Demystifying The Paleo Diet, Part 2
For those of you who read the foregoing entry, you’ll note I generally side with Ray Audette on the subject of paleo dieting. Unlike his contemporaries, he seems to understand the necessity of fat, the fact that modern fruits in no way resemble ancient fruits, and the fact that hominids of the past were largely carnivorous in nature (Stanford).
That’s not to say, however, that I am some kind of mark for Ray Audette. He might have done some homework, but he didn’t do all of it. That’s unsurprising, because he’s neither a historian nor an archaeologist nor a nutritionist- in fact, he is a former computer salesman. And while his motto for dieting boils down to “A natural diet is what is edible when you are naked with a sharp stick…. When you have no technology” (Sherman). For some reason, many paleo advocates have taken paleo authors’ recommendations against salt to indicate that seasonings are bad. Bodybuilders, for some reason, seem to share the concept that seasoning their food will somehow make them fat. This is, of course, retarded.
I didn’t even know garlic mustard existed.
Archaeologists have found that, instead of what was previously believed (in spite of common sense), ancient man spiced the everloving crap out of their food. Garlic mustard has been found in ancient cooking utensils (Saul). The paleo community, then, is basically like the Christian community- they take what they like from the texts and discard the rest, and their “gurus” are no different.
“Even if eating only foods available to hunter–gatherers in the Paleolithic made sense, it would be impossible. As Christina Warinner of the University of Zurich emphasizes in her 2012 TED talk, just about every single species commonly consumed today—whether a fruit, vegetable or animal—is drastically different from its Paleolithic predecessor. In most cases, we have transformed the species we eat through artificial selection: we have bred cows, chickens and goats to provide as much meat, milk and eggs as possible and have sown seeds only from plants with the most desirable traits—with the biggest fruits, plumpest kernels, sweetest flesh and fewest natural toxins. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale are all different cultivars of a single species, Brassica oleracea; generation by generation, we reshaped this one plant’s leaves, stems and flowers into wildly different arrangements, the same way we bred Welsh corgis, pugs, dachshunds, Saint Bernards and greyhounds out of a single wolf species. Corn was once a straggly grass known as teosinte and tomatoes were once much smaller berries. And the wild ancestors of bananas were rife with seeds” (Jabr).
A Himalayan salt lick.
And as for salt, which Audette rails against in a manner so prolific it rivals the Westboro Baptist Church’s hatred of the homosexuals, it’s not only necessary, but critical.
“Certain isolated groups in areas such as Brazil, Papua New Guinea, and rural African communities have been found to live on sodium intakes of as little as 1150 mg per day. However, despite finding generally low blood pressure in these remote communities, the little evidence that exists on these low salt societies suggests shorter life expectancy and higher mortality rates” (Kresser).
Paleo authors will often rail against sodium intake, suggesting that paleolithic man consumed less sodium than is recommended by the government to maintain optimal health. Apparently, however, they lack access to Wikipedia. Wild animals, of whom our ancestors were a part, utilize natural “salt licks” to maintain healthy bone and muscle growth. These mineral licks are so important to wildlife that they’re illegally used to bait animals for hunting, and even the Vikings mentioned them prominently in their mythology. According to Norse mythology,
“In Norse mythology, before the creation of the world, it was the divine cow Audhumla who, through her licking of the cosmic salt ice, gave form to Buri, ancestor of the gods and grandfather of Odin. On the first day as Audhumla licked, Buri’s hair appeared from the ice, on the second day his head and on the third his body” (Wikipedia)
A bro this jacked could not have been a stranger to a salt lick.
In other words, no matter what the paleo authors might say, they’re morons- salt is important in your diet. Nevermind seasonings, which have been used since time immemorial- you need to salt your food. The issue with salt isn’t too much salt- it’s an imbalance in your salt and potassium intake. Prehistoric man ate a hell of a lot more potassium than we did, which kept their electrolytes balanced and kept them hydrated.
Ancient India seems so much cooler than modern India it’s hard to compare the two.
Likewise goes for intoxicants. With the exception of Robb Wolf, paleo authors treat intoxicants as if they were child porn- partake and you should be thrown under Gitmo and raped by a thousand super-hung bulls. Ancient man and even primates, however, have always loved to get twisted. Take alcohol, for instance- primates have been getting wrecked on alcohol for ten million years. It’s literally hardwired into our brains to drink for the last 10 million years- exactly the amount of time it took for tree dwelling primates, who cannot metabolize alcohol, to split off from apes, who can (Zolfagharifard).
“‘Ancestral reconstructions of ADH4 demonstrate the ancestor of humans, chimpanzees and gorillas possessed a novel enzyme with dramatically increased activity toward ethanol and we suspect this novel metabolic capacity was adaptive to this hominin ancestor,’ said Professor Carrigan.
‘This transition implies the genomes of modern human, chimpanzee and gorilla began adapting at least 10 million years ago to dietary ethanol present in fermenting fruit.
‘This conclusion contrasts with the relatively short amount of time – about 9,000 years – since fermentative technology enabled humans to consume beverages devoid of food bulk with higher ethanol content than fruit fermenting in the wild.’
He said the history has implications not only for understanding the forces that shaped early human terrestrial adaptations but also for many modern human diseases caused by alcohol today” (Ibid).
So, as you can see, the conception that alcohol is forbidden on the paleo diet is nonsense, as Robb Wolf affirms in his seminal text. Similarly, other intoxicants are forbidden by paleo authors, though evidence overwhelmingly shows that paleolithic man consumed intoxicants. Consider, first, that both the ancient Indians and the Neanderthals consumed ephedra (Loporto, Block). Coffee beans were combined with animal fat to create a protein rich snack (Avey), and coca leaves have been in documented use for over 4000 years. In short, it’s not unpaleo to get hammered… and in fact it might not be paleo to be 100% sober.
Paleo Diet misinformation- what caveman would have avoided eating boar? Ridiculous and deceitful. Chicanerous and deplorable.
Going back to the diets themselves, though, you’ll note that (with the exception of Perfect Health Diet) none of these diets prescribe specific goals for macros, calorie intake, or anything beyond “don’t just eat the same damn thing every day.” So the point of paleo dieting is not to of it as “Should I do the Paleo Diet?”, but rather to ask yourself “How can I meet my dietary goals, whatever they are, using Paleo or mostly-Paleo foods?” Assuming that, if you’re reading Chaos and Pain, you have some idea of how much you need to eat and what macros you’re aiming for, and that you’re probably not obese, Type II diabetic, or otherwise physically dysfunctional, you’re probably looking to bulk up, cut down, boost your T and GH levels, reduce recovery time, or otherwise improve your Wilks. Given that, it would behoove us to discuss the effective differences between the various versions of paleo as they apply to mostly healthy people.
Bear in mind, the benefits of the stricter versions of Paleo are often subtle and incremental if you’re mostly healthy — though it’s recommended that you do a month of Strict or Traditional Paleo to see what nagging annoyances might clear up. Some examples of what you could eliminate would be: recurring fungal infections, falling asleep after lunch, acne, gas and bloating, GERD (aka acid reflux), gout. Frankly, I’ve never had any of these, but I’m more or less Wolverine when it comes to my immune system. Aside from allergies, I heal insanely quickly, get sick only ever couple years, and really only suffer from allergies as a general rule. From what I see online though, paleo is the last dietary bastion of the glutard/hypochondriac crew, who thing they’re “sensitive” to everything from wheat proteins to tapioca and pretty much every dumbass thing in between. As preposterous as that is, there is something to be said for the placebo effect, as I’ve written about before, so I suppose it’s worth trying even for those halfwits.
Body most definitively not built by paleo.
Another thing to bear in mind is that some or most of you will find it more difficult, or even impossible, to bulk on Strict or Traditional paleo because the foods are far more nutritious and less calorie-dense than bulking staples like protein/milk shakes. It’s tough to get to 2g/kg of protein when you have to do it by actually eating meat and eggs. Furthermore, you’re not going to be “carb backloading”, consuming “super starch”, or any other plan involving pathological candy consumption or powders sold in a tub. In spite of that fact, turn of the century strongmen were able to get huge and strong eating more or less paleo, so you can too- it’s just going to require a hell of a lot of stuffing your face. I can personally attest to having attempted a modified paleo diet that included a tortilla day post workout, and the rest of which was Granny Smith apples, almonds, chicken breast, chicken thigh, and broccoli and cauliflower. In 10 months, my lifts all increased considerably, but my bodyweight dropped about ten pounds as I got much leaner and stronger.
If it can make dudes who eschew meat and weights and live off of chickpeas and pushups look better than most of the bros at your gym, there’s likely something to Ayurvedic medicine.
As for nutritional supplements, they’re really not paleo. As I stated, paleolithic man used herbs for performance enhancement, and all of Ayurvedic medicine is based on the use of herbs for health improvements and performance enhancement, but they were hardly slamming protein shakes and preworkouts on the regular. It might be worth experimenting with ditching them for your month of clean paleo, however, because you could then determine upon adding them back in exactly what works and what doesn’t.
Cro-Magnon man was almost entirely carnivorous… likely so he could beat the hell out of Neanderthals and bang their wives.
If that a bit confusing and daunting, you’re not alone. In my research I was honestly perplexed by the disparity in diet recommendations by paleo authors, just as I was with the authors who wrote about the Ph of various diets- literally no two agreed on anything. As such, I enjoin you to read up on this stuff and do a bit of your own research- check out ScienceDaily, for one, and do an occasional search on the diets of Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals- it will do you a world of good.
Up next, we’ve got an article headed your way on picking the type of paleo to best suit your lifestyle (even though none of them are really “paleo”), the use of protein, and a couple other topics. Till then, keep it beastly!
Avey, Tori. The Caffeinated History of Coffee. PBS. 8 Apr 2013. Web. 7 Jul 2015. http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/history-coffee/
Block, Jill. Ma huang, an ancient Chinese stimulant. UCLA. Winter 1998. Web. 7 Jul 2015. http://www.botgard.ucla.edu/html/botanytextbooks/economicbotany/Ephedra/
Jabr, Ferris. How to Really Eat Like a Hunter-Gatherer: Why the Paleo Diet Is Half-Baked. Scientific American. 3 Jun 2013. Web. & Jul 2015. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-paleo-diet-half-baked-how-hunter-gatherer-really-eat/
Kresser, Chris. Shaking up the Salt Myth: The Human Need for Salt. ChrisKresser.com. 13 Apr 2012. Web. 7 Jul 2015. http://chriskresser.com/shaking-up-the-salt-myth-the-human-need-for-salt/
LoPorto, Garret. Surprising Way Your Neanderthal Genes May Affect You. HuffPost. 10 May 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/garret-loporto/surprising-way-your-neand_b_568455.html
Saul H, Madella M, Fischer A, Glykou A, Hartz S, Craig OE. Phytoliths in Pottery Reveal the Use of Spice in European Prehistoric Cuisine. PLoS ONE, 2013. 8(8): e70583
Sherman, Rebecca. Neander-Guy. Dallas Observer. 6 Jul 1995. Web. 7 Jul 2015. http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/neander-guy-6404312
Stanford CB, Bunn HT. Meat eating and hominid evolution. Curr Anthr. 1990. 40(5):726-728.
Zolfagharifard, Ellie. We’ve been drinking alcohol for TEN MILLION years: Gene mutation reveals our primate ancestors enjoyed fermented fruit. 1 Dec 2014. Web. 7 Jul 2015. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2856241/We-ve-drinking-alcohol-TEN-MILLION-years-study-finds.html#ixzz3fEsWlQOZ