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You hear about the Dr. Atkins diet, Protein Power, Carbohydrate Addicts, the Zone diet, CKD, SommerSizing and all other high-protein low carb diet plans, but which one is right for you? Read what other low-carbers think about the low carb plan they're following and how they live with it. This may help you find the right plan for you. Please feel free to join the discussion to comment on these plans or tell about your favourite low carb plan!
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Neanderthin Diet
Dr. Mackarness Stone Age Diet, 1958
Carbohydrate Addict's Diet
The Zone Diet
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (IBS)
South Beach Diet
Insulin Control Diet
Insulin Resistance Diet
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Stone Age Diet

Plan's name: The "Stone Age Diet"

Book(s): "Eat Fat and Grow Slim" by Dr Richard Mackarness, MB, BS, DPM. Originally Published 1958 (Harvill Press). Issued in Fontana Paperbacks 1961. Revised and Extended 1975 (Fontana/Collins)

About the author: Dr Richard Mackarness, MB, BS, DPM

Basic Philosophy: The Author, Richard Mackarness, was the doctor who ran Britain's first obesity and food allergy clinic. The book merges anecdotal observations from this clinic with a comprehensive review of all medical evidence throughout the world up to the mid-1970s. In the 1975 edition, this includes a historical analysis of diets from Harvey-Banting to Robert Atkins and Herman Taller, and features the work of Blake Donaldson, Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Alfred Pennington, who all promoted an Inuit-style meat-only diet. Mackarness extols the virtues of Pemmican, discusses food allergies, examines carbohydrate addiction and touches on related psychology.

Mackarness's philosophy has three main features:-

  • A person's metabolism falls into one of two distinctive types, the constant-weight always-slim type, and the fatten-easily type.
  • Weight gained by people in the latter group is due to an inability to break down carbohydrates fully because of a metabolic defect, and not as the public at large believe, because of weak-willed gluttony.
  • Man's problems with obesity began 8,000 years ago, with the advent of cereal planting. For 4 million years before that, man was a hunter who survived by killing and eating meat, which has led to complete biological adaptation to a meat diet, but not to a cereal diet, because it is too recent.

By the numbers: : 

Method: Anything Stone Age Man would have eaten is going to be good for people with the fatten-easily type of metabolism, whereas anything of cereal origin (especially if refined or processed) will cause weight to be gained. Refined white flour is described as the worst culprit, and Mackarness quotes Doctors who consider it so pernicious that it should be sold with a Government Health Warning, like cigarettes.

  • Carbohydrates - should be kept as low as possible, and in any event must not exceed 60g per day for the majority of people. In some cases, 50g per day or even less may be necessary.
  • Protein and Fat - both of these should be high, with a ratio of 3:1 respectively by weight.
  • A Fast - of up to a week is recommended as a prelude to all diet attempts, unless there is a medical contra-indication.

Mackarness lists 6 pages of foods with their protein and carbohydrate values, and symbols alongside each entry indicate whether they can be taken freely, in moderation, with great caution or not at all. He is very keen to keep food varied and interesting, and provides specimen meals for a whole week.

Typical menu: 

  • Breakfast
  • Half a grapefruit, or fresh orange juice
  • Fried bacon and eggs, using preferably the cheaper streaky cuts of bacon.
  • Or ham, either with omelette or scrambled eggs, made using plenty of butter
  • Kippers, Bloaters or Haddock (The latter stewed in milk). Or kidneys, or liver.
  • Tea with top of the milk, or coffee with cream and no sugar
  • Lunch
  • Beef stew with vegetable in it but no flour thickening. Alternatively vegetable broth, unthickened.
  • Any of the following: corned beef, mince, ham, tongue, tuna fish, sardines, pig's head brawn, fried sprats, boiled skate, pilchards in oil, whelks, winkles, jellied eels, or any fish without batter.
  • Wedge of cheese or cheese souffle, salad or green leaf vegetables, or peas or french beans, with butter.
  • Fresh fruit, or unsweetened rhubarb, with cream.
  • Coffee, with cream but no sugar.
  • Tea
  • Cheese, nuts, apple, yoghurt, cup of tea with top of milk
  • Dinner
  • Bowl of consomme or clear soup
  • Half a pound of meat with its fat: lamb, beef, bacon, ham, pork, veal, "flank", liver or breast of mutton
  • Tomatoes, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, peas, head of braised celery, watercress
  • Cheeses and fruit (apple, orange, plums, pineapples, etc., but not bananas) and cream. Nuts.
  • Tea or coffee, black, or with top of the milk, or with cream
  • Nightcap
  • Wedge of cheese or hard-boiled eggs. Cup of hot oxo, bovril or marmite.

Unique Fatures: 

Exercise This was considered at length. Mackarness finds evidence both in favour of and against exercise, and leaves choice to the reader.

Fat:  Consumption of dietary fat is actively encouraged. The author states that "In the absence of carbohydrates, fat is not fattening".

Sugar: To be removed from diet. Certain artificial sweeteners can be used if absolutely necessary.

Protein, Emphasis on fresh, unprocessed meat, fish and poultry, supported by other permissable foods.

Other Notes: Several aspects of this book and diet have more recently been covered by "Neanderthin". The author's references to "top of the milk" were made prior to homogenised milk, in the days when each pint of milk had a layer of cream at the top of it.

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Summarized by:  Andy Davies

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