Interview with Alan Aragon Paleo Critic

Interview with Alan Aragon Paleo Critic

paleo critic alan aragon

Alan Aragon is a nutrition expert and renowned Paleo critic that writes research reviews on the latest nutrition publications, writes a monthly column in Men’s Health Magazine, and is also a continuing education provider for several organizations, including the Commission on Dietetic Registration, National Academy of Sports Medicine, and the National Strength & Conditioning Association.

Aragon has been openly criticizing the Paleo Diet for over a decade, so I asked him a few questions about his background and opinion of the Paleo Diet and Paleo Movement in general to gain some insight and clarity to his oppositional stance.

1. Alan, tell us a little about your background and what you do.

I’ve spent the majority of my career in nutritional counseling, but as of the past few years, I’ve been progressively more involved in research and conference lectures. My areas of concentration are the integration of training and nutrition for altering body composition or enhancing exercise performance (my latest publication is here).

I have two primary research projects in the works and one secondary research project that should make it past peer review hopefully before the year is over. I’m also working on a book for the lay audience, and at this point, I’m not too sure how much I can divulge about that.

The speaking road will lead me to London and Canada before the year is up, in addition to my regular speaking spots at the Fitness Summit and the NSCA. My formal bio can be seen here.

2. What is AARP?

Are you trying to tell me I’m over the hill? If that’s the case…then I can’t argue with you on that. In all seriousness though, AARR (Alan Aragon’s Research Review) is a monthly review of the scientific literature related to nutrition, training, and supplementation. It’s what I do to stay on top of the current research and help other health/fitness professionals and enthusiasts do the same.

It’s an outlet for me to pour out my nerdy obsessions when you really boil it down. Both the theoretical and practical sides are covered. I also have various guest contributors from all corners of the allied health fields, so it’s pretty diverse in terms of its scope of the content.

3. Many proponents of the Paleo Diet believe that post-Agricultural Revolution foods that weren’t eaten by our prehistoric ancestors should be avoided under that pretense. What is your response to this assertion? 

It’s logically faulty to just assume that pre-agricultural times were optimal in terms of nutritional circumstances, and general health circumstances, for that matter. Some of the most significant technological breakthroughs for improving human health and preventing/treating disease occurred within roughly the last century.

The march of technology can be both good and bad, but let’s not dismiss or ignore the enormous amount of good. But beyond that, many whole foods (both plant & animal) of the present day did not exist in the Paleolithic period; they are products of modern-day farming and food engineering so that virtually kills the objective right there.

The best practical move we can make as modern-day humans is to predominate our diet with whole and minimally refined foods, while judiciously moderating the “naughty” stuff. One thing that really bugged me was seeing potatoes (a whole, nutrient-dense food) on the list of banned foods set forth by pioneering Paleo diet researcher Loren Cordain. Talk about going full-potato!

4. Are there some populations of people that you believe are extremely maladapted to Neolithic diets and therefore should avoid grains and legumes altogether?

I don’t think it’s practical or even accurate to assume population-wide extreme intolerance to grains and legumes. The issue with grains inevitably boils down to some level of gluten intolerance. The most current estimates of celiac disease prevalence fall below 1% of the population.

As far as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) goes, a very recent study led by Daniel DiGiacomo of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University estimated that the national prevalence of NCGS is a smidge over 0.5%, which is about half the prevalence of the celiac disease.

I’ve seen higher gluten sensitivity prevalence estimates in less reliable literature, but the bottom line is that the gluten-tolerant fraction of the population is likely to be well over 90% of us. So, it simply makes no sense to view gluten-containing foods as universally “bad.”

Adding to the illogic of banning foods that are tolerable by the vast majority of the population, the traditional Paleo diet doctrine selectively ignores the fact that ‘Paleo-approved’ foods (i.e., nuts, fish, and shellfish), have a combined prevalence of allergenicity comparable to – and by some estimates even greater  than that of gluten-containing grains. Another amusing fact is that 4 of the 8 “major food allergens” designated by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act are Paleo-approved.

5. Are Paleo Diet adherents missing important health benefits from eschewing grains, legumes, and dairy?

If you include taste enjoyment as an indirect benefit to health, then I’d say yes, that applies to all of those foods. Anyone who can tolerate a given food, and truly enjoys the food, should not force the avoidance of it.

This rigid, all-or-nothing approach to dieting is a recipe for disordered eating in susceptible individuals. Speaking of the foods from a nutritional standpoint, I’d also say yes. Every species of food has its own unique nutrient profile – and I’m not just talking about essential vitamins and minerals.

There are a plethora of phytonutrients (& zoonutrients) in those foods that may act individually or synergistically to promote health and/or inhibit disease. Let’s take oats, for example. There is a substantive body of research pointing to multiple beneficial effects attributed to the beta-glucan content, and other non-essential components of oats.

These benefits range from appetite control (as indicated by increases in peptide Y-Y) to enhanced immune response and improvements in blood lipid profile and glucose control. The list goes on.

As for dairy, I pity the poor soul who can digestively tolerate dairy just fine, truly enjoys it, yet avoids it just because it breaks Paleo rules. I’ll quote research by Rafferty & Heaney on the nutritional profile of milk:

“NHANES 1999–2000 and CSFII 1994–1996 analyses of food sources of calcium, vitamin D, protein, phosphorus, and potassium reveal milk to be the number 1 single food contributor of each of these bone-related nutrients with the exception of protein in all age groups of both sexes…”

Regarding legumes, the aforementioned principles apply. Furthermore, I’ve repeatedly challenged folks to show me research indicating the adverse effects of whole legume consumption (not soy protein isolate by the bucketload) in healthy humans.

Invariably, I hear crickets. In contrast, the scientific literature (in both observational and controlled studies) on the health benefits of legume consumption is substantial. Peanuts are legumes, and peanut butter (especially combined with chocolate) has been known to impart magical powers.

Your mileage may vary on this. An interesting bit of information that folks ignore or overlook is that legumes are common staples of some of the healthiest populations in the world. In fact, Dan Buettner (of Blue Zone research fame) reported that beans, including fava, black, soy, and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets.

Of course, this is observational data with many potential confounding variables. Nonetheless, it warrants caution against the assumption that legumes are the bad guys. I’ve recently made the point that traditional Mediterranean populations have intakes that violate every food restriction rule of the Paleo diet, but they’re busy being too healthy to give a damn.

 6. While it is almost universally recognized that Celiac’s Disease is a gluten-mediated condition, do you suggest that people with Autoimmune Conditions consume grains?

For those who enjoy grains, yes. I am a big believer in respecting your own personal taste preference and letting that override the rules and formalities of any given fad diet. If grains don’t suit your personal taste, then, by all means, don’t eat them.

It’s the idea of banning them universally despite a lack of supporting evidence that I take issue with. For those who DO have the desire to eat grains but have issues with gluten intolerance, the good news is that commercially available gluten-free grains outnumber gluten-containing grains by at least 2 to 1 (complete resource here).

7. If a client of yours presents with IBS, what dietary recommendations do you make to improve GI function?

Well, right off the bat, I wouldn’t do a knee-jerk recommendation to avoid all grains, legumes, and dairy. The British Dietetic Association recently published evidence-based guidelines for the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In summary, lowering the intake of fermentable carbohydrates is recommended. Also, avoiding or minimizing gluten-containing foods may be necessary, but let me reiterate that there’s still a fair range of gluten-free grain foods available to choose from if the person likes grains.

Lactose-containing foods can be problematic, so their minimization or elimination should be considered as well (note that low & no-lactose dairy products are abundant). High consumption of fructose has also been implicated in exacerbating IBS, so this should be moderated as well.

Indiscriminately having an IBS patient “go Paleo” can potentially lead to problems since there are Paleo-approved foods are high in fructose, fructans, and polyols suspected to aggravate IBS. However, I would concede that as a quick-and-dirty shotgun solution to managing IBS, the Paleo diet model is actually quite a good approach.

I would also encourage screening and treatment by a gastroenterologist (or similar qualified medical specialist), since many times the treatments for digestive disorders are beyond the scope of nutritional modulation alone.

8. Is the fear of a skewed off, greater than 1:1 Omega-6, Omega-3 ratio, irrational and unfounded?

Yes, it is unfounded. There’s no objective evidence demonstrating the optimality of a 1:1 ratio of dietary omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. It’s all speculation without a solid research basis. For example, the ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 in coconut oil (a Paleo fetishist favorite) is almost 4000 to 1, yet the weight of the evidence does not indict coconut oil as an agent of adverse effects.

Most commercially available land animals’ fatty acid composition has omega-6 content that’s many times greater than its omega-3 content. So, if we were to strive for a 1:1 ratio in the diet, we’d have to minimize the consumption of beef, chicken, pork, etc. It’s just silly.

In line with this, the higher proportion of omega-6 fats in whole foods of plant origin such as nuts is not a concern. The evidence of omega-3 consumption’s beneficial effect on health indexes is abundant, so I would recommend keeping fatty marine foods in rotation in the weekly menu in order to reap these benefits. For those really worried about it, an omega-3 supplementation is always an option.

9. Is our ‘fear’ of sugar unfounded?

It depends. I’d say in rational, health-conscious, physically active adults, the fear of sugar is indeed unfounded. In children and adolescents (who are mostly clueless about health, lets’ face it), sugar consumption is often unbridled & combined with physical inactivity, so yeah – the concern is there.

The crux of sugar phobia centers around fructose, which is an almost unavoidable component of commercially available sugar-sweetened products. Table sugar itself (sucrose) is half glucose, half fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is ubiquitous in soft drinks and packaged sweets has a slightly but inconsequentially higher proportion of fructose.

Many are familiar with Robert Lustig’s campaign against sugar, and his emphasis on the evils of fructose. What often fails to be addressed is that dose and context make all the difference in the world. The research indicting fructose as an inherent agent of harm uses artificially high doses that are many times greater than typical human intakes.

Much of this research is rodent-based, and rodents’ capacity to convert dietary carbohydrate to fat is roughly ten-fold that of humans. There are several diligent scientific reviews that have been done on this topic, which I would encourage everyone to read since the full text is publicly available. To quote a recent review by Salwa Rizkalla:

“Despite the epidemiological parallel between the marked increase of obesity and fructose consumption, there is no direct evidence linking obesity to the consumption of physiological amounts of fructose in humans (≤ 100g/day). A moderate dose (≤ 50g/day) of added fructose has no deleterious effect on fasting and postprandial triglycerides, glucose control and insulin resistance.”

I would also encourage everyone to read John White’s recent review challenging the fructose hypothesis, whose key points are quoteworthy:

“In considering the volume of contemporary literature on fructose, 1 conclusion stands clear: fructose is safe at typical intake levels but can produce adverse metabolic effects when abused—as is true of most nutrients. It turns out that the largest abusers of fructose are not American consumers, but research scientists. […] It is only when researchers hyperdose human and animal subjects with fructose in amounts that exceed the 95th percentile by 1.5- to 3- and 4- to 5-fold, respectively, that adverse effects are provoked.”

The way I see it, the practical take-away for the general population would be to keep added sugar (as opposed to intrinsic sugar in milk or whole fruit) limited to roughly 10% of total calories.

This will allow for moderation & sane dietary practices while also hedging your bets away from the adverse potential of excess intake. Certain athletes involved in high-volume endurance competition (and other highly physically active folks) can safely exceed this in order to meet the demands of their sport.

10. What are your biggest gripes with the Paleo Movement as a whole? What do you appreciate about the Paleo Movement as a whole?

My biggest gripes with the Paleo Movement is the extreme-ism and absolute-ism that some folks apply to food avoidance despite a lack of supporting research evidence. And even the “Primal” model of going 80% Paleo while leaving 20% for the non-Paleo stuff is rather humorous.

For example, in the context of a typical 2500 kcal diet, 20% of those calories coming from grains & dairy would constitute 500 kcal – which is the capacity for a typical bowl of cereal. So, if a bowl of cereal (or 2 cups of pasta, or 4 slices of bread) every day qualifies as Primal, then it sounds a lot like conventional eating to me.

It’s just difficult to tolerate the lack of logic there. I generally can’t stand the labeling or branding aspect of a diet or the universalization of diet rules. This is because individuals have vastly different preferences, tolerances, and goals for the function of their eating habits.

As for what I appreciate about the Paleo movement, the push toward consuming more whole foods is definitely a positive thing. I appreciate guys like Robb Wolf & Mat Lalonde who are much more flexible and objective in their approach & philosophies than the majority I’ve communicated within the Paleo-sphere. Last but not least, I like CrossFit training attire.

11. Are there any questions that I failed to ask you that you feel merits answering?

Not that I can think of at the moment, this should be plenty to get people thinking. I want to give thanks and credit for being the first Paleo-focused publication to reach outside the box and interview me.

To learn more about Alan Aragon, visit his website here.




289 Responses

  1. I think the guy is off his rockers, especially to say that there isn’t enough evidence of certain things, maybe he just hasn’t looked at the evidence for what it proves. I’m pretty sure that all these smart people in the Paleo Lifestyle aren’t making all this stuff up. I suspect he doesn’t eat enough bacon, if any at all.

    Of course there are some who are going to be a bit militant about eating foods, you have them in all lifestyles, that point is obviously true. I find it interesting that non-celiacs and those who are not lactose intolerant suddenly have improvements in the way they feel after removal of certain foods. Hmm, isn’t that something? I think this guy lives in a bubble of textbooks and doesn’t see it with his own eyes like some of us do. Thousands and thousands of people (including myself) reporting improvements after removal of the very things he points out that doesn’t have any merit of being a problem? Hmm.

    • So you’re trying to say Alan Aragon “hasn’t looked at the evidence”… I’m pretty sure he has more experience critically analyzing studies than anyone else that you know does.

      • Just because he’s got some credentials doesn’t make him correct. He casually dismisses thousands of people who have found problems with the very things he mentions as not being a problem. That’s absurd! Do you seriously think the people who are saying to avoid these certain foods are stupid or do not have credentials themselves? That’s ridiculous.

        • Alan Aragon is one of the most respected nutritionists in the world. And its not because of his damn credentials, it’s because he reviews research from an un-biased point of view.

          Just because a thousand people believe they feel better after avoiding certain foods, is not good evidence as it is self-reported and doesn’t even have a good scientific basis in the first place. If a thousand people believe in what psychic readings, does that suddenly make psychic readings true?

        • Alan doesn’t “casually dismiss” anything meaningful. Just because select individuals fare well on paleo doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with e.g. legumes or grain. There’s no logic in connecting these two things.

          • Yes, like going from being unable to walk and needing blood transfusions to… walking and not needing blood transfusions. Maybe with “mind over matter” I was able to reverse liver disease, PCOS, RLS, etc. etc. etc. as well.
            Gotta be that placebo effect.

          • (This comment is directed at Karen Pendergrass.)

            Oh, please. Every highly restrictivce nutritional template that strongly deviates from “average joe eating parameters” is inherently predisposed to causing profound health changes in a minority of people – namely those with one of the rare diseases directly triggered by the specidic foods or food components which dieters following the respective template are discouraged from consuming. This is due to simple statistics, and it certainly doesn`t prove or even imply that the dietary template in question provides some sort of “universal salutogenic magic”. Anecdote in point: A friend of mine used to suffer from a host of ailments, most prominently impaired liver function and glucose tolerance, strange rashes, arthritis, persistent fatigue, and bouts of tachycardia. Sounds like a prime candidate for the paleo diet, right? That`s what he thought, too – so he eliminated all of those pesky neolithic foods, started eating lots of meat and saturated fat – and all of his symptoms worsened sharply. The next dietary pattern he experimeted with was a vegan diet – and, lo and behold, his health problems simply vanished. Needless to say, he became a devout acolyte of the vegan lifestyle, rabidly tearing into anyone who dared to voice doubts regarding the role of veganism as the “unified field theory” of nutrition science.
            Turns out, he suffers from hereditary hemochromatosis.

          • And your point being… what exactly? Daniel suggests that “the placebo effect is strong in followers of paleo” to which I subsequently, and appropriately, refute that it’s unlikely that I am merely experiencing a “placebo effect” so you argue with… non sequiturs and red herrings? And just humor me, will you? Quote me where I was implying that ” the dietary template in question provides some sort of “universal salutogenic magic”. Have fun trying to find it.

          • My point is that every dietary template that provides a “salvation narrative” along with its restrictive food consumption rules does indeed rely heavily on the placebo effect for gaining and sustaining momentum, because the people on whom it actually has significant effects (beyond those mediated by unconscious caloric restriction combined with adequate protein intake) are few and far between – with regard to the paleo diet, the studies that have been done so far demonstrate no benefits “above and beyond” those any diet designed with a semblance of sanity (i.e. based on “real, whole, unprocessed/minimally processed food”) routinely delivers for the average participant.
            Still, since the “aptitude” of a diet to “sniff out” people with exceedingly rare directly food(-component)-related ailments is directly proportional to its restrictiveness (again: simple stochastics), there will always be a “hard core” of “fervent acolytes” with “magical” success stories, which keeps the “halo” of the narrative “shiny and sparkling” and, in turn, the majority of followers who do not get to experience “salvation” motivated and primed to interpret every single negligible physical change in accordance with the narrative.
            The latter are the “followers of paleo” Daniel`s comment is obviously directed at, not one of the “few and far between” like you – which is why your personal anecdote either is in itself a “non sequitur and red herring”, because it assumes that he addresses your situation specifically when he clearly doesn`t, or means to claim that the “average paleo dieter`s” experience mimics yours and thus refute Daniel`s point, in which case you are most certainly “implying that the dietary template in question provides some sort of “universal salutogenic magic” “; the latter interpretation is what I went with and meant to respond to in my previous comment.

          • The anecdote about my friend was meant to illustrate that conclusions drawn from within a certain nutritional ideology are often revealed to be utterly ridiculous once one “departs from its sphere of influence” and ponders the evidence from a different perspective, and I figured that a vegan “success story” would be particularly illuminating in this context, since paleo dieters love to mock vegans and are highly attuned to detecting logical inconsistencies in vegan claims: Most paleo dieters – including you, as your reaction makes abundantly clear – react to stories like the one about my friend with a mental shrug, dismissing them as “freak occurrences” that have no bearing on what “average Joe” should or shouldn`t eat in the absence of significant and extensive clinical data suggesting /proving otherwise – which I wholeheartedly concur with. The irony here, though, is that one cannot help but notice that your personal “n=1” is completely analogous from a neutral standpoint. The fact that the “paleo tribe” frenetically celebrates each and every one of its “magical” success stories while summarily brushing off those presented by other “castes” nicely epitomizes the intellectual double standard those who devote themselves to a specific nutritional “salvation narrative” without reservation inevitably develop.

        • OK, you have every right to believe a well known neurologist has less knowledge about the subject of brain damage and the effects of grain on your brain, than a media type of critic who is not a doctor or scientist…Again that is your right.

      • I am amazed at how enraged you all get with this. It’s a bit like the crossfit debate and the barefoot running debate.
        Firstly for all the passionate defendants of Paleo, if it is working well for you that’s great. I may not personally participate in the same food restrictions but needless to say if you truely believe your health has improved with this diet than who am I to suggest you change your ways. Equally, I can’t see how your food choices would influence my life all that much so I really couldn’t care.

        Secondly to all those like Alan Aragon who passionately seek to acquire, appraise and apply the best available evidence not to mention those that dedicate themselves to conducting quality research themselves , thankyou.
        In the same construct as the evidence itself, you guys provide a neutral, factual explanation of our current understanding of health and nutritional concepts.

        I think where some of you make the error is your aggressive condemnation of each other. For those from the paleo camp as I said I am all for you making your own lifestyle choices , I think the issue arises when you incorrectly shun the evidence to suggest all individuals should eat this way. I am all for presenting your diet as an alternative and simply illustrating how it has helped your own life, but don’t do so in opposition to what the high level evidence research shows. If you are going to quote research to support your diet that is fine, just don’t cherry pick lower level evidence whilst disregarding higher quality research.

        For all those who wish to practice a true evidence based lifestyle, don’t allow yourself to get so enraged by those who choose otherwise. Reality is no matter what the evidence says there will always be those who disregard it. Have confidence in the approach you take to your own lifestyle and simply quote the facts, not inspite of others opinions but simply as a reflection of the approach you choose to take.

    • He “hasn’t looked up the evidence?” Yea, a man who reviews nutrition research for a living totally hasn’t looked at the evidence for a paleo diet.. Right.. Seems legit.

    • ” I find it interesting that non-celiacs and those who are not lactose intolerant suddenly have improvements in the way they feel after removal of certain foods. Hmm, isn’t that something?”

      The effect of psychosomatic influence alone renders your observation dubious, at best.

      Unless you’re able to qualify “improvement” from a clinical standpoint and have done everything possible to eliminate confounding factors, we have to go by the evidence that Alan cites.

      • Jay, the evidence is in the a lot more energy, even moods, triglycerides lowering along with the very small particle LDL’s, thinking more clearly, hormone balancing… these are all things that happened to me with test after test and continue to happen to people that are starting to eat clean on a permanent basis. It would not be spreading so quickly if people were not getting these results. I forgot to mention my blood sugar levels became very steady after being out of whack, before Paleo…Evidence, Evidence, Evidence. BTW, I am a non-celiac and not lactose intolerant as well. My proof has evidence to back me up! Let me put this question out to you… Have you tried a Paleo type of diet for 3-4 weeks, I think I know the answer, the same one Alan gave me…

        • Raphael, I ate paleo for about 7 or 8 months. My enjoyment of finding good stuff at the farmer’s market with my wife and hanging out in the kitchen with her made it an effortless experience, Cheerios aside (Apple Cheerios, actually — I enjoy a couple bowls in the AM when I refeed, which is essentially ‘carbohydrate loading’).

          • So you eat cheerios to carb load, if you workout after, that’s fine, but there is so much evidence that using fats for energy is better and longer lasting. There have been recent stories from high endurance athletes that use that new thinking of fats for energy instead of carb loading. I wonder then how much ratio of fats you were on on those seven months, it is a very large part of the paleo / primal movement… This is no fad, this is health.

          • Raphael, high/ultra endurance events are low intensity, steady state affairs easily relying on over 90% of energy requirements from the aerobic system. That isn’t to say that some carbs wouldn’t help these guys (answer: they do), but it’s no surprise that a low-carb dieter can complete these sorts of events.

            Here’s the simple acid test:
            Why aren’t all professional athletes ketogenic dieters? Because their livelihood depends on them performing at the best of their ability.

            I’ll leave you with Anthony Colpo. While he’s wordy for some, he’s always thoughtful enough to pepper his articles with references.


          • Professional athletes aren’t likely to jump on something that they don’t KNOW works, that’s why there are no pro athletes trying this stuff. That’s why when you look at the best, they are doing high carb diets. It’s because that’s what’s been going on for hundreds of years. They aren’t going to read a low carb book and risk a gold metal with a big dietary change.

            The tennis player who went gluten-free didn’t risk much by dropping gluten, so it was a low risk change. There aren’t any doctors, RDs, or tennis coaches that think gluten is important to have, and there are tons of other carbs that every agrees are equally effective for a high carb diet.

            That no one’s doing it is not evidence that something works. For thousands (or millions) of years, no professional athletes drank Gatorade. That was not evidence that it wouldn’t help.

          • Did you know that Aaron Rodgers, QB of the Green Bay Packers and many other athletes including tennis stars and celebrities do this for health. You just said no athletes do this, hmmm…

          • OK, Aaron maybe cheats more than most, but these great athletes and many more stars are doing it:

            Los Angeles Clippers NBA star Grant Hill became the oldest player in the NBA earlier this year—and then broke hearts when he announced his retirement. This seven-time NBA all-star is a strong proponent of the Paleo Diet. In an interview with Paleo Lifestyle Magazine he said it was what kept him in the league, more than able to hold his own with the other “kids” on court, even while in his early forties.

            Hunter Pence:
            The Giants took to Twitter with the news that “.@hunterpence’s decision to eat like a ‘caveman’ has him in the best shape of his career – [VIDEO] #GCast San Francisco.” The video shows the hunky Hunter in a grocery store shopping for veggies and talking about the positive change eating Paleo has brought to his career. He also hints that while at first his teammates were skeptical, he’s slowly bringing them over to his side of the cave. “Everyone freaks out when you have like a plate of kale…[but] Buster [Posey] got in a big habit of eating a piece, and he’s gettin’ pretty good, so he’s kept doing it. – See more at:

            In his most recent role as fugitive-on-the-run in Mud, Matthew McConaughey’s character is hungry to the point where he will gladly devour almost anything in sight, including room temperature beans and pumpkin pie filling straight from the can. In real life, he eats Paleo 90% of the time, but he admits to cheating every now and then to indulge in favorites with his kids. Sigh. There’s nothing more attractive than a man who’ll make sacrifices for his kids—am i right, ladies?!

            See more at:

          • Raphael, when I said, “Why aren’t *all* professional athletes ketogenic dieters?”, this does not exclude the possibility of a few athletes self-reported dietary intake that we might read about in “Your Daily Scoop — Advice and Entertainment for Women”.
            We want high-quality, peer reviewed science. It’s that simple. Check out the references in the second half of the Anthony Colpo article I provided to get the gist…
            Anyway, let’s ignore that you’ve moved the goal posts from athletes and carbohydrate restriction to the far more general “paleo diet” which can in various interpretations accommodate plenty of carbs (yes, please recall that you’ve gone on about “eating enough fats”, and the sins of carbohydrate induced “insulin spikes”, and that’s what I was addressing, specifically.)
            The day coaches across the planet start railing on their teams to eat paleo because the phytates in the grains and legumes they eat are at serious risk of ruining their chances during finals will never come.

            Seriously, man — your ability to willfully ignore the forest for the trees is simply astounding. I’ve had equally productive discussions with creationists about evolution.
            I’ve read and responded to your references. Feel free to read mine any day now… And please, try and be intellectually honest about it: remember not to start with your premise and then only cherry pick supporting evidence.

          • Jay, I really don’t know what your saying about athletes, et al… My general overall point is that this movement is growing stronger every year, I am sure that there will be mistakes along the way and newer discoveries, but so many are preventing or healing from serious ailments and getting healthier because they go grain free for the most part while eating clean produce, protein and fats. It is that simple and all the pretend reporters out there can make their dime on being negative about it without trying it themselves all they want, go ahead. Not a fad, not even close. Please don’t try and tell me that the renowned Neurologist is wrong too, ‘Grain Brain’ is no laughing matter. I know it is an emotional thing that could potentially put stress on people, but when you truly get that elephant off your back, you will not look at bread, desserts and food the same way, you only eat when you are actually hungry, it is an amazing feeling to not need a sugar rush at 3:30 or other stimulants. That is what happens to everyone who gives it a real college try. It is great that she interviewed him to expose him of his real agenda, truly smart on her part. I understand how his ego took over his mind to actually do the interview, just wanted more attention (i get it).

      • This is a great interview and it shares a lot of the sentiment that I do with the Paleo diet. I think it’s a great reference point but he’s absolutely right about the small percentages of those truly having dietary issues because of Celiac disease.

        Unless you really do have an issue with GI or inflammation there’s really no need to be so anal. Just because cavemen didn’t eat a certain type of food doesn’t mean it’s bad for you.

        Kudos to the people that have lost dozens and dozens of pounds or feel better because they went on to a Paleo diet. Of course when you eliminate junk from your diet and excess carbohydrates you’re going to feel better and drop weight.

        Yes, legumes do carry certain anti-nutrients but it’s a shame to exclude them out of a diet completely unless you really are bothered by them. Same goes for oats and certain types of grains.

        The problem I have with the Paleo-police is that they miss out on rule number one of nutrition therapy and that is that: no one diet is perfect for everyone. Yet, they treat the Paleo diet as the cure to all diseases.

        That being said, I think the Paleo diet can be a great thing but some people seem to be overdoing it. The perfect example is bacon. Some people use Paleo as the perfect excuse to gorge on meat and bacon. And more bacon – with a side of bacon. I’ll stick to some oatmeal and fresh berries with some cottage cheese for breakfast as opposed to what I’ve seen some people shoving down their throats at breakfast pushing the Paleo mantra.

        Keep it whole/real – eliminate the processed stuff and cut out excess carbs. You’ll be fine (generally speaking).

      • Humor at it’s best, bro. 😉 I’m totally amused by this guy’s perspectives. Take this one for example “Well, right off the bat, I wouldn’t do a knee-jerk recommendation to avoid all grains, legumes, and dairy.”

        If we want critical thinking, at least try to give some merit to what thousands of people have learned themselves.

        Seriously – I don’t think this guy eats bacon. More than likely he eats like a rabbit. 🙂

    • I’m not sure if Robo is having a laugh and trying to wind us up, but i’ll assume he’s not.

      So Robo is saying that Alan ignores the thousands of people who have felt better from cutting gluten. I say the opposite. Alan is saying that about 0.5% of the population may benefit. If the population is 6 billion, that is 30,000,000 people. If just 1% of that population has tried cutting gluten and felt the benefits, that is 300,000 people. Which is probably the figure that Robo had in mind when he said “thousands and thousands”.

      So Robo, you and Alan seem to be on the same wavelength. You should feel honoured.

    • Anecdotal evidence works for you, but what Alan is arguing, is that it is not sufficient to apply to everyone. If restricting grains, dairy (better include Whey protein, as it is highly processed) and legumes from your diet works for you, and you aren’t stressed by the cravings or the social pressure of passing up a couple slices of pizza with friends because it isn’t your cheat day yet, then fine. Just know that if you are stressed by these cravings, that alone is not worth whatever nutritional benefit you think you are gaining by these absolute restrictions. Stress is a huge inhibitor in the progress of your health. Try practicing a little more dietary freedom and moderation while still eating plenty of Paleo style meals, and see how that works for you. I guarantee your stress will go down and you won’t be fighting cravings as much.

    • Probably billions believe in god doesnt make god real. Here science is being discussed not feelings.

  2. Oh boy … how many paleo panties will be all in a bunch. I stumbled on this comment from Dr. Kurt Harris the other day. I thought it summed things up pretty accurately.

    Kurt G. Harris MD • a year ago −

    Josh said:
    “i am currently confused as to what value there is in a paleo/ancestral approach to nutrition and health.”

    “I am not sure there is any now. There might have been, but just from the total inability to coalesce around core recommendations, and the radical variability in approaches we see under the label, anyone could be forgiven for thinking paleo is a lot of ideologically-driven a priori narrative-based dietary faddism.

    OK, everyone agrees that a preference for real food is smart and that we could ditch wheat and sugar without ill effects if we want, but otherwise there is no “core curriculum” as it were.

    We still have factions claiming with a straight face that Milk is a cause of multiple sclerosis (!!) and other factions recognizing that pastured milk products might be some of the healthiest traditional (definitely not paleo) real foods you can eat.

    And we have factions that cling to the shunning of legumes on a basically theoretical (if weak) basis which as far as I can tell has zero support in epidemiology and little other evidence to support it. In fact, it seems to be an artifact preserved from the original conceit of Eaton and Cordain that anything “we could not have eaten easily” when we were not even who we are now, cannot be good for us. This is a conceit that has never made an iota of sense for me. other than perhaps as a starting point for suspicion.

    Then we have serious but well meaning confusion over what to do about the preponderance of n6 in the modern diet. Swamp it out with high dose fish oil while continuing to eat nuts (which cannot reasonably be thought by any anthropologist to be more “paleo” than legumes or wild grains) high in n-6? Turns out that might be worse than doing nothing.

    Finally we have the fatal virus that has infected paleo from the beginning but now looks more like an ineradicable retrovirus rather than a 24 hour flu. Low Carb hucksterism and offshoots of it like Krusism. The atkins fad diet -which works so well to reduce craving and food reward effects, has evolved into a full fledged dietary cult that has now, with aid of it’s profiteers selling books and xylitol based treats not found in nature, glommed on to “paleo” like Ursus Maritimus hugging a newborn penguin.

    Result – there are now people who actually believe that BANANAS can only be eaten seasonally.

    The paleo label actually is kind of finished. It does not represent any scientifically respectable approach and has such few reliable core elements as to be a heuristically useless concept. It has nothing to add to reading Michael Pollan or and just adding some red meat, or Weston Price sans sourdough bread.

    Just try being a total newbie, googling paleo diet and coming up with something really scientifically defensible beyond eating real food – you might not even get that, with all the paleo bars and supplements about.

    PS My comments are about the state of “paleo” as a meme. It is of course useful to use an ancestral approach to nutrition in some ways. The problem is, in order to instruct someone in it, I would have to specify how to do it and WHO is doing it correctly and not just making up stories, etc. And then, I would be roundly criticized for trying to constrain the libertarian wonderland that is paleo on the internet, where every idea is a beautiful snowflake that deserves a fair hearing and is somehow “contributing to the conversation” – as if dialogue about diet were a useful good for it’s own sake.

    I would be considered a “hater” who is not interested in “helping people” by being so negative as to point out which of the beautiful paleo flowers are really just weeds.”

  3. Great Q&A, Great job at debunking Paleo memes. A paleo diet isn’t even possible of course because most paleo food no longer exists in it’s original form. Whole food nutrition closely replicating paleo nutrition is all we can ask for. A little disappointed that Alan contradicted himself several times however…he doesn’t like the absolutism of paleo nutrition but then goes on to criticize those who use the 80/20 rule. Those kind of statements reaffirms his arrogance. He definitely should become a full time scientist:-)

    • How is criticizing two different points contradictory?

      He stated that both the extremist side AND the 80/20 side have faults, really, that’s not contradicting in any sense? Neither of those statements negates the other…

  4. The butt-hurt is strong with these ones.. Stick fingers in ears… sing “lalalala”… relax and stay paleo-ing. Great, GREAT job, Alan. Well thought-out.

  5. Gut Bacteria Liberate Hidden Toxins Found In Grains Toxicology: The masked toxins currently slip past food safety monitoring. Crops such as wheat, corn, and peanuts sometimes harbor chemicals from molds that grow on the plants. Some of these compounds are seemingly harmless derivatives of toxins produced by the fungi. For the first time, researchers have shown that human gut bacteria can break down these compounds and release the toxins, which can cause gastrointestinal and neurological damage

    • Gut microbiota, immune development and function: Pharmaceutical treatment has, thus far, failed to inhibit the tsunami of endemic diseases spreading around the world, and no new tools are in sight. Dramatic alterations, in direction of a paleolithic-like lifestyle and food habits, seem to be the only alternatives with the potential to control the present escalating crisis. The present review focuses on human studies, especially those of clinical relevance.

      • Here are 2 of the practical recommendations of what people can do to improve their health, listed at the conclusion of the paper you linked by Bengmark (one recommendation slams the Primal darlings butter & bacon, & the other calls for the consumption of grains & legumes, hahaha):

        3. Minimizing their intake of dairy products especially butter, cheese and milk powder, rich in saturated fats, hormones and growth factors such as IGF1, and to reduce meat intake, especially inflammation-inducing processed and cured meat such as bacon and sausages, this far though only fat demonstrated to being detrimental to microbiota.

        8. Seeking out and consuming ancient anti-oxidant-rich, high fiber, low-calorie containing grains such as buckwheat, amaranth, chia, lupin, millet, quinoa, sorghum, taro, teff, etc., and also increasing the intake of beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and almonds – all extraordinary rich in nutrients and minerals – all prepared for eating by low-temperature cooking – all most likely of importance for maintenance of a rich microbiota.

  6. There is no “majority” of healthy people. The athletes are just a small minority of the population. Even the healthy, fit non athletes are a minority of the population. The majority of the population is at the least overweight, or on meds, and suffering from a list of ailments, be it low energy, headaches, body pain, digestive troubles, insomnia – and these are just the minor complaints. Alan’s message is aimed at such a small subset of the population and is not applicable for the “majority”. Why pursue dietary advice for such a teeny portion of the population when you could get real about how sick “the majority” is and focus on dietary advice that helps heal the masses? Why focus on what percentage of people are technically Celiacs (tiny%) when the percentage of people developing T2 diabetes in this country is astronomical? If you want to help the most people, you need to focus on dietary advice that helps SICK people. Healthy people tend to have had this figured out already.

    • Because the advice for UNHEALTHY people is incredibly simple. They don’t need to avoid grains, or dairy, or xenoestrogens, or whatever the heck else.. they just need to eat less and move more. Period, full stop. It’s not their allergies keeping them overweight and unhealthy, it’s not “toxins”, it’s none of these things. It’s general lack of movement and breathtakingly bad food choices.

  7. Paleo = eating real food (soda is not real food Mr. Aragon!) I laughed so hard when Robb owned him, and then used his little brain for a sweep! What is so bad about eating real food? That is the base of a Paleo lifestyle. It’s not hard, it’s doable, and it’s healthy for you!

    Corn, certain beans, grains, hurt me. Why do I need to listen to someone who is not feeling my symptoms? Why should I listen to someone that considers himself a nutritionist, but has no problem in promoting soda consumption? And yes, he did!

      • There was no fight; no debate that anybody “won.” Anyone with both sides of their brain intact could see that it ended with Robb agreeing with me (or at least acquiescing to a certain degree and not offering further dissent). But more than that, it was only a few posts exchanged on a private Facebook group. No “ownage” was had in any way. This anonymous guy is obviously biased in his zealous opinion, and it makes perfect sense that he won’t post the exchange. I’m banned from the group for asking one of the admins to support his stance with scientific evidence, so I can’t go retrieve the exchange between Robb & I.

          • I have screencapped the exchange that got me banned. People were up in arms over it, including several regulars of the group. If I was not banned for hurting Joe’s ego by challenging Joe’s reasoning (i.e., his appeal to his profession as an attorney & his failre to provide any scientific evidence), then I was banned for not having a gentle/cuddly tone with him. Not a good reason to ban, sonny.

          • Alan, there are probably 20 or so (perhaps more) people in that group who share your anti-paleo sentiments, who often challenge the admins of the group (and members) to back up claims. They are still there.

            To say that it was simply a ban because you asked him “to support his stance with scientific evidence” is a gross oversimplification of what actually occurred.

            As for the real reason you were banned, perhaps it was a poor reason… But it wasn’t over asking for evidence. That would make one think that the group itself is full of dogmatic members who aren’t interested in other viewpoints or “dissent” against Paleo, and that’s certainly not true.

            I see a typo, sonny.

          • Funny how you didn’t specify the exact reason for the ban or challenge his screenshot evidence, but resorted to pointing out his “typo”. Nice ad hominem there.

          • If I didn’t ban him, how can I specify the *exact* reason he was banned? From what I understand, unless I am getting my evidence firsthand—or I was the person banning him–anything I say is mere speculation… isn’t that frowned upon here?

            And while I do think its sweet that Alans followers come to his defense for even the tiniest “attack,” I’m pretty sure he’s OK on his own, and would likely have better discerned the difference of me simply being an ass and making an ad hominem attack.

            It’s cute, though. I’ll give you that.

          • Lol i’m not coming to his aid, here. I’m just pointing out the fallacy in your comments. And you don’t exactly have to be the moderator to know why he was banned, if it was really such a bad reason, as you claim. If you witnessed the comments by Alan before the ban, why don’t you enlighten us as to what was so ban worthy about them?

  8. Alan Aragon is one of nutritions greats, fantastic read, paleo is I believe a ludicrous concept. Times changed, people evolved, with it so did food and the way it is produced and type of food eaten. Embrace it.

  9. I really really have to disagree with Alan’s take on fructose, being a diabetes researcher and work with some of the best in the field. It’s known to cause steatosis via processing in the liver, the stuff really isn’t good in high amounts (I’m not saying small amounts a day, like a couple helpings of fruit, are bad at all)…

  10. Verow – please direct us to AA “promoting” soda consumption… or was it “not scaremongering with hyperbole into avoiding soda”… therein lies the problem with nutrition extremists. Next straw man argument…

  11. I’m from Spain, and have eaten all my life a traditional Mediterranean diet, including wheat, some dairy, etc. However, the statement that Alan makes: “I’ve recently made the point that traditional Mediterranean populations have intakes that violate every food restriction rule of the Paleo diet, but they’re busy being too healthy to give a damn”… I believe is not true since cancer, diabetes, obesity, and a number of other health issues are on the rise in Spain and other Mediterranean countries. I would love to see statistics backing all of his comments and affirmations.

      • Right, because at the peak of the health of the Mediterranean populations, they were excluding grains, legumes, and dairy? Doubt it. Also, I used the word “traditional” for a reason. But more importantly, give this a read:

        “The Mediterranean dietary pattern, generally recognised, as a healthy diet is still the model for southern Mediterranean population; however, following the rapid process of urbanisation, southern Mediterranean populations have changed their lifestyle and food habits and tend to shift from traditional food habit. Indeed, intake trends illustrate the fall in whole-grain intake with a rise in animal sources and vegetable oils. Dietary energy has been steadily increasing by approximately 1000 kcal per capita per day between 1965 and 2000, exceeding per caput energy requirements.”

        • Alan,

          When and what was the peak of health of the Mediterranean population? How far back are we talking about? I’m trying to understand this and don’t quite get it.

          My grandmother lived through three wars: WWI, the Spanish Civil War, and WWII. These were harsh times in most of Europe and food was often very scarce. She lived to be 90, but had diabetes type 2 (was thin as a rail btw) and that’s what killed her in the end. She ate a traditional Mediterranean diet all her life. Her sister died at 84 from heart disease. My great uncle died from cancer at 89… my mother has a number of cousins who had breast cancer.. I can continue.

          Was there a time that cancer, diabetes, heart disease didn’t exist? No, not really, right? although the numbers were a lot less maybe…..

          As for the fall in whole-grain intake and rise in animal sources… In Spain, most people still consume bread at almost every meal. The primary source of animal protein in most of Spain and Portugal is still fish/seafood and pork (beef is consumed much less). We still eat a varied diet, usually dictated by the seasons. And yet, these diseases are on the rise.

          As for the rise of consumption of vegetable oils (which the Paleo/Primal community are against), I agree that this could be a factor in the rise of bad health in Mediterranean countries, although olive oil is still primarily used. (To be fair we would have to get real statistics and numbers.)

          The big factor I believe is the culprit for a worsening health situation in Mediterranean countries is the quality of the products being consumed. The wheat around the world is no longer what it was due to many GMO transformations. Same goes for many other food items.

          And there’s an influx of products that contain chemicals, sugar and a load of other things that are not healthy for us, basically processed foods. But even the “healthy” yoghourt contains sugar and other unhealthy and unnecessary components.

          And that is why I just don’t understand how anyone can be against a movement (both Paleo and Primal) that is promoting eating unprocessed, organically-grown, traditionally-fed animals, healthy fats, exercising regularly, reducing stress (a huge factor in health issues), sleeping better, getting proper sun exposure, and overall living better?? And to top it off, this same movement/lifestyle is helping so many people gain/regain optimal health….

          Please explain that to me.

          • I don’t want to distract from Alan’s response, but…

            I’m encouraged to hear your grandmother lived so long under such adverse conditions. I’ve a non-blood uncle who is a marathon running, skinny type II diabetic. He used to be quite well built, but is now becoming worrisomely lean without trying.

            “The wheat around the world is no longer what it was due to many GMO transformations. Same goes for many other food items.”

            There is no commercially produced GMO wheat. That isn’t to say that a small minority of folks have issues with wheat produced by “conventional” breeding methods — but there’s going to be a small subset of the population that has a problem with just about any food item. That’s how it goes.

            As for other GMO food items — when we’re talking about insertion of a couple of genes at best, and these food items (the proteins the GMO express, specifically) are tested for allergenicity, what exactly is your concern from a health perspective?

            (disclosure: posted as ‘a paleo critic’ earlier … kind of confused how my openID is supposed to work here… derp.)

          • First off, It’s not productive to resort to sharing personal anecdotes & testimonies in a discussion about objective scientific evidence. Secondly, did you even read the link I provided? Traditional Mediterranean dietary patterns did not exclude grains and legumes, and have substantive ecological and experimental data supporting their benefits to human health. Paleo diet proponents are against grains and legumes. Can you see the conflict?

          • Alan,
            First of all, I think I am dealing with this discussion with respect and expect the same from you and others. I do not appreciate sarcasm (the word “even” denotes sarcasm to me, just to clarify). Yes, I read the link, but I cannot access the full text. And you have not addressed the questions about to what time and when the Mediterranean diet was an example of perfect health. You have provided no statistics, which are based on scientific evidence. And yes, I agree anecdotal evidence is weaker evidence in the eyes of science, but it is still something. Just like this same anecdotal evidence is what we can confirm as proof for so many Paleo/Primal bloggers and people who follow these diets have lost weight, or added weight (depending on what their issues were), and have regained health. Why fight against something that is working for so many people and on top of that promotes a healthy lifestyle without a “diet” (no one is starving him/herself), eliminating processed foods, sugar (to name the two most important), encourages healthy exercise, sleep and sun exposure habits and tries to reduce/eliminate stress? I agree we should challenge it, of course. There could be points (such as the white potato) that can be rectified.
            And maybe the stance on legumes will be changed in the future… I personally eat them every once in a while, as hummus or lentil soup. I also eat rice, which is a grain, every once in a while.

            I think what we need to look at also is the level of consumption. As I said “anecdotally”, in Spain, bread is consumed at almost every meal, either in the form of bread or bread sticks. Yet, legumes are not consumed on a daily basis, and are prepared properly, which is very important to eliminate some of the anti nutrients they present…. all these factors must be taken into consideration. It’s not a black and white world. Also, there are other components to living in the Mediterranean region, which can be affecting positively the health of the people. So, we cannot only focus on or isolate nutrition. And as I cannot access more than the abstract of the link you provided, I do not know if other issues are covered in the study.
            I think debunking Paleo/Primal based on these arguments is not enough, at least for me.

          • Saffron girl — Do you even lift? Just kidding. Once again, I don’t think that sharing personal testimonials & anecdotes is productive in the spirit of a scientific discussion. If you enjoy your diet, great. Keep at it. But those who blanketly preach *against* grain & legume consumption regardless of individual preference & tolerance deserve to be challenged on the basis of scientific evidence.

          • Alan, I’m stopping now. You have not addressed my questions, but rather attacked me regarding anecdotal evidence. A true scientist doesn’t do that. This discussion for me becomes therefore invalid. Thanks.

          • The ages of 84, 89, and 90 are evidence of very people who lived very long, healthy lives. There are a lot of complications that go along with simply being that old. Just because someone didn’t pass away in their sleep, doesn’t mean they weren’t healthy. And again, the reason anecdotal evidence is not seen as legitimate by scientists, is because it cannot apply to the entire human population, and does not consider other factors in that person’s own experience. Water is a “chemical”, so watch your wording there. The only way to avoid “processed” food is to eat 100 percent raw food all the time. And “natural” is not synonymous with safe. “chemical” is not synonymous with poison. So you cannot use those as legit arguments.

            If the Paleo model is working for you, then by all means continue. But if you are stressed by cravings, then I’m telling you now, it isn’t worth it. Stress is not just a mental state. It has to do with hormones that affect your health and your progress. If passing up foods with friends because you are “paleo” is stressing you out, then it isn’t worth what little nutritional benefit you may be gaining from these restrictions. Also, look up the TED talk that debunks Paleo on Youtube. It is done by an anthropologist who points out that the fossils of early humans actually appear to have consumed grains based on particles on their teeth. It’s really interesting. Check it out and maybe learn something new.

      • Jay, I stand corrected about the GMO wheat. None is being grown commercially in the world according to the quick search I’ve done on the Internet. Having said that, I don’t want to consume any GMO at all. The whole premise of eating healthy under Paleo/Primal is eating natural.. GMO is not natural. There is enough evidence that GMO can cause cancer, etc. So, why even go there? There are also plenty of articles and studies who we don’t need them to feed the world, etc, etc…. the only ones standing to gain from GMO are the companies who produce them.

        • Saffron Girl, it’s great to eat whole foods, which is what I think you at least in part mean by “eating natural” — to me, this keeps us in touch with our food and dietary intake, and perhaps even helps us to take the time to appreciate life more in general. Time spent in the kitchen and with family and friends is a good thing.

          But I think you mean something more than that when you say “eating natural”… and unless I’m mistaken, I think you mean to suggest that all of the food crops that humans have been breeding into highly productive super-variants of their ancestral strains are “natural”. All of this breeding, especially within the past century, takes place using all sorts of “unnatural” methods, with no GMO involved. Mutation breeding alone (ie using radiation and/or chemical mutagens) is responsible for a wide variety of modern food crops. These methods introduce change in the genome that is massive and totally unpredictable in comparison to genetic engineering — yet we happily eat these foods and call them “paleo”. Seems dubious to me.

          I’m not familiar with any GMO cancer studies which either suffer from poor design our have been roundly debunked as fraud (see criticism of Séralini’s GMO study to know what I mean).

          I respectfully decline to address the matter of feeding the world; it’s a tangential issue here and we’ve probably got enough to discuss as it is.

          PS- I’ve been wanting to make paella ever since I read your user name.

          • correction:

            “I’m not familiar with any GMO cancer studies which either suffer from poor design”

            Which either don’t* suffer…

            (apologies, this window to type reply in is very tiny — not easy to proofread).

  12. Great interview with Alan. As a HIGH CARB paleo eater, I appreciate hearing different views since I am often (unfortunately) still eviscerated for favoring a higher carbohydrate diet that is lower in fat than many paleo bloggers promote.

    I eat a lot of potatoes and I’m 100% paleo. Can’t beat that!

  13. Alan, you did great. I’m so proud of you. Our little boy is growing up…

    The only beef I have is with your statements in the omega 3 and 6 issue. Paleos (and ‘clean eaters,’ too) don’t want to eat foods that are balanced in 3s and 6s, but foods that are low in omega-6s. It’s the diet as a WHOLE that they desire to be more balanced, not each food.*

    It doesn’t matter if coconut is a bazzilion to one in the 6:3 department if the the bazzilion is just only a drop in the proverbial bucket.

    There ARE paleos concerned about too much pork, but not because of the ratio, but because it has ‘a lot’ of 6s. Again, are too much 6s an issue? Maybe not, but it’s not the pork’s ratio that’s the issue, it’s the sheer amount of 6s.

    I will admit that there are paleos who don’t ‘get it,’ and try to rely on grass-fed beef and omega-3 eggs for the 3s, which is unfortunate. Neither is a good source of 3s, but the 6s are low enough (in amounts, not the ratios), that the other benefits* are still decent.

    * I know it’s debatable that the ratio is causing issues or that a healthy ratio is 1:1, and I won’t argue those points. I’m just addressing the method to the madness.

    ** benefits of grass-fed beef and pastured eggs are mostly to the environment of the planet and to the welfare of the animal, and not to OUR nutrition, but that’s for another interview.

    • Well, the question was about the ration, not sheer amounts. And that’s exactly what I addressed. The concern about sheer amounts is dubious, especially if we’re talking about omega-6 from whole food sources. For example, walnuts’ fatty composition is nearly 60% omega-6, and their ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 4:1. Double whammy of bad? Hardly, according to the evidence of their beneficial health effects.

        • Yes, but the question was about the ratio in the diet, not the ratio in each food.

          Assuming that a dietary ratio of 3:6 is even important, it wouldn’t matter if we at a high 6 ratio food if the rest of the diet was low in 6s and higher in 3s.

          Smart Balance spread is a ‘normal person’ example of this idea. They produce a food that they say is balanced, but ONE food doesn’t matter.

          Again, we’re not arguing IF a dietary ratio, overall, matters, I’m not convinced it does, and certainly the desire to get to 1:1 is virtually impossible, anyway.

          BTW, most paleo people just try to limit 6s and get enough 3s to bring the ratio closer to what they presume to be natural/historical/ancestral, not to hit a target.

          Another BTW, and assuming the big IF again. I agree that whole food sources (walnuts, pork, fish, etc.) are going to be different from isolated sources (oils, especially in unnaturally large amounts) and won’t have the same negative impact (assuming there’s a negative to a grossly out of whack ratio, of course.)

          • The problem with trying to separate the ratio in each food from the ratio of the diet as a whole, is that the whole is only the sum of its parts. Did you get the actual point I made in that section? I think you did, Roland. your a pretty sharp tack, IMO 🙂

          • There’s nothing to suggest that extra virgin quality oils, such as olive oil, have a negative impact whatsoever. Unless you try to drink them like water, which is something that no one really does.

            Therefore the whole “isolated vs whole” is in this case just plain meaningless.

          • I got the point, but you’re barking up the wrong tree by looking at the ratio of the foods, themselves.

            Yes, the ratio of soybean oil is really high, but it doesn’t matter. It matters that there are a lot of 6s. If it was 1:1 it would still be bad in the overall diet because there’s still a lot of 6s. In the paleo mind, we need less n-6, overall and don’t want to take in large EXTRA amounts (because 6s are in virtually everthing and we already have more than we need).

            You are absolutely correct about the ratios being out of whack and the paleos ignoring it, because the ratio of each food is not the issue, the amount of each fat is.