Don’t even look at pancakes
Clothing and grains both optional.
Hunter Gatherer genotypes are rough and rugged, ready to scour the landscape for the raw ingredients their bodies need to get by, spear in hand. But even in cases where spears are traded for cell phones, there are plenty of options for feeding the family around this evening’s camp fire, subject to a few simple rules of course.
First, other than the honey they extract from raw honeycomb on the plains, Hunter Gatherers are not well suited to eating sugar and refined carbs. As Hunter Gatherers are more prone to elevated blood sugar, this is largely a grain free diet. But here’s the rub – large amounts of saturated fats can’t fill the void left by the absence of refined grain. The trick is to find rich deposits of omega-3 and monounsaturated fats as staples. Olives, sardines, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, tubers, they’re all on the menu. Keep an eye on eggs – they may jive beautifully with a Hunter Gatherer diet depending on how much cholesterol the Hunter Gatherer is absorbing. If a Hunter Gatherer can maintain heart health metrics while eating eggs, they are golden. Just don’t cook those eggs in vegetable oil.
Another core principle for Hunter Gatherers is the freshness of food. The longer food sits out, or the longer it cooks, the more histamine accumulates. This is a big problem for the Hunter Gatherer camp because they are one of our diet types that don’t score as well on histamine clearance. In fact, high histamine foods can be kryptonite for Hunter Gatherers. They should do their best to avoid red wine, aged cheese, fermented foods and meal prep services. Let’s face it, the Hunter Gatherer societies of old certainly didn’t eat three day old chicken and broccoli in Tupperware containers. As such, Hunter Gatherers need to resist their “inner bro” and head towards the light of organic freshness. The organic freshness light is the Hunter Gatherer north star.
What is the scientific basis for this diet? The macronutrient outlook for the Hunter Gatherer diet, with 30% healthy fats, 45% good carbohydrates, and 25% protein, much of which comes from seafood and plant sources, is consistent with the most current version of the United States Dietary Guidelines.
For more on the science of nutrigenomics, see our science page.
Most closely related diet: Forager
Primary difference with Forager: Hunter Gatherers and Forager diet types don’t line up on histamine scoring. The Hunter Gatherers should be aware of histamine, whereas the Forager group is able to clear more histamine, but due to a high likelihood of lactose intolerance, should steer clear of dairy.
Biggest challenge: Fiber. Hunter Gatherers want to stay away from the higher glycemic foods that tend to spike blood sugar, so white potato might not be the best choice, but this doesn’t mean they should close the door on fiber. Yams, broccoli, leafy greens, root vegetables, beets, and pumpkin seeds are all on the menu.
Red meat friendly? Like many of the diet types that sit in the middle of our fat scoring system, small amounts of red meat can be included in the Hunter Gatherer diet. Wild game or grass fed beef is always preferable. Beef and lamb should be reserved as a special treat so the saturated fat content of the diet doesn’t go out of range.
Keto friendly: Not in the traditional sense. Hunter Gatherer dieters don’t deal well enough with saturated fats to go full on Keto. We estimate that most in the Hunter Gatherer group would see an unhealthy uptick in “bad cholesterol” on a ketogenic diet. However, a more plant based Keto approach could be an option depending on the Gene Food Sterol Score. After all, the Hunter Gatherer diet is designed as a low carb regimen. The bottom line question for Keto inclined Hunter Gatherers is how much olive oil and macadamia nuts can you stomach? That and what do your sterol absorption genes look like?
Carnivore diet friendly? Nope.
Does this diet type handle fermented foods? Sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi are all potentially problematic for Hunter Gatherers as this group does tend to have issues with histamine. Since histamine levels fluctuate over time, and in response to changes in the environment, some Hunter Gatherers may find they tolerate fermented foods better in certain seasons, or in locations where they do not have allergies. As a general rule aged, fermented and leftovers are limited in this diet.
What about pancakes and refined grains: Bad idea for Hunter Gatherers. This diet really is an ancestral “throwback” to a time before organized agriculture. Some whole grains can be on the menu, especially pseudo grains like quinoa and buckwheat, but anything milled into flour form presents problems for these ancient eaters.
Go to breakfast: Poached eggs over black bean and sweet potato hash.