Around 20,000 years ago, before the practice of agriculture began and before farm animals were kept our ancestors were ‘hunter gatherers’. This means they relied on hunting game animals, fishing and collecting seasonal plant foods to eat.
As they did not have agriculture, they did NOT eat cereal grains, dairy foods, sugar or potatoes – and these are the foods in our modern diet largely responsible for weight gain.
As we know, our ancestors’ metabolism favoured energy storage – their metabolism was adapted to store energy as fat for the lean times when they did not have enough food to eat.
Research in the last few years shows that our gene code, which determines how our metabolism functions is almost identical to that of our ancestors. As a result, our own metabolism also favours energy conservation so that we too, tend to gain weight easily as we store fat in readiness for the hard times. Of course there are variations within the population so that some struggle with weight gain more than others.
The difference between then and now is that our ancestors needed all the energy their food could supply. Their lifestyle was constantly active as they searched around for food. In contrast, our modern world means that for most of us our food supply is abundant and energy-rich, over-refined and often nutritionally poor. Many of us need to make a special effort to go out and exercise rather than it being a natural part of our daily lives.
Eating too much + lack of exercise + depletion of key nutrients + other factors (stress, food allergies etc) -> -> weight gain.
So, what can we learn from this?
If you want to lose weight:
– exercise more (start with 1/2 hour daily and build up to 1 hour – our ancestors did MUCH more than this
– minimise the foods they did not eat – sugar, cereal grains, corn, potatoes and dairy
– eat more vegetables (and fruit – up to 2 pieces per day)
– minimise processed foods including processed meats
– reduce the chronic stress in your life
– seek help for emotional over-eating
– identify and eliminate reactive foods which can lead to weight gain
– use nutrients to aid weight loss (such as chromium, L-carnitine and fish oils)
– seek medical advice to check and correct hormone depletions if required