To Bean or Not To Bean ... Why is That Even a Question?

True confession:  I ate beef in a stew last night and I'm in that dangerous age range for doing so according to the latest study that came out.  Finally, a study the paleo community can finally agree on about and rally around!  Paleo for the win!  If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can get a dose of sanity here.

But before mass media hysteria gifted the paleo community with the great unifier -- another meat is bad study -- it was all up in arms over another media circus:  Paleo on the Dr. Oz show!!

That was truly an odd spectacle.  There you had Paleoista, Nell Stephenson, who in her own practice and through her blogging is about as puritanical "paleo" as one could imagine, and Chris Kresser, someone who was at best loosely associated with paleo, but almost from the get-go seemed to be "beyond paleo".

"Bad Paleo"                                                                 "Good Paleo"   
Leaving aside the paleo label for a moment, on the whole, which looks more ancestral, traditional, or "just real food"-ish to you?   My vote goes to the left there, Chris Kresser's version.  To be fair to Nell, she's selling out a bit to Loren Cordain on those cheat meals.  Yes folks, I tracked down that 3 cheat meals per week and it comes from Cordain himself.  
Built into the Paleo Diet is the 85/15 rule, which allows you and your children to cheat and eat three non-Paleo meals per week if you decide to do so.   ~Loren Cordain, The Paleo Answer 2012 
Oh really.  In my last post on this topic, I linked to Cordain's response to this latest episode of Paleo in the land of Oz:  Beans and Legumes: Are They Paleo?  Leaving aside the most sane response to that question -- who the flock cares anymore -- it boggles the mind that the same person who wrote the above in his book would expend the energy to write nearly 5000 words (not including his 79 references) over what?  Kresser suggesting that legumes might be a reasonable part of your diet ... ummm ... THREE TIMES PER WEEK?!!   No!  This kind of paleo non-purity flexibility templatular frameworking cannot be tolerated under the paleo label!!  
I tuned into the Dr. Oz show and was happy about most of what I saw except for Chris Kresser, expounding upon the health virtues of a food group, beans and legumes, that definitely are not Paleo.
So ... let me get this straight.  He's taking issue with Chris saying these evil orbs, ovoids and whatnot can be *part* of a paleo-based diet, but they are just not ever to be called paleo.  If only Chris had called them "cheat meals" he'd have been OK?   Seriously???   Again ...  

S. Boyd Eaton (from Eaton & Konner, 1985, and from AHS12 Presentation)

Anthropologists!!   I have my own incomplete research with various and several citations etc. of evidence of legume consumption in the paleolithic, not to mention among various hunter-gatherer tribes in the neolithic (from which the so-called "paleo diet" was derived).  But instead of listing these, I'll defer to two other sources:
If there is anyone that still believes that legumes are not "paleo", it is because they are hopelessly and haplessly misguided.  Loren Cordain, PhD Exercise Science, is simply not an authority on nutrition in any era, let alone in the paleolithic.  

Before going on, let me get this out of the way.  This is not a personal attack.  This is not gossip or slander or hating on paleo or hating on making a buck or anything of the sort.  It is just my opinion based on the considerable evidence available.  

Paleo is a marketing term.  Period.

It has no meaning other than that.  It is no longer about genetic discordance with the modern diet.  It's not about what humans ate in the paleolithic or even in pre-agricultural cultures.  It is not about the science, anthropological or nutritional.  It is not even about real foods or whole foods.
Chris Kresser adopted the term because it was catchy and because it sold stuff. Plain and simple. This doesn't make him an inherently bad person, but he's an opportunist like all the rest who do the same. He explained this almost two years ago (April 2012) in comments on this very blog:

I suggest that people figure out what their own optimal diet is anyhow.     ~Chris Kresser
I can find no problem with the above highlighted quote taken on its own.  The problem is that you can't say that this is "paleo".  Come on.  Grok.  Stone Age.  Caveman.  The label does not fit and this is what makes things so absurd these days.

Someone I seem to recall hearing about a ways back went on a YouTube rant about this.   This guy used to be an investigator for the FDA and has oodles and oodles of experience.  And, apparently, a big microphone.

It's a bit long, but quite entertaining!  At around the 6:30 minute mark he goes off on Chris and how Loren Cordain invented the paleo diet.  Even disses Robb Wolf and pats himself on the back for not cursing because he's a  LOL.  Have a looksee, I can't say it's worth 10 min of your life, but ya gotta laugh.

There are no legumes Chris!  There is no dairy!
Loren has decreed!

In the context of these screenshots of Gary's website, ya gotta laugh!!

So this guy got in a tiff with Chris on Twitter over this issue.  Gary's premise is that Loren Cordain invented the Paleo Diet and it is what he says it is.  I'd say he's already whey off lecturing Kresser here on that definition!  He's besides himself over this tweet:

Guess he doesn't understand the concept of one's *personal code*.

Yeah ... I'm inclined to agree about using paleo as a money making label, but coming from someone whose website resembles that of marketer extraordinaire Mark Sisson, right down to the supplements, this falls waaaaay flat.  The discussion turned to weight loss when Heath Squier joined in -- this is both @paleoinc and @julianbakery from  herehere, and here.  He even includes this image with glycemic index, insulin index and satiety index.  

Yes.  THAT guy from Julian Bakery of disgraced low carb  fame.  It's been a while since I looked into that, but lo and behold the old JB breads that Jimmy tested in his n=1 and, more importantly, Deborah Krueger discredited through lab testing, have all been discontinued.   

That, by the way, prompted this hilarious video about alternate uses for Smart Carb #2 bread that Julian reformulated once outed.   I was always suspect of these breads.  Sadly, that they lasted as long as they did was a testament to people's willingness to believe in labels when something they really wanted to eat could magically be *on* their plan.   Jimmy Moore used to promote and profit from these breads for years.   It is all still on YouTube such as here, here, and here.  My longer-time readers will all remember this classic pizza made with Purity bread!  Below is a screenshot montage ... some for fun, but the label for information.  Beans, beans and moar beans ... not to mention grains. 

Notice how no "carb addiction" ensued with these breads, though for sure Jimmy would blame that 2009 weight gain on the two slices of this bread in retrospect!     Nobody looking at that label should have believed the nutritional information.  In the Twitter exchange Heath himself acknowledges that he is aware of nutritional databases from which to obtain the nutritional profiles of his ingredients, like those listed at the end of this summary (compiled by Krueger using Bob's Red Mill information).  Looking at the ingredients list, I was always amazed they got away with what they did for so long.  The Purity Bread is listed as 10g carbs and 8g fiber for a carb:fiber ratio of 1.25 when all but the flaxseed meal listed would have average around 25 g carb and 5g fiber for a carb:fiber ratio of 5!   Krueger's test results from Exova labs are here.  

But Jimmy promoted this for diabetics, as he did all the JB breads.  Although he's not a diabetic, Jimmy has had a glucometer long before he turned sub-amateur scientist biohack to support himself.  He could have and should have known these were not low carb.  So when he started throwing all of his previous sponsors under the bus (save for Quest!) he really discredited himself along with those sponsors.  Still, he gave Heath the floor on his LLVLC show to defend himself.   In a nutshell, he did just that with two major themes:
  • We've tested our breads on diabetics and they are great, and
  • People lose weight eating our low carb breads
Oh nevermind.  Those were magic beans in that Purity bread.

So now Heath is in the paleo biz ... because ... he went paleo a few years ago and lost weight.  (And apparently missed bread and similar flour containing entities in his diet).   All of a sudden, legumes are fattening and eating them three times a week will stymie weight loss!  He gets in a few ad hominems as well, accusing Chris for holding his positions because he "might" be a vegan!?!  And yet ... our former FDA Undercover Investigative Scientist Extrasleuthiaire has taken a liking to Heath Squier and his "paleo" breads.  Yes, dragging myself off that tangent and back to the point, Julian Bakery/Paleo Inc. is but one of too-many-to-count manufacturers of paleo sex withyourpantson toys.  There's wraps and waffles and check this!  Paleo maple syrup!!    

screenshot compilation
Yes folks, even though you would be really hard pressed to make a case against maple syrup on anything other than the "its a concentrated form of sugar" basis, and even though real maple syrup requires not much more than tapping a tree, boiling the sap and filtering it, to create ... nope .... there needs to be a "paleo" alternative to this natural food!   This is sweetened with xylitol (I hope PaleoInc is tracking down the source of xylitol or there are going to be some pretty mad paleos if it traces back to GMO corn!!!).  Even if it is from a tree, this is more paleo than sap exactly how?  Not to mention xanthan gum, sorbic acid and citric acid.  I'm not sure about the first two, but I hope he checked with the Caltons for their source of non-GMO citric acid ... yep that too.  

Are you confused yet?!

OK really trying to get back on track here.  

There has been so much controversy and angst in paleo social media over Chris' performance on Dr. Oz.  While I have my own criticisms, I would agree with Angelo Coppola's take around the 22:50 mark here where he points out that Chris is pretty specific that this is *his take* on the paleo diet.  (Angelo has a great speaking style for this gig by the way, and while I don't agree with him on all, he is one of the more reasonable voices out there.  There are lengthy clips of the Dr. Oz show, with the stuff relating to Chris beginning pretty much at the 18 min mark).  Chris is talking about his version of the diet and does distinguish between what some of those advocating paleo are doing.  Basically he does say that what he's advocating or including is not as strict as The Paleo Diet®.  Get that Gary Collins?  He's actually not confusing anyone about paleo if you take it in that light.

I wonder if the irony is totally lost of McPaleo the Nutritional Crime Dog there though.  He and "Paleo Inc." are there on Twitter ranting at Chris for misleading people about what paleo is when both of them fail to do much better.  How, for example, is it not confusing to people to buy in to the entire real whole foods argument and then be told that dairy is NOT paleo but ...
  1. Dairy FAT is OK, just separate it from the protein and carbs, and ...
  2. Whey protein is OK, just separate it from the other stuff, especially the carbs, ... and
  3. Mix paleo ingredients with chocolate and/or dates and/or stevia and/or xylitol and/or dried egg whites etc.etc.etc. and that's OK!  That is "paleo".
  4. Coconut oil is paleo, as are chickens fed coconuts.  Go figure.  I just threw that last on in there.
Just don't tell people legumes are paleo?  SERIOUSLY anymore??

Mr. Paleo Law Enforcement exempts himself from the rules because he apparently prefers to make his money by copycatting off of Mark Sisson's "primal" term.  While those in the community associate primal with more lax form of paleo, to me the verbiage sounds like it should be more "I Caveman" than the hunter gatherer semi-"civilized" (in the societal structure sense) paleo is really based on.  Interestingly enough, as I've stated repeatedly now, there IS evidence for grain and legume consumption in the paleolithic, thus "paleo" could easily accommodate Kresser's "digressions" if they weren't so steeped in marketing their schtick.  There is NOT, however, evidence for dairy, and yet this is the obvious distinguishing concession between the paleo and primal camps.  But I digress yet again ...

Amidst all of this, Chris went on his supplement shill partner in crime's Paleo Solution podcast to defend his honor (here's the transcript).  It's really quite sad how simple it would be if the community as a whole would embrace ... wait for it here ... SCIENCE.   In almost the same breath they discuss legume consumption in hunter gathers and paleolithic ancestors and then tell us ... fuhgettabout it ... we can't even know what paleolithic humans ate after all!  Even after Robb cops to citing a study on food poisoning from undercooked legumes that Chris essentially dismisses.  Any other studies?  In your book, Robb, you say that you could have bored us with a litany of studies demonstrating legumes are as problematic as grains.  Did you lose those or something?  If legumes were really so toxic, don't you think we'd hear about it happening more frequently?  I certainly wonder why we don't.

One might wonder how it is then that Mark Sisson could write a book about re-connecting with our primal genes encoded for consuming such foods, but eh?  He's got a pair of dimes for every time he's been wrong.  It's a little late to draw the line at refined sugar and seed oils even if excessive consumption of both (particularly the latter in fried foods) may be a factor in our problematic modern nutrition.  After all, there is sucrose in Primal Fuel (and maltodextrin).    So in the end paleo is some sort of half-assed elimination diet that we can all eventually ditch whatever tenets of so long as we are not "intolerant" of this or that.  How amazing that we can now evolve within a small fraction of our lifetime and resolve genetic discordance with modern foods.   These two lost face with Paleologix.  They can say or do whatever, and so long as they sell those supplements with the marketing as it is, nothing they say has any meaning.  Robb doubley so, because he can go on about macronutrient agnosticism and tinkering, but so long as the rhetoric on his website doesn't change, he's just a crappy used car salesman in a loin cloth.

But Loren Cordain will not go quietly into the night!  He has recently retired from academia, which might explain his more recent resurgence and dabbling in paleo marketing.  I made that big so you could see the detail!  

I tried to make the nutrition label from Cordain's site big too.  But you can't read it when I do.  Here are the "paleo" ingredients:  Organic Almonds, Organic Dates, Organic Egg White Protein Powder, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Organic Hemp Protein Powder, Organic Strawberry Juice Concentrate, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Vanilla Extract, Organic Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Non-GMO.

There are a lot of refined and processed ingredients here, and don't let the apple juice and strawberry juice concentrates fool you!  Those are NOT Whole30 approved!!

So while Cordain claims superiority because he's been published in peer review journals, it is important to remember his field of expertise is in exercise science, not nutrition or anthropology.  Get off his bandwagon though!  HE coined THE Paleo Diet!!  And Gary Collins is white knighting to save his thrown!  After ranting into his big microphone, he then interviewed Cordain.  Here's the transcript and here are some money quotes:

So legumes and milk are like smoking and drinking ... based on no study ever.   How dare the mainstream media declare protein consumption worse than smoking!  Ignoramuses!  (For the record, I find those headlines just as wrong, but let's be consistent!) .  Once in a blue moon.  What happened to 85/15 -- or was that just to repackage your extreme diet to sell books and attract a following?  As for legumes he was talking 3 times a week!  

Chris has the science behind him even if he doesn't really tout it because it goes against Paleo® dogma, and it's not dietary RCT data on the "paleo" diet.  Human consumption of legumes back into the paleolithic is pretty soundly documented at this point.  When talking about enzymes, you really dig a hole against the anti-dairy, anti-starch Cordaineo diet (or should I go with Cordainal?)

Did you catch that zinger at the end there though?  Gary is arguing that Chris is co-opting paleo and wandering into the danger zone by teaching people that toxic foods are OK to eat on their paleo diet.  Cordain agrees:  "Exactly."

Gary, you're spot on.  And Heath (Owner Julian Bakery) is as well.  I support you guys that have been involved in paleo from day one.
Ouch.  Hello Loren, but Gary is P.R.I.M.A.L.  He sells whey powders on his website.  Who knows, maybe he even eats white potatoes from time to time.  His paleo card is certainly not lily white.  Have you forgotten your "pupil"?  The guy who has been tinker toying around with this stuff ... slavishly and selflessly spreading the good word and helping people for over a decade now?  

What?  He has sold out?  Well yeah, there is that.  But you're going to side with Gary Collins over the Paleo Baby Jesus?  What is the world coming to?  All he ever did for you was link to your rebuttals every time some "scientist" with real credentials came along and knocked your paleo diet.  This is the thanks he gets?  Oh my!!

But to laud Heath Squier of Julian Bakery?  Who up until he got caught was selling untold thousands -- including vulnerable diabetics -- fradulent low carb breads made with grains and legumes probably didn't even know your name?   He called legume bread Purity bread for grokssake!!  Yet that bread was more paleo, or at least ancestral than the ridiculous "maple syrup" he sells to go with waffles under the name Paleo Inc.  Earth to Loren Cordain!!

In Conclusion ...

Paleo is not about science.  It is not about real food.  It is not about helping others and providing them with accurate information to improve their health.  Paleo is a marketing term.  The purists are mad at the opportunists for profiting off of their label.  The opportunists are mad at the purists for exposing their exploits.  And somewhere in Malibu, fresh off a primal jaunt to a 5 star luxury resort in Tulum, a former P-90X recovery drink shill is laughing his head off on his way to the bank, while in nearby Julian, someone who ought to be in legal trouble is instead being lauded for his imagined dedication to the cause. 

Meanwhile, countless who have seen their health suffer because of needless and arbitrary dietary rules and regulations litter the landscape in the wake of this abomination.   There aren't enough paleo comfort foods and cauliflower concoctions in the world to undo the havoc this dysfuntional community with its schizo mix of circle jerking and back stabbing will have wrought by the time this fad finally dies.   


charles grashow said…
"Coconut oil is paleo, as are chickens fed coconuts. Go figure. I just threw that last on in there."

Our chickens are raised by family farmers and eat a coconut-based soy-free feed
mixture that is certified organic, with no genetically modified grains (no GMOs!).
Tropical Traditions developed the feed the chickens eat: Cocofeed

Cocofeed is an organic chicken-feed ration developed by Tropical Traditions that contains coconut pulp as well as other high-quality natural ingredients. The coconut pulp is the residue left over after coconut oil has been extracted from the coconut meat. Cocofeed contains NO soy.
Susanne said…
Here again in Cordain's discussion is that odd idea that crops up again and again in Paleo(TM) folk wisdom, that we are not yet "conditioned" to a certain food. Is this how they think evolution and adaptation work, that you take a little dose at a time, and gradually get better at digesting it? Like the poisonous iocaine powder, in "The Princess Bride"? Because ... that's not how natural selection and adaptation work. It sounds more like Lamarck if anything. Keep stretching that neck up, Paleo giraffe! Eventually your great-great grandkids will be able to reach the top of the tree.
Kevin Klatt said…
I came to nutrition from a biological anthropology background as all of this Paleo diet obsession was heating up. It hurts my soul at how little people understand evolution and their manipulation of anthropological data to suit their needs. It's a shame because you can actually use evolutionary genomics to address interesting biomedically relevant questions, but the Paleo approach is just so misguided.

I've been discussing this stuff since my first post:
carbsane said…
Always appreciate your comments on these issues Susanne!

There was a comment on yet another moderation-find-what-works-for-you post the other day. Something about experimenting and trying and tweaking and whatnot while honoring your ancient genome. Ummm ...
charles grashow said…
The more I read the more I'm coming around to Paul Jaminet and the PHD.
The Perfect Health Diet in One Page

The Perfect Health Diet is, by calories, a low-to-moderate-carb (20%) high-fat (65%) moderate-protein (15%) diet. However, by weight, the diet is about 65% plant foods, 35% meats and oils.

DO eat:
About 20% of total calories (~400 carb calories per day) from starchy tubers, rice, fruits and berries. Eat as many vegetables as you like; but don’t count any calories from vegetables. Be sure to include seaweed (for iodine). In total, you might eat ~1.5 lb plant foods. About 80% of total calories (~1600 calories per day) from 0.5 to 1 lb of fatty meats, seafood, and eggs, plus ~4 tbsp healthy oils and fats. Include salmon or other cold water fish for omega-3 fatty acids.

Cook with butter, animal fats such as lard or tallow, coconut oil, and olive oil; snack on nuts, cheeses, and fruits. Use spices including salt.

Do NOT eat:
Grains and cereals (including wheat, oats, and corn but excluding rice) or any products made from them (including bread and pasta).
Sugar, corn syrup, or products containing them (soda, sweets).
Legumes (such as soybeans, kidney beans, pinto beans, or peanuts).
Omega-6-rich vegetable seed oils (such as soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, or canola oil).
These “do not eat” foods contain naturally toxic proteins; excessive fructose and omega-6 fats; and few nutrients.

Pasteurized milk, but DO eat fermented or fatty dairy foods: butter, cream, ice cream, sour cream, cheese, yogurt. Within the watery fraction of milk are dissolved biologically active cow hormones and potentially allergenic proteins; fatty and fermented dairy foods are safer. Raw milk proteins are more easily digested than pasteurized milk proteins; goat milk is better tolerated than cow milk. Those with dairy sensitivity may need to restrict themselves to clarified butter (ghee).
Dry, lean meats which are protein-rich but fat-poor.

Finally, DO:
Supplement to optimize nutrition, with a daily multivitamin plus vitamins C, D3, and K2 and magnesium, selenium, iodine, copper, and chromium.
Practice intermittent fasting, for instance by restricting eating to an 8-hour window each day, or by taking longer “ketogenic fasts” with lots of coconut oil but no carbs or protein.
carbsane said…
Welcome to the Asylum Kevin! I'll have to check out your blog.
Susanne said…
I saw they're doing a reboot of Cosmos, with Neil Degrasse Tyson. Wouldn't it be marvelous if there was something similar for the biological sciences? Who's going to be the Stephen Jay Gould for the new millennium? Imagine the wonderful animations on the evolution and mechanisms of metabolic pathways. The chemical warfare of plant alkaloids, and how creatures who eat them evolved mechanisms to cope with them. Shiver in fear! and then marvel! as the caffeine and theobromine in your Rain Forest Special Dark are demethylated by the mighty primate liver, forged over millennia in the tropical forests, so you can enjoy it without fear of ending up in convulsions like your poor doggie. The chocolate theme also provides, of course, a natural transition to the next episode on positive selection pressure, featuring the spread of the lactase persistence mutations in human populations across the world in the Neolithic.

Dude, I think we might need to work on this.
carbsane said…
That's funny, the more I read the less I am a fan of that diet. When I was eating PHD-ish I was also eating at the higher end of protein and at my calorie level this ended up being pretty equi-caloric for the three macros. I didn't really give much thought to how such a diet would work out for someone like, say, my husband. He eats closer to 3000 cals/day, less now as his current job is less active, but at 3000 with max protein and carbs of 600 cal each/day (pushing PHD envelope) you're at 200g fat/day. When one puts that into sticks of butter for the visual, we're talking almost 2 sticks.

There is no evidence that I've come across for fats being a preferred fuel for the body or for there being a U or "sweet spot" for carb consumption above which intake is less beneficial -to- toxic. I'd have to see evidence for that to disregard that few cultures ever have consumed that sort of macro ratio.
carbsane said…
I was thinking of this :D
Lighthouse Keeper said…
The next Low Carb Cruise should be to the Galapagos Islands with all the designated speakers being reduced to having to sit in the audience and listen to lectures from genuine evolutionary biologists. That might just curtail their level of evobabble somewhat.
Sanjeev Sharma said…
arguing over what's "paleo canon"

how many pinheads can dance on a legume?
Susanne said…
Let the cruisers stay on the ship and pat some pet tortoises, while the biologists go to the islands. They already have to do too much time in seminar rooms! I looked at the schedule for Tulum ... as far as I can tell one trip to "Maya ruins" which also included "jungle fun" like rappelling, with the rest of the attractions consisting of guru lectures. Might as well stay home and watch them on Youtube.

Ah, who am I kidding, I would probably be willing to sell a bit of my academic soul to some Low Carbers to visit Tulum.
Donnie Reilly said…
Great blog, Kevin! I'm enjoying it quite a bit.
Jared0180 said…
Lyle McDonald did a really good & short video on if fats or cabs are the preferred fuel in the body. The video is very professional. The comments may not be :) .
Kevin Klatt said…
thanks Donnie!
Screennamerequired said…
Are you serious Charles?
PHD is basically Atkins/paleo with potatoes. Most of the conclusions and blog posts they come up with are laughable. Especially with regards to cholesterol, carb consumption and "toxins".

I will give them some credit though. They rescued a lot of people from VLC induced stupidity. It's just sad it took a "paleo approved" guru to come along and tell them carbs were ok.
MacSmiley said…
Will someone please give me the name of the FDA guy's video and the link? My slow as molasses cell data speed won't load up this entire page's media.
Well, if you really think about it, it's intermittent ketosis. ; )

Same NuttyK obsession with MOAR SFA, controlled protein intake, and a small tight window for carbohydrate. LOL!