May 2015 Archives

My friends know I do paleo, and like to send me articles slamming it. This is one of those articles I read and felt the need to deconstruct it, because of the hyperbolic statements it made. The whole article can be read here. It is so far and beyond filled with bullshit I had to write this.

Disclaimer: For reference i'm not a doctor. I'm not an expert on paleo. I don't have Crohn's Disease nor am I lactose intolerant. I discovered the paleo diet while doing Crossfit and it changed my life. I feel better. I sleep better. In the old days I would get sleepy around 2pm, I don't feel tired anymore. I would get home from work and sleep on the couch - I don't do that on paleo. I have been tested for diabetes, and i'm not a diabetic or pre-diabetic. I have said it once and I will say it a thousand times, try paleo for three weeks and you will see how different you feel for the better.

Anyhow - onwards on the article.

"Proponents of the Paleo diet follow a nutritional plan based on the eating habits of our ancestors in the Paleolithic period, between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago. Before agriculture and industry, humans presumably lived as hunter-gatherers: picking berry after berry off of bushes; digging up tumescent tubers; chasing mammals to the point of exhaustion; scavenging meat, fat and organs from animals that larger predators had killed; and eventually learning to fish with lines and hooks and hunt with spears, nets, bows and arrows.

Most Paleo dieters of today do none of this, with the exception of occasional hunting trips or a little urban foraging."

Most paleo dieters I know do Crossfit. That's how I learned about it. I'm sure there are paleo dieters who don't exercise at all, but this claim is bullshit. I work out four to five days a week and even on my off days i'm often walking Rocco around for some extra calorie burning.

"meat is consumed in large quantities"

Another exaggerated claim. I don't eat meat in large quantities. To be paleo you don't need to eat a lot of meat. Another exaggerated claim.

"Most nutritionists consent that the Paleo diet gets at least one thing right--cutting down on processed foods that have been highly modified from their raw state through various methods of preservation. "

I always find it funny how somewhere in the middle of all these articles they grudgingly accept that the diet works.

"But the Paleo diet bans more than just highly processed junk foods--in its most traditional form, it prohibits any kind of food unavailable to stone age hunter-gatherers, including dairy rich in calcium, grains replete with fiber, and vitamins and legumes packed with protein."

Here we go, we are back to slamming it without asking WHY. Why does the paleo diet stop humans from drinking the milk from cows, made for baby cows not humans. What effect do grains & legumes have on our blood sugar levels?

'Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other "modern" diseases, the reasoning goes, result primarily from the incompatibility of our stone age anatomy with our contemporary way of eating."

I definitely agree with the diabetes & obesity claim. Sugar is the enemy. We can talk about moderation, which i'm all for, but the average American has no idea what the word moderation means. They think that means cutting something out once a day out of three meals. Count the number of times you eat bread per day and get back to me on how much you moderate.

"Even if eating only foods available to hunter-gatherers in the Paleolithic made sense, it would be impossible. As Christina Warinner of the University of Zurich emphasizes in her 2012 TED talk, just about every single species commonly consumed today--whether a fruit, vegetable or animal--is drastically different from its Paleolithic predecessor. "

This is where people begin citing a world of 2.5 million years ago rather than a world closer to 7000 years ago. Yes, I agree Grok won't be able to find sabertooth tiger meat in the Wegman's. It is these sensationalistic statements that try to refute it which are a bit silly.

"The Paleo diet not only misunderstands how our own species, the organisms inside our bodies and the animals and plants we eat have evolved over the last 10,000 years, it also ignores much of the evidence about our ancestors' health during their--often brief--individual life spans (even if a minority of our Paleo ancestors made it into their 40s or beyond, many children likely died before age 15). "

Another sensationalist claim. We are talking about a world of hardship for Grok where a cut could lead to death versus a world in which we have hospitals and drugs to extend our lives. I really want to punch this writer in the throat.

"Exactly what proportions of meat and vegetables did different hominid species eat in the Paleolithic?"

Again, that's the point of the diet right now. Someone didn't start writing about this last year, its been something going on for decades - and there has been a lot of experimentation with what works for each individual. Like I wrote earlier, I am not eating a slab of beef for every meal. My breakfast this morning was a smoothie (Scientific American would jump in: GROK DIDN'T HAVE BLENDERS?!?!) from spinach, blueberries, carrots, chia seeds, flax seeds, cashews and a scoop of Whey protein isolate (Scientific American would cry out: "But but but that's dairy!!", it isn't quite the same but keep trying). Lunch will be some kind of protein with sweet potato and a veggie. Dinner is more veggies than protein, often a salad.

And then the article ends. At zero point does the writer even delve into why paleo works. Nothing about blood sugar levels. Nothing about eating foods that cause inflammation over an extended period of time. Nothing about digestion.

Humans are omnivores but doesn't mean we should eat everything. I agree with moderation, and I enjoy eating pizza, pasta and ice cream - but try to keep that to about three or four times out of 21 meals.

Someone asked me the other day, "Why do you care?"

I think the easiest question is that I lived my life not knowing about paleo until I was in my mid 30's. In my teens and 20's if someone suggested paleo I would have scoffed at them. I was rail thin. I couldn't gain weight if I tried (and trust me, I tried - I did various diets trying to gain weight). In my 30's I worked out, felt good, and by the end of my 30's my metabolism slowed and I noticed my weight creeping higher and higher. I was sluggish. I didn't sleep well. I started Crossfit, and found I felt better. Until I added Paleo in there, then I found my head was clearer and my recovery was faster.

I guess the simple answer is we see everyone looking for that magic pill which will make you feel better, and I learned what it is. The problem is that when you start ticking off what you can't have, you quickly see people react like a heroin addict who was told they could never do drugs again. I still eat pizza. I still eat ice cream. People see me eating french fries and will do the joking, "That's not paleo!" claim. That's not the point. If you can live your life where your meals are healthy for 85% of your meals, you will be ahead of the game.

If you are reading this and tempted to try paleo, I recommend trying the whole 30 program. It is 30 days laid out for you, eating clean. Do it. Then email me and tell me I was wrong. I guar-an-tee you that anyone who does paleo for 30 days will not email me saying it didn't make them feel better after 30 days. Sure, it's a challenge. What do you have to lose but 30 days without eating crap.

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