The Balanced Diet is Broken

6 min read

Is Moderation Really Key?

The balanced diet is the poster-child of government guidelines and nutritionists. In other words, take everything with a slice of moderation, keep your eyes peeled for red labels, and eat the rainbow. For many, this is a voice of sanity amongst the warring tribes. Low carb, low fat, macro counting, gluten-free, everyone’s getting pressured to pick a side and form their identity around it. Food is essentially a religion at this point, and it’s only going to heat up from here. 

So choosing the balanced diet shows everyone else that you’ve got a steady head on your shoulders. While the gullible folk get sucked into the diet cults, and engage in a never-ending tug of war, you can sit pretty on the one bit of logic that rules them all. The fourth law of thermodynamics, calories in and out, the fact of physics that can’t be disputed. The logic that says that, just as long as you’re in a caloric deficit, it doesn’t really matter what you’re eating. But since you’d probably also want to feel better and live longer, you may as well pick the calories from the foods that have been branded as the apex of nutrition. Fiber, starch, and plant oils.

This is the realm of the balanced diet, accepted by all government guidelines, and digested like gospel. All other diets are just ways to complicate a proven formula. And they’ll often be worse for it. Restriction leads to more wanting, which means you’ll be in for a whole lot of suffering to stumble across to the same destination.

In the modern world of cinderella stories and unique genetics, the balanced diet is as close as we can get to a one-size-fits-most. It allows people to fill their dinner plates as they see fit, as long as they can prevent portion sizes from getting out of control. It’s a completely logical approach to blasting down weight targets without acquiring an eating disorder in the process. But the fun stops there. For the most part, the concept of a ‘balanced diet’ is arbitrary and hard to put in practice. There are some specific recommendations, which in turn are gleaned from evidence constructed over quicksand.

The Assumptions Of The Balanced Diet

  • We can eat large amounts of foods that we have no right to be eating, and have consistently shown to be harmful. Vegetable oils being key among them.
  • Fiber is inherently beneficial, despite being mostly indigestible, and causing bloating, gas, leaky gut, and impaired nutrient absorption.
  • Vegetable and fruits are vital sources of minerals and vitamins, despite meat providing bigger doses with far few side effects.
  • Red meat, saturated fat and protein are harmful in large amounts, and I’m stilling looking for evidence to back that up.
  • Opting for restriction is psychologically destructive
  • A healthy gut needs a rich diversity of foods, particularly vegetables.
  • Using this diet can lead to intuitive eating

All these points are readily accepted as gospel, and understandably so. They sound more than not plausible. But it misses two critical points. The concept of a balanced diet completely rejects the idea that there could be an optimal one, that we may have evolved specially to get the best out of animal foods. And in the meantime, the balanced diet goes along with the fanciful notion that we can efficiently digest and absorb plant products that amount to a blip on the timeline of human evolution. 

The Evolutionary Diet

The evolutionary diet, on the other hand, has an entirely different take on nutrition. This was what we ate before the advent of agriculture in 10,000 B.C. Before that, there was the Pleistocene Epoch, a span of 2.5 million years where humans charted their journey from tree-dwellers to apex hunters. This era dwarfs the time we’ve since spent as broccoli farmers. 

By the end of the pleistocene, the last ice age, humans were sitting comfortably at the top of the food chain, having wiped out the megafauna to get to their perch. We spent this time rewiring our biology to become hyper meat-eaters, or carnivores. And we know our ancestors ate meat, because there’s a mountain of evidence to back that up, including the advent of tools specifically invented to scavenge and hunt animals. Meanwhile, there’s nothing to suggest that plants would have been particularly appetising back then. 

The carnivore way of eating assumes the following.

  • We need to avoid or limit plants and plant oils, as the body simply isn’t adapted to make use of the nutrients or cope with the inbound toxins.
  • Fiber is completely unnecessary, and causes more harm than it’s worth.
  • Organ meats are the richest source of micronutrients, and will do much more for you than a few multivitamins.
  • Red meat, saturated fat, and protein were staples of the evolutionary diet, and there’s no need to buck the trend.
  • Restricting your food, but keeping the nutrition, will cause a huge drop in inflammation levels.
  • A healthy gut doesn’t need diversity, or fiber for that matter.
  • The balanced diet fails to help intuitive eating, because it contains foods that don’t impact on your satiety signals. But read meat gets you stuffed.

Comparing The Two Diets

We have on one side, a template that goes back a few mere decades, and then there’s the one that spanned over 99% of our existence since we dropped down from the trees. Before we even get into the details of physiology and nutrition, this is an open and shut case. The balanced diet is broken, and it’s failing to fix the obesity and metabolic epidemic that’s continuing to gather steam. 

But with the evolutionary version, we have a potential solution on our hands, and one that ticks all the boxes. While the balanced diet is built with flawed logic, carnivore is sitting pretty on a few million years of evidence. 

Related Article – Scrap The Modern Diet And Head Back To The Original

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