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

Thumbs DownYou 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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About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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

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  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!

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. Of course, because no other fad diet has hundreds of “success stories.”

  2. Thanks for helping me realize I can be amused instead of annoyed. I never thought of it that way.

    1. 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.

  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.

    1. 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

      1. 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

        1. 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!

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

        4. 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.

        5. Then you should be outraged that Big Pharma is plowing under the rain forests of Central America to grow soybeans.

        6. 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.

        7. 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.

        8. 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.

        9. +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.

        10. 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.

        11. Kevin, watch the videos… Overpopulation is a MYTH!


          Want to know why, look into who may have placed the Georgia Guidestones that claim we must keep the GLOBAL population to 500,000. Yes, that’s not a typo, five hundred MILLION. They’re gonna have to kill off a lot of people and keep the rest from procreating.

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

      2. 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!”

    3. Many would argue eating grass fed beef is actually improving the environment (when considered against eating grains, soy or corn fed meat).

    4. 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?

    5. 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.

    6. 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.

    7. actually, the concept that meat, especially beef and lamb have a large carbon foot print (hence bad for the environment) is false, and came about via a study commissioned by the IPCC (Intergovernmental panel on climate change). The study was conducted by the Environmental Working Group, and was titled “the Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change”. If you go to their link on “methodology “http://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/meateaters/pdf/methodology_ewg_meat_eaters_guide_to_health_and_climate_2011.pdf?_ga=1.117481676.412617126.1426134372 you will find on page 47 item 8 the following quote:” Soil carbon sequestration is not accounted for in this model based on the IPPC guidance and generally accepted assumption used in LCA that all production systems under consideration have reached steady states where the net carbon flux from the soil is zero on average (spatial/temporal average). it should be pointed out that assumptions about steady state remain the subject of considerable scientific debate.”

      Considerable debate indeed! For a study that went into incredible detail accounting for every ounce of carbon emitted in the production of a wide range of protein sources, including how much went into your trash can and every ounce of fuel spent to obtain the protein, it is no small matter to so happen to omit the other half of the carbon cycle, carbon sequestration! For those who do not delve deep into soil science, I will briefly explain carbon sequestration. When an animal grazes a plant, that plant begins to regrow, taking in carbon dioxide from the air, and through photosynthesis puts this carbon into new stems, leaves, and roots (and in return exhales oxygen). When the plant is grazed again, the roots die back, and the plant material goes into the animal where it is broken down, then excreted back onto the earth (as manure). Both processes, the dying roots, and the manure, are captured carbon that is returned to the soil in the form of organic matter. The plant once again regrows, pulling yet more carbon from the air, placing it deep into the soil via roots, or on the soil surface via manure. This is how the deep black prairie soils around the world have been formed, through the action of vast herds of herbivores, and growing grasses. Grazing herbivores are an important part of the carbon cycle.

      How the animals are managed on pasture can make considerable difference in how much carbon is sequestered. The most effective means is to mimic nature, by managing cattle or sheep as a large herd that is grazed on a relatively small area at a time (wolves used to keep the bison herds in a tight group rather than spread out). What this means is the animals must be moved daily to fresh grass, and only graze a small part of the total pasture each day. The impact of many animals grazing a small area, then moving every day, is that the plants have more time to recuperate, thereby growing roots deeper into the soil surface. What this means is more carbon is sequestered deeper into the soil profile where it is more stable. It happens to be that many grass fed beef and lamb producers are finding this intensive grazing method to be a superior way to raise their livestock having many benefits including healthier animals. So these producers are not only sequestering carbon, but sequestering carbon at a maximum rate.

      Now lets go back to the claim that carbon is at a steady state in a pasture. According to research in the US, NZ, and Au, this on average, is not exactly true. (and I am talking about more average farmers that are NOT using mob stocking mentioned above). Using USDA figures for an *average* pasture, I calculated the amount of carbon sequestered by one acre of grazing lambs, and then compared it to the amount of carbon equivalent the EWG claimed was emitted as methane , fuel, refrigeration, even the waste, for the same number of lambs. What I found it was a precise wash. The amount of carbon sequestered in the pasture was exactly the same as the amount of carbon equivalent emitted to put lamb on your table. I have every reason to believe grass fed beef would be the same. What this means is that grassfed lamb and beef are the MOST environmentally friendly protein sources you can eat, and is it any surprise that grazing herbivores would be part of nature’s plan to manage carbon?

      So eat your grass fed lamb and beef with pride because you are actually helping sequester carbon out of the air. Some pencil pushers have claimed that we can sequester as much carbon as is produced by industry, just through grazing cattle http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change

      There are many other environmental benefits to proper grazing management as well. It is utterly amazing to me that this important aspect of beef and lamb grazing was dismissed so easily.

  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!

    1. 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?

  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 😀

    1. +1!
      But everyone will continue to joke about that ‘crazy’ diet and never even give it a thought to try it out…

    2. 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.

      1. 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… 🙂

  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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.


        1. “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.

        2. 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.

        3. 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!

        4. 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.

        5. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. For some, the get kickbacks, employment from the USDA, aka Cargill inc., Monsanto et. al.. You do know that there are revolving doors between the government and the industries they regulate?, asked Walter rhetorically.

  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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. Eating few vegetables is not ridiculous. It is a choice. Some people don’t like them and frankly don’t need them.

  8. 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.”

  9. 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.

    1. 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??

      1. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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!!

  16. Frankly, I’d be a little worried if The Experts rated it highly.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

    1. 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.

  19. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    1. I heard this several years ago as, “Gripe, grope, grasp, group.”

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

    1. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

    1. Yes, get readers/viewers so they can make money on the advertisements/commercials.

  28. 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.

    1. Low-carb potassium? Leafy greens, salmon, halibut, coconut water, cooked tomatoes, to name a few.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

    2. 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!

  29. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. Nobody gets paid… except all those people selling paleo books, running websites that get ad revenue, selling paleo-friendly food…

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. And i imediately saif ‘follow the money’ in tom naughtons voice and the scene he made in fat head. . Hehe

  32. Hahaha Great article, Mark! I will definitely share the 1st paragraph of question 3’s translation. 😀

  33. 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.

  34. 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…

  35. When I was on the debate team, we called it: “Useless News and World Distort.”

    It hasn’t changed at all.

  36. 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…

  37. 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?

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. Eat like the pyramid – look like a pyramid. Or in case of the revised “pyramid” – eat like the plate, look like one.

  41. I’m not yet at a point where I think these rankings are funny, and I’m not sure I ever will be. This isn’t me defending my personal eating choices, and it’s not about being right. It’s about the public’s exposure to Paleo…and if this article turns even one person off from the diet (and it will – thousands, no doubt) then it’s done a HUGE disservice to the very people it’s allegedly trying to help.

    It’s no coincidence that the majority of the panel were either RDs or MDs who had the US government’s food guidelines drilled into their brains throughout school…and the top two diets are DASH and TLC, both of which are promoted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and taught in nutrition classes

    . Without indepenent study, and an inquisitive mind, the panelists probably really believe what they’re saying. I’m sad. Just sad.

  42. It’s funny how it keeps coming up. If it weren’t in the human genome to love scandals and drama things would be different. You want real drama, I say we put a group together of 100 people, or whatever number works, and put them on each of the different diets. Make them as similar as possible, them being the individuals, and run some tests and get some markers established, then go for 6 months and 1 year goal lines. Then you’ll see some drama. The food pyramid will be screaming that it’s a conspiracy and people will be wanting to change their diets at the 6 month period and they won’t be allowed to until the 1 year mark.
    Anyway, if that test were to go forward, then they would follow the lifestyle of each type, of course and enjoy.
    All in all, I can’t believe at intelligent at scientists and doctors are, that they don’t look at the data for what it really is. Sad really.
    There’s a great saying and I’m going to ad lib:
    As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord…and live Primal!!
    Yeah baby!

  43. The collective hallucination is that people are losing weight and preventing all sorts of ailments/illnesses from low fat diets and the holy food pyramid. Wake up people!!!

  44. I bet all those “nay-sayers” are secretly eating Primal.
    Really too much information on the “good side of Primal” to discount.
    They are just too scared to put their “name on the line”.

  45. ultimately they will never accept the Paleo diet because it includes the killing of animals and that cannot be tolerated by these folks, even if it was proven to save human life.

    1. I never questioned the ethical reasons behind veganism. When somebody says they have moral/ethical/religious motivations to avoid food from animal sources, I respect their choice.
      If the reason is “health based”, I try to start a discussion to make them understand that it is “health biased”.

  46. Run silent run deep.

    As an earlier poster stated but I paraphrase: lead by example. No point in getting our panties in a twist. And let’s not be too careless lest we fall into the same trap of villifying the other groups. Are they wrong? of course. But let’s be dignified about it. 😉

  47. It is like once I said to my new aquitance from the sports-club: “I dont eat bread.” and he was like what? are you crazy? where did you come to that idea? and then he started to telling me whole history of grains used in peoples diet, like bread was used as a basic part of the food 10 000 years ago..and I just smiled and laughed inside..ooh you are so influenced…maybe they did but hey, did it help anyone to improve their health?…thanks for the article Mark 😉

  48. I really don’t care what others think, or what science thinks, they have been spending too much tax money on ridiculous and bad executed researches.
    Just look at the tons of testimonials and you know that for a lot of people it works..

  49. It is no different than how the establishment main stream media and the GOP maligned Dr. Ron Paul and his Presidential run in 2012. Their attacks are so obvious that you can’t help but laugh at their bafoonery. Bottomline, they are only fooling the lemmings.

      1. Reminds me of Adli Stevenson, when a woman told him he would get the vote of every intelligent American, said, “Unfortunately, I need a majority.”

  50. The idea that a “diet” is too hard to follow is laughable. All diets are difficult to follow if you crave food from the SAD, & I do so I’m speaking w/ some authority. I would counter that higher fat diets like Paleo or Ketogenic at least offer a full, satiated stomach when temptation stares you down. Try turning down a slice when all you’ve had is low fat cottage cheese & apple slices for breakfast.

  51. There’s literally only one thing I can say to this…Mark, take your shirt off. Then I will too, and then the China study guy will…wait he won’t because its just flab and 0% muscle mass. Can someone show a picture of what these “USA Today staff’ look like and then what the reviewing “panel of experts’ look like? I tend to think they’re not going to look anything near as good as you (or me) or they’d be paleo.

    While I’m certainly going to keep trying to help others with all my heart, there is a small piece of me that is slightly gratified by knowing we’re in the elite of society; muscles, even and elevated energy levels, increased brain function…I’ll take it.

  52. From what I’ve read from various “authorities” The biggest confusion has been about the term “Diet”. the term Paleo refers to a Perspective towards food quality. Going on a diet for weight loss has to do with several factors that when understood can be applied to various eating habits/plans. Calories, For overall energy intake. Carbs for waterweight and fat and protein for satiety, Are all important factors for weight loss.
    The biggest and probably best argument I’ve heard from an “authority” was from Alan Aragon and has to do with compliance. If Avoiding a whole food group like dairy or grains causes an issue with being able to maintain the diet then it is doomed to fail. This is something I believe is addressed well with the Primal Blueprint.
    That said It can be a problem for some with eating issues and notions of “a perfect diet” when it comes to everyone. A 300lb non exercising diabetic has almost opposite nutritional needs than a 190lb natural body builder and very different from a 90lb recovering anorexic, All of which can be found in the primal/paleo communities. The poison is in the dose and one size does not fit all.

  53. why not just post a link to the friday success stories in the comments section of the US news article? That alone would prove every argument wrong. then they would probably just say these people lied or were set up. i am one of those people, and i can definitely say that was not the case!

    1. It would be nice if you could post in their comment section from a gmail account. I don’t use facebook and outgrew hotmail almost a decade ago! 🙂 I really want to go in and reply to the veg*an woman telling people to read Forks Over Knives and The China Study…..

  54. I really enjoy it when people, comfortable in familiarity, cling desperately to established ideas of what constitutes good health. When research demonstrates that more questions need to be investigated, you’re supposed to investigate – not draw from your existing narrow pool of knowledge.
    It’s just…

  55. Ah, the mainstream media! Practiced purveyors of mis- and disinformation with authoritative truthiness.

    Of course it’s only the paleo lifestyle they misrepresent–for everything else, you can trust them 110%!


  56. I have never understood why one of the arguments they use is that eating Paleo is “too hard”. What is so hard about cooking a protein and veggies?

    1. For smokers, just breathing air is hard.
      Air, like natural foods is not addictive.

      If cigarettes where everywhere that processed food was and were offered they same way and frequency ( including all social situations) it would make giving up smoking even harder.

  57. Mark, I say, “Let the dogs BARK!”

    My husband came up to me yesterday, (looking miserable after an 8-day hangover from December’s culinary shenanigans) and outlined what he wanted to quit eating and what he’d like to see around the house for dinner, gnawing and such. He finished his request with an exhausted, “You know, basically the Mark Sisson, Paleo-Primal stuff you like…” The he did a face-plant on the bed at 5:00 pm. I know it is only incidental, but in our house, good energy and enthusiasm are KING! I have to do what works!

  58. Here’s what I don’t understand. How can CW be so wrong? How can you feel so right when they’re telling you you’re so wrong? How did CW get to be so wrong?

    1. Follow the money. There are no profits[1] to be made in real food.

      [1] Profits as defined by Econ 100 definition a return on investment greater than that of similarly risky endeavours.

      And remember the French have no word for entrepreneur.

  59. After 8 months of a changed eating plan, I don’t talk about Paleo to anyone, anymore. My husband consumes cereal, cookies, chips, pasta and crackers on a daily basis and is always telling me that I need to be careful eating so much meat. I’m going to have a heart attack. Oh and btw, your the thinnest since I’ve known you. Whatever. I know that on Paleo, I lowered my BP to normal (3 different drugs didn’t have any success – 1 almost killed me), improved my eyesight, lost 35 lbs and still losing and apparently people tell me my skin glows at 58. Whatever that means. I dabbled in adding carbs (little tiny bits here and there) over the holidays with negative results. I feel my best on a low carb, nutrient dense diet and that’s that. I’d be interested in knowing what special interests were at large in the study.

    1. Wait…improved your eyesight? GET BACK HERE!

      What improved?

      56 here.

      1. 54 here, and bad eyes since 4th grade.
        would love to chat with Bamboo about running a ‘dual’ household, tips and any hints gratefully evaluated!
        ( time to go for a walk outside… care to join me?)

        1. What I did:
          First started buying sour dough bread (partially digested by the sour right?), then switched to gluten free bread, then “forgot to buy” it several times. Bought and made rice noodles, bought and made sweet potato noodles (those were fun to eat, clear noodles) now make noodles out of spaghetti squash.
          Otherwise I just make primal foods for breakfast (muffins made from bacon, dates and eggs baked in the oven) and dinner. If people want other food they are welcome to buy and make their own. Of course, I am married to a very nice person who enjoys being happily married so rarely raises a fuss about food AND does the dishes more than occasionally – so this may not work on all men. I’ve been preaching the primal life here and there so he knows it is better for him, he’s about 50/50 or better now. Progress, not as fast as all that but he REALLY likes his comfort foods so I’m grateful for getting this far. We only use the real maple syrup on our GF pancakes (they eat them) as well.
          All our tacos are now made from “shells” of romaine leaves. Those are a few tips for you.

      2. I’m looking forward to my annual eye exam later this month. I have a feeling that my eyesight has gotten better as well. (Age 52)

  60. Paleo/primal seems to be working pretty well for me, down from 228 to 208 in a little over a month, wont know other numbers ’till I get labs again, feel great. However, I have a bone to pick with the 100 gram upper carb limit for weight loss as it is pretty much impossible to eat a variety of any quantity of veggies and stay under that number and fruit is out entirely (an apple or two or a few bluberries and you’re screwed). Plus even paleo-friendly fiber supplements (wich I require due to chronic diverticulitis) like flax and hemp have massive carbs. Oh, well. 1980 cals today so far and 74 grams carbs, about 3/4 fiber but its only a little after noon and I know I’m gonna be real uncomfortable if I dont eat again before the day’s over.

    1. Hmmm… I eat about 1700 cals a day and my carb intake is about 75 grams. I have no problems staying well under 100 grams… and I eat LOTS of veggies and some fruits, too.

      You might want to post a question on the forum with some examples of your daily meals, etc. There are some pretty knowledgeable and very helpful people hanging out there who will give you some good pointers.

      1. How are you counting your fruit/veggie carbs?

      2. Lisa thanks for response nobody ever responds to me on this site! And sorry for double post, still getting used to my chromebook…here’s counting:

        Todays food=bag of pork rinds, 400 cals 0 carb; sour cream, 210 cals, 4 carbs; 1 oz. onion, 20 cals, 6 carbs; 6 cloves garlic, 30 cals, 6 carbs; 1/4 chicken, 500 cals, 0 carbs, 25 gm cheddar, 100 cals, 0 carbs; fiber shake with less than 1 ounce each of papaya, strawberry, banana, flax, hemp, and psyllium husk (yeah, I know, not primal but needed for chronic diverticulitis) 170 cals, 28 carbs; 96 gm avocado, 160 cals, 7 carbs; 150 grams salad (trader’s herb salad with cabbage and tomatos) 30 cals, 6 carbs; 28 grams gorgonzola, 100 cals, 0 carbs; 250 grams homemade curry stew (organic beef, organic chicken, conventional pork with onions, garlic, jicama, and spices “crock potted”), 250 cals about 15 carbs, and 32 grams chipolte salsa, 10 cals, 2 carbs. Total 1980 cals, 74 carbs at 2 PM

        …had more food later in day but back to counting cals only carb count is way too tedious.

  61. Sadly, I saw a similar post on the Huffington Post about the Whole30 plan. It made it to their lists of “2013 diet trends they’d like to not see in the new year”.

    But at least the HP allows comments… and if you read those you’ll learn the real story. One after another were about how the Paleo diet helped when nothing else did.

    Any news site that doesn’t allow comments is suspect in my mind.

  62. I’ve found much of “conventional paleo” (pseudoscientific reasoning based on a poor understanding of evolution) to be as rigid and unsatisfactory as “conventional wisdom”. I think of the primal blueprint belongs in its own class, better addressing a lot of CW’s criticisms with actual science, while also debunking a lot of CP’s own myths. For me, these generalized anti-paleo attacks are more directed at CP than PB (e.g., dairy, peas, rice, etc.)

    On another note, the debate regarding grassfed/pastured beef shouldn’t be oversimplified. Yes, grassfed beef has a better O3/O6 ratio than grainfed, but the total amounts of O3 and O6 are still negligible, like how celery has 30+ times the amount of sodium as cucumber, but we still wouldn’t consider celery a high sodium food. (I also recall a Sunday link to an article suggesting that conventional liver might actually be better than grassfed.) Yes, pastured cows lead better lives than conventionally raised cows, but being raised to be killed is still being raised to be killed, so vegetarians still win the ethics argument (although vegans definitely lose the nutritional argument). And environmentally, because grassfed/pastured beef take longer to raise and require more resources than conventional beef, the environmental advantage of the former is probably a push (I went to a lecture once where the speaker argued that grassfed might actually be worse for the environment, even while being more ethical for animal welfare). In the end, the best that we can do is to stay informed so we can make informed choices. I may be nihilistic in thinking that there are no right and wrong answers, just wrong and less wrong.

  63. I was given this article by a nurse, accompanied by a condescending grin and comment about my unhealthy lifestyle choice. Ahhhh-I’m 60 years old, CrossFIt, play hockey in an adult league of 30 somethings, my blood work-blood pressure and weight is spot on. Unhealthy? Oh, did I mention this nurse is 55 years old, is as wide as she is tall and could barely get out of her chair to hand me the article? Sure, bring on that healthy Slim-Fast chemical-pink-goo-concoction. What have I been doing to myself? What must I be thinking?

  64. Is anyone besides me worried about Bill Gates looking to replace eggs with some half-assed veggie substitute–for the entire world? I mean, this is a dude who probably has the ability to re-write pretty much every shred of information that “goes against the grain” with a stroke of his mouse! Just saying…

  65. Anyone else notice the advertisements from Mayo Clinic and Jenny Craig on the site? Unbiased? BS!

  66. Todays food=bag of pork rinds, 400 cals 0 carb; sour cream, 210 cals, 4 carbs; 1 oz. onion, 20 cals, 6 carbs; 6 cloves garlic, 30 cals, 6 carbs; 1/4 chicken, 500 cals, 0 carbs, 25 gm cheddar, 100 cals, 0 carbs; fiber shake with less than 1 ounce each of papaya, strawberry, banana, flax, hemp, and psyllium husk (yeah, I know, not primal but needed for chronic diverticulitis) 170 cals, 28 carbs; 96 gm avocado, 160 cals, 7 carbs; 150 grams salad (trader’s herb salad with cabbage and tomatos) 30 cals, 6 carbs; 28 grams gorgonzola, 100 cals, 0 carbs; 250 grams homemade curry stew (organic beef, organic chicken, conventional pork with onions, garlic, jicama, and spices “crock potted”), 250 cals about 15 carbs, and 32 grams chipolte salsa, 10 cals, 2 carbs. Total 1980 cals, 74 carbs at 2 PM

  67. us news and world report? long before i began living the paleo template or had even heard of paleo, i thought us news was a fluffy piece of trash. i don’t consider it to be a “real” newspaper and would not waste my time on it-which is probably why i did not see the article. are they owned by fox news?

  68. Support, participation and awareness in paleo/primal is growing exponentially. The truth will eventually be accepted once the ridicule and attack stages are over, this may take years. Sweden is the first to see this, but they don’t have a Big Agra or a Big Pharma lobby pushing a contrary agenda so the pathways to truth are less cluttered with political hurdles.

    Also, using the word ‘diet’ I feel can immediately place the wrong emphasis on the concept of eating in this way, I’m still working on how to briefly explain this to people without using ‘diet’. Suggestions welcome.

    1. Like many words, ‘diet’ has more than one meaning. For example – I need to go on a diet – means one thing. However – Bears subsist on a diet of salmon and the slowest person in a group of people – means something else. Used in context, it should be clear that PB is a diet in the second sense.

    2. I don’t use “diet” when talking to people.
      I say that I don’t eat – Grains = to inflamitory, – beans = they make me fat, – pretend oils = ew, gross, I eat butter, lard, olive oil, bacon fat, coconut oil…. etc. I tell people what I eat instead Fat, meats, veggies and fruits with nuts here and there.

  69. Yesterday evening I went in an open complex building wherein was a huge loft-type room over a bar that seems like it’s closing or being renovated where there were like 100 “empties” of hard liquor, with a teeny bit left in each bottle. It added up. The building was basically empty so I had time to salvage the drops.
    Last night I got a good sprint in, running from security. It felt effortless, automatic, and I wasn’t even out of breath. I admit I did something stupid – that salvaged liquor hit hard. I then tossed back what they wanted from me and since I was in almost knee-deep snow by the time they caught up with their cars they didn’t want to follow.
    Then I had an innocent chat with another security guard in a mall. He’s read MDA but says he has some trouble staying with the diet. I hope he circles in, seemed like a good guy. I got another sample of the drink I mentioned on another post and kept the bottle this time. It’s Vital Greens made by naka. Good stuff.

    1. Ended up sleeping in a shed without any blankets. It was about 0C. Easy with warm clothing and a good coat.
      And that gives me an idea.. whenever I finally get my government money I think I should get a headlamp, maybe some boots, and take take up residence in a somewhat abandoned barn with some blankets until my court date. Live in the bottom with the wild turkeys living up top. I thought about catching one but I’d rather eat the eggs. A sustainable treat.

      1. Good luck friend. “Roughing it” is tough, I know. But I did it in Southern California where it is rarely under 50; and back in the 1970s when it was way more culturally acceptable.

        1. Thank you. It’s not so unusual to be a vagabond in the city I’m living in so I kind of blend in…It’s where the bus terminal is that everyone gets dropped off at from the nearest prison. Rampant with homeless, disability pension and welfare recipients, addicts, criminals, dead-end job employees, and so on.

  70. Thank you, Mark, for this post. Here was my January 8 response to a young friend who sent me a CNN article on the rankings:

    This article is worthless. Apparently, the US News & World Report did some stupid ranking of various diets, and “they” ranked Paleo last. Who did these rankings? We don’t know. Do they know anything about nutrition? Who knows. What were their criteria? We don’t know much, and we certainly don’t know whether they did any real research, but I suspect not. The article says:

    “But U.S. News & World Report’s experts said the Paleo Diet was too restrictive for most people to follow long term, and that it limited some essential nutrients. They also cited a lack of research proving the Paleo Diet’s cardiovascular health and weight loss benefits in their ranking.”

    I suppose a Paleo, or low-carb-high-fat (LCHF) diet may be too restrictive for some people to follow, but everything I’ve read indicates that it has better compliance data than other approaches because people do not need to restrict calories and do not get hungry. Next, I am not aware of a single “essential nutrient” that is “limited” in a Paleo or LCHF diet. That is simply not true. Carbohydrates are limited; but carbohydrates are not “essential.” (There are numerous cites for this, which I’ll find if you want, but I don’t have anything at my finger tips. I’ve read about studies in the early 20th century in which people ate only meat for over a year and were extremely healthy at the end.) In contrast, if humans are deprived fats or protein, we die.

    Finally, the asserted “lack of research” is patently false. They apparently did not look for it. For example, there was a major study done at Stanford that compared the four most popular diets, including the LCHF diet (referred to in the study as “Atkins”). The results strongly favored the LCHF diet on all scores, much to the surprise and dismay of the vegetarian principal scientist. (See http://nutrition.stanford.edu/documents/AZ_abstract.pdf, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eREuZEdMAVo) The government of Sweden did a huge study on various diets, and again the LCHF blew the others out of the water for effective weight loss and improved bio-markers. (See http://www.dietdoctor.com/swedish-expert-committee-low-carb-diet-effective-weight-loss) Dr. Eric Westman at Duke University has been doing gold standard science on the LCHF diet (randomized, controlled studies) for almost two decades, and it is both effective and safe. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NImxgj2I4_M) Clinicians like Dr. Mary Vernon have 15 years of treating very sick diabetic patients with LCHF, with remarkable results. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaquSijXJkQ). Look at Dr. Jay Wortman’s amazing work with First Nations people in Canada. (See http://www.drjaywortman.com/blog/wordpress/about/) And on and on and on. This ranking is ignorant nonsense.

  71. If Paleo spent more money in DC, or bought more ad time/space, or officially hooked up with the egg, poultry, beef lobbies–next year might be different. Just sayin,.

    1. Can’t. The food industries are running on grains and soy. Food from pasteurised animals are competition as pasteurisation cannot be industrialised.

  72. The tragedy is that the BS in this magazine article was will cause many to bypass the Primal diet. This is a setback for our health as a nation and for those who would otherwise have given it a try. Not good.

  73. What if “food” companies and media companies had some special relationship to each other?

    Nah that’s crazy.

  74. I found it interesting how the highly rated diets all had a section saying they were low in Vitamin D but eating salmon would help, while the paleo section just said it was low in Vitamin D with no mention of salmon… They actually had one template they used only for “good” diets and didn’t use for paleo.

  75. to eat this way, and feel this great,the proof is in the pudding.

  76. One simple question. Is weight watchers here to save your life or make money?

    Thanks for the great rebuttal.

    Been Eating Paleo since 2010. Never been healthier or felt better.

  77. Isn’t it better if less people appreciate Paleo? Keeps the price of butter normal. Norway had a butter crisis when many people turned to Paleo recently. Hard to imagine the horror if more than 7 bln on this planet ditched grains, sugar and seed oils.

    1. This one always puzzles me. While it may be true that the world cannot sustain 10 billions of human carnivores, I think the analysts are totally missing the point. That’s because they are not doing a “root cause analysis”.

      The root cause is not “people are eating too much meat”, but “there are too many people”. That said, agriculture cannot provide food for 10 billions vegans neither, no matter how much you exploit the soil (which btw causes desertification).

    2. The Norway butter crisis had nothing to do with Paleo. they had a bad, rainy summer and cows produced less milk as a result of affected grazing. Norwegians’ diet is very much like the Swedish one ( where I am from ) – BREAD potatoes, more bread and more potatoes, pasta and “hearty” wholegrain stuff to keep them warm in the winter. oh and loads of milk ( and brittle bones for some reason! ). not to mention obsession with chronic cardio and fear of anything fat.

    3. Actually, butter use in Norway had only gone up 7% and I doubt that’s entirely due to people going paleo there (but if you have data to prove this, please share 🙂 ). Articles point to TV chefs promoting real butter use over margarine and an increased interest in making meals from scratch, but that doesn’t mean these meals are paleo.

      The cause was lower milk production with lower fat content, because of lesser quality feed, because of periods with high precipitation. So there was simply less butter than usual, with a somewhat increased demand.

      Source (in norwegian, sorry – try an online translator) http://stavrum.nettavisen.no/tine-styrte-mot-smor-krise/

      yes, as long as paleo is the exception instead of the rule, certain products (like offal and bones) will be cheaper, but others are hard to find expensive specialty products, because there is little demand. Two sides of the same coin…

  78. good point stan.its also amusing to eat lunch in front of everyone with stares at your bacon,oils and fats consumption.im sure those rice crackers are nice though!

  79. Well, let everyone else continue to do what the sponsored national media tells them. I will continue to feel ’25’ in my ’39’ year old body as I maintain my low BP, increase my strength, have fun playing outdoors, lower my body fat, AND enjoy my favorite meals like grass fed beef, broccoli, sautéed bitter greens and a glass of red wine!

    This would all be fine if I did not also care about other people and helping them achieve greater physical mobility and overall health…

  80. Another indicator of the upward trend of paleo; any book with Paleo in the title has a waiting list at the library and the library where I work has a boatload of new paleo titles on order just to keep up with the demand.

  81. Like many other commenters, Paleo has from day one for me been totally achievable in a very busy lifestyle including a lot of work functions and dining out. Once the discipline of kicking my sugar habit had formed I am healthier and feeling better than any other diet had ever made me. I’ve been losing weight since day 1, and it is a slow, steady sustainable loss. Especially in the Primal Blueprint form, there is the flexibility to do it my way, not in a dogmatic and restricted fashion. I’m personally so grateful for having found this site for the guidance and structure it has given my entry into Grok world.

  82. They conveniently miss the fact that the Paleo diet and the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet are the most popular diets of 2013 based on Google searches.

    Also, apparently anecdotes from hundreds of thousands of people who lost weight and improved their lipid profile on paleo lifestyle just cannot trump one randomized controlled trial with an “n” of 100.

    I count myself among physicians who educate people about absolute necessity to eliminate processed foods, 99% of acellular carbs and ignore all diet fads.

    The other day, though, one woman known to me professionally said she gained weight after heeding my advice of eating more vegetables and fruits. When asked she replied she’s been eating watermelon and bananas.

    Let’s just say she will not be “Riccing” any time soon 🙂 (latest fad apparently, very funny)

    1. Haha just looked it up… sounds weird & pointless… I’ll Def have to give it a go!

  83. Mark,

    Where do these websites get their revenues from? That’s the first thing I would ask. You know, TED was bought out by Monsanto to not speak about health related issues… It’s really sad in my opinion, but why are people so unaware of sketchy business practices? Honestly, the people who figure out their health are those who deserve it, whether it’s now or in the future. All we can do is be authentic in our own health and those who can see will follow

    1. Wow I didn’t know that about TED! Scary. There was a story in the LA Times Sunday last about an all-digital library and my first thought was, oh great, now some entity or other can easily re-write or delete history…nah, that’s just a paranoid fantasy…like the NSA spying on law abiding Americans…

  84. I read Wheat Belly while DH was away on a business trip in March 2013. He returned to a wheat-free pantry. We haven’t looked back. My ONLY regret: not discovering this WOE a decade ago! All those icky pretzels I could have spared my innards. U.S News & World Report won’t tell me how to “diet”.

  85. Hard to take any report seriously when it scores the Slimfast diet anywhere but dead last. Unfortunately, there’s no telling how much credence the general public places on this annual report. I’d laugh too if I didn’t know that so many people will continue to destroy their health based on these farcical recommendations.

  86. They can quibble and bash all they want. I don’t need their results from clinical trials. I’ve experimented on myself and have seen nothing short of great results…weight loss, cholesterol drop, BP drop, energy increase, etc. They can continue mulling over research articles while they down their lattes and donuts. I’ll whip up some fisherman’s eggs and go for a bike ride.

  87. So if I were to purchase this newspaper do you think I would find more ads for pro-paleo products or anti-paleo products?

    We can’t expect them to run off the very companies that keep them in business, do we? Even at the expense of their reader’s health!

    1. So, bad eating is some capitalist conspiracy? Let’s grow up.

      Sure, there’s crony capitalism in the world…just like there are bad parents, and bad drivers on the roads of life. But that crony capitalism cannot exist without government. If you’re looking for a nutrition conspiracy beyond human stupidity, you will find it lurking in the halls of government — beginning with the USDA and the FDA.

  88. I think the biggest issue with the paleo diet are those who cannot get it right but still pretend to be doing it.
    Some people, as soon as they hear that they do not have to fear saturated fats, that they can finally eat pork and must reduce calories from sugars, just go and eat 1 pound of bacon per day.
    Other wonderful examples of bad publicity are the bread and muffin recipes with almond flour (rancid omega-6), or the meatza. This last one in particular is utterly grotesque… why not just make Turkish meatballs in tomato/oregano/cilantro sauce, instead?

    When people ask me what I eat, I usually say “I do the Mediterranean diet, but without cereals”. This pleases everybody, except hardcore vegans who will wish me to die because of the mercury from seafood 😉

    1. No need for the “holier than thou” attitude, dude. Meatza with pastured ground beef covered with lots of veggies is a great easy primal meal, and almond flour pancakes with fried eggs is a lovely Sunday breakfast. Sure beats the alternative. Also, bacon is so satisfying, I doubt anyone would eat a whole pound in one day, unless they are running a marathon. I have read that a champion long distance runner eats floppy bacon during his runs, and does very well.

      1. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t say that meatza is bad for health, it is just grotesque. It looks to me like those fake meat substitutes. This weekend I am preparing moussaka so as you see, I have nothing against baked ground meat with lot of vegetables, it is the presentation that makes a huge difference.
        Some months ago, in a French reportage, they compared a number of diets, and they spoke about benefits and disadvantages of each (zone, low-fat, weight watchers, etc). Last came the paleo diet, but since apparently there weren’t disadvantages to mention, all they did was to show some exalted college students preparing a overburnt meatza. There are many ways to discredit something, partial truth is probably the best.

        Almond bread, similarly, is a replacement for SAD commodity food, but the rancid PUFAs make it unhealthier than regular bread. Take 1 ounce of almond flour, bake it for 20 minutes, then compare the taste with some which is unbaked, you’ll see what I mean.
        Some people think of paleo not as a quest to health, but as a challenge to see how far they can go without grains, which is sad (lowercase).

        > I doubt anyone would eat a whole pound [of bacon] in one day

        Not only, they are also proud of it.

    2. What! I can’t eat a pound of bacon? …I mentioned “paleo” to a vegan this morning and she was horrified until I clarified, “actually, the “primal” version. For some odd reason that was more acceptable…

  89. Thanks for this Mark

    As a Paleo/Primal newbie it was really hard to read all that crap about a lifestyle that really seems to be working for me.

    Today is my 15th day of proper Paleo eating (I have been gluten free since September 2013) and I am really starting to see the benefits!

    1. And it’s being 15 days only.

      I’ve been doing it for a little more than 2 years and still see improvement.

  90. I’ve had the save the planet argument from my sister-in-law, a wanna-be hippie. With near debilitating IBS, constantly sick, constantly missing work (she works for NHS here in England so, hey, it’s ok she misses loads of work, they’ll never sack her and it just means we the taxpayers pay for all the sick days off) What about the cost to the country one is paleo in, in terms of missed work, cost to the healthcare system for diet related disease (the top ones being those)… save the planet, or save your country’s economy? Of course, if big Ag & Pharma went out of business, that’d be bad too as Mark stated in the youtube interview w/the diet doctor I watched yesterday. Oh and BTW he had the same response- sacrifice my own health and my family’s health over saving the planet?

      1. Hmmmm….I wouldn’t be too quick to demonise agriculture. Modern agribusiness, perhaps, but not agriculture. There’s a difference between cash crops, and subsistence and small-scale agriculture.

        One can argue that, throughout history, innovation has originated in agricultural societies, rather than hunter-gatherer, tribal societies. Not that all innovation is necessarily good; in fact a great deal of it is detrimental to the health of, well, pretty much everything on the planet!

        As Oscar Wilde observed, “The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.”

        1. Totally agree. I will never renounce to my veggies. In weight, I eat more vegetables than meat or fish.
          But in order to feed the world on soy as many propose, you need to terraform a second planet.

  91. Living in Florida I see too many examples of what the SAD will do to a body. Our weekly community meeting offers coffee with powdered creamer and sweeteners and donuts for a quarter. They don’t understand why I decline as they discuss who’s in the hospital now. Truly SAD.

  92. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed eating wholegrains and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Primaland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes

  93. On primal, I can eat skip breakfast, go to work, skip lunch, come home and workout (cardio + strength), then finally get around to eating dinner. Rinse, repeat if I feel like it. A vegan etc. would fall into a coma by noon just trying to meditate. Guess which diet millions of years of hominid evolution would have selected for.

    Evolution is the backbone of all the biological, botanical, and medical sciences. How does it not even come up as a topic in the nutrition world from all these experts with degrees in these areas?

  94. Sustainability of carnivores…

    When I drive through my upper Midwest, you can drive for hours, if not days (literally), and see little but fields of corn and soybean. If you’re not from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin etc it might be hard to grasp just how vast our flat, fertile plains are. Those could just as easily be animal pastures or produce fields.

    Subsidies are responsible, in part, for this train wreck.

    1. Thanks for that. It’s a good response to those who question the sustainablilty of a Primal/Paleo diet.

      1. Although in fairness, Wisconsin also has plenty of cows hanging around in fields doing their thing. It wasn’t THAT long ago that I did not know the feed lots existed. I assumed they were all like the cows you see in Wisconsin from the interstate. Seemed like the only logical way to do things.

        I guess not.

    2. I spent a month in Minnesota in 1971. All we could see were fields of corn (ask high as an elephant’s eye)and soybeans growing. We also saw grass fed beef and there were pig farms. I agree, let’s just grow grass in those fields and raise meat.
      For all the people who think we can’t feed the earth on the food we make now, take a look at how much rots on the docks and warehouses because the right people didn’t get paid to distribute it. Sigh.

  95. Something I am surprised isn’t being discussed is the comment section of the article. I read for a quite a while before I found a comment that wasn’t TEARING THAT ARTICLE A NEW ONE! People are finally figuring out that “conspiracy theories” aren’t actually what mass media, the govt, and whoever else purports them to be. All of the backlash against the Paleo diet is because the sugar industry and other food industry monopolies are feeling the pinch. Money rules this world, and the “elite” that run it are getting scared. People are waking up and realizing that their best interest are only going to be met by themselves, not any other entity. So mass media will begin trying to counter this self-reliance with subterfuge. This is not a new concept.

    The good news is that, at least right now, we are making progress, people are getting healthier, and they are spreading the word. KEEP IT UP!!!!

  96. LOL. So glad you wrote on this Mark. When I read it I just sighed and laughed. However, your response make me laugh even more. Always good stuff Mark.

  97. I sent the “unconquerable Dave” success story to my father in law and brother in law who are both very overweight and they thought it was a hoax. They have both been doing the same diet for over 30 years but expecting different results. People believe what they want to believe. They refuse to think differently, they refuse to question, they refuse to analyze, they refuse to research, they refuse the change… You can lead a horse to water…

  98. Dear Mark,

    I am a woman of 72 years and besides renal fatigue and asthma I have Hypothyroide. The last problem is the worst. Since my menopause I have gained a ridiculous amount of weight and my worst weight ever was 84kg. think about 160 American pounds. I got that down to 74 kg. (145 Am pounds). It slowly went up again to 82.9 kg. All my life I have felt pretty lousy, although I was able to lead a pretty normal life, but since my Hypothyroide became active, I feel really awful. Enter Paleo. I like to eat it. As I am always exhausted, I hate to prepare it, but my husband helps a lot. I hardly ever miss the sweets. Since I am on this diet everythings tastes too sweet anyway.
    Ass I have only lost about 2 kgs. in nearly a year of eating this way, I should perhaps say that your diet does not help. But, nearly imperceptibly, I have started to feel a bit better. I now can do maybe 3 different small tasks on any given day. I can do the shopping, take a rest, take care of a load of washing after having prepared lunch and cleared it away , take a rest, do the cooking, which is the most difficult of all, and after that go to bed. When I write it down like this, it does not seem much, but it is still improvement for me. Before this you could find me four out of five days in bed! I call it baby-steps. So, although the stupity of this sort of organizations makes me furious, I will try to laugh with you. Thank you and Robb Wolff and the many other authors on your good work. And long live the Internet! Leonie, the Netherlands

    1. Sounds like you are doing a LOT for your condition. It may seem like baby steps to you. I know when I had a low thyroid issue I remember thinking that I could do anything as long it didn’t involve moving my arms and legs, so you are doing more than that. 🙂

  99. I went from low-fat vegetarian to mostly paleo and even though I started with pretty good blood values all of my markers of inflammation and good fat values improved dramatically! If they base their evaluations on their bias’ of course it’s going to look awful in their eyes. I am lucky enough to have a doctor who encourages a whole foods diet and more of a paleo lifestyle because he sees how it works in his patients.

  100. I love the “follow the money” arguments, posted on a clearly profitable website. That doesn’t mean the paleo approach is wrong (though clearly it doesn’t fit everyone, or compliance would be better), of course.

  101. A huge error. Under Calsim (and Vitimin D as well, by extension) it says:
    “Because you’re not allowed dairy or fortified cereals, you’ll likely only get about 700 mg. from a Paleo menu.”

    Dairy is not forbidden. It is defined as personal preference with the author being on the side of abstinence. I include milk and cheeses, to good effect.

  102. Only stating the obvious, but the overwhelming response by the “paleo community” to expose bad science and reach those who might benefit from paleo is the exact reason the readers response section was removed from the article. If you can’t shout down the opposition, just plug your ears and yell “I can’t hear you” over and over until they go away.

  103. NHLBI, Mayo Clinic and Jenny versus a caveman, who do you think the “experts” are going to go with!

  104. I really wonder why medical doctors seem so opposed to this diet. I recently read an article which was pure authority-based bashing with little or no scientific basis.

    Is it that people are afraid to give up bread? I mean if they accept that the paleo diet is good, it would be in their best interest to follow it – and I know from experience that bread and pasta are a close kin of crack cocaine. I used to spend above $10 on single loaves of hand-knead bread from boutique french bakeries… 😀

    Or is it about fat? Cardiovascular disease prevention seems to be all superstition and little science nowadays.

    Is it some kind of social agenda or vegan bias against eating more meat?

    1. By the way I’ve so far learned that a random medical doctor is potentially the worst source of half-assed, unscientific health superstition you can potentially get. 🙂

      I mean come on, most of them support homeopathic drugs. WTF?! (No offense to homeopathic believers, but it’s literally magic. Shaman medicine. I guess it’s primal in that aspect.)

    2. Here in the USA most medical Docs must adhere to rigid protocols (including dietary advice they might give) or risk malpractice lawsuits based on “best practice–standard of care.” That standard is defined by USDAand FDA policy which, in turn, is beholden to big pharma and big agriculture.

  105. I try to avoid labelling how I eat, partly because of this anti-FAT-bias pounded into the minds of the feeble by the telly, the gov’t and the doctors.
    So I say “fatty meat, no wheat” and they look confused but accepting.

  106. I think all the proponents of the various diets need to get together, have comprehensive blood work and a physical exam done, do a push-up contest, and then a bathing suit contest. We’ll see who wins.

    Slim Fast and Jenny Craig are better diets than Paleo? Has the whole world gone mad?

    1. I once saw a campaign video made by raw vegan proponents showing various food gurus who support primal-like diets with high meat and fat intake, elaborating on how fat or unwell they themselves are, and showing some fit and cool old people who are raw vegans for contrast. XD
      So I guess it’s all up to selecting the right examples for what you want to prove. My personal experience with raw veganism left me feeling washed out and weak, so I kind of doubt the truth or objectivity of it.

  107. WE WON!

    Last place from the a panel of “experts” from institutions that gave us the Food Pyryamid is proof of the diet’s success. Notably nowhere do they explain the obesity crisis of the 80s and 90s that got progressively worse after the FP. I am doubling down on fat tomorrow, after a nice IF today.

  108. Honestly, the paleo “diet” is firmly rooted in science. Every diet that ever existed has really tried to find a scientific backing, but paleo was just born with it. Why? Because if you understand evolution even a tiny bit, it makes perfect sense. It just fits, like a piece in a puzzle. What do you feed a cat? Meat. What do you feed a horse? Grass. What do you feed a human? Meat, vegetables, and some fruit.
    If you study physiology or biochemistry, the rest makes even more sense. I’ve convinced several people that paleo was the way to go (without realizing I was trying to convert them), simply by explaining scientifically why I eat the way I eat. It helps to be a biologist. But it also helps to point them to MDA, because Mark is a scientifically-minded person who cares about facts and research.
    I’ve found that those who simply shun the diet and the lifestyle altogether simply don’t understand science or don’t trust it. Which is sad, because for all the “pseudoscientists” out there who give all of us a bad name, there are thousands of scientists who are doing great work that has and will continue to benefit society. Not all of them are the guys from Better Off Ted, or worse.

  109. Jenny Craig? SLIMFAST??? When I saw those ranked ahead I burst out laughing and dismissed the whole thing. Absurd.

  110. The name and basis is easy to mock. “Eat like a caveman”. “Don’t eat that because caveman did eat it”. It’s pretty similar to Atkins at the core though.

  111. Actually raw vegan was probably what Grok ate when he couldn’t get any game, insects, or start his fire.

  112. What’s funny is that Atkins was ranked 6th overall and Paleo 32nd. Paleo and Atkins are so similar, but Paleo is more inclusive than Atkins and yet the gap in the rating is 26. Nonsense. It’s actually laughable… “… panel of experts…”

  113. THANK GOD !…FHEW! – the fact that the “recognised” authorities and experts have rated it as the lowest is good news. A rule of thumb is that if you take what the experts say and reverse it completely, you get the correct advice.

  114. Who said that natural selection wasn’t still alive and well for the human race – everyone reading this is here because all your ancestors, right back to a single cell organism had the right luck and choices, resulting in you. Will you continue this chain by making the right choice as well ?

  115. From the second point of interest “Will you lose weight?”, we can see that one of main markers in the scientific literature for the prevalent health problems in the U.S. is grounded in excess body fat (or rather BMI, which is a poor measure if ever there was one).
    But what about those of us (and please don’t stone me and cast me out of the primal village for writing this) who actually needed to GAIN WEIGHT?

    When I came upon the Primal Blueprint (Yes, everyone, it’s an anecdote) I was getting over being sick from trying everything conventional wisdom shouted was the proper way to a healthy, long, fit lifestyle. 3+hours of cardio a day, 8-9 servings of whole grains, shunning anything with fat, and even avoiding the weights in the gym entirely (Ha! Those bodybuilders are just going to get fat and suffer heart disease because of their massive BMI numbers!).

    What happened? I lost weight, but not the good kind. I was already lean at 6’4” 180 lbs. But in 4 months I dropped to a skeletal 155 on the triathlon diet, which actually consists of your eating muscle and connective tissue, not whole grains. I got sick, head in the toilet bowl sick, and lost an additional 5 lbs heaving. But hey! I had rocking abs, right? Yeah, they went past my ribs.

    While lying abed I scanned the internet with WTF? on my mind. Found the Primal Blueprint. Needless to say (well, almost) I got much better, regained my lost pounds, but maintained leanness with far more energy and focus than ever before. 3 years later I’m 190# and could lift my younger self over my shoulder and carry him up a mountain if so inclined.
    My point is, for some people, weight loss isn’t an issue, it’s returning our bodies to a healthy, stable weight that includes strong, functional muscle and lets us perform well in daily life, whatever that entails. I’ll shut up now.

  116. “but the studies show causation, not just association.”

    Whoa there horsie (Mark)! I’m all for primal eating- just ate a bunch of full fat stuff with added fat and stuff- but I’d just like to point out that it’s dangerous to say that a study “shows” (or even worse “proves”) something. “Suggests” is known to be a much safer word here in the science community 🙂

    1. sophie,

      Did you click on the link to the study? The authors claimed causation in the abstract – this is NOT Mark going crazy.

  117. In my neck of the woods Paleo is on the rise! People who have joined in since I first found out about Primal eating:

    2009 – My husband and me! –> Combined weight loss of 115 (Him 50, Me 65)
    2011 – Husband’s Brother and his wife –> At least 15-20 pounds lost each
    2013 – My Sister –>Helping to clear up disordered eating
    2013 – My 70-yr-old Dad –> At least 25 pounds lost so far
    2014 – Husband’s Mom & Step-Dad –> Just getting started!
    2014 – Two of my business partners –> Just getting started!

    My husband and my health improvements and weight loss have contributed to almost all of these folks’ decisions to go primal. Some have had other positive influences in their decisions, as well.

    Then, of course, there was my Husband’s other Brother, who pretty much went primal in 2005 and quietly lost probably 70 pounds in about a year. If only I had been paying attention…

  118. I have learnt over the years to mistrust so called experts they are often anything but! My ex wife said once that one the traits she found least endearing was that I tended to dismiss such people as “a***holes” – its true but then I don’t get disappointed that often and am pleasantly surprised now and then!

    Are these experts by any chance funded by the pharmaceutical companies? The food companies? The agricultural lobby? The diet industry? Or even doctors, for whom the admission that they have been down the wrong road for a while and that perhaps they needn’t have prescribed statins for so long when a simple change of eating habits would do might be a step too far. God forbid – the class actions that might follow! might they have got anti depressants wrong too?

  119. Great post, there will always be naysayers, and companies looking to fund another research project to ‘subliminally’ promote their products. The proof is in the pudding (so to speak) for me, I eat a primal diet, I feel better and look better. I get moody when I am eating too many packaged or carb heavy foods, that’s all I need to know! Besides, it’s a lifestyle, not just a diet, so yes, sticking to it isn’t always easy, we are now a convenience lead society. In which, from the looks of things we need a 2014 list of ‘best diets’.. I assume that’s so that we can start working our way down the list as each one fails and we end up gaining weight, only to go on the next one!
    As a side note… there’s a cookie diet?! That’s actually a real thing?! Hilarious, most of it is justified by being within ‘government guidelines’, I’m sure plenty of things are, but that doesn’t mean it’s good!

  120. Paleo/Primal isn’t a diet. It’s a lifestyle. And I feel so good, I’m never going back. “Experts” be damned. These are the same people that think “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” is healthier than actual butter. Primal makes intuitive sense. That’s why it’s so easy to follow.

  121. I actually took a geography class in college recently and my teacher brought up an interesting point. He said that native-born populations in western industrialized countries is actually going down. What happens when the rest of our world gets on our level industrially? Will their population go down? Or is it more cultural? Even if the population does continue to rise, we could still do more to conserve land. Not to mention, there is farming that can be done in multi-level greenhouses. Just think about how much soil there is on this earth. Multi-level greenhouses can be used for animals to, although they are not currently. I don’t think there is any reason to feel guilty about eating high-quality foods.

    1. Hans Rosling (who can blow your mind using statistics) did an interesting Ted talk about his prediction for the max world population. According to him -and the data- main predictors are health and income, not religion or culture, we’ve already reached peak child and the wold population will level off at about 9-10 billion. That’s still 3 billion more than we have now, and some number crunching to do on how to sustain all of us without ruining this world, but it beats exponential growth.


  122. “Will you lose weight?

    No way to tell.”

    Hahaha. Even if I was 439, I would choose a lifestyle that had the potential of healing my depleted endocrine and digestive system (like paleo or gaps) over one that had the promise of steadily losing weight while ingesting toxic, highly processed “diet foods.”

    I use to be upset about America’s obession with “diets,” now I just laugh. We have the highest instance of obesity.I have never seen a single build board or advertisement for a diet or weight loss program in France: the country with the second lowest overall BMI which is consumes more fat than most countries. Hmmm wonder what’s going on there..

  123. I have been following the Paleo AIP program for about a month now. I have set my macros for protein to be at my ideal body weight in grams (about 30% of my diet – a pretty commonly agreed upon amount amongst trainers & athletic nutritional folks). I recently saw an article suggesting to set your carbs at the same amount (so again 30%) and the rest from fat (about 40%, consisting of animal fats, moderate coconut consumption, and plant fats – no nuts or seeds yet). I have been weighing and tracking everything. To my surprise, the only days I exceeded the AHA recommended 10% saturated fat consumption were the days I had coconut curries or coconut yogurt smoothies – and even then it was generally by only a few grams. Plus, I actually had to increase my fat intake to get my calories up – generally by adding in avocado. I am not sure where the idea of excess saturated fat comes in. Its not like paleo advocates snacking on mounds of lard and pork rinds.

  124. Actually, the reason “paleo” gets a bad review probably stems from the fact that the Crossfit community does such a terrible job of following it.

    They go to the store and buy normal grain fed factory beef, brined bacon from feedlot pigs and pig out on it and call it “paleo.”

    They have no idea what the hell they’re doing. Anybody who thinks ordering a “prime rib and mixed vegetables, hold the bread, hold the potatoes” at Chili’s counts as “paleo” is the reason “paleo” receives a bad rap.

    1. If you’re out to dinner, prime rib and veggies sounds like a good choice to me (if the veggies don’t include corn and beans of course). We do the best we can with what we have. My budget doesn’t always support everything grass fed, pastured, organic, but I still think my LCHF diet is way healthier than the alternatives.

  125. Conventional health propaganda in one hand, paleo propaganda in the other hand. Every health fad has its proponents and “proof” that it works.

    – eat real food
    – move your body
    – do some things you love
    – prevent and treat illness and injury

  126. Has anyone else experienced increase in LDL after starting the diet?

  127. All I ever hear is “All that fat…”. When I point out that my blood tests are perfect, I lost 100lbs and don’t have to take 12 pills a day anymore, they just go back to “But all that fat…you’re going to have a heart attack!”. Hmm, so are all the blood tests we use to determine health bogus or does this diet actually work? “But all that fat is going to clog your arteries!”. Did you hear the question?

    People have fully indoctrinated to stuff themselves with grain. They’re cheap and easy to grow especially with all the genetic work, they keep well for a long time, and they’re highly profitable. A cracker made from corn, rice and wheat boiled in soybean oil and sprayed with sugar tastes good and costs nothing. An acre of wheat generated 4-6x the profit of a head of cattle. Meat is messy, annoying to raise, expensive, and requires a lot of work to get to market. Building bogus studies full of links, ties and connections that aren’t there and a government driven advertising program are pretty effective.

    So its pretty easy to see what drives all of this ($), but good luck changing 95% of the populations minds. Fat and meat are bad, whole grain corn, wheat and soy are good. Even my ex-wife who watched me lose 100lbs and significantly improve my blood work still chants about the benefits of whole grains, and she’s a nurse. You’d think she’d be able to see the contradictions especially in the blood testing.

  128. I’ve thought about this a lot. The real reason is that the liberal elites (no offense to left leaning paleos) are tied to the anti meat eaters (vegans), enviros and China study nonsense. And everyone knows they mostly control the mainstream media. I don’t want to see paleo get political though IT IS NOT!

  129. It is exhausting when we have to constantly defend things that we know work well. I am a breast imager, and every year or two, someone publishes a very flawed article that makes people think that they don’t need mammograms, even though we know that mammography saves lives. I wish I had a solution!

  130. I just don’t care what ‘they’ say. For me it just made sense, and reading the unsolicited experiences and results people were having eating this way just could not be ignored. I went for it, focused on all the delicious things I could have, made it look pretty so it felt like I was spoiling myself and voila! Energy through the roof within days, immediate and substantial weight loss, glowing skin (maybe because I was so happy to be losing weight without weighing, measuring, counting, ugh), no more heartburn and Prilosec, and enjoying food instead of obsessing over it. Sweet tooth…no longer hanging over my head. So ‘they’ can say what they want. If this way of living is ultimately going to kill me, well, at least I will feel my best, look my best, and accomplish a lot more before I go! Well, it is Sunday…going to go prep some fresh clean food for the week.

  131. Seems to me that all organised ‘diet’ groups are there to make money. Not just out of your membership fee, weekly attendance fee but also out of all the accompanying merchandise. The great thing I found about them was that it helped me to have someone else who wanted me to loose weight and who had to listen to me when I wanted to talk. I just made sure I didn’t actually talk about what I was eating – just about the way to avoid eating the things I knew I shouldn’t eat.
    Over the years I have tried all kinds of different diets or ‘healthy lifestyles’ with varying degrees of success. I’m not completely sold on Paleo, but I certainly believe that eating natural, unprocessed foods, prepared and cooked at home is by far the best way to live.
    As soon as you give a diet/lifestyle a name it seems to me that business jumps on the band wagon and tries to create merchandise that will fit. How about Paleo snackbars – sweetened with honey to avoid the need for refined sugar, but just as bad for your blood sugar levels in the long run.
    Scientists have sold out to the big food companies and so have governments – they are all running scared and that’s why any thing that promotes natural food (read no added value) will always be rubbished.

  132. what irks me is that most of the “commercial” diets rated at the top, and the simple do-it-yourself diets were at the bottom. Also, if you pull apart some of the better rated diets, they have principles which basically follow the primal diet. Even the “volumetrics” diet – eat lower volumes of more nutrient dense foods – sounds a lot like the premise of the primal diet.

    We can’t have people with do-it-yourself diets, they need to be controlled and forced to join a membership club.

  133. One other big point – all these “diets” don’t mention anything about the type of EXERCISE you need to do in conjunction with the diet – that’s what makes the Palio less attractive, because it will actually require you to get up and move to successful. Even more so for the Primal blueprint, for example, I find if I don’t get in a weekly “sprint” session, my bodyfat increases. What would be interesting is to rate these “diets” in terms of effects when doing exercise.

    The primal blueprint “diet” cannot even be rated with these others as its not a “diet”, its a total lifestyle eating, exercising, living guide.

  134. I had really a laugh….

    Certainly the people writing this information have no idea about medicine whatsoever.

    From an endocrinological point of view it has been proved that the Gluconeogenesis happens even during fasting in the liver, that is a fact. So even if you don’t consume Carbs, glucose will be generated by this metabolic path.

    Historically agriculture and this carbs are quite new, if we can compare it to the human existence on this planet, just investigate how long have we been here and the story of certain foods, like “potatoes, rice, and few others”.

    If a paleo diet works or not depends exclusively on your metabolism, you could have a neolithic metabolism, which means that through the exposure to Carbs your body has already learnt how to process them correctly, while a Paleolithic metabolism will process the Carbs into Sugar and simultaneously do the Gluconeogenesis.

    It really depends of the metabolism of the person, my metabolism is Paleo, and I live Paleo… you gotta know what metabolism you got.

    We the human, are the only animals who changed the way we eat…. I haven’t seen a cow eating meat…. or a Lion eating grass….

  135. “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”

    It all makes so much sense now. I didn’t lose 12 pounds after going primal – turns out the bathroom scale must have malfunctioned.

    At first I put in a new battery, thinking that might solve the problem, but it still showed that I lost 12 pounds.

    I took the scale back to the store and exchanged it for a brand new one, but the new one also showed 12 pounds of weight loss.

    So now I have no idea why the scale showed me losing 12 pounds – I think I will write a strongly worded letter to the manufacturer! What are they trying to pull?