Hercules Actor Kellan Lutz Adopts Stone Age Diet for Health

Twillight actor Kellan Lutz had to  “beef up” with a high-protein diet for his title role in The Legend of Hercules.  Now he’s undergoing a “detox” and trying to adopt a healthier diet.

As Lutz told Billy Bush on Access Hollywood:

“It’s really important to learn about your body and I’ve gotten some tests done just to learn about what I’m allergic to and they (medics) actually said that caffeine is not good for me and that I should be a vegan but I love meat.

“So I’ve been trying this new paleo diet … and I feel healthy; I’ve cut out all of the sugars … I have candy drawers all over my place, so waking up and seeing my Starbursts and Gummi Bears … Knowing that it’s not good for me though has been very easy (to give up).”

What is this “paleo diet” and is it really new?

The idea that eating like our stone age ancestors is healthier than modern diets was first proposed 28 years ago in 1985, the same year that Kellan Lutz was born.  The basic idea is modern humans are fat and unhealthy because what we eat today is not what we were genetically programmed to eat before the invention of agriculture when prehistoric humans, using stone tools (“paleoliths”), hunted and gathered their food from wild sources.

The theory that paleolithic nutrition is better for us than the nutrition provided by modern diets is not wrong, just overly simplistic and incomplete.  A quarter century of research since the theory was first proposed has shown that our diets and health are not strictly programmed in our genes but are also determined by:

  • What our mothers eat when we are in the womb
  • What foods we learn to like and dislike when we’re babies
  • The trillions of bacteria (“biotics”) that live in our intestines and help us process food

Researchers have also found that paleolithic diets varied greatly depending on location and therefore there was no universal ancestral diet.

paleo-diet-half-baked_3

Photo credit: Jen Christiansen

What can you eat (and not eat) on a paleo diet?

Yes

The foods readily available to paleolithic-era humans included muscle and organ meats, bone marrow, fish and shellfish, eggs,  fruits, roots, nuts and berries but also insects and their larvae (modern “paleo diets” seems to skip several of these delicacies).  For the paleo diet, meats should be grass-fed. Eggs are allowed as well. Refined oils (such as vegetable, canola, etc.) are replaced by olive, walnut, flax seed, macadamia, avocado and coconut oils.  The only beverages allowed are water, coconut water and green tea

No

What you’re not allowed to eat on a paleo diet are milk products, grains (including whole grains), legumes (including peanuts), sugar, salt and processed foods. Honey is allowed on an occasional basis.

Below is a comparison of the well-known Mediterranean diet and the Paleo diet.

 

Mediterranean-Diet

Mediterranean Diet

Paleo Diet

Paleo Diet

What are the benefits and risks?

Medical research has shown that paleolithic-type diets are both safe and effective in improving disease risk factors in both healthy people and patients with type 2 diabetes or heart disease.  In addition, paleo diets are more satisfying per calorie than other diets, such as the Mediterranean diet.  Although more research is needed, paleo-type diets may be useful in preventing stroke, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.  It seems like Kellen Lutz is on the right track.

For more information, consult this Resounding Health Casebook and these related stories:

Here’s the preview of The Legend of Hercules, which comes out January 10, 2014.

 

 

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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