If there’s one sure-fire way to make sure you stay unhealthy and die early it’s eating the modern, westernized diet. We’ve gotten very far away from eating the way our ancient ancestors ate and …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there and welcome to episode 132 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, the weight loss coach for runners and today, ancestral eating to improve health and fitness. If there’s one surefire way to make sure you stay unhealthy, and most likely die early, is to continue eating the modern westernized diet.
We’ve gotten very far away from eating the way our ancient ancestors ate, and it’s causing us irreparable harm. Chronic lifestyle diseases like obesity, type two diabetes, heart disease, and stroke are all linked to an unhealthy diet. And these afflictions were virtually non-existent in ancient populations for two and a half million years, humans evolved beautifully on a very simple diet.
So if you want to take control of your health and become the healthiest and most badass version of yourself, and I know you do, then you might want to consider following in the footsteps of your ancestors.
So in this episode, I’m going to break it all down for you to explain how ancestral eating can dramatically improve your health and fitness. And listen, I understand that getting healthy, losing weight, maintaining your weight, training for marathons, and changing your diet and trying to fit all this stuff in becoming the strongest version of yourself and the healthiest version of yourself.
All this stuff is complicated. There’s a lot of confusing information out there. And this stuff is not easy to do on your own, becoming the healthiest and most badass version of yourself. It takes time. It takes discipline, it takes consistency, it takes knowing what to do and how to do it. And this is everything that I do in the Running Lean coaching project.
This is my coaching program that gives you all the knowledge, the support, the accountability that you need, in order to reach your goals to improve your health, to get leaner, to get stronger, to run faster, to run longer. And to do it in a way that is sustainable. We are not about quick fixes.
In the Running Lean coaching project, we are about long term health and fitness, creating new habits that last for life. And this is about longevity more than anything else. It’s about improving your health, improving your fitness, improving your athletic performance, so that you can stay strong and healthy and live longer. Don’t you want to live longer? Yeah, absolutely.
I know, we all want that for ourselves, we all want to become healthy, we all want to live longer, we all want to, you know, become the most badass version of ourselves. Not many people are willing to do the work to get there, though. So that’s why I’m here to help you. If you’re feeling compelled to change your health for the better, and to do it in a way that is sustainable, then I want to encourage you to apply to join the Running Lean coaching project, you can go to my website, just go to runningleancoaching.com/apply, fill out a short application, you and I will jump on a call and we’ll see if this is a good fit for you.
You know, it’s not for everybody. And I talk to people every single day. And a lot of people are like, you know, I’m just not sure if this is right for me. And that’s totally fine. You have to be willing to commit, you have to be willing to kind of get uncomfortable and do some hard things. Because what you’re doing right now feels good, it feels comfortable, but it’s not working for you.
So in order to change we need to do some things we need to get out of our comfort zone. Getting out of your comfort zone is by definition uncomfortable. So I’m here to help you with that process. If you want that kind of help, if you’re looking for that kind of help, if you want to improve your health and make it last, join the Running Lean coaching project that’s runningleancoaching.com/apply. I would love to have you join me in the Running Lean coaching project.
Alright, let’s get into this topic today: ancestral eating to improve health and fitness. So why am I talking about this today? Well, there’s been a lot of talk out there and a lot of concern about some of these like crazy fad diets that people are doing right. There’s the South Beach diet and then there’s Weight Watchers and there’s Jenny Craig and there’s like keto and carnivore and paleo.
And all these other things that are for the most part, newer kind of diets based on you know, more modern research and, and some modern studies and things like that, but they’re pretty new. They’re pretty new there. And a lot of these are based on calorie restriction and trying to, you know, they’re focused on losing weight and things like that. And, and a lot of this stuff is, is really eating in a very modern, very new kind of way.
Okay, so the thing I want to bring to you today and the big, you know, the big sort of message that I want you to take away from this episode today is that when we engage in ancestral eating, we’re talking about doing things, the way we used to do them a long time ago.
And for millions of years, and you know, humans have evolved over the last two and a half million years, we evolved eating a certain type of diet. And we have gotten very far away from that diet. So what we’re eating today as human beings, is crazy compared to what we used to eat, for the vast majority of those two and a half million years.
And if you think about the way that we did things, we were more like wild animals of today than we are, you know, these modern thinking humans that we are in this modern society that we live in, in all the comfort and all that, you know, we’re more like wild animals, think about animals in the wild today, there’s no obesity.
In the animal kingdom out there outside of domesticated animals, there are obese dogs, I’ve seen people with dogs who are wildly overweight. And that’s because they’re, they’re eating a diet that wasn’t made for dogs, right? They’re eating a lot of grains. A lot of these dog foods have additives and they’re full of grains and things like that, that make dogs gain weight. Don’t feed your dog that stuff. Give it dog like real dog food, what do dogs eat? Meat mostly, right?
But think about animals in the wild. Today, there’s no heart disease, there’s no cancer, there’s no obesity, you know, there are some issues here and there. But for the most part, that stuff is non existent, that stuff is non existent. And why? Because those animals in the wild are eating a diet that is specific for them, they’re eating an animal specific diet, we want to go back to doing that.
So all these new diets that you see out there today, most of them are based on, you know, modern, you know, modern studies and, and modern ways of thinking about food, and nutrition. And my suggestion is we just kind of ditch all that BS, and just go back to doing things, the way we’ve always done them as human beings.
You know, think about us more like wild animals. You know, when you eat an animal specific diet, you thrive, all the animals out there in the animal kingdom that are eating, they don’t eat food that is not designed for them. They just don’t. You know, elephants are vegetarians, they eat grass, and whatever leaves and things like that.
And, you know, we don’t you don’t see elephants, you know, going off and eating a bunch of meat and you don’t see and vice versa. You don’t see cows, or I’m sorry, you don’t see lions snacking on grass and stuff. Like, they don’t eat that stuff, right? They eat an animal specific diet. Have you ever seen an obese lion? No, the lion doesn’t need to snack during the day because it eats the right kinds of food, and then it fasts. It doesn’t need to eat after it eats.
So I was looking this up. And I think this is really fascinating. Lions eat like every three or four days. And they need an average of about 11 to 15 pounds of meat every day. And lions can go without food for more than a week. And then they can eat up to 110 pounds of meat at a time. That’s crazy. I mean, that’s the way I feel. Sometimes I could do that. Right?
But that’s almost a quarter of their body weight. And they can eat that all at once. And then they don’t need to eat for another 3-5-7 days. So you know, lions don’t need to be snacking on food during the day because they’re getting all the nutrition that they need from eating those few times a week. It’s very interesting, right?
So, you know, when we snack as human beings, we’re doing it because we are eating the wrong diet and the diet that we’re eating is jacking up our hunger signals. It’s making us feel hungry all the time. When we eat food, it’s not filling us up. It’s not giving us the nutrition that we need. It’s not triggering the sensors to say, hey, you’re full, you know.
A lot of carbohydrates will do that, they will make you feel like you are constantly hungry, and you need to eat more. But then you eat more of that same type of food and you’re still hungry. It’s all messed up, just doesn’t doesn’t work, right. It’s not designed for humans that carbohydrates are really not designed for human consumption. We’ve, you know, we can eat that stuff. And it’s okay, you know, it gives us some nutrition, you know, a little bit of nutritional value, but not a lot, but it causes more harm than good.
So, when we live more like wild animals, we are going to see improved hormonal responses, we’re going to see food, we’re going to eat food that makes us feel full when we eat it, it’s going to satisfy us for longer and then there won’t be a need to snack between meals. So let’s just get off these foods that really aren’t designed for human consumption. I’m mainly talking about sugar, grains, seed oils, processed foods, that kind of stuff, right? And live more like our ancient ancestors did.
Now I’m not talking about, you know, sleeping in a cave, you don’t have to sleep on the ground in the dirt, you can still sleep in your big comfy bed with all the extra pillows, all the unnecessary pillows.
Why do we do that? By the way, here’s a little sidebar, but I have pillows on my bed that every night before I go to bed, I take them off, and I set them aside. Do you guys do that? Isn’t that weird? Why do we do that? Why do we have extra pillows? Anyway, just think about that every day when I’m taking those off my bed? Why do I have these extra pillows that I don’t use?
Anyway, but you don’t have to sleep in the dirt, you can still shop at Whole Foods. You can buy, you know your groceries at the grocery store, you don’t have to go hunt your own food or anything like that. That’s not what I’m suggesting here. What I am suggesting is that we go back to eating a proper human diet.
What happens when you feed a cow, which normally would just eat grass? What happens when you feed a cow grains? You know, they get fat, right? Have you ever seen grass fed, grass finished meat at the grocery store? If you see it, take a look at it, you’ll notice something in it, there’s very little fat in there, that muscle meat is like just red, there’s not those big streaks of fat in there.
And then look at the grain finished or grain fed grain finished meat and you’ll see that it’s very fatty. So when you feed cows grains, they get fat. This same thing happens to humans, when you feed us fat. Or I’m sorry, when you feed us grains we get fat. We store lots of that energy as fat that we’re eating from grains and sugars.
So if you want a surefire way of fattening yourself up like we do with cows then just eat a high carbohydrate diet. Right? I mean, this is just science, just the way it works. Okay. So my proposition here, my suggestion here is just to go back to doing things the way we used to, for two and a half million years of evolution. It’s not some new, weird fad thing.
Let’s just go back to eating the way we always have been eating. So how does this improve our health? Well, when we eat the proper human diet, we keep our blood sugar low. So we’re not eating foods that spike our blood sugar like crazy. We’re not eating foods that cause an insulin spike, which causes us to stay in that fat storing mode.
If you’re eating a lot of sugar and carbohydrates, you’re constantly storing energy as fat, you’re never giving your body a chance to tap into that stored body fat as a fuel source. You know, going back to our lion example, that lion is really good at, you know, consuming large amounts of food, and then going for days and you know, up to a week at a time with nothing. And they do that because they’re able to burn fat very efficiently.
We do the same thing as human beings, we’ve evolved to be really efficient fat burners, and we’ve gotten away from them. Because we’re constantly eating a diet that keeps us storing fat and doesn’t allow us to sort of lock that fat in our fat cells.
You know that insulin will, you know, when insulin is high when insulin is present, locking up that fat in our fat cells and not allowing us to tap into it as a fuel source. When we change the diet, we become more fat adapted, we’re able to tap into that stored body fat and not only lose the weight, but we have this amazing all day energy.
So one of the best ways that eating ancestrally will help you improve your health is that it improves fat burning. So you keep your blood sugar low, keep insulin low. Have all your hormones get balanced, you know, and we’re talking about hormones like leptin, and ghrelin.
Ghrelin is the hunger hormone, and it gets jacked up and it gets really elevated when you are eating a high carbohydrate diet. Leptin is the is the satiety hormone. When you have leptin, leptin is present, that means, you know, leptin gets released when you are full. So if you eat a big ol ‘steak, by the time you’re done with that steak, you’ve got leptin present and you’re full, it says, hey, don’t eat any more, you’re full. Carbohydrates do not trigger that leptin response, so you stay hungry.
So ghrelin, the hunger hormone is increased, which means you’re gonna be hungry, and then leptin is suppressed, which means you’re not going to feel full. This is a bad combination, if you’re trying to lose weight, right? If you’re trying to improve your health, you’re just going to be storing and storing more fat, right? So we don’t want that, we want our hormones balanced. We don’t want our hormones all jacked up.
Okay, so eating the proper human diet will reduce inflammation, it will reduce bloating, it will reduce the water retention, it’ll improve fat burning and helps you balance your hormones and then helps improve athletic performance. When you’re an efficient fat burner, you can run for longer periods of time.
So endurance improves, you know, your adaptive hormones are working the way they’re supposed to. So when you work out when you do a hard workout, you will improve, you know more quickly, your strength will improve the intensity of your workouts can improve, your recovery improves because you’re you’ve reduced inflammation so you can work out harder, and you can recover faster, you can work out harder because more adrenaline is being produced.
Some other ways that eating the proper human diet, eating ancestrally can improve your health is you’ll sleep better, you’ll have more energy throughout the day. You’ll have more vitality, more longevity, live longer and improve body composition. So there’s all these amazing health benefits of eating ancestral eating the proper human diet. Okay.
So how do we do it? Like what do we do? So the first thing I would say is like, let’s just get off of all these modern processed foods, you know, Franken foods, foods that are like, you know, super processed, they don’t look like food anymore. Right? Shop the areas of the grocery store where you buy meat, and eggs and produce, dairy. Stay away from all the packaged foods right?
Stay away from sugar and seed oils and liquid calories. Stay away from refined grains and anything that would be considered like hyper palatable foods. And those things contain all those things I just mentioned, which will be sugar, refined grains, and seed oils, like hyper palatable foods or foods that have been manufactured in a laboratory to be extremely delicious and make you basically addicted to them. Okay.
So we want to eat what our ancient ancestors ate: meat, eggs, fish, fruit, dairy, some honey, some vegetables, like tubers, and other vegetables that are not super high in carbohydrates. So it’s a very simple way of eating, it’s not complicated. And our ancient ancestors ate the whole animal that ate nose to tail.
One of the best things you can eat, one of the best things you can eat as a human being, one of the most nutritious things and most nutrient dense things you can eat on this planet would be liver, and organ meats, but I have to tell you that I cannot eat that stuff. I don’t like it. I don’t like the way it tastes. So instead, I use a supplement. So I use a beef organ supplement that I take and you know, this is kind of my equivalent of, of eating nose to tail, okay?
And if you’re vegetarian or vegan or something like that, you know, you don’t have to eat animal products, and you can still eat very much like our ancient ancestors. Right? But here’s the thing, like what is the way we evolved as human beings. All I’m suggesting is that we go back to doing what we’ve always done. The way we’re eating today in this modern westernized world is very, very different today than it was 100 years ago, or 500 years ago, or 5000 years ago.
And for the vast, vast majority of human existence, we ate very simply we ate animals. We ate some fruit and eggs and fish and some dairy. And we just did not go to town. on sugar and refined grains, this is a new thing. And what if we just, you know, eliminated that stuff from our diet? How would you feel, I wonder? I think you’d feel pretty amazing.
And then people always ask me, but what about this, Patrick? What about that and just fill in your favorite cheat meal or treat, you know, fill in pizza ice cream, you know, whatever it is that you love gummy worms, you know?
What about this? And what about that, you get to decide what you do for yourself, right? And this all depends on your goals, you know? So I always tell people, like, let’s try to follow the 90/10 rule, right. The 90/10 rule states that 90% of the time, I’m just gonna stick to my plan. And that means that about once a week, I might have a meal one meal a week that is a little bit different, you know, it’s a little bit off that very simple ancestral eating plan.
You know, I had dinner with my girlfriend last night, and we went to an Indian restaurant, and I ate some rice. That was my way of sort of saying, like, okay, I’m gonna eat some rice tonight. Like, it’s not crazy. It’s a grain. And I have to be honest with you, I don’t feel good today. I don’t feel good today. And I’m thinking to myself, like, why do I do this? I feel much better when I stay on track. And so do most of my clients. We feel so much better when we just stay on the plan.
But every now and then, it just seems like a good idea. Or it seems like it would be no big deal. And yet, it kind of moves us away from our goals a little bit, right? And it tends to be all about comfort versus discomfort, like what are we willing to do in these situations, to stay comfortable? What are we willing to do to keep moving in the direction of our goals? Is this choice I’m about to make here at this moment, going to move me closer to my goals or further away from my goals?
What am I feeling in this moment that makes me think I want to make this choice? Is it FOMO, fear of missing out? Is it wanting to fit in and be normal and do what everybody else is doing. And I say, let’s be abnormal, let’s get uncomfortable. Because the norm is being overweight. The norm is feeling sick, most of the time, the norm is being sluggish and feeling out of shape and not having energy and dying early.
Dying early has become a thing. And like in 2020, the average life expectancy in the United States went down 1.5 years, this is the largest one year decline since World War Two. We are not getting healthier, living longer, that’s starting to go the opposite way. This is not a good thing. Think about this.
I follow a lot of doctors and I hear them. I listen to podcasts and stuff where they’re talking about, you know, longevity and health and fitness and diet and exercise and all these things. And I hear all these doctors talk about how they never see obese 90 year olds, you know, people that live to be 90 plus years old, are not obese, because they don’t live that well. And the people with all these chronic diseases are living or not living as long as our ancestors did, you know, even 100 years ago.
So we’ve got to be concerned about this. Right? Now, I understand that ancient humans didn’t live as long as we do now. They, you know, would you know, die of certain types of viruses and things like that, which, you know, we live longer now because of modern medicine, for sure.
But the fact that we have access to all this modern medicine, and yet we’re choosing to live a lifestyle that is killing us earlier, this is not a good thing. It’s not a good thing, right? The food that we’re eating a lot of times is more like a drug than it is fuel for our bodies. Especially carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are addictive.
There are people who cannot moderate carbohydrate intake. I’m not one of those people. If I start eating sugar, it’s hard for me to stop. And when you look at the definition of what a drug is, a drug is something that is a substance that is not necessary for human existence for human health and carbohydrates fit that category.
Fat is necessary for human health. We have to eat fat or we will die. Protein is necessary for human health, we have to eat that or we will die. Those two things are called essential nutrients. We have to get those in our diet. Our body does not produce those things. We have to eat them.
Carbohydrates are not an essential nutrient. We don’t have to eat carbohydrates. Your body produces the glucose it needs. It takes some of the protein you eat, it turns it into glucose, the process in your liver called gluconeogenesis. And this is just something that we have to understand. I’m not saying don’t ever eat carbohydrates, I’m just saying they’re, they’re not necessary for human health.
Okay, so the definite definition of a drug is something that is not necessary for existence. It’s something that when you eat it, or ingest it, or smoke, or drink it or whatever, it gives you an instant reward. It lights up your dopamine centers, your pleasure centers, and releases dopamine and oxytocin and serotonin and endorphins and all that stuff, right.
So you get this buzz from eating or drinking or whatever. So it’s not necessary for human health, it gives you a reward, and then it causes harm in excess. So in excess, eating carbohydrates will cause negative consequences. If there’s no harm from the substance, there’s no addiction. Right? So people that drink alcohol, if you drink, moderately, if you drink, have, you have one glass of wine twice a week or something like that, and you can just put it down. There’s no addiction there. Right, because it’s not causing negative consequences.
But if it does, when you are in excess, when it does cause negative consequences in excess, that’s a drug. And that’s something that’s an addiction, that’s an addictive behavior. And then another criteria is if you try to control your intake, and you cannot, so the absence of control is, you know, means that there’s some addiction happening there, too. Right? Once you start, you can’t stop.
And for a lot of us eating sugar is our once we start eating it, we can’t stop. It’s the definition of addiction, right. And also, another criteria is that there’s a dysfunctional way of managing emotions. So this becomes an emotional management strategy. People use drugs like nicotine, alcohol, and things like food, especially carbohydrates, sugar, to manage their emotions, they just want to feel better.
So instead of dealing with the actual emotions they are experiencing, they eat this food that makes them feel good. And it’s impossible to get obese from eating food. You cannot get obese from eating real food. You can only get obese by eating carbohydrates by eating drugs. Like if you just ate an ancestral human diet. I mean, you might get overweight, you might gain some weight. But you know, a lot of that might be muscle weight. You might get a little bit overweight, but you’re not going to become obese.
You can’t get morbidly obese from eating real food. You only get that when you’re eating, you know, drugs, essentially. Okay? Food is not addictive. You don’t get addicted to eating steak and broccoli. You don’t. Carbohydrates are very addictive, though. Right? So we want to get off of the food as a drug and start eating the way our ancestors have eaten for millions of years. Just eat real food, food that still looks like food.
And listen, I get it, you probably have a million questions about stuff and everybody wants to complicate things, I’m trying to simplify things I want to simplify my life. I want my dietary choices to be so simple, I don’t have to think about it, I don’t have to make some extravagant meal with all these recipes and ingredients and things like that. Every meal does not have to be an amazing entertainment event.
Every now and then I will go out and have a nice meal in a restaurant. And I enjoy that I had a nice meal last night and I enjoyed that, you know, maybe overdid it on the rice a little bit. But besides that, you know, I can do that every now and then it’s fine. But for the most part for like 90% of the time, the way I eat is extremely simple. And it makes me happy. Eating a steak, or a big piece of salmon at night for dinner makes me happy. I look forward to it. And I might have a little bit of Greek yogurt with a little berries afterwards. You know, it’s like a little treat or something.
But this is all real food. This is all food our ancestors would say oh yeah, I guess I know what that is. We’ve been eating that for millions of years. Patrick, that’s cool. This cannot be simpler. We want to make things very, very simple. Go back to the simple ways of living our lives. Go back to those simple ways of eating and see how it might improve your health. Like what would it look like if you started living more like our ancient ancestors?
If you started eating more like your ancient ancestors, you know what if we all got off the addictive substances, alcohol, nicotine and carbohydrates you know, what if we just simplified? What if you improved your health? What if you got leaner and stronger? How would that feel for you? What if we all live to be 100 years old? Because we are so healthy and strong, going into old age? And you know, these diseases of lifestyle were no longer a thing?
And what if we modeled that for our kids? And what if they modeled that for their kids?
Think about the impact we can make in this world. Not to mention how badass you’re going to feel when you PR your next marathon. Because you’re so lean and you’re so strong, and you’ve improved your health, you’ve improved your athletic performance.
Or imagine how amazing you’re going to look in that bikini next summer because you’ve improved your body composition, you’ve lost the fat weight, you’ve gained the muscle weight and you feel amazing and you look amazing. Just imagine what that might look like for you. Alright, that’s all I got for you today. Love you all. Keep on Running Lean, and I’ll talk to you soon.
If you’re a runner and you’ve been struggling to lose weight or you keep losing and gaining the same 10 pounds over and over again. Or you’re finally ready to get to your natural weight and stay there for good this time then I have something you will love. I’ve created a powerful new training just for you called running lean for life. You’ll learn exactly how to transform yourself into a lean fat-burning running machine. So you can run without bonking, lose weight without calorie counting and develop the habits required to make it last for life. To get this free training right now go to runningleanpodcast.com/leanforlife and start your transformation today.