If you are not overweight and do not have Metabolic Syndrome or Type 2 diabetes, Kurt G. Harris, MD, counseled that by emulating the “evolutionary metabolic milieu,” the Archevore can improve your health. He counseled the follower to “go as far down the list as you can in whatever time frame you can manage. The further along the list you stop, the healthier you are likely to be. There is no counting, measuring, or weighing. You are not required to purchase anything” from him or anyone. “There are no special supplements, drugs or testing required,” said he.
When I originally wrote this in 2011, I had been a Type 2 diabetic for 25 years, and had been eating a Very Low Carb (VLC) diet for the previous 8 years. VLC is a VERY effective way to control your blood sugar and lose a lot of weight.
But if you are overweight, have Metabolic Syndrome or T2D, to improve your health Dr. Harris does not suggest the Archevore diet. He recommends you eat with special macronutrient ratios to address those medical conditions.
Dr. Harris’s 12-step program was lifted (almost) verbatim in 2011 from his now-defunct Archevore.com website.
1. Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS) and all foods that contain flour.
2. Eat proper fats. Use healthy animal fats to substitute fat calories that formerly came from sugar and flour.
3. Eliminate gluten grains (wheat, barley, rye). Limit grains like corn and rice, which are nutritionally poor.
4. Eliminate grain and seed derived oils (cooking oils). Cook with Ghee, butter, animal fats, or coconut oil. Use no temperate plant oils like corn, soy, canola, flax, walnut, etc.
5. Favor ruminants like beef, lamb and bison for your meat. Eat eggs and fish.
6. Make sure you are Vitamin D replete. Get daily midday sun or consider supplementation.
7. Two or three meals a day is best. Don’t graze like an herbivore.
8. Adjust your (Omega) 6’s and 3’s. Pastured (grass fed) dairy and grass-fed beef or bison has a more optimal 6:3 ratio, more vitamins and (natural) CLA. If you can’t eat enough pastured products, eat plenty of fish.
9. Get proper exercise – emphasizing resistance and interval training over long aerobic sessions.
10. Most modern fruit is just a candy bar from a tree. Go easy on bags of sugar like apples. Stick with berries. Eat fruit in moderation. If you are not trying to lose fat, a piece of fruit a day is fine.
11. Eliminate legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soy beans).
12. If you are allergic to milk protein…stick to butter and cream and avoid milk and soft cheeses.
“No counting, measuring or weighing is required, nor is it encouraged.” “Archevores typically range from 5-35% carbohydrate, from 10-30% protein and from 50 – 80% fat (mostly from animals) but wider ranges are entirely possible if you are not dieting and you are meticulous about the quality of your animal food sources. If you are trying to lose weight, really minimizing fructose and eating 50-70g a day of carbs as starch is recommended. If you are at your desired weight and healthy, 20% of calories as carbs are plenty for most very active people.”
“Archevore diets tend to be lower in carbohydrate than the Standard American Diet (SAD) because you can only eat so much, and eating animals gives you lots of fat. But it is emphatically not a “low carb” diet as you do not count anything. You just avoid certain foods that happen to be largely carbohydrate.
Note that “Fat” and “Carbohydrate” are macronutrient categories that each contains good and bad. Saturated and monounsaturated fat are generally good. More than 4% of calories from PUFA (whether n3 or n6) is bad. For healthy non-diabetics, starch (glucose polymers) is good. Excess fructose is bad.
Most Archevores only know macronutrient metrics in retrospect, as they don’t target numbers just like wild humans didn’t target numbers. If you are not trying to lose weight and you like to eat potatoes and rice, EAT THEM. Sweet potatoes, white rice and white potatoes per se are not Neolithic agents of disease. Many active people without diabetes or metabolic syndrome feel and function better with a fair amount of starch in their diet.Of course, if you are overweight, or have Metabolic Syndrome, pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, Dr Harris suggests you eat with special macronutrient ratios (and eliminate fruit and starch), to address those medical conditions.