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Thread: Tom Venuto's Criticism on Paleo Diet page

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    Risto's Avatar
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    Tom Venuto's Criticism on Paleo Diet

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    You can read it here: Paleo Diet Flaw.

    My only major constructive criticism is that some of these paleo programs not only recommend removal of all kinds of grains and starches (and even dairy, which is a SUPERB source of high quality muscle-building proteins), they outright condemn them as inherently bad, in an absolutist fashion.

    For one thing, I'm not sure if anyone knows EXACTLY how our ancestors ate, but I'm pretty certain that it depended a lot on the culture, climate and geography. Therefore, the amount of carbs eaten could have varied quite a bit, so I don't think there is just ONE type of paleo diet.

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

    Almost every bodybuilder I know eats oatmeal for breakfast plus lots of rice, sweet potatoes and other natural carbs. They are the leanest muscular athletes on earth, and the ones who do it naturally, like I do, are among the healthiest as well. If there's some kind of cause-effect relationship between all starches and grains and obesity, independent of calories and activity/training level, how do you explain that?

    If you really want to be 100% like a cave man, why not ditch your car and your computer too, because that will certainly get you off your butt more won't it? Heck, ditch your electricity and your refrigerator while you're at it because that would be on the same level of thinking as universally condemining all natural carbs for the sake of being more "paleo."


    I highlighted the most interesting points in my opinion. What's your take on the article?

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    I think it's one more "I hate stupid people" post. Yes, if you let someone make your food choices for you (as opposed to advising you), you are stupid. Ditto for those who can only spout a line they've been taught. Anyone who has a good idea is going to have mindless followers (or a bad idea, heh).

    With 70% of American caucasians showing some sign of gluten intolerance and 40% of Americans obese, probably most would do well without grains. For the others, may their mileage vary!
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    That guy's an idiot. He's criticizing the way people use Paleo to lose weight as the wrong way to do body building.

    There is no way to defend grains anyway. "Just look at me" is not science.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DFH View Post
    He's criticizing the way people use Paleo to lose weight as the wrong way to do body building.
    Love me a logic argument. Yes, that is it indeed!
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    Eating 15 twinkies a day and then working out 5 hours in the gym may be a good way for a bodybuilder to build huge muscles but that's a completely different context than what the majority of people are going for...

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    Venuto also primarily celebrates gluten-free stuff--rice, oatmeal, potato/sweet potato--which most of us would say are less harmful than gluten grains (and in the case of tubers, perfectly fine). He also completely misses the point that most paleo folks don't avoid all starches and carbs, just the grain-based ones. Potatoes are sometimes controversial in the paleo world, but there's no issue with sweet potatoes, root veggies, squashes, and other non-grain carb sources. Many active paleo folks also eat fruit.

    Venuto offers up the classic, flawed criticism of paleo-style diets: like him, people take the bare minimum popular ideas about the WOL and assume that's the whole deal. They don't take into account the wide range of foods paleo folks do eat and decide that weight-loss oriented, low-carb paleo is all there is. Hell, he's read Cordain and quotes the Dr. saying that paleo diets might have as high as 40% carbs. I'm not sure how Venuto can have researched to that extent and still not grasp the wide variation that exists in paleo-type diets.
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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Risto View Post
    You can read it here: Paleo Diet Flaw.

    [I]My only major constructive criticism is that some of these paleo programs not only recommend removal of all kinds of grains and starches (and even dairy, which is a SUPERB source of high quality muscle-building proteins), they outright condemn them as inherently bad, in an absolutist fashion.
    OK. I think that's a valid point as far as it goes. It's not good to be "absolutist" or to say you're sure something's "inherently bad" when the evidence for that it is slim. But it's worth pointing out this doesn't apply to the Primal Blueprint. I know Mark has posted recipes with sweet potatoes in, so he doesn't "recommend removal of all kinds of ... starches" in some "absolutist" way. He also has quite a subtle and complex take on dairy products—not some kind of "absolutist" recommendation for their "removal".

    For one thing, I'm not sure if anyone knows EXACTLY how our ancestors ate, but I'm pretty certain that it depended a lot on the culture, climate and geography. Therefore, the amount of carbs eaten could have varied quite a bit, so I don't think there is just ONE type of paleo diet.
    That's a valid point, too. He's also right to suspect that no-one knows "EXACTLY" how people ate in the remote past—and that this would have had to vary with where you were.

    There is a HUGE difference between natural starches and grains and refined starches and grains.
    This is true, but it's a complex issue. Unrefined cereals have drawbacks, too. I would also point out that the issue of anti-nutrients—which is an important one—seems not even to be on his radar. No blame attached to that—that seems to be true of most of the nutritional establishment, so why should a private person know better?

    Almost every bodybuilder I know eats oatmeal for breakfast plus lots of rice, sweet potatoes and other natural carbs. They are the leanest muscular athletes on earth, and the ones who do it naturally, like I do, are among the healthiest as well. If there's some kind of cause-effect relationship between all starches and grains and obesity, independent of calories and activity/training level, how do you explain that?
    Don't need to. I've never said that nobody can tolerate relatively high levels of carbohydrate—if that's what you're implying, Mr Venuto. Some people, however, definitely appear not be able to.

    If you really want to be 100% like a cave man, why not ditch your car and your computer too ...
    That's childish. The article was supposed to be about a dietary regimen, so that is just irrelevant.

    I think he had some reasonable points in there, but those don't apply to all proponents of the sort of diet he's criticizing, so they don't take us very far. I don't think the article is particularly well-informed.
    Last edited by Lewis; 06-26-2011 at 08:02 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Risto View Post
    There is a HUGE difference between natural starches and grains and refined starches and grains.

    Almost every bodybuilder I know eats oatmeal for breakfast plus lots of rice, sweet potatoes and other natural carbs. They are the leanest muscular athletes on earth, and the ones who do it naturally, like I do, are among the healthiest as well. If there's some kind of cause-effect relationship between all starches and grains and obesity, independent of calories and activity/training level, how do you explain that?
    This is the part I don't get. Sure, oatmeal may be something most of us avoid, but many people eat (white) "rice, sweet potatoes and other natural carbs". We just don't eat brown rice or wheat. I don't get what his issue is. I don't think he actually read the book, and it sounds like he is just commenting on the stereotype.
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    Venuto is talking about true paleo, which is more restrictive than Sisson primal. No dairy, and maybe some tubers.

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    I don't think it's a big deal or really any kind of "rebuttal to paleo" at all. He sums it all up like this:

    Aside from that minor quibble I have with some of these paleo programs being too strict with their no grains/starches dictum, I do think that most of the intentions behind the "paleolithic" eating concept are in the right place.

    So there's a little debate on the role of some foods vs. others, but there is consensus against modern processed junk. We have more common ground than differences. I don't find him to be "an idiot" as some here have described him. In fact, he offers his views in a manner which is quite open and constructive. I find him to be more ally than adversary. The standard American diet is dreadful. His approach is a bit different than Primal/Paleo, but would still be a HUGE improvement for 95% of our population. We're better off as a whole welcoming and working with such critics.
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