc. Why? Our bodies are not designed to process that much starchy hoo-hah. We've been mulling around, growing and adapting for what, over 2 million years? Agriculture has only been around for roughly 10,000 years, and it wasn't until after that time, after all the heavy foods in our diets, that obesity and health issues really took flight. I know, I love bread and pasta too. But after a while you no longer crave it. And when you do eat it (obviously if you go to an Italian restaurant you're not going to poke at a salad while everyone enjoys their pizza!) you will feel the difference immediately. Our bodies simply don't require bread to function.
Nuts and seeds are a big part of this diet. If you're having an apple as a snack, grab a handful of pumpkin seeds as well, which are high in iron and protein with the added bonus of containing a low caloric value. Go easy on the nuts however, as they can be quite high in fat and it doesn't take many to exceed the calories you need in a day. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios are excellent choices. Try to get them "in the raw" - we get enough salt in our diet without adding salt and seasoning to everything. And I don't recall seeing any spice racks in those cave drawings.
Beans (or legumes) which have been in our diets for hundreds of years, are for some reason not allowed with the Cave Girl diet. It's been said that legumes can't be eaten raw as the toxins can make you sick, however when cooked they do provide a lot of nutrients so I eat them anyway. They're not going to cause you to gain weight, unless you eat an ungodly amount of them, so in my humble opinion, they're fine. I only eat fish, no other meat, so beyond the occasional tofu burger I eat plenty of beans. Beans are high in fibre, which is important as fibre helps to break down nutrients properly and helps your digestive process, and beans are also high in iron and protein. Beans to go for: quinoa, white beans, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, soy beans - all excellent choices. They can be bought in bulk, dried, which can increase preparation time by a few hours, or you can buy them in the cans... which increases the sodium content, of course, however you can remove much of that by thoroughly rinsing them before eating.They're also not exactly natural this way, but who's keeping score, really?
Milk and milk products weren't really available during the cave girl days. But calcium is found in many other foods, such as fish, various leafy green veggies, beans, nuts, and root vegetables. You can also get it through cheese or milk, of course, and you can also buy calcium fortified fruit juices. Juice is high in calories and high in sugar, so drink it in moderation, if at all. Soy milk can provide the same nutrients as regular milk but it also contains a lot of protein and iron. However you get your calcium, it's an important part of a balanced diet so I think it's a good idea to make sure you are getting enough.
This diet generally consists of 40-45% carbohydrates, 25-35% protein, and 25-45% fat - yes; it's high in fat. People have an odd, uneducated fear of fat, but we forget that there are different kinds of fat, and many people don't realize that the body NEEDS fat to function. Don't shy away from healthy fats found in fish and nuts - trust me, it's good for you.
Cave Girl Nosh
Generally a Cave Girl Diet also means eating organically; free range fish, chicken, and livestock are recommended, and fruits and veggies that are free of pesticides.
Foods to hunt for:
- fish & seafood: salmon, basa, tilapia, cod, sole, shrimp, scallops, baramundi
- beef & pork (in moderation - it is recommended to eat leaner meats, such as chicken and seafood, but beef & pork are not prohibited.)
Foods to gather:
- leafy vegetables
- honey dew melon
- berries - all kinds
- dried fruit (no added sugar)
Foods to avoid and limit:
- Refined Sugars
- Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes
- Legumes: beans, peas, peanuts (these are generally prohibited, however I don't eat very much meat so I have opted to keep them in my diet.)
- Dairy products (generally prohibited from a Paleo diet. I eat them in moderation.)
There are varying views when it comes to what you may or may
not eat on this type of diet. Legumes, like beans, peas, and peanuts, as I stated earlier, are not usually allowed.
There is also some debate surrounding dairy products like cheese and
milk, however I feel that these are acceptable while exercising portion
control. You'll never lose weight if you munch on a chunk of cheese at
every meal but I see nothing wrong with some cheese in an omelet or cottage cheese with mixed fruit. I also enjoy the occasional bowl of Kashi cereal with some soy milk.
I am certainly not following a strict Paleo Diet. I have made my own adaptations and I am losing weight by doing so. It is possible to follow it lightly, eating free meals here and there and having the occasional glass of wine. This isn't really a diet, it's a lifestyle change - and what's the point of living with restrictions at every turn? I love food, and this way I am able to eat really well while still enjoying the occasional splurge. If you go out and have a glass of wine and a slice of rich cheesecake, don't beat yourself up about it. It was probably worth every bite.
Cave Girl Workouts
No gyms, no zumba. Jump (a lot) for joy!
Think like a Cave Girl. You're out there, in your loincloth, hanging on to that spear you made. Think about movement: throwing, jumping, running, falling, leaping, crawling. Catching your prey would be a much more physical experience in those days - kind of puts that whole hunting range, deer season, rifle thing into perspective huh?
My own workout consists of running, pull ups, push ups, lunges and squats, jumping jacks, and other forms of plyometrics.
The BEST way to get yourself really pumping some blood is the BURPEE. It's hard to do, and actually uses pretty much every muscle that you want to tone up.
I also do some yoga. No, Cave Women did not pull out their yoga mats after a long day of hunting vicious beasts and work on their downward dogs. However, yoga is a wonderful way to tone and I've also found it to be so calming and centering that I have an easier time dealing with the cravings and negative emotions that come with trying to lose weight.
If you can, it would be great to buy a kettlebell and to incorporate it into your workouts. They really increase your strength and agility, and they're fun!
Losing weight is a challenge - if it was easy, the diet and fitness industry wouldn't be rolling in all that money! The reason my other diets failed for me is that they made no logical sense. The beauty of eating cave-girl style is that our bodies are designed this way. We're supposed to eat all of that good, wholesome food, we're supposed to have some fat and some muscle. We're not meant to look like skinny rails, and really, what's sexier than a strong, healthy, clean body? Ever since I started practicing yoga, I became aware that my body truly IS a temple, and I certainly wouldn't pack a temple with junk.
So good luck, fellow Cave Girls! Whether you're in your loin cloth or your bikini, you're going to look great!