Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 Aug

Guest Post: Robb Wolf Answers Your Paleo Diet Questions

Over the past few years, leading paleo spokesperson Robb Wolf and I have forged a great Internet friendship. Suffice to say, we think a lot alike and exchange ideas often. Yet, we hadn’t actually met in person until two weeks ago when Robb and his beautiful wife Nicki came out to Malibu to spend an evening with Carrie and me. We had a fabulous time, great dinner and talked at length about the future of Primal/paleo/ancestral health. One of the topics was how to blend this information in a way that the various “brands” can be mutually supportive in the interest of everyone winning (and, of course, world peace). That’s sort of what the Ancestral Health Symposium was created to do. However, we still get a lot of people on Mark’s Daily Apple who wonder about the differences between Primal and paleo eating styles, so I thought I’d put together a list of paleo-specific questions from MDA readers and have Robb do a guest post today on that topic.

Meanwhile, if you don’t yet have a copy Robb’s great book The Paleo Solution, you owe it to yourself to get an entertaining dose of his detailed perspective on diet, exercise and life. Looks great on the shelf right next to The Primal Blueprint

What is your take on dairy? Why isn’t it part of your Paleo Solution, even in moderation? You’ve said that if you have any sort of metabolic derangement or autoimmune disease, you must stay away from dairy. Could you explain?

Whoa there Tiger!! What exactly do I recommend in my book, podcast and free quick start guide?

Try this paleo thing, strictly, for 30 days and see how you look, feel and perform. Track biomarkers of health & disease (before and after). Now, once you are healthy, non-inflamed and suffering from no autoimmune diseases you get to tinker. Is dairy a problem for you? Well, you will never know until you try eliminating it and reintroducing.

The literature is a mixed bag on dairy. Some information indicates it is pro-inflammatory and insulinogenic. Other work does not vilify dairy in the same way. Pedro Bastos gave a remarkably detailed accounting of dairy at the recent Ancestral Health Symposium and the take away I had was:

  1. Grass fed is better.
  2. Fermented is better.
  3. Traditional collection schedules were better (minimizing growth factors and estrogens)
  4. Genetic factors are important in determining individual tolerances.

Personally, I use a fair amount of grass fed butter, some cheeses, a little whey protein (Mark’s Primal Fuel to be exact). If I use something like a low quality cheddar cheese I get acne, my joints ache and I get congested. If I use a LOT of whey protein (2 large doses per day for many days) I might get a little acne. So, I’m actually the “paleo” guy that in reality eats “Primal.” Am I a sell out? Is my information inaccurate? No, but different people have different needs, and I recommend a tight, “Orthodox paleo” approach in the beginning. Mark takes a different approach…we both seem to be reasonably successful with this stuff, and I think that is because we have tight rules for the folks who need it, provide plenty of latitude to the folks who can tinker more broadly.

How much fat should be in our diets?

Well, who are you and what are you trying to do? Are you trying to lose body fat? If so then we certainly want to attend to dropping insulin and reducing inflammation, but if you do not know the difference between a mouth and vacuum cleaner…you might have problems! An attendee at one of my seminars was trying to lose weight but was consuming a WHOLE can of coconut milk with every meal. She felt good, but thought she should be losing fat faster…At some point calories DO count!

Are you a skinny, high strung person with lots of activity? You could likely benefit from a good amount of fat (I’d go mainly saturated and Mono’s with a few grams per day of long chain N-3/N-6). I’ve seen some people (mainly academic types…with NO clinical experience of actually working with people) rip Art De Vany to shreds for his generally moderate fat recommendations. Art’s position is based on the observation that folks are generally not that active and therefore do not need that much more fat than what they get from their meat, fish etc. For the overweight and sedentary, I think this is spot on. Unfortunately there is no “one size fits all” answer with nutrition. We actually need to think and some of the best questions to ask are “Who and What”.

You often talk about how gluten wrecked you. Could you tell us more about the symptoms you experienced?

I had ulcerative colitis so bad I was facing a bowel resection at the ripe old age of 26. When I had an abdominal exam the pain was so bad it would make me break into a cold sweat in anticipation of just having the doctor push in on my stomach. I had depression, high blood pressure and broad systemic inflammation…I hurt everywhere. It sucked.

Could you touch on the health and fitness differences along gender lines? Are there any special considerations (hormonal or otherwise) that men and women need to take into account?

Women need to worry less about “losing” weight. Men need to worry less about “gaining” weight. If you are a coach dealing with a mixed population you need to be aware that women can move a given % of their 1RM for more reps than men (generally). Orthopedic issues that women face (knees specifically) are easily addressed by smart training (training the quads to fire properly when landing from a jump). All in all, not that much of a difference.

Some previously obese folks struggle to get lean. What is the best strategy (carb refeeds, IF, calorie restriction?) to really lean out?

Again, this depends. We have seen people eating an anti-inflammatory paleo diet for upwards of a year with little change in scale weight. They feel better, but weight is slow to budge. Then suddenly, “something” changes and weight loss is rapid and easy. I talked to several people at the AHS and I think severe inflammation is at cause here, and it may just take some time to turn things around. Here is a list of things to consider in general with weight loss:

  1. Sleep. Are you sleeping in a completely dark room, waking up without an alarm? No, then have NO expectations of fat loss. If it happens, you are lucky.
  2. Overtraining. Think that extra “cardio” is going to help you lean out? Have you ever heard of the “fat aerobics instructor” paradox? Less is often more here.
  3. Food intolerance. So you insisted on having cottage cheese and a piece of toast for breakfast, but otherwise eat “really clean”…food intolerance can fire systemic inflammation and stymie fat loss. Or, I just make all this up to be mean…
  4. Mouth or vacuum cleaner. A handful of almonds is fine. A 3 lb Costco container…not so much.

So, I’d get that stuff squared away, make sure your vitamin D level is good, take some probiotics and give things at least 3-6 months. From here you may need to tinker with a little intermittent fasting (16 hrs is fine) and a bit of planned calorie restriction but the above should address the vast majority of folks.

What is the cleanest refeed food regarding autoimmune, digestion, and allergies?

I’m guessing you mean carbs? I’m a big fan of yams and sweet potatoes.

Could you list, in order of importance, what foods to eliminate from the diet for autoimmune conditions like hypothyroidism and psoriasis?

Grains, legumes, dairy, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers) most nuts & seeds (coconut ok). If you are really sick, cook all vegetable matter thoroughly, peel most vegetables and recognize that an almost total animal product diet may be necessary until you are well.

What are your thoughts on candida? How much does it affect cravings and weight gain? Is it possible to starve it and get rid of it with the right diet or not?

Candida is 100% an outgrowth of too many carbs, particularly fructans-containing carbs such as grains. If you comply with a low-ish carb paleo diet you will not have candida issues. The folks who have chronic problems tend to be chronic non-compliers.

What do you think about Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet which incorporates higher levels of carbohydrates including rice?

Again,“who and what”. If I have a metabolically broken person with terrible glucose control, a high carb approach is scientifically unfounded and from an ethic standpoint…immoral. We know better. Change gears to a metabolically healthy individual…it’s fine, as is evidenced by the Kitavans and others. White rice is pretty benign on the spectrum of grains, but I can dig around in pubmed and find plenty of literature on rice intolerance that results in enteropathy similar to celiac.

What are your thoughts on ways to spread the good info around (paleo networking), and ways to use paleo to teach physical education and to bring up kids and teenagers in the right way?

I think the paleo networking is just happening. We are working on projects like the Liberty Garden to raise awareness and interest in permaculture and a physician education program to finally get our health care providers educated in evolutionary medicine. As to PE? Find a local gym (like CrossFit or similar) and create a culture that allows for the kids to train. Start a charter school associated with the gym, and step outside the broken system we are offered as the “only” option.

Tell us about your partnership with Erwan Le Corre at MovNat. Where do you see that going?

I’m helping Erwan develop and systematize his curriculum. This will roll out in the form of an accredited certification program. I have no financial interest in MovNat, I’m just friends with Erwan and believe in his program, but I like to keep my autonomy so I’ll only be acting as an advisor.

Is Keystone 100% paleo?

Keystone is pretty much paleo. Since moving to Santa Fe, NM he has taken a liking to lizards, moles and rabbits.

Thank you to Mark for the opportunity to check in with you folks!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’d love to go to a movnat session. Hopefully I can go this year. Erwan is a beast. So fit across a wide spectrum of skills

    The Primal Warrior wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and adore finding out additional on this topic. If feasible, as you acquire expertise, would you thoughts updating your blog with much more details? It is extremely useful for me.

      lgrullon wrote on September 20th, 2013
  2. Cool Q&A. Thanks for posting. I particularly enjoyed the distinction between mouth and vacuum cleaner. One of my biggest obstacles I had to overcome was gorging. Turns out that all the foods I sucked up like a vacuum cleaner were foods I couldn’t tolerate. I avoid them completely and I’m fine.

    Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • The foods themselves were most likely causing you to suck more up like a vacuum cleaner! Craving can be fierce.

      Primal Recipe wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • I have always found it to be strange that we crave what is so detrimental to us!

        Crunchy Pickle wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  3. Bought Robb’s book right after Marks since he suggested it. It was nice to have a slightly different perspective that really confirms the first. Both looked at health in-depth and yet it wasn’t the same thing back to back. It was great to read both and I’m glad Mark took the opportunity to have Robb answer some questions on here. You guys are both awesome!

    I don’t comment on here much, but the Primal Insider today Mark was awesome!! I really needed it. A great reminder to just stop stressing and get back to the basics. Execute the basics and the rest will come naturally!

    Thanks again!

    Twinwolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  4. Great info! I definitely fall into the “skinny, high strung person with lots of activity” category, and I really noticed a difference when I when Primal and upped my fat intake. Instead of needing to eat (refuel) constantly, I can now get by on three good meals and a snack or two.

    Beowulf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  5. This was great for me.

    I have gone for the slow but steady approach and am now dropping dairy (Day #4 – too early to tell but less bloating for sure.) I have had autoimmune disease and am coming to the realization I’m going to have to drop some more foods to realize the last 20% of gains I want to see from this way of eating.

    I also just found out my local CrossFit has a kids program so maybe I’ll take a trip down there with mine one day soon. And I love the idea about the charter school. That really would be progress…

    Alison Golden wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Crossfit for kids, I wonder whose novel idea that is.

      Kishore wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • That’s awesome about a kids program for crossfit… I just hope they are careful!

        Primal Toad wrote on August 23rd, 2011
        • Oh, it isn’t scaled down Crossfit for kids, it’s a fitness program designed specifically for kids. It’s particularly useful for homeschoolers looking to add PE to their curriculum.

          Alison Golden wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Uhhh, yeah, I’ve seen playground gym’s for kids which are great (functional movement), but for the most part kids already do it right. I don’t like the idea of introducing them to cleaning and other intense explosive weight bearing exercise at such at young age.

        From my experience, kids that pick up activities like that at such a young age get a little bit stunted in the growth department. I believe they should wait until at least their mid teens to pick up weights.

        Jeff wrote on August 23rd, 2011
        • Jeff, what experience do you have that shows that intense weight bearing exercise at a young age stunts growth?
          Sounds like conventional wisdom being stated as fact.
          The main issue is that there is no research to be found supporting the claim that weight training stunts growth in children.
          Good article discussing this topic for those who are interested:

          Heidi Z wrote on August 24th, 2011
        • “Farmboys” are big and in no way stunted and they are lifting in all but name.

          Bryon wrote on August 24th, 2011
        • Funny, I have a close friend who has a BS in Clinical Exercise Science and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association who works with young wrestler (pre-pubescent) who show amazing results using weight training. They have not had any side effects like “stunted growth”. In fact I would bet the evidence points the other way as controlled weight training will only encourage healthy growth. Just my two-cents.

          Gerry Ayers wrote on August 24th, 2011
    • Instead of CrossFit for kids, it would be great if I could find one of those huge indoor [or outdoor] play structures, but sized for adults! I do get jealous of my 4 year old and how he gets to jump and climb all over these structures which are huge to him.

      Mike P. wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Tthis would be my wish too!

        Jenni wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • I saw this article a while ago and instantly got jealous, they all look so fun.

        Brandon Foss wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • They have them, but none are near me either. If I ever get some acreage, I told my husband I’m having some equipment installed. :)

        Karen P. wrote on August 23rd, 2011
        • The gym at my base hosts kids CrossFit. I was surprised until a friend of mine, a certified instructor, explained that it was basically gymnastics and jungle-gym playing. My first thought was, “Where do I sign up?”

          Deanna wrote on August 31st, 2011
      • If you’re looking for outdoor play structures for adults, try Burning Man. :) It’s doesn’t get more playful than that!

        Jennifer wrote on August 23rd, 2011
        • Sorry, what do you mean? I did a quick search and came up with some art festival?

          alley cat wrote on August 23rd, 2011
        • I mean this with respect, but google is going to fail you in trying to define Burning Man.
          Calling it an art festival is kinda like calling Paleo a meat eating diet. I mean, yeah, kinda, I mean it involves that but it’s so much more than that.
          It sorta looks like a non-sucky Woodstock, but not everyone there is a hippie even if by the end everyone sorta looks like (a stereotypical one), and it’s not that organized and…
          I don’t know. Hopefully someone else who’s better with words and has been there more than five times might be able to define it. I’d only really be able to tell you what it isn’t.

          JMH wrote on October 4th, 2011
    • I’m a CrossFitter myself but CrossFit for kids already exists, they’re called playgrounds and they’re free!

      Nutritionator wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Nutritionator, that is something I completely agree with! Kids are already more in tune with their primal nature and they have places to express it everywhere. I think crossfit is great, but it is intense (in my opinion even for adults) and not for most kids.

        Jeff wrote on August 24th, 2011
        • @Heidi Z: Fair enough, my comment wasn’t based on any research or CW, just personal observation. However, it is true that shorter people tend to be better lifters because they don’t have to move the weight as far and can build muscle with less calories. A misinterpretation of correlation vs causation is entirely possible.

          With that said, I still have personal theories that forcefully trying to get an adolescent to weight train when they want to play is harmful for many reasons including physiologically. I have no proof, it would just make sense to me. I think kids have it right just the way they are.

          Jeff wrote on August 24th, 2011
  6. In most human ideological endeavors, it seems, as soon as people start getting really excited about a new idea, we start fighting about what the exact right way to phrase that idea is, and start schiziming off into different “schools of thought” like nobodies business. I’ve seen it here in the paleo/primal community already (for example, people shouting down the house about how NO ONE should eat ANY! DAIRY! EVER!, or how you’re going to die of all the cancers if you continue to take hormonal birth control).

    Thus, I am glad to see that Mark and Robb are connecting to try and be a stable force uniting the community, encouraging us to understand and accept the variations and differences in what works for individual people.

    cTo wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  7. “Women can move a given % of their 1RM”

    Can someone explain what this means? Thank you!

    Alison Golden wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • If you can squat 1 rep with 100lbs, that is your 1RM (1 rep max). 80% of 1RM will then be 80lbs. Various factors will then determine how many reps you can perform with that percentage.

      Kishore wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Women can generally lift more reps at a weight closer to their 1RM than men can. So a woman may be able to lift 95% of their 1RM 5 times vs. a man only being able to move 95% of his 1RM 3 times.

      This is VERY common, it is unusual if this is not the case.

      Brent wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Got it. Thanks.

        Alison Golden wrote on August 23rd, 2011
        • Women generally have more slow twitch (endurance) muscle fiber than fast twitch (strength)muscle fiber. Those with a higher % of slow twitch fibers will be able to more reps with a given % of their 1 rep max than those with a higher % of fast twitch. twitch

          mike wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Brent, this is very interesting what you are writting here, I always read that it was quite the opposite.

        ruben wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Ah, this explains why I can hike for 5 hours and my husband can’t…haha.

        Issabeau wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Can someone explain WHY this difference occurs between women and men?

        Heidi Z wrote on August 24th, 2011
        • Maybe because women are biological made to hav babies and go through labor? That’s quite the endurance activity.

          Cassie wrote on August 24th, 2011
        • My best evolutionary guess: Foraging with a kid on their back or front while carrying whatever was gathered.

          liberty_1776 wrote on August 24th, 2011
  8. Taubes, Eades, Sisson, and Wolf are all on my Kindle, Nourishing Traditions is on my shelf, and Fat-Head is an often watched documentary around here. I really wish we had an umbrella name for all these schools of thought because paleo/primal/traditional/low-carb-ish is quite a mouthful. :-) I appreciate the different perspectives, and even more, I appreciate the attitude of unity despite small differences in opinion.

    KathyJo wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I wish there was a school… a college or a university. Maybe, just maybe there will be one someday?

      Primal Toad wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • There is one, it is more from the Weston Price Foundation school of thought, but their school of thought tends to be the most inclusive of all.

        Jeff wrote on August 23rd, 2011
        • Ayy!!! Thank you for this! I have been thinking about attending Bauman College since that is pretty damn close to primal. That is where Diane from Balanced Bites went whom is amazing at teaching paleo nutrition.

          Thank you. Thank you. So much. You have very possible made a ginormous influence on my life and indirectly on millions of others!

          Primal Toad wrote on August 25th, 2011
    • how about “Sciencestral” – science plus ancestral

      good ideas need to get together and have babies to make great ideas.

      alex wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I think Ancestral Health covers them all quite nicely.

      chipin wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • There is. It’s called “Ancestral health” or “the ancestral health model”.

      Luther wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I usually go for “carb restricted with paleo leanings”.

      Barb wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I just tell them all I eat is plants and animals. I think maybe Mark came up with that – not sure—
      Anyway, that pretty much sums it up and they all seem to understand what I’m saying and what I’m about.

      PrimalGrandma wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  9. Awesome interview. Much needed. Vacuum vs Mouth… love it!

    Robb, you are incredibly humorous which is going to significantly help this movement. I read Mark’s book first and fell in love immediately but your book is oh so close to being my #1 recommendation. I just like Mark’s overall approach with his 10 laws and the 80/20 rule.

    One last note for this comment…

    I have said it all along…


    Primal Toad wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  10. @KathyJo – I would just say “hunter-gatherer” when talking about any of them. It is encompassing and not leaning to or favoring one over the other.

    @PrimalToad – I agree with the Primal=Paleo and by the way, I bought your smoothie book yesterday! Awesome! Going to get some coconut milk and other ingredients today. I may have to buy that mixer too. Sounds like an easy way to shake things up!


    Twinwolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  11. Great interview. I find that often times the Paleo and Primal world meets with butted heads, but the best point here is that we are all after the same thing, a better life and better health!! We just always have to remember to do and eat what makes us feel best and every single one of our bodies is different!!

    Thanks for guest posting Rob!! Very cool!

    Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  12. Hey Mark, thanks for including the fat section in this post! I see that you usually recommend moderate amounts of good and saturated fats in order to lose weight, but it is optimal when it comes to losing the last few bits around the waist?

    Donald wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  13. I have a weight loss client with colitis, just like Robb. She has been good about cleaning up her diet but refuses to avoid grains altogether. After I read Robb’s book I informed her of his experience with it himself and how going paleo helped him she sort of started paying attention. She is slowly making the necessary diet changes and seeing some improvement. Hopefully that will be more motivation to keep going!

    Primal Recipe wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Colitis is the end result of years and years of damage done to the intestines by undigestible fibers.
      You should recommend (or read yourself if you haven’t yet) a book written by Konstantin Monastyrsky called Fiber Menace.
      He explains exactly what damage grains (bagel, pasta, pizza dough, pastries, bread, etc) do from mouth to anus.
      Most people ending up with colitis also have crohn’s and don’t know it yet. Crohn’s is the end result of celiacs.
      If your client continues to eat grains while already diagnosed with colitis, she/he will sooner or later go under the knife and possibly having a chunk of her colon amputated. If the damage goes as far as into the rectum, that will be taken out,too, and she/he will end up with a ileostomy bag.
      This is serious sh*t! Literally.

      Arty wrote on August 24th, 2011
      • I have the scars to prove it.

        Fortunately, it was only a loop ileo and they reversed it, but dude. Not the most fun, but worth it to not be in pain. But I’d much rather never have bread again than half to have another operation. I was on disability, now I’m going to school (mostly) fulltime.

        If she wants someone to talk to, I’d be happy to talk with her.

        JMH wrote on October 4th, 2011
  14. What an awesome surprise to find Robb Wolf on MDA today! Great Q&A, thanks guys!

    Anne wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  15. Mark!? You can’t go mentioning someone else’s wife as beautiful without doing the same for your own wife. Quick, change it before she sees this ;).

    Jeff wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  16. I agree with Robb about the dairy. I thought I was just lactose intolerant until I gave up dairy for a while. Then I had a whey protein shake and had non stop runny nose, sneezing, conjestion, and major phlegm for 2 days. It was so miserable, I’m no longer tempted to eat dairy.

    Jai wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  17. I agree that weight loss can be delayed until something “switches on.” I did the primal diet for a year before I permanently lost weight. At first I actually gained weight! Recently I’ve been restricting carbs more, which helps. But I probably couldn’t have done that right at the beginning. Now 50 grams a day does not seem like deprivation, and bananas are no longer so enticing.
    I was not really overweight, just on the boundary between normal and overweight.

    shannon wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I’m 8 mths Archevore/Paleo/Primal and have gained 4 lbs but have lost 5 inches at the waist and inches everywhere else. I’m 75% fat, 17% protein and 8% carbs. If I go above 35-45g carbs a day, I don’t enter ketosis for 20 hrs. The more fat adapted I become the easier carbs keep me out of ketosis. If I decrease fat, I’m starving. Something is broken. But since the inches go down, I’m trying not to worry about the scale going up! Primal fitness rocks and definition is showing.

      Sandra Brigham wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Same here. I just ditched vegetables and only eat them when I actually crave them. I cut out ALL fibrous veggies (broccoli, cauliflour, sparagus, etc) and my bowel movements have improved…also my belly is less bloated. Seems like I’m not the veggie type. I thrive on high fat, medium protein with low carbs. Raw Milk seems to be perfect for me as a snack (others do nuts, dark chocolate or coffee which are btw all bad because of the phytic acid). Atm my only carbs are coming from raw milk, about 10g of it every 8 oz. So drinking a quart of raw milk a day doesn’t affect me one bit.

        But, this raw milk is probably the very reason I’m not losing the last 5 lbs of body fat =P

        Issabeau wrote on August 23rd, 2011
        • Hey there … sounds like I should do what you’re doing. What do you actually eat then if you’ve cut out all fibrous veges? Some ideas around a typical menu would be really helpful. Thanks.

          Marai wrote on August 25th, 2011
  18. Mark,
    Thank you so much for having a “jam” session with Robb. But, could the two of you comment on where Loren Cordain’s philosophy fits into all this? Aside from the fact that he shuns dairy, I believe he also likes to minimize saturated fat on the basis that the animals eaten pre-agriculturally were much leaner than they are today, and, therefore, Grok consumed more MUFAs than SFAs. I know Cordain has done some great research and written some highly informative papers, but his meal plans leave me hungry! HELP! Need an explanation. THANK YOU.

    Margo wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Margo-
      find a meal plan that works for YOU!?

      I’d say Mark and I had an advantage of coming at this directly working with people, so you get an easier transition and more realistic implementation. Loren is an academic who has published hundreds of papers…different backgrounds and I’d not be able to do what I do if Loren had not created this body of work and largely launched this movement.

      As to the Sat’d fat, Loren has altered his stance on this as the science has become more compelling…AND you could construct healthy meals that are either high or low in sat’d fat. I’d not worry about it much. Again, make things work for YOU.

      Robb Wolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Hi Robb,
        Thank you so much for replying. I have your book, The Paleo Solution, and have used info from it for the Nutrition class that I teach at a community college. It’s supposed to be a “traditional” SAD diet class, based on USDA propaganda, but I’ve changed all that. THANK YOU SO MUCH. We are all making inroads !!!

        Margo wrote on August 23rd, 2011
        • Glad you’ve found it helpful and thanks for fighting the good fight.

          Robb Wolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  19. Robb, Mark: the “thing” that changes suddenly for obese persons after a given number of time and allows them to start shedding the pounds? Maybe the signalling for hormonal systems like leptin takes a longer while to be restored or healed for the obese.

    LisaAPB wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I think it’s systemic inflammation as a root cause, which certainly alteres leptin signaling.

      Robb Wolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • As to inflammation and leptin: perhaps the question is not how much fat to eat, but rather what ratios to eat. If a person is avoiding industrial PUFAs and keeping the ω6 in proper balance, then it’s not a question of eating to a specific amount (either minimum or maximum). If one is eating to satiety of a diet of real foods, with fats primarily being mono-unsaturated and saturated, it would seem the leptin response would fall into place. Restoring the body after prolonged inflammatory eating would logically take time dependent upon individual condition.

        Finnegans Wake wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  20. Great Q and A! I am excited to start Robbs book. Just picked it up yesterday!

    Dennis wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  21. When the figureheads of the various ‘brands’ get together, either for blog posts like this or podcasts [like Robb, Mark, and Mat at AHS], it makes me think of superheroes getting together…like Batman pulling up in the Batmobile to pickup Spiderman or something. I think the AHS conference was a great idea and I am glad to see that it was so well attended by the leaders of this movement. Thanks for the guess post Robb!

    Mike P. wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I kinda see it the same way (but I’m a huge geek).

      I not only consider Mark a friend, I also consider him a mentor in many things. He has accomplished a lot of very cool things.

      I’ve seen Mark navigate (via email and in person) some sticky social situations that he handled with humor and grace, not a stich of ego in the interactions. That’s the hallmark of a damn good person.

      Robb Wolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  22. I often wonder “how much is good much” fat. I am a highly strung skinny person and find that in order to feel satisfied, I need to supplement my diet; I usually have around 4 tablespoons of coconut oil a day (2 in my yogurt in the morning and two later in the afternoon) and 2grams of fish oil.

    After 8 months of being Primal, I continue to work on cutting things with bad fats out of my diet; I have hung on to mayonnaise, store bought sweet potato chips, soy milk, diet coke (no bad fat but lots of other bad things), and a couple of other things while I straighten the rest of my diet out, because I love them so and I felt like I was still indulging. I think I am finally ready to let them go… they don’t do anything for me anymore.

    Mary wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Mary you can always look into making your own mayo and hollandaise sauce as i show my clients, no PUFA at all, you can have access to potato chips that are prepared with non GMO potatoes and cooked in pork lard, as far at the soy milk i stay as far as i can from soy, and diet coke tastes horrible to me, but i m totally with you doing everything at your own rhythm.

      ruben wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I’d save the mayonnaise for last out of that list, and even then, occasional use and or if it’s your primary linoleic acid input (short n-6) not much to worry about. Assuming other health parameters are in order.

      Robb Wolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  23. “Orthopedic issues that women face (knees specifically) are easily addressed by smart training (training the quads to fire properly when landing from a jump).” Anyone have a link or resource that demonstrates how to train the quads for this?

    PeaceKaren wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • My left knee got much better after doing Mark’s Primal workout – squats I’m sure is what’s correcting my funky knee and pain. All gone for the most part after only 4-5 sessions!

      Sandra Brigham wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  24. Thank you for a great Q&A. I started a Primal Blueprint group on after reading Mark’s book but after starting Robb’s book modified it to be PB/PS/Paleo Lifestyle since I found great information in both books and both have helped me become more healthy. Thanx again Mark for having Robb on this forum.

    Steve O wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  25. I love that you emphasize that every person is different with different needs. This is all a spectrum and there isn’t one perfect way for everyone. I can tolerate certain kinds of dairy, with no side effects… so I stick with that. There are still things I’m figuring out daily to find what ultimately works for me. Thanks for posting this Mark!

    katie wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  26. 1. I love Robb’s approach to dairy. I definitely think that tinkering and experimentation is the best way to figure out your own body’s tolerance to dairy. My skin does well with grass fed heavy cream and butter, but anything else in the dairy family causes me to break out.

    2. I love that Keystone is Paleo.

    Cassandra wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  27. Thank you for appeasing out Internet Masters, but we still need more Keystone. More kitty, please.

    Marnee wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Oh my goodness, I hope this message is not meant to be understood!

      If it is, could somebody explain it to me?

      bunny wrote on September 2nd, 2015
  28. Could someone please clarify “intermittant fasting(16 hours). I have been toying with the notion of fasting, however I am a little confused by others’ definitions of fasting. Some say “no eating for that day” while others say “no eating for 24 hrs” and I have also heard fasting is “no eating from dawn to dusk”. What are some of your recommendations?

    robert wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Fasting is one of my favorite parts of the primal program. It’s incredible what your body can do, and how your hormones will fall into place, when you avoid the burden of digestion for a while. Your body will protest at first; just bear in mind that fasting is like exercise in that it takes a little discomfort at first to reap the rewards at the end.

      The 16-hour fast is a good place to start; you would finish eating dinner around 8pm, and then break the fast around noon the next day. In other words, skip breakfast. I do this every day.

      When you’re comfortable with that, you can extend the fast a bit. A “24-hour fast” usually works out to 22 or so in practice; you fast from dinner on day 1 until dinner on day 2. When you fast like this, caloric restriction happens naturally; it’s very hard to overeat when you have only one meal per day, even for those of us with vacuum-cleaner mouths. :)

      After that comes the 36-hour fast — from dinner on Day 1 to lunch on Day 3. By this point your body will be well trained to burn fat, but it will be a mental challenge to go to bed on an empty stomach. However, you will have amazing dreams and wake up with abundant energy.

      The farthest I’ve ever taken a fast is 48 hours, but some people go for several days or even longer. I recommend starting small and working up to the longer fasts, drinking plenty of water with a bit of unrefined salt. Good luck and enjoy the ride!

      Timothy wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Timothy,I have a question for you and sent you an email to your domain address. Did you get it?

        Rick wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • There’s really no one definitive way to fast. I just started the fast-5 daily intermittent fasting method (eat during a 5 hour window, fast 19 hours every day). I’ve only been at it about a week but so far I love it. Exercising in a fasted state is awesome! I’m actually less hungry, more calm and clear-headed and I’m giving my digestion and insulin a nice rest every single day. I’d say it’s all good right now. So I plan to keep it up for a while.

      Perry wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I rather like missing the occasional meal, either by accident or design. I reckon being a fat burner makes it an… inconsequential experience. I agree that a fasted casual workout is pretty nice. I wouldn’t want to bonk during a hard ride, ski tour or race, though.

      kem wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I like the 16-18 hr window. Folks need to beware of overdoing it if they are training hard and consistently. It is a eustress (a good stress) like exercise, but similarly it can be taken too far.

      Get food and sleep in order first, thine tinker with fasting.

      Robb Wolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • The weird thing I’ve noticed sometimes about people’s “intermittent fasting” is that they do it every day. That’s not intermittent, that’s just only eating one meal a day.

      Intermittent fasting is like training cycling. Every few weeks, you take, like, half a day off. Every quarter take a day or two off. It keeps your body on it’s metaphorical toes.

      How long it is is up to you, how masochistic you are, how healthy your body is. Like so much of everything, there’s no real way to do it right, though several ways to do it wrong: Don’t do it if your health isn’t in order, it can be a horrid stress on an unbalanced system; don’t be a martyr about it and go for forty days or something.

      If you’re healthy, you should be able to tell the difference between cravings, feeling the urge to eat out of habit, and actually being hungry. You shouldn’t really ever eat for the first two reasons. And your body will shut off hunger if you ignore it. Starving feels a lot different; if you get there (and you’ll know) you’re doing it wrong.

      JMH wrote on October 4th, 2011
  29. I’ve sent this out to all of our weight loss clients and also posted it on our facebook page. GREAT stuff…..God, I love you guys!

    MOWL wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  30. The break down for your approach is great. We run into this all the time at the gym, with everyone having their own opinion about paleo and how to lose weight. I like this approach and will be send patient who as to the site for guidance and answers.

    SportsDoc wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  31. I read the Perfect Health diet book (and Mark’s book) and Robb’s non-answer is peculiar. The authors of PHD have a lot of arguments supporting the level of glucose in their diet, so to dismiss that question with “rice is sometimes bad for some people” undermines Mr Wolff’s credibility. Where is the counter argument?

    cjm wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I gave the answer I gave, if my credibility is in question, lots of other sites to check out.

      Robb Wolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Furthermore, listen to the body of work in Robb’s podcasts. He talks about rice several times, in the context of athletic performance, for post-workout utilization, etc. Robb Wolf is the least dogmatic nutritional expert I’ve ever read or listened to. Yeah, I come across as a fan-boy, don’t I?

        John Koenig wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • did you read their book?

        cjm wrote on August 24th, 2011
  32. I really need to work on the sleep thing. We have two windows right above our bed, and the curtians don’t block out nearly enough light…=(
    I am thinking of maybe getting some of that light-blocking fabric or just boarding them up LOL!
    I really think that not getting adequate sleep in the dark could be affecting my health and my husband’s weight loss…we both work PM shift, so we usually end up going to bed at midnight, and getting up around 8ish, and by then its usually been light for a few hours. Unfortuently, I wake up as soon as the sun comes up, and then have to fall back asleep again.

    Ika wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I tend to wake up with the sun also, and even when. Was in germany and the windows were covered till pitch black in the house I would still awaken when the sun was coming up, that even included when the sun was coming up at 5 am and set at 11pm in the summer.
      I found it wasn’t light or lack of light but just getting real rest for me. I bought a Fitbit pedometer which also measured type of sleep etc, and found despite feeling rested I was tossing and turning very little of what is considered traditional good rest. And times I wasn’t waking up feeling rested often pointed back to my diet, which included my wine intake, or mild dehydration, room temps etc. I am a very light sleeper unless truly exhausted. I kept a short journal of my day food and activities stress etc and then recorded the sleep info from the Fitbit plus notes of how I felt in the day. Now I hardly write but I know if I indulge in wine or a margarita I might feel less rested or if I eat potatoes I will become sleepy way early in the evening etc.

      Tamara wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • A few tips:

      1) Use a blindfold. I can never get my bedroom dark enough, so I simply take a dark shirt and wrap it around my head.

      2) Go to bed when you first start to feel sleepy and avoid electric light as much as possible (I realize that’s tough for a shift worker like you). If you push yourself past that point of natural sleepiness, you’ll be assaulted by food cravings and then toss and turn when you finally do turn in (at least that’s how it works for me).

      3) Sleep away from electromagnetic fields. No clocks; no phones; no lamps. Pull the circuit breaker if you have to. I used to have all sorts of nightmares before I de-gaussed my sleeping environment.

      Timothy wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • Thanks to you both for the suggestions! I have tried a few “masks” such as the ones meant for sleeping, but they squash my nose which is uncomfortable. And I also tried a sock over my eyes, which was better but it didn’t stay put.
        I wish I could just go to bed when I first feel sleepy but that is about 9:30-10pm when I am still at work…=( Oh well, hopefully in a few years I won’t be at this job anymore =)

        Ika wrote on August 24th, 2011
  33. Awesome Q&A! I just finished the Paleo Solution and agree that it’s a great read and well worth checking out.

    Dave wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  34. “A handful of almonds is fine. A 3 lb Costco container…not so much.”


    wilberfan wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  35. Second on the importance of sleep. Like Sheila, I wake up with the sun light and have a very hard time falling back to sleep.
    I know my boyfriend suffers from a bit of insomnia, and he tends to stay up watching TV until midnight or 1, and then gets up at 5 for work without any naps during the day. I got him to eat mostly Primal most of the time, but he keeps gaining weight and is getting pretty depressed about it. I don’t know how to convince him about the importance of sleep though

    chocolatechip69 wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  36. Does anyone have any tips on jetlag and the paleo approach? Recently started paleo and fascinated by the sleep aspect which helped me drop weight. Keen to understand the best way to get the body on track after an 8hr tine difference. Cheers.

    Nick wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Dont travel. I’ve spent 30+ weeks per year on the road the past 4 years…it’s terrible. melatonin can help, ont overstraining helps. Not traveling…that really helps.

      Robb Wolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  37. Great Q & A and really cool to see Robb and Mark together on this forum! I read Robb’s book first, then PB.

    I’m really excited to hear someone in the Primal/Paleo community mention permaculture. I’m a permaculturist myself and that’s how I stumbled across this community; through my interests in wild foraging, edible perennials, and rewilding. I would love to see a broader network with primal that also stretches across the permaculture community because their roots certainly overlap. I’ll certainly do my part to spread the word.

    I think Lierre Keith’s work has really been pivotal in helping to bridge that gap. Her book, _The Vegetarian Myth_ was an eye opener for me (someone deeply entrenched in creating a durable and resilient future) and lifted the burden of feeling somehow unethical for my occasional meat eating.

    My husband and I are four weeks into a fully implemented primal lifestyle and we have never felt better. Every day we ask ourselves if we think we’ll go back, and the answer is: No Way!

    I’m currently writing a post about my personal “crossing over” in hopes of lending a sympathetic voice to others who may be wondering about the whole primal thing, but may be too scared to go against the grain. *chuckle* I’m sure that ones been used a millions times, but I’m new here and I’m just giddy, so cut me some slack.

    Chandra Hartman wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  38. I am just so confused about how much cardio to do. I am power lifting 3x a week, and doing a dynamic KB session 1x a week. I am also averaging 2x a week HIIT, but trying to achieve 4x a week HIIT. Oh, and I walk everywhere averaging ~ 1 hr a day. I used to do far more cardio/interval training with light weights in combination with BMI level calories and shredded muscules, not fat. With current regimen, I am in a status quo, feel great, but do not look like fit. I am at the end of my wits as to how to firm up and start looking like someone who goes under the bar 3x a week. I really want to keep what upper body muscules I won, and keep growing them, but I also want a flat belly and slimmer thighs. Am I at cross-purposes? More cardio, less cardio? I stopped eating dairy, and will try my darnest to stop eating nuts too; I do IF. I just need some sort of hope that it is actually possible to lean out and firm up without starving & look good, not like an escapee from a concentration camp on the upper body, while still sporting thunder thighs!

    Leida wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • I have also been powerlifting 3 times a week, for a little over three months. I did mild cardio (an hour jogging and sprinting outside) on the other days. I hit a plateau after about two months and couldn’t progress on most of my lifts. Then one week, feeling especially run down, I skipped my cardio days, even though it felt kinda lazy. To my amazement, I immediately broke through my lifting plateau.

      So I suggest ditching the cardio for one week. Just do plenty of walking and some very mild swung weights (kb or sledgehammer) on your off-days, and see if that doesn’t make you stronger in the weight room. Our bodies have a limited ability to recover, especially if we’re fasting periodically, and we tend to underestimate the damage done by a truly intense lifting session.

      If you want a real expert’s opinion, Martin Berkhan at has loads of good advice for those aiming to get strong and lean at the same time.

      Timothy wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • You might need to do LESS to firm up…Mark and I both cover this in our books.

      Robb Wolf wrote on August 23rd, 2011
    • Take a break! I spent a week doing nothing other than strolling to the beach and came back able to do more intense HIIT for a longer duration.

      Take a week off.


      Kicking Carbs wrote on August 24th, 2011

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