A while back I wrote a couple of articles regarding “The Nonsense of Paleo Diet,” yet I still receive questions about it. Since it seems to be making the rounds again, I’ll write about this hopefully one last final time.
But I have a lot to say, so I’ll write this in two parts.
First of all, make no mistake that the Paleo Diet is founded on the heels of Atkins.
That is pretty clear if you read the material available regarding both approaches to food and eating. This means it maintains some of the original biases and mistakes of Atkins as well. And, more to the point, both these diets seem to induce a type of religious fervor once they enter into the pop-culture consumer consciousness.
This makes them especially dangerous, since what people want to believe to be true has more power than what is actually true… at least in the cultural zeitgeist.
And to be honest and open here, the dogma of fad diets as religions is simply a turn-off to real researchers seeking truth.
It gets tiring being bombarded with and asked about fad diet religion nonsense, over and over again:
Low-fat, low-carb, high-protein, vegan, macros, high-protein, Zone, Atkins, Paleo, Mediterranean, gluten-free, low-glycemic, raw food, no starch, alkaline, detoxes and cleanses, Metabolic Typing, DNA Diets, Isagenics, Body by V
…and all the rest of are religious ‘denominations’ of diet religion fantasy.
What applies across the board when it comes to fad diet religions is that people believe what they want to believe. For proof, just say something critical in social media about whatever current vogue diet-culture trend is gaining traction and watch their attack dog followers come out in droves.
I’ve experienced this many times.
My point is that it illustrates how much this is more about emotional identity membership than about any kind of science of nutrition.
And Paleo is no different.
People have a ‘need to be right’ when it comes to their own version of what healthy eating is.
And make no mistake, modern fad diet religions love to use the claim of “science and research” as their bible. The only problem with this is that so often their science and research is sketchy at best. It’s often taken completely out of context (as Atkins does regarding the glycemic index) or flat out wrong. And in the case of the poor poor Peter Paleo Pundit, the science is just plain wrong, as I have pointed out in my previous articles. Moreover, it is so often the case that the founders of these fad diet religions are themselves not qualified in the area of “proof” that they offer for their diet agenda – as we will see below in the case of Paleo diet religion and its creator God, Loren Cordain.
Debunking the Paleo Diet from the Outside-In
Ah yes, so here is faithful the Peter Paleo Pundit or dieter, an ‘expert’ in nutrition who follows the Paleo bible. He goes out with his family for brunch and orders scrambled eggs with bacon and spinach. No cheese allowed with that because according to the Paleo bible, humans have only been eating cheese for 8,000 years, and of course this is much too recent on the evolutionary scale to be good for us, don’t you know.
And while that brunch meal is normally served with home fried potatoes, well, Peter Paleo doesn’t eat those either, since humans have only been eating potatoes for 14,000 years, and yet again, this is far too recent to be healthy according to the Paleo bible doctrine.
A side of toast would certainly go nice with eggs, but Peter, as a good Paleo evangelist tries to educate and Paleo Preach to everyone at his table by pointing out that he won’t eat the bread either because we all should know how bad wheat is for us and it’s only been part of human diets for 10,000 years or so. This also according to Paleo Diet bible chapters is way too recent to be good for us.
So Peter Paleo Preacher adheres to the “lessons” taught and preached in his Paleo Bible.
The only problem with Peter’s logic is that it’s simply not true.
The God of Paleo
The person known as the creator of Paleo is Loren Cordain, someone with no formal training as a paleobiologist or evolutionary biologist.
This is the kind of expertise that often flows out of the fitness, diet, and supplement industries. Think of Suzanne Somers, for instance, as “a supplement expert.”
The thing is, real experts from these fields of study (experts in how Paleolithic humans actually ate, and lived) have now stepped forward and discredited many of the core ideas and central tenets of the “Paleo bible.”
Such sacrilege! Say it ain’t so! It’s nutritional religious blasphemy I tell you – heresy to go against the bible of Paleo!
But, in her 2013 TED Talk for instance, biomolecular archeologist Christina Warinner of the University of Zurich said, “This version of the Paleo diet that’s promoted in popular books, on TV, on self-help websites, and in the overwhelming majority of press has no basis in archeological reality.”
Then she dismantled Paleo diet religious nonsense point by point. Watch it here.
Let’s look at some of the facts that explode the biblical commandments of Paleo God and creator Loren Cordain:
- There is plenty of evidence that even before the agricultural revolution, humans ate seeds and grains, and there is new evidence that Neanderthals and Paleolithic humans ate barley, beans, and a variety of tubers. In short, as always, humans ate what was available to them, and humans learned to process and refine foods well before the agricultural age (the era so central to the Paleo argument, other than the Paleolithic era itself of course).
- Furthermore, proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a set of four research papers that demonstrated human ancestors known as hominids, living 2-3 MILLION years ago ate, more grasses AND GRAINS than they did fruits and leaves.
- Moreover, as many experts in the field of study of ancient humans have also pointed out, pretty much every single food that Paleolithic humans consumed are foods that no longer even exist today. Every food we eat today in our modern world is different than the foods eaten by Paleolithic ancestors.
In fact a look at what our ancestors ate makes it fairly obvious that modern humans couldn’t eat the same way our ancestors ate 20,000 years ago, even if we wanted to.
But then… there is the psychological considerations of… why would we want to?
If Paleolithic humans had a choice, they wouldn’t have wanted to eat that way, either!
No one ever seems to consider such a question relevant. But of course it is relevant. Because there is the matter of completely neglecting the reality of whether our ancestors enjoyed their survival diets or found them pleasurable. There is ample evidence that they did not. In fact, experts suggest Paleolithic humans HATED their survival diets, which is precisely why they began experimenting with their foods to begin with: processing and refining their food to make it more pleasurable and palatable. That is also an innate characteristic of being human, folks. To suggest humans ate this way because it was “natural” for them and therefore “better” is just a huge leap of logic that makes no sense.
The very moment humans learned to make tools, and to refine and process and cook their food… THEY DID SO. IMMEDIATELY.
Seems “diet-psychology” was also present that far back. So once again we witness the limitations and outright “errors” of pop-cultural diet fads represented as “scientific.” And, even worse, they’re taking on ridiculous religious cult-like followings. So once again we see the sleight of hand magician’s trick of duping consumers.
Because in the final analysis by real and qualified experts, the Paleo Diet is not at all what it claims to be, nor can it do what it claims to do, nor are its scientific arguments (it’s bible) even accurate.
(Pssst… hear that Crossfitters!)
As Fitzgerald said in his book:
“Crossfitters who embrace the Paleo Diet, and Paleo Dieters who embrace Crossfit, like to believe that ‘reason and intelligence’ lead them to these associations. But in fact, the pipeline between these two cults has nothing to do with truth.”
The Paleo Diet merely builds on Atkins and borrows a lot of the same faulty arguments as well. But to claim that the era of agriculture is what led to modern obesity and weight-issues is just… plain… WRONG.
But poor, poor pitiful Peter, the Paleo Pundit continues to preach and live by a diet religion based on a faulty research premise.
In short, he thinks his diet is science-based, when it is faith-based.
Stay tuned for Part 2!