|The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat
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According to author Loren Cordain, modern health and diet problems didn't start with the advent of packaged snack food, but much earlier--back at the dawn of the agricultural age many thousands of years ago. As humans became less nomadic and more dependent on high-carbohydrate diets, we left behind the diet we had evolved with, which is based on low-fat proteins and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Sugars, fats, and carbs were rare, if they were present at all, and survival required a steady, if low-key, level of activity.
Cordain's book The Paleo Diet blends medical research with a healthy sprinkle of individual anecdotes, practical tips, and recipes designed to make his suggestions into a sustainable lifestyle, rather than a simple month-long diet; he even includes cooking recommendations and nationwide sources for wild game.
Claims of improving diseases from diabetes to acne to polycystic ovary disease may be a little overstated, but in general the advice seems sound. Can any of us really go wrong by adding lots more vegetables and fruits to our daily regimen? One recommendation on safe tanning with a gradual reduction in sunscreen is surprising and not much detail is provided for safety issues that can accompany increased sun exposure. Still, Cordain's assertions have helped many people, and could provide exactly the changes you've been looking for to improve your health. --Jill Lightner
"We can't recommend The Paleo Diet highly enough!"
- Michael and Mary Dan Eades, M.D.
authors of Protein Power
"The Paleo Diet is at once revolutionary and intuitive. . . . Its prescription provides without a doubt the most nutritious diet on the planet."
-Jennie Brand-Miller, Ph.D., coauthor of the bestselling The Glucose Revolution and The Glucose Revolution Life Plan
"Filled with delicious recipes and meal plans, The Paleo Diet will open your eyes, trim your waistline, and improve your overall health."
-Michael R. Eades, M.D., and Mary Dan Eades, M.D.
authors of The 30-Day Low-Carb Diet Solution and coauthors of The Low-Carb Comfort Food Cookbook
"Finally, someone has figured out the best diet for people-a modern version of the diet the human race grew up eating. Dr. Loren Cordain's easy-to-follow diet plan cuts right to the chase."
-Jack Challem, coauthor of Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance
Healthy, delicious, and simple, the Paleo Diet is the diet you were designed to eat. If you want to lose weight-up to 75 pounds in six months-or if you want to attain optimal health, The Paleo Diet will do wonders for you. The world's leading expert on Paleolithic (Stone Age) nutrition, Dr. Loren Cordain demonstrates how, by eating all the lean meats and fish, fresh fruits, and nonstarchy vegetables you want, you can lose weight and prevent and treat heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, Syndrome X, and many other illnesses. Over 100 delicious Paleo recipes provide enough flavor and variety to satisfy anyone, and the six weeks of Paleo meal plans get you started on a healthy and enjoyable new way of eating. Start reading and following The Paleo Diet today and eat your way to weight loss, weight control, increased energy, and lifelong health-while enjoying every delicious bite.
- A god nutrition reference but...
...I wish there were more scientific in-depth discussion to the claims of the book. There's a lot of persuasive talk (and I believe that's how the diet books are written) but unlike some other diet books this one has an incredible and consistent message: The humans evolved to eat a certain diet; what we eat presently is contrary to our genes, thus all the "diseases of affluence"; thus, you eat what you ancestors ate.
Unfortunately, this is a standard diet book, and I wish the authors explore more and debunk the criticism of the Paleo Diet (for example, the role of abundance of calories and role of exercise), the book would be more credible. I would give it 3 1/2 starts, since the overall message of the book can take on a dozen of diet books put together.
By all means be familiar with this diet....more info
- simply THE book to read on proper nutrition
I would like to write this review for 2 reasons:
1)I just want to say that I first started to lose weight when I switched to a low-carb diet, but continued to eat lots of dairy and soy, as I was a vegetarian. I have always been a size 12-14, and was quite pleased when I dropped to a size 10 by eliminating bread, pasta and sugar from my diet. I still experienced occasional fatigue and lots of digestive upset, though, and it wasn't until I took an allergy test and found I was allergic to grains and dairy - and subsequently cut both completely out of my diet - that I started to feel the energy and vitality for which I have been searching for years. I'm also allergic to most beans, so my only alternative source of protein was meat. I started to eat lean, unprocessed meats and fresh fruits and veggies, and my energy was not only soaring, but my depression lifted, my skin became smoother and softer, and I dropped down to a size 4 without even trying to lose weight! (I've never been less than a size 10 in my life!) Anyways, I effortlessly maintained that level of vitality and a size 4 until I started to eat rice flour, oats, processed meats and candy. I quickly gained 15lbs and fell into depression once again, leading me to realize that once on a paleo diet, it must become a way of life. The foods that Dr.Cordain describes as detrimental to our health (grains, dairy, legumes) are indeed factors in all sorts of health problems. If you are a possible buyer of this book, please take note of this, you cannot expect to lose weight and then go back to your usual style of eating. Buy this book and undertake Dr.Cordain's suggestions only if you are ready to change your lifestyle - it will be well worth it, I promise! In any case, I have since started back on the paleo-lifestyle route (feeling better already and have lost 5lbs in one week), with the help of Lauren Cordain's book, and it has been an invaluable resource for me. I have beeen waiting for him to write a book for a while now, as I have been reading interviews and papers written by him on www.beyondveg.com since I first started on the paleo nutrition route 2 years ago. This brings me to my second point in writing this review:
2)In response to the reviews that mention disdain at the apparent contradiction with Dr.Cordain discouraging the use of saturated fat while promoting the idea that humans' natural diet contained lots of meat, known to be rich in saturated fats, I have read research that sheds some light on this, at least for me. It seems that the saturated fat found in lean game meat - buffalo or wild boar that has been running around the jungle or the plains all day - has a different composition entirely than the saturated fat found in your average piece of supermarket meat - cows, chickens, even free-range game. There is a more favorable ratio of omega 3:omega 6 fatty acids in the lean game meat, as well as other aspects that I can't remember offhand, but you can read more for yourself on this subject in interviews of Dr.Cordain on beyondveg's website.
One more note for those of you trying to decide between Dr.Atkins or something similar, or a book such as this one or Neanderthin: speaking from the point of view of a person who has developed IBS and multiple food allergies as a result of the Standard American Diet, I wholeheartedly agree with the low-carb way of life, but must offer my 2cents that any diet that fails to caution the consumer on the downfalls of consuming fake foods such as artificial sweetners and salty, processed meats, cannot be healthy for the long-term. I would eat fresh cream or whole milk before I put MSG, nitrates, sulfites or Splenda into my body. I have tried Atkins, and I felt a big difference in my general health from that program to one of eating more natural foods as advocated by Dr.Cordain, Diana Schwarzbein and Ray Audette.
If you are undecided, please take your long-term health as well as your short-trem weight into consideration. Any of the above-mentioned authors can help you lose weight and feel great, but unlike Atkins or Eades, they will help you do it for life. As far as deciding between the above-mentioned authors, "The Paleo Diet" is written by a well-respected professor and expert in the field of paleolithic nutrition, and if you were to go with one book on low-carbing, this would probably the healthiest, most sane and moderate approach I have seen out there....more info
- works for me
I read this book a few years ago and at the time, thought it was too extreme and unworkable.
Then, about 6 weeks ago, I read it again, tried this new way of eating and have lost 10 pounds so far.
It takes some getting used to, but you don't have to restrict calories, you just have to eat plenty of LEAN protein (unlike the Atkins diet), and plenty of fruits and veggies. No dairy, no grains, no legumes, no sugars. Yikes! For most Americans, used to eating bread, pasta, potatoes, milk, ice cream, cheese, etc., it will seem like blasphemy to give those things up.
Try it and you'll be surprised. I'm a cheese hound, love desserts, and have eaten my share of pasta, rice, bread and potatoes. I don't crave these things the way I used to, although don't get me wrong, I still like them. I just eat them occasionally and find that eating the paleo way is quite satisfying and my desire for the other foods has diminished greatly. ...more info
- It works
Since I'm not a nutritional anthropologist, I can't swear that the author's theories are solid science. However, I can say for certain that the Paleo Diet works. In the beginning, it's difficult to banish bread and pasta and dairy and potatoes from your diet ... and it seems like there's high-fructose corn syrup in everything. However, it's worth the effort. Six months later, I've shed almost 40 lbs and have taken on the lean and fit look mentioned in the book. I'm in the best shape of my life, and I feel good all the time. I neither need nor miss caffeine, anymore. As a skeptic who is now a believer, I really can't recommend the Paleo Diet strongly enough....more info
- Closer to healthy than atkins, but not quite there.
The Paleo Diet is based on an interesting premise- the idea that what we ate before agriculture suited our needs perfectly because our bodies had been bred by evolution in response to our what we could find to eat in our environment. It seems like a giant leap to assume our paleolithic ancestors naturally gravitated towards exactly what we need to eat. Animals in the wild do make sensible choices most of the time, because their decisions are instinctual. Self-awareness creates a problem that doesn't exist for other animal behavior as it does for humans. Sometimes we do things out of curiosity, or laziness, or false beliefs. So, considering the erratic behavior of present-day humans, who is to say our paleolithic ancestors were any more intuitive about their nutritive needs? Even the book suggests humans ate what they did out of trial and error, frequently just trying whatever they encountered in the wild.
The fact that wild foods are frequently much richer in nutrients than domestic foods does not mean that you must subscribe to a strict paleolithic diet to take advantage of this fact. Rather, eat more wild-sourced food. Just about anything edible from the wild will be a healthy food, unless the environment from which it comes is polluted- and that is a very real problem.
Meat is a very dodgy thing nowadays, not like it was in the pristine wilderness of the paleolithic era. The Paleo diet would be a healthy thing if we were still in that world. Now, we need to worry about heavy metals in fish flesh, and antibiotics and growth hormones in feedlot animals. Beef will have some naturally occuring omega 3 if the animals were allowed to wander in a more or less natural fashion, as they did when the most commonly employed mechanism for animal control was the cowboy. This is no longer true. The average cut of meat in your supermarket is taken from a feedlot animal, fed the wrong food and in conditions unsanitary in the extreme. Basing a diet on meat in this day and age can be dangerous. You must choose your meat sources carefully. Meat made from free-range animals raised on pesticide-free in a caring manner can be very hard to find.
I found Loren's rejection of all products of agricultural development a little too simple minded, and in some cases irresponsible. There is nothing at all unhealthy about whole grain foods or legumes consumed in moderation, and significant weight loss could occur for most people if they ingested organic whole grains and legumes but conscientiously avoided only the major evil products of agriculture: high fructose corn syrup, trans-fatty acids, artifical sweeteners, uncleaned foods raised non-organically with pesticides and herbicides, and improperly raised food animals.
My main objection to the book is nearly one hundred pages (about half) of the book is dedicated to the spiel- convincing you this thing is real and valid and worth your time. I think the forward to the book or perhaps the first chapter alone would have been sufficient for that purpose. After a while you get the feeling Loren is trying too hard to sell this idea to you, and it really interferes with the flow of the book.
Further, a lot (but not all) of the studies cited show only marginal advantages of different aspects of this diet. The claims that you will experience great weight loss and feel better than you ever have are quite nice to imagine, and peppered throughout the book. But it's hard to believe with the less than overwhelming studies cited.
One last nitpick. One great way to compensate for the lack of typical food taste enhancers like salt and sugar is the use of herbs and spices. something very much like the paleo diet already exists as part of peasant cuisines around the world. It's a pity the recipes included do not explore those, but instead offer somewhat watered down and uninspired fare instead. Espscially asian cuisines frequently make due with alot of the ingredients that are ok on the paleo diet, and their interesting spices make it all the more entertaining. I found the recipes far too traditional and western-centric. ...more info
- Somewhat Correct- Better than Some Books
I got this book because I, being a current health advocate, X-nurse, and cookbook author, wanted to see how it compared to The Seventh-day Diet. It is true that most people did not get ill until folks started bleaching flour and consuming white sugar. I go back to the original diet in the Bible and see that we are to eat grains, veggies, fruits, olives, and nuts. Yes, we can eat clean meat IF the blood is drained- but most folks don't buy kosher foods. Most folks, like she says in the book, eat processed foods. So I have to agree with her on some points; however, some points, like eating unclean meat, I do not agree with at all. Also, I have done vast research on diary and it causes sinus infections. I was by the side of the Amish Hex doctors on several occasions when he treated people that had consumed lots of dairy with herbs and apple cider vinegar. My suggestion is to buy the Seventh-day Diet book, which is on Amazon. I am a Seventh-day Adventist now and feel so much better, being a vegan. While in nursing school, I did a study on people in a cancer unit- just to see how many ate alot of veggies- only one lady ate a pretty good amount. Also, one of my test questions in my laste semester at Eastern Kentucky University was what you wouldn't feed your patient- the answer was a hot dog- because the sodium nitrates cause cancer. Lastly, I am glad that she did include some valuable viewpoints of more veggies and how bad the sugar and processed food are.
Sicily Yoder aka Teresa Phillips
Author of, Amish Cooking with Sicily Yoder", and "Leaving Lancaster County."
- This Is How The Cavemen Ate? Uh, I Don't Think So!
When I first heard Loren Cordain was finally authoring a book on paleo nutrition I was quite excited, for Cordain has conducted a lot of very insightful research into the eating patterns of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. When I finally got to examine the book though, I was sorely disappointed.
Cordain evidently seems to have ignored much of his own research. The most alarming error is his frequent recommendation to use flax oil when cooking meat dishes. Recipe after recipe calls for marinating cuts of meat in flax oil before cooking - a very bad idea! For those who don't already know, you should NEVER cook with any type of polyunsaturated oil. Their high degree of unsaturation makes them extremely prone to oxidative damage, and this process is greatly multiplied by exposure to high temperatures (e.g cooking temeratures). Omega-3 fats, like those found in flax oil, are the most vulnerable polyunsaturates of all. When eaten, these 'healthy' fats trigger a chain-reaction of nasty free-radical activity in the body, leaving one open to the development of all sorts of degenerative ailments. Cordain should be well aware that liquid vegetable oils simply did not exist back in paleotlithic times.
Cordain also denigrates saturated fat in his book, which once again is rather pitiful considering his background. The anti-saturated fat doctrine is a product of agenda-driven 20th century researchers and beaureaucrats, eagerly supported by commercial interests and their cheerleading squad of ignorant nutritionists, health authorities, and authors. Cordain claims that a single experiment where saturated fat raised cholesterol levels in young men is proof that this fat is bad. Big deal! Such an assertion assumes that the cholesterol theory of heart disease is a valid one. Considering the numerous absurdities inherent in the cholesterol theory, that is a rather risky leap of faith. Hunter-gatherers ate lots of animal fat, which is around 50% saturated. And no, just because an animal is wild does not mean it is low in fat - I had the pleasure of sampling some camel steak last week, and you can be sure I enjoyed every bit of the backstrap fat covering the steak! Even the leanest animals have fatty portions of meat, and if observations of recent hunter-gatherer societies are anything to go by, these would have been the most valued and preferentially eaten cuts.
Cordain also jumps on the anti-low carb bandwagon, even though his own research shows hunter-gatherers were far more likely to consume a low carb diet than a high carb diet. In fact paleo nutrition, with its emphasis on animal foods and starch poor plant foods, and low carb nutrition are a perfect match.
The whole book reeks of an attempt to squeeze paleolithic nutrition into currently fashionable and politically correct guidelines. Only problem is, back in the stone-age there weren't any pompous cholesterol researchers who thought they knew better than mother nature, and there were no advertising campaigns to let people know of the `heinous' health effects of saturated fat - so people ate it, and lots of it!
Paleo eating is still the ultimate nutrition in my opinion. It is the only eating plan that cannot even begin to be accused of being a 'fad'. Subsistence patterns that dominated for over two million years can hardly be considered a fad. Cordain's book does contain some useful info, but Neanderthin by Ray Audette is a far better, and cheaper, book on paleolithic nutrition. Buy that instead....more info
- Worthwhile Insights for Athletes, too
As a professional ski instructor, speaker, and author, I am almost constantly shocked at what people tend to eat--and the resulting catatonic state that I find so many struggling to overcome. The Paleo Diet helps to illustrate why that is. Basically, we're not eating the way that we are designed to eat, instead giving in to the very modern "convenience" of prepared and manufactured food (from wheat to sugar) and reaping the consequences.
I have long studied the more scientific approaches to diet and learned what works well for me. Dr. Cordain's perspective matches my experience and my observations. You owe it to yourself to learn this side of the options for eating and to consider why you feel the way you do.
What do you have to lose?...more info
- I am confused
Overall I liked this book. It is easy to read and contains some solid nutritional facts. However, on page 21 and 22 it seems to contradict itself big time. On Page 21 it shows the protein content of the plan to range from 19-35%. However, following this analysis of the diet he says it is not necessary to count calories, but if you did that one would find 55% of the calories on the Paleo diet come from protein. I would dearly love to know if I have misinterpreted something here or that there is a misprint or something. Too much of a discrepancy for me. Maybe the publisher could clear this up. Is the protein 19%, 35% or is it indeed as much as 55%.
In any case the diet itself is simple, easy to follow and well laid out, however, one may just have to calculate the protein content for oneself. Personally I like to know the analysis of any diet that I am trying....more info
- Am more than merely intrigued by 'The Paleo Diet'
In watching my sister endure the merry-go-round of Atkins, I think Cordain's 'Paleo Diet' makes a lot more sense.
His proposal of fresh, natural foods and omitting grains, sugars and salt makes much more sense than consuming heinous quantities of saturated fatty meats and expecting pounds to shed without consequences. I am much more intrigued by this book than the ramrod approach of gurus like Atkins and, I think, this is the ONE diet plan I will be very happy to try out for real.
I would have to agree that the pre-cultivation diet was likely more healthy than the cereal-based diet that began some 10,000 years ago. This grain-based diet has created [my opinion] havoc and its effects have made itself felt since.
Another reviewer cited that this will likely offend everyone. I know very well that the purveyors of all grain-based items will be screaming at what is proposed in this book. They will have fewer buyers if more will take on this lifetime eating plan and will lose money. Some reviewers have correctly brought up the kinds of meat permitted. Dr. Cordain advocates free-range and grass-fed but a budget like mine won't permit this luxury. I'll have to settle for plain ol' storebought in that department. Any nastiness from chemical buildup I think will pale compare to what would be there if I didn't omit grains, sugars and salt.
If it honestly works [don't see where it cannot] Dr. Cordain will have another very happy convert. Then, my only concern will be in convincing my relations that Atkins is more detrimental in the long-run than going back to paleo-foods....more info
- Mostly Right
The book is a great overview of the human body's natural diet. Dr. Cordain does a great job explaining in detail the concepts of a Paleolithic Diet and how it translates into modern day eating. I agreed with most of Dr. Cordain's concepts except when it came to eating fat. Fat, and more specifically saturated fat, has been unfairly villainized by modern paradigms and this book does nothing to clear this misinformation. There is some evidence to suggest that our ancestors preferentially ate the fat from the animals they hunted. Cordain's diet seems to skirt this issue and combine a true paleo diet with a modern day, politically correct, low fat diet....more info
- Chase it, catch it, eat it..
My Doctor recommended this diet. It's a decent book and diet although as is always the case I find it improbable to follow every tenent and some I just choose not to follow, like no coffee and only 3 eggs.
But I've managed still to loose 15 lbs in 3 weeks, although if I was able to avoid all the NO foods I would have lost more....more info
- The Paleo Diet Made Simple
If you're new to the Paleo Diet concept, I suggest you pick up this book first. It is a straight forward, easy to understand book that does a good job of showing that the Paleo diet is not a fad diet, but the politically correct diet of this age (high carb, low fat) IS.
For those who are familiar with the Paleolithic style of eating, I might want to give it a star or two less. Why? Well, Dr. Cordain is THE leading expert in the anthropological aspect of the Paleo diet, and quite frankly I was expecting more in depth discussion, research...and a lot more numbers. For the frustrated dieter who simply wants a diet THAT WORKS though, this is probably not a concern....more info
- Excellent Book
I was recommeded this book by a fitness coach. I was about 50 lbs overweight and suffering health problems. Anyhow, I been following the program for about 2 months now and occasionally work out and have lost 25 lbs. I tried Atkins before and did lose about 40 lbs, but as soon as I went off and added carbs back I gained weight like no tomorow. I wore everything I ate. With this program I eat a lot of fruit and vegtables and the part that is great is it seems to kill your hunger after awhile. I used to think about food most of the time and with this program, I actually sometimes have to remind myself to eat. That is completely un-heard of for me prior. Additionally, I feel much better, my compexion, and skin is much healthier looking. I ve lost about 25 lbs already and I have energy to want to work out. With Atkins I had no energy and no endurance. Occasionaly when I cheat, and eat bread, it actually upsets my stomach now. I used to have indigestion frequently, now that is also gone. I highly recommend this program....more info
- The Paleo Diet
THERE ARE SO MANY DIETS TODAY, ONE CAN HARDLY MAKE AN INTELLLIGENT CHOICE. EACH HAS ITS COMPLICATED REASONS FOR BEINB THE BEST. IN CASE OF THE PALEO DIET THESE REASONS ARE EASILY COMPRREHENSIBLE AND MAKE SENSE,...more info
- How long did the cavemen live ?
I think this is a good book on diet and nutrition and culture. The author is correct, I think, to criticize the typical U.S. diet, which is literally killing millions of people, because it is heavily based on sugar, carbohydrates, fat, and sodium (salt). Processed foods are full of bad things like hydrogenated fats, and fast food has all kinds of bad things in it. I also think that the idea of eating lean protein, fruits and vegetables is a very good idea. For example, you can literally eat as much fruit as you want. By the time your stomache is full, you will stop eating, but the energy density to volume of food is very low, so you won't gain weight. I think one big factor in the U.S. obesity epidemic is lack of exercise and movement (driving everywhere) and also the fact that portions keep increasing in size. Going to a lean protein and fruit and veggies diet is a good idea, because protein make you feel full far longer than carbs do. So in essence, I like this book and will do this diet. However, I mean, let's get real, the average paleolithic man or woman lived probably to be about 22 on average, whereas we today live to be 74. Paleo man died probably mostly of infections and parasites. He did not live long enough to develop heart disease or the types of diseases the author associates with our "high carb diet". So it is a bit of an unfair comparison. I would take our modern lifestyle over that of paleo man any day of the week, and I think it is a bit odd to hold up as a model a people that died so young. Another issue I have is, if our genetic code designs us for eating lean protein and veggies, why do the things we crave tend to be other things (donuts, pizza, etc.). If my genes are specifically built for eating veggies and lean protein, why do I like pizza and donuts more ? It can't all be "cultural factors". I once read an interview of a top European nutrition expert, and he said, they did research on what is in uncooked vegetables, and he reported that many of the things are very harmful. Brocholi has some really nasty substances in it ! He also said that we should tune more into what our body tells us, because it doesn't lie. For example, you body self-regulates, and will give you signals for what to eat and when, if you know how to listen to it. So the idea in the Paleo diet that uncooked veggies are all good and that we are genetically designed to eat them and lean protein makes me wonder a bit, because moms all over the world have to force their kids to eat stuff like brocholi. Maybe nature knows a lot more than we do, and those kids are right, if they listen to what their body is telling them. I think the truth is, our paleo genetics doesn't know we live in an environment of extremely easy access to food (especially in the U.S.), and we tend to love fats and sugars and salt because in a resource-scare environment, we HAD to love them, because they were so rare. On the other hand, veggies were everywhere. So I think there are some very good concepts in this book, and everyone should think this through. It is fascinating and I appreciate that the author wrote this book, because it puts us on the right track. ...more info
- Good eating plan
I'd like to take a moment and congratulate Mr. Cordain on a great diet plan, but also stress the differences between his diet and my Evolution Diet. While the books are similar in concept- eating like we were designed to eat- there are some major differences that readers should note before forming any opinion of either.
First off, the Paleo Diet recommends all natural, healthy foods- foods that one could find while walking around in nature: vegetables, fruits, animal meats (Cordain promotes lean meats) and the like. This certainly mirrors a Stone-Age person's diet, at least one who has the benefit of modern farming and shipping.
The Evolution Diet on the other hand, includes some slightly-processed foods with all-natural ingredients, such as cheese, skim milk, whole-grain breads/crackers as well as the foods listed above. We believe that these foods are close enough structurally to natural foods, that we promote them as healthy additions to your diet. Cordain rightly sees these foods as artificial to an extent and wants you to avoid them (those with allergies to these foods may already be doing so).
Another discrepancy is that The Evolution Diet describes 'when' to eat certain foods, not just 'what' to eat. This is integral to perfect health and is lacking, unfortunately, in "The Paleo Diet".
Aside from that, "The Paleo Diet" is a great eating plan and one can achieve a very healthy lifestyle if one follows this plan.
To our health!...more info
- Valuable information, deserves to be taken seriously
This is the best book on paleo nutrition since Ray Audette's Neanderthin. It brings Audette's information up to date with science from this burgeoning area and will serve as an introduction to the only diet that is totally attuned to our physiology. That's what's so neat about it.
But it is also what is so difficult for people to get their minds around. As Robert Ingersoll said: "In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments, merely consequences" and we are inclined to regard our dietary preferences as matters of taste (in all senses), or even of ethics - as do vegetarians and those who point out that grain-based diets are far less demanding on the environment than meat-based diets such as those advocated by Dr Cordain.
But this misses the point. Cordain is telling us what is natural, not what is ethical. If a meat-based diet takes more land for each consumer than a grain-based diet, that is a consequence of human population numbers, it is not a reason for dismissing a paleo diet.
It also misses the point to say that, if we are to adopt a paleo diet, we should return to stone tools and a totally paleo life. Cordain's thinking is clearer than this and the book has many stimulating ideas and insights about our evolutionary inheritance.
Cordain also tells us that the human species has barely altered since grains were first cultivated 10,000 years ago. We are hunter-gatherer bodies in a post-industrial world. Much of the book is devoted to explaining how diabetes, cardiovascular disease, food intolerances, osteoporosis, asthma, heartburn, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and many other modern diseases derive from the extent to which we have departed from the evolutionarily-proven lifestyle. For this reason alone, this book deserves to be taken seriously. As Ingersoll implies, there are natural consequences to our behaviour; our cultural preferences are irrelevant to the truth.
The author also contrasts modern activity levels with paleo activity levels and presents an exercise routine to complement his dietary advice.
Dr Cordain devotes a part of the book to pointing out how meat, fish and fresh vegetables can be contaminated and he gives some guidance in avoiding such contaminated foods and whether the contamination levels are serious.
I'm a paleo eater and exerciser myself and I've been looking for a book like this for ages that I can pass to my friends to explain why I eat and exercise the way I do. I bought two copies. Great stuff!...more info
- Solid Research
This is a wonderful book. I have a degree in dietetics, and I have tried to follow the Food Guide Pyramid for years. For years, the weight has just kept on piling up. This book really does make eating easier. You don't have to count calories, carbs, or anything else.
As a nutritionist, I know the dangers of high protein, high fat, no carb diets. These dangers include calcium loss from the bones, excess ketone buildup, constipation and other problems. For those reasons, I do not recommend high protein diets and would never go on one. But this book is different. You can eat all the carbs you want, as long as they are the right kind *fruits and non-starchy veggies*. You get lots of fiber and adequate calcium. This diet is truly healthy. I analyzed several days worth of meals with the FoodWorks program, and this diet is very high in vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. It has also cut my calories in half, and I've lost four pounds this first week. For those who are worried about giving up favorite foods forever, the diet allows two open meals a week, at which you can eat grains and dairy.
I also ordered "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy" by Walter Willett, an M.D. at Harvard who heads up some long term nutrition studies. I recommend this book to those who are interested in research or a second opinion. Many of the paleo diet points are echoed in Dr. Willett's book. After reading these two books, I don't see how they could fail to convince anyone....more info
- An incredible satisfying and slimming diet
I love protein -- fish, chicken, lean beef and lean pork. And I have missed fruits and vegetables. How terrific that Dr. Cordain has shown that the proteins I love can be combined with non-starchy fruits and vegetables -- while I'm still losing weight. This is a clear, simple, effective weight-loss plan that has helped me in my daily eating plan and I'm sure it will help you as well....more info
- Paleo success
This is a great plan. Not your typical starvation diet. This plan makes great sense. You can adapt this to your everyday life and make it a habit for the rest of your life. Create muscle and loose weight and feel great doing it. It was recommended to me by my boss who is a diabetic and it has helped him stay off insulin injections and maintain his blood sugar. It helps with cholesterol problems also. I have recently begun the program and am feeling better each day. I like it so well that I have bought a copy for my salesman and his family....more info
- fabulous book, effective program for athletes in particular
I laughed out loud when I read the customer review that said "I lost too much weight". What, are people jealous?
I've been on this diet for about four months now and have lost 30 lbs, and regained my fitness and health, as well as putting more muscle on than I've ever been able to do before. Sure, don't go on this diet if you don't like being incredibly fit.
I was a sub 3 hr marathoner at age 35 when I started to inexplicably gain weight. I was eating very little protein at the time, around 20 grams a day, despite running about 100 km a week at the time. Dumb, I know, but it worked for a long time. I wasn't getting injured, nor did I have any health problems (except a problem with acne that started at age 30). I ate a lot of grain-based foods, which is typical for endurance athletes.
My health deteriorated, and I gained 35 lbs in less than six months. I also got pneumonia twice, and developed asthma. My LDL level was twice the maximum that is acceptable. All of these problems are accounted for in this book.
I first saw Cordain's work mentioned in Joe Friel's Mtn. Bike Training Bible, and followed up.
All of my symptoms have disappeared. Not only have I lost the weight, my blood work is excellent, and I'm putting on muscle faster than I did even in my early 20s (I'm 38 now). I'm up to 200 crunches, for example, only two months after barely being able to manage 5. My average run pace has dropped from 8:30 per mile to sub 6 minutes per mile in only two months, on 3 hrs of training a week. After only 3 sessions on my track bike (all around 10km in length), I was able to crank out 36 km/hr over 10km on my track bike. That's on ZERO mileage over the past three years.
Others have asked me how I did it, and they are getting similar results and feeling great.
This research makes a tremendous amount of sense, and it's given an athlete his body (and hope) back. Thanks, Dr. Cordain....more info
- Second thoughts
Since I reviewed this book here several months ago, I've surveyed a number of other nutritional guides and found that this one does not hold up so well. Several current diet books discuss saturated fats much more thoughtfully than Dr. Cordain does with his dismissive "artery-clogging" epithet. As he points out, animal fat today--at least in most commercially available meats--is not the nutritious animal fat that Paleolithic people ate, but his solution to this problem can create more problems. I tried restricting my meat consumption to eating only lean meats, as he recommends, and I lost too much weight. He also recommends range-fed/free-range animal foods (a better solution), but so do numerous other nutritional guides, most of which don't advise cutting the skin off poultry as Cordain does.
Although this book's 20-page bibliography as well as its endorsements from authors of other diet books indicate that Cordain is not the mere exercise professor that Sally Fallon (in her review here) claims he is, he has not, in my view, presented a diet for everyone. His diet may help people who need to lose weight, but for improving one's health I've found better guides elsewhere. I'm sorry I rushed to recommend this book so highly in my first review; before I recommend any other diet book or nutritional guide, I'll wait until I've used it for a while....more info
- The Holy Grail
This is one of the most influential books I've read - definitely in the top 5. In following the doctrines outlined here, I've lost about 12 pounds of bodyfat, gained ridiculous amounts of energy, and can lift more weight in the gym than ever before - all in about 2 months. The title is slightly misleading - this is really less of a "diet" book and more of a "lifestyle" book. On the three or four times I have departed from this Paleo lifestyle (usually just for a meal or two), I noticed a dramtic decrease in my energy level. For the first time in my life, I believe I "get" the whole nutrition thing. Don't confuse the Paleo approach with Atkins - although there are similarities, the differences are critical (ie., salt, quality of fats, etc)....more info
- The Paleo Diet is essential reading
I found Dr. Cordain's presentation very credible and well done. He presents the basics and then offers a plethora of references to support his claims and for additional reading. I never felt bogged down in detail. The recipes and meal plans are thoughtful and delicious. They have allowed me to stick to this new approach without hunger or "cheating." Best of all, I feel great. In the future, this is how we all will eat.
... after increasing protein consumption and lowering carbohydrate consumption in my diet, my blood lipid analysis improved (i.e., HDL, triglycerides), but my LDL cholesterol remained elevated until I also cut back on saturated fats. Many of my friends had the same experience. I don't speak for everyone. But in my case, Dr. Cordain has it right!...more info
- Some good information, but flawed
This book has a lot of useful information, particularly on the effects of grains and excessive carbohydrates on the human body. When people replace animal foods and fats for grains, degeneration sets in as the fossil record shows.
Where the book goes wrong is in its explanation and role of fat in human diets. Cordain erroneously believes that saturated fats cause heart disease and other diseases--totally wrong. Because of this belief, he also writes that our Paleolithic ancestors did not each much saturated fat from animal sources. The evidence he gives to support this, however, is very selective and misleading.
For accurate information on saturated fats, see Uffe Ravnskov's excellent book THE CHOLESTEROL MYTHS, as well as Fallon and Enig's NOURISHING TRADITIONS....more info
- Paleo Diet
This version of the "protein" diet brings the whole eating craze back to the center where it belongs. It just doesn't make sense to eat dripping bacon and greasy cheeseburgers without any checks and balances. The Paleo diet calls for a sensible approach to eating lean protein as did our distant ancestors, and reinstitutes the idea that fruit and vegetables should be a mainstay. I do wish there was a more prominent place for whole grains, but who says you have to follow Paleo exactly?
Good nutritional information included in this book....more info
- So far so good!
I have been on the diet 3 weeks and I feel great. I have also lost 10lbs. This is a great guide for starting the Paleo Diet. If you can make it through the first 48 hours of carb withdrawl, it will work. I also recommend "Neanderthin". But this book really does a great job of explaining the entire process and the theory behind it. It makes the plan simple with a food guide. Do it!...more info
- The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat
At first I was all excited because I believed this books concept. I lost a few pounds but this was all water since you stop using salt. Dropping weight is hard for me beause I am not very overweight. I need to lose ten pounds. I really enjoyed eating all those steaks and liver while eating fruits and veggies also. The only problem was, my body rebelled against all that meat. I became very sick. so sick I could not leave the house if you know what I mean. This went on for 10 days, I almost went to the Dr. over this. I finally gave up on the dieting and found how many calories I needed per day and then cut back only about 4-5 hundred cals. per day I am now slowly reducing my weight and feel a lot better....more info
- Not such a great book, but it is worth reading
Let me begin by saying that I am a 100% believer in the paleo diet/ caveman diet concept. I am a national-level olympic weightlifter and have tried every combination of high/low carb/fat diet to find something that allowed me to stay in the same weight class as I got older. The only thing that has ever worked is the paleo diet.
For a good, concise description of the paleo diet, search for it on wikipedia.
Having said that, I will now be critical of this book. I found this book to be very verbose and never provided a convincing argument for the paleo diet. Very little evidence was provided that the diet described in this book was what was eaten 20,000 years ago. Most of the argument for this diet was modern research on how ingredient X (e.g. omega-3 fatty acids) is good for you. I have heard excellent evidence supporting the paleo diet during a few lectures by a scientist that studies coprolites (few thousand year old petrified excrement), unfortunately, similar evidence is not in this book.
Furthermore, there are a few technical issues I have with what is presented in this book. I have a PhD in theoretical chemistry. Having gone through graduate school, I know that just about anyone can get a PhD or become faculty if they are patient. Because of this, I'm immune to the Doctor/Professor name dropping used throughout this book.
Repeatedly, the author asserts that chloride from salt causes the body to become more acidic. Offhand, it is not at all clear to me how this could happen. Chloride ions in solution are basically inert. I have to believe that this conjecture is wrong.
The author also makes repeated comments about how bad salt is for you. A few years back, there was an article in the journal Science (one of the two highest tier scientific journals) about the politics of salt. The article describes a political agenda to show that salt caused medical problems. A few hundred million dollars and a half dozen project leaders later, the program was shut down because the researchers could not prove what the politicians wanted. I'm not suggesting that people should eat a lot of salt, since cavemen ate much less sodium and more potassium than we do today, but I am suggesting the health problems blamed on salt have sketchy research backing them up.
In spite of this book's problems, it is worth reading. The description of the paleo diet is good enough to be effective when followed....more info
- The diet our genes want
What I like most in this book is the emphasis on adaptation. In all living organisms adaptation is achieved via a few simple processes: mutation, fusion/ recombination, and selection of the genes that occur during the reproduction process only while the organism prepares its genes to transmit them to the next generation. The resistance of bacteria to antibiotics demonstrates that an adaptation necessitates about one thousand generations. Bacteria divide rapidly and can have thousand generations in one year. In human one thousand generations takes about 15 to 20,000 years. This is why we are poorly adapted to the changes in the diet resulting from agriculture that started 10 to 12,000 years ago. This is why we are absolutely not adapted to more recent changes, like starch and sugar excess, deficiency of other carbohydrates than those found in starch and sugar,the refining of food, additives and pesticide residus, mineral and vitamin scarcity and the essential fatty acid imbalance of the American diet. This is why our genes still prefer the ancestral Paleo diet!...more info
- Paleo Diet makes sense...
This is one of the few diet books that actually make sense to me--it focuses on how our bodies were meant to eat, and what we're genetically programmed to process. There are no magic tricks, no "fat burning miracles," no tricks, no drugs, no 30-days-to-a-new-you, just solid, and (to me) sensible and easy to follow guidelines.
The book emphasizes fresh foods, rather than processed--that makes sense and avoids who knows what chemical additives. Lean meat, healthful oils, fish or seafood, fresh vegetables and fruits--simple. No need to try to interpret complex labels, count calories, carbs, or whatever. Just lean meats, fresh vegetables and fruits.
This is not to say you have to eat all game meats and raw vegetables and fruits to benefit--you can adapt many of your favorite recipes and snacks and even eat out, if you pay attention to what you're ordering.
As the author of The Wild Foods Cookbook for Stephen Greene Press The Wild foods Cookbookin the early 90s, I'm delighted to find how often this book parallels my own research. Again, no need to forage as our ancestors did--with care, we can shop at our local supermarket or farmer's market.
Cordain's not the world's greatest writer, and he tends to repeat his points more than I really enjoy, but the basic tenets are easy to grasp, make sense, and make me, personally, feel very good.
The book has a section of great recipes and appendices, solid research, and personal success stories...this one, at least, doesn't feel like a fad diet....more info
- Finally a Science Based Diet
Every nutritionist, MD, chef and charliton has a diet theory. "Low Fat" is good. "Low Carbs" is good. "Balanced (whatever that means!)" is good. Loren Cordain also has a theory. His theory makes as good or better sense than most of the others: Our body and mind are probably better off if we eat the foods we evolved with over a couple of million years of evolution. What makes Cordain's approach different is that he backs it up with real science, that is, testing his theory with real research and real tests on real subjects using the scientific method. If the tests don't show that the one or another part of the theory is working it gets cut out and the theory modified. I'm tired of trying out untested theories which are politically correct or sound good. I want science. Cordain delivers.
By the way, just because I've lost wieght, feel great and really enjoy my food is just anectotal evidence, not a double blind test with statical significance, but it got me to write this review!...more info
- unsubstantiated assertions
are easy to make. 'Dr' Cordain asserts that hunter/gatherers ate low carb diets. Exactly what would be in 'lots of fruit and vegetables' if not lots of carbohydrates ? There's plenty of sugar in both fruits and vegetables. Not to mention that grains have always been available since the dawn of time, and fermented grain alcohol is a part of every recorded culture: so grains were indubitably a part of the hunter/gatherer diet (there's my own unsubstantiated assertion - see how easy it is ? )
The diet is mostly a good idea, but the reasons given why it might be, are mere speculation....more info
- The Ultimate Diet
This plan really strikes me as the best possible way of eating. I am familiar with a number of other popular "low-carb" plans, and most are either too high in saturated fat and too low in fruit and vegetables, or simply too complicated and full of unusual foods. This book describes what seems to be a very reasonable, tasty, and healthy eating plan based on lean meats, fruits and vegetables, and some healthy fats. The author explains in simple terms how this is the diet that humans are genetically programmed to do best on. I'm convinced; I'm going to try it!...more info
- Practical and Effective
[NOTE: This review relates to the paperback edition.]
At first glance, the Paleo diet seemed extreme to me. Give up grains AND beans AND dairy completely? What's left? Won't I be hungry? Won't I get bored? Won't I die of malnutrition? Obviously the answer to all of the above is "no." My body adjusted quickly to lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, raw and cooked vegetables, and fruit. I'm eating 10 times more fruits and vegetables than before, snacking more and cooking more. My food cravings are gone, and I feel sated after I eat. Oh yes, and did I mention that I lost 8 pounds over the past 4 months?
I've seen numerous health benefits from lowering my glycemic index and salt intake and eliminating the indigestible proteins found in grains and beans. Acid reflux, gas, joint pain, sinus congestion -- all completely gone! Amazing.
Since nobody's twisting my arm, I've "cheated" a few times and eaten something that used to be part of my diet, like oatmeal or corn chips. Next day the acid reflux, gas and congestion come back. My sense of taste has become more sensitive and I notice a rancid, unpleasant note even in foods like organic oatmeal. So the desire to stray has diminished and staying on the diet is easy. However, there are a couple of things I've chosen not to give up: organic butter as a condiment on vegetables, and organic half-and-half in my coffee. I've noticed no ill effects, and get a lot of taste enjoyment from these items, which is important even when eating healthy!
I've given the book 4 stars rather than 5, because there are a few things here and there that I don't agree with. I don't think one should heat flax seed oil. And the recipes, while passable, don't excite me very much. Also, the book is written in a popular self-help style, focusing on weight loss and bypassing a purely health-conscious viewpoint. One example: although Dr. Cordain says we really shouldn't drink it, he mentions diet soda as a possible beverage. He knows better.
On the other hand, the health benefits for "eating Paleo" are offered in an understandable way, explaining why it's good for high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and so on. If you read the book, you will know how to "do the diet" and why it's a good idea. The science is well-presented. There's a 20-page index of double-blinded study research results from around the world, to which Dr. Cordain refers throughout the book. This is not some weird dietary notion that somebody invented. It was arrived at by hard research, investigation and study. Whether you accept the notion that we should strive to approximate our caveperson ancestors' diet is beside the point: from my experience, this is a healthy diet that eliminates the pitfalls of eating foods our bodies were not genetically programmed to digest. My results speak for themselves.
Some people do have bodies that can handle just about anything they feel like eating. And ethnic, regional and personal variations ensure that the Paleo diet will never take over the world. All I can say is that eating Paleo has improved the quality of my health immeasurably. And as a weight loss diet, it's foolproof. Eliminate junk food and fast food and replace them with high quality animal protein and as much fresh veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds as you can pile in your mouth...and thank Mother Nature (and Dr. Cordain et al) for Her bounty with every bite....more info
- Extreme looking diet works remarkably well
My doctor recommended this diet to me. When I got the book I didn't think
there would be any way I could adhere to it--it seemed too extreme.
The premise is that foods we ate for thousands of years before the agricultural revolution (meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts) are the foods that are the healthiest and best suited to us today. The author advises the elimination of all grains and dairy products. What makes it doable are three "Open" meals per week in which the dieter can enjoy foods from the forbidden list. I've found it easier to stay on than I imagined in the short term. I don't know how well someone can adhere to the diet in the long term but the pounds seem to come off quickly in the beginning....more info
- The Stone Age Diet brought up to date
Before I found this book, I'd heard of the Stone Age diet and wished I could adopt it. The restrictions--no grains, legumes, dairy products, or processed foods--sounded formidable, as did the requirements--fresh meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, the wilder/more organic the better. But my health problems have recently goaded me into adopting a rough form of this diet, and I've needed a diet manual to focus and refine my new food choices. Voila! I found The Paleo Diet just yesterday and am already convinced it's the right diet book for me. I do feel better since I started eating more animal protein and no starch a few weeks ago, but I've been having trouble with fatty meats, and Loren Cordain's book explains why.
The reviewers here who argue that saturated fat has been getting a bum rap, that our Stone Age ancestors undoubtedly ate the whole bird and not just the breast, etc., appear to have read the book cursorily, if at all. Cordain clearly explains that the animal protein prehistoric people thrived on had nowhere near the amount of saturated fat found in today's domestic meats, poultry, and dairy products. Quoting from the book, "Paleolithic people couldn't eat fatty meats if they tried--they had nothing like the tubby grain-fed animals that produce our steaks today." Readers who want more science may consult the 20-page bibliography in the back of the book.
The Paleo Diet is primarily a diet manual, a nutritional primer, and a cookbook, loaded with practical information (e.g. "How to Be a Savvy Shopper for Fish," "Dining Out, Travel, and Peer Pressure," etc.) for readers who want to adapt the Stone Age diet to the 21st century. What's more, the book is engagingly written and extremely readable. Above all, Cordain makes the Stone Age diet seem simple. If I could give his book an extra five stars, I would!...more info
- good book
I really enjoyed this. The information makes sense to me - not just my brain, but my physical intuition resonates with this way of eating. I was so grateful when it came out because I had suspected, in recent years, that our genetic history should dictate our diet. I do think we should have more detailed background on what our specific ancestors ate.
For instance, I have a native American friend who, through process of elimination & re-introduction has discovered she can eat beans and corn with no problems whereas I cannot. Her ancestors have had enough time to adapt to a diet including them. I suspect the grain barley would be OK for me because it was eaten for thousands of years by my Celtic ancestors. Orientals probably have foods they are genetically predisposed to deal with just fine.
But this is a really good start on what I hope will become a more detailed subject for some researcher in the future. ...more info
- I have read a TON of nutrition books...
...and this book is a MUST have for anyone serious about performance nutrition. I have been a serious student of health and nutrition since I was diagnosed with Cancer as a teenager. I have been cured and healthy for well over 15 years and nutrition is an enormous part of the reason I have been able to become as fit as I am now. "The Paleo Diet" is state of the art information backed by solid scientific research on how your body is designed to eat....more info
- Exceptional and Highly Recommended
Dr. Loren Cordain is one of the top researchers in the field of human nutrition. This book represents the distillation of his extraordinary knowledge and long career. This book cannot be recommded highly enough. The plan he outlines is simple, yet thorougly backed by research. As a nutritionist, I have admired his research papers for years. At last I have a book I can give to my clients that will tell them from one of top authorities how they are supposed to eat! If you have to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, or gain control of your diabetes, this book can offer you tremendous help, and give you and eating plan you need to regain your health....more info
- Paleo Diet
This book is very informative and gives you loads of advise on changing your diet....more info
It is a good review of what has been written before. I learned something from it, which was helpful....more info
- EveryDay Diet
This book teaches you the way you are supposed to eat before man got involved and started processing everything. Not only do you lose weight,
you feel much healthier, too....more info
- Pleasant Read
The book brings forward the thinking on diets by looking to our past primitive diets. It advanced for me the concept of acid/alkaline balances and omega 3 to omega 6 fat ratios....more info
- Sadly flawed
It is a shame that Loren Cordain who has undoubted scientific ability has fallen into the trap of the fat/cholesterol hypothesis. This completely unsupportable hypothesis (and it has never ever been more than an hypothesis) is a poor vehicle to show off his interesting research on the paleolithic diet. The credibility of the book is further compromised by his clear lack of knowledge about edible fat composition and cellular biology and the importance of both saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (together with cholesterol) in the generation and maintenance of cell integrity, not to mention hormone manufacture.
The tables that purport to show relative food values (eg protein and or fat values) are highly suspect and do not match any of the standard references I have consulted. The values are usually wildly astray, some laughably so (if it was'nt so serious). What the source of these tables are is never specified.
As for recommending flax oil for cooking!!!
Reading this book made me feel sad for Cordain and his colleagues who have compromised the value of their research by slipshod thinking and sloppy research outside of their main field of interest....more info
- A Stricter Variation of the South Beach/Atkins Diet
This diet elimninates starches and grains, sugar, of course, legumes and dairy products and makes the case for us eating like our ancestors. Good examples and receipies. May be hard to follow completely in its purest form....more info
- This book is saving my life!
I have tried every diet known to man. At least I thought so until I read about the PALEO DIET. It just makes so much sense! Haven't you ever noticed that when you see people in old pictures that there are so few "fat" people. And the older the pictures, the less likely you are to see people who are overweight. This books explains how our diets have changed through the centuries with inventions, discoveries, and "improvements" in our lifestyles. I have tried before to "get back to basics" as far as my eating was concerned, but NEVER got it right. This outlines everything very clearly. I am actually enjoying coming up with new menus and recipes using Dr. Cordain's suggestions. I can hardly wait until my next health checkup when my family doctor sees how much weight I have lost! My muscle tone has improved and I have more energy too!...more info
- Destined to be regarded as a classic
The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. is a monumental work that brilliantly explains and popularizes what may well be one of the biggest breakthroughs in scientific understanding in human history: the evolutionary hypothesis of human nutrition and lifestyle. This hypothesis does what no other diet and exercise regime does: it builds a scientific model that can be used to make predictions that can be tested and it does so upon the very foundation of biology--evolution.
This book does an excellent job of explaining this model and how to put it to use. Dr. Cordain's style is eminently readable, so it is understandable to the layperson while maintaining a scientific and evidence-based approach. Endnotes would make the book even better.
Those scientists who are using this evolutionary model of nutrition predict that the healthiest foods for humans will be the natural foods that humans have been eating for the last 2.5 million years--not the agrarian and processed foods of the last ten thousand years--and that an optimal diet will approximate as much as possible the types of diets that Paleolithic peoples consumed.
Most other diets take a hit-or-miss, after-the-fact approach, focusing on the micro level of what certain scientific studies and anecdotal evidence suggest about the healthiness of certain foods and diets, and from the aggregation of some of this data, try to determine the optimal dietary approach. As new data comes in that contradicts the old, upheavals in dietary fads occur and many people become confused and discouraged by the conflicting signals they receive over the years. As others have noted, Paleolithic-based diets are the only non-fad diets, since they span hundreds of thousands and millions of years, not decades.
The most common criticism of the evolutionary hypothesis of diet and lifestyle involves comparative life expectancy. Assumptions are made that people live much longer and healthier lives today than Stone Agers did, and that Stone Agers did not live long enough to acquire the chronic degenerative diseases of modern civilization. The idea that hunter gatherers' lives were "nasty, brutish, and short" is actually an exaggeration that was popularized by Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. Dr. Cordain explains (as have others) the scientific findings that human life expectancies DECLINED when Stone Age hunter-gatherers adopted an agrarian lifestyle at the start of the Neolithic era. The later increases in life expectancy were mainly due to public health advances in sanitation, food safety, quarantine systems, immunizations and childbirth survival rates. Thirty three years was the estimated AVERAGE life expectancy of a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer male, not the maximal lifespan of all hunter gatherers. A hunter gatherer who survived childbirth, infectious disease, accidents, battles, and wild animals could be expected to live as long as we do today. Moreover, archaeological and anthropological studies of Paleolithic records and contemporary hunter-gatherer cultures show much lower prevalence of heart disease, sudden cardiac death, cancer, stroke and even acne than in modern societies.
Professor Jared Diamond, the famous evolutionary biologist and author, went so far as to state that "recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence." He further declared that "Hunter-gatherers practiced the most successful and longest-lasting life style in human history. In contrast, we're still struggling with the mess into which agriculture has tumbled us, and it's unclear whether we can solve it."
Those questions that Cordain didn't handle thoroughly in his book are addressed on his website (http://thepaleodiet.com/faqs/). Perhaps future editions of the book will include the additional details and defenses that Cordain has posted on his site. For example, Cordain responds to another common objection to The Paleo Diet--that hunter gatherers favored fatty cuts of meat and that Cordain is therefore wrong to suggest that we restrict our intake of saturated fat. Cordain agrees that "There is absolutely no doubt that hunter-gatherers favored the fattiest part of the animals they hunted and killed" (such as the tongue and brains). But this does not mean that we should eat unlimited quantities of fatty domestic meats, as Cordain explains: "Not surprisingly, these organs are all relatively high in fat, but more importantly analyses from our laboratories showed the types of fats in tongue, brain, and marrow are healthful, unlike the high concentrations of saturated fats found in fatty domestic meats. Brain is extremely high in polyunsaturated fats including the health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, whereas the dominant fat in tongue and marrow are the cholesterol lowering monounsaturated fats." Cordain points out that modern feedlot cattle typically have 30% body fat or greater, versus the 10% body fat that wild Paleolithic animals averaged on a year round basis.
Cordain also explains on his site that the question of saturated fat is more complicated than a simple good-or-bad debate would indicate. Some saturated fat is good (stearic acid) and some is bad (palmitic acid, lauric acid, and myristic acid). Wild animals have more of the good saturated fat than domestic animals.
As scientific understanding of the new field of evolutionary nutrition advances, some of Cordain's recommendations may well be revised. Cordain has already modified one of his recommendations: he no longer recommends using flaxseed oil in cooking (he still recommends consuming it cold, adding it to meats after cooking them and to salads) and acknowledges that was an error. This is a new field in science and there is still much to learn.
Cordain was first "enlightened" about diet by S. Boyd Eaton's 1985 article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled "Paleolithic Nutrition." Accumulating evidence and growing scientific opinion suggests that S. Boyd Eaton, Loren Cordain and others have indeed started a scientific revolution. I believe that this book will be seen in retrospect as an early classic in this revolution's development.
One doesn't even need to accept the evolutionary model in order to recognize the wisdom of this dietary approach. Cordain says that a blueprint for optimal nutrition is built into our genes and "Whether you believe the architect of that blueprint is God, or God acting through evolution by natural selection, or by evolution alone, the end result is still the same: We need to give our bodies the foods we were originally designed to eat." ...more info
- Low-carbohydrate Paleo Diet? -------- NOT------
Dr. Cordain has attempted to jump on the "low-carb" popularity trend but has missed the mark by a mile. I am personally on a truly low-carb diet and eat lots of saturated fats which have given me AWESOME health. My previous high risk cholesterol ratios, blood pressure and weight have returned to PERFECTLY NORMAL. He claims his diet is low-carbohydrate but it certainly is NOT at 30-40% carbs. He also attempts to make a connection between the hunter-gatherer Paleolithic people and his diet, which it is NOT. The hunter-gatherers ate a very high-fat, low-carb diet, and he is proposing a low-fat, high-carb diet. As an example: Dr. Cordain says correctly that wild deer, which he used as an example of Paleo food, is 40% protein and 60% fat. Yet, he suggest people eat a low-fat deer roast cut of 19% fat with all the exposed fat trimmed off. Paleo people ate the high energy fat that threw away the lean meat. His diet is basically the same as the Zone 40-30-30 (c-p-f). It is well known that this diet works for thin, younger people only. Older people or those with a existing over-weight problem will actually get fatter on this diet and develope age-related degenerative diseases. Dr. Cordain says the Paleo people would eat eggs but rarely had the opportunity. Yet, he suggest that eating fruit shipped to your local store from worldwide sources and available 365 days of the year is a Paleo diet. The truth is the Paleo people ate lots of fat and preferred the fat. They wasted the lean meat in times of plenty just as primitive people have done in recent years. The Paleo people had very limited availability of carbohydrate foods, a very limited varity and a very limited season. Some primitive people had NO carbohydrate food available 9 months of the year in northern locations. Dr. Cordain taught in the past that the Paleo people were vegetarian, and he was also a vegetarian at that time. Dr. Cordain's book is full of contradictions which lack logic. He provided a list of reference books but not one reference scientific study to support his assumptions. If you want to read great books about the TRUTH in a healthy diet, healthy fats and primitive peoples, try the following:
Dr. Robert C. Atkins' New Diet Revolution Revised and Updated.
Dr. Mary G. Enig's Know Your Fats.
Dr. Weston Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration....more info
Speedy shipping and my package was as promised. I would order from this seller again....more info
- Good Book but Leaves Out Cordain's Great Research
Dr. Cordain has written an excellent book for the general public. I would have like to see the book cover more of the technical aspects of Cordain's work as there is considerable "data" supporting this diet.
This book makes an important distinction between high protein diets vs. high fat diets. Atkins, Protein Power, and Zone can all be paleolithic diets but in practice are probably not. The protein intakes are too low in most cases. They may be too low on Atkins as he recomends fatty meat. Protein Power recommends minimum intakes that would be too low and if someone has free choice of fat intake like on Protein Power that may feel full on lower protein intakes. The Zone would provide sufficient protein if someone were to ignore its 1200-1500 calorie recommendations. The zone usually becomes a high fat diet as protien and carb intakes stay the same if you follow Sears recommendation to use fat as a caloric balast when you don't wish to lose more weight.
In response to the question of protein intakes by another reviewer here. The 55% represents aminal intake, not protein amount. However, protein intake on Cordain's diet is up to 35% of total calorie intake.
Cordain's diet is not a starvation diet like the Zone and the carb intake is much higher than most low carb recommendations This should prevent ongoing ketosis and potassium losses so commonly found on Protein Power and Atkins....more info
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