The River's own Jess Osbaldeston agreed to try the "Cavewoman Diet" for seven days, but was the weight loss worth the "hell"?
By Natalie Mason and Jess Osbaldeston

Prehistoric pound shifting with the cavewoman diet


By Natalie Mason and Jess Osbaldeston


Serial dieter and Kingston student, Jess Osbaldeston, 21, had tried every trick in the book to lose weight.


From the age of ten she had attempted gruelling calorie counting, vegetarianism, weight loss pills and even an all-liquid diet.


When 2012 arrived, so did the resolution to lose weight and the prospect of yet another hopeless diet, at least that was until she heard about something a little more primeval.


At the dawn of time, man and woman would live in caves, hunt for food and grunt their way through conversations.


Prehistoric way of eating


Millions of years and thousands of fad diets later, all we’ve learnt about weight loss is that we haven’t actually learnt anything. Introducing the not-so-brand-new cavewoman diet, a prehistoric way of eating from the Stone Age.


The cavewoman diet initially sparks ideas of throwing clubs around, fighting wild beasts and being dragged by the hair, but the reality is slightly less extreme. Only slightly.


The diet takes us back to our roots with the theory that we still have the survival instincts and digestive systems of our cave dwelling ancestors. In English that translates to eating like when we were first born, so no convenience meals, no fast food, nothing processed, very little dairy, no cured meats, no grains and not much of anything else. Food portions are on the miniscule side, as are the calories and main meals are to be eaten slowly over two to four hours.


If you really want to go hard core you should eliminate all foods that come in a box, packet or jar and all drinks that come in a bottle or can. For the purpose of this experiment we wanted to keep Jess alive and well, so we allowed her to trade stream water for bottled and the hunting of animals for shop bought meat.


Our bodies haven’t changed, just our eating habits


The technical bit of the diet is based on the survival technique of cavemen and women, who had no other option than to eat just one meal a day. However, as we evolved so did our eating habits and here we are today eating three meals, snacking in-between and indulging in the odd takeaway, bit of chocolate or cheeky meal out.


Diet experts say our insides have the same capabilities now as they did several million years ago and our increasing food consumption has meant piling on the pounds and slowing down our metabolism, leaving us a nation of overweight people.


The research


Research has shown that eating just one main meal a day could lower insulin levels and reduce the fat your body stores. With periods of fasting throughout the day your body will likely burn more calories than you’re actually consuming, resulting in greater weight loss.


Public health nutritionist, Yvonne Wake said: “This type of intake contains all the right foods to give good nutrient content, and leaves out the bad additives found in processed foods which have been poisoning us over the past 30 odd years. It is a very strict style of eating but will work fine if the person sticks to it religiously, which is a challenge with most people as we are a nation of socialisers and alcohol eventually creeps in.”


We decided to test the theory ourselves and set Jess the task of a seven-day attempt at the cavewoman diet, trading panini’s and Pepsi Max for lots of raw fruit and veg. The result? A 6lb weight loss but a very tough seven days. Preparing meals took hours and eating them even longer but the diet was a success, even if a slightly shaky one. Why not give it a go?


Jess also kept a diary during her dieting adventure, take a look here.

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