US News Ranks the Paleo Diet: 2014. Deja Vu All over again!

Howdy folks!

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been consumed with getting the cert done and working at the Specialty Health clinic. Things are motoring along but this stuff just takes time. Add in a few brazilian jiu-jitsu classes and being a dad and I’ve not had much time for writing of late. I have a HUGE list a blog topics I want to hit once I get this stuff put to bed…I honestly detest large projects like a book or this cert as it just takes me out of pocket for everything else…but what’s a cave man to do?

New Year, New News Same Old Shit

So, my twitter and FB feeds have been more backed up than an Elvis impersonator on a two week heroin binge. The topic? US News and World Reports 2014 “Best Diets” ranking, which places the crusty old Paleo Diet a dead, fossilized…corpralite-esque…LAST. Now, the PD was not just last, it was behind such hard scientific contenders as the Slim Fast and Medifast diets! (Those are diets built around shakes folks…)

If I can make an MMA analogy here, the Paleo Diet is Anderson Silva…seemingly unstoppable until we not only shattered our tibia on the bony protuberances of shake based “nutritional” approaches, but the resulting shockwave of dismay caused a collective implosion of scrota and ovaries in the Ancestral Health scene! Will we ever recover? Can we get another title shot?!

The Paleo Diet, lacking in Calcium, was clearly the cause of Silva’s fracture.

If you are trying to figure out what is going on, this is the yearly nob-polishing USNWR provides to things like the aforementioned shake plans and as well as high profile contenders like the Biggest Loser Diet. To take a line from BattleStar Galactica: This has all happened before, it will all happen again.  That link is to the last go around on this topic in which USNWR claimed a panel of experts ranked the PD last, but then when the colleagues of these experts quizzed them on their actual ranking of the PD it appeared USNWR might have applied some “artistic license” to the rankings. It’s been a long time since journalism was about accuracy vs hyperbole, so I guess we need to give the good folks at USNWR a pass (standards are “hard”). If that curb-stomping is not enough for you, please see my mentor, Prof. Loren Cordain’s most recent thoughts on the 2014 rankings. Every news outlet from CNN to the Chernobyl Half Life Observer has picked up this story and proclaimed “Der Paleo Diet ist TOT!”

Well, we are not dead yet. And at least USNWR manages to spell “Paleo Diet” correctly, which helps with the google trends volume which I’ll get to in a bit.

Where Do We Go Now?

The aforementioned rebuttals are quite technical and detailed, I’m not going to rehash that material, but I do want to look at a few of the claims kicked around in the USNWR ranking:

1-The paleo Diet provides inadequate nutrition.

This is not petite-mal wrong, but gran-mal. Please see Prof. Cordain’s early paper and Dr. Mat Lalonde’s nutrient density work. I’m not sure what to say about this other than the folks holding this opinion do not keep up with the literature Or are terrible with math.

2-The Paleo Diet is hard.

Some people make diet and lifestyle changes easily, others prefer to smoke through a trach-tube and scare little kids with their electronically synthesized voice vs changing behavior. To me (opinion piece to follow) what is hard is feeling consistently like shit and living a sub-optimal life. I was pretty sick once and did not really enjoy the experience, perhaps others are different. All that aside, if someone like USNWR is going to make a claim that the PD is “too hard” it might be nice to have something, anything to justify this position. I’d make an argument that if a program were actually hard or non-effective for a variety of goals (weight loss, health issues) then we might see initial interest and a subsequent decline in interest. You know, like happened with The Zone.

Maybe The Russel’s can hound Google Trends to change this clearly inaccurate information?

Paleo VS Zone



3-There is no science supporting the Paleo Diet.

This one absolutely crushes me…is it too much to ask that folks go to PubMed and search for Paleo Diet? I guess I should look at this not as annoying, but as job security. Well, the rebuttals are a good resource for peer reviewed literature around this topic but here is a snippet from an email I received from Prof. Cordain:

There have been 8 RCT of The Paleo Diet. The endpoints including CV risk factors, satiety, weight loss indices show Paleo to be superior to diabetic diets, the Mediterranean Diet and to be more trace nutrient dense than the USDA food pyramid/now the Food Plate. References are as follows:
1. Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC, Jr., Sebastian A: Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009.
2. Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, Branell UC, Pålsson G, Hansson A, Söderström M, Lindeberg S. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009;8:35
3. Jonsson T, Ahren B, Pacini G, Sundler F, Wierup N, Steen S, Sjoberg T, Ugander M, Frostegard J, Goransson Lindeberg S: A Paleolithic diet confers higher insulin sensitivity, lower C-reactive protein and lower blood pressure than a cereal-based diet in domestic pigs. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2006, 3:39. 
4. Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Erlanson-Albertsson C, Ahren B, Lindeberg S. A Paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Nov 30;7(1):85
5. Lindeberg S, Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Borgstrand E, Soffman J, Sjostrom K, Ahren B: A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia 2007, 50(9):1795-1807.
6. O’Dea K: Marked improvement in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic Australian aborigines after temporary reversion to traditional lifestyle. Diabetes 1984, 33(6):596-603.
7. Osterdahl M, Kocturk T, Koochek A, Wandell PE: Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 2008, 62(5):682-685.
8. Ryberg M, Sandberg S, Mellberg C, Stegle O, Lindahl B, Larsson C, Hauksson J, Olsson T. A Palaeolithic-type diet causes strong tissue-specific effects on ectopic fat deposition in obese postmenopausal women. J Intern Med. 2013 Jul;274(1):67-76
So, we provide material like this to the detractors and get a response ” That’s not much research, we can draw NO conclusions from this.” Um, ok. So, we just keep doing what is not working? Another common dissent in this story is much of what we talk about in Paleo Land is anecdotal. Yes, most clinical findings, are observational. Most if damn near all scientific findings START observationally, cause someone to say something to the effect “hm…what the heck is going on here? I wonder if this is what’s happening?”  Observation–>hypothesis–>testing–>accept/reject/refine. The Evidence Based Medicine crowd somehow forgets this process…but in an entirely selective and self serving way. When I finally get this cert done I have at least six LOOOONG posts I will do expanding on this. For now we have what has been done, and we have a number of things in the pipeline:

A healthy diet with and without cereal grains and dairy products in patients with type 2 diabetes: study protocol for a random-order cross-over pilot study – Alimentation and Diabetes in Lanzarote -ADILAN

Maelán Fontes-Villalba16*, Tommy Jönsson1, Yvonne Granfeldt2, Lynda A Frassetto3, Jan Sundquist1, Kristina Sundquist1, Pedro Carrera-Bastos1, María Fika-Hernándo4, Óscar Picazo5 and Staffan Lindeberg1

This study will plug some of the holes in Prof. Lindeberg’s original Paleo Diet in humans study. Prof. Cordain has a comprehensive study looking at the efficacy of the PD for various autoimmune conditions for which the preliminary data is very exciting.

But, it’s a retrospective survey! Bad Scientists! No RCT!!

Well, for the nut-swingers who want data, this is the process to get it. Observationally we SEEM to see some remarkable benefits for folks with autoimmunity (and a host of other issues). Given that our current success with conventional therapies for autoimmunity range between “suck” and “worse than the disease” it seems compelling to investigate this stuff further, yes? Perhaps the PD works for autoimmunity and other conditions better than a conventional diet, perhaps not, but again, this is the process that will help answer that question. I think much of the growth that we see with paleo is born of the results folks get…or maybe we just have an amazing TV show that I have not heard of yet.

Many ironies exist in the story between the emerging mainstream presence of Ancestral Health and the slap-dick accounting typical of the media. Most of this I can chalk up to ignorance, inertia and, well, more ignorance, but one wee irony that certainly tickles my ossified funny bone is that many folks from the Paleo Diet scene recently participated in a tweet chat sponsored by…Us News and World Reports Health. The chat ended up trending on twitter.



So, is this stuff annoying? Yea, kinda. Will it affect the growth and success of the Ancestral Health model? Nope, not one bit. We can share information too quickly, folks can experiment and share experiences and in a very market based way, the stuff that works best WILL become the dominant paradigm.






Categories: General, Paleo in the News


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.


  1. says

    Thanks Robb for restoring sanity to the streets of Paleotown once again.

    Yeah, the Paleo is hard business. They don’t mention that trying to subsist on low-calorie shakes is hard and unpleasant. They also don’t mention that vegetarian diets, which they rank highly, eliminate an entire food group. And while they may say there’s not enough research for the PD, why don’t they point out the glaring similarities between the PD and their #1 DASH diet? That is, “fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts.” Minus the whole grains and dairy, sounds a lot like what I eat, though they forgot the steak with pastured butter on it.

  2. donna campbell says

    I don’t get why its so hard for this way of eating to do difficult for people to grasp! When I started to eat, grass fed beef&butter, organic chicken, good bacon, berried, nuts, eggs&my only dairy, greek plain full fat yogurt&heavy cream w/coffee, green leaf veggies, squash&yams, good fats, I lost 60 lbs, labs improved 100%! I’m off aleave for arthritis, sleeping pills, anti depressants&my asthma is improved! I feel better then I ever have!! I feel like moving around now too!

    • says

      60!! Good work!

      For me cutting back on processed foods and refined sugar that saved me from having weekly migraines. I feel great, look great, and my mood is improved. I share my story daily with people. USNWR has nothin on us!

  3. says

    Any post that quotes Battlestar Gallectica has to be good…
    Anyways nice to see you posting on the blog again – it’s refreshing to read something smart online.

    Anyone evenly remotely worried about this bad press just needs to look at the popularity of paleo books on Amazon – people are intrigued, they are buying the books, and they are seeing results.

    Can’t wait to hear more about the Cert. Any timeline on that yet?

  4. Adrian says

    Nice write up robb. I am of the mind that USNWR doesn’t matter. Unless someone is looking for the crowd of people who are tough nuts to crack, it’s more enjoyable to ignore the press good or bad and search out the people who gravitate towards the information. I don’t think there is much that can stop paleo/primal/ancestral lifestyle. The benefits and unlimited potential avenues of it make it a perfect paradigm to grow upon itself. I mean cutting calories and exercising more has no where to go once it’s failed and only exists within itself. Paleo lifestyle is a information network by itself and if someone wants to invest time and money or interest in one area it’s possible and them incorporate it back into the system. I love the one on one conversations I get to have with people and see their lightbulb go off when they realize that it’s actually easy to be healthy and there is so much more to life than conventional living. So screw the press. We write our own stories and it’s these singular changes that matter because it fractures into so many more people through the positives changes.

    • Monica says

      I like that – “we write our own stories.” Any time I share Paleo with people, I share what I have over come and then they start to get that what they are dealing with is also food related. Stories are powerful!

  5. says


    We should be glad that Paleo even made it to the list, whilst I have been having a challenging time convincing my clients who want to lose weight to give up grains and low-fat dairy. Honestly it makes me feel helpless and frustrated when they moan about not being able to lose weight and they only eat this 80-calories bread or muffin.

    Yesterday I was reading an article about harmless sugar on Daily Telegraph as some doctors and nutritionists have come out to say that sugar is not harmful and it’s absolutely not necessary to protest against added sugar in food production. I went so angry (deep down) because all these claims will stick in people’s head as they ‘safely’ consume huge amount of sugar everyday, thinking it is necessary for maintaining good health and sustainable energy, but ignore the truth that sugar is potentially addictive and harmful to health.

    I sincerely hope that the Paleo community will develop an education/ certification course for anyone who is interested in becoming an accredited Paleo-titian. I will definitely be one of the firsts to get certified and ‘officially’ spread the ‘new’ health knowledge.


  6. says

    Everyone and the uncle emailed me the US News report ranking for the paleo lifestyle, since most people I love knew I had changed to the lifestyle just a few weeks ago. I assured them, not even this ranking could change my personal opinion on the paleo lifestyle…all I needed to know was what it has done for me so far.

    Two months ago, the TMJ which I had been diagnosed with almost 15 years ago moved from just an annoying click in my jaw to a constant pain, always there, keeping me from eating any solid foods whatsoever. Chewing and even speaking became painful and there was a dull throbbing sensation that moved from my jaw to my ear if I even attempted to open my mouth. I saw a maxillo-facial doctor, who performed a pano of my jaw, and was diagnosed with severe arthritis. Not “bad” enough yet for surgery, which wouldn’t be anything but a temporary fix anyway, she told me best case scenario I would be on anti-inflammatory meds minimum twice a day for the rest of my life, and worst case, I would require addictive pain killers and muscle relaxers.

    I started my paleo diet just days before this appointment. A mere week after her devastating diagnosis, I realized my pain was disappearing. I could chew again! I was on no meds and the inflammation of my arthritis was almost non-existent! Today, I have no popping AND no pain. I can chew all my favorite foods again.

    What did this? How could this be possible? I checked websites and information about the paleo lifestyle. THE FOODS I HAD ELIMINATED ARE WELL KNOWN INFLAMMATORY FOODS! This change in what I was I taking into my body improved my health on its own. My food is my medicine. Let me not forget to mention I also feel more energy and mentally I feel happier and have more clarity of mind!

  7. says

    Everyone and their uncle emailed me the US News report ranking for the paleo lifestyle, since most people I love knew I had changed to the lifestyle just a few weeks ago. I assured them, not even this ranking could change my personal opinion on the paleo lifestyle…all I needed to know was what it has done for me so far.

    Two months ago, the TMJ which I had been diagnosed with almost 15 years ago moved from just an annoying click in my jaw to a constant pain, always there, keeping me from eating any solid foods whatsoever. Chewing and even speaking became painful and there was a dull throbbing sensation that moved from my jaw to my ear if I even attempted to open my mouth. I saw a maxillo-facial doctor, who performed a pano of my jaw, and was diagnosed with severe arthritis. Not “bad” enough yet for surgery, which wouldn’t be anything but a temporary fix anyway, she told me best case scenario I would be on anti-inflammatory meds minimum twice a day for the rest of my life, and worst case, I would require addictive pain killers and muscle relaxers.

    I started my paleo diet just days before this appointment. A mere week after her devastating diagnosis, I realized my pain was disappearing. I could chew again! I was on no meds and the inflammation of my arthritis was almost non-existent! Today, I have no popping AND no pain. I can chew all my favorite foods again.

    What did this? How could this be possible? I checked websites and information about the paleo lifestyle. THE FOODS I HAD ELIMINATED ARE WELL KNOWN INFLAMMATORY FOODS! This change in what I was I taking into my body improved my health on its own. My food is my medicine. Let me not forget to mention I also feel more energy and mentally I feel happier and have more clarity of mind!

  8. Brent says

    “in a very market based way, the stuff that works best WILL become the dominant paradigm”

    I hate to be the glass is half empty guy, but it doesn’t appear the market is getting much love as of late. If we pushed the political quacks out of office, then we will have a shot, but quacks put them in there in the first place, the same quacks that probably poo poo on the Paleo diet :( I feel like fat bastard. It’s a vicious cycle.

  9. Donnie Law says

    I really think they ranked it last to get a big reaction. They know it’s gaining momentum and helping lots of people. If the “biggest loser” diet was ranked last US News wouldn’t get near the attention.

    Looking forward to more posts and podcasts from you in 2014!

  10. says

    My favorite part is: “…experts couldn’t get past the fact that entire food groups, like dairy and grains, are excluded on Paleo diets. “The risk of nutrient deficiency is real, unless the person takes a multivitamin” stated one panelist.” It’s scary to think that some people call themselves “experts” of nutrition but have no clue how foods operate in the body – much less the nutrient status of vitamins and minerals in things like, oh I don’t know, FRUITS AND VEGETABLES over grains and processed fortified dairy. I was sick, run down, always injured and an emotional wreck on my pyramid-friendly vegetarian diet. Paleo has created the absolutely strongest healthy machine I’ve ever owned in my life.
    The article is just one more reason for folks to never trust any “mainstream” article about diet or nutrition. It will virtually always be driven by marketing dollars – whether it’s the end result of the education received by the “expert,” or the motivation of the publisher. Makin’ it my job to make sure people know it!

  11. says

    The USWNR is doing the exact same thing that others have done before them; trolling for publicity. Taking the top Google searched diet and saying it’s bad is just throwing fuel onto a bonfire, and lo and behold, people start talking about it.

    The hope is that enough people will land here and at other viable sources of researched content and realize the CW propaganda machine is interested in self-perpetuation, not health.

    Thanks for throwing another rational voice into the mix.

  12. DJ says

    Here are my thoughts on all of this. I recently read that the Paleo diet was the most googled diet of last year. If that’s true, and if what I’m seeing personally among people I know is true, then the PD is rising in a BIG way. I’m just an average, middle aged woman living in small town America, and many of my family and friends are finding out about Paleo (not just from me, I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now). For me, the proof is indeed in the pudding, I’ve experienced some remarkable health improvements from eating this way. So I figure that articles such as these from USNWR, are actually going to do the OPPOSITE of what they want them to do, people are going to know they’re just like the government and the organizations and the doctors who have been selling them down the river for years now with crappy health advice! I’m so disillusioned by what my doctors and the so called “experts” have been telling me all these years vs. what I have been able to do for myself through diet and lifestyle changes, that I will NEVER again just “take their word for it!” And I suspect that many people are in the same boat as me, and that number will continue to grow and grow as people see their neighbors and friends and family members changing their health through the PD. Onward and upward, I say!

  13. Matt says

    Overall, there’s a big emphasis on either scientific studies supporting usefulness in CVD or diabetes treatment/prevention; or how effective such a diet is for weight loss. Paleo doesn’t deliver in those metrics. I would love to see more observational and case studies published… where are the paleo MDs and why aren’t they writing up their success stories? A critical mass of case studies gets people studying it and increases the odds of further funding getting doled out.

    As for paleo and weight loss… there’s nothing magical about paleo and weight loss… there’s a lot of ways to lose weight. It’s a good way to lose weight (and maybe some case studies of patients would be useful in getting this message out there.)

  14. raydawg says

    That’s ok, they can keep polish knobs – it’s what they’re best at.

    Gee, I wonder which big food and pharma companies advertise there… I’ve no doubt that this had an influence on their “results.”

    I personally rate US News the worst news source evah… it’s literally a dead-tree dinosaur blog. Soon their readership will go to zero, and they’ll go tits up unceremoniously.

  15. Carrie says

    I agree with some of the earlier posts-Slim Fast, and other similar diets are not easy. Sure there is not a lot of food prep involved. But walking around starving all the time isn’t easy either. Even diets like weight watchers, which can be much more real food oriented, always left me starving. Satiation should be a factor when looking at how easy for practical a diet is. Some of these prepared food diets may not require much effort in terms of cooking/cleaning, but no one is going to be able to tolerate that amount of hunger in the long run. Not to mention the fact that any processed food diet is going to be unhealthy in my book.

  16. Linda Rouse says

    I am 75 have had several on going health problems started Paleo have lost 30lbs no longer have those health issues and have a clearer mind and more energy it works for me really well. I was a vegitarian for years and that did not work for me.

    • Julie says

      Great story Linda. As a woman approaching 60 I like to hear stories from our group who aren’t doing Crossfit types of workouts.

      • Janet says

        I am a 65 YO woman, Paleo/Primal for 2 years now. Best move I ever made. After reading Wheat Belly, so much of my health and mental/emotional history issues fell into place. I always felt so much better without wheat/flour so did the complete elimination. Bam! I went from size 12 jeans to 6/8 in three months. My joint pains went away, along with my sinus infections and sleeping issues. Mood and energy high. Then I trolled the web and, no lie, the picture on Mark’s Daily Apple of a chocolate/almond bark just kept appearing and I said to myself: “Self–if there is some chocolate here on this Paleo/Primal planet–I am all in! I began that journey with SMALL steps. When I wanted to get rid of bottled dressings, I just waited until an easy tasty recipe showed up: it did. When I learned about NutraSweet and junk sweeteners in my Crystal Lite, I eventually quit, but had a more healthy alternative ready to go–homemade Kombucha and a Soda Stream machine. I didn’t hurry anything. Now it’s just “what I do” and I eat way more different foods than I used to in very creative ways. Yesterday I made a raw liver (grass fed) “shot” with coconut milk and raspberries. Now I have a way to get some liver easily, plus a grass fed beef farm nearby sells liver by the pound. Eventually, I plan to get some lard at another farm with pastured piggies. This is FUN! Even my husband has assimilated to a large extent because he adores my new cooking and when all the podcasts are on here in the kitchen, he has listened! I just can’t understand all this buzz kill on the Paleo lifestyle because I read everyday of the incredible changes for the better in people. Convinced it is all Medical-Corporate-Political-Complex driven bull shit to keep us shopping down the junk aisles at the stores. We all know that. Well, my hope is to be completely off that grid eventually. But, my local Walmart in my small town does carry Kerrygold butter and I have made some requests for grass-fed ground beef. Next week I will ask again.

  17. Donald Gillis says

    Wow….things never change….just finished reading …The Fat of the Land”. By Vilhjalmur Stefansson, an early Paleo participant,having dog sledded the. arctic living of the land, animal fats. Published in 1946, revised in 56. He and his travelling partner Andersson, put themselves under strict supervision of a team of special nutritional Doctors, the like, believing they could not live without bread……yet the evidence clearly showed the opposite……hey this was just an observational study on two people….and we can forget how the Inuit managed to stay hearty and health for thousands of years before them……oh well!

  18. Jody says

    When someone says, “There is no research on that…” or “There is no proof…” or any categorical denial of information, I find it to be lazy and self-aggrandizing all at once. They could just say, “I don’t know of any research,” which would be true. Hard to argue with that.

    But “There is no…” implies that the person speaking is all-knowing and all-seeing and because they don’t know of it and haven’t seen it, it doesn’t exist.

    It’s silly. And for anyone who pays attention to her own body and knows when it feels better, that’s the most important research anyhow.

  19. Sarah says

    Maybe these “experts” should test out these diets! I have many people tell me I’m crazy and think the paleo diet is a joke. I don’t care what anyone else thinks! For the first time in almost 8 years I am pain free! When I was 16 my lower back became so painful. I went through years of PT, chiropractic care, acupuncture, injections, MRIs, bone scans, X-rays, massage therapy, muscle relaxers, numerous pain meds and two major back surgeries! Not to mention all the doctors! It wasn’t until a chiropractor suggested the paleo diet that things changed. I was hesitant at first but figured I had nothing to lose. I tried it and haven’t looked back! I owe my life to the paleo diet! I was in so much pain I barely made it through my days and all it took was four days into my new lifestyle to know that I was better! Thank you to all those supporting the paleo diet and not listening to the majority! These experts may not have ranked it as #1 but I certainly do!

  20. Marie Hickling says

    Prob here is no-one likes a healthy eating regime that doesnt include named brands representing processed food! I ve been getting into Paleo eating for the last few months and i feel fantatstic and never go hungry. Diets like WW AND SLIMMING WORLD here in the UK include processed foods which have been linked to cancers,physical and mental illness. So i dont get why the Paleo way of eating is being criticised as it includes all fresh food groups and if you thnk about quality food.I think its because the general population cant live without processed foods thank s to society promoting them on billboards and TV. I will be sticking to Paleo way of eating as it makes sense and you dont need to research it just try it and you will feel amazing, lose weight and have more energy.

  21. charles grashow says

    Loren Cordain on saturated fat and the Paleo Diet

    “The macronutrient content of the experimental diet (38 % protein, 39 % fat, 23 % carbohydrate by energy) varied considerably from current western values.”

    Look at Table 3

    Macronutrient and other dietary characteristics in a contemporary diet based on Paleolithic food groups for females (25 yrs, 2200 kcal daily energy intake)

    Fat (g) 100.3
    Fat (% Total Energy) 39.0

    Saturated Fat (g) 18
    Saturated Fat (% Total Energy) 7.0

    SO – is the paleo diet high in saturated fat or not?

    Loren Cordain on TC & LDL-C

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

    We live in a world very different from that for which we are genetically adapted. Profound changes in our environment began with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry 10,000 years ago, too recent on an evolutionary time scale for the human genome to adjust. As a result of this ever-worsening discordance between our ancient genetically determined biology and the nutritional, cultural, and activity patterns in modern populations, many of the so-called diseases of civilization, including atherosclerosis, have emerged. Evidence from hunter-gatherer populations while they were still following their indigenous lifestyles showed no evidence for atherosclerosis, even in individuals living into the seventh and eighth decades of life (15-16). These populations had total cholesterol levels of 100 to 150 mg/dl with estimated LDL cholesterol levels of about 50 to 75 mg/dl. The LDL levels of healthy neonates are even today in the 30 to 70 mg/dl range. Healthy, wild, adult primates show LDL levels of approximately 40 to 80 mg/dl (17). In fact, modern humans are the only adult mammals, excluding some domesticated animals, with a mean LDL level over 80 mg/dl and a total cholesterol over 160 mg/dl 15-16 (Figure 1). Thus, although an LDL level of 50 to 70 mg/dl seems excessively low by modern American standards, it is precisely the normal range for individuals living the lifestyle and eating the diet for which we are genetically adapted.
    Coronary Artery Disease Prognosis and C-Reactive Protein Levels Improve in Proportion to Percent Lowering of Low-Density Lipoprotein

    James H. O’Keefe Jr., MD, Loren Cordain, PhD, Philip G. Jones, MS, Hussam Abuissa, MD

    An accumulating body of evidence indicates that the physiologically normal LDL cholesterol level for the average subject, and the threshold for atherogenesis and CAD events, is approximately 30 to 70 mg/dl.1 However, the average LDL cholesterol level in American adults is approximately 130 mg/dl, or roughly twice the truly normal physiologic range.1

    Our lifestyle today is radically different from the lifestyle for which we are genetically adapted. Hunter-gatherer populations, following their indigenous lifestyles, have shown no evidence of atherosclerosis on the basis of clinical data and/or autopsy studies.5 These hunter-gatherers had total cholesterol levels of approximately 100 to 140 mg/dl, corresponding to LDL cholesterol levels of about 50 to 70 mg/dl. Approximately 10,000 years ago, with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry, the human diet and lifestyle began to change drastically.6 Today, most American adults are overweight and sedentary, and 75% of the calories we consume are in the form of highly processed foods. Although the LDL cholesterol levels of healthy neonates are in the 30 to 70 mg/dl range, levels begin to increase sharply as soon as infants are weaned and introduced to the modern diet.

    Some physicians and patients believe that a target LDL cholesterol level of 30 to 70 mg/dl is excessively low and may predispose to adverse effects over the long term. However, this is precisely the normal range for patients living the lifestyle and eating the diet for which we remain genetically adapted. Recent studies suggest that lowering the LDL level to <70 mg/dl is not only safe but also more effective in preventing atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events than less aggressive LDL cholesterol reductions.

    Anything else like that? I’m curious because you’re one of the few experts in the world on Paleolithic diets. Steve Phinney’s focusing in on a particular kind . . .

    I’m very familiar with pemmican. I’ve got all the pemmican stuff forever. Stefansson tried to get a grant in World War II from the U-S army to feed the troops pemmican.

    I’m not saying that pemmican isn’t a healthy food. It’s probably an expedient way to provide calories over a North American winter. It’s a very great way to store these things. An all pemmican diet, I don’t think is a healthy diet for a number of reasons. If you only eat pemmican, I think you’ll become osteoporotic. You won’t get any vitamin A. If you eat only pemmican, you will promote atherosclerosis. So I just bring to you one paper that I’d like you to distribute. That paperis published in an obscure journal, the Texas Heart Institute Journal in 1993. So nobody’s read it, because you can’t get it on Medline. What this guy did, he was a physician, an MD PhD by the name of Zimmerman. Zimmerman was a pathologist, and he was lucky enough to be in Alaska when a 400 AD, so we’re talking 1600 year old, frozen Inuit mummy was recovered. He did an autopsy on this, and he sectioned the coronary arteries. So this is 400 AD. These people had never seen white people. They had only eaten what Steve Phinney had suggested people eat–fat and protein–and significant atherosclerosis in a 53 year old Inuit woman, on pathology. That wasn’t just the only case. He then was privy to another group of frozen Eskimo bodies that were recovered in Barrow, Alaska, and these people date to about 1520 AD, so just slightly after the time Columbus had discovered America. Once again, no influence of Western civilization. So presumably, they were living at Barrow, 60 degrees north, they were eating meat and fat their entire life. They might get a little bit of berries sometime in the summer. Extensive atherosclerosis was in the older woman, who was 30. All three of them were osteoporotic. They were severely osteoporotic on that type of diet. So you can give this to people who claim that all we need to eat is meat and fat.

    And then I’ll take this one step further, and here’s another obscure paper because we’re no longer allowed to perform these experiments in primates in which we feed them atherosclerotic diets and try to induce an MI.

    That means a heart attack. A Myocardial Infarction. An MI.

    In 10 rhesus monkeys and two other monkeys, they were able to induce myocardial infarctions,and electrocardiographic abnormalities, unexpected and relative sudden death in these non human primates are also consistent with signs that are frequently observed in humans. This is an obscure paper that absolutely needs to be addressed by the unlimited saturated fat type groups.

    Let’s see what the response of people like Steve Phinney, Eric Westman and Jeff Volek would be. They have a new book out, the Atkins diet book. There’s some difference of opinion between the three. They’re all top-notch scientists.

    I agree. I respect all these people. I respect all the scientists. I’m on record stating that saturated fats are not uni-dimensionally responsible for cardiovascular disease. They represent a risk factor. And the risk factor of saturated fats can be small. In the context of aPaleolithic diet I don’t believe that high stearic acid levels which is 18-O, is atherogenic. I don’t believe high 12-O or 14-O is atherogenic because they occur in such small concentrations.

    Palmitic acid is atherogenic. And there’s not an experiment in humans or animals or tissue to show that it doesn’t down regulate the LDL receptor. This is a point that is never addressed in Gary Taubes’s book or Eric Westman’s articles, or Ron Krauss. You need to address thedown regulation of the LDL receptor. That controls the flux of oxidized LDL in and out of the intima.

    So on a molecular basis, you can’t deny this information. Now, how relevant is that information under the umbrella of a high carbohydrate diet? A high carbohydrate diet combined with a high saturated fat diet is even worse.

    But to unequivocally say that saturated fats do not cause atherosclerosis, is sheer folly. We know that they do. We awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine to Brown and Goldstein for saying that Palmitic acid down regulates the LDL receptor. Unless we’re going to take that Nobel Prize back, you cannot deny that information. So, I would like to hear a response of how in the world LDL receptors are not down regulated by palmitic acid.

    Your thoughts

  22. charles grashow says

    Since Cordain referenced Brown and Goldstein

    When LDL-cholesterol levels are below 100 mg/dl (equivalent to a total plasma cholesterol level of 170 mg/dl), heart attacks are rare. When LDL-cholesterol levels are above 200 mg/dl (equivalent to a total plasma cholesterol level of -280 mg/dl),heart attacks are frequent. Controversy arises over the middle ground, i.e.,individuals with plasma LDL-cholesterol levels between 100 and 200 mg/dl (total plasma cholesterol of 170 to 280mg/dl). This is the, range in which the vast bulk of heart attacks occur. Somewhere within this range there is a threshold value of cholesterol at which heart attacks begin to become more frequent. In this middle ground how much of the heart attack burden is attributable to plasma cholesterol? There is no definitive answer. In addition to cholesterol, heart attacks in this group are aggravated by smoking, hypertension, stress, diabetes mellitus, and poorly understood genetic factors. However, it seems reasonable to propose that plasma cholesterol does have something to do with heart attacks in these subjects, and that the incidence of heart attacks would be reduced if plasma cholesterol could be lowered

    The LDL receptor studies lend experimental support to the epidemiologists’ suggestion that the levels of plasma cholesterol usually seen’ in Western industrialized societies are inappropriately high (9). This support derives from knowledge of the affinity of the LDL receptor for LDL. The receptor binds LDL optimally when the lipoprotein is present at a cholesterol concentration of 2.5 mg/dl (28). In view of the 10 to 1 gradient between concentrations of LDL in plasma and interstitial fluid, a level of LDL-cholesterol in plasma of 25 mg/dl would be sufficient to nourish body cells with cholesterol (118). This is roughly one-fifth of the level usually seen in Western societies (Fig. 16 and ref.119). Several lines of evidence suggest that plasma levels of LDL-cholesterol in the range of 25-60 mg/dl (total plasma cholesterol of 110 to 150 mg/dl) might indeed be physiologic for human beings. First, in other mammalian species that do not develop atherosclerosis, the plasma LDL-cholesterol level is generally less than 80 mg/dl (Fig. 16 and ref. 120). In these animals the affinity of the LDL receptor for their own LDL is roughly the same as the affinity of the human LDL receptor for human LDL, implying that these species are designed by evolution to have similar plasma LDL levels (9,119). Second, the LDL level in newborn humans is approximately 30 mg/dl (121), well within the range that seems to be appropriate for receptor binding (Fig. 16). Third, when humans are raised on a low fat diet, the plasma LDL-cholesterol tends to stay in the range of 50 to 80 mg/dl. It only reaches levels above 100 mg/dl in individuals who consume a diet rich in saturated animal fats and cholesterol that is customarily ingested in Western societies (116)
    The LDL Receptor

  23. Kirsten says

    I just don’t understand how anybody can say there’s no proof of the PD working when this is how we ate for thousands of years before the agricultural revolution. And before then we were stronger and healthier. Also, how can anybody say it is bad to cut out whole food groups like grain and dairy but ok to cut out protein if you want to go vegetarian or vegan. I struggle to get into the paleo way of eating. I have no aches and pains only some excess (a lot)fat. But I have read a whole lot of books and blogs on the subject and totally believe it is the way forward.

  24. Amy says

    2 points to make –
    #1 do we really care what mainstream media is saying? I don’t try as hard to convince people as I used to because it seems they just want to argue why I am wrong. There is no need. When you try it, you see results and feel better. There is nothing more convincing. So if mainstream media wants to advocate shake based diets, which make no sense, fine. Eating real food makes sense. As a physician I advocate this to my patients on a daily basis but they have to be ready to try it – it can’t be forced.
    #2 think economically of the impact of this diet. No more pop, processed foods, breads? This is major for huge companies. Imagine the impact to pop companies alone if major media sites, the government advocated this diet! Don’t expect to see that backing anytime soon.

  25. says

    This rebuttal and your writing style cracks me up! I’m literally laughing out loud as I read this and I your analogies are spot on. They had it wrong from the get go calling it a “diet” because guess what, it’s a lifestyle! It ranks last because people are lazy and uneducated. Welcome to America. This just gives me more ambition and motivation to spread the word about Paleo!

    My favorite: So, we provide material like this to the detractors and get a response ” That’s not much research, we can draw NO conclusions from this.” Um, ok. So, we just keep doing what is not working?

    Paleo or bust. keep it up Robb!

  26. says

    I’ve kept with you, Matt Lalonde, Chis Kresser, etc for a few years now via the internets. Your book changed my outlook on eating while I was ALREADY slim and fairly healthy.

    I think you guys need to wrap up this lifestyle ( IT”S A LIFESTYLE, NOT DIET) into a new word or phrase, but keep all the principles the same. The word paleo is just too dayum convoluted and loaded and fools like US rankings dismiss it on bias IMO….

    Anyway, keep up the amazing work.

  27. Adam says

    Any time I see “diet rankings” like this or listen to the “experts” on the radio all I can do it shake my head. There sure is a hate on for all things paleo and an irrational attachment to everything that has lead the western world to where we are now. How long can something fail you before you decide to cut it loose?

    For you other Vancouverites, did anyone else catch CKNW’s Mike Smyth’s extremely half-assed interview with a registered dietician last week? She came on to evaluate last year’s fad diets. Within seconds her obvious bias against anything even remotely associated with Paleo became clear. She laughed at how unrealistic it would be to try to eat “like a caveman”, suggested that it would be impossible to stick to for any length of time, and that it would likely result in nutritional deficiencies. Mike really disappointing me. He’s usually a good interviewer and makes people accountable for their statements but in this case he just gave her free run to say whatever she felt like because clearly he hadn’t done any homework on the matter. He even laughed at the idea of eating lots of butter and said it didn’t sound very healthy. We really need people to get over the idea that eating paleo means nothing but butter wrapped in bacon. I, for one, eat a broader range and larger quantity of vegetables than most veg*ans who often exist on heaps of packaged Yves crap and plates of beans. I just counted 10 different kinds of fresh vegetable in my fridge as well as bananas and avocados.

    Here’s the real kicker…

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

  28. says

    Robb, I love when you get into righteous anger mode!
    That being said, sometimes I wonder why you waste time & emotional energy on this ridiculousness. I think the same thing every time an article or TV news story comes out that says red meat is the root of all evil, or that vegan diets are the best for health, and people send links to you asking for your opinion. Um, what do they *think* your opinion will be?

    I know you get frustrated because you have an unbelievably strong drive to get the stunningly beautiful, relatively simple ancestral health message to the chronically sick, obese, inflamed, and in daily pain masses. And you ARE. Your work with the clinic, with the Special Warfare people, and with the Savory Institute — not to mention your blog & podcast — pretty much guarantees that you are reaching thousands (if not millions) of people.

    The testimonial section on your website is proof that people who need this information WILL find it. Maybe they’ll find it after years (possibly decades) of feeling worse and deteriorating while following doctors’ orders like good little patients. But if they have the courage–and really, just the common freaking sense–to wake up and say to themselves, “I’m doing what they tell me, but I’m NOT GETTING BETTER,” they’ll start digging deeper and looking for something different.

    You can’t reach everybody. But those who want help and are able to connect the dots and see that “doing all the right things” (per conventional medical/pharmaceutical protocols) is NOT WORKING, they’ll find you. They’ll find this information. They’ll get to the point where they’re so frustrated that they’ll give Paleo a try because “it’s so crazy it just might work.” (When nothing else has, so it’s worth a shot.)

    I understand your frustration might be coming from wanting to reach these people BEFORE they waste 20 years on ineffective drugs (not to mention being huge drains on the economics of all this, which is a whole other topic I won’t get you spun up on here). And I get that. I do. But don’t let the snail’s pace of all this take anything away from the people you’ve already helped.

    And I can most definitely understand the anger over the science. There ARE scientific papers on this, not to mention just about any biochemistry or physiology textbook worth its salt. (It’s too bad there aren’t more clinical trials with Paleo-type diets, but as we all know, who’s gonna fund a study on how steak and broccoli fare against Lipitor and Humira?)

    My biggest issue is that, at this point, I honestly wonder if there aren’t bigger forces at work here behind the denunciations of Paleo and low-carb. There’s a lot more attention given to them in mainstream media now, and I have to wonder if the big, big, BIG BUCKS behind wheat, corn, and soy (not to mention factory farming) are pulling the strings. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but when there’s this much blatant resistance to something that is giving thousands of people seemingly “miraculous” results and remissions of “incurable” diseases, you can only conclude that the resistance comes from people who stand to lose fortunes, and not from anyone actually concerned with people’s health and wellbeing. The way things are now, if a couple hundred million people stopped eating grains and seed oils tomorrow, I’m not sure it’s an exaggeration to say a chunk of our economy would flat-out collapse. Someone’s keeping this thing afloat, and their intentions have nothing to do with getting granny off her arthritis meds or sparing dad from bypass surgery. :-/

    Bottom line: Keep doing what you’re doing. This BS with USNWR isn’t even worth someone of your caliber and good intentions getting pissed off over.

    • says

      Some of this is kinda out of my hands…I get “a lot” of traffic so when things like this pop up i’m kinda obligated to at least address some of it. I also had a few new things to say around this surrounding the Evidence Based Medicine scene. I’d rather just do blog posts and call it good, but not yet possible.

      • says

        Fair enough. I guess sometimes I forget that as a “leader” in all this (if you want to call it that…better than “guru,” that’s for sure!), people “expect” you to express an opinion on things like this, whether you want to or not.

        So looking at it that way, I have to give you kudos for managing a written response that wasn’t full of expletives. Couldn’t have been easy when what you probably *really* wanted to do was bash a couple people’s skulls in. (Or maybe just bang yours against the nearest wall.) 😉

        • says

          This stuff does not really bother me anymore…it virtually guarantees that paleo will go mainstream and keeps people engaged. We could not pay for advertising like this.

  29. Scott UK says

    Never mind Matt Lalonde, Drewnowski got there first:

    Drewnowski, A. (2005). Concept of a nutritious food: toward a nutrient density score. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(4), 721-732.

    … although, in subsequent a papers, he ruined it by counting the saturated fat content of a food as a negative (albeit inadvertently illustrating how dietary advice has got off track).

  30. David Lawrence says

    Robb, can you please expand on this bit:

    “USNWR claimed a panel of experts ranked the PD last, but then when the colleagues of these experts quizzed them on their actual ranking of the PD it appeared USNWR might have applied some ‘artistic license’ to the rankings.

    This sounds scandalous but didn’t have any sources linked.

  31. Amy says

    This report is so frustrating since I have a child that used to have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis before going paleo last year. I stumbled across information on the Internet and figured I would give it a try since he was on medication that wasn’t working, missing many days of school and even been in hospital (even though doctor said probably wouldn’t work). Almost immediately after going Paleo, he seemed to be healed. In the past year he has had no flares and has been released from his rheumatologist. I try to tell everyone how our lives have been changed for the better by just changing how we eat. I wish the medical community could see Paleo does make a difference! It should be the number one diet (lifestyle). It is for my family. Keep spreading the word.

  32. Curt says

    I’d say that report/article was total marketing propaganda put out by someone with an agenda.

    Seriously, the winning DASH diet recommends a breakfast full of high glycemic glucose spiking foods and MARGARINE!

    ¾ cup bran flakes cereal (¾ cup shredded wheat cereal) with 1 medium banana and 1 cup low-fat milk
    1 slice whole-wheat bread with 1 tsp. (unsalted) margarine
    1 cup orange juice

    As a diabetic that no longer has to take insulin injections because of a low-carb/paleo type of diet, I would never touch that DASH diet breakfast!

  33. charlie rea says

    After learning about this from US News and the establishment, I am just grateful that through some unknowable fluke, I get awesome results from my Paleo lifestyle.

  34. says

    What will the establishment be saying 50 years from now when 100+ year olds are living and active without medications claiming they lived a Paleo lifestyle. I hope I’m one of them! Stay active and live paleo.

      • GroknRoll says

        Simply this, Robb: I believe Evelyn (not to mention Melissa McEwen) has been grievously wronged by the Paleo community and would like a fair and open airing of her points. This way of eating and living would be taken far more seriously – and have much greater potential to go mainstream – if prominent voices within it actually listened to critics instead of attempting to silence them. She already tried to reform low carb – Jimmy Moore’s phony baloney webpire most prominently – and simply wasn’t taken seriously. There’s still a chance, however, for Paleo to atone for its sins and become an honest, mainstream, movement.

  35. GroknRoll says

    Robb’s response: (sound of crickets chirping)

    Yeah, thought so…

    True reparation would entail a complete denunciation of Jimmy Moore and an unambiguous apology to Evie and Melissa – and all the other women of Paleo who’ve been disenfranchised and silenced. Until that day, ‘Paleo’ will be relegated to the fringes.

  36. says

    This is one of the reasons I left the field of journalism. The “media” has become such a racket and, just like anything else, all about the Hamiltons, baby. Now I’m pursuing my second degree to become a Registered Dietician and join the ranks of the conventional wisdom de-bunkers. Although I’m already dealing with a lot of bullshit, knowing the prize at the end — helping people solve their health problems with real food and time-honored nutrition — makes it all worth it. Keep up the great work, Robb!

  37. says

    I’m almost at a loss of words! Wow… I’m a believer that studies can make bad things look good, and good things look bad, depending how the study was conducted. Thanks for the insight.

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