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

Why Does the Paleo Diet Continue to Receive Low Points from “Established Authorities”?

thumbsdownYou may have heard the big news: the paleo diet ranked dead last in the US News and World Report diet rankings. When my inbox floods with links to the latest paleo bashing in the media, I don’t even get surprised or annoyed anymore. It amuses me. The one downside of this stuff is that work grinds to a halt for a few hours because a popular pastime around the Primal headquarters whenever one of these reports comes out is to see who can pick the ripest, most ridiculous misconceptions or blatant falsehoods. The big upside is even more publicity, more notoriety, and more laughter. Laughter is always a good thing.

Initially, you may weep at the ignorance on display. That’s how I was when I first started out, along with a bit of teeth gnashing. But it gives way to deep belly laughter that resonates through every bone in your body and plucks at the ligaments holding them together to create a sweet sonorous melody filling the room and reaching up to the skies above. At least it did for me.

So let’s laugh together. I’ll draw on three of the best statements and quotes we’ve been passing around and provide a bit of translation and/or commentary. Bonus: you can use these as quick replies whenever someone smugly thrusts the US News diet ranking in your face.

Does it have cardiovascular benefits?

While some studies have linked Paleo diets with reducing blood pressure, bad “LDL” cholesterol, and triglycerides (a fatty substance that can raise heart disease risk), they have been few, small, and short. And all that fat would worry most experts.

Translation: Although actual studies on the Paleo diet in live human subjects result in improved risk factors for heart disease, including lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, “all that fat” worries our expert panel. We’ve got a hunch that those results are invalid and do not reflect reality. Because reasons. Just trust us. Hey, who’s up for a SlimFast shake whose third ingredient is heart-healthy sugar?

In reality: They say it right there, don’t they, and somehow choose to ignore it? And “some studies” haven’t just “linked” Paleo diets to lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Randomized controlled trials have legitimately shown that Paleo diets can directly cause the improvements in traditional cardiovascular disease markers. You can argue that they were too small to draw overarching conclusions about the population at large, and that would be fair, absolutely, but the studies show causation, not just association.

Will you lose weight?

No way to tell.

Translation: There’s absolutely no way to tell if you’ll lose weight on this diet. None. We’ve racked our considerable brains, combed through the scientific literature, and consulted with several dozen different experts on human metabolism and nutrition. We’re all absolutely stumped. There is literally nothing present in the extant body of human knowledge that would indicate the Paleo diet can help you lose weight. The likely, if unfortunate, answer is that we will never – absent divine intervention – truly know if this diet can work for weight loss. We strongly suggest that you abandon your futile pursuit of weight loss on the Paleo diet and turn to one of the weight loss diets with extensive support in the scientific literature, like the Cookie Diet. Oh, and if you think “trying it out for yourself” can help you learn whether or not you’ll lose weight on Paleo, think again! Your inherent bias toward wanting to lose weight on the Paleo diet may induce hallucinatory delusions whenever you step on a scale to track your progress. Your weight will only appear to be lowering, and you’ve always worn that same size pant. What, you had to buy a new belt because the old one wouldn’t fit? How do you know you didn’t just imagine buying a new belt – ever think of that? Exactly. Don’t be fooled by the placebo effect, people.

In reality: Randomized controlled trials of the Paleo diet have shown it works for weight loss. And when compared to the Mediterranean diet, the Paleo diet has been shown to be more satiating per calorie. More recently, the same thing happened when they compared a Paleo diet to a standard diabetes diet in type 2 diabetics. Being able to eat fewer calories – spontaneously – without getting any hungrier is pretty much the defining characteristic of a successful weight loss diet. Paleo is also pretty good at helping you lose fat where it matters most. A recent study showed that postmenopausal women eating Paleo lost liver and waist fat, improving their waist-to-hip ratio and lowering their ApoB (a good approximation for LDL particle number) among other improvements.

Even if those studies didn’t exist, you always have the ability to determine if a diet works by trying it out yourself.

Are there health risks?

Possibly. By shunning dairy and grains, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot of nutrients. Also, if you’re not careful about making lean meat choices, you’ll quickly ratchet up your risk for heart problems.

Translation: By embracing eggs, beef, wild salmon, chicken, lamb, pork, kale, chard, romaine lettuce, spinach, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, broccoli, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, oranges, sardines, organ meatsshellfish, fennel, onions, garlic, asparagus, seaweed, butternut squash, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, strawberries, cantaloupe, almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, walnuts, and tuna, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot of nutrients. All those foods might taste nice and look pretty on a plate, but they are incredibly nutrient-sparse.

You won’t just increase your risk of heart disease. You will “quickly ratchet up” your risk. Let’s take this apart, because it’s a sneaky choice of words. “To ratchet” is “to cause something to rise (or fall) as a step in what is perceived to be an irreversible progress.” So not only are you increasing your risk of heart disease, you are setting out on an irreversible path toward heart problems. Each bite of 85/15 ground beef you take, each morsel of lamb chop you swallow, each time you fail to make a lean meat choice – these are death contracts upon which you can never renege.

In reality: I actually won’t quibble on the notion of dairy being a good, dependable source of nutrients like calcium, potassium, protein, and healthy fats. It is, which is why I support the consumption of dairy as long as you’re not intolerant of any of the components and suffer no ill symptoms. That said, you don’t need to eat dairy to get calcium, potassium, protein, or fat (besides, I highly doubt US News and World Reports count “dairy fat” as one of the benefits). In fact, leafy greens like kale, collards, mustard greens, and spinach and other vegetables like bok choy are excellent sources of calcium. Edible bony fish like canned sardines are also a great Paleo source of calcium, while protein and potassium are easy to come by on Paleo (in fact, the US News and World ranking committee admitted that Paleo provided nearly 10 grams of potassium, or double the recommended amount). As for general nutrient density, basic Paleo meets or (more commonly) exceeds the USDA recommendations for most nutrients (PDF).

Meat, whether lean or fatty, has never been consistently linked to heart disease. The most recent epidemiology actually vindicates fresh red meat, while condemning only processed meats like hot dogs and bologna. And even those associations are likely confounded by variables like the healthy user bias.

I was disappointed to see that they’d removed the reader response section, where readers could vote on whether a particular diet had worked for them or not. In 2011, when Paleo was similarly trashed by US News and World Report, the reader response overwhelmingly indicated that the diet worked for people (who were possibly experiencing a collective hallucination). This directly contradicts the opinion of the experts that Paleo is just too hard to follow (even if it were effective). Same goes for the way “paleo diet” is trending on Google. As Robb Wolf illustrates in his recent rebuttal to the diet rankings, if Paleo was “too hard,” we wouldn’t see the consistent upward trend of Google searches. We’d see a big drop off in interest – and we just aren’t seeing that.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. What about you? How many relatives and friends have you heard from regarding this? Does it change your mind at all?

Thanks for reading, all!

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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. All this tells you is that the Paleo / Primal diet scores badly when judged by conventional criteria… which is not a surprise, because it is exactly those criteria that the diet calls into question!

    Scott UK wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • A classic case of begging the question indeed!

      Simone wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • One look at the hundreds of examples of real life “success stories” just proves how wrong that article was. I laughed out loud and thought I must be on the right track if we were voted last.

        Nocona wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • I had a teacher say most people are wrong about most things, most of the time. That if you go 180 degrees away from what is considered conventional wisdom, you will be probably pretty close to the correct way of doing things.

          J. J. Gregor wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Of course, because no other fad diet has hundreds of “success stories.”

          prufock wrote on March 6th, 2014
  2. Thanks for helping me realize I can be amused instead of annoyed. I never thought of it that way.

    Crystal wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • My resolution for this year is to not worry about the crappy conventional diets that are so popular, but simply to lead by example. To make people want to ask “what do you do?” And proudly tell them.

      Jessica wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • +1 you go girl

        Julie wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • great idea!

        Algebra Grok wrote on January 14th, 2014
  3. The latest complaint against Paleo I heard (from The Guardian UK’s comments): “the paleo diet is meat heavy it might be sensible to consider the environmental and collective effects. It seems another case where the ‘individual’ is prioritised and the aggregate costs on society and the environment are ignored”

    Translation: Um, actually I have no translation. The idea that people should eat for the greater good is frankly bizarre.

    Baff wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • So true. I’ve heard people argue that our way of life couldn’t support the planet. I’m like, “OK. So you want me to sacrifice my health and longevity for the greater good?” Then I get profane. XD

      Aria Dreamcatcher wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • Sorry, I disagree on several counts.

        Paleo, at least Primal Paleo, emphasizes sustainable animal raising, which is far better for the planet than most farming. See, for example, The Vegetarian Myth.

        Current Paleo does not put a heavy emphasis on meat, certainly not red meat.

        Yes, as a matter of fact, caring only about me me me is not OK with me. “I have to have such and such from a third world country even if it destroys their ecosystem.” Bull. Unless you live in a place such as the Sahara or the far north where you can’t grow food, you can get most of your food locally and sustainably. Yes, people should eat for the greater good as well as their own health.

        Go ahead, unleash your profanity

        Harry Mossman wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • +1 nicely put

          ChrisW wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • I agree that “people should eat for the greater good as well as their own health.” We should make every effort to consider the consequences of our actions — and inactions — on the health of the entire planet, not just on our little me-bubbles.

          Ironically, the “me, me, me” approach is the exact same one taken by the industrial complex pushing the Standard American Diet, and funding these silly Best and Worst Diet studies. Best and worst for whom? The SAD is definitely best for the industry’s share holders, because nobody makes money off of a healthy, confident, content populace!

          SumoFit wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Thank you Harry. Nicely put.

          Although I have trouble with the holier than thou types claiming their one-with-the-Earthness because they can a lot of foods and buy locally, blatantly claiming ‘greater good’ has no place in our lives is the ultimate selfishness. I suppose the true caveman could only live that way, but only looking out for number one today yields us our current planetary woes.

          Grace wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • The Vegetarian Myth is a great book. Well worth a read.

          Annakay wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • I couldn’t agree more. At least from my point of view Paleo seems to put more emphasis on buying local/sustainably farmed meats and vegetables which in fact is better for the environment than commercially farmed goods, so eating paleo is eating for the greater good.

          Howl wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • So, caring about me isn’t okay? I should be fat, sick, suffer diabetes and die an early death because I’m not well adapted to our neolithic foods?

          I think there is a place for caring about ME. I do try to eat locally and sustainably, when it comes to beef anyway. This is great land for beef, not so great for a lot of other stuff. But even if the people who claim the paleo diet is unsustainable are right, I don’t care. I’ve had enough of weighing 340+ lbs.

          Aria wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Then you should be outraged that Big Pharma is plowing under the rain forests of Central America to grow soybeans.

          Rick wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Yea but the thing is, over population is real. If everybody started to want to eat sustainably, and would be willing to fight and die to do so….

          We would indeed, be in trouble. Their isn’t enough fertile land on the planet for everybody. You and I, can spend a few extra bucks to buy quality food grown sustainably, but sooner or later, someone has to be willing to eat stuff grown from nitrate fertilized barren ground cause theirs not enough to go around. This is the plight of civilization.

          Once a large percentage of the earths human populace was culled however, we would be able to find a homeostasis, assuming everything wasn’t slashed and burned via nukes in the process.

          Take advantage while you can.

          Kevin wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Well said. Couldn’t agree more.

          WrenchMonkey wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Anyone really interested in what feeding the world with various agricultural programs (organic vs. conventional, vegan vs. omnivorous, etc.) would look like should read ‘Meat: A Benign Extravagance’ by Simon Fairlie. It’s a very, very good book.

          Garth wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Look, society is not some sort of entity outside of the people that make it up. Society is the combination of individuals. So if I, being an individual and thus a segment of society, am better off by eating primally, society is that much better off.

          Joshua wrote on January 15th, 2014
        • +1 Excellently put.

          It is entirely possible to do Paleo sustainably & humanely. Here in Panama we raise our own animals (or buy from a neighbor we know), kill the animals ourselves (or buy from another neighbor who is a butcher), and there is absolutely no waste from the animal (literally the only thing left of a cow when people get done with it will be the skeleton. Brains, eyes, feet, guts- everything gets eaten- even the bones are sucked dry or used in soup.)

          I guess in the “developed” world, this translates to buying local, free-range, organic, etc. Better if you can raise your own or buy your eggs/milk/meat from a nearby farmer once/week.

          Casey wrote on January 15th, 2014
        • I completely agree. Luckily, paleo agrees to some degree with “sustainability”. However, I don’t eat fish, even though I love it and it’s good for me. I just can’t justify it, considering the state of our oceans. (I know some of you are rolling your eyes. Just wait and see.)

          I’m a student of biology, and from all the primary research I’ve read about climate change, tropical countries, and agriculture (at least a hundred articles with a great deal of consensus), I’ve learned a few things about corn and soy. We all know they’re unhealthy of course, but beyond that, the cultivation of such crops leads to radical land changes, which is the leading cause of extinction. Then we have fertilizer runoff, ocean eutrophication, erosion, nutrient depletion, fragmentation and edge effects, microclimate changes, invasive species, interruptions of evapotranspiration…etc. I could go on and on and on about the effects of monocultures (homogenous plantations) in the tropics, but the big idea seems to be that if these foods are essentially toxic to humans (at best, non-nutritious), why are we still growing them and why are we still eating them?

          Of course we have to grow food. We have to eat. And if there were fewer people on the planet, we could grow all our food without too great a perturbation to the “earth system”. It’s really, really a shame that the imminent threat of overpopulation is making “sustainability” virtually impossible.

          Natalia wrote on January 15th, 2014
      • But those people are wrong. Small, organic farms or garden plots are feeding 71% of the Russian people. Check out this article http://naturalsociety.com/russians-prove-small-scale-organic-can-feed-world/

        The only thing I disagree with in the article is about fish farming. Wild is better.

        D. M. Mitchell wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Yes. Small-scale, sustainable and local agriculture, permaculture and gardening could theoretically support something similar to our current population if we eliminated the copious amounts of waste on all levels. Industrial civilization isn’t very cheap nor efficient.

          Laughlyn wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • I second your bewilderment… Would their counter argument be that processed, packaged, feed-lot, mass produced “food” is much more environmentally friendly? It’s certainly cost-effective, but we know there is an inverse relationship between food cost and quality.

      Paul wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • Actually eating non-factory, grass-fed, pastured animals is much better for the environment than consuming products made of wheat. The one crop factory farming that uses chemical pesticides kills the soil and contaminates our water. In reality if you are eating a Paleo diet you are HELPING the environment!

        Jessi wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Ummm you seem to be forgetting about the fact that livestock requires immense resources to produce-about 16 000 gallons of water for one pound of beef, and that’s just water demands. 70% of the world’s crops are allocated towards animals meant for consumption. Then there is the issue of methane gasses emitted by cows which is greater than all modes of transport combined. Seriously, make the connection. Consuming animals entails consuming far, far more than the flesh in a styrofoam package at the grocery store. “Sustainable” farming is even less sustainable, as the land requirements for the world’s population to eat that way would necessitate three or four worlds. It is the ultimate in first world opulence and ignorance to assume that eating meat is helping the environment.

          PersonalBest wrote on December 13th, 2014
      • The thing with processed food is that although it’s not environmentally friendly at all, it generates far more profits to food industry than just selling the basic stuff.

        “There are jobs at stake, never mind your health!”

        Peter wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Many would argue eating grass fed beef is actually improving the environment (when considered against eating grains, soy or corn fed meat).

      Colleen wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Utter rubbish: There is a strong emphasis in the paleo community to shop locally and sustainable. Our current, commercial farming model is not sustainable–we are losing top-soil every year at alarming rates because of a lack of organic and ruminant farming, not because some crossfitters eat large quantities of grass-fed steaks after their metcons. To lob this accusation at the Paleo community is so misguided, it reeks of ignorance.

      At any rate, it is one of the worst examples a non-sequitur. Are they judging the EFFECTIVENESS of the Slimfast diet based on what it is doing to the environment?

      Fritzy wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • To qualify that – the idea that people should eat *primarily* for the greater good, and secondarily for their own good – is bizarre. I’m happy about the environmental contribution of this way of living (local, seasonal, organic etc), but, people come to it first and foremost because they want themselves and their family to be well. I think that’s a normal healthy instinct, fundamental to life.

      Baff wrote on January 15th, 2014
    • The translation is we should feel guilty about eating meat! Please pass me that plate of bacon! I agree with J. J. Gregor’s teacher about most people are wrong most of the time and for me if mainstream media/medicine recommends something I usually do the opposite.

      qtface wrote on January 15th, 2014
  4. I am new to this blog and am loving it. I regularly read the BBC and the sentiment in the UK is quite the opposite. In the last few weeks a lot of articles about the dangers of sugar and carbs have been popping up.
    I will never understand America’s obsession with low fat high carb diets. They have made a conclusion about what is healthiest and are now using reverse logic to push it.
    As someone who suffers sibo this blog has helped me a lot and I just want to say thank you!

    Mona wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • America’s obsession with fat was started by a political act, the McGovern Commision Report. Here’s a good article from the New York Times on the sequence of events as described in Gary Taubes’ book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” – http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/science/09tier.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      What’s missing in this story is the “why”. Why are there so many people in government and media who are bothered by peasants eating meat?

      Dave-in-Vegas wrote on January 18th, 2014
  5. Arguing about diet is just as bad or maybe worse than arguing about politics. Everybody at work will refer to me as Jeff the guy on the “weird diet” and have a good old laugh about it. But every year I have been here they have a weight loss competition and most of them will go on a strict low fat diet, or nutrasystem or turning vegan or whatever diet that lets them down an entire bag of microwave popcorn a day, yo yo down about 5 lbs and put 10 lbs back on. I just keep cruising along eating meat and tuna and sardines and loads of home cured BACON and enough veggies to choke a mule. Guess who has dropped 60 lbs in the last two years and has kept it off. Me, that’s who. Guess who has had their triglycerides plummet and the HDL skyrocket. Me, that’s who. Who’s laughing now :D

    Jeff wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • The Proof is in the Primal Pudding!

      Paul wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • +1!
      But everyone will continue to joke about that ‘crazy’ diet and never even give it a thought to try it out…

      Shawn wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • If any naysayers ask you “But what will you replace the grains with?” then reply as I do “Since when have heard of Inuit, tribal (Australian) aborigines, or Kalahari bushmen dying of grain deficiency?”. Shuts ‘em up quick.

      Paul in Australia wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • I have a cousin (with a bachelors degree in some health thing) make a similar remark to me about grains, in particular in reference to fiber. First I had to remind him that fiber means that it is undigestible (like putting water in your car’s gas tank), then I said “have you heard of broccoli?” He was stunned and then said “so my 4 years of college was *&^&**. I didn’t answer… :-)

        Leo wrote on January 15th, 2014
    • This has win written all over it!

      Fritzy wrote on January 14th, 2014
  6. Why do “Established Authorities” hate the paleo diet? Easy. The paleo diet’s success exposes those authorities as being wrong, and then people begin to question them. And authority of any kind HATES to be questioned.

    John wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • +1

      Cody wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • You nailed it, John. Conventional dietary/nutritional experts are completely unwilling to admit they’ve been all wet. I wonder what they think, privately, when they look around and see all the obesity and health damage their wrongheaded advice has brought about. This is the same nonsensical thing as the dermatology profession recommending sun avoidance for the past 3 or 4 decades, to the detriment of the many who bought into their pitch instead of using a little common sense. In both cases, these established “authorities” are way too vain and too stupid to admit their mistakes.

      Shary wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Precisely, when your own experience shows you how wrong they are about one issue, you start to wonder what other things they really don’t know about.

      Janice James wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • I was fortunate to find that at the very least the medical profession had flaws when I went to a doctor to tell him about some symptoms of a delicate nature I was suffering and that I had suffered before. I was cheeky enough to suggest the problem. He roared “I’ll be the judge of THAT!” and proceeded to pronounce me healthy.

        A week later I went to my family physician who roared (doctors always roar) “IS THE MAN BLIND????”

        That and a sequence of other fun appointments pretty well skewered my faith in the establishment. That and the idolization of the PhD. It’s a disesase I tell you.

        I’LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT!

        Julie wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • “Piled Higher and Deeper”

          I first heard this from my grandma, who is the proud owner of her own PhD.

          My doc has been encouraging of the way I eat. The results speak for themselves.

          His Dudeness wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • hahaha so true

          ninjainshadows wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Medical ‘doctors’ are not PHD’s (so not actually doctors).

          Historically they have received the honorary title “Dr.”, that continues to this day.

          They have a Medical Degree and are medical physicians.

          Mitch wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Well I wasn’t actually implying that medical doctors are PhD. I was actually painting our community with a broad swath of idolization of the hyper-educated.

          But thanks for the correction!

          Julie wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • And that is not, alternatively a smack at the advanced degrees among us. More that all we like sheep tend to turn into drooling idiots at the sight of degrees and alphabets at the end of names.

          I generalize of course.

          Julie wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Thankfully my GP who was concerned about my weight, is sufficiently open minded (this was only a few weeks after I started and I’d already lost over about two kilos) when I told him about Primal-Paleo to say that if it seemed to be working why not give it a go. When next I saw him I’d lost another six kilos (13.2 lbs) and he said in effect that if I was on a good thing, then why not stay with it.
          In summary, while he’s by no means wholeheartedly converted, he can certainly see merit in it.

          Paul in Australia wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Also, one has to question who the “Established Authorities” are. Mark has pointed out numerous times where the “authorites” are either subsidized or simply ARE the corporations or associations who stand to benefit (financially, of course) from the “results” of a particular study. Yeah, I’m jaded.

      Paul wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • examine who is behind the “established authorities”–they hate paleo because they can’t make a buck off of it. they can’t stuff it into packages, get a celebrity or two to endorse it, and then sell the entire concept to Kraft Corporation.

      Trish wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • +1

        Jeff wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • BAM!!!!!!!

      Danny wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • BAM!!!!

      Danny wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • Agreed.

        Nathan P wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Profits, power and entrenched narratives.

      Laughlyn wrote on January 14th, 2014
  7. Most peoples implementation of the diet is similar to Atkins, a lot of meat very few veggies. I even see that in the recipes on most blogs, very few veg, it’s ridiculous

    Ann wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • I remember the same complaints about Atkins….meat, meat, meat. If anyone read the book he advocated a paleo type diet in my opinion. Wow was he crucified. Paleo has it easy.

      Doug wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • Absolutely right. Maintenance portion, the non-ketogenic called for your carbs coming from greens, nuts & the occasional fruit. The main difference I saw was the allowance of artificial sweetener, & less holistic/ lifestyle approach, but the diets were almost identical.

        Bill wrote on January 15th, 2014
    • Eating few vegetables is not ridiculous. It is a choice. Some people don’t like them and frankly don’t need them.

      LCC wrote on January 14th, 2014
  8. It’s never about the science. It’s always about the money and personal bias.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on January 14th, 2014
  9. I read that Consumer Reports did a survey of readers last year – and the Paleo diet was rated second overall – beating out all of the commercial diets in the survey (second to MyFitnessPal app). I find it amusing that the results are the opposite when you ask people who have actually tried the diets!

    “The survey, one of the largest ever to compare specific diets, allowed us to rate them based on people’s overall satisfaction with the programs. We also looked at the typical amount of weight our dieters said they lost.

    The people we surveyed freely chose the diets they used and decided for themselves how long to stay on them. They had to rely on their own motivation or seek a boost from meetings or counseling, but they did not benefit from the frequent reminders, free food, and other methods often used to keep participants in clinical trials until the very end of a study. As a result, our Ratings provide a unique view of how the diets work in the real world.”

    lp wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Consumer Reports is pretty awesome.

      Aria Dreamcatcher wrote on January 14th, 2014
  10. My personal favourite quote from the review: “Can you get used to the idea of breadless sandwiches? Or having your milk and cookies without either milk or cookies? Diets that restrict entire food groups are difficult to follow.”
    I may have almost spat out my coffee (with a generous splash of full fat, delicious cow juice). How can they say that and rank slimfast higher?! I get that these are based on CW, but still. Seriously? ‘Oh yeah, this paleo fad thing is totally unhealthy, you can’t eat bread or cookies. But this one where you replace solids with this rather fetching bright pink chemical concoction, that one’s much better…’ Face. Palm.
    I try to laugh, but the fact that people will take this advice makes me sad.

    Louise wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • The most difficult thing was giving up the cookie group.

      LCC wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • What if you don’t eat sandwiches anyway? Or you don’t have cookies more than once or twice a year? Am I seriously supposed to feel deprived for ‘giving up’ things I don’t like all that much??

      Moe wrote on January 15th, 2014
      • Spent 3 months in Thailand and never ate or saw anyone eat a sandwich. Spent 3 months in Jamaica and ditto. It cracks me up when people cry out, “that’s too restrictive”. It boils down to what you’re used to, that’s all. And so, you just gotta get used to something else. Big deal. My diet has more variety than it ever had before. And when you think about it, most peoples diets are restrictive by virtue of it being too much work to eat something different every day. Most people eat the same foods over and over. It’s just the idea of change that freaks ‘em out. It’s not restricting, it’s replacing. A better, healthier and more positive and reaffirming way to think about it.

        Samantha wrote on January 19th, 2014
  11. Brilliant – this response made me chortle (after being annoyed by the original article). Whilst it’s true that the tide is starting to turn in the UK, we’re still a long way from acceptance of this WOE by the people who need to adopt it. We have to keep arguing, presenting success stories and showing proof.

    Grokesque wrote on January 14th, 2014
  12. Thanks for the chuckle!

    Can you make a topic heading to tag these types if posts, that highlight evidence of the efficacy of the Paleo/ Primal diet? “PaleoProof” maybe?

    SarahK wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • +1

      Agnes wrote on January 14th, 2014
  13. I had to stop reading at this point in order to comment immediately: “A recent study showed that postmenopausal women eating Paleo lost liver and waist fat, improving their waist-to-hip ratio and lowering their ApoB (a good approximation for LDL particle number) among other improvements.”

    While I’m not completely over the whole menopause thing yet, in getting data for my baseline statistics for your 90 Day Journal, I finally found the tape measure and took my measurements. You mean, there’s a ratio other than 1:1 waist to hip? Seriously?

    All joking aside I was stunned to see my measurements which basically describe me as a column. A very elegant column but a column nonetheless.

    So brudder, that’s good enough for me to give it a shot. Considering I’ve been at this game sine 1987 with a few successes but more failure, I figure 90 days is a small commitment compared to the potential for success and the addition of data to the already extant body of anecdotal in some cases evidence.

    Julie wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • I’m right with you there, Julie… (funny post, btw)!

      Am doing the Whole30 (basically the same thing) and am on day 10. Already I feel so much better, have lost weight, am sleeping a solid 8 hours and have seen inflammatory symptoms (carpal tunnel, frozen shoulder) decrease about 50%. So far so good!

      Lisa wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • You saw a decrease in your frozen shoulder symptoms? This is fascinating. I’m a physical therapist and loosely follow a paleo diet (currently, very loosely). Btw, How are you doing now?

        Please tell me more about your process (I’m familiar with Whole30), How long had you had symptoms? What treatment did you get? What other changes did you make in your life? Were the improvements progressive?, Did they persevere?

        I have advocated a paleo diet with my patients for several years but have not yet seen any mention of frozen shoulder relief, so thank you already.

        Chris Johnson, wrote on April 22nd, 2014
  14. The same critics back in the early nineties raked Dr. Barry Sears (Zone diet) over the coals for daring to question the high carb/low fat diet the so-called experts embraced at the time.

    You are right to laugh. It is ridiculous. The tragedy is that people listen to these experts, and the obesity epidemic rages on.

    J-J wrote on January 14th, 2014
  15. You also have to remember how many of the “Established Authorities” have close links to Big Pharma or Big Farmer. You wouldn’t want to damage sales of statins or sugar would you?

    gnarlybuttons wrote on January 14th, 2014
  16. Mark, you are funny!! OMG! Thanks for the laugh today!

    The part about the ratchet will keep me giggling all week! (Isn’t a ratchet some sort of tool?)

    Nothing could change my mind about this lifestyle. It makes you feel and look amazing!

    Grok On!!

    Jade wrote on January 14th, 2014
  17. Frankly, I’d be a little worried if The Experts rated it highly.

    Moshen wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • +1

      Julie wrote on January 14th, 2014
  18. People who badmouth Paleo usually don’t understand it. They think it’s all meat and fat and nothing else. They are also frequently addicted to sweets and grain products and can’t imagine doing without those things. (Have you ever noticed that many of these anti-Paleo people are overweight?) I’ve tried a lot of diets off and on over the years, and for me Paleo/Primal has been by far the most effortlessly effective and the easiest to stick with as a preferred way of eating.

    I more or less gave myself permission to fall off the wagon over the holidays and, unsurprisingly, picked up five pounds as a result. 80/20 became more like 50/50 around Christmas. The good news is that I know I will quickly lose it again simply by eliminating the sweets and grains, which I know for a fact are what causes me to gain weight. More good news: it just isn’t that hard.

    Shary wrote on January 14th, 2014
  19. Finally, I love when critics say that one cannot “stick” to the Paleo diet. I would ask the critics then what diets do people stick to in the long run? The idea of a diet, any diet, being finite — with a begin date and an end date — is a setup for either a fad diet or a failure.

    Fact of the matter is, watching what we eat (and oh by the way choosing health-supporting activities such as play, sleep, brain exercise, etc.) is not something one completes when success is achieved.

    It’s a lifestyle (an overused word but apt) choice. Actually it’s a life sentence.

    Julie wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • The claim that it’s too hard to stick with Paleo made me laugh exactly as Mark described.

      The Ornish diet, ranked so highly, is downright dismal, as is users’ rate of compliance. My grandmother, after having her carotid artery cleaned out, went on it at a nutritionist’s recommendation, and called it “pure misery.” She was terrified of dying, and still couldn’t stick with it.

      Almost twenty years later, she’s about to turn 95, and is doing remarkably well. After a bout with bone cancer and many rounds of chemo, she permanently lost her once-massive sweet tooth, and doesn’t care much for bread or starchy things anymore. Her diet’s still too full of crap to be Paleo, but living primarily on meat and salads (with blue cheese dressing) and not eating lunch for the last 15 years seems to be working for her. And there’s no way she could have stuck with Ornish for all that time, given her abiding love of prime rib.

      Artemis67 wrote on January 14th, 2014
  20. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    DanielH wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • I heard this several years ago as, “Gripe, grope, grasp, group.”

      Sue C wrote on January 14th, 2014
  21. I barely care about whatever report comes out that bashes this way of eating/living. It works for ME and I have the improved health/weight/appearance to prove it. If anyone is dim enough to be swayed by a report that ranks Slim Fast over a diet of real food, then they’re not my problem. You can’t fix stupid.

    Austin Girl wrote on January 14th, 2014
  22. The other interesting side of the rankings is to follow the background trail to who advertises in and supports US News and World report. Funny Paleo is not a big spender on ad space, but Slimfast is!
    Aside form that its the usual statistics exercise. The data can be evaluated using the desired factors to get the desired result. Like Scott UK wrote, using their biased criteria, of course Paleo doesn’t match up.
    It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad watching big money drive the health of people into the ground.

    Mike wrote on January 14th, 2014
  23. This is just another sad and pathetic attempt to score points for CW. Happily, we know better.

    No cardiovascular effects, huh? My own HDR went down from 4.something to below 1. How’s THAT for effects?

    Wenchypoo wrote on January 14th, 2014
  24. I loved your translations!!! My daughter had fun spearing a recent article in Teen Vogue about “fad diets”. Their biggest criticism of paleo was that it “isn’t a good idea to eliminate whole food groups” and to only eliminate gluten if a doctor has told us we have celiac (they contend that almost nobody has).

    Interestingly, of vegetarianism, they offered an option to make up for the protein lost by not eating meat with careful supplementation. So we can eliminate the entire meat food group and be okay with some soy but we shouldn’t eliminate grains unless a doctor has told us we have celiac disease. A trial run to see if dropping grains or dairy makes us feel better is apparently just not a good idea. But hey, going vegan is super trendy these days, but we modern cavegirls just aren’t cool, I guess.

    At first my daughter was fuming mad at the article, but then she decided to just take pity and by the end we too were laughing. After all, the publicity only drives people to check it out for themselves.

    Rhonda the Red wrote on January 14th, 2014
  25. I started my Paleo/Primal livestyle change while visiting my son and his family in January of 2013. As of December 2013 I am 60 pounds lighter, off all meds, have normal blood sugars, blood presure and excellent blood work. I think I can state that in my study of one, me, this lifestyle change can and will work. So bash all they want, it will not get me join Weight Watchers!

    sarah wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Awesome results Rhonda! Weight watchers will never get us again!

      Coll wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • Amen. Ex-Weight Watchers unite. *holds fist up in air*

        Julie wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • +1!!!

      Rene Rushing wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Yeah, I gained on some of the WW diet foods. It was frustrating for sure, but my work paid for it. Finally gave up on WW and just started on my Primal journey and lost what I needed to. Now I am the weight I have wanted to be since all that menopause (“it’s natural” says my doctor) weight started building up on me (30 pounds). I still laugh at the commercials for low fat cheese, etc. I ask for heavy cream if I pay for a coffee, no heavy cream? No coffee.

      2Rae wrote on January 15th, 2014
  26. I’m a communications major and currently studying Media and American Culture. I can definitely see where this ties in! In my non-expert opinion, the media (and government) will continue to push popular diets that emphasize “healthy whole grain” products because that is what the public wants to hear. They want to have what they already know reinforced. They want the kind of diet that doesn’t completely restrict sugar, bread and pasta even though intrinsically they know these foods aren’t good for them. The “If it helps me lose weight it must be good” mentality is making this country very sick! It doesn’t take a genius to figure out something is fundamentally broken with a population that is primarily over weight and diets that emphasizes everything in moderation. It’s much easier to bash paleo/primal/keto than it is to tell the masses that they have been misled all these years. Adding to the bigger problem, we have a government that highly subsidizes our food industry. They need us to eat their grain products because they have a direct stake in whether we do or do not. Until the American public is sick and tired of being sick and tired we are going to see a ton of new crash diets, magic pills, & weight watchers commercials.

    Nikki wrote on January 14th, 2014
  27. The article was brought to my husband’s attention by a coworker with a 6-pack of Diet Coke a day habit. My non-paleo husband, with metabolic syndrome, heart disease and high everything, quickly brought it to my attention so that when I develop diabetes, heart disease, etc., he can say “I told you so,” As I continue to defy his endocrinologist’s advice (a highly esteemed expert that does clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies), my blood lipids, blood pressure, and body fat have dropped and remained that way for over 2 years now. But wait . . . am I just imagining all of that? Oh well, I guess Paleo is a good hallucinogen!

    paleo4life wrote on January 14th, 2014
  28. To quote myself from Robb’s site…….

    If you were a “nutritionist”, “registered dietitian”, doctor, or in any way involved with big pharma or big agra, wouldn’t you be scared to death of the idea that by making a few simple choices most people could take charge of their own health and not need you any more? They’re fighting for their very existence.

    As for any form of “news” media, their job is to get readers/viewers. Period.

    bcflyfisher wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • I agree completely.

      Nikki wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Exactly!!!

      Rene Rushing wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Yes, get readers/viewers so they can make money on the advertisements/commercials.

      2Rae wrote on January 15th, 2014
  29. For weight-loss, I have seen astounding results and no results. Even if I am in the no results category, I know that nutritionally, Paleo/primal version is more sound than a wheat-based diet, with grains included in every meal, taking over a large portion of caloric intake.

    The only two issues that I struggle with personally, is my inability to meet potassium requirements in the framework of <150 g carbs and womanly caloric intake (<1800 cals) and the Paleo/primal avoidance of beans, that impair satiation in my satiation type.

    leida wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Low-carb potassium? Leafy greens, salmon, halibut, coconut water, cooked tomatoes, to name a few.

      Pure Hapa wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • I am aware of the sources, but they do not add up to the 4,700 mg of potassium a day easily, if you simply eat a lot of veggies, fruit and meat. Each source food contributes approximately 200-300 mg potassium for 100 calories, so one needs to avoid any food that does not contribute potassium, or contributes a low load (nuts, fats, dairy). Basically, if you have 3 meals a day, you need to get 1,600 mg potassium at each meal and a caloric intake of 500 calories, which is roughly a meal of 8 cups of spinach (that’s a lot of spinach) with a cup of canned tomatoes and a can of tuna. It is relatively simple to hit between 2500 and 3000 mg of potassium, but above that is a real meal-engineering feat.

        leida wrote on January 14th, 2014
        • Yoghurt, salmon, avocados, bananas, mushrooms & sweet potatoes all feature in the list of top foods for potassium. Looking at the list, I can’t see any grains mentioned & there certainly isn’t any potassium in sugar, so by following a Paleo Diet, you are far more likely to meet potassium requirements than on a conventional grain based, sugar laden diet. Also, you will be avoiding convenience foods etc which are usually laden with salt which would result in the excretion of potassium. Bread & cereals all have salt added to them as well. If anything, when I put my food into nutritiondata.com, it said I was consuming too much potassium & hardly any sodium, so I make sure that I add unrefined sea salt to my food now to balance it out.

          Christine wrote on January 15th, 2014
        • A few questions to consider: Are you perhaps a bit too hung up on numbers? Do you have health issues directly related to low potassium. Why do you feel you need 4700 mg. of potassium per day? I don’t pretend to understand your body, but I don’t understand your satiation issues either.

          Shary wrote on January 15th, 2014
    • As for satiation, my personal experience as a middle aged woman is the higher proportion of fat calories I eat, the more satiety I experience and the more weight I lose. Try higher fat!

      Allison wrote on January 14th, 2014
  30. Follow the dollar.

    Nobody gets paid when a consumer goes paleo. We aren’t contributing as much to the medical/pharmaceutical/biotech/big agriculture economic monstrosity as others do. We (usually) don’t pay for extra “vitamins” and supplements and we aren’t buying prepackaged, dehydrated food like substance in a marketing covered package. We aren’t paying membership fees for the privilege of weighing in once a week (how could we ever replace that valuable service?). We aren’t even paying for some snake oil system in which food is converted into almost meaningless points.

    You know who makes money off of me deciding to live this way? My local farmers, I’ll ask them this weekend if they want to financially back a national opinion making study and send seasoned lobbyists to our mass media outlets and government offices. I expect they would rather just stay home and raise delicious food, and I’m ok with that.

    Primal and Proud wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • This is very true. I actually decided to join the paleo/primal community because any american government involvement in my health scared the living hell out of me. Here’s why, I followed the food pyramid and became overweight, undernourished & almost diabetic. Then I saw a doctor who’s only recommendations were to A) follow the food pyramid or B) take pills. Their involvement in my health insures that I will take pills for the rest of my life, eat foods I know have makes me sick, and continue to see doctors I don’t need to see. Prevention really is the best medicine and most doctors, knowing and unknowingly, wont prescribe that. I read in my Nutrition class that almost all disease is preventable through diet and lifestyle change. If the prevention is in our food and in our lifestyle then government, big pharma, the health insurance industry cannot profit. The best person to make decisions about my health is not the person that has a monetary stake in its outcome.

      Nikki wrote on January 14th, 2014
      • What Nikki said.

        GGinPG wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Nobody gets paid… except all those people selling paleo books, running websites that get ad revenue, selling paleo-friendly food…

      prufock wrote on March 6th, 2014
  31. Personally, I stopped reading this article when I saw how highly they ranked Jenny Craig – so, basically it’s wonderful for your health to eat pseudo-food out of a box with a million ingredients, chemicals and preservatives, but fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, nuts (from you know, nature, not a big factory) are a no-no? What a joke!

    CLeung wrote on January 14th, 2014
  32. Primal and Proud^^^ DING DING DING DING DING

    As I learned from Tom Naughton in Fat Head, “Follow the Money”

    I have no doubt in my mind that there is a controlled (whether purposefully or consequentially, although I’d suspect the former) trickle down of money that controls this. The essence of Paleo at its core, IMHO, is anti-product, anti-control, and freedom, hence why so many of us are libertarians. In no way in hell would US News Report advocate the most grassroots, community oriented way of eating that sticks the big one to the man.

    Justin wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • Or libertarians are the most vocal group, lol. Besides, what you’re complaining about is capitalism (the magazine making money from unscrupulous advertisers), a choice libertarians would generally support.

      I think paleo will prevail because of the knowledge bank that is the internet. Though if making it about “freedom” works for you, grok on.

      amy wrote on January 14th, 2014
    • I think so many are libertarians because they tend to be more willing to question the status quo than just accept authoritarian directive with no solid reasoning behind it. A lot of the population doesn’t want to rock the boat, or consider moving out of the comfort zone of what they’ve always known and been taught.

      And naturally, those that have something to lose, whether it be their monetary source of income or their ego or their credibility, will put up a fight.

      That’s one reason I keep coming back to Mark’s site. If he comes across evidence that he’s been on the wrong track, he re-evaluates his position and says so.

      I find it to be an admirable trait.

      Jane wrote on January 15th, 2014
    • And i imediately saif ‘follow the money’ in tom naughtons voice and the scene he made in fat head. . Hehe

      Brandi wrote on January 16th, 2014
  33. Hahaha Great article, Mark! I will definitely share the 1st paragraph of question 3’s translation. :D

    ninjainshadows wrote on January 14th, 2014
  34. Every time I read these articles I keep waiting to hear the damning evidence against Paleo eating….still waiting. I just cannot believe that the only thing they could muster against it was that Paleo is high in fat and allegedly lacks nutrients. Sigh…change takes too long sometimes.

    Joe wrote on January 14th, 2014
  35. I love how the deep belly laughter makes my 6-pack (finally becoming visible again in my 49th year of life, second year following PB) ripple…
    Mwuahahahahahaha!!

    Tom B-D wrote on January 14th, 2014
  36. When I was on the debate team, we called it: “Useless News and World Distort.”

    It hasn’t changed at all.

    Erok wrote on January 14th, 2014
  37. I would like to laugh, but I have had doctors spout this type of nonsense to my parents and mother-in-law, who believed them and went off the lifestyle, to their severe detriment (my mother-in-law now has type 2 diabetes). Let’s ignore the fact that they were successful while on it…

    Damien Gray wrote on January 14th, 2014
  38. I tried the cookie diet and after eating a dozen at each or so I gained weight! I tried to drink Slim Fast but the sugar high made me crash after a few hours. The great thing about Paleo is– it isn’t a diet! (In the ‘diet’ sense of the word)

    I get a good laugh too out of all the diet gimmick commercials on TV every January. How many times has Marie Osmond lost 50 lbs? How about some of the football sportscasters who shed 40, 50 lbs and more last year– they’ve chunked up since the season began and their endorsement money has long since been spent!

    Now where did I put that Krispy Kreeme diet?

    Pastor Dave Deppisch wrote on January 14th, 2014
  39. The fact Paleo/Primal approach doesn’t conform to government standards seems to me to be a very good reason to follow it, in-and-of-itself. I could list the myriad of reasons why the government is ill-equipped to make recommendations regarding the personal health of individual Americans, but national health statistics and the government’s recent track record on other issues are enough to convince me that my vitality is far too valuable to be entrusted to politicians.

    Doc Morgan wrote on January 14th, 2014
  40. This madness will continue as long as all the powers-that-be endorse the SAD version. The government, medical establishment and med schools, insurance companies et al are all geared towards the diet that is making people sick and fat.

    Sadly, that is the health-triad that people listen to and can’t fathom how anyone can be against.

    Personally I have no problems flying in the face of conventional wisdom, but I see how most folks cannot break away from what all the “authorities” have told them all their lives. The brainwashing of lifelong propagandizing cannot be undone easily, and while the wrong education persists.

    We have a long, long time coming before anything is going to change.

    Pure Hapa wrote on January 14th, 2014

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