The Caveman Diet

I receive a monthly newsletter from Tom Venuto, the famous fitness book writer that wrote Burn the Fat Feed The Muscle (link to the review I did a little while ago of the book). He had a great question and answer that I wanted to share about The Caveman Diet, a diet that I myself had never heard of.


Hi Tom,

The Caveman DietYour Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle ebook was an eye-opener for me. I am following your advice closely with very good results. I’m a semi professional windsurfer and a mountain biker, and especially for the latter I need to be as lean as possible. Thanks in large part to your program, I’m well into a single digit body fat and dropping.

Just recently I came across a book called the paleolithic diet and I was wondering if you ever heard about it? What’s your opinion on this book? Is it worth reading if I already have your book? Is the program any good?


Mariusz G.


The “paleolithic,” “stone age,” “cave man,” or “neanderthal” eating plans have been around for a while and there are quite a few books that have been written on the subject.

In general, with a only few minor constructive criticisms, I think they are right on point, and will benefit your health and definitely your fat loss efforts.

What is the Caveman Diet?

A “Paleo Diet” is actually quite similar to my Burn The Fat program, only with the starches and grains (and dairy products) removed completely.

In fact, a “paleo” or “cave man” diet is very, very similar to the “contest” (bodybuilding or physique) diets I recommend in Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle and this is most definitely a great way get very lean, very fast.

The Caveman Diet

Paleo Diet Food

On physique competition diets (bodybuilding, fitness, figure, etc), you leave the lean proteins, lean meats, nuts and seeds, the green veggies (fibrous carbs), and some fruit in the diet, while reducing or removing ALL processed foods and SOME of the grains and starches. (usually the dairy products go too).

When it comes to MAXIMUM FAT LOSS, the removal or reduction of grains and calorie dense starchy carbs in favor of lean protein and veggies will definitely help speed the process – even if that’s only because it reduces caloric density of the food intake, although there are other reasons. Lean protein (fish and meat) + good fats nuts + lots of green veggies + some fruit = LEAN! And thats basically what the “paleolithic” diets recommend, because the principle there is to eat like our “stone age” ancestors did – before there was McDonalds, Coca Cola and other junk food.

The premise is that since our genetic code (the human genome) has changed less than 0.02 percent in 40,000 years, this means that our bodies are still expecting to get the same foods and nutrition they were getting 40,000 years ago.

By eating what our “stone age” hunter and gatherer ancestors ate, say the paleo diets, we will rid ourselves of the health problems and the obesity problem that has only recently begun to plague us as a result of modern lifestyle and processed manmade foods.

What was Food Like in Caveman Time?

Forty thousand years ago, you had to eat nature-made food. There was no food in cans, boxes or packages was there? The packaging was peel, a skin or a shell!

There were no TV dinners. There was no drive in fast food. There were no convenience stores.

There was no corn syrup. There was no white sugar. There were no hydrogenated oils. No chemicals. No preservatives. No artificial anything

There was only what could be hunted and gathered: Meat, fish, nuts, seeds, plants, vegetables, fruits.

My only real constructive criticism is that some of these programs not only recommend removal of all grains and starches (and even dairy), they outright condemn them – sometimes unfairly, I believe.

They say that agriculture arrived on the scence only 10,000 years ago so foods produced as a result of agriculture should also be on the “banned” list and that includes 100% whole grain products and even rice, potatoes and other starches which are not manmade.

Are all Starches Bad?

the truth is there are some starchy carbohydrates and grains which are very minimally processed or completely unproceseed (the only processing being cooking).

Also, some people can metabolically handle starches and grains just fine, while others cannot. The same can be said for dairy products.

This is known as metabolic individuality. Because this individuality exists from person to person, I don’t believe it’s necessary to recommend that “EVERYONE” cut out “ALL” the starches and grains “ALL” the time.

I do believe that many people are getting an overdose of refined carbs and sugar and that moderating intake of concentrated carbs almost always accelerates fat loss.

However, the nutrition program you choose should depend on your metabolic/body type, your current body composition and state of health as well as your goals (maximum fat loss vs. muscle growth vs. maintenance, vs. endurance athleticperformance).

I don’t believe that “agriculture” and everything that came with it is “evil.”

I believe that highly processed and refined and packaged foods are the “nutritional evils” we should be aware of.

To remove brown rice, 100% whole grains, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, legumes and so on for healthy carb tolerant people, especially those who are highly active and or already at a normal body fat level doesnt make a lot of sense to me.

In particular, for athletes with a high energy expenditure, eating the concentrated complex, starchy carbs and grains – from natural sources – can be quite important.

Sure, there are some “renegade’ nutritionists who prescribe high fat diets for endurance athletes and claim that will provide high energy and high performance, but that is controversial.

Also, an explanation for athletes successful on such plans may be that they are metabolically suited for more fat and protein to begin with, so that conclusion shouldn’t be generalized to everyone.

thats the trouble with so many programs — the creators might say, “It worked for me and for some of my clients, so this is the way EVERYONE should do it.”

Everyone is different, so the true inquiring minds will inquire about what is best for THEM, not the other guy… In the case of highly active healthy people and athletes, I would lean towards a decent amount of natural carbs forperformance goals (and pull back on starches and grains when goals change to maximum fat loss).

The key word here is NATURAL!

There is a HUGE difference between natural starches and grains and refined starches and grains.

For example, look at old fashioned unsweetened oatmeal versus sugary, white flour cereal grains. How can you throw those together into the same category??? They are no where near the same, but often they get lumped together by those who are adamantly “no-grain” or “no-cereal” allowed.

What about sweet potatoes? why cut something like that out of your diet? They are not processed or man made at all are they?

Aside from that minor quibble I have with some of these programs being too strict with their “Absolutely no grains or starch allowed,” there is a lot anyone can learn from the “paleolithic” eating concept.

The questions raised from these programs and books are good ones:

“What were we eating tens of thousands of years ago?”

“What are we genetically and environmentally predisposed to eat?”

“what has gone wrong with the modern day diet that has led to so much disease and obesity which didn’t exist thousands of years ago?”

What Should you Eat?

I believe that too many people get caught up in low fats or low carbs or whatever the trend of the month is, but the real source of our problem is neither fat nor carbs, it is an excess of processed, refined man-made food! (combined with a serious shortage of exercise)

If you study and understand the concept of eating according to your personal goals and your unique body/metabolic type first, which I discuss in chapter 5 of my book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle, then I believe you will get even more benefit from the further study of the “paleo” eating concept, as you will be informed and flexible enough to adapt it to your personal situation.

Loren Cordain and Ray Audette have written two of the more notable works on the subject (the Paleo diet and Neanderthin). You can get either of these at almost any bookstore or You can get my Burn The Fat program at

ANY good nutrition program – for health or for fat loss – is going to be focused on natural foods and it will teach you how to get the processed food OUT and the natural food IN

keep in mind what Fitness Icon Jack Lalanne has always said,

“If man made it, dont eat it!”

THAT is the essence of eating how we’re supposed to eat!

Until next week, train hard and expect success,

Your friend and coach,

Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS
Certified Personal Trainer
Certified Strength Conditioning Specialist
Fat Loss Coach

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Shrinking those fat cells Part 2

In the first part of this article Tom Venuto told us how fat cells are created and live. In this second part Tom tells us how to shrink them and lose weight.

When the FFA’s are released from the fat cell, the fat cell shrinks and that’s why you look leaner when you lose body fat – because the fat cell is now smaller. A small or “empty” fat cell is what you’re after if you want the lean, defined look.

Can You Build More Fat Cells?

Shrinking those fat cells Part 2

Shrinking Fat Cells

It was once believed that the number of fat cells could not increase after adulthood, only the size of the fat cells could increase (or decrease). We now know that fat cells can indeed increase both in size (hypertrophy) and in number (hyperplasia) and that they are more likely to increase in number at certain times and under certain circumstances, such as 1) during late childhood and early puberty, 2) During pregnancy, and 3) During adulthood when extreme amounts of weight are gained

Some people are genetically predisposed to have more fat cells than others and women have more fat cells than men. An infant usually has about 5 – 6 billion fat cells. This number increases during early childhood and puberty, and a healthy adult with normal body composition has about 25 to 30 billion fat cells. A typical overweight adult has around 75 billion fat cells. But in the case of severe obesity, this number can be as high as 250 to 300 billion!

The average size (weight) of an adult fat cell is about 0.6 micrograms, but they can vary in size from 0.2 micograms to 0.9 micrograms. An overweight person’s fat cells can be up to three times larger than a person with ideal body composition.

Fat Cells are just Energy Storage

Remember, body fat is basically just a reserve source of energy and fat cells are the like the storage tanks. Unlike a gas tank in your car which is fixed in size, however, fat cells can expand or shrink in size depending on how “filled” they are.

Picture a balloon that is not inflated: It’s tiny when not filled with air – maybe the size of your thumb. When you blow it up with air, it can expand 10 or 12 times it’s normal size, because it simply fills up. That’s what happens to fat cells: They start as nearly empty fat storage “tanks” (when you are lean), and when energy intake exceeds your needs, your fat cells “fill up” and “stretch out” like balloons filling up with jelly (not a pretty picture, is it?)

So you don’t actually “lose” fat cells, you “shrink” or “empty out” fat cells.

Lessons to Lower Fat Cell Size

1. Calories count –The signal that triggers your body to release adipose from fat cells is an energy deficit… you have to burn more than you eat.

2. Cut calories conservatively – Starving yourself may cause quick weightloss at first, but never works long term because it actually decreases the activity of fat burning enzymes that release fat from the cells. to avoid this “starvation mode” use exercise to BURN THE FAT, not very low calorie crash diets.

3. Get control of your weight now – If you are gaining weight, and especially if your weight is climbing upwards out of control, make a decision to STOP RIGHT NOW. Your fat cells might be multiplying, making it more difficult to burn fat in the future. NOW is the time!

4. If you’ve already lost weight, you must be forever diligent – Your fat cells are not gone, they have merely “shrunk” or “emptied out.” Fitness is not a 12 week program, its a lifestyle. To stay lean you have to eat clean and stay active

5. Genetics are only a minor factor – You may not have control over how many fat cells you were born with, but you do control the major factors that determine how much fat you store: lifestyle, exercise, nutrition, mental attitude.

Genetics are not an excuse. The past is not an excuse. Your present condition is not an excuse. You can either make excuses or get results, but you can’t do both.

So keep educating yourself about the science, read these newsletters, take action every day and go out there and make it happen!

If you need more help, Burn The Fat is the eating plan that turned it all around for thousands of others… why not you? visit:

About the Author:

Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and a certified personal trainer (CPT). Tom is the author of “Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle,” which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using methods of the world’s best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting:

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Shrinking those fat cells Part 1

Shrinking those fat cells Part 1

Shrinking Fat Cells

Tom Venuto of Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle has written this great article on the shrinking of fat cells. Here is part one of the article.

Earlier this week someone in our discussion forum wrote, “I haven’t “LOST” any fat… I know EXACTLY where it went! I got a chuckle out of that because I “got” the joke, but truth is, most people really don’t know how fat cells work, how the fat burning process takes place or where the fat goes when it’s burned. It’s actually quite a complex biochemical process, but I’ll explain it as simply as possible, so by the end of this article, you’ll be a “fat burning” expert!

When you “lose” body fat, the fat cell (also called an adipocyte) does not go anywhere or “move into the muscle cell to be burned. The fat cell itself, (unfortunately) stays right where it was – under the skin in your thighs, stomach, hips, arms, etc., and on top of the muscles – which is why you can’t see muscle “definition” when your body fat is high.

How is Fat Stored in the Body?

Fat is stored inside the fat cell in the form of triaglycerol. The fat is not burned right there in the fat cell, it must be liberated from the fat cell through somewhat complex hormonal/enzymatic pathways. When stimulated to do so, the fat cell simply releases its contents (triaglycerol) into the bloodstream as free fatty acids (FFA’s), and they are transported through the blood to the tissues where the energy is needed.

A typical young male adult stores about 60,000 to 100,000 calories of energy in body fat cells. What triggers the release of all these stored fatty acids from the fat cell? Simple: When your body needs energy because you’re consuming fewer calories than you are burning (an energy deficit), then your body releases hormones and enzymes that signal your fat cells to release your fat reserves instead of keeping them in storage.

For stored fat to be liberated from the fat cell, hydrolysis (lipolysis or fat breakdown), splits the molecule of triaglycerol into glycerol and three fatty acids. An important enzyme called hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) is the catalyst for this reaction. The stored fat (energy) gets released into the bloodstream as FFA’s and they are shuttled off to the muscles where the energy is needed. As blood flow increases to the active muscles, more FFA’s are delivered to the muscles that need them.

Enzyme for Fat Burning

An important enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), then helps the FFA’s get inside the mitochondria of the muscle cell, where the FFA’s can be burned for energy. If you’ve ever taken a biology class, then you’ve probably heard of the mitochondria. This is the “cellular powerhouse” where energy production takes place and this is where the FFA’s go to be burned for energy.

Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and a certified personal trainer (CPT). Tom is the author of “Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle,” which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using methods of the world’s best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting:

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