Our Ancient Metabolism
Why did our primal ancestors’ lifestyle work so well?
Our primal ancestors lived in tribal groups and moved from place to place in response to the changing seasons. Sometimes there was plenty of food and sometimes they would go a day or two without eating.
This is the ‘lifestyle’ our body was designed for – alternating between feasting and fasting and eating simple fresh nutritious food that took physical effort to find, prepare and digest. It kept the energy flow naturally balanced.
One size fits all
Our species has been running on the Homo sapien 1.0 operating system for over 160,000 years. Apart from differences in how we look, everyone on the planet is genetically identical and our bodies all work in much the same way.
The devolution of man
Around 10,000 years ago, our ancestors started to abandon the hunter/gatherer lifestyle. They opted to stay in one place and adapt their lives to cope with the changing seasons. This ‘Agricultural Revolution’ provided an uninterrupted food supply, but the physical work was still significant.
Then, in the late 1700s, the ‘Industrial Revolution’ brought machines and technology that gradually reduced the overall effort required for humans to survive on a daily basis.
These shifts in lifestyle fundamentally changed the trajectory of human health.
Find your flow
Your ancient metabolism is a fully automated system designed to maintain internal stability or ‘homeostasis’. It is built to recognise fluctuations in food supply and adjust energy use as required.
When you take in more Carbohydrate (Carb) energy than you need, the excess is stored as glycogen and body fat to provide a secondary energy supply when your next meal is delayed. This backup mechanism was integral to our ancestors’ survival but, in modern times, it has been working against us.
We have known for over a century that reducing daily kilojoule intake is not effective for weight loss because your metabolism slows down to maintain homeostasis and your long-term stored
energy (body fat) is not activated. You end up hungry, tired, cold and frustrated.
The only way to burn excess body fat is to delay food intake so that your body has to switch over to using body fat to keep you humming. Try limiting your daily eating ‘window’ to an eight-hour block (e.g. 11am-7pm). Eat your recommended amount of food and drink plenty of clear fluids. NB: Intermittent fasting is not advised for children and teenagers.
Changing the composition of your meals towards less processed Carbs, more of the healthy Fats and moderate Protein will also help improve your overall health and bring you into alignment with
your ancestors’ primal lifestyle.
Ancestral life presented many challenges. Lifestyle disease was not one of them.
Download the ‘Energy Match Up’ activity to help your children think about ways they can use their own energy instead of technology.
Download the printable A4 flyer for this module.