Debunking the Paleo Diet: A Wolf’s Eye View


Hey folks,

Sorry I did not get to this sooner, both for you AND for me. I’ve received a truckload of emails, tweets, and Facebook questions asking for my opinion on the Tedx talk by Prof. Christina Warinner titled “Debunking the Paleo Diet.” My response to many folks has been “I’m getting to it”, and “Did you watch the entire thing?” Far, far too many people did not bother to watch the entire piece. 10 paleo demerits. Whether we are talking about a paper, a blog post, or a video piece like this, if you are going to ask someone else to take the time to give some analysis on a topic, it’s important you do as much homework as you can. There will be circumstances in which material may be overly technical, and you will rely on someone like me the same way I rely on some tech/computer writers. No harm with that, we can’t all be experts at everything. But, it’s important to put some skull-sweat into stuff like this, both for your intersects, and to keep this ancestral health idea honest and evolving. So, if you have not watched the WHOLE video, get to it:

Ok, so the way I’m going to tackle this is work my way through the talk, and give you time points where I will comment on Prof. Warinner’s video, good, bad, or indifferent. I’ll put the time point in the video followed by the topic, if easy to discern, then my thoughts.

0:25- The Paleo Diet is one of America’s fastest growing diet fads.

This is possibly nit-picky on my part, but getting a PhD from Harvard, I think Prof. Warinner picked “fad” in lieu of “trend” for a bit more…”pop.” It’s kind of a bummer, as right out of the gate one is feeling a bit set upon if you are rooting for an Evolution based dietary template to make some headway into academia.

0:55- This idea was really started in the 1970’s

The idea that we see a change in health from the transition out of the HG lifeway and into agriculture is a good bit older than the 1970’s, and has “evolved” in isolation in quite a number of locations. I detailed one such example here.

A medical doctor, Roman Shatin MD, connected most of the dots related to celiac, autoimmunity, and grain intolerance in the early 1960’s. Please DO read that whole post including the two attached papers by Dr. Shatin. It is fascinating how much he knew, how long ago he knew it…and the fact we still managed to lose that information for over 50 years. There are plenty of older examples such as Weston A. Price’s work, as well as this book, Primitive Man and His Food, from 1952 (a B-day gift from The Kraken, no less).

primitive man and his food

 Perhaps Prof. Warinner is looking mainly at American pop-culture diet books as her reference here, but the idea of a “Paleo Diet” being beneficial to health has been around quite a long time. I’d wager it’s only been since the advent of the internet that we’ve been able to offer up the greasy used-car-salesman’s pitch of “try it, see how you do” to get enough people to really get some traction and buy-in.

1:22 The Paleo Diet does seem primarily targeted at men.

I put “paleo diet” into google, clicked on “images” and got the following photo:

Screen Shot 1

If you scroll down a bit you certainly see some shirtless males (which I think It’s tough to say WHO that is targeted to…I think gals generally like seeing shirtless guys, assuming they are so inclined) but this feels a bit…dishonest. Not sure how/where Prof. Warinner came upon the images she cites, but if I refine the search and look for “Paleo Diet Before and After” (the first suggestion from google) we get this spread:

Screen Shot 2

Out of 12 people, two are males. In the diet game the most powerful tool we have is the before/after photo and the vast majority of what exists is of…women. Prof. Hamilton Stapell of SUNY New paltz recently did a survey of “Paleo Land” and 56% of the respondents were women. From a “debunking” standpoint I can’t help but feel like this is an attempt to paint the whole PD concept as a marginal, wacky, male oriented Flintstone revival, with nothing to actually back that position up. Said another way, it does not get the conversation off on a good tone.

1:40- Four concepts of the “paleo diet”

1- Agricultural diets of today make us chronically ill.

2- We need to eat more like our ancestors of 10,000 years ago.

3-We know what these diets were like and they had “a lot of meat.”

4-If we emulate this ancient diet it will improve our health and make us live longer.

Prof. Warinner lays these points out, then takes each point to task.

3:18-Humans have no known anatomical, physiological or genetic adaptations to meat consumption.

Anatomical adaptations: Prof. Warinner Makes the point we do not have adaptations typical of most carnivores, like specific dentition (I’ll get to the digestive tract in a moment). I find this a bit problematic, as our meat eating appears to have developed in lock-step with the technologies of tool use and fire. Richard Wrangham of Harvard makes the point humans “pre-digest” their food outside the body by cooking, cutting, grinding, and processing. Humans have no “anatomical adaptations” to the cold (generally…there is a tendency for cold living people to become more barrel chested, shorter limbed, thus creating less surface area and conserving heat…Neanderthals showed this same tendency) yet we have populated areas of extreme cold by the use of technology: clothing manufacture, insulated structures to live in and again, fire use. The omission on the part of Prof. Warinner on this point of technology driving various aspects of human evolution is really troubling for me. Clearly she must be aware of this, but for some reason ignores this point entirely.

GI Morphology: Humans are clearly opportunistic omnivores, our gastrointestinal physiology is intermediate to that of an herbivore (multi-segmented, fermentative stomachs, regurgitation and re-chewing of food in fore-gut herbivores, reliance on bacterial fermentation and the production of volatile organic acids (for fat production no less!) in hind-gut herbivores) and that of a carnivore (short, relatively smooth intestines lacking haustrations for fermentation). 

Prof. Warinner also fails to mention that the actual development of not just our species, but the species immediately preceding our own, was characterized by a shift away from a largely fermentative diet in favor of a more concentrated diet including meat. This is the backbone of the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis in which pre-human ancestors traded gut size for increasing brain size. Why no mention of any of this?

Shifting away from meat for a moment, humans have many, many more copies of the genes which code for amylase production (necessary for starch digestion) than do chimps. We also see a distribution of this gene frequency trending with populations who have historically eaten more starch.  Interestingly however, without cooking, starch is about 30% less digestible and the utility of eating starch from an optimum foraging strategy standpoint occurs. What is significant in all this is that cooking/technology clearly played a role in the genetic adaptations involved in starch digestion, but again, no mention of any of these big-picture concepts like optimum foraging strategy.

Genetic/physiological adaptations:

Some degree of “meat” consumption appears to be part of seemingly all primate diets. Chimps actually hunt, gorillas eat some termites (and perhaps a few of their smaller cousins).  Heck, even deer appear to occasionally eat meat. The basic machinery for meat consumption is inherent in all primates. Humans are interesting in that they do show a conditionally essential need for Taurine, a nutrient that IS essential for carnivores. So, humans do show a tendency towards carnivory on both a physiologic AND genetic levels with this adaptation.

Prof. Wariner concludes this section by conceding that clearly humans ate meat. At high latitudes they consumed much more, equatorial regions saw much less. She also made the point early humans ate the whole animal, including brain and bone marrow. I cannot help but wonder exactly WHICH books or research papers she has read on this topic? From Boyd Eaton, to Loren Cordain, to myself (and a host of other folks) we have talked about the seasonality/locality variability of food intake. We have talked about eating the whole animal…I’m just confused by her adding an after-thought to what has been the foundation of a “Paleo Diet” since at least 1985, and Dr. Eaton’s paper which appeared in the New England journal of Medicine. And all this supposedly “debunking” human meat consumption! If anything, this is a remarkable statement that humans did NOT evolve as vegetarians…why no angst towards that fad diet? Perplexing.

The bottom line on this piece: Prof. Warinner seems reticent to acknowledge the primary literature on this topic, although she gives airplay to exactly what the primary literature states, but sadly, only as an afterthought. I get the sense she has gravitated towards the Low-Carb side of this discussion exclusively, and she clearly is not a fan of “RED MEAT!” as she says it a remarkable number of times in a very brief interval.  She mentions the leanness of wild meat, contrasting this with modern grain fed meat, citing the PHOTO in her talk as support for what paleo is advocating. If you’ve been around the scene any length of time, you know we talk about all these issues.


Prof. Warinner’s analysis of the limitations of stable isotopic readings is VERY interesting and important. This is something that has been used to hang many a hat on human meat consumption, and certainly the issues with this technique need to be understood. That said, we also have clear indication of mega fauna die-off which appears to be driven in large part by human predation, although there are wrinkles even within this story.

8:36-Paleolithic people did not eat grains nor legumes

There are some very interesting developments with dental plaque analysis indicating consumption of tubers, grains, and legumes much earlier than was previously thought. Optimum foraging strategy would indicate almost everything that could be eaten, was eaten, at least occasionally. But what provided the bulk of the diet? What was the significance of shifting from a foraging lifeway to a grain based lifeway? Why no commentary on this?

This is a common story in anthropology/archeology, in that the dates for just about everything one cares to consider keep getting pushed back. Fire use was once thought to be only a few thousand years old, now that date may be 1.5 million years. As to the grain/legume consumption itself, it still begs the questions of what is really healthy to eat, particularly as a preponderance of calories? A bit later Prof. Warinner describes the diet of a HG group from central Mexico which includes some beans…and a whole bunch of other stuff. That all seems fine, healthy, and non-controversial to me.

9:54-14:00 the foods portrayed as being “Paleo” are all a product of farming and agriculture.

This is a FANTASTIC section. It is true, unless you do significant foraging on your own, most of what we consume has been “Luther Burbanked” into large, tasty, low toxin-load fruits and veggies. Everything in nature has something that wants to eat it, which is why we see horns, thorns, claws, quills, and poison. Cattle have been bred to be relatively docile, have small or no horns, and to accrete body fat efficiently. Our fruits are generally large, tasty, and low in bitter tasting toxins. Prof. Cordain addressed all these issues in his paper “The Nutritional Characteristics of a Contemporary Diet based on Paleolithic Food Groups” and made recommendations that try to best emulate what was available to our ancestors. What is intriguing is these modern foods are still MUCH more nutritious than the grain bases of most modern diets, as is evidenced by Mat Lalonde’s work on nutrient density.  If we shift gears and use the Registered Dietician’s criteria of “nutrient density” (the most vitamins, minerals/calorie) our “paleo foods”, be they legitimately ancient or modern cultivars, “win.” Add to this allergenic/immunogenic potential, and it’s a landslide in favor of “paleo.”

14:09 There is no one “Paleo Diet.”

True, and this has again been addressed by Prof. Cordain. Seasonality, locality, variability has ALWAYS been part of this discussion. This is an interesting refrain that was part of the US News critique of paleo, and just never seems to die. Perhaps it’s because none of these folks are actually reading books/papers on the topic?


This is a great description of what HG’s of central Mexico ate, and the fact they moved with the seasons and availability of food. Beautiful, very interesting piece…I wish we had an hour on this alone.

15:30-ish to end

This is a simply OUTSTANDING section. Diversity of food sources, locality, and understanding of the neuro-regulation of appetite, changes in the gut biome…how easy it is to eat a caloric level that is completely inappropriate with our genetics, eat the whole animal…

This last section is why I asked folks “did you watch the WHOLE thing?” The front end of the video has some stuff that can get your ears forward a bit, but the final sections are really fantastic.

Yes, I think Prof. Warinner seems to have focused on the popular media interpretations of paleo.  It’s painful she did not reference original work by folks like Loren Cordain, Boyd Eaton, Staffan Lindeberg, etc, as they did/do address her commentary about “one paleo diet”, “our modern foods are not the same as 10,000 years ago”, etc. But ultimately, she, as a scientist researching this stuff, made the final point that we have much to learn from anthropology and evolutionary medicine. Indeed we do, and bravo to her for that.

When I was wrapping up my biochem undergrad (around 1997) a paradigm at that time was called the “Central dogma of biology” which was “one gene, one protein.” When the various genome projects got underway there was an expectation of most critters having far more genes than what we in fact find. The assumption that every gene codes for only one protein has been overturned. Post translational modifications and squirrelly activity on the part of RNA paints a very different picture. Did genetics and biochemistry crumble under this? No. We learned and moved on.

Certain assumptions have been and will be made about the ancestral diet and health. Some will prove to be accurate, some not. It is perhaps unfortunate, as I have said many times, that “Paleo Diet” was chosen instead of “Evolutionary Nutrition.” But even this is simply an artifact of looking at the literature produced by the predecessors of Prof. Warinner who made the observation that our HG ancestors (and contemporarily studied HG’s) appear to be largely free from the disease of modernity, and that PERHAPS eating more in this fashion might confer health benefits. What I have sensed from the anthropology community is an almost…annoyance that upstarts from outside that Guild have the temerity to talk about this stuff and try to apply it in an actionable way. Well, someone needs to! Prof. Warinner does good service to this concept at the end of her talk.

If I could wave a magic wand I’d hope for a bit less prickliness on the part of the medical anthropology community on this topic. Even more so, I’d hope that these folks could realize they, not our current medical system, have the insights on how to fix what ails us. If we could get them to understand just how important their understanding of the past is, we might have a much better future.


I’ve gotta say, the “RED MEAT” piece to this is pretty annoying as I re-read the post and re-watch the video. Initially this was annoying as the PD has always recommended a variety of protein sources and Prof. Warinner painted that story in a very self serving way. But when we add to this her final comments about “feeding the world” (paleo will apparently not work) and overlay this with work by the Savory Institute it is again troubling what Academia is able to claim and suffer no internal push-back, simply because it comports with the assumptions of that group. 

We’ve been in contact with the Savory Institute and you should see some exciting collaboration in the near future.

Categories: Anthropology, Paleo Diet Basics, Paleo in the News, Uncategorized


Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


          • Dave Broomfield says

            So she made an entire speech simply because she didn’t like the name Paleo. That was such a waste of time watching that. I love how people feel the need to attack people who are trying to help and add nothing to the solution themselves. I view the paleo diet as simply a way of eating that works, and it does work. Maybe that should be the title. Maybe that would make that bitch happy. Fuck you Ted for even allowing that shit to be made. Further proof that just because you’re educated doesn’t mean you are smart or have any common sense. Who is she helping by making that? Very annoying video.

      • says

        Do you even read

        When Warriner even explicitly asserts that there are no known human genetic, physiological, or anatomical adaptations to meat consumption (Warriner, 2013), the Paleo-naturalist response is that the cultural technologies of meat-eating evolved “in lock step” with biological evolution, such that anatomical adaptations are irrelevant. The way this techno-cultural point itself undermines claims that the Paleo diet corresponds to genetic adaptations to diet is sidestepped by the slippage of Paleo-naturalist thinking – at points it is the diet that is evolved, and at others, the body.

    • Mary Hannoid says

      I think you are ridiculous for posting this. This is a well educated woman whose life is this field of study. Who are you to think you know better?

      Most of what you have ‘nit-picked’ about in your article was rubbish and completely irrelevant to the point she was trying to make.

      First of all, if you bothered to pick up a book and do a little wider reading than “fat mole in a trucker’s cap’s blog” you would realise that we are not really that adapted to meat eating. Our primate ancestors were meat eaters, sure, but somewhere along the line we started to move to a more vegetarian diet and our jaws became much smaller and fragile, allowing for our frontal lobe expansion as we no longer needed a ‘crest’ on our heads to balance it out.

      Her point is that this ‘paleo’ diet is not actually paleo at all. And there were many, many paleo dietS (plural), which even the greatest scientists are still trying to come to terms with and discovering, so how would some stupid advertising company know anything about it?

      What we eat today is completely different from anything we have ever had access to before because we have genetically modified all our crops. So there is no way we can equate this to any real paleo diet. Like she said, the key is diversity. There is scientific evidence that we have been eating grains and legumes for thousands of years so any claim otherwise is unscientific and equivalent to a religion.

      I find it amusing that everyone who is ridiculing her sounds like they have about 3 brain cells to rub together. I also find it amusing that you, Robb, are in fact a huge advocate of the Paleolithic Diet. Not surprising your argument reminds me of a Christian trying to defend the “word of God”.

      • Greg Wood says

        Mary, you seem to have not understood Rob’s reply, which reasonably questions parts of the good doctor’s presentation, in both content and motive, and applauds others. You seem emotionally offended rather than intellectually displeased.

    • says

      I don’t think that’s really the intention, as is clear with the last 7 min of the video. What she is doing is taking to task some elements of the PD, albeit in a not entirely credible way IMO.

      • says

        Great critique in the beginning I really felt she was going to push a vegetarian agenda down our throat but she rallied and ended up giving some good info.

        Think she needs to go back and do a few comparative anatomy classes though, I don’t know if she fully understands the difference between herbivore and carnivore intestines. Thanks for the post I am going to pass it on to all of my patients.

          • says

            Robb, I respect you for being very generous with her in your assessment. I’m less generous :-).

            She clearly didn’t do adequate research for this talk. Then she comes out with clearly incorrect assertions (like lack of human adaptation to meat eating; I’d wager she’s a vegetarian) and sets up a straw-man to demolish. At the end, she comes back to saying essentially what you and other people have said all along. She would have known this had she does adequate research before going on stage.

            The whole idea that the paleo diet needs debunking is completely incorrect; but her talk is bringing up discussion, and that’s healthy, so at least there is some benefit to her inadequate preparation.

            On the matter of omnivores, Barry Groves’ talk from the Weston A Price conference lays it out all quite well:

  1. says

    So she apparently skipped the part where Paleo fridges are overflowing with fresh veggies and fruits. And the part where we advocate shopping at local farmer’s markets for in-season, organic produce.

    Instead, we get “EAT A LOT OF MEAT” and “AGRICULTURE IS BAD.” *facepalm*

      • James says

        “So we eat a bagel instead ?”

        Sure, made of some flour based on the modern strain of wheat which we know IS CHOKE-FULL with modern toxins ON PURPOSE!! (you know, we had to increase yield per acre pretty much to avoid starvation world-wide 30 years ago – better eat a pseudo-nutritious poison than nothing at all, never mind the health consequences … )

        Being ironical here …


      • kyle says

        You realize she’s not targeting the fundamentals and bare bones paleo diets, but the more marketed and media crazed versions. The idea behind paleo is to emulate what ancestors did, not copy it; because in reality, we can’t copy it. This is what she’s getting at. In truth she is kinda seeing the forest for the trees with her segment on how tons of vegetation today didn’t even exist back then but in no way did she ever say….”because of this, you should avoid paleo” Obviously it’s not a flawless critiques, but I don’t think she’s damning paleo, but just saying you can’t and shouldn’t use the idea that this is exactly what our ancestors ate as evidence or support of the diet, but rather that the diet is just generally good for you on a nutrient level. Everyone seems to be ganging up on her.

        • says

          She could have just as easily led in with her back half talk, talked up the benefits, mentioned the caveats you describe, and called it “Clarifying the Paleo Diet.” Agree? Leading in with her chosen material, and choosing the title she did was both for effect (get some bandwidth) and tone.

          Whatever we call this way of eating, it seems to work very, very well, and for a remarkable number of considerations. I think that’s an important point in all this.

      • Justin Hoover says

        Ha! because genetically modified grains are so much better than low toxin fruits. These high grain diets in the SAD is cost effective and we all know its about the money…

  2. Stephanie says

    Nice critique. You are just so freaking reasonable Robb, seeing the good points even in someone who is trying to put paleo into a box. It seems like, if she could get over her red meat fear, she might actually get along within the paleo community. It ain’t a religion. We all think about all these issues too and many of the “leaders” have also written about them, in papers, books and blogs. It annoys me when they paint us as a bunch of dumb testosterone-filled males who just want to eat more meat. Personally, I eat more veggies that I did when I was vegetarian so take that in your pipe and smoke it.

    What we need to do is get some of the amazing results in treating chronic illness into one of these popular news articles. I get so sick of the “paleo diet” articles that only discuss weight loss. Weight loss is such a small part of the picture. I didn’t lose weight going paleo (I wasn’t trying) and I don’t care, though, when I don’t cheat too much, it does make it EASY to maintain my weight…which goes to her points about eating whole foods for satiety. Fat loss is just another marker for getting healthier, assuming you are shedding unneeded fat.

    • says

      Thanks Stephanie. There was far too much good here to tackle this like Lothor of the HIll People (google it!).

      Unfortunately, the anthropology scene does NOT like the ancestral health movement.The recent CARTA symposium was just an attempts at discrediting the whole PD/AH concept. And there were more nit-picky things I wanted to go into but did not want this to just be a negative hammer-fest. The techniques Prof. Warinner cites for the dental plaque are new, largely un-validated and this is a very small sample they are citing…yet they are SERIOUSLY excited about the material as it seems to set better with what they want this story to be.

    • Bruce says

      Stephanie, I agree with you. We need to get more exposure for the good that a “Paleo” solution does for health issues. That is the reason many of us, including me, have adopted the Paleo approach, not to lose weight so much as to reduce inflammation and control glucose homeostasis. We know where our health lies and it lies with the Paleo approach to nutrition. Point scoring by one clique of academics against another is not going to win converts to our healthier lifestyle. But providing well documented personal stories of the healing effects of a Paleo diet for individuals will do so. It may also sway the medical profession to include nutrition as an integrated component in medical training, diagnosis and treatment.

  3. says

    As for the bit on ‘no adaptations to meat consumption’ you can add choline, B12, K2, long chain omega 3s, arguably zinc and selenium, and probably more to the list.

    People really ought to read/watch these things before they get all flustered, because they’ll find that they will spend most of the time being bored and yawning at strawman arguments

    I found it odd that she portrayed lower toxins in cultivated plants as somewhat of a bad thing.

    • says

      Those are all great points, especially the cultivated plants piece. I thought about going down that rabbit hole and looking at both energy expenditure AND optimum foraging strategy which leads us once again to a pretty meat/tuber/cooking centric diet. But…this thing was long enough as it was.

      • James says

        I don’t understand the focus on “red meat” in the mouth of the “paleo debunkers”. One of the primary source of animal proteins and omega-3’s FAs has been fish and shellfish. There was this talk by a researcher in one of the ancestral health symposiums (don’t remember his name now, sounded Finnish I think) which showed that many HG people in Africa had relied on these sources of food (fish, shellfish) as evidenced by the high level of O3 FAs measured in these people.

        • Jonathan says

          I think this was the guy.

          Remko Kuipers

          That was an interesting talk. It took me awhile to find the link to it…can’t believe I didn’t bookmark it…would be a good one to have a link to.

    • Guest says

      I think you’re missing the point regarding the toxins. She wasn’t saying that lower levels of toxins is a bad thing. She’s making a point that if you truly ate the diet of someone from the Paleolithic era, all the fruits and vegetables that the PD prides itself on would not only not be available, but the ones that were had higher levels of toxins and not as much flesh, which means higher meat consumption was likely when possible.

      Not to mention, the reduced level of toxins is a product of the agrarian society in the Neolithic era which the PD was developed in refutation of, so there is a bit of a contradiction. “Eat like our ancestors from 10,000+ years ago, unless it’s fruit or vegetables that has improved as a result of the agricultural revolution.” So which is it, Paleo or Neo?

      I don’t have a dog in this fight. I find both sides compelling and have no issue with the fundamentals of the PD. If you want to remove dairy, processed foods, corn and wheat, go for it. I don’t think anyone is going to say you need dairy or processed food. However, I think to say that the PD is steeped in irrefutable science is dishonest, and the vitriol in which a PhD from Harvard is attacked because she dare question the science, not the principle, behind the PD is really bizarre. She “obviously” has an agenda and despite the PhD, what does she know? I don’t think so. Maybe “Big Corn” lobbyist hired her and commissioned her TED Talk. Meanwhile, Robb Wolf is honest and objective, right? He’s not interested in say, selling books?

  4. Sandra says

    I just watched this the video by accident the other day lol. I was LAUGHING at her. Yes, okay, so food is not exactly as it what? I was beginning to think that she was paid by the grains and legumes producers to try to debunk the Paleo lifestyle because maybe they are not making as much now that some of us are smartening up? To me, eating Paleo means, eating LIKE the cavemen, not EXACT replica. Eat untainted foods, no boxed garbage, and grains that make you ill over a long period of consumption. The fact that she says “You get foods from indonesia half way accross the world, and cavemen weren’t able to” ..does this make the food any less nutritional? Really, I saw this video posted without due research, only looking at what HER occupation entails, without looking at the WHOLE purpose of what the Paleo Lifestyle is based around. To me it was wasted video time. If she actually got on the Paleo way of eating, she may be able to curb down those hips she is hiding too…just sayin lol. I love Robb Wolf and his associates who came up with this lifestyle. It literally SAVED MY LIFE! I did not come up on allergy tests as allergic to wheat/ grains…but I had been so sick I thought I was dying for years. I couldn’t eat, I was already skinny, and it hurt to eat…migraines all day, and falling into almost coma sleep at all times of the day. Docs said “you are healthy”….I was horribly sad knowing I wasn’t. I changed my diet after some research…and BAM!!! I am like a new woman! The problem…? Allergic to wheat..AND I did not know they injected animals and sprayed veggies with antibiotics (sulfates pertaining to me) and I am allergic to sulfates!!!! This Lifestyle saved my LIFE!!!! TY Robb and company!

      • says

        Dr. Bronner’s soap is good stuff. I use it for body wash and shampoo both.
        Morocco Method, although pricier, has some shampoos and conditioners that would probably fit the bill too. I’m sure there are others as well, but I haven’t looked into it a lot.

  5. Darryl says

    Last 7 mins was definitely, for me anyways, the meat and potatoes of the video.
    My only gripe… No reference to your book Robb at the 1:15min mark.

  6. says

    I work as a Whole Food Nutrition Technician for a Chiropractor/ Nutritionist. We embrace the Paleo approach, because it is 99% similar to what the founding fathers of nutrition found out in the studies and clinical trials. Here is some points I would like to make:
    About 0.55 This concept is much older than the seventies. Strangely enough barely any people know the work of Melvin E. Page, DDS. (1894-1983)
    dr Page started his work in the 1940’s and during his career had more than 40,000 clinical blood tests to comprovat the effectiveness of his Food Plan (whic is extremely similar to the Paleo Diet)
    3.18 Nobody mentions here that the human stomach produces Pepsin, an enzyme SPECIFICALLY designed to digest animal protein….why have it if we are supposed to be vegetarians??

    Bottom line I think even the perfect diet based on “modern” food is going to need supplementation with whole food concentrates, as our soils ar far from those pristine conditions in Paleolithic times….

    • Guest says

      1. Pepsin is not used solely to digest animal proteins, but rather all proteins, including vegetable.

      2. Even if it was, which it isn’t, the point is that the PD is predicated on the idea that 10,000 years was not enough time to “evolve” so that we could digest dairy, wheat, etc. If that is true and we have been eating animal protein rich diets for so much longer, why is there no additional evolutionary evidence? That is the point Dr. Warinner was making. To say we should eat meat because our bodies have had longer to adapt to digesting it and not wheat/dairy is not logically sound in the absence of evidence that we have adapted to eating meat.

      3. I don’t recall her advocating vegetarianism.

  7. says

    Great post. It has become popular to try to ‘debunk’ the Paleo diet, which I suppose is a testament to its growing popularity.

    It’s annoying that you have researchers coming out to criticize the idea with points that don’t really undermine it but actually refine it. If we believe that humans have diet and lifestyle adaptations as a species, and that science can be brought to bear on what those adaptations are, then why not approach it like science and work together to refine the ideas rather than ‘debunking’ each other?

    The answer is that agreeing with people is boring. People love to see someone criticize other people who are doing things differently than they are.

    • says

      HUGE thanks for your thoughts, you know how highly I regard you and your work.

      The sense I get is that the Anthropology community is a bit miffed…almost like a bunch of upstarts got in their sand box and took over the toys. I mean, what are a bunch of biochemists, exercise scientists and MD’s doing talking medical anthropology?

      I gave a talk at CSU Chico a few years ago talking mainly about Stephan Lindeberg’s work and a big picture look at evolutionary medicine. I wrapped up the talk by saying something to the effect “You folks have the answers…the answers nearly 200 years of medical research ahs not been able to figure out…” Very well received, we were looking at starting an alternate track for folks to get an RD that would funnel them through the anthropology program. Then, there was a big pull-back, some hemming and hawing, and apparently a few of the more outspoken faculty shot the whole project down saying “the answers he is suggesting can’t be that simple.”

      So close! Well, still plenty of opportunity to build those bridges and to help the anthropology folks to see just how important their knowledge is.

      • says

        “It’s annoying that you have researchers coming out to criticize the idea with points that don’t really undermine it but actually refine it. If we believe that humans have diet and lifestyle adaptations as a species, and that science can be brought to bear on what those adaptations are, then why not approach it like science and work together to refine the ideas rather than ‘debunking’ each other?”

        This is why I couldn’t get though this, her intent was clear from the beginning. She’s not doing science, and she not interested in doing science, she’s interested in furthering her career on the backs of people who have actually gained respect in the community not by marketing or by talking for 20 minutes on a well distributed video but by actually helping tens of thousands of people FOR FREE. I usually try to give people the benefit of the doubt but just couldn’t do it here. All of the issues she raised have been dealt with in many other locations on the web. In my opinion, it’s not that she didn’t read the information, she ignored it.

        Good for you Robb for being so even-handed and patient!

        • Guest says

          “She’s not doing science”?!?!?! Really? What does it mean to do science? Yes, her goal was clear from the beginning, to debunk the paleo diet. Which is why she titled it, “Debunking the Paleo Diet”. Just because some “websites” have come around or acknowledge that the PD is a starting point, doesn’t mean there aren’t “fad” diets out there based on Paleo that are just wrong and not based in science.

  8. Mary says

    Thank you, Robb, for taking the time to go through that video for us. You are a blessing for people like me, who are completely overwhelmed by the science behind it. All I know is it works for me. So when people send me links to things like this video, which they fully believe simply because of the title, I can send them to this article. Keep up the good work, sir!

  9. Cleo says

    Great job, Robb! As an ex-vegetarian who used to give lengthy talks about meat eating vs. vegetarian from a biological standpoint; I was very interested in your critique. It’s fun for me now to hear vegetarians making the same arguments I made.
    I started eating meat again years ago, but still ate tons of grains/sugar.
    I removed most grains and dairy last year after reading your work. Since the start of this year, I have removed all grains, dairy and sugars. My family is coming around and we are happier and healthier for it.
    I have also been studying functional medicine for about 4 years and have helped a lot of people become healthy. Vegetarians are the sickest people I help…hands down.

  10. Jason Seib says

    I side stepped this a few times in the last couple of days because I knew we could count on you to address the ridiculous parts better than I could have. Thank you, sir. Your fairness and adherence to good science are much appreciated.

  11. ScottC says

    I asked some of the same questions when watching the vid… Why boohoo the paleo diet and then basically espouse many of its principals at the end? After stirring that around in my mind for awhile, I came to the conclusion that she needed a shocker to get people listening to her; marketing material. What better way than to bash one of the biggest movements in nutrition? I also laughed by the time I reached the end; “she agrees”, imagine that… Maybe you can’t get on TED selling the paleo diet. Would be nice to hear the real story about the paleo diet on TED though. Thanks Rob.

      • says

        Seriously? Wonder what their agenda is then, Paleo is getting something like 450,000 Google searches a month(just looked it up) you think they would want to capitalize on that?

      • says

        Robb, great job. Besides providing us with a good analysis, I appreciate how you’re always a gentleman. (And appreciating female beauty does not make you a misogynist!)

        It’s regrettable that the TED folks aren’t interested in having you present, especially considering the mediocre quality of ever so many TED talks that I have seen (among some fantastic ones, of course). They nixed Rupert Sheldrake, too, so you’re in good company. (I’m reading his “Science Set Free,” which I highly, highly recommend.) Sometimes people just aren’t comfortable having their pet paradigms rattled.

      • says

        I’ve just figured out where I want to set up my next practice! Right next to this moron! Guarantee it would have a waiting list with in a week! I am in utter shock by that video… literally speechless

      • Jonathan says

        What do you think of Ray Cronise? I really like a good deal of his posts on but he seems to like Mcdougal and some other vegan sources like Furhman.

        He says during his vegan experiments hes been healthiest. He isn’t a vegan but seems says during his times eating vegan he had the best health markers and felt the best.

        I think the answer might lie in the Apoe Gene type. I don’t know enough about it, but Steven Gundry mentions it in a podcast on Jimmy Moore’s site that those with a 3/4 or 4/4 ApoE gene result tend to get inflammation from eating animals excluding fish.

        I’m wondering if perhaps a diet with minimal meat, but with plenty of fish and other seafood would be best for those with that gene type.

    • Brewed says

      Mcdougal is a crook. My step mom put my dad and I on his diet as soon as she moved in with us. I felt like complete and total crap and I was hungry all the time… I was on it for 3 months, gained weight and had migraines.
      Come to find out the packaged foods that he’s sells are chalk full of MSG’s. The guy’s a quack, too bad people buy into his garbage… “I could be a miracle doctor!” I call BS!

  12. Jake Ashmore says

    Appears that if we could all pick a new name for the paleo diet, then there would be no argument.

  13. says

    Robb, you’re to be commended for your patience. I did not bother to watch through the whole thing, I got turned off by the BS at the beginning, and didn’t bother to wait to get to the good stuff at the end. And I won’t be going back to it.

    Didn’t the Kraken make the point in several of his talks that if the Paleo community wants to be taken seriously by “real scientists” we have to be rigorous, and careful with our facts? Is this woman doing either? I don’t think so.

    I’ll extend the courtesy of giving the benefit of the doubt when it’s extended to me. I don’t know why you’d do different.

    But again, you’re to be commended for your patience. Keep up the good work.

      • says

        I always liked Einstein’s quote (at least I’ve always heard it attributed to Einstein): “All truths pass through three stages. First it is ridiculed, then it is opposed often vehemently, lastly it is held as self-evident!” I agree I think we are in the middle of the fight but I think we are gaining traction. 10 years of practice and its a lot easier to convince people that I am right about diet.

  14. Jason Merenda says

    I wonder if this scientist suffers from what seems to be more and more common and accepted. Which is making your results fit the beliefs you have and not necessarily the right answer. She may try whip out a magical hockey stick graph.

  15. sonny says

    Great review. She mentions the ancient mayans eating a lot of corn. Well, they were neolithic. Many people dont understand the timeframes involved and think ancient maysns or ancient Egyptians existed a looong time ago, but she should know better.
    Also, Eskimos obtained vitamin c from raw meat sources.
    And clearly she hasnt listened to all the PS pocasts. What was it, episode 42 or something?


    That is the mantra I recite over and over whilst meditating :)

    • says

      The maya mention was BC the N-14/N-15 profile made them LOOK like carnivores, instead of Cornivores. this is likely due to the use of fish as a fertilizer for the corn.

      • Jonathan says

        With all that I’ve read lately on Iodine I’m curious if plants use Iodine for something? I recently read Iodine by David Brownstein and Stop the Thyroid Madness by Janie Bowthorpe. Both make it pretty clear that Iodine is very important for many things in the human body.

        If plants grown in soil have Iodine which I think they do…do they concentrate Iodine in certain areas for a purpose? I suppose for plants Iodine may not serve a function at all and maybe its just in plants because its in the ground like with Mercury/Fluoride or other things that are toxins and aren’t nutrients with a purpose.

        I guess I could Google this it heh.

  16. Misabi says

    Nice work Robb.

    Maybe you should send this kid a free copy of your book.. He could be a great little advocate and he’s already in with the TED crowd 😉

  17. Andrew Perlik III says

    Great response. From the guy who lost his mind over his Mac crapping out this was very well done. I found the comments that people wrote about this TEDx (on you tube) video more disturbing than than the actual video content.

  18. Ben says

    But, but.. I’m a not particularly smart male who likes to grunt “agriculture bad” and eats mostly heaps of red meat. I feel like you don’t have my back here, Rob.

    I will shed a few silent tears while deadlifting today. Shame on you, Rob, shame on you.

  19. says

    Awesome job Robb. I was hoping one of the “big guns” would take a shot at this one.

    Personally, I tend to emphasize the calorie density of non-paleo foods when compared to paleo foods with folks. Basically, you eat more foods, get more nutrients, and eat fewer calories with a paleo diet. It kind of resets their mind.

    Unfortunately, these arguments are on the minds of a lot of folks who don’t really have any interest in looking deeper into paleo. Instead, I just point out all the ways this kind of eating works better and leave out the caveman stuff that turns them off.

    Does it really matter what they call it, so long as they’re eating the right things? I tend to say not.

  20. says

    My thoughts when reading this were:

    1) is she a lobbyist for Monsanto?
    2) She says meat is bad. Then says we should eat grains and legumes. Then says we should be moving away from wheat, corn and soy. You can’t pick both sides.

    • says

      Yea…and what about the Savory institute and the sustainable reclamation of arid lands with ruminants? I think I’ll add that to the original post.

  21. says

    Basically for the first 15 minutes she says “Paleo diet is a fad, for shirtless meat heads, and impossible to recreate.”

    Then for the remainder of the video she says “eat a paleo diet”.


  22. says

    After reading your comments to her points Robb, I actually went back to see the whole video. At first, I thought she would continue bashing the Paleo “diet”.. then realised that slowly, she actually agrees with it and in reality is advocating for it towards the end, although not entirely clear. She does make some good points, in all fairness, like that what we eat today is all product of our agricultural revolution. Everything we eat today in some way or another has been domesticated and cannot really be found in its wild form for general, public consumption. However, in naming this lifestyle “Paleo” in many ways, we are actually doing ourselves a disfavour. We should be calling this something else entirely, like “clean eating”. But whatever the case, she uses her “debunking” as a marketing tool, just as the name Paleo has caught on as a marketing tool as well. The important lesson to remember, which all the Paleo followers know and she agrees to in the end is that we need variety and diversity in our food, we need to eat seasonally, eat “local” and eat clean, avoiding the culprits of many of our illnesses, such as sugar and the modern day grains and to some extent the modern day legumes. Nothing today is as it was in Paleolithic times, that’s obvious. So, we are once again adapting, but being smarter about how we eat and cook. Thanks for taking the time to refute and/or clarify with facts many of the negative points she does make.

  23. says

    Reminds me a lot of the intro to your book, Robb, where you talk about walking through the science with a bunch of anthropologists, having lots of lightbulbs go on over their heads as they think about the robustness of the skeletons/fossils, no evidence of modern chronic illness…and then they point to the food pyramid as our guide to “healthy eating”.

    I think if we look at your goal of reaching as many people as possible — people who are sick, inflamed, in pain, and at the end of their ropes because of a lack of answers and HELP from conventional medicine, almost any press for this approach to diet and living is beneficial. Good press, bad press — if the message is spread far and wide enough, some of the seeds will blow away, but some will take root. Some people will dismiss this whole thing out of hand (and to be honest, we can’t really blame them, since some of what we advocate eating is in direct conflict with 60+ years of advice from health and nutrition “experts” with fancy credentials out the wazoo). BUT, enough people will be intrigued just enough to look into this, and of *those* people, maybe a few will get in and give it a try (‘cuz hey, “it’s so crazy, it just might work”). And *that,* ultimately, is a win.

    I’m completely with you that we need to start tackling this with a more top-down approach — getting as many MDs, PhDs, nurses, university nutrition department heads, etc., on board as possible and really change the standards of care and the entire strategy of health care practice and education. BUT, for the time being, at least, I think from the bottom-up is the way it’s going. One guy virtually comes back from the dead and starts a blog. Someone else finds that blog…

    I think you and your whole network of connections are doing great things, because you’re tackling it from *both* sides. Your book & blog speak to the average Joe & Jane out there who are just looking to not be so damn sick and run down anymore, and you, personally, are clearly doing everything you can to get the “big guns” on board. (Specialty Health, talks to the military, the nutrition cert, etc.)

    Indoor plumbing was once “a fad,” too, but I kinda like it!

  24. Lennie says

    Thanks for doing so much good for so many people… me included. (Insert the usual details about weight loss and health improvements here)

    It seems that this talk brings us back to the problem of nomenclature — people seem to reflexively mock concept of living like a caveman. I am frequently asked how I underwent such a radical transformation over the past two years and when I say the word “paleo” as part of my explanation, it never seems to resonate as much as saying, “I eat real food and exercise efficiently”.

    Keep fightin’ the good fight. I am forever indebted to you.

  25. Paleo Huntress says

    What was most interesting to me in the comments section of the video is all of the vegan support it seemed to rally. As a former vegan and a current “paleo”, my experience of the vegan movement is one of militance on exclusion animal food. In fact, if you ever go back to eating animal food again, then according to most vegans, “You were never vegan to begin with.” But considering Christina Warinner makes SUCH a strong argument for the historical inclusion of animal foods in all of human history, it’s really quite puzzling that vegans seem so happy to hang their hat on this work.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could all look at what comprises the best in each other’s diets instead of drawing lines between “factions”?

    Great debunking of the supposed debunking. lol Thank you, Robb.


    • says

      I was going to mention that funny fact in the post but did not want to stir that pot. BUT, in the comments, fair game!

      It is hilarious how many vegans are pushing this thing around, and not realizing the piece paints a picture of a non-vegetarian ancestry. Some of the smarter folks will realize that. The rest…likely too far gone to matter.

      • says

        “It is hilarious how many vegans are pushing this thing around, and not realizing the piece paints a picture of a non-vegetarian ancestry. Some of the smarter folks will realize that. The rest…likely too far gone to matter. ”

        Pearls of wisdom from you RObb ? seriously ? From your book, attacking vegans , whose lifestyle is respectful of harming innocent animals huh..kinda like jesus and his followers..ya, terrible diet huh…And no, it does NOT paint a picture of a non vegetarian lifestyle ‘entirely’. YOu obviously ‘forgot’ about that after having watched the video.

        She clearly said, we aren’t designed to eat meat. NO one has countered that, and if you did., did you ask for her comments in return ?

        We aren’t capable of ‘eating like lions’ now are we ? SO obviously, we aren’t designed, to eat meat, period. Get over it PD people.

        Yes , I’m a vegan, should I kill innocent animals instead ? That’s our ‘evolution’ ?

        Btw, we really are not, ‘designed to eat meat’. SO ya, what’s not to follow ?

  26. Ruth says

    Ah, she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know.
    She’s taking “Paleolithic Diet” a bit too literally but she’s a science geek (me too) so let’s forgive her.
    She definitely needs to do more research into the community though because I think she’d agree with most of our tenets.

  27. Shantel Wireman says

    I agree with Rebecca! After watching this I was kinda left scratching my head thinking, “She is good at doing the 180 dance”!

  28. Juan says

    Great work, Robb, and also to all the fine commenters.

    It is always disturbing to see/hear the utter lack of rigour in researching and understanding the subject that scienticians such as Dr. W bring to their talks. Besides all the points that have been raised by Robb and others, the one thing that frosts me the most is how “eating animal products” is always –and only — a matter of “eating meat”. The fact is that optimal foraging/hunting strategy by carnivores such as the big cats, or by humans, always starts with the soft bits on the inside of the animal being eaten. In times of plenty, it it may well end there, too, leaving the tough muscle meat scavengers. Of course humans, being adaptable beyond any of our competitors, long ago figured out how to cook the meat and thereby render it much more palatable and bioavailable.

    No vitamin C in meat? Really? I suppose that’s true as far as muscle meat is concerned, but animals contain lots of it. You don’t need plants to get that particular nutrient. For example, there is more than 100x the amount of vitamin C in the adrenal glands than in an orange. All the glands and soft organs seem to have tons of vitamins. You can bet that paleo peoples ate the adrenal glands and the other soft bits preferentially (as documented, for example by Weston Price).

    Anyway, just wanted to add that factoid, for what it’s worth.

    • Juan says

      Sorry, I should have made it clear in my post above that it was the presenter in the TEDx talk who said there was no Vit. C in meat, not Robb or anyone commenting.

  29. Greg says

    I don’t understand if she was against Paleo Diet or just against the hypothesis behind the Paleo Diet. I’m not clear if at the end she knew she was advocating Paleo Diet or not.

    I really believe that the word Paleo is becoming a detriment to the diet itself. I feel like it would be much easier to get people on board if we abandoned the Paleo part and just explained to the individual the basic tenets of the template itself. Clearly, as this professor demonstrates, too many people try and discredit the Paleo part of it without looking at the science behind the nutritional decisions.

    • says

      Should we really abandon something that we’ve taken 15 years to build, and start over on developing bandwidth and concept recognition? JUST to appease the academics that are largely ignoring the actual science being promulgated? I have to respectfully disagree on that. We may end up solving all this health and medicine stuff long before the academics realize they are not all that important to the process.

  30. sonny says

    I sent Dr Warinner a link to this article. It would be a great boost if we could bring her over to the dark side.

  31. Lynda says

    Great post. I think this video confirms that man ate more meat than vegetables. If the vegetables were so stunted then it would take a lot of them to get any amount of carbs, never mind the fiber. Even though it appears that early man had a morter and pestle to grind grains, in reality how many grains would they need to collect to feed the clan.

    • Jeff says

      I was thinking the same thing. If plants were so crappy back then, I can’t picture people making them the main source of nutrition.

  32. Janknitz says

    Good analysis Robb, but I’d like to comment on one point:

    “The Paleo Diet does seem primarily targeted at men.”
    I have to say I agree with her on this point. Yes, of course there are women following the Paleo diet (for example, me!), but much of the chatter, the more popular bloggers and “experts” (like you) are men. The fitness info seems to be very male oriented. As a perimenopausal obese woman over 50 who has metabolic issues and I also follow a low carb way of eating, I find that there is a certain discomfort in the Paleo community. The distinct impression I’ve received is that many of the young, athletic, cross-fitting Paleo males don’t want to be associated with people like me. I’m definitely not one of the “cool kids” in the Paleo world.

    I agree with what others have said that the moniker “Paleo” brings with it some identity issues. We certainly don’t live and eat like cavemen, but that seems to be the lightning rod for a lot of criticism. Following the Paleo diet I really think I eat more like my grandmother than my cave-dwelling ancestors. Ancestral seems to be a better descriptor, as long as people don’t get too caught up in that label either (e.g. “I can’t eat coconut if my Eastern European ancestors never saw a coconut”).

    • says

      For a diabetic and or general health and longevity oriented person, I think she has an outstanding perspective.

      For athletes, the LC gig just does not pan out. I’d be interested in her thoughts about the ubiquity of amalayse enzymes in humans.

      • says

        “For a diabetic and or general health and longevity oriented person, I think she has an outstanding perspective.

        For athletes, the LC gig just does not pan out. I’d be interested in her thoughts about the ubiquity of amalayse enzymes in humans.”

        Thanks for the kind words, Robb. Regarding athletic performance, I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding Phinney and Volek’s extensive work on this subject? I.e.: the advantages of adapting muscles to burn fat rather than glucose, as glucose stones contain no more than approximately 2000 calories, whereas fat stores are pretty much unlimited. The Tim Olson case (beating the Ultramarathon record by 21 minutes on a low-carb high-fat diet with minimal in-race calories) is an interesting one. I’m certainly no athlete so I can’t speak at all from experience – but from an evolutionary standpoint, the idea that we would need carbs for optimal performance and endurance to hunt prey, subsist, and survive, just isn’t at all reflected in the archaeological or anthropological record. Our evolutionary history is inextricably entwined with persistance hunting throughout extensive periods of glaciation; consequently, our physiology is primarily adapted to perform most optimally in similar environmental conditions. That’s not to say that high-carb cannot produce a fine athlete; it’s just that we have significantly more genetic adaptations to low-carb, ketotic endurance.

        I will be examining the interesting case of the amylase gene in my next post.


  33. Joshua says

    Yup, I’m definitely grateful that I found the Paleo diet.

    I have diabetes and the low carb diet really helped me feel better every single day. I wouldn’t trade it anything for the world. It’s nice to be able to eat a bit more freely now than I used to and I am definitely enjoying my meals.

    Surely the best cookbook that I have ever spent on.

  34. Anne says

    Many thanks for introducing me to Allan Savoy’s work — this in itself is the most powerful argument in favor of eating meat I’ve heard for a long time! I commend you on you integrity and objectivity.

  35. says

    Well done Rob. Instead of making their own advances some people look to make a name by “correcting” or attacking what many other people are turning to. At the end of the day there really is no “one size fits all” way of living and eating. My diet can get horrible at times but I make sure to detox regularly.Great post.

  36. J Mack says

    Thanks for this Robb. I watched this video last week. Then that night, I went to a talk where a dietician and a cardiologist presented to a group of marathon runners. The dietician was asked about the Paleo Diet. Her response was that she didn’t “believe in diets” and that paleo wouldn’t supply enough carbs to fuel running. Two minutes later she suggested that potatoes, bananas and apples are good pre run carb sources…

    The cardiologist was next. He talked about heart disease and how humans have always had heart disease. “We know by examining mummy’s that even the ancient Egyptians had arterial plaques”. After that I was still willing to stick around and listen to him espouse the miracle drugs known as statins, and how if you eat red meat you can expect to end up in his office. Saturated fats are bad! veggie burgers actually taste good! He then fielded questions from the audience that made it obvious to me that everyone there was struggling to manage their risk factors for heart disease and were desperate for answers.

    After seeing the two presenters above and Christina Warinner’s TEDx talk it frustrates me that people who command these audiences and are in positions to affect change, will on one hand say Paleo is bad or, pseudo science, or, LARPer caveman wanna be fantasy, or just plain ol’ un healthy. Then, with literally their next breath, seem to fully endorse the principles of Paleo. In the case of Prof. Warinner specifically, she didn’t really seem to debunk anything.

    My response to this video would simply be- Yes you are correct, in 2013 with our seedless bananas and broccoli we “do Paleo” better than paleo.

  37. Rene says

    Thanks for taking the time to post this critique and breakdown, Robb. And kudos for encouraging people to actually watch it all the way through for themselves. (I wonder if we’ll soon see a new diet book from Prof. Christina Warinner…) I am going to check out that Allan Savory video, thanks also for posting that.

  38. Alex says

    I think the lean meat argument may have some holes in it. Sure, factory farmed animal carcasses are fattier than wild animal carcasses, but modern butchery practices trim off a lot of that fat, whereas paleo man would have eaten everything. I live in SE Iowa, which is thick with deer, and I’ve watched deer being butchered. The muscle meat is, indeed, extremely lean, but just under the skin are thick layers of fat. Hunters here generally trim that fat off and leave it for the scavengers because it has a strong gamey taste, but that’s a modern cultural value that would make zero sense in the context of paleo man. I’m not convinced that paleo hunter gatherers would have eaten less animal fat than modern humans eating fattier animals that have had much of the fat trimmed off.

  39. Dan M says

    After finishing the video I thought the following:

    1. Has she actually read the totem works of the paleo movement? If so she missed all the pieces about variety in paleo eating, grain fed vs wild meat, seasonal eating, etc. As Robb pointed out, her afterthoughts in the beginning of the video are often points raised by the paleo movement itself!

    2. What is her ultimate objective? Debunking bad science is one thing, selectively choosing facts to support your position is another. Based on her labeling the diet a “fad” I get the impression she is biased towards the evidence. This was confirmed by her straw man on the position of red meat in the paleo diet, and by the unnecessary assumption that paleo is a primarily male driven and male focused movement. With that said, what is her agenda? Debunking the paleo diet in favor of what? That’s a question I didn’t have a sufficient answer to after watching the video.

    3. Observation and anecdote alone are not science. The second half of her talk regarding isotopes, microbomes and seasonal eating were interesting and right in line with paleo concepts. But the first half of the presentation was constructed of a straw man argument that reduced paleo nutrition theory to tenants that look like a High Schooler’s synopsis off of an internet forum. I hardly think it represented the core of the theory presented by the movements leading thinkers. She also made the mistake to think the core of paleo theory is rooted in an observation of paleo anthropology alone. If that is her position, it is patently false. Looking at paleo anthropology and making relevant observations is only the starting point in the evolutionary nutrition template. If that is where we stopped we would be in trouble. In truth, this starting point leads to “modern” testing of the theory though analysis, trials and sampling. She seems to have mistook the observation that created the hypothesis as the movements reason to support the conclusion “grains and various post-agricultural eating habits are harmful, meat and saturated fat are good.”

    In short, I’m not impressed. This seems like another half-ass attempt to ride the debunking wave so popular in academia these days. You can’t base a critique off of data taken from popular paleo eating websites and expect it to be a substantial representation of the core of a movement. She showed pictures of a few paleo books in her presentation, but she didn’t reference one of them directly in her critique. I am forgiving, but I can’t take that argument seriously. Second 1/2 or last 1/4 was interesting though.

  40. Rebecca says

    Don’t mean to be a bore, but regarding one “scientific” point from Warinner’s lecture about “we don’t have big scary teeth”, so we obviously aren’t meant to eat meat:

    Canine reduction in human evolution (also termed SCC elimination [sectorial canine complex]) is the result of an evolving reproductive strategy; see Lovejoy’s “Reexamining Human Origins in Light of Ardipithecus ramidus”(2009).

    The female specifically selected the least “agonistic” male to form a long-term pair bond with, leading to the eclipse of SCC. She would have had a much better chance of long-term, dependable provisioning by the male that was not alpha [a more mature male with limited agonism), for he would be most likely to hunt and forage for their altricial young.

    It is clear that Warinner does not have a general understanding of “selection” itself. Canine reduction is not a result of dietary change, but a result of the change in mating behavior – there really is no other satisfactory explanation for this.

  41. Shane says

    Almost didn’t make it through that video. Her voice throughout the first 3/4 of the video has this sickening “please believe me,” pleading quality that destroys her credibility even without the ridiculous arguments. Only in the end does she seem to believe what she’s saying.
    I’m no scholar and much of the science is out of my grasp, but results are final. Since reading Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain’s books and getting hooked up online with more paleo resources, since applying it in my life, everything is better. Eczema and athelete’s foot are clearing up on their own; my seizures, which used to be frequent and severe are now very infrequent and minor, etc, etc. Apologies for the cliche but, Paleo rocks!

  42. Bird says

    Begging the question is a form of logical fallacy. Under no circumstances whatsoever does it ever mean, “raise the question.” And before everyone starts lambasting me for pointing out something seemingly petty, consider that when one wants to be taken seriously one should effectively communicate. Which is to say, “be right.”

  43. Patty says

    Is she trying to imply that paleo diet might include any size of mountain dew soda?

    Also, she based much of her definition of ‘paleo diet’ on pictures from… somewhere? If she stated the source for her understanding of all things paleo, I didn’t see it.

    Critics seem to miss the point that a paleo style of eating is nutritionally sound, and produces healthful result. (And is what she herself espouses in the last segment.)

    Maybe we should begin quoting her. “Prof. Warinner states that … is an ideal diet methodology.”

  44. says

    Based on the content of Christina Warinner’s talk, it seems to me that she has, at best, a myopic understanding of the Paleo Diet as it was conceived by some of its progenitors, like Boyd Eaton and Loren Cordain. Now, I’m not familiar with all of the popular books and hundreds of blogs on the diet, which I often think make unsubstantiated claims about human evolution in support of the diet, I do have knowledge of the diet through Cordain’s and Eaton’s books. That said, a majority of what Warinner stated as myths of the Paleo diet are not contested by either Cordain or Eaton. For example, she points out that it is erroneous to say that paleolithic peoples ate mainly meat. Neither authors stated that. Cordain wrote ubiquitously in his updated_Paleo Diet_that a paleo dieter should eat a relatively high amount of protein from lean meats, fish, and seafood along with lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts as he discovered in his decades-long research on the prototypical paleolithic diet. Cordain did not state that our paleolithic ancestors never ate cereal grains, only that cereal grains were not the staple of their diets. Warinner stated that there’s not one paleolithic diet, but many. That’s basically a regurgitation of Cordain’s argument. She seems to assume that all paleo dieters take the Paleo diet literally. Now, if we indeed took the Paleo Diet literally and strove to eat and behave exactly like our paleolithic ancestors did (which is a no-brainer impossible), then an argument against it is justified. But that’s not the case. Neither Cordain nor Eaton stated that. I certainly do not believe it. At best, we can only mimic how they ate and led an active lifestyle in our modern world. And lastly, it is false what Warinner said that there is no basis for this diet in archeology or in any other related scientific field. Cordain provided many references to scientific papers in his book on the diet. One notable reference is the scientific paper from Neil Mann at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. That paper highlighted meat consumption among our paleolithic ancestors.

  45. says

    Just more proof that having a PhD from Harvard doesn’t mean somebody is academically rigorous in their arguments. From the introduction to the video I thought she was actually going to debunk something, but when I watched it I just laughed…

  46. Melissa says

    Our demands are fairly, simple, actually: Denounce Nikoley, Kruse, Sisson (for his recent incendiary remarks toward Evelyn), and Moore (for being himself) – then we can talk. Your continued silence, Robb, in the face of this patriarchal oppression is speaking volumes about your character. Very disappointing.

  47. AD says

    Put the average person in the jungle they would grab the easiest meal possible…nuts seeds berries fruit greens bugs…big game meat would be limited and rare. Just because our brains were able to hack meat collection methods / and stay warm in cold climates does not mean meat should be the staple.

    Control insulin, eat real and limit animal intake.

  48. Dave Yates says


    …I just LOVE your mind (but not in a biblical sense :-) )

    Robb, I really appreciate your commitment to the integrity of your communication. Too much polarization in our culture and in many ways the communication “meme” in our (U.S.) culture is CONFLICT.

    Thanks for being so committed to teaching, inquiry and curiosity, and having the willingness to praise the gifts that folks bring to the discussion.

    With such a generous spirit like yours… you must be eating a vegan/peaceful diet.

    Seriously though… thanks for your clarity and integrity.


  49. says

    “For a diabetic and or general health and longevity oriented person, I think she has an outstanding perspective.

    For athletes, the LC gig just does not pan out. I’d be interested in her thoughts about the ubiquity of amalayse enzymes in humans.”

    Thanks for the kind words, Robb. Regarding athletic performance, I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding Phinney and Volek’s extensive work on this subject? I.e.: the advantages of adapting muscles to burn fat rather than glucose, as glucose stones contain no more than approximately 2000 calories, whereas fat stores are pretty much unlimited. The Tim Olson case (beating the Ultramarathon record by 21 minutes on a low-carb high-fat diet with minimal in-race calories) is an interesting one. I’m certainly no athlete so I can’t speak at all from experience – but from an evolutionary standpoint, the idea that we would need carbs for optimal performance and endurance to hunt prey, subsist, and survive, just isn’t at all reflected in the archaeological or anthropological record. Our evolutionary history is inextricably entwined with persistance hunting throughout extensive periods of glaciation; consequently, our physiology is primarily adapted to perform most optimally in similar environmental conditions. That’s not to say that high-carb cannot produce a fine athlete; it’s just that we have significantly more genetic adaptations to low-carb, ketotic endurance.

    I will be examining the interesting case of the amylase gene in my next post.


    • says


      Thanks for swinging by. VERY interested to see more writing form you. Love both the content and perspective you have on this stuff.

      You might find this three part series I did interesting:

      Everything from glucose hysteresis and my experience as a coach.

      As to your question, “yes”, very familiar with Phinney/Volek’s work on keto-adapted athletes and I’m a big fan…but with a caveat or two.
      Fortunately or unfortunately my athletic and coaching activities bring me to some VERY glycogen dependent sports: Brazilian jiujitsu, MMA, 2K rowing. The longer the activity I think the more keto adaptation can be tweaked to the advantage of the athlete (Tim Olsen for example) but for these sports that are relatively short but who rely on glycolysis for the lion’s share of energy production…I just do not see things work. And man, have I tried! Both in myself and in my clients. We also see this reflected in the Nutrition and Metabolism piece looking at ketosis and athletic performance. Pretty damn good Vo2, serious impact on that “low gear” necessary for sprinting.

      And I think your observations about the need for specific fueling and our HG ancestors is spot on. I see this right at an inflection point between performance, health and longevity…imagine the tripple point of water for a kind of graphical representation here. As we push to the outer edges of performance we are negatively impacting both health and longevity (epidemiology is pretty clear on this), and generally find the need for carb intake levels above what we might regularly have seen in the ancestral diet.

      Would love to hear your thoughts on all that.

  50. greg says

    Right now i’m eating my mostly organic breakfast (breakfast-ish,it’s just past noon) salad of carrot, spinach, white cabbage, red cabbage, red pepper, tomato, radish, avocado, cucumber and tuna with an apple cider vinegar and EVO dressing and i just a thought, well as much as i can hear myself think over the crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch….. swallow….
    Oh-oh. I’ll never be able to manage my walk home from work and then workout afterwards. Certainly not after i eat my beef and cauliflower vindaloo in about three and a half hours.
    Curses to you Wolf, for leading me down this path!
    Although my type 1 diabetes and really tight ass say thanks.

  51. AD says

    My reality equates to absolutely perfect blood work where I measure every possible bio marker.

    ” Just because our brains were able to hack meat collection methods / stay warm in cold climates does not mean meat should be the staple.”

    We have also hacked the ability to talk to anyone around the world instantly using a cell phone which equates to frying your brain – does not make it right.

    Control insulin, eat real food and limit animal intake.

  52. Keith says

    Well, I think the problem is something you did allude to in your response. As a person who has adopted a healthy paleo diet (and seen my pre-diabetes and cholesterol problems reduce/go away) I’m a believer. But if you go on-line or hit a bookstore you will be inundated with all sorts of superficial understandings of what it is all about. Things become fads as people massage and adapt those parts they like, ignoring the stuff they don’t have the energy or mental curiosity to pursue. Or they take the things that conform to their pre-existing world view and ignore the rest (confirmation bias). There are some very intelligent, well researched, well documented sites out there pursuing this stuff. But there are vastly more people tossing around ideas casually that have at best only a rudimentary understanding that get counted as “paleo”. Hence the “rebuttal”. So the issue ends up being “who” the rebuttal is about and frankly that talk was a rebuttal to what you might want to call the “popular culture” version of what we call the paleo diet. Frankly just calling it the “paleo” diet causes some of these problems because it begs questions about diet variability, etc. (all issues you both discussed). Frankly I don’t see much distance between the two of you. I’d argue that there’s probably 90% agreement here and much of the different pivots around issues like how to have modern red meat in the diet (grass fed vs. grain fed, nitrates, etc.).

    So basically I watch and read both, shrug a lot, agree a lot, then go eat few carrots and strawberries seriously wishing I could still eat a strawberry stuffed donut from the local donut place (now that is seriously wonderful stuff *but* I pay for it in no uncertain terms). :)

  53. Michael Gold says

    Guys vs. girls: out of our 214 here in Paleo Diet and Lifestyle Houston (on Facebook), there are about 116 girls. But a few of our 214 are Crossfits or other companies. Was it 2 of them? 4? I don’t want to go back and count it all.

    So we’re about 116/210 girls:total, or 116:94 girls:guys.

    Where’s the predominance of males (according to Robb Wolf: I have not watched the video to see for myself) that Dr. Warinner is talking about???

  54. Michael Gold says

    LOL The TED talk description says Paleo is a “phad.” It is a style of painting???

    I quote: “Published on Feb 12, 2013 TED Fellow Christina Warinner is an expert on ancient diets. So how much of the diet phad the ‘Paleo Diet’ is based on an actual Paleolithic diet?”

    Damn! I’ve been eating and living this stuff!! Will I die soon?

  55. says

    Great Critique Robb,

    You do get heated in a few places, in much the same way Dr. Warinner makes general statements, but I don’t blame you in the least. I think the important thing to remember is her talk is to people who know very little if anything about PD and secondly if they do identify with it, would likely do so via mainstream means, so having the assumptive statements in her talk makes it more relatable and sensational.

    I think reading your review and watching her talk just adds to the validity of a more fundamental approach for me personally, BUT it perhaps illuminates something much more disturbing, which is the ability for us as humans to take a logical notion and pervert it to an extreme where it’s barely even recognizable.
    The best example is that one Paleo person who takes the inclusion of meat as a free license to consume 1lb of bacon every morning or 3 “Bunless” Burgers for lunch. Perhaps a corrective clarification of what is reasonably paleo for readers might be an interesting post. There’s no doubt that some readers will proudly fall into the excessive meat = better category.

    Thanks again for the read.

  56. Joe Notebaert says

    Keep in mind the bit about Mexico was 7000 years ago. Hardly a paleo time. Also, chew on some olives and you have a pasty version of olive oil. No one ever said HG made complex salads. Just that at different times in paleo history humans have eaten everything in that salad on a regular basis at some point. She sounds like a vegan to me. Maybe the wheat, corn, and dairy lobby paid her off? They are very powerful.

  57. Brewed says

    The first video annoyed me but the second video floored me!
    The pictures of the land before and after were shocking.. Soooo cool! Thanks for sharing!

  58. says

    Just a follow up on what I wrote above. I happened to come across the 1988 book _The Paleolithic Prescription_ by B. Eaton, et al. I read the comments in the book and was pleasantly surprised to find laudatory reviews by important figures in paleoanthropology like Richard Leakey and Donald Johanson. Leakey stated: “It is always good to see the study of our past being applied to the problems of our modern ways of living and the authors have presented convincing arguments.” Johanson wrote: “The Paleolithic Prescription is a brilliant exposition on the diet Nature designed for us.” Though despite these supportive comments by giants in the field, the media quickly targeted the Paleo diet for ridicule and for laughs, but the serious scientists, like the ones I mentioned above didn’t think it was funny at all.

  59. John Frederick says

    There doesn’t appear to be any counter views to yours in this conversation Robb. How can that be? Very tempting to assume you haven’t allowed them.

    Anyway, here I go. This sounds very much like a religious movement to me or an ideology. Such movements are resistant to counter arguments and build a huge emotional commitment that is hard to let go of. Are you watching for this danger within yourself?

    There seems to be a scorn towards vegetarians coming through in some posts. Very long term sudies point to vegetarians having better health and longevity. Such statistics cannot be dismissed easily. I myself am a forty year case study.

    If you are going to be a meat eater you have to consider the ethics of how animals are farmed which next to no meat eaters do. Paleolithic people had little choice. We do have choice so we have to take on the ethical issues.

    A true paleo person would have to hunt and kill their animals for meat. That sounds like an evolutionary backward step to me. Human development is about much more than the physical. Our future is in developing love and compassion and not focussing on the physical.

    Anyway, time to go for a surf and a run on the beach.

  60. Jimbo says

    Funny how people lose their mind when you suggest that all their suffering has been for naught. “Don’t you dare tell me I’ve been choking down whole grain pasta and abstaining from delicious steak for 10 years for nothing! I’d rather keep doing it than have to admit my hard work was in vain!”

    It’s just food people. You aren’t what you eat. You are what you do. Food is just fuel for the “do”.

    I’m so glad I’m only a consumer of this information, not a producer. I’d lose my mind.

    • says

      It’s kinda wacky when the Used Car Salesman’s pitch is “Try it, tell me how it goes.”

      the positives totally outweigh the negatives, but man, some days!

  61. Josie says

    That is why starting on an early healthy diet is important. You should be avoiding unhealthy foods or at least keep it under moderation because those are the main culprits why people get fat or even build conditions. It’s an adjustment that we have to make in order to be healthier and live longer. It’s necessary to eat better because what we eat pretty much determine how we live our lives in the long term.

    Paleo diet is a good example of a good healthy diet. It focuses on basic food groups that we need that aren’t causing us to be unhealthy. It’s an adjustment we have to make.

  62. Aaron says

    “We may end up solving all this health and medicine stuff long before the academics realize they are not all that important to the process.”

    Very well said. The point here is to show your friends/family or anyone that is interested that moving away from crap foods has serious, long-term benefits.

    I appreciate the need for the “Paleo” title, although I never use it. Instead I try to explain the immediate and lasting benefits of eliminating certain foods, and to never, ever make it a religion. Two grocery store cashiers in two days have commented on the contents of my cart (which is new for me, usually it is just idle chit-chat) so I give them as much information as they have time to hear. One real person to another, no need for a degree of any kind to feel good.

  63. Jane says

    Robb, Mat Lalonde says grains are not nutrient dense, but they are very dense in one nutrient needed by meat-eaters: manganese. Meat is very low in manganese and very high in highly-available iron, which can cause manganese deficiency. The iron-manganese ratio in beef is around 100, and in wheat it’s 1. Eating meat together with grains could be a good idea, because the phytate apparently inhibits iron absorption much more than manganese absorption. The Hunza used to eat meat-and-grain stews, according to Dr Wrench.

    BTW, the blog you mentioned earlier
    says the following about ancient farmers: ‘Instances of porotic hyperostosis brought on by iron deficiency anaemia increased dramatically in agricultural settings. A greater focus on domesticated plant foods also resulted in nutritional deficiencies, due to the reduced availability of micronutrients exclusive to meat, such as iron, zinc, vitamin A, and B12.’

    Porotic hyperostosis is not caused by iron deficiency.

    • says

      That’s a good finde On the PH, but the fact remains, shifting to grain consumption is where we see this condition. The authors of that paper indicate increased parasite load which is consistent with not only the close proximity of living conditions, but also the state of general nutrient deficiency.

      As to the manganese…where DID we get adequate amounts pre-agriculture?

      And clearly the iron deficiency piece is significant, we see multiple adaptations to a sparse iron nutrient environment with the advent of agriculture, familial hemochromotosis perhaps being the most prevalent.

  64. Jane says

    Yes I agree, but consider this. When people became farmers, they were more vulnerable to famine because they couldn’t just move to another place like the hunter gatherers could. Episodes of starvation are known to have destroyed the health of the Hunza. I don’t see how a grain based diet could have been responsible for poor health in early farmers when it produced such excellent health in the Hunza and other peoples of northern India 100 years ago.

    Where did we get our manganese pre-agriculture? Very interesting question. I suspect from wild grains and legumes! But not for the Inuit, and I’ve been trying to find out how they got theirs. It could have come from the berries and other plant foods they collected, from shellfish or freshwater fish (oddly much higher in Mn than sea fish), from mineral-rich water, or from organ meats. Ancient Inuit mummies have been found with atherosclerosis and/or bone disease, which could conceivably have been due to manganese deficiency.

    About the ‘sparse iron nutrient environment’ with the advent of agriculture. Have you read what Ray Peat has to say about iron deficiency? His article is the best I’ve seen on this topic. It may surprise you.

  65. Corrie says

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on a minute, everybody! Back it up, back it up…beep…beep…beep! :)

    We can completely disregard this person’s input because she is an Archaeological Scientist that can’t even spell “archaeological.” Check out her slide at 2 minutes, 40 seconds.

    All credit for this observation is due to my husband. Who, I might add, said that the Allan Savory video brought a tear to his eye. Thank you for ending this post with a truly powerful, meaningful, HOPEFUL bit.

  66. George says

    The comments following Robb’s rebuttal were worth “the price of admission” and a thousand times more educational than the talk given by Prof. Warinner.

  67. Neal says

    Prof. Warinner might be right, I don’t know, I’m not an archaeologist, biologist, historian or any kind of expert on what people ate and when they ate it. (I can’t tell you what my wife ate for breakfast a hour ago.) 100,00 years ago my forefathers could have been eating cheetos and Dr Pepper brought to them by time travelers, or they could have been getting 90% of they calories from grains. But regardless of who’s archaeology is most accurate is somewhat irrelevant. What is important is that thousands, if not millions, of people are healthier – some even alive – because they have changed their diet and lifestyles based on the ideas of Robb Wolf, Dr. Cordain, Art De Vany and others.

  68. Kelly says

    Rule one of going into battle: Know thy enemy, which she clearly didn’t take the time to bother doing, as in the end she unwittingly sides with what she thinks is the enemy.

    It’s sad that respected academics can be so downright lazy. With all the time she puts into research, you’d think she would at least take a little time to brush up on the concepts she thinks she’s rebutting. Sigh…

    • says

      Or…this was equal parts depth-charge and chumming. Take a popular concept, Paleo, appear to dismantle it, get lots of attention…it’s a common tactic these days.

  69. J. says

    I did an Anthropology B.A. and believe you me, there were more vegetarians on that course than you could shake a stick at.

  70. Linka K. says

    I like reading up on dietary movements, fads, trends, whatever you want to call them, always with much skepticism. Once in a while, I stumble into something that I decide to incorporate into my ever-evolving approach to diet, and to some degree, I think we all do that. Sometimes we embrace an entire concept, and sometimes we take away bits and pieces.

    What I find tremendously interesting is how emotional and defensive we get about our chosen lifestyle. Many of the comments here are charged with a fervor that often plays out in religious discussions. (Reading about Atkins was a lot of fun, too.) It is as if a dissenting opinion about our diet devalues us.

    My question is, why do we seek to have our lifestyle legitimized by others? (Media, scientific community, etc.) Different approaches will work for different people, and if you found something that works for you, more power to ya.

    • says

      I guess we have not been out of the trees long enough to have an evolved view like yourself?

      Let me ask you a question: What topic to You is worth debating/clarifying/perhaps even getting testy about if someone completely misrepresents it? Anything?

      And with respect, but when someone enters into a topic with the caveat “I’m a skeptic” this is code for “I carry around so much baggage I often cannot see the forest through the trees.”

  71. Lloyd says

    I find most of these comments annoying, and I tend to believe they’re symptomatic of a clear lack of openess–you know, when it comes to the mind.
    The most popular Facebook comment was, oddly enough, the one I found the most boring. I suppose the lesson you can draw from the brocoli story is that some plants’ genes have been dramatically modified, and even if humans’ ones have done so, many of us are still not totally able to digest some food properly. (You also can draw other lessons.It’s just an example.) The two mentions that follow demonstrate an actual relativism disability and a very narrow-focused, ego-centered mind. Because you believe these authors are THE authors to know, read, worship(?), is the fact she didn’t mention them eliminatory? Because you agree with many things she said, is it not debunking? This is not only for people that follow such a diet; it may be hard to conceive it.
    The semantics is actually, to me, something that is quite important, and being ironistic about that shows clearly a lack of knowledge on the subject.
    Actually, it is full of haters who despised the video before having watched it. It’s true you can hardly take lessons from it, in such a state of mind. You may find some things she said inaccurate, or lame, but I find it’s is highly sufficient to say she’s dumb and doesn’t deserve her PhD. Actually, it’s very pueril.
    Ah! And, seriously, what’s all this fuss about food diversity? She clearly mentionned that sometimes people, then, used to travel a lot to get food, and had to eat different plants and stuff. Here again, it clearly shows that you’re just trying to demean someone that questions a diet you’re following. Hey, no diet is absolutely perfect. This sounds lame, but I tend to guess some people like lame things. Whereas you had the opportunity to recognize (then, maybe, question, in order to improve it, which involves thinking, something some people don’t appreciate) that paleo diet is not a absolut monolith and has some flaws, some prefered to laugh at it–which, I agree with that, is an easy way to get through it.
    However, I found Robb honest in this rebbutal. He admitted that she made some points.
    But this is definitely not what most of these comments contain. More, it is so full of hatred that some actually demeaned TED! What the Hell? Hello, Halo effect, do you know that? Questionableness? And many, many other things. Science changes, and I find it’s dangerous to worship it. You can find a lot of researches that contradict others; others that last decades, then are proven to be wrong (until when?), etc. etc. Hey, paradigms shift, and, anyway, always need to be improved. Being such an hater is surely not the way to get new and exciting ideas. But, as in many other areas, in science, a lot of people prefer to show they have the bigger thing than trying to find interesting material in other ways of thinking. And it’s always a great parade.

  72. Florida Vs Georgia says

    May I simply say what a relief to find someone who
    really understands what they are discussing on the internet.

    You certainly realize how to bring an issue to light and make it
    important. More and more people ought to check this out and understand this side of the
    story. I was surprised that you’re not more popular since you surely possess the gift.

  73. anon says

    You didn’t debunk anything, your supposed debunks are merely minor insignificant details.

    The bottom line is every experimental study (or almost every experimental study) clearly shows that a paleo diet has many benefits.

    The scientific community seems to have a strong bias against performing more paleo diet experiments, probably because they know that many commonly accepted ideas will be proven wrong.

    According to a recent study (“Project. Diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index for weight-loss maintenance” N Engl J Med. 2010 Nov 25;363(22):2102-13) involving more than 750 subjects high protein low glycemic diets were the most effective for weight loss.

    Why is the scientific community against performing more experiments with paleo diets, are they afraid that many commonly accepted ideas will be disproven?

    Natural selection tells us that nature selects traits that makes a species more likely to survive.

    The scientific consensus is that the paleolithic people (2.5 million years – 10,000 BC) lived longer and were taller than the Neolithic people.

    So natural selection tells us that a paleo diet made human beings more likely to survive.

    What human beings have been surviving on for more than 2 millions years was a paleo diet, and their life expectancy was very high in comparison to other eras in history (Hillard Kaplan, Kim Hill, Jane Lancaster, and A. Magdalena Hurtado (2000). “A Theory of Human Life History Evolution: Diet, Intelligence and Longevity”. Evolutionary Anthropology 9 (4): 156–185).

    The reason why 1/3 of humans are lactose intolerant is because we never evolved for a lactose diet (National Digestive Diseases Information, USA Today)

    It’s just like forcing a wild animal to eat a radically different diet.

    Of course natural selection isn’t always perfect, but pretty close (especially if it worked for over 2 million years).

    It’s time that the scientific community does more research on a paleo diet instead of just using arguments from authority.

  74. Ignacio says

    Today, I went to the beach with my children. I
    found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She
    put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched
    her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but
    I had to tell someone!

  75. GrzeTor says

    She doesn’t seem to recognize the difference between the diet itself and some associated cultural phenomena. Eg. although kosher diet is associated with jewish religion you can eat kosher diet while being atheist. Same with vegan diet – you don’t have to be a hindu or an animal right activist to eat vegan. Or that you don’t need long hair and a black shirt to listen to metal music.

    You can’t debunk a diet! A way of eating is not falsifiable. What can be debunked are claims or ideologies, or perhaps stated reasons for choosing a diet. Her problem is that for the same diet there can be multiple claims, ideologies, but also there’s a possibility that someone follows a diet mindlesly, without reflection on it, just automatically following recipes, or because of some emotional reactions – like the diet being tasty, or following her friends, all eating such diet.

    Chistina doesn’t understand this, and thus makes a false assumption that paleo diet somehow has to start, or be based on a philosphy of following ancestors. In case of paleo consider Art DeVanny and his road to an evolutionary diet, which was created without basis on any philosophy. He was just searching for an optimal nutrition for his family members suffering from type-1 diabetes. He found such diet. Only later his anthropologist friends explaned to him that what he thought he invented was a diet of a paleolithic man.

    ” It didn’t begin as a caveman thing. It began as our family experiment when my 2-year-old son became a Type 1 diabetic and my wife developed the disease a few years later. I began to see how we could reduce inflammation. This led to more fresh plants and fruits for their high antioxidant content. Then we knocked down foods that caused [blood sugar levels] to spike, like simple carbohydrates and grain-based foods, which are also highly inflammatory. The evolution connection just happened because my anthropology colleagues told me I was eating a hunter-gatherer diet when I talked to them.”

  76. says

    I enjoyed watching the video. The reason why the paleo diet is a fad diet is because it removes grains and dairy from the diet. Just becaused it is labeled a fad diet does not mean that the paleo diet does not have some strong points.
    There are many good points to the PD. However it is lacking in grains/dairy which can be agrued with scientific evidence that it is beneficial to our bodies for optimal health. Exercising, weight lifting, less stress, adequate sleep etc along with a healthy overall diet that is balanced and varied and minimally processed is the way to go.

    I work with people who use the paleo diet and I respect that. If you want to avoid grains/dairy. That is your choice. What I disagree with is the fact that the diet disregards anthropological science backed data.

    Why not just call it another version of the Adkins Diet or South Beach diet?

    Its great to eat fresh foods and I recommend that to everyone.

    Why are their numberious recipes for paleo brownies, paleo cake, paleo cookies etc? Isn’t this inconsistant with the diet, and how if paleo people were able to make brownies? Do you think they searched recipes over the internet? I’m sure they didn’t.

    • Laurie says

      “However it is lacking in grains/dairy which can be agrued with scientific evidence that it is beneficial to our bodies for optimal health.”

      Could you share some of that “scientific evidence” please? You don’t even need to work hard, just share ONE study that compared a whole grain diet to a diet devoid of grains. Just one.

      • Daniel says

        I don’t have the desire to get into a shooting match with you. Here is a study that you should read. Like I said the PD has some good strong points. Carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation. Overconsumption of carbohydrates period is unhealthy. Too much of any food is not good for you health. I think it is great that you feel so strong about your diet. I disagree and will always disagree. I talk to people all the time who can’t continue this diet longterm. it’s not realistic for most people. Even some people who are on this diet, eat grains occasionally.

        This isn’t the study you were looking for but here you go: its a good one. I think you should design a non biased stuy that is peer reviewed from multiple disciplines studying the longterm effects of the paleodiet? I would be interested in reading this.

        Whole Grains and Health: from Theory to Practice—Highlights of the Grains for Health Foundation’s Whole Grains Summit 2012
        J. Nutr. 2013 143: 5 744S-758S; first published online March 20, 2013.

        Eat Heatlhy, Get Moving! That is what it’s all about. Take care!

      • Daniel says

        Here are some interesting reads:

        Paleoamerican Diet, Migration and Morphology in Brazil:
        Archaeological Complexity of the Earliest Americans
        Sabine Eggers1, Maria Parks2, Gisela Grupe3, Karl J. Reinhard4*

        The Modern Take on the Paleo Diet: Is it Grounded in Science? .Source:Environmental Nutrition. Jan2010, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p7-7. 2/3p. .

        Grains, Carbohydrates, and the Brain. .Authors:Jones, Julie1
        Edge, Marianne Smith2
        Source:Food Technology. Sep2013, Vol. 67 Issue 9, p21-21. 1p. .

        Misguided Nostalgia for Our Paleo Past. Authors:ZUK, MARLENE1
        Source:Chronicle of Higher Education. 2/22/2013 Chronicle Review, pB6-B9. 4p.

  77. John says

    Hold on a second…..

    Let me get in my time machine…………….

    I’m going to go see what our paleo ancestors were eating 12,000 years ago.

    ok I’m back. My time machine broke down and I was stuck there for 2 years before I could get it working.

    I found out that nobody knows what people actually ate! Why? Because we were not there! Case closed.

    Call your diet something else, and maybe people otherthan your cult will chime in!

    • Philys says

      I’m going use the same concepts of the Paleo diet and call it the Jurassic Diet! Maybe if we ate like dinosaurs we would be healthier and grow big and strong!

        • Laurie says

          What does that say then about folks like you, Philys? That they’re SO dumb that they can’t even grasp the concept of the really dumbed down paleo diet? Are you sure that’s the bandwagon you wanna jump on?

          Well, ok.

          • Philys says

            I don’t follow the paleo diet and never will. I can see throught the marketing scheme that it is. Its a way to make money. It’s a very misleading fad diet. O

            Your diet has logic without proof. The claim it make seems to be based on sound reasoning but hasn’t been scientifically tested and show to hold up. The studies cited are published, but in a newsletter, magazine, or journal that publishes misinformation. Too good to be true. The claim presents enticingly simples answers to complex problems. It says what most people want to heart. It sounds magical.

            The good points about the paleo diet were taken from the good parts of other diets that have been studied. It’s a no brainer to eat vegetables, fruits, and lean meats.

            Please provide a scholarly source of information that states the paleo diet.

            1. Is actual food that was eaten during the paleo era.
            2. Healthier than what is published on

            Please site these sources from an actual study! I dare you! It shouldn’t be that hard to find a scholarly source. Do I need to give you the definition of scholarly before you send me a unreliable publication.


          • Philys says

            Oh and what’s with the assumption that I am vegetarian or vegan? I eat meat and love it. My favorite part of every meal is a nice juicy piece of meat! Yum

  78. Steve says

    So Paleo plants were small, barely edible, seedy, latex ridden, bitter, tough, spiny, poison, full of pesticides and contain cyanide. What the heck did they eat??? Is there anything edible that might be a safer, more efficient way to get my caloric needs? If those are the other options, she seems to make a pretty good argument to go find yourself a little meat.

  79. alyssa gosslin says

    hello, so my father is a huge fan of your books and very consistent with the pale diet, and i have asked him about it, and he said its hard to explain, anyway you can?

  80. Bill Greener says

    Just like a Wheat Belly Fad, Paleo is very thin on science and very heavy on exploiting peoples ignorance. Real science is published in peer reviewed medical and health related journals etc, which builds up a comprehensive repository of empirical based knowledge. Diet Books on the other hand are publicized on websites, where, surprise surprise, the book is for sale! Think about it.
    If you need to believe this diet will work for you AND you stick to it for more than a few months so as to stop eating junk food and it gets you off your fat ass…well, may the caveman be with you.

    • GrzeTor says

      Bill – do you think people can eat food without science, especially the one published in peer reviewed medical journals? Or is it just impossible and without peer reviewed medical journals we would all starve to death?

      • Hmmmm says

        Finally some sanity. Well put Grzetor.

        2 million or so years of evolution and we got along fine WITHOUT SCIENCE now we can’t fart without seeing which scientist says it’s okay.

  81. GrzeTor says

    So where’s the followup from Christina Warriner? She made version 1 of her speach, others reviewed, critiqued, did quality control etc. Now it looks like we have neither answers to the critique, nor an improved version 2 of her talk that addresses the major response. Is she kind of hit-and-run scientist, first staring a topic, then escaping?

  82. Guill says

    I’ve been thinking to try paleo for some time and stumbled on this debate… I find it interesting and admire the well tough out response of M. Wolf. One question:

    Why is the cave men thing important ? I mean Prof. Warinner does not argue that Paleo diet does not work, she argues that the idea that we can eat like paleo humans is incorrect. If Paleo diet works here and now, then why is it important to defend the whole “paleo human had it right we should emulate” idea ? I mean if it works, i dont care about cave men plaque debates, yet clearly the paleo community does.

    Is it about creating an engaging story to sell stuff by any chance ?

  83. Paleo Question? says

    Did paleo people use utensils when dinning out?

    Did they by chance figure out a way to proccess almonds into almond flour so they could make some grain free bread? I’ll tell you this much they probably had a hard time cracking the almond shell with rocks and then making flour?

    Would it have been easier to process grains?

    I’m really interested in the paleo diet, but none of it is making since.

    I’m having a really hard time believing that cave men made almond bread, almond flour etc, coconut flour?

    Please help me with these questions. The other diets I want to try are the blood tye diet, and the adkins diet. I’m not sure what the difference is between the paleo diet and the adkins diet. Would it possibly be leaner meats? hum?

    • Squatchy says

      The point is not to recreate what our ancestors did. Paleo is an evolutionary framework, or a lens to view things through if you will. We look back and see how people evolved and what they ate, then compare that to modern foods and use our modern understanding and science to figure out what foods look to be problematic and eliminate or reduce them. A paleo diet is basically about cutting out foods that are potentially problematic and then finding out what works for you. It’s more about eating real whole foods than trying to recreate everything you used to eat using almond flour, etc. (although things like that can make good treats from time to time).

  84. Sandra mcmullin says

    The same thing happened to dr Atkins. He was very close to figuring out paleo and in some aspects was damn near a genius. He was a cardiologist by trade for God sakes? They never missed an opportunity to slam and pervert his diet. I swear they never read his book but were quick to reduce it too meat and fat?
    Dr atkins mistake was he kept trying to explain and sometimes was defensive, rightly so but they never got tired of publicly harrassing him.
    That always upset me…I say follow the money..big money in sugar (addictive) big money in junk food (addictive)…any body whose done paleo knows its healthy..our health is up to us…paleo rocks!

  85. pragmatic health-seeker says

    Life in the caves was unfair oppressive dirty brutish and SHORT; while some were healthy; some were not. Why must I either be screaming fat-phobe condemning all the evil people who eat eggs, dairy, or meat; or be rejecting whole grains, eating 50 pounds of meat daily; as I live in a cave with dr. Atkins?? Why not reject toxins such as white flour bread, white rice, potato chips, soda, sugar, candy, koolaid, white flour sugary cakes, white flour pasta, cigarettes, booze, drugs, doritos, ; but still consume vegetables, leafy greens, berries, fruit(not the juice), unsweetened coconut milk, nuts, unsweetened peanut butter, whole grains, stevia extract, sweet potatoes, fiber, vitamin D, cage-free organic eggs. How about I just eat meat (if/when needed) between 1 – 9 times per month? Why must I be one extreme or another rather than being logical and healthy? Of course what hunters do is far LESS dirty and cruel than what is done by factory-farms/slaughter-houses. Of course dairy is probably a bad idea for some people including me.

    Also with the huge number of insects (locusts, termites, ants , etc) causing trouble; why poison them then throw them away? They should be used as food source instead (after being killed as quickly painlessly as possible) (??)

    Also we can end the illogical corrupt subsidized corn ethanol program (sugar ethanol is better!) & stop the subsidized dirty factory-farm grain guzzlers too; thus growing more nutritious grain; but less of it; while still having a larger net total of grain to be fed to hungry humans . Think of the children etc in Syria, Libya, Gaza, Mexico, Haiti, North Korea who may not get dinner tonight due to the unfair illogical conduct of adults; and how these ideas could get food to them. They are as entitled to food, health, & freedom as we are!

  86. steve says

    i’m just amazing someone who graduated from harvard can make such a basic and bland powerpoint presentation. and for the world stage also.. .

  87. monaom says

    It really is absurd to me that people with no scientific, research-based, 20 year career studying this particular subject feel so superior to attack an educated person about their work. I presume most of you have gathered your info from the internet and read a book (or a few) on the topic written by someone else. You haven’t done truly original, first-hand research, have the ability or interest that entails. You follow a self-appointed guru that you are comfortable with for whatever reason, perhaps who has a modicum of scientific background, but most likely not in this woman’s field of study. If you read across the broad spectrum of materials on the paleo-diet, it pretty much all starts to sound the same as other authors figure out how to cash in. It’s not any different than any other trend where people hope to find an elixir to their problems. But that you know-it-alls with no scientific background think you can critique a woman with smarts in her own particular field is ludicrous. Your credibility could certainly land you on the same stage with her for a plausible debate, couldn’t it?

  88. Andi says

    Not impressed with her stuttering and backtracking. She seems to be all over the map on this, and actually makes a fairly good case for eating meat.

    2 years ago, I changed careers to a fast paced physical one. I was out of shape, so I began eating for energy to keep up with my younger co-workers. I cut out all sugar, and mostly ate meat. Fried chicken or hamburger made from meat I ground myself, without the bun. I also ate it whenever I felt I neeeded something – not neccessarily at break time. I bring, and eat 3 meat ‘snacks’ every day. After work I balance my day with fruit, veggies, brown rice, beans, occasionally pasta, and bread that I make myself. The carbs slow me down and relax me, so to me, they belong at the end of the day. The meat gives me steady energy, and I can run around all day, much to the amazement of my co-workers, who shouldn’t really be amazed because they snack on garbage (processed foods) all day. I slowly lost 30 lbs, and have kept it off without exersizing at all, outside of work.
    Plus eating like this enables me to make better choices on what to eat after work, because I am not ravenous when I come home. I do not eat the first thing I see when I walk in the door, so I can take my time and decide what I think I need to balance out my day.
    The side benefits, and reason I began eating like this was because my blood sugar wasn’t balanced, my muscularity was not where it should be, and I had no energy. I simply made up my mind to change all that.
    The side effects are that I am now quite muscular, sugar is normal, thyroid is normal, moods are stable, and have abundant energy.
    I am 53, look like I am 30, weigh 125 and can lift my own weight.
    I have no name for this “diet” because I don’t diet in the popular sense of the word.

    Maybe that’s the problem. “Cave Man” “Paleo” or “diet” doesn’t sound attractive, and it takes away all the excuses for over weight people to be over weight. Somebody had to “debunk” it so they can all eat their junk and stay fat, and blame it on their thyroids or something.

  89. Krista says

    It does bother me how critics of paleo are very quick to assume that we are all convinced that what we eat is the same as what our ancient ancestors ate. It’s more of a starting point, or a source of inspiration. For me, it’s a non issue.

    Secondly, they assume that eating more meat is the main point of paleo. I find that it’s more about what is removed, and replaced with vegetables. It’s not a carnivorous diet at all, and most of us do not claim to be eating like an actual Palaeolithic person.

  90. Paleo Pam says

    Robb I love the website and thank you for showcasing this video. Very interesting. I am a certified nutritionist and I have to say that Robb is right on the money. Marketing! Just like with the Atkins.

  91. says

    Is your idea of “I put “paleo diet” into google, clicked on “images” and got the following photo:” what you call research into target marketing? You’ve got to be kidding! Do you understand what targeting means? She was talking about the Paleo Diet as a concept that is being marketed, and what the target of those marketing efforts is. Doing a Google search can hardly suffice to substantiate your point in this regard.

      • says

        No brain damage that I am aware of and I am not on medication. I was merely trying to point out that the output generated by a search algorithm based on your search terms does not necessarily reflect the actual target market that an author or company might choose to target their product or service. As an example consider the images you get in google image search when you type Viagra into it. What do you think you’ll see pictures of? Mostly images of men suffering from sexual dysfunction due to inadequate blood circulation? If you try that, you might begin to see what I mean.

  92. wiil samson says

    So where’s the followup from Christina Warriner? She made version 1 of her speach, others reviewed, critiqued, did quality control etc. Now it looks like we have neither answers to the critique, nor an improved version 2 of her talk that addresses the major response. Is she kind of hit-and-run scientist, first staring a topic, then escaping?

  93. kich says

    I’m a post-PhD working with ruminants in African communities extensively managed, as the last video that you showed by Allan Savory. That video is aaalllll the time misinterpreted by people supporting the paleo-diet. Professor Savory talks about extensive systems as more ecological opposite to intensive systems. This is true and in the particular African context, this has the origin in the arrival of the colonial governments which proposed the idea of extensive systems as highly inefficient and attempted to introduce temperate systems in the tropics and obviously didn’t work. Very little people working in that field nowadays (not FAO or university researchers) share that misconception and now the debate goes more into optimal vs maximum capacity. There is were a diet like paleo-diet will not be supported. There is some work done in which for supporting an animal-based diet FAIR, meaning for every human in this world, it is impossible at the rate at western societies currently consume animal products. There are enough publications, specially from FAO, which so far is the maximum organism regulating agriculture economics and can’t be accused of being a bunch of ecologist, indicating that a plant-based and legume-based societies are more sustainable are our current diet lack sustainability if the entire world is to be properly nourish. So, coming back to Savory’s video, and having devoted 5 years of my life to support extensive animal systems, could you explain how you will promote paleo-diet using an extensive system which is characterised by their much lower offtake? How often do you think the entire population will be able to consume animal meat using extensive systems? every day??once every week?? What will you eat in between the periods that extensive managed meat will not be available? How often do you think a pastoralist (the person managing extensively those animals) consumes meat?

  94. Hmmmm says

    Monaom have you actually looked at Robb’s background, education and qualifications? Or some of the very well educated, qualified people posting on here.

    Before you “critique” him and others posting QUIT BEING HYPOCRITICAL and do the very same research you’re blathering on about everyone else not doing.

    Here’s what disconcerts me the most NO ONE follows their own instinct anymore!!!!

    Everyone looks to science to categorize, compartmentalize, back up, label or get confirmation just so they can bleet at each other. If this way of living turns around disease and makes you feel better I couldn’t give a monkeys left testicle who the hell promotes, markets or sells it!! Which it does… and then some.

    All other species on the planet eat what they have evolved to eat except human beings. So, Monaom let’s have less bitching and more common bloody sense or do you rely on a scientist to tell you if you should get up in the morning or not??????????? Have a day off.

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