Hunter Gatherers also ATE a LOT of CARBS – The Stupidity of the Diet Wars

paleo and hunter gatherers hazda eat carbs

In one of our earlier articles we have discussed the stupidity of fighting over whether humans are herbivores or carnivores since diet gurus are arguing non-stop over that issue (that really doesn’t exist) and dieters are getting confused.

Now there’s this: if you have been a spectator of the rising friction between the low carb crowd and the low fat crowd arguing over the “one and only, ideal way for weight loss” you would have probably encountered the argument that going low carb is the only way to go because our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers evolved relying on their game (captured or hunted animal) as primary source of food.

Since Hunter gatherers, well…used to “hunt” then that must mean that humans indeed are better off eating just meat and animal fats as a staple source of sustenance – which supports the argument of the low-carb zealots.

But what if we take a look on how present hunter gatherer tribes eat? Since we cannot simply go back in time to confirm that hypothesis, then these tribes will give us an unadulterated data of how much we originally relied on meat as a food source when we were hunter-gatherers.

As it turns out Hunter-gatherers or the real “paleos” not only eat carbs but a LOT of it! Check this study out as this is not something that “Paleo gurus” will willingly share with you:

Honey, Hadza, hunter-gatherers, and human evolution.


Honey is the most energy dense food in nature. It is therefore not surprising that, where it exists, honey is an important food for almost all hunter-gatherers. Here we describe and analyze widespread honey collecting among foragers and show that where it is absent, in arctic and subarctic habitats, honey bees are also rare to absent. Second, we focus on one hunter-gatherer society, the Hadza of Tanzania. Hadza men and women both rank honey as their favorite food. Hadza acquire seven types of honey. Hadza women usually acquire honey that is close to the ground while men often climb tall baobab trees to raid the largest bee hives with stinging bees. Honey accounts for a substantial proportion of the kilocalories in the Hadza diet, especially that of Hadza men. Cross-cultural forager data reveal that in most hunter-gatherers, men acquire more honey than women but often, as with the Hadza, women do acquire some. Virtually all warm-climate foragers consume honey. Our closest living relatives, the great apes, take honey when they can. We suggest that honey has been part of the diet of our ancestors dating back to at least the earliest hominins. The earliest hominins, however, would have surely been less capable of acquiring as much honey as more recent, fully modern human hunter-gatherers. We discuss reasons for thinking our early ancestors would have acquired less honey than foragers ethnographically described, yet still significantly more than our great ape relatives.


Hazda hunters getting honey for snacktime:

paleo and hunter gatherers hazda eat carbs


A study was also conducted personally following the activities of the Hazda people for 12 years and it was documented that these people consumed most of their caloric intake while out in the fields hunting for prey. You see, they need to feed themselves while they “work” and 85% of what they eat while foraging consists of honey.

Eat first, share later: Hadza hunter–gatherer men consume more while foraging than in central places


The foraging and food sharing of hunter–gatherers have provided the backdrop to several different evolutionary hypotheses about human life history. Men’s foraging has often been characterized as primarily targeting animals, with high variance and high rates of failure. To the best of our knowledge, however, there are as yet no quantitative studies reporting the amounts of food that men eat while foraging, before returning to their households either empty-handed or with foods. Here, we document this under-reported part of forager’s diets—men’s eating while out of camp on foray. Our dataset consists of 146 person/day follows (921 hours total) collected over a period of 12 years (from 2001–2013, including 12 camps). Hadza men consumed a substantial amount of food while out of camp foraging. Men did more than just snack while out of camp foraging, they consumed a mean of 2,405 kilocalories per foray, or approximately 90% of what is estimated to be their mean daily total energy expenditure (TEE). The characterization of men’s foraging strategies as “risky”, in terms of calorie acquisition, may be exaggerated. Returning to camp empty-handed did not necessarily mean the forager had failed to acquire food, only that he failed to produce enough surplus to share. Surprisingly, the vast majority of the kilocalories eaten while out of camp came from honey (85%). These observations are relevant to evolutionary theories concerning the role of male provisioning. Understanding primary production and consumption is critical for understanding the nature of sharing and the extent to which sharing and provisioning supports reproduction in hunter–gatherers.

This makes sense as technically they would only get to eat meat when they are actually able to catch something and feast upon it when they get back – but most of the time these people (especially the hunters themselves) relied on carbohydrate sources like fruits, berries and honey to keep them sustained and fed. There is no doubt that Paleos (real life paleos) actually consumed carbs when given the chance.

What about the Eskimos/Inuits?

Inuits literally live in an ice-world, with very little to no plants, nor honeys, in short they survive relying solely on meat and fats, aren’t they faring much better than we do in the “carb-filled world”?

While it is true that they have been observed to live solely on walruses and whale blubber, it is incorrect to say that they aren’t getting a substantial amount of calories from carbs:

Inuits also happen to eat a lot of carbohydrates!

Inuits love whale skin because they contain a lot of glycogen making them a little bit sweet:

inuits eating whale skin


But this is more of a subconscious thing on their part; you see, inuits (Eskimos) eat their meat and whale skins RAW! Yes, raw! And you know what’s on raw meat? Glycogen! Particularly whale skin and animal liver contain lots of carbohydrates and off course they are eaten uncooked! Check this out:

However, in multiple studies the traditional Inuit diet has not been shown to be a ketogenic diet. Not only have multiple researchers been unable to detect any evidence of ketosis resulting from the traditional Inuit Diet, but the ratios of fatty-acid to glucose were observed to be well below the generally accepted level of ketogenesis.


Inuit actually consume more carbohydrates than most nutritionists have assumed. Because Inuit frequently eat their meat raw and fresh, or freshly frozen, they can obtain more carbohydrates from their meat, as dietary glycogen, than Westerners can. The Inuit practice of preserving a whole seal or bird carcass under an intact whole skin with a thick layer of blubber also permits some proteins to ferment, or hydrolyze, into carbohydrates. Furthermore, the blubber, organs, muscle and skin of the marine mammals that Inuit eat have significant glycogen stores, which assist those animals when oxygen is depleted on prolonged dives. For instance, when blubber is analyzed by direct carbohydrate measurements, it has been shown to contain as much as 8—30% carbohydrates. While postmortem glycogen levels are often depleted through the onset of rigor mortis, marine mammals have a much delayed onset of rigor mortis, even in warm conditions, presumably due to the high content of oxymyoglobin in the muscle that may permit aerobic metabolism to continue slowly for some time after the death of the animal. Additionally, in cold conditions, glycogen’s depletion is halted at -18 °C (-0.4 °F) and lower temperatures in comminuted meat.

Traditional Inuit diets derive approximately 50% of their calories from fat, 30-35% from protein and 15-20% of their calories from carbohydrates, largely in the form of glycogen from the raw meat they consumed. This high fat content provides valuable energy and prevents protein poisoning, which historically was sometimes a problem in late winter when game animals grew lean through winter starvation. It has been suggested that because the fats of the Inuit’s wild-caught game are largely monounsaturated and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the diet does not pose the same health risks as a typical Western high-fat diet. However, actual evidence has shown that Inuit have a similar prevalence of coronary artery disease as non-Inuit populations and they have excessive mortality due to cerebrovascular strokes, with twice the risk to that of the North American population. Indeed, the cardiovascular risk of this diet is so severe that the addition of a more standard American diet has reduced the incidence of mortality in Inuit population. Furthermore, fish oil supplement studies have failed to support claims of preventing heart attacks or strokes.

Vitamins and minerals which are typically derived from plant sources are nonetheless present in most Inuit diets. Vitamins A and D are present in the oils and livers of cold-water fishes and mammals. Vitamin C is obtained through sources such as caribou liver, kelp, whale skin, and seal brain; because these foods are typically eaten raw or frozen, the vitamin C they contain, which would be destroyed by cooking, is instead preserved. –Wikipedia

There is no doubt then, that even Inuits would go great lengths only to obtain their carbohydrates almost by instinct alone, but, why? Simply because the body needs its carbs!

carbs everywhere


The body needs its daily amount of glucose to survive, mainly for immune function and for the maintenance of the human glycome – which is just a fancy term to say that the body needs to consume its glucose to keep its cellular integrity:

The Human Glycome

Why is so much glucose consumed outside the brain? Immune function (which may utilize significant glucose in people with infections) and glycogen replacement (high utilization in athletes) are two reasons that can be significant in some persons, but in the vast majority of people the biggest reason for glucose utilization is the construction and maintenance of the human glycome.

There are about 20,000 human genes and, due to transcriptional variants and manufacture of proteins from multi-gene subunits, about 200,000 human proteins. However, these proteins are subject to various post-translational modifications, chief of which is glycosylation. Over half of all human proteins need to be glycosylated for proper function, and such is the variety of ways in which they can be glycosylated that there are an estimated 2,000,000 compounds in the human glycome.

These glycosylated proteins coat the plasma membrane of all cells. For many proteins, only glycosylated forms are allowed to leave the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi complexes where they are formed; nonglycosylated forms are ubiquinated and destroyed…(source)

One very simple example of one thing that the body cannot supply without adequate glucose uptake is “mucus”. Mucus lubricates your organs and is very vital in many bodily processes to sustain biological function (as we all know).

Not trying to be ANTI-Low carb here:

real foods how bodybuilders must eat


Low carb diets indeed make sense (as what I have mentioned in an earlier article) as a special diet especially if your goal is fat loss – but to say that going low (less than 100 g Carb/day) carb is the most optimum state a Human should be in is totally, absolutely, horrendously IDIOTIC, absurd and delusional.

Saying that humans don’t need carbs is just as moronic as saying that humans do not need to eat animal fats

The point here is that both the low-carb and the low-fat zealots are absolutely missing the point. The truth is human beings need a good amount of fat and a good amount of carbohydrates to survive and to keep their systems functioning. It’s not the absence of the fats or carbs that matter in a diet; IT’S THE QUALITY OF THE FOOD THAT YOU EAT!

Carbs are NOT EVIL (as low-carb zealots want you to believe)


Some, NO – MOST of the carbohydrates offered to us today are just refined rubbish and cause metabolic haywire which in turn cause chronic diseases and make people obese; like soda, bread, junk foods, etc. But that doesn’t mean to say that eating carbohydrates is the root of all evil. There will be no problem if you take in carbs like green-leafy veggies, rice, carrots, yams, okra (gumbo), natural honey, and sweet-potatoes – these are just some of the healthiest examples.

And Fats are NOT EVIL (as low-fat zealots want you to believe)

Most fats and oil products available to us now are unnatural and will cause metabolic disorders like soybean oils, margarines, and all types of vegetable oils that they label as “healthy” (they’re not!) – These are hydrogenated and can interfere with your body’s chemical processes and cause imbalances with your omega 6 to omega 3 ratios, which means that you will have more omega 6 predominance and this leads to overall inflammation this in turns kick starts the chronic maladies that we often experience in the21st century. But this doesn’t mean that fats are bad, actually it will be fine if you only consume natural animal fats, olive oils, virgin coconut oil, egg yolks, fish oil, fish fats, fatty oysters and natural butter.

Why don’t we try to eliminate these bad types of fats and carbs first from our diet first before we go and go No-carb or No-fat? See what happens – I tell you what, good things will!

These people just want to confuse you, they lie to you, they do that to sell you their ideas, and to sell you their “New-age, Specialized, Revolutionary Diet that absolutely works!”

What you won’t hear from them is that optimum diet (to lose weight and for longevity) is actually very VERY simple:

Just select real, whole foods and home cooked-meals over manufactured, synthetic, and refined meals as much as humanely possible. Then drink lots of water and exercise!

shawn ray eats rice


The more you can commit to this rule, the better your weight-loss, or longevity will be. The centerpiece of your lifestyle regimen then again should be “exercise”! Lift weights, eat healthy foods, and recover. Simple isn’t it? But considering that this modern world we live in forces us to do us to do just the opposite of that then you really have to take steps in order for you to take control of your diet and lifestyle to stick to the rule above. But the good news is; our “simple” rule is actually easier than getting caught up in the lies of both the low-carb and low-fat exclusivity.

What about you guys? What is your stand on this matter? Do you think this whole argument regarding low-fat vs low carb make sense? What is your opinion regarding how early human beings lived? Do we really need to pattern our lives from them? Let us know on the comments below. Eat your eggs, A-Lifters!

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.
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5 thoughts on “Hunter Gatherers also ATE a LOT of CARBS – The Stupidity of the Diet Wars

  1. i’m not gonna join the whole carbs vs anti-carb, i’m on a targeted ketogenic diet because it is super healthy for me, my mood swings (i’m bipolar), few points you mention:
    – most of the sources of carbs you mention are seasonal, the original variants were low sugar, etc.. i’ll write about honey and meat based carbs below
    – Honey is not easy to get, you need to fight a bunch of bees, get stung, run like a mothaf*@!# once you get it, with primitive tools, how easy do you think it was to get?
    – Glycogen is not a loaf of bread, yes it gives you carbs, and thats ok, most calculations on eskimo are that they get 50g/day, which is the upper limit of ketosis – now the kicker:

    These people used to run around and exercise many hours a day! If your burning loads of calories chasing animals and running from bees, you need to be on TKD, the smart gatherer would eat the berries 1 hour before he attacked the wooly mammoth or the bee hive, thats common sense. Now here’s the difference. I exercise 1 hour a day at the gym, rest of the time im on a computer working or wasting my time on these debates. I dont need that many carbs! Ketones burn fat nicely, slowly, smoothly, its perfect for typing all day! End of Story 🙂 If your a bigtime bodybuilder, do CKD, if you exercise moderately, TKD, if your tilling a field manually with your donkey, eat as many potatoes as you want (or buy a tractor and switch to TKD)

  2. We can look at this question from a lot of different angles, by comparing the skeletons of the first farmers with the skeletons of contemporaneous hunter – gatherers or by looking at modern Farmers also had a significantly shorter life span than contemporaneous hunter – gatherers .

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