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

Why Can Some People Eat Anything They Want and Never Gain a Pound?

The following are both actual and paraphrased versions of questions I regularly get from readers:

If grains are so bad how can you explain the leanness and good health of Clarence Bass?

How is it that this guy can eat 30 bananas a day and not gain weight, or this guy can eat nothing but potatoes for 60 days and lose 20 pounds?

How do the Kitavans or Okinawans maintain good body composition despite a higher carb diet?

Mark, how were you able to maintain a low body fat percentage despite eating a half gallon of ice cream a day?

Why can my brother eat anything he wants and never gain a pound?

All of these examples seem contrary to what we say in the Primal Blueprint. How can they be explained? Are they anomalies? Tails of the bell curve? Is something else at work?

These questions all bring to mind one of the main principles underlying the Primal Blueprint, which is that ultimately there are no right or wrong answers in life, just choices we make based on what we think we know or what we believe to be in our best interest. I happen to think we here at Mark’s Daily Apple have hit upon a range of choices within the Primal Blueprint – based on what we know about evolution and epigenetics – that can bring out the best in our health, fitness and energy. We seek to optimize our individual genetic potential using these principals and to literally influence gene signaling. Of course, there are other ways and other choices to get lean, some of which might even get you close to healthy if you do everything right. Me, I want the option that gets me the fittest and healthiest with the least amount of pain, suffering, sacrifice, discipline and calorie-counting possible.

The truth is, if you never undertook to live a Primal lifestyle, the chances are still pretty good that you might enjoy a “relatively comfortable” existence for a substantial part of your life – until the wheels inevitably started to fall off. Millions of people around the world “get by” just fine in their obliviousness on the SAD (Standard American Diet), only 10 or 30 pounds overweight, a little arthritic, maybe some GERD for which they gladly take a pill. Some people even appear to thrive for a while on less-than-ideal diet and exercise programs. Even I did “adequately” on the Conventional Wisdom plan for a long time, and I’m pretty sure I’d still be doing reasonably well today had I not adopted this PB strategy myself. Of course, I’d be a little more decrepit and arthritic, less energetic, a little weaker and sick more often, and I’d probably still have IBS. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d think all that was normal for a 57-year-old man, so I might even label myself “content.”

Of course, genetics has a lot to do with it. I got away with dietary murder when I was an endurance athlete because I was “genetically gifted” to be able to run long and hard enough to burn off a half gallon of ice cream (and a loaf of bread and a bowl of pasta and a six-pack of beer…) every night – as long as I ran long and hard the next day, too. But sometimes a guy can look lean, and not be healthy. And that was me. There’s a lot going on under the hood. Your 30 bananas guy above does the same things I did, but with a higher sugar – high mileage program that he advocates for everyone. In his case, he looks skinny because doesn’t get enough protein and he cycles endless miles in a valiant-yet-doomed effort to burn off all that sugar. He also takes in paltry amounts of protein, and it shows in the lack of muscle typical of a high-carb endurance athlete. His inability to gain weight while eating lots of carbs is actually a bad thing, since he’s constantly losing muscle mass and enduring all manner of glycation inside. I can’t comment on the 20 potatoes guy except to say that if the 19th century Irish lived on potatoes for decades and couldn’t gain much muscle, it makes sense that he couldn’t either in 60 days. The Kitavans and the Okinawans thrive partly because they typically don’t overeat (see: Calorie Restriction) and partly because they expend a fair amount of energy not sitting at their desk all day long (Primal Blueprint Law #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace). I suspect that their reliance on real food and low intakes of processed and high omega-6 PUFA seed oils also contribute to their metabolic efficiency.

Clarence Bass can look so great at 73 on a grain-based diet because he has spent his life focused on staying in shape, mostly as a body-builder. He understood very early in his career that lean mass was the main driver of health, and he orchestrated a workout and diet plan contemplated to keep him fit. He’s never really been out of shape and, from what I gather, he’s pretty strict with his diet in terms of macronutrient breakdown, calorie count and meal timing. That takes a lot of discipline. If you do it right, you can get pretty decent results. The fact that he includes grains in his diet and apparently suffers no ill effects puts him among a select minority who may not be as susceptible to their antinutrient effects as most of us are. Again, maybe he’s genetically “gifted” that way.

We’ve talked a little about genetic ranges before, but let me remind you of this point. Each of us has the recipe for a lean, fit, strong, healthy human contained within our DNA. Biological processes don’t really differ from one person to another (except in rare occasions). We all make proteins the same way, we all digest and process nutrients the same way, etc. But it’s the individual variations in our specific familial DNA (those pesky single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs) that often account for the differences in the degree to which we tend to build muscle, or burn or store fat. From there it comes down to the signals (those diet and exercise choices) we send our genes that maximize our ultimate potential or not. The truth is, some of us are just lucky enough to be able to “get away” with eating certain foods that aren’t exactly Primal, not gaining much weight and not experiencing noticeable inflammation. Others among us who may have genetic red flags really need to pay attention or we easily gain weight or develop health issues if we stray at all. There is for each of us a predetermined “range of genetic outcomes” that we do inherit from our parents. My job is to help you discover how to optimize your potential – if that’s what you choose to do.

Humans are among the most adaptive (short-term anyway) animals on the planet when it comes to diet. We can survive on just about anything, as witnessed by the plethora of obese Americans surviving on fast food and soft drinks. Over half the world stays “slim and trim” on a low-calorie, grain-based diet simply because there are paltry few food choices and they just can’t take in enough calories to gain much weight (store fat). But let’s not always confuse their leanness with good health.

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’ve always been very thin and could eat whatever I wanted and not gain any weight. Then I found out I was prediabetic and on the road to IBS. I went primal over a year ago and feel amazing.

    Amy wrote on January 12th, 2011
    • I agree with you about feeling great eating paleo style. I used to eat a low carb bread for a couple of years. However it seems that eating grains of any kind made me crave. I would go crazy on bread and cake samples in grocery stores. Now that i have dropped grains altogether the craving is gone.

      Gayle wrote on January 12th, 2011
  2. “But let’s not always confuse their leanness with good health” — wow, great idea’s Mark.

    Meagan wrote on January 12th, 2011
  3. I think how you grow up is huge.
    Especially your experiences from ages 4 through around 11.

    We grew up near the river where we swam and swam and swam, then ice skated in the winter.
    Baseball, basketball, football.
    Apple battle, tomato battle, snow ball battle.
    Hiking, running, romping, sparring, hunting, fishing, climbing trees and on and on.

    We ate wild game, garden grown fresh and home canned food and local farm eggs, milk and cheese.
    Nuts and berries abounded. Still do.
    We cleaned up our plates because it was required.

    Because we exerted ourselves and did it in an environment of absolute beauty and richness, we slept well because we were tired and ate well because we were hungry. Dreamed well because we were well.

    I too am 57 and I have no prescriptions, no ailments, my appendix, tonsils and everything else are still mine.
    I don’t remember any of my running buddies having problems either.

    We were all sticks except for the one fat kid and he really did have gland problems.

    Four to eleven. Get after it and you’ll do fine!

    Thanks for listening.

    hp wrote on January 12th, 2011
  4. The key is finding what works for you. Do I believe that Paleo/Primal will be best for the widest range of people? Yes. Just because someone looks lean doesn`t mean they are optimizing their potential. Even within the Paleo/Primal realm, there are certainly individual variations. People who are already lean can usually tolerate a higher carbohydrate load, while those with a possible auto-immune disease will have to weed out what other trigger foods may hurt them (nightshades, eggs, etc.) The best thing to do is to start fresh, eat real foods, and see how you do. It may take some time to develop an awareness to how your body reacts to different foods, but you`ll get there and be better off for it. The best judge of your own health is YOU!

    Matthew Myers wrote on January 12th, 2011
  5. Nailed it, Mark. Leanness and health are so often confused – how often do you hear someone say something like, “Well, if you exercise enough you can eat whatever you want,” meaning that a massive energy output will usually result in a lean body? Body composition is a great indicator, but far from the only measure of health. PB attracted me in the first place because even though I was thin, something just felt “off” in my body.

    Eric R wrote on January 12th, 2011
  6. Mark says, “based on what we know about evolution and epigenetics” and Uncephalized
    says, “if they applied good science and rational evolutionary principles.” Etc.

    I love the website, the diet, the information here about exercising, nutrition, etc. But there seems to be an obsession with evolution on this website. The fact is evolution has never happened, and as Dr. David Menton, Associate Professor Emeritus in Anatomy at Washington University School of Medicine says, “If evolution were thrown out of consideration, it would have no negative impact in medicine—it plays no necessary role in either the teaching or practice of medicine.”

    That statement also applies to diet, nutrition, and exercise. Is there some reason so many here bring up an irrelevant issue? Why not just stick to the facts and what works?

    Mr. Spock wrote on January 12th, 2011
    • The fact is you don’t know what your talking about. The whole website is based on evolutionary principles.

      Asturian wrote on January 13th, 2011
    • My apologies to you Mr. Spock if I misinterpreted your post. To me, it sounded as though you were trying to say that genetics and/or evolution are not based on fact.

      If indeed that was the intent of your message, I am compelled to note that you are ignorantly mistaken.

      Primal in “Primal Blueprint” refers to our human evolution while the blueprint in “Primal Blueprint” refers to our genetic encoding.

      Some folks are ignorant about evolution and/or genetics because they do not have a sufficient knowledge background in science to understand the facts pertaining to these subjects. There is nothing wrong with that, as not everyone is a scientist. But for someone to say or imply that evolution and/or genetics are not based on fact because of their own religious “beliefs” is not only ignorant, but also wrong.

      I do have an open mind to the power of belief and recent studies are beginning to link this power of mind and belief to our human genetic expression. However, belief is not a substitute for fact.

      Best wishes.

      Asturian wrote on January 13th, 2011
      • Asturian: “The fact is you don’t know what your talking about. The whole website is based on evolutionary principles.”

        Really? So if I give you 5 pages I pick at random you can tell me how each of those pages is based on “evolutionary principles?”

        “To me, it sounded as though you were trying to say that genetics and/or evolution are not based on fact… for someone to say or imply that evolution and/or genetics are not based on fact because of their own religious “beliefs” is not only ignorant, but also wrong.”

        Well, since I said nothing about genetics and nothing about religion, I can see why you would so easily fall for the fairy tale of evolution. Apparently it doesn’t take much for you to see things that aren’t there. Where is the logic in that?

        “I am compelled to note that you are ignorantly mistaken.”

        Compelled, eh? Oh, the drama.

        “Some folks are ignorant about evolution and/or genetics because they do not have a sufficient knowledge background in science to understand the facts pertaining to these subjects.”

        The “facts” of evolution is that there aren’t any. I recently read an article about a Dr. Terry Mortenson, who stated something about the “facts” of evolution that I thought was worth saving: “Science has not found a living cell spontaneously evolving into existence by chance from non-living matter, as evolutionists claim has happened 3.5 billion years ago. Science has not found transitional forms between different kinds of plants and animals, either living or in the fossil record, to support evolutionist claims that all life is descended from a common ancestor—the first living cell. And science has not found millions of years of time in the rocks or a gas cloud collapsing to form a star. None of those things has ever been observed by any scientist, so they are not findings of science.”

        Mr. Spock wrote on January 13th, 2011
        • Ummm. Errr. Uhhhh. Ok. Good luck with that.

          I’ve heard that ignorance can be bliss.

          Asturian wrote on January 14th, 2011
        • Oh. And not worry. I don’t mind taking back my apology.

          Happy Creations!

          Asturian wrote on January 14th, 2011
    • This site’s been around what – 3 years? – and only NOW are the creationists crawling out the woodwork…?!

      What’s taken you so long…?!

      Sarah wrote on January 13th, 2011
      • Asturian has “heard that ignorance can be bliss.” Based on his reply, he must be one of the most blissful people I know.

        First he attacks me personally. He was “compelled” to tell me that I am ignorant, mistaken, ignorant again, I don’t have a sufficient knowledge background in science, am unable to understand facts, ignorant again, and not only that, I am also wrong.

        Five times he used the word fact. And then, when I challenged his religion of evolution, and asked about these “facts,” he ran away. Typical of these blissful people. I also noticed that there was no reply link after he ran for the tall grass (which is why I’m replying here). Not sure if that’s a coincidence or not, but if he removed it, that also would indicate cowardice. Pretty funny that someone with so many facts would run away like that.

        Mr. Spock wrote on January 14th, 2011
        • First of all, I have no control over the reply link(s). The blog software seems only to allow for 3 levels of replies and then the reply button disappears. Bitch to Mark about it, I can’t help you with that.

          Second, FACT 6: YOU ARE A CREATIONIST! And I can’t help you with that problem either. Your creationist professor of systemic theology has no credibility in anthropology, evolution, or genetics, and though he may claim to specialize in historical geology, I’m quite certain his knowledge in that subject is found terribly lacking.

          Finally, as long as you are counting, FACT number seven: I think you are an idiot rather than just ignorant or wrong. And I don’t have much patience for people with your problems. I’m sorry, but you are just too far gone to be saved by science. Give it up and go back to your faith-based reality and make-believe facts.


          Asturian wrote on January 15th, 2011
    • Wow, you’re really uninformed, aren’t you.

      Griff wrote on January 13th, 2011
      • Asturian: “Your creationist professor of systemic theology…”

        First, I have no professor. Second, I assume you meant systematic theology. For one who claims to be so bright, you really aren’t, and as I mentioned before, see a lot of things that just aren’t there.

        “I’m sorry, but you are just too far gone to be saved by science.”

        Science can’t save anyone. But I think that is one of the mantras of your religion of evolutionism. Just like calling names when you don’t have an intelligent answer.

        It’s really funny how much emphasis there is on evolution here, and when asked, no one (including Mr. Sisson) could provide a shred of evidence for how “evolutionary principles” affected diet and nutrition, let alone evidence of evolution itself. When shown how bankrupt that religion is, the intellectually and morally bankrupt adherents of that fairy tale resort to name calling. Pretty telling, isn’t it? You are free to have the last say, if you wish, as I don’t plan on posting on this subject again.

        Mr. Spock wrote on January 16th, 2011
  7. Wow. I’m just starting a long weight loss journey, and this post is really hitting me where I don’t yet want to be hit! Thanks for that. Lots to ponder.

    Pauline wrote on January 13th, 2011
  8. Great article. I’m reminded that as we age, I’m now 52, we definetly can’t eat as much as we want without putting on weight. I have always put weight on easily, however some of my friends from school, were really skinny into their early 40’s and could not put weight on however much they ate, now these same friends have ever growing waistlines which increase every year. And they keep complaining that despite gong to the gym and eating pasta (healthy lifestyle to them) they are still piling on the pounds.

    kim wrote on January 13th, 2011
  9. speaking of gerd, mine got much worse when i tried paleo for 6 months, now i got back to eating pasta and biscuits and i feel just fine.

    erzebet wrote on January 13th, 2011
    • speaking of gerd, mine got much worse when i tried paleo for 6 months, now i got back to eating pasta and biscuits and i feel just fine.

      Why are my ‘trolly’ senses tingling…?

      Sarah wrote on January 13th, 2011
      • Well it’s true! Same thing happened to me. Sorry some people’s stomachs cannot handle a lot of meat. Believe it!

        Denise wrote on January 14th, 2011
  10. Mark says “Let’s not always confuse their leanness with good health.” (TRUE) Well, my cousin’s husband is unbelievably thin. He eats anything he wants and as much as he wants, never gains a pound, NO exercise. Well, he recently had a stroke. Dr’s tell him it’s from WHAT he eats that they believed caused this. Yes, he’s lean, but NOT healthy!

    Donna wrote on January 13th, 2011
  11. Has anybody tried the tropical fruit noni? From what I’ve heard it can help promote good internal health in addition to Primal living.

    Steve wrote on January 13th, 2011
    • I had noni in Hawaai on the big island once and it tasted awful. It might be good for you but I wouldn’t have it for breakfast with my yogurt.

      primal tree top wrote on January 13th, 2011
    • I’ve tried Noni juice once for several weeks. I didn’t notice any change except for the change in my pocketbook. It’s expensive. I think it’s a scam or a ripoff.

      Lolo wrote on January 13th, 2011
      • Personally, i’m NOT a believer in Noni Juice, i see NO magic wand in it. My 2 cents!!

        Donna wrote on January 14th, 2011
  12. It makes so much sense when I think about it. I would never give my cat or my dog bread and candy and french fries with the belief that it would not be good for their bodies and that animals shouldn’t eat “people food” because it will harm them. Yet, we are all animals, so why do we eat “people food?” People really should not eat “people food.” It’s just not healthy!

    Lolo wrote on January 13th, 2011
  13. I think ‘never’ is a long time. Just because there’s no overt negative consequences in the short term, who’s to say what the damage is long-term? One trip to the ice cream parlor does not a diabetic make. One trip a week, probably also not – depends on what happens the rest of the time. One a day makes me think that there’s a problem. Emotionally as well as physiologically. Do that for decades and you have just one more obese, unhealthy human. Even with excess exercise to ward off the damage for a long time, there’s still damage and God forbid there should be an injury that kibosh’s the exercise. I don’t look at people who ‘can eat whatever they want’ with envy. I look with caution and pity – for their future. I don’t believe one can do that for life with impunity. Gotta pay the piper sometime.

    Melissa Fritcher wrote on January 13th, 2011
  14. Mark, there are a number of logical fallacies in your argument. If your basic premise is true, I and many others following a low fat vegan diet would NOT put on weight on other diets apart from a LF vegan diet. However, we do. When we eat icecream and drink beer, we do put on fat, quite readily. When we eat meat and eggs, we do put on fat, very very easily.

    In my experience, being a low fat vegan has helped me put on muscle and build a strong, lean physique very easily compared to my healthy days of eating meat. I say healthy because I followed a “healthy” version of it.

    Hannanne wrote on January 13th, 2011
    • Hannanne,

      Ice cream and beer are high carb, so the fact you gain is a given.

      What were you eating with the meat and eggs…? Toast? Cereal? Griff, see a few posts back, is living proof of what a Primal lifestyle can do – forget how many pounds of body fat he’s lost, but it must be getting close to 200.

      It is PHYSIOLOGICALLY impossible to put on lean muscle eating low-fat vegan (and you cannot use the word ‘healthy’ in the same sentence as “low fat vegan” without it being an oxymoron – because, just like there’s no such thing as a healthy fruitarian, there’s no such thing as a healthy vegan, either – you’re cutting so much out of your diet, that it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to be healthy.

      Now, this is the truth (and you can argue until you’re blue in the face – and that won’t take long, because you’re that unhealthy).

      When you lived on meat and eggs (assuming you weren’t consuming carbs too) you were building muscle, but you’re the kind of airhead who just looks at the numbers on the scale and saw you were gaining ‘weight’ and mistook the muscle you were gaining (assuming you were working out SENSIBLY – see the Primal Blueprint Fitness Guide for the sensible way to work out) for fat.

      Now you’re eating a nutritionally-poor diet, you’re losing all that muscle (I will repeat: – it is IMPOSSIBLE to gain MUSCLE on a vegan diet because, by definition, it’s severely lacking in protein) so you think you’re ‘leaning out’.

      Either way, your way of life is not sustainable. I’m betting that, like our 30BAD friends, you’re young, and it’s not had time to catch up with you yet – but it will do. I very much doubt you’ll live much past 50 either (though you might live slightly longer than the fruitcaketarians – just not much…).

      If you had the first clue about human physiology, you’d know what you’ve written was a load of BS – but you don’t (or you’d not have written it…).

      Sarah wrote on January 13th, 2011
      • Wow. You really are a piece of art. You poor poor thing. LOL.

        Hannanne wrote on January 13th, 2011
      • Sarah, your replies are so rude even if you had any valid points (which you don’t) they are lost by your immature obnoxious attitude.

        EDUCATE yourself, you need to stay alive until we are 50 so you can finally realise the truth.

        Kim wrote on January 14th, 2011
      • Very rude! Don’t you understand that calling people names and personal attacks are not going to help your case? what kind of a zealot are you? A closed minded one, apparently.

        Denise wrote on January 14th, 2011
    • “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”

      BTW – Eating meat is what enabled proto-evolutionary humans and our own speices to develop such powerful brains — to facilitate with logic and reasoning. It could explain your own difficulties with understanding Mark’s argument. Just a thought.

      Asturian wrote on January 13th, 2011
  15. Sam,

    I see you’ve turned off the ‘reply’ function to your posts now – what a surprise!

    I understand Martin’s IF approach because I follow it – you don’t, because you’d never heard of it – until I mentioned it (and nothing you say will get me to believe otherwise; your responses to me (and others) believe me to be correct on this point…)

    Sarah wrote on January 13th, 2011
    • I never turned off any function. The ‘reply’ button disappeared for some reason.

      Just shut up already. I can already tell you’re not lean if you don’t realize that calories are the bottom line.

      I wrote that November 8th. I’m done talking with you. You have a cult member mentality. Good luck in life.

      Sam Lloyd wrote on January 13th, 2011
      • “Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences”

        Oh well, so much for that idea. :)

        Asturian wrote on January 13th, 2011
      • Yo dude, cool blog. I fast intermittently to, I try to skip breakfast daily.

        however consider that the anger response you demonstrated has the potential to increase your cortisol, which may mobilize proteins from your muscle tissue with the aid of catecholamines, and blunt fat loss. It’s quite a tangible possibility.

        Avishek wrote on January 14th, 2011
  16. Great article Mark. Thank you for posting this. :) I’m going to add it to my bookmarks to send ppl when they start drilling me about the Primal BluePrint not being healthy and how other ppl can lose weight eating carbs. Excellent post!

    Kimmy wrote on January 13th, 2011
    • Totally agree with Kimmy. A lot of people don’t understand why grains are bad…and most of the time the ones that stay lean while eating grains.
      Thanks for this post Mark!

      Olivia wrote on January 14th, 2011
  17. I come from a long, long line of very thin – eat all you want & don’t gain a pound – people. Most died in their 50’s or went on to develop cancer. For years I had realized that there were certain foods that I could not tolerate. It was only after reading about primal eating, that I realized that most of these foods were carbs. At first, going on a low carb diet caused me to lose even more weight, but now I have stabilized. I have seen a lot of positive changes since beginning the diet. No weight gain yet, but I’ll settle with being healthy.

    ggr wrote on January 13th, 2011
  18. “maybe some GERD for which they gladly take a pill”

    I don’t gladly take a pill for this; I reluctantly take it to stay alive. If there is a dietary way to cure it, I’ll gladly go for it. But all anyone ever does is make fun of those afflicted with it, but offer no solution.

    Richard wrote on January 13th, 2011
  19. Ah jeez. Play nice, you guys!

    I have done an 801010 style raw diet before, and while I felt amazing when I could get it right (enough calories, enough water, enough exercise, enough sleep) it wasn’t sustainable for me. Durianrider and Freelee are both super fit folks, and i think that when people here call them “nutters”, blasting off about all of the illnesses they will most definitely incur, it doesn’t really help anybody (this also applies to the LFRV guys who have commented in a harsh manner, too).

    I’m on PB now, and it works for me. Much better than anything ever has before. But I don’t necessarily think that PB is the be all end all of every lifestyle there is – yes, 801010 and PB are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and supporters of both seem to really want to discredit the other – we should remember that we all have the goal of eliminating grains. That’s always a good thing. More than anything, we have to find what works for US.

    When I read threads about Mark and his approach on the 30bad forums, I see a lot of misunderstanding about his program. Similarly, I see the same thing here, about LFRV. Personally, I would recommend PB over LFRV any day, but there’s a huge difference between a high fat diet with a lot of fruit, and a low fat diet (no grains) with a lot of fruit… The body is going to react in a different way.

    Also, the majority of LFRV folks are fiercely vegan (I was too) and feel that they are doing ‘the right thing’ by speaking out against Mark’s program. In a way I get that, but when I look back on how I reacted in those days, I feel a little ashamed. I was rather naive in my understanding of environmental food-focused sustainability and believed all of the statistics about how destructive the meat industry is… I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve gone down so many paths and seen (and believed, no less) people who claim to have found the correct path, that I’ve learned to be kind and patient, and open minded towards other people and their dietary approaches. I’ve seen so many communities where people get SO hung up on specifics, and so hung up on the one path, that they alienate others in the process. They get smug and feel superior to others around them, think that anyone not following the same program as them is an idiot… Not cool.

    I’m not saying that paleo/primal paths may not be the most effective- in my mind, they are – but I’m not going to go around calling people names just because I believe that I’m right.

    This is not applicable to everyone, a lot of you are extremely lovely… but it annoys me to see others react so harshly.

    kj wrote on January 13th, 2011
  20. “I can’t comment on the 20 potatoes guy except to say that if the 19th century Irish lived on potatoes for decades and couldn’t gain much muscle, it makes sense that he couldn’t either in 60 days”.

    Actually, they DID gain a lot of muscle (in good seasons), because as well as doing a lot of physical labour they mostly lived on potatoes AND MILK (often from miniature breeds of cattle like Dexters that could be kept on their small plots), and on other food, e.g. cabbage and carrots when they could grow them. That top up sometimes even included meat, e.g. if they also kept a pig fed on potato peelings and other scraps, or when a cow got old or a calf was needed to start the cow’s milk but was surplus itself – though those might get sold instead. Places where oppressed peasants had bad diets were where all their produce could be marketed and the landlords took most of that in cash rent; for the Irish, milk and potatoes didn’t get sold so much, because with the technology of that time and place they couldn’t easily be exported before they went off and the local consumers were mostly in the same boat – so the landlords’ only use for those was to keep their tenants going.

    “Biological processes don’t really differ from one person to another (except in rare occasions)”.

    Er… no. There are wide genetic differences as between whole populations in the ability to process ethyl alcohol, and to a lesser extent dairy products; there are probably yet other material differences. It isn’t precisely racial; nearly all the Chinese and about half the Japanese process ethyl alcohol in a safer way, like just about all Europeans and Africans, but Australian aborigines and Native Americans usually process it in a way that lets highly toxic intermediate breakdown products build up. For them, the first stage of processing is more efficient than the last, but for the rest of us it’s the other way around, unless we take Antabuse which slows the last stage (so that alcohol causes far more discomfort).

    P.M.Lawrence wrote on January 14th, 2011
  21. The more I have read about different dietary styles and nutrition plans the more I am convinced that different diets just work for different people and nobody knows why. I used to have GERD and IBS (like Mark). The one thing that helped me the most was getting rid of high fat meals and also meat, especially red meat. One plate of grass fed beef and I could not poop for 3 days. I can eat a lot of carbs if they come from natural sources like fruit, beans and whole grains and not gain a pound. Still I am glad to see that people are getting healthy following a paleo type diet if it works for them.

    Denise wrote on January 14th, 2011
  22. Reading through these comments, I see a typical condition that disables that ability to thrive eating suboptimal food.


    The people that I’ve seen who eat subway sandwiches and mediocre food are some of the nicest people I’ve met, all with good outlooks to life.

    Just my 2 cents there. The food is important of course! As Mark said, he may have had some IBS, GERD, mild arthiritis, and been content, but we really need to stop being so angry about food. Clearly people thrive on many diets, and making quick judgments about them, even the 70 a day banana eaters, digresses from the truth. I still respect those fruit eaters, but some of them are fairly healthy. Defining healthy is something we must be stressed about, but those that have no need to define it, those that live the simple happy life, are the ones who can eat the suboptimal food and be healthy.

    Once we get to whole foods, including grains, the mind has a large influence. Before that however, it is important to remove the foods that clog our minds.

    Avishek wrote on January 14th, 2011
  23. Wow, kj, that’s a great post you left there.
    Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed reading this back and forth bickering and name calling. I really don’t see a reason to cut anyone’s throat just because they follow a different life-style. If it works for them and it makes them happy, more power to them. As soon as Primal will start showing “diminishing returns” on my body and sense of well-being, I would be more than willing to look into whatever 30 bananas a day diets are out there.

    chocolatechip69 wrote on January 17th, 2011
  24. Hey Mark, being a fitness professional myself I have come to one conclusion that I will never question: there are hundreds of diets and fitness programs that work….but not for everyone. We have to figure out which ones work best for us.

    Susan wrote on January 17th, 2011
  25. 80/10/10 diet seems too ideal. I suppose that is why I love it! Just like living the way in which Buddha or Christ did seems way too fantastical; I am still gonna give it my all!!! Best to everyone … keep evolving!!!

    Matu wrote on January 30th, 2011
  26. stop tryna act smart yall

    stephany wrote on January 15th, 2012

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