This way of eating, this lifestyle, is given so many names. You might follow a Paleo Diet or a Primal Diet – or perhaps you eat an Ancestral Diet or eat like a Caveman?
Does it matter what it’s called? And do the different terms even refer to the same way of eating?
The term “Paleo Diet” was coined by Loren Cordain and originally had a far less liberal stance on Saturated Fats. He has now updated his books on this and on the use of sweeteners, to the popular “Paleo Diet” followed by many today. Robb Wolf has also played a significant role in popularising the Paleo Diet as it is today.
As well as avoiding grains and legumes, Paleo also avoids dairy. In the Paleo community strict adherence to a Paleo diet is recommended for at least 30 days. After this period foods can slowly be re-introduced and any impact assessed to determine which foods have a detrimental effect and should be avoided in the future.
The Primal BluePrint way of eating is from the book, written by Mark Sisson – and is much more than just nutrition. The plan places as much importance on movement, lifting heavy things, reducing stress, sleeping properly and getting some sunshine as it does on nutrition. Nutritionally Primal is very similar to Paleo in the avoidance of grains and legumes; dairy is where they differ. A Primal way of eating includes dairy – though it is recommended that it is raw dairy; from grass-fed Ruminants, un-pasturised and ideally fermented. Lacto-Paleo is another term used to describe eating a Paleo style diet, but with the inclusion of dairy.
The jury is still very much out on dairy. The growth hormones such as IGF-1 and the insulin response are behind the refusal of many, to include dairy in their diets. A lot of people find they don’t tolerate dairy well, which is reason enough to avoid it!
This term can apply to any form of Paleo, but I hear this term used more amongst the scientific/ research pockets of the community.
This is the term almost exclusively used by the mainstream media when talking about any type of eating that touches on Paleo. The term “Caveman Diet” is usually accompanied by photos of cavemen, Fred Flintstone or semi-naked people eating raw meat! When people talk about a Caveman Diet, they seem to assume it’s required to act like a caveman too and don’t realise it’s about science, not re-enacting cavemen! I would never refer to a Paleo or Primal way of eating in this way, but ultimately if it raises awareness amongst more people, I guess it doesn't matter what it’s called!
There are a lot of descriptions of ways of eating that have similarities to Paleo. I think a gluten-free diet could come close (though I think many people avoid gluten, but replace it with other undesirable refined grains and processed foods). The Atkins diet is also commonly assumed to be Paleo – and whilst there are similarities, it’s very possibly to follow Atkins eating nothing but junk food; not Paleo! A Weston A Price way of eating also has many similarities.
How do you describe how you eat? Do you avoid using labels like “the Paleo diet” or “the Primal diet”?