Interesting. I appreciate fruit & veg would have been much lower in simple carbs than today but I had assumed carbs would still dominate. I also figured meat would form a relatively small part of the diet; reckon I was wrong about that as well?
It’s difficult, of course, to be certain, and diets would have varied significantly based on both geographic location and season, but bearing in mind how much we’ve modified fruits and vegetables through selective breeding to be sweeter and have larger edible portions (potatoes, for example, were about the size of peanuts in those days), and how rarely grains were consumed, I’d think carbs would be a reasonably minor part of the diet.
This article from National Geographic references an evolutionary nutritionist whose research indicates around 73% of our ancestors’ societies got over half of their calories from meat. But again, this varies based on population - using more modern cultures (which would nonetheless be a reasonable approximation to the hunter-gatherers due to their relative segregation from modern culture), the Inuit in Greenland consume almost entirely meat and fish, while the Hadza get 70% of their calories from plants, and the Kung get most of their calories from various nuts. It truly seems to depend on what was available to our ancestors - the article above goes into a good amount of detail on it.
So basically, some will have been low-carb all the time (maybe hitting keto occasionally or even full-time if they live where the modern-day Inuits do), others will have been high-carb low-fat. I’m not exactly sure on the relative success of these various approaches, but I’d speculate they were all good enough to keep people alive.
Thanks for the link & info rich post. Much appreciated
Vote here for me! I would definitley buy the lower carb version ^^
I have been on low carb diets and on ketosis, but I have found
the moment you eat carbs again, even low amounts you start putting on weight because your body is so desperate for carbs.
When you come off a ketogenic diet, you should expect to reasonably quickly gain 1-3kg. This weight is just water and glycogen, and is essentially replacing the weight you lose very quickly at the start of keto (where you’re shedding all that water weight).
Any updates on Huel producing a low-carb version? Would love to try!
Slightly off topic but I echo @JamesCollier 's skepticism of whether ketogenic diets are beneficial.
As someone who has invested a lot of time reading studies, articles, opinion pieces and pro/anti ketogenic resources, I just cannot say it is a good idea in terms of health for the following reasons:
- Ketogenic diets are typically very high in inflammatory omega 6 PUFAs (meat, poultry, eggs, certain nuts/seeds and oils)
- Ketogenic diets are typically low in beneficial anti-inflammatory omega 3 PUFAs (oily fish, certain seeds). Yes people eat fish on a keto diet, but nowhere near enough omega 3 to balance the amount of omega 6 unless it’s being supplemented.
- Ketogenic diets are high in dietary cholesterol (both a good and bad thing)
- Ketogenic diets are high in saturated fats (which at best are debateable as to whether they are harmful, and at worst, linked with CVD)
- Ketogenic diets are high in oxalates if you also eat leafy greens, spinach etc to source your potassium, and along with being a moderate protein diet, this can be a recipe for kidney stones
- It can be difficult to get enough potassium/magnesium from a ketogenic diet without supplementing, which can result in electrolyte imbalance / palpitations / potentially CV issues
- Some people who follow ketogenic diets eat heavily processed/smoked/cured meats which have been designated as a carcinogenic (cancer causing) by the WHO
- Ketogenic diets can be high in red meat intake, which has been designated as possibly carcinogenic by the WHO
Overall I just cannot see it being worthwhile.
That being said, a vegan, engineered keto diet through Huel with a vitamin blend would eliminate a lot of these issues using the same sources of omega 3/6 that Huel currently does but in much higher quantities. The problem with that is, the likely cost of a keto, vegan Huel would be considerably more than regular Huel.
Bottom line, if it can be done in a cost effective way then it could work, but a regular ketogenic diet is playing with fire with your health.
Many of the points you bring up are valid (I’d debate some but now isn’t the time), but whilst you bring up the potential risks of a ketogenic diet, you don’t take account of the reasons many choose to follow one. Due to its suppressive effect on ghrelin, ketosis is a great way to maintain a caloric deficit, leading to weight loss. Whilst we can argue that omega 6 in ketosis may be too high which is bad for inflammation, or the high red meat intake may increase cancer risk, we must also take account of the fact that for many people, the weight lost via ketosis brings with it greater benefits than the sum of these risks. Behind smoking, obesity is the leading preventable cause of cancer. One in ten pounds spent on the NHS goes to treating diabetes, type 2 being a condition associated with obesity. That isn’t to say, of course, that there is no way to lose weight other than keto - that would be completely untrue - but for some who most desperately do need to lose weight, it is the easiest way, and the potential health issues you mention above are dwarfed by the health issues caused by morbid obesity.
Now again, I’d debate a number of the issues you’ve mentioned, but the most important point is one we agree on - an engineered keto diet such as a keto version of Huel does get rid of almost all of these.
Fair point. I would agree that especially for extremely obese people, significant weight loss would be a far greater benefit than the risk of red meat and/or inflammation, certainly in the short term.