My review of Sally Fallon Morell's review of Robb Wolf's book and the "Original Human Diet"

Around a month or so ago Sally Fallon Morell, President o the Weston A. Price Foundation, reviewed Robb Wolf's book and gave it a "Thumbs Down".  What's up with her?  Wasn't the response to her President's Message from this past June enough to put her in her place?   I had parts of a post together at that time, but since the full letter wasn't publicly available at the time, and who knows what else was going on, I never published it.  I was going to augment that and include with this, but perhaps another time ... it got too long and convoluted.  Some day ... I make no promises though.  In any case, my link here is now to the full letter for anyone interested, but to sum up she wanted to clear up some myths about WAPF:
  • It's not high protein, most do best on 10-15% protein and WAPF diet is small amounts of fatty animal protein, including organ meats, with each meal ... emphasis on fat, while high lean protein depletes Vitamin A.
  • It's not low carb.  Some of Dr. Price's studied cultures ate quite high carb diets.
  • It's not paleo. 

Thud.  Fallon threw down the hammer of discord.  How dare she!  At the time the cries of "we're on the same side" and "can't we all just get along" were loud and many.  There was also the "she's clueless, nobody eats a low fat paleo diet" attack ... but she was right, and those critics are wrong.   At least about what's out there on paper and written on the web.  You see, she addressed The Paleo Diet™ of Loren Cordain, which does, indeed, emphasize lean protein, and does not use animal fats in cooking, butter especially, as dairy is explicitly excluded.  Now many "paleodieters" as Fallon points out, tout a different version of the diet and call themselves "paleo" -- but, it is just a marketing gimmick.  That folks call themselves paleo and practice other dietary patterns is not a defense, no matter how many times Diane Sanfilippo tries to redefine the term to fit her WAPF-influenced version.

So my guess is that the misdirected response is why Sally decided to read and review the "new guy", Robb Wolf's book ... after all this time.    Robb's book came out in 2010 which by my math makes it only half as old and outdated as Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories.   Judging from many of the 'why now?' comments in the social media sphere that Fallon's review provoked, you'd think he wrote the book in a year beginning with a 19 or something.  Robb's name became synonymous with paleo with that book, and just because Diane's book is more popular on at the moment, I think it's fair to say that Robb has yet to relinquish his crown from that coronation.  As his mini-bio on his website states:

Imagine someone having yet to read the book ... curious about what the fuss is all about at this late date?  Like, oh ... say ... me around a year ago?   Or perhaps someone who just now wants to try paleo?  I mean seriously, what if they actually thought to buy the book and read it, here in late 2013, before jumping in.  To the best of my knowledge, it's still for sale all over the place, on the Amazon sales widgets of many blogs (including Diane's!) etc.  There's no disclaimer attached that I am aware of.   Why NOT review the book at any time?   After all, on his  What is the Paleo Diet link, you learn a bit about the diet ... and at the end?  Buy the Book!!  I'll come back to this, but for now, let's just say he's not exactly running away from The Paleo Solution.  So ...

Summary of Fallon's Review:
1.  Too high protein (and dry and bland)
2.  Too low fat, low saturated fat in particular
3.  Robb Wolf is inconsistent and all over the map on saturated fat in the book.
4.  Not high enough in carbs to make up for #2.

The review focuses mostly on the diet provided on page 218.  OK ... I missed this one in the first read through, or I would have noted over time that we now have three versions of *the* paleo diet in the book!  That's right.  Robb describes his first two miracle meals on paleo:  
I bought a pack of ribs from Whole Foods, along with salad fixings. I made a rub of garlic and ginger powder for the ribs and set them baking in the oven. I made a salad of field greens, fennel, and sweet red onions. Two hours later, the timer on the oven rang, and I reset it for twenty minutes to let the meat “rest” (which seemed odd considering it was already dead). When the second timer rang, I cut off a section of ribs and piled my plate high with salad. I garnished the whole mess with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I ate. And ate, and ate. About six ribs and a pound of salad later I was warmly satisfied, clear headed, and I felt better than I had in years. After one meal. I had no gas, no bloat, and no stomach problems. That night I slept better than I had in recent memory. I woke up the next day rested and not in a fog. I made scrambled eggs with chopped basil and rounded things out with half a cantaloupe. I felt great! I had energy, I could think. I actually felt like I wanted to live.    (pgs. 20-21)
There are no ribs to be had on your first 30 days, however.  Those menus are three meals and a snack and work out to one small fruit per day.  He cooks with olive oil, for example 2 tsp for a pound of beef tip steak, or a "little bit of coconut oil" for a baking dish for a pound of salmon.   In the entire week, you get sweet potato hash at one meal, most veggies are steamed, most eggs are poached or hard boiled, white turkey meat, stewed pork tenderloin, etc.

This still differs considerably from the diet on page 218 that Fallon pans.  That diet comes from Loren Cordain from an article entitled:  The Nutritional Characteristics of a Contemporary Diet Based Upon Paleolithic Food Groups.

The gram measures may be deceiving to those that aren't used to them vs. American measures.  This sample day adds up to 321g meat, 333g fish, 988g fruit, 987g veg and 56g nuts (if we count tomatoes and avocados as veggies, 534g fruit and 1441g veg.)   This equates to just about 3/4 pound each of meat and fish, over 2 pounds each of fruit and veggie (or over a pound of fruit and 3 pounds of veggies), and 2 oz nuts.  Yeah ... a pound of broccoli for dinner in addition to a salad seems a bit over the top, eh?  Cordain writes of this diet (in 2002, still this century if that matters to you):
There is now substantial evidence to indicate that the absolute amount of dietary fat is less important in lowering blood lipid levels and reducing the risk for CVD than is the relative concentrations of specific dietary fatty acids.  Low (22% energy) and high (39% energy) fat diets which had identical (polyunsaturated/saturated) (n3/n6) and (monounsaturated/total fat) fatty acid ratios produced no significant differences in total or LDL cholesterol following a 50 day trial.  Hypercholesterolemic fatty acids include 12:0, 14:0, 16:0, and trans-9 18:1, whereas monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fatty acids are hypocholesterolemic, and 18:0 is neutral. Omega 3 PUFA have wide-ranging cardiovascular protective capacities including lowering of plasma VLDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol (TG) concentrations.   Consequently, it is entirely possible to consume relatively high fat diets that do not necessarily produce a plasma lipid profile that promotes CVD given sufficient MUFA, PUFA, and an appropriate n6/n3 PUFA ratio relative to the hypercholesterolemic fatty acids.
Although more than 50 % of the energy in the contemporary Paleolithic diet is derived from animal foods, the saturated fat content (7.0% energy) not only falls within recommended healthful limits ( < 10 % energy), but also within limits (< 7 %) for individuals with elevated LDL cholesterol concentrations or CVD.   The dominant fats in the example diet are cholesterol lowering MUFA (17.2 % energy) and PUFA (10.4 % energy). MUFA may also confer additional cardiovascular protective effects beyond lowering serum cholesterol by its ability to reduce LDL oxidizability, a key step in the atherosclerotic process.
Now, this comes out to quite a bizarre diet and version of paleo, but this is what Robb Wolf has IN HIS BOOK.  This is even higher in protein than the 30-35% figure cited by Fallon.  We're talking over 200 grams of protein for a young woman!!  I thought I ate pretty high protein, but that is a lot of protein!!   Did Sally Fallon Morell mischaracterize Robb's paleo diet?  No.  She did not.   Did she err in her own concerns?  I believe so.  Fallon wrote:
... the high protein content, along with vitamin D supplements ... can rapidly deplete vitamin A. When vitamin A is depleted, we are vulnerable to all sorts of medical conditions, particularly autoimmune disease. 
I put this diet quickly into FitDay and here's the micronutrient breakdown.

While RDAs tend to be low, I think folks consuming the above diet, even with Vitamin D supplementation, are safe from Vitamin A depletion.  Sally continues ...
The second danger is a deficiency of saturated fat. Our bodies need saturated fat in large amounts―to build cell membranes for one thing (which need to be at least 50 percent saturated to work properly) and to support hormone formation and the immune system. The fats in Wolf's diet are mostly monounsaturated, with saturated fats comprising a measly 18 grams (just over 1 tablespoon) per day. When we do not get enough saturated fat in the diet, the body can make these from carbohydrates―but carbs are not allowed in the diet either. The result is either severe deficiency in saturated fat (for those with will power to stay on the diet) or bingeing and splurging on refined carbs and foods rich in saturated fat, like chocolate and ice cream.
The above is the stuff of pure fantasy.  Sorry.  And I'll invoke the paleotype's favorite fatty hunter-gatherers on this one!  That's right, the Inuit.  Who don't consume near as high fat a diet as is often portrayed, but are likely well under 10% saturated fat intake because their mainstay seal fat contains only about that much.  Or how about the paleotype's favorite sat fatty hunter-gatherers, the Kitavan.  Yeah, well their long chain sat fat intake is also lacking at ~30% of ~17% total sat fat (roughly only 5%!) I'm surprised Fallon hasn't dispatched a rescue party.   At least the Kitavan have enough carbs to make their own I suppose.... (Shhh!  This paleo diet has over 75g sugars for that!)

Perhaps Robb didn't notice the macro breakdown provided in Cordain's article.   Somehow I doubt that.  But this really matters not, because it made it into his book.  Even considering the somewhat more liberal-with-the-olive oil 30 day menus, Robb's version of paleo is simply not what is portrayed and sold under the term "paleo" these days, and graces the pages of the myriad and sundry cook books (or as popular-guru endorsed products), and this seems to be the rebuttal from those folks.   This may be a fair cry from them, but it cannot be a fair rebuttal for Robb, because he owns this diet.  This version.  In this book.

Now here's the good part if you are into evidence based nutritional recommendations.  The diets in Robb's book resemble the diets used in clinical trials in large part.  Those diets tested in the clinical studies of paleo, use lean meat and use minimal-to-no added fats.  There's no dairy allowed, raw, grassfed, coconut clonked or otherwise.  That's a biggie.  No getting around it.  And speaking of coconuts, I don't see them as their own food group there either.

However small the studies, short duration, limited ... they have all produced some manner of beneficial result despite Fallon's worries over saturated fat deficiency or excessive unpalatable lean animal protein.  Robb's and Cordain's versions of paleo are on the higher end of fat content, but at 7% and 17g, quite low in saturated fat -- as are all clinical paleo diets.

Fat aside, what of the other proscriptions in Wolfpaleo?  No grains.  No legumes.  Because Satan's excrement (that didn't make the book) and all that.  Just before Fallon mentions Wolf's concessions for alcohol and coffee, she writes this:
Other inconsistencies abound: Wolf says grains and legumes are bad because they contain phytate acid, lectins and enzyme inhibitors. Nuts also contain phytic acid, lectins and enzyme inhibitors, but they are allowed. He ignores all the evidence for grain consumption in primitive groups, and the widespread consumption of high-carb foods like yams, cassava, tubers and bananas. Dairy foods are dismissed in one short sidebar as a source of gut-irritating proteins (true, when they are pasteurized), antinutrients (none that we know of in dairy, at least not in raw dairy) and protease inhibitors (none in dairy foods), with no discussion of milk consumption among populations of healthy Laplanders, Mongolians, Southeast Asians, Africans and traditional European societies.
Again, the modern paleos -- the primals if you will -- have largely embraced dairy, especially that which WAPF would approve.  Most are on the anti-O6 kick and still bring up the lectin and phytate thing, but then retire to their kitchens to bake with almond flour ... but I'll concede that on these points, at least, Wolf and Cordain remain pretty resolute.  On paper anyway.

So how about the fallout from Fallon's latest "attack"?  The comments on social media were of the "he has changed his mind", "changed his opinions", "stated on the podcast how his views have changed", etc.  variety.  Such as:
Earth to paleo community ... In the real world when someone goes to learn about a particular program -- be it diet, fitness or method for counting cards in Vegas -- they generally go to the original source.  No, Sally, nor I, nor anyone else for that matter, need not read every blog post or listen to a bunch of podcasts to glean the nuances of how Robb's opinions or dietary views have changed over the years.  That they should be changing or not, I'll get to, but for now, let's stick with where that information belongs if they did.  The proper way to update written materials is ... in written form.  If it's not time for a new book, then perhaps a formal update?  And I'm not talking about his posts on carbs which in the end didn't say anything concrete other than to bash his readers.

Is paleo low carb?  Supposedly not, and yet here's a screenshot of his front page right now ... what's that on the very first tab there?  (Nevermind that most of the need for Paleologix is geared towards issues some encounter with low carb and high fat diets).  He can go on about macronutrient agnosticism, truth is Robb is still mired in the flawed ideas about carbohydrates and insulin.  But let's suppose someone clicks through the home page to learn more about the paleo diet.  What is it?  Robb has a tab.  Here's the screenshot:

Eat:  Fruits, Vegetables, Lean Meats, Seafood, Nuts & Seeds, Healthy Fats
Avoid:  Dairy, Grains, Processed Foods & Sugars, Legumes, Starches, Alcohol
Just don't ask him exactly what *THE* healthiest way is -- that's all individual now you see.  It's the *ONLY* diet though.  Can't have it both ways.  What if I want more information?  Why Robb wrote a book about it!  Here's how the book is described, today, 11/21/13, on his website:
I wrote a book called The Paleo Solution which went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. This book incorporates the latest, cutting edge research from genetics, biochemistry and anthropology to help you look, feel and perform your best. I am a research biochemist who traded in his lab coat and pocket protector for a whistle and a stopwatch to become one of the most sought after strength and conditioning coaches in the world. With my unique perspective as both scientist and coach you will learn how simple nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes can radically change your appearance and health for the better.
Now, look at that book there.  Notice a problem with this?  This is not Robb Wolf's Paleo Solution, it is *the* Paleo Solution.    But a more difficult sticking point, still, is the subtitle:  The Original Human DIET.  This is definitive ... as it should be for a diet that's been "old news" for what?  Millions of years now?  The original human diet, if there ever was a single one, was what it was, and to the extent that we know what it was, it hasn't changed in three years (or 30 years or 300 years for that matter).  It is indeed true that new anthropological evidence has surfaced in more recent years and decades to shed light on the composition of this diet ... but the paleos are NOT interested in that because it doesn't fit the anti-grain, anti-legume, general anti-starch basis of "paleo".    No new evidence has come to light about what the paleos portray the so-called caveman diet to be.

In publishing this book, and titling it as he did, Robb sealed his fate, for better or worse, and clearly he's not running away from it or his inflated credentials.  What sort of cutting edge, unique takes from an ... ahem ... former research biochemist turned coach?    Well, I wonder if Sally doesn't read my blog as she highlighted the same passage (blue) that I did in this post:
Palmitic acid is 16 carbons long, fully saturated, and commonly found in palm oil and animal products, including beef, eggs, milk, poultry, and seafood. Palmitic acid has long been implicated in CVD, as it tends to raise LDL cholesterol. Among the saturated fats, it would appear palmitic acid does pose the greatest likelihood of increasing LDL cholesterol. However, palmitic acid has also recently been shown to be vital both to forming new memories and accessing long-held memories. As we shall see when we investigate how our diet has changed, a Paleo diet supplies an adequate amount of palmitic acid for optimum cognitive function while limiting the intake to levels that are not harmful to the cardiovascular system. It is also important to note that excessive carbohydrate intake leads to palmitic acid production. If you recall from the insulin chapter, when liver glycogen is full, additional carbohydrate is converted to palmitic acid. This process appears to blunt our sensitivity to leptin, which then inhibits our satiety to a normal meal. This is the beginning of insulin resistance and is at the heart of the mechanism of how we cease to respond to food by feeling "full."
I won't repeat my post, it might be worth a gander if you're new here.  Basically Robb suffered a bit of a fit of science-y verbal diarrhea here, what with the unreferenced mention of memories and throwing everything out there to see what would stick.  If you're going to bring the science, then bring it.  Otherwise leave your lab tech coat where you left it!   Robb's current "work" with the Reno law enforcement program is aimed at lowering LDL particle number -- through diet and medication.  Try as he might ... a mainstream approach to cholesterol, risk assessment, and yes, management.  One that Fallon and her organization is at odds with it would appear.  Hence the thumbs down.  This is not to support or vindicate Fallon, because if the Reno program is using a diet inspired by Robb Wolf's book, then it's nothing out of the mainstream and low saturated fat, if not low fat over all.

Bottom line:  If anything had changed since the publication of the book, the current page about the diet, on his website, would be where Robb should guide potential readers as to the what, wheres and whys.  He does not.  Instead, we get the following -- again, current content 11/21/13 --
Saturated fat has been demonized by our health authorities and media. What is the basis for this position on Saturated fat? Are current recommendations for VERY low saturated fat intake justified? How much saturated fat (and what types), if any should one eat? Without a historical and scientific perspective these questions can be nearly impossible to answer. In this paper Prof. Cordain looks at the amounts and types of saturated fats found in the ancestral diet:  Saturated fat consumption in ancestral human diets: implications for contemporary intakes.
That article is not only in stark contrast to everything else that bears Cordain's name, but if he believes it, should be published as a manifesto along with a demand that Wolf publish a disclaimer on Cordain's diet presented in his book!   But Frassetto!  Lindeberg!  Paleo!!!  So Cordain won't, and Wolf certainly won't, and both will simply ignore when paleo becomes synonymous with bacon and butter, not to mention dark chocolate.  Unless and until Cordain comes out, Wolf certainly won't because Loren Cordain was his mentor.  He "studied" under him -- which is a funny thing because Loren Cordain is in the Health & Exercise Science department and has his PhD in Exercise Physiology.  He doesn't even teach a class in paleolithic nutrition ... which begs the obvious question how Robb became a "world leading expert" in such a topic in the first place.

The "paleo diet" traces back to the Eaton & Konner paper, and this version is the one that Cordain sought to bring to the mainstream and is cited in most books.   As recently as 2010, they updated their version of paleo.  Nothing has changed.    Robb couldn't very well have written a book and expected Cordain's endorsement were he to counsel bacon and eggs, prime rib with butter and NorCals.   And he cannot do so front and center on his website either.  For all the tweeting about tequila and going along with the butter and bacon crowd, Robb remains indebted to the version of paleo that got him to where he is.  Because of that, he stands tall upon a house of cards ... or more like sits on a fence ... which someone should remind him tends to not end well for the genitalia the longer you try to do it.

So everyone else can sit around bashing Fallon for her review and making excuses for Robb.  I won't be one of them.   There's one question still on the table here.  It should be simple for Robb Wolf to answer for himself.  What was the saturated fat content of THE paleolithic original human diet, and what were the sources.   To the best of my knowledge he has never answered that ... even with the disclaimer "My current state of knowledge is that ....".

For better or worse, we do know the position of the Weston A. Price Foundation on the topic.  To the best of my knowledge that position has not changed much, if any, over the years.  This is not to agree with all of those positions, but at least they have the courage of their convictions to state their case, unequivocally, and defend it.  Far more than can be said for paleo "leaders" like Robb.

Oh ... you wanted my review of his book?  It's a horrible read, contradicts itself, and includes a ton of opinion as fact and unreferenced information.  This is not surprising as the author was never a research scientist, doesn't know the difference between an experiment and an observational study, falls for all manner of quackery, changes his mind on a whim, and has no special training or demonstrated knowledge of nutrition basics, paleo or otherwise.  There's nothing groundbreaking in the science or nutrition department.  Lastly, any book that contains the term cock-blocked and calls vegans the devil is just one I'd never recommend no matter the author.   Howzzat?

The Original Human Diet is:  high protein from lean meats and seafood ... high low starch veggie ... fruit (? high or low depends on the version in the book) ... low/no starch ... grain and dairy FREE ... period ... and low saturated fat.  Some would even say VERY low.  


charles grashow said…
SO - what about this paper that Cordain co-authored in 2004 (this century as well)

Optimal low-density lipoprotein is 50 to 70 mg/dl
Lower is better and physiologically normal

James H O'Keefe, MD*; Loren Cordain, PhD†; William H Harris, PhD*; Richard M Moe, MD, PhD*; Robert Vogel, MD

We live in a world very different from that for which we are genetically adapted. Profound changes in our environment began with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry 10,000 years ago, too recent on an evolutionary time scale for the human genome to adjust. As a result of this ever-worsening discordance between our ancient genetically determined biology and the nutritional, cultural, and activity patterns in modern populations, many of the so-called diseases of civilization, including atherosclerosis, have emerged. Evidence from hunter-gatherer populations while they were still following their indigenous lifestyles showed no evidence for atherosclerosis, even in individuals living into the seventh and eighth decades of life (15-16). These populations had total cholesterol levels of 100 to 150 mg/dl with estimated LDL cholesterol levels of about 50 to 75 mg/dl. The LDL levels of healthy neonates are even today in the 30 to 70 mg/dl range.
Healthy, wild, adult primates show LDL levels of approximately 40 to 80 mg/dl (17).
In fact, modern humans are the only adult mammals, excluding some domesticated animals, with a mean LDL level over 80 mg/dl and a total cholesterol over 160 mg/dl 15-16 (Figure 1). Thus, although an LDL level of 50 to 70 mg/dl seems excessively low by modern American standards, it is precisely the normal range for individuals living the lifestyle and eating the diet for which we are genetically adapted.
Thumbdriver said…
I could never get over how poorly The Paleo Solution was written... I followed the paleo scene pretty closely, and nobody ever said anything about it. Am I alone in feeling like it is written at a really low reading level? At least Taubes writes *well*...
carbsane said…
Hunter gatherers are illiterate so ... Interesting interview with Cordain there.
carbsane said…
Robb was originally slated to be interviewed for Cholesterol Clarity. But he is in the business of reducing risk by reducing cholesterol levels - it's just with Dayspring's focus on LDL-P . Plus they use statins. He claims that his magic diet gets better results so that they are using a lower dose than is even considered effective (no proof of this, but ...) , but there's NO way this diet is a high sat fat version of paleo.
charles grashow said…
Has Robb ever stated what dose of statins they used in the Reno study?
charles grashow said…
He mentioned that he was using generic statins that cost $10 for 3 months - probably from Wal Mart

lovastatin - 10mg & 20 mg
pravastatin - 10 mg, 20 mg & 40 mg

Lipitor is available as a generic (atorvastin) but the generic is not available as $4/month or $10/3 month drug
carbsane said…
Found it!

Google is an amazing thing sometimes :-)

I would love to see some proof of this claim.
charles grashow said…
SO - Robb Wolf and Dr Scott Hall are using diet and drugs to treat to a LDL-C <100 and a LDL-P <1000

BUT - I thought that LDL-C was irrelevant - it was the size of the particle that counted!

Here's a slide show of their presentation

And the video

And the original article in Police Chief Magazine
Bris Vegas said…
The irony is that Weston A Price DDS and his family were vegetarians.
Bris Vegas said…
Australian supermarkets sell wild harvested kangaroo meat. It contains only 1.3% fat of which a trivial 0.3 is saturated fat.

So eating a massive 1Kg of kangaroo meat would give you 3g (27Cal )of saturated fat - slightly over 1% of your daily calorie intake.
littleums said…
I've always wondered about Robb's research biochemist credentials. Have you covered this in a post? I feel like there's a lot of inflated credentials in the paleosphere. And even for those who do have impressive credentials (Sarah Ballantyne - maybe?), they seem to highlight them more prominently and loudly than any academic researcher that I know.
charles grashow said…
Any proof for that statement?
carbsane said…
Vegetarians would seem to be a stretch. But I Googled and found vegesource making a similar claim which led me to this letter:

"The basic foods should be the entire grains such as whole wheat, rye or oats, whole wheat and rye breads, wheat and oat cereals, oat-cake, dairy products, including milk and cheese, which should be used liberally, and marine foods. All marine or sea foods, both fresh and salt water, are high in minerals and constitute one of the very best foods you could eat. Canned fish such as sardines, tuna or salmon are all excellent; also the fresh seafood such as oysters, halibut, haddock, etc. The protein requirement can be provided each day in one egg or a piece of meat equivalent to the bulk of one egg a day. The meals can be amply modified and varied with vegetables, raw and cooked, the best of the cooked vegetables being lentils used as a soup. The cooked vegetables are cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus tips and celery. Lettuce is the best of the raw vegetables."

I find it somewhat amusing the Editors note:

Editor’s Note: Weston Price probably wrote this in 1934, after his research of isolated Swiss villagers and Gaelic islanders, but before he had visited groups whose diets were higher in animal products, such as the Eskimos and Africans. He therefore placed more emphasis on grains than he might have later in his career. Remember also that he is writing during the Depression, when meat was expensive. Many people today find that they do very poorly on a high grain diet.

Only the meat the Eskimos consumed is not pork and beef either.
David Madarro said…
You answered your own question Evelyn, follow the money haha. Robb praises Cordain, Cordain returns the favor. Golden handshake right there.

The biggest beef I have with Paleo, is that there's no clear definition of what it actually is. I mean, if you say "I eat Paleo, BUT.... I also eat some of this & that" (the forbidden stuff), how can you say you're still Paleo?

Aren't you just a normal human being, eating a somewhat balanced diet eh? Oh wait, no money in that! ;-)

These gurus are in too deep now, absolute claims are all over the place, and that's a very dangerous thing to backtrack from without losing face / business. They're gonna milk that cow for as long as they can.
carbsane said…
I haven't blogged on it specifically, but he's a guy with a biochemistry degree (from the chemistry department - this is important b/c physiology is not the emphasis in such programs and nutrition? Nope.) who worked in a lab. This is not a research biochemist. This little montage will make it into a post some day :D I compiled a few screenshots as I was reading his various and sundry claims. Seems he processed blood samples to analyze lipid levels at a facility that did cancer research.

Crossfit used to have him do nutrition seminars. He doesn't even have a certification. It's pretty ridiculous.
carbsane said…
This is what got me in trouble. Asking for a definition. "They" don't like the caricatures and stereotypes, but they go a long way to perpetuate them. The pictures that come from each of these conferences solidify that.

For my part I mostly care that people are given accurate information on the healthfulness of their choices. You can't point to the studies and say that *the* diet reverses diabetes and improves CVD markers when your actual diet bears NO resemblance to what subjects in some study ate.

Expanded on that quite a bit here:

And heck ... still love this Twitter exchange :-)
Dan said…
Funny you criticize Robb's credentials on a site with even fewer.
charles grashow said…
Do we have any idea what Weston Price's diet was like? What he actually ate?
carbsane said…
Clearly you have no idea what you are talking about.
carbsane said…
BTW ... It's not just his credentials. It's his lack of demonstrated knowledge. Don't forget he was instrumental in promoting Jack Kruse in the community, and he is very gullible when every new gimmick comes along.
charles grashow said…

Legume consumption by Neanderthals

Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) were a hominin species closely related to modern humans. They lived as hunter-gatherers in similar environments to some humans, and are thought to have eaten a diet rich in animal foods. However, evidence is accumulating that their diets also included a large variety of plant foods, including wild legumes and grains. Some of the most compelling evidence comes from the analysis of Neanderthal tooth plaque, which contains recognizable evidence of plant food consumption (2):

Our data show that Neanderthals in both environments included a spectrum of plant foods in their diets, including grass seeds (Triticeae cf. Hordeum), dates (Phoenix), legumes (Faboideae), plant underground storage organs, and other yet-unidentified plants, and that several of the consumed plants had been cooked. The identified plant foods from Shanidar match well with the soil phytoliths and macrobotanical remains found at other Neanderthal sites in the Near East, whereas those from Spy show use of USOs as predicted for European Neanderthals. Neanderthals’ consumption of these starchy plant foods does not contradict data from isotope analysis, because nitrogen isotopes record only the consumption of meat and protein-rich plant foods.

Did Neanderthals enjoy peas and fava beans? It certainly appears that they did.

Humans are thought to have eaten a more diverse diet than Neanderthals in the Upper Paleolithic, and one that relied more on small game and plant resources than the Neanderthal diet (at least after the "broad-spectrum revolution"). It's hard to imagine that our human ancestors in Europe passed up these plant foods that Neanderthals relied on.


Beans and lentils appear to be Paleo. Peanuts are probably Paleo too. But I would eat them even if they weren't.
John Mitchell said…
Ancient dental plaque residues will never demonstrate meat consumption due to rapid decomposition. This plaque will thus distort conclusions on Neanderthal diets.
Looking at animal bone scrapings, and marrow collection evidence shows large amounts of animal products in Neanderthal diets.....NOT plants.
John Mitchell said…
carbsane: please state your credentials
Bris Vegas said…
Only 15% of biochemistry PhD graduates get a research position. Robb only has a bachelors degree in biochemistry. So I greatly doubt he has ever had any role more important than a junior lab technician.
Bris Vegas said…
Translation: "I performed routine sampling in a laboratory".

The ONLY people who perform actual research in biomedical laboratories are PhD students and postdocs. Anyone with a bachelors degree will only be performing the most basic and routine tasks such as sample preparation.
Bris Vegas said…
The fossil record is virtually worthless. Bones are vastly more likely to be preserved than plant matter. The likelihood of finding preserved fruit or vegetable remains is almost nil even if they are the main food source. eg a discarded apple core would be eaten within a day or two by wild animals.
carbsane said…
This is a gross oversimplification. One can do research w/o a PhD. But it would appear that Robb did not.
carbsane said…
I think you'll find them up there on the right sidebar. Why don't you ask Robb if he's ever even taken a college level class in nutrition. He's a doctor now you know. Treating people with glioblastoma over the internet without a license.
George said…
You have to assume that Aborigine peoples made good use of other parts of the animal, which would need to store fat for its own purposes.
Their diet also made use of grubs which are a fairly good fat source, eggs, reptiles, birds, etc.
However the Aborigines were surviving in some of the harshest conditions on earth and did not exactly have access to much bioavailable carbohydrate either.
Carnivores probably run on a 1:2 - 1:3 ratio of protein to fat per calorie on average.
Caribou, a land mammal with fat stores for warmth, was a staple of Inuit besides sea animals.
Screennamerequired said…
I was speaking to a guy the other day who had "gone paleo" recently. I didn't mention that I have followed the diet and blogs for years. He told me the typical storyline about perils of wheat and legumes and how we are not meant to be eating them. He also eats very little fruit. He then mentioned that he eats dairy, chocolate and coconut oils because it's OK if you tolerate them. So then I told him about my paleo diet that also includes rye, oats, legumes and orange juice because I tolerate them.
Screennamerequired said…
Robbs Paleo Solution actually recommends optimal TC of around 150, and an optimal LDL of around 70, because that's what most hunter gatherers were close to. But then he goes on to recite the old low carb storyline about how "current research" shows what really matters is having "large and fluffy" non athrogenic LDL.
carbsane said…
Where there is ZERO intellectual honesty in this game is this cholesterol thing. They ALL point to this or that study that improves some pet lipid subfraction and generally doesn't do much to the rest as proof of the efficacy of the diet. Then when folks implement "modern paleo" they find themselves over at PaleoHacks posting about their LDL that tripled and how can that be? Then the WAPF-inspired brigade swoops in and says anything under 300 is all fine and dandy ... just make sure you aren't tired after lunch or have a BG ever go over 140. (Shanahan garbage)
carbsane said…
As I responded to your other comment, this is a gross oversimplification. This varies widely with context as well. Which is why it is important that Robb described his work as he did. It is funny that he did this in the context of bragging ;-)
charles grashow said…
In his Reno Police study Robb used statins and dietary modification to drop LDL to <100 and LDL-P to around 1000.

So - either TC/LDL matters or it doesn't.

JM's co-author Dr. Eric Westman has said that high LDL-P in the context of the SAD is somehow different than high LDL-P on a VLCHF diet.

My question is exactly when did paleo morph into a high saturated fat diet when no research ever indicated it was?

Why is bacon considered paleo? Did Grok have pigs available?

Why is coconut oil considered paleo? Were coconuts available to Grok?

Has Robb ever explained how one can get their LDL around 7p0 and TC around 150 on a high saturated fat paleo diet?

Where is his criticism of the VLCHF people - JM in particular?

The silence is deafening.
carbsane said…
Seems that some more recent works are focusing on wear patterns on teeth. This, of course, goes ignored by the paleos.
charles grashow said…
The futility of citing one study after another, using science or logic
will not alter the minds and agendas of those profiting from the appeal
of a meat-based diet.
Perhaps Robb needs to release a version 2.0 of his book, like Paul did with Perfect Health Diet?

On a side topic, Carbsane, what book(s) written for the average person do you think get the most right?
Dan said…
You reap what you sow. That's the only reason I can see someone as positive as Robb replying in such a way. In fact, seems like the best reply, as you've shown for quite a while now that dialog is not what you want, it's attention.
Dan said…
Robb's credentials are what they are. The only inflating I see going on is you trying to argue that you have better credentials than he does when you have equally unrelated degrees/experience. Again, it comes back to the purpose of all of this: more attention for you. It comes down to you wanting to feel like a big fish, and in the tiny pond of 'paleo bashing' you seem like a whale.
carbsane said…
First of all, I can question his credentials whether or not mine are more or less related. HE is claiming to be a former research biochemist (by all indications a huge stretch but on a technicality not an outright lie) and an expert on paleolithic nutrition (world leading!) from which he wrote a book. One of Fallon's criticisms was of his unsubstantiated statements in the book. There are a ton of them.

That said, I have my degree in biology and real life experience studying metabolism. There are a lot of people that say my MS is irrelevant, but these are the same people who say that they don't understand thermodynamics and we are not steam engines and go on and on about non-stoichiometric phenomenon as if electrons fly out of our mitochondria, etc. Corrosion/electrochemistry, specifically pitting phenomena involve a thorough understanding of electrochemical thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, and very similar concepts of coupled re-dox reactions and EMF driving reactions, etc.

So I let you get your not-so-clever whale snit in, and you can go back to kissing Robb's butt now OK? :-)
carbsane said…
I don't know where my own responses went ... perhaps I forgot to hit Post :(

This notion that nose-to-tail is going to get you into super-high fat is also quite misleading. Of the non-muscle edible parts you have marrow, brain and intestines that are high or higher in fat. How much does a kanga brain weigh? Looks like you'd get a bit of marrow.

Liver, heart, etc. are not supposed to be fatty and are not in normal wild animals.

While surely we're up from sub 5% fat, the O'Dea study demonstrated the difficulty in even meeting caloric needs on animal life.
carbsane said…
I have yet to come across a mass media diet book that gets it right. There's always a schtick. One also has to separate the diet itself from the book/rationale. In this regard, Paul's book, the closer you look and the more you listen to his evolving rationales is pretty horrible. Sorry to say. I also think his diet is ill advised for anyone consuming over about 2000 cal/day as there is no justification for that high a fat diet and getting most/all calories over 1200 (the top carb and protein recs) in fat is not supported by traditional diets, clinical trials or what we know of human metabolism. Sisson's and Wolf's diets are good for weight loss and older men, they aren't so great for most women or younger men, especially in maintenance. The rationale for both is scientifically sketchy at best. The Zone is probably best, but Sears insistence on never eating large meals and meeting macro ratios each time you eat lacks any scientific or even practical support. I cannot support a diet that counsels avoidance of all animal products. A whole foods Mediterranean approach generally seems the most sound for the most people -- just avoid foods that are "allowed" to which you are sensitive.

I'm sure there are books out there. Maybe I'll write one ;-) It wouldn't be very exciting though. Just the facts on nutrition. Might still be worthwhile to do.
carbsane said…
No clue. Couldn't find much on quick glance, too busy with other projects to waste the time.
carbsane said…
Robb is a liar. So you can think of me what you want, but I've published up our email exchanges and his lies. This is not a positive person, and I think there are likely a ton of people who have dealt with him over the years -- such as the CrossFit folks -- that think otherwise.

A truly positive person would have welcomed the chance to provide details on the diet that was supposedly reaping so much benefit in Reno. He preferred to be evasive. QED.
Thanks! My guess is I consume a high amount of calories. Probably over 3,000 a day, so this is very interesting to me.

I'd love to read your book should you write one.
George said…
It's easy to forget, because it was so long ago, that the most fertile parts of the Paleolithic world, those that sustained the largest Paleolithic populations for longest, were exactly those taken over by mesolithic and neolithic civilisations as we evolved. Unless a hunter-gatherer population is still in control of prime land its habits may not be representative. Further back, before cooking our ancestors would have had problems getting high amounts of starch from their foodstuffs (sugars would have been easier). Animals and HGs who eat large amounts of phyto"nutrient"-rich vegetation often medicate for the toxicity using clay, charcoal.
If we are searching the anthropological records for HGs who eat plant-based diets we should also keep an eye out for these antidotes.
Maybe bentonite is the answer to GI and autoimmune problems, not Paleo. A pound of clay a day might keep the doctor away.
charles grashow said…

Hoyes, a paleoethnobotanist who specializes in reconstructing prehistoric subsistence, stated that only thing unifying the myriad diets that she’s studied has been their diversity. “You simply do not see specific, trans-regional trends in human subsistence in the
archaeological record. People can live off everything from whale blubber to seeds and grasses. You want to know what the ideal human diet consists of? Everything. Humans can and will eat everything, and we are remarkably successful not in spite of this fact, but because of it. Our adaptability is the hallmark of the human species. We’re not called
omnivores for nothing.”

“Nearly every food item you currently eat today has been modified from its ancestral form, typically in a drastic way, ” he [Karl Fenst] began. “The notion that we have not yet adapted to eat wheat, yet we have had sufficient time to adapt to kale or lentils is ridiculous. In fact, for most practitioners of the Paleo Diet, who are typically westerners, the majority of the food they consume has been available to their gene pool for less than five centuries. Tomatoes, peppers, squash,potatoes, avocados, pecans, cashews, and blueberries are all New World crops, and have only been on the dinner table of African and Eurasian populations for probably 10 generations of their evolutionary history.
Europeans have been eating grain for the last 10,000 years; we’ve been eating sweet potatoes for less than 500. Yet the human body has seemingly adapted perfectly well to yams, let alone pineapple and sunflower seeds.”

When asked what she would tell people who wished to pursue a true paleolithic diet, Dr. Hoyes laughed harshly before replying. ”You really want to be paleo? Then don’t buy anything from a store. Gather and kill what you need to eat. Wild grasses and tubers, acorns, gophers, crickets- They all provide a lot of nutrition. You’ll spend a lot of
energy gathering the stuff, of course, and you’re going to be hungry, but that’ll help you maintain that lean physique you’re after. And hunting down the neighbor’s cats for dinner because you’ve already eaten your way through the local squirrel population will probably give you all the exercise you’ll ever need.”

Summing up what many considered to be the main point of the entire conference, she told reporters:

“Look, the diet itself is sound; it’s the philosophy that’s bullshit. Eat what you want. Just leave the damn cavemen out of it.”
Screennamerequired said…
I don't know, but I knew of someone who helped out for a Weston Price foundation until they left because they said the foundation was strongly agenda driven and grossly misrepresented Weston price's recommendations on their website to suit their wants or needs. It's pretty easy to see how when you see some of the rubbish they claim and misinterpret in their articles. Wouldn't surprise me if Weston price would want nothing to do with them if he was still around.
Bris Vegas said…
The Harvard School of Public Health has an excellent set of guidelines. In summary:

-a large amount of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains,

-avoid red meat,dairy, and eggs.

-avoid processed foods and alcohol
-limited poultry and fish.

Bris Vegas said…
Walter Willett (Harvard nutrition) summarised the pseudoscience behind the paleo diet by saying "there are no fossil carrots".
Screennamerequired said…
You realize that pretty clearly after a while following the bloggers. They backtrack and deny any evidence that shows having high cholesterol isn't a good idea so they can promote the fatty forbidden foods that no paleo dieter would want to go without. You start a thread on cholesterol on a paleo forum and half will tell you high cholesterol is good, half will blame it on a thyroid for tell that dramatic weight loss causes inaccurate measurements and they should recheck in a year.

It's also a case of selecting hearing and seeing what they want to justify their love for butter. Here's an almost comical thread about Cordain saying that saturated fat is ok to eat, but it will cause plaque build up in your arteries. But it's ok unless it ruptures and causes a heart attack. Basically everyone in the thread says "yay for saturated fat" until one logical person posts on the second page that maybe they don't want fatty plaque filled arteries.
Screennamerequired said…
"But is that also erroneous or wishful thinking? Sure?"
It's absolutely ridiculous thinking in my opinion. You don't need metabolic syndrome to have heart disease at all. It just greatly increases the risk.
It's like saying I'm going to start chain smoking and whisky drinking everyday and assume it's ok because there's no studies showing that they aren't health risk factors if I also eat a healthy diet.
Bris Vegas said…
Medical researchers are invariably grossly overqualified due to a massive oversupply of PhDs. Most of the PhDs are doing quite routine lab work under direct supervision. Anyone who hasn't got a PhD will only have a Homer Simpson level of responsibility.
Bris Vegas said…
An Eastern Grey Kangaroo, the most common species, weighs 40-60Kg of which around 1/3rd is of usable meat (the legs are basically all bone and tendons) and a brain the
size of a golf ball.

The meat needs to be divided between the 10-30 members of an extended family so the amount of fat consumed is negligible.
carbsane said…
It's sad, because ... yet again ... the WAPF diet in principle is pretty sound ... but surround it with woo woo and agenda-driven rationale and :( They are vehemently, irrationally anti-soy. Hey, I get that Tofurkey isn't a food, but ... I swear SFM would probably say she could die now if Obama waived his hand and raw milk was the only thing available and given freely to all from cradle to grave.
More importantly, is there any proof--in some of these folk--that endothetial biology and arterial walls have been normalised?

As for inflammation markers, while many low carbers do get some reductions in C-RP, that could very well come down to weight loss. On some other website, I ran into someone--only interested in inflammation even more than cholesterol--who posed the challenge that he wanted to see one decent study demonstrating a paleo or low carb diet lowering inflammation markers more than a corresponding (proper) low fat, low animal-product diet. Someone tossed a study showing that even a low fat refined carbohydrate diet had slightly more favourable effects on homocysteine and C-RP, which were even more pronounced when those carbohydrates were substituted with their unprocessed counterparts.
carbsane said…
Slipped under the radar ... Jimmy Moore had a CIMT done, but the results were reported as a flow rate vs. a thickness. He is about to turn ONLY 42. His result was in the "low risk" category. Now ... that sounds good, except that this is a risk level above "normal".

In at least one study C-RP went up even during weight loss:

I also recall some negative changes (albeit small) in CRP in that Ebbeling study on the LC leg -- this being after weight loss and switching between maintenance diets.
carbsane said…
This is simply not true. Sorry. Fresh out of college I had more than a Homer Simpson level of responsibility, and my responsibilities increased as I gained experience.
charles grashow said…

It says

Cut back on red meat, cheese, milk, and ice cream. Red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and dairy products are high in saturated
fat. So eat less red meat (especially red processed meat, such as bacon), and choose fish, chicken, nuts, or beans instead. If you do eat red meat, choose lean cuts and keep the amounts low. Low-fat and reduced-fat cheeses are often not so low in fat—and are often higher in sodium than regular cheese. So it is best to choose the cheese you like and savor it in small amounts. Low-fat milk may be better than whole milk, but if people drink only low to moderate amounts of milk, this will not make much difference.
charles grashow said…

"many patients have atherosclerotic events when the high-sensitivity (hs) C-reactive protein (CRP) is normal (<1 mg/dL), and patients with the highest levels of hs-CRP (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus) have only a slightly higher frequency of atherosclerotic events than do others of similar age and sex with normal or near-normal hs-CRP levels. The same principle, however, does not apply to cholesterol. The patients with the highest serum levels of total and LDL cholesterol, namely those patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, have an incredibly high frequency of atherosclerotic events, and they have them at very young ages—teenage years. And patients with the next highest serum LDL cholesterol levels, namely those with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, have atherosclerotic events often in their 30s and 40s."
Bris Vegas said…
Sorry but your interpretation is totally wrong. The Harvard Food Plate is unequivocally a plant based diet with extremely limited animal foods.. The originator Walter C Willett explains his personal diet here:

"I usually have Kashi breakfast cereal. It's seven whole grains, and you
cook it for 45 minutes, and then I usually add some nuts and some fruit
that's in season or dried fruit in the winter. Sometimes I take a lunch
with some Kashi and add nuts and salad to it. Or sometimes at school
they have a stir-fry bar or a salad bar, so I'll use one of those. And
for dinner, I usually have some salad, sometimes a bit of chicken or

Note there is no mention of moderate consumption of of red meat or cheese. Willetts' diet is a vegan diet that allows limited poultry and fish.
charles grashow said…
"Cut back on red meat"

"eat less red meat"

"If you do eat red meat, choose lean cuts and keep the amounts low"

Where did it say to ELIMINATE red meat totally??
carbsane said…
Exactly! Folks with this education will take (or should) an upper level class or two (usually lab) involving analysis of research papers and the like. It is a skill that is taught that translates pretty well throughout many disciplines.

I do not wish to denigrate Robb's education. It would appear to be a solid curriculum and it should have given him the skills to broaden his knowledge of nutrition and physiology via academic sources, not mass media diet books and woo woo seminars. His representations of various studies and such, whether in the book, on the blog or on his podcast seem to indicate he has forgotten this part of what he learned.
Scontch Blosward said…
So are we to believe that lifelong fitness buff Robb Wolf had never had a meal resembling that one and that the experience of eating it was so different and enlightening for him that it led to his big epiphany?
carbsane said…
Can you link? I'm familiar with that, but it would take all day to find what you're referring too!
Scontch Blosward said…
You can click on individual links from here:*/