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Book Review: Perfect Health Diet (Scribner Edition, December 2012)

It’s both surprising and embarrassing that humans, with our big brains, are the only animals that don’t seem to know what they ought to eat. How did we get here—and, most importantly, what can we do about it?

Perfect Health Diet - book cover

What Is The Perfect Health Diet?

The Perfect Health Diet is much more than a weight loss plan. In the words of the authors, Dr. Paul and Dr. Shou-Ching Jaminet:

“We believe that:

  • Nearly all diseases can be cured if they are attacked at their root causes: toxic foods, malnutrition, and chronic infections.
  • Nearly everyone can achieve a healthy weight and a long, healthy life by eating as they were meant to eat.”

These are bold claims! Yet in my professional judgment, its lucid explanations based on careful, patient research justify the following assertion:

The Perfect Health Diet is the new baseline from which all future attempts to determine the optimal human diet must be argued and measured.

How Does The Perfect Health Diet Work?

I’ve often described my own approach to nutrition as an attempt to combine archaeology (evidence from the past) with biochemistry (evidence of the present) , using each to fill in what we don’t yet know or understand of the other.

The PHD (as I’ll refer to it henceforth, for brevity) takes a similar approach: it uses what we know of human evolutionary context (and of modern hunter-gatherer diets) as a starting point—but unlike most “Paleo” diet books, it moves quickly forward to the present.

The central concept of the book is: for each nutrient necessary for human life, there is a peak health range for its consumption. Too little of a nutrient causes poor health due to deficiency, and too much causes poor health due to toxicity. (Even water can be toxic if we drink enough of it!)

So, the authors set out to find the peak health range for every known necessary nutrient. From this knowledge, they choose a range of whole foods (and approximate quantities in which to consume them) that bring the known nutrients into the peak health range, while keeping toxic antinutrients below their threshold of toxicity (usually by eliminating them altogether).

This emphasis on whole foods distinguishes the PHD from many other scientific, reductionistic approaches: the Jaminets understand and accept that we don’t know (and, perhaps, can’t know) every substance necessary for human life.

“Food is full of nutrients that we don’t know we need. We share a common biology with plants and animals, and their tissues contain premade biological compounds that are valuable to us and that we may not be able to construct in adequate quantities from purified nutrients.” -pp. 66-67

The bulk of the book is devoted to finding the peak health ranges for macronutrients (Part II), micronutrients (Part IV)—and antinutrients, whose peak health range is often zero (Part III). (I personally find Part IV extremely illuminating, as it identifies several micronutrients in which we can easily become deficient even with careful eating, and recommends a small, carefully chosen list of supplements in response.)

When referring to human diet and metabolism, “macronutrients” are nutrients that can be burned for energy: protein, fat, carbohydrate. (The calorie content of a food is due to macronutrients.)

“Micronutrients” are required to support metabolism, but cannot be burned for energy: vitamins and minerals. (As such, micronutrients are generally required in much smaller quantities.)

Part V provides specific applications of the PHD to issues from fungal infections, to cancer, to GERD; it explains why cholesterol is a nutrient, not a poison, and what those “cholesterol numbers” really mean; it discusses uses of intermittent fasting and techniques for better sleep…

…and, yes, it includes one very short chapter on weight loss. But by the time you’ve read that far, you’ll have such a solid understanding of nutrition and metabolism that it’ll seem perfectly reasonable for the book to be structured in this way, and you’ll know all you need to in order to reach a healthy weight and body composition.

(Warning: the PHD is not intended to, by itself, give you a “six pack”! But you’ll have a much better chance at it by starting with the PHD, achieving a state of good health and body composition, and only then trying to optimize for sub-10% bodyfat.)

In refreshing contrast to most diet plans, the PHD emphasizes that healthy food should be delicious, because our tastes for nutrients like fat and salt don’t exist to tempt us or make us obese. Our tastes exist to guide us towards the nutrients we need—as long as we choose from evolutionarily appropriate, PHD-approved foods.

The book concludes with a basic meal planning guide (one which, fortunately, admits the reality of going to work), and a pointer to the Recipes section of the Perfect Health Diet website.

How Different Is The New Edition?

I’ve been recommending the original edition of the Perfect Health Diet since long before the first AHS in 2011, so many of my readers are already familiar with it.

Paul Jaminet modestly claims “The Scribner edition is 50% longer; almost half of the material is new. Original material is revised and updated,” but I felt as if I were reading a completely new book. The new edition flows more logically—and though it contains much more information than the old edition, it somehow feels less intimidating. And as a bonus, it’s substantially cheaper despite being printed in hardback!

My verdict: if you’ve read the previous edition and found it useful, the new edition is well worth buying.

What’s In (And Out) Of The Perfect Health Diet?

The prescription will be familiar to anyone in the Paleo and ancestral health community: eat meat, fish, eggs, leafy vegetables, root vegetables and other “safe starches”, and fruits; use natural saturated and monounsaturated fats, like butter, coconut oil, and olive oil, for cooking and flavor; avoid grains, legumes (including peanuts), “vegetable oils”, and refined sugar; don’t forget to eat fatty fish and shellfish, bone broths, and beef liver. Peeled white potatoes and white rice (in moderation) are OK, as is butter and fermented dairy. A few carefully-chosen supplement recommendations round out the diet.

Issues?

I hope it’s clear that I view the new edition of the Perfect Health Diet as an indispensable resource. However, there are some changes I would make.

The most glaring omission: the footnotes don’t exist in the book! A note on the first page of each chapter directs you to a page on the Perfect Health Diet website to find them. While I do enjoy the convenience of being able to click links when I’m online, I strongly dislike having the source of an assertion hidden from me unless I have a computer and an Internet connection right at hand. Frankly, I find this omission disconcerting, and while I understand that having pages almost completely covered in footnotes (as in the old edition) is distracting, I hope Scribner will correct the deficiency by adding endnotes to subsequent printings.

Moving on: while the PHD does briefly discuss tweaking protein intake for longevity or body recomposition, I would like to see more acknowledgment and exploration of biochemical and metabolic individuality, and of the benefits of varying dietary composition over time. For instance, we’re starting to learn a great deal about how various genetic mutations affect our processing and conversion of nutrients, and why some people require more of certain nutrients than others. While we still might not understand exactly why, there are clearly some people with metabolic issues around carbohydrate (even “safe starches”). And not all VLC issues are caused by insufficient starch or solved by more starch.

However, I don’t wish my comments to detract from the fact that the PHD is a masterwork.

Conclusion

It’s difficult to communicate just how comprehensive the new Perfect Health Diet is. You could pick almost any paragraph with a footnote, blow that single study up to book length, add breathless hype and a celebrity endorsement, and start a new fad diet equivalent to hundreds of others that are sitting on bookstore shelves, right now. Reading the PHD exposes both the bankruptcy of mainstream dietary advice, and the poverty of most well-known alternatives (all of which, according to the statistics, fail miserably). Most importantly, it provides us with a credible, science-based alternative that isn’t vulnerable to the typical naive arguments like “But cavemen only lived to age 25″ or “That’ll raise my cholesterol.”

The PHD is clearly the product of many years of careful research, real-world testing, and hard work. As I said above, “The Perfect Health Diet is the new baseline from which all future attempts to determine the optimal human diet must be argued and measured.”

In case my point isn’t clear: yes, that means you should buy a copy and read it. Even if you find your own nutritional optimum to lie outside their guidelines, the supplement recommendations alone will save you the price of the book…

…and the wealth of information it contains may allow you, or someone you know and value, to attain perfect health.

Buy the Perfect Health Diet at Amazon.com

You can support gnolls.org by buying the new Perfect Health Diet (or anything else) through this link. It costs you nothing, and I get a small spiff.


(Legal disclaimer: I received a pre-publication copy of the book for free.)

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46 comments

Permalink: Book Review: Perfect Health Diet (Scribner Edition, December 2012)
  • I've just put in an order for this book.

    It has been a while since I read the first edition, so I thought I'd just buy the second edition and read it as if it were a new book. Sounds like that was a good plan.

  • […] Perfect Health Diet (Scribner Edition, December 2012) GNOLLS.ORG / Posted on: December 11, 2012GNOLLS.ORG – It’s both surprising and embarrassing that humans, with our big brains, are the only […]

  • aaronblaisdell

    Great review JS! I’m half-way through my advanced copy and agree that it will be the first book I recommend, and will share far and wide. In terms of criticisms, you nailed the two I had. I tend to perform and feel better on a low-carb version of PHD. My head is clearer, energy levels are higher, and gas/bloating are held at a minimum. This is where I started when taking on Primal as espoused by Mark Sisson, have played with the safe starch thing over the past year, and feel worse. So I’m dialing it back. My wife and kids, on the other hand, appear to thrive on the higher amounts of safe starches in their diet. Individuality is an important issue that, hopefully, they’ll expand upon in the next revision (along with adding end notes).

  • eddie watts

    i’m getting tired of my wish lists being lists of new books.

    that said this will have to be added!

    reading chaos and pains blog, only recently found it, and in a few posts he mentions your own experiments with dextrose in the form of sweets and his own predator apex diet and that you mention it on your blog.
    where are those posts as i’ve been unable to find them?

  • Katherine

    I would like to see protein requirements addressed somewhere more than just a broad target range and an assurance that it’s so easy to get all the protein we need that even vegans who aren’t paying attention to what they eat are getting far more than they need. Sometimes it feels like everyone who writes those is either mathematically innumerate or thinks that we are.

    I’ve looked everywhere and read nothing useful, and I’ve struggled to make sure I’m getting enough to keep up with my moderate activity level.

    Considering my age (57), I don’t eat all that many calories, which makes it hard to get enough protein for me to feel recovered and have good workouts. Losing weight means my calories are down, in addition.

    I’ve had problems maintaining my protein levels in the past, and I suspect that especially when I wasn’t paying attention I wasn’t getting enough. Decades of craving and eating massive amounts of cheese…

    I’d be willing to stipulate that I’m an outlier. But still, I’m tired of lousy advice.

  • Timothy

    Fascinating! Modern nutritional science rarely acknowledges the possibility of “unknown unknowns”. Humans in every age seem susceptible to the prejudice that we’ve recently learned all there is to know.

    Antinutrients in particular seem to be a near totally unexplored field of study.

    JS, I wonder if you derived any major practical insights from your reading of this new edition? Or was it mostly a confirmation of what you already knew or suspected?

  • J's got a great turn of phrase (to paraphrase): “we're only on page one of a huge book called 'Human Nutrition'” … basically, we know absolutely knack all about it.

    This is the beauty of a paleo diet – eat real, natural, local and seasonal foods and let nature look after the rest. We are not special flowers … we are animals within our environment. Eat what we have and thrive. If we get it wrong, we won't … and we're doing that in droves.

    The daft thing is, we're not regressing. We really and genuinely do live in an insane time.

    All that said, we do know some thing about some things … and this is where the Jaminets come in with the science. It's not a scientific book, if you were scared; they're very down to earth, but give all the links, citations and references for you to follow.

    I found their first edition a revelation, practical and a thoroughly enjoyable read. I look forward to this version.

    But yes, the unknown about the unknown is such fun.

  • David Porter

    I have an uneasy feeling about needing supplements. How did human beings evolve to where we are without them? Why don’t we just eat what we evolved to eat (isn’t this the basis of the paleo diet?), and if we do that, why would we need supplements?

  • We didn't, David, we ate real food. We eat real food.

    Sups are for saps.

    You show me a supplement and I'll show you a real food.

  • Not Porter

    Regarding David’s post, the point of supplements is pretty clear: we live in an imperfect world from an evolutionary standpoint, and so some nutrients are supplemented because they’re hard to get enough of in a modern world.

  • E Craig

    Some conditions seem to require hypersupplementation.

     

    You don't want to ask me to walk across a room without my 50mg of iodine a day.

    Because my knee pain is then so great, I *can't* walk across the room.

  • Paul:

    Absolutely.  Though some of the material is indeed familiar, it really does feel like a new book that incorporates parts of the old version, rather than a revision.

    Aaron:

    Like you, I don't wish to distract from the fact that the new PHD is a masterwork, and my first recommendation to others.

    eddie watts:

    Jamie and I have exchanged emails about my experiments, but I've never written an article about them.  Basically what I've found is that the slightly modified Predator Diet strips fat off me very efficiently…but of late I've been going for mass gain, not cutting.

    Note to readers: Chaos and Pain is good information and great fun, but the “explicit content” warning is absolutely sincere.  If you don't like gore, profanity, animated porn GIFs, and a bad attitude, it's best to stay away.

    Katherine:

    If you're eating meat, fish, and eggs, your body's needs for protein will generally be taken care of by your appetite.  Lean protein becomes extremely unappetizing once your body has all it needs!  (The PHD does a reasonably good job of explaining the target range.)

    Note that cheese cravings are generally a combination of needs for protein and for saturated fat — two substances in which most Americans are deficient.  My cheese cravings basically disappeared after a few months on the non-fat-phobic version of Paleo: I still enjoy it, but only as a rare treat.  Apparently fatty meats, eggs, coconut oil, and butter are sufficient.

    And no, vegans don't get all the complete protein they need without a great deal of careful attention to the matter (and, usually, a boatload of xenoestrogens from soy).  The official government recommendation of 0.8 g/kg/day is below even the low end of the PHD recommendations!

    Timothy:

    The new PHD hasn't caused me to change my diet…but I did learn quite a bit about why certain dietary habits are healthful.  The explanations are science-based, but remarkably easy to understand.

    David:

    To choose one example, magnesium (and other minerals) are found in natural water sources…but water treatment plants strip out the minerals, so that soap and detergent will foam better and mineral deposits won't build up in plumbing.  (Otherwise known as “This water's too hard.”)  Therefore, most of us, unless we're drinking unfiltered well water, are deficient in magnesium.

    There is also the effect of soil depletion due to decades, or centuries, of intensive agriculture.  Many people just won't ever eat liver.  And sometimes we don't know exactly why people are deficient — but we can measure that they are.

    Paul:

    Mostly…but see above.

    Not Porter, E Craig:

    Exactly.  Occasionally, in certain specific circumstances, our health can benefit from greater-than-natural nutrient levels.

    JS

  • Stipetic

    When Paul discusses the dangers of VLC or keto diets he tends to delve into the realm of pseudoscience and selectivity (great to have Rosedale keep him on his toes), but his suggestions are generally spot on. Heck, my kids and wife are PHD compliant. As well, when I lend out my books on the subject, it’s always PHD and/or The Primal Blueprint (after all, PHD is fundamentally the maintenance phase of The Primal Blueprint with different marketing). I’m in a happier place on the keto version myself.

    Anyway, awesome review and keep up the hard work (and great comments on other blogs, which might not get much feedback where they are but I feel are widely appreciated, IMO).

  • eddie watts

    ah that would explain why i could not find anything on here then :)

    as i’ve only just found chaos and pain i’m working backwards and about 10 months ago he actually uses a quote from the gnoll credo with a footnote referencing you.
    it’s great :D

    oh and the warning for his site is well needed, i don’t object but my work does not block the site which could be dangerous!!

  • Paula

    We who are sensitive to any starch should indeed look at the healthy person’s version of starch requirements or tolerances, and make modifications. I’d like to see some real-life to the point recommendations for and discussion about this very topic; I was hoping it was in the book, but seems, based on your very good review, it is not. Anyway, I just got my copy today!

  • Something interesting I've been reading over at Chris Kresser's site was around lactose intolerance and how to potentially cure it. Chris maintains that many lactose intolerant people actually have poor guts and it is down to the gut that they appear to have intolerance.

    Maybe this is the same for starches? Perhaps a strong course of probiotic foods worked into a daily routine (and possibly supplements, initially) might develop similar result for starch intolerance.

    Paul Jaminet strikes me as one of those fellows for whom research is a real thrill. I wouldn't mind hazarding a wager that Paul would be interesting in what you have to say Paula. He's an accessible fellow, so drop him an e-mail or a note in one of his blog posts.

  • E Craig

    I haven't finished Perfect Health Diet yet, but IBS and other digestive disorders are given some discussion in the ketogenic chapter of the book.  I also got the impression from the carbohydrates chapter that starch/carbohydrate consumption *should* be rather individualized, depending on your goals, lifestyle and individual body wonk.

     

    Paul: It wouldn't surprise me if Chris Kresser was correct *to a degree*.  I think the problem is that those who don't tolerate casein get lumped under the heading 'lactose intolerant'.   The same interventions probably don't work for both cases .  Additionally, if you're A/Bing, it's tough to separate the genetic from the food/environmental caused damage.

  • JD Magaw

    For those with “gut issues”, check out http://fasttractdigestion.com/. It’s been a great help to me & my so-called GERD.

  • Paula

    Paul — thanks, good idea. After all, I bought the hardcover! ;-)

  • eddie watts

    J Stanton: just wondering if you’d share the reason for wanting to add mass?
    and also your methods of achieving mass gains? both training and diet adaptations.

    thanks

  • Stipetic:

    “Pseudoscience” is far too harsh, and I disagree with that judgment.  I think his reasoning for determining the carbohydrate intake that doesn't require conversion from protein (or burning excess carbs, or de novo lipogenesis) is correct.  The problem is biochemical individuality: there appear to be individual differences in our response to and ability to process dietary carbohydrate, there are definitely individual differences in metabolic flexibility, which affect our baseline need for carbohydrate…and some of us simply aren't happy with the homeostasis we achieve at physiological intake.  

    Yet the PHD gives us an excellent starting point — one which will be healthy and satisfying for most people, myself included.

    eddie:

    We traded T-shirts.  Jamie proudly rocks “Die Biting The Throat,” and I proudly rock “Chaos and Pain.”  Hey, I knew him before he held the raw record at 181 :D

    Paula:

    The PHD absolutely makes specific recommendations for starch intake — both by calories, and by approximate weight and volume of PHD-approved foods.  One of the strengths of the book is that it translates all the science into easily-achievable takeaways.

    Paul:

    Digestive and metabolic intolerance are two completely different creatures.  I think issues with regular starch (as opposed to “soluble fiber” or other FODMAPs) are metabolic issues, not digestive…but I'm open to discussion.

    E Craig:

    That's a good point about casein vs. lactose.  It's why I differentiate them in Eat Like A Predator and whenever the discussion comes up, and why I recommend dairy fats for everyone but counsel caution with dairy proteins and sugars.

    JD Magaw:

    Other researchers use the term “FODMAP” for the carbohydrates in question, but they generally concentrate on the IBS issue.  The site you linked appears to contend that they play a primary role in SIBO (and therefore GERD), which is also plausible.  I'm glad it's helped you.

    eddie:

    It's always been very difficult for me to gain lean mass, so I'm enjoying figuring out exactly what I have to do in order to make that happen.  I'm not ready to write an article yet, though. 

    JS

  • Loren

    Thanks for hugely informative and fascinating discussion

  • Stipetic

    Okay, pseudoscience was harsh. Apologies to Paul, who I believe is a great spokesperson for the eat real food movement. Speculation, rather, work for you?

    I’m not sure if you were there in the first incarnation of the dangers of VLC dieting. But the crux of it was based on a post on a blog claiming that a commenter knew of more than two people who had died of stomach cancer on the Dr. Kwasniewski’s Optimal Diet. Far from scientific. I’m sure he’s expanded his repertoire by now, but I still remember that he staked his position on the badness of VLC first and only later did he do his due diligence on the science (I prefer it when the process is reversed). It doesn’t mean he got it wrong. Just wished it hadn’t happened this way.

    Maybe I owe it to him to check out the new and improved version of his book (I have the first edition, signed by Paul hinmself!).

  • R.

    @Stanton: Traditional advice in regards to putting on lean mass is to eat a ton (at least enough so you’re getting over maintenance), and, obviously, lift a ton. I’d be interested to read your article when you’re ready to write it!

  • Paul N

    Good review JS.

    I pre-ordered the book myself and read it cover to cover in a week. Truly a “can’t put it down” book, that had me staying up to 2am reading about the importance of sleep and following circadian rythms!

    As an engineer myself, I thoroughly appreciate the evidence – both ancestral and scientific- based approach. Historic and modern civil engineering follows a similar pattern – the old school ways are not always the best, but there is always a reason why they were the way they were, and we can learn from it. And sometimes, the old school ways are still the best.

    @ David Porter
    if you really want to know why we need supplements, try growing your own tomatoes in compost enriched soil, and compare that to a store bought, hydroponically grown one – which do you think has more nutrients? Most commercial fruit and veg crops are much lower in micronutrients, flavonoids, polyphenols etc than heirloom or wild varieties. The price of greater yield is lower nutrient content.
    If you can grow a lot of your own (fruit, veg, meat and milk), or know someone who does, you can probably get by with a lot less supplements. For the rest of us, that’s just the way it is.

    @ Paula. If you are having problems with starches, I highly recommend the GAPS diet – I personally know of two women who have resolved their starch (and a host of related gut issues) with this approach. Takes time, but, unlike just avoidance, it actually heals so that you can handle these foods again

  • Kelly Fitzsimmons

    Great unbiased review of a Diet/Lifestyle plan.
    Great Website, found your through the Paleo Rodeo.
    Keep up the good work.
    -kelly

  • Stipetic:

    The new edition is, as I said, a masterwork — and it's the first book I recommend to anyone who wonders how I eat or what I recommend.

    R.:

    You've pretty much nailed it.  There are refinements, depending on how “ripped” you want to get, but what I've found is that over-analysis generally leads to overly-restrictive diets and no mass gain.

    Paul N:

    Empirical evidence can't tell you what's best — but it will definitely tell you what works.  In contrast, theory can potentially tell you what's best — but it can't tell you what works in reality.

    Kelly:

    Thank you!  In a world saturated with information, I continue to emphasize quality over quantity.  You can browse the index if you're impatient with the pace of my updates.

    JS

  • Beowulf

    I read the original PHD and I’m mostly through the newest incarnation. I really like the latter, but I DO wish the citations weren’t only online.

    As for the VLC vs. safe starch debates that seems rampant in paleo circles and forums as of late [and please note, I don’t have specific dates or citations for any of this, just my own gut sense]. I suspect that many people who were early adopters of paleolithic style eating had distressed metabolisms, in other words they were fat and diabetic. After all, few but the desperate are going to be interested in what at the time was a highly fringe diet. For that group a VLC eating style probably gave them a host of benefits, and obviously some people still do very well on that for decades. Now that paleo had gone somewhat more mainstream [enough to warrant criticism from major groups :-) ] a broader group of people are trying it including the modestly overweight and the lean and athletic.

    First, the need for extended VLC eating may play the strongest role for those that have been rendered carb-intolerant by a lifetime of influences creating carb-intolerant gene expression. The presentation by Chris Masterjohn at the AHS 2012 comes to mind.

    Secondly, for paleo eaters with a higher intensity workout schedule (cross-fit, P90X, mixed martial arts) those safe starches may be critical to performance. While it is possible for the body to do a heck of a lot of work with minimal carb intakes especially at low levels of intensity, the drive to reach even higher levels of achievement will incline some to “need” safe starches, sometimes a LOT of them.

    Third, I have observed that often the most vocal proponents in forums of “carbs aren’t bad!” and “you NEED starch!” are young, lean, highly active males. Their activity level may support that need (see reason #2), but I also suspect that they’re simply too young to have the effects of poor dietary choices of any type truly affect their physique and health.

    Lastly, I suspect that our cultural preference for muscle meats over organ meats creates certain deficiencies in the body. Being VLC on ground beef and some mixed greens probably isn’t going to provide your body with what it needs to sustain good health in the long run.

    Just my two-cents worth.

  • That, and the PHD makes a pretty strong case for some simple starches being absolutely necessary for good health amongst more sedentary people. I viewed the PHD as a carb-focussed diet before I read the book … my illusions were shattered … the second edition is more so, more defined. More mainstream paleo is just starting to accept and understand what Paul & Shou-Ching have already found.

  • R.

    Agreed. The PHD is excellent – it feels like paleo without the pseudoscience, basically. The Jaminets tend to have their own perspectives on issues too, which is nice because you know you’re not buying into dogma.

    @Stanton: Agreed. Optimization is definitely required for bodybuilders, but just eating a paleo/PHD type diet and making sure to get enough protein should do wonders. If you want to go that extra step, Layne Norton recommends taking protein in several meals throughout the day (up to 50g per meal). I haven’t dug into the research of what is actually required to get the body in an anabolic state besides the obvious intake of protein, so I’m not too solid on specifics.

  • Jen W

    Yes, after trying Keto (VLC) several times while practicing my Aikido(martial art), I was quite tired and believe that's what gave me the tennis elbow I am now recovering from.  I have since added a post or pre workout sweet potato and/or banana.

     

    VLC might work for some who are not cross-fiters, martial artists, but I've learned via personal experience that it simply does not fit my current fitness goals.  Robb Wolf had a blog series about this very topic and Richard Nikoley's potato diet hack was also mentioned.

  • Beowulf:

    I've had many of the same thoughts you've had, and agree substantively with what you said. 

    A lean, active young man looking to lose the 20 vanity pounds he gained drinking beer in college is unlikely to have the same metabolic issues as a menopausal woman who became obese at puberty and has been over 100 pounds overweight ever since. 

    Furthermore, I suspect that people will find the same “magical” weight loss properties on almost any diet which only permits one single whole food.  I spoke of “sensory-specific satiety” in my hunger series…it's a well-known phenomenon in which our desire to eat more of a food decreases as we eat it, irrespective of any of its other characteristics.

    Finally, I have to note that the only person to exhaustively and objectively document their progress on the potato diet reported an epic failure: they actually gained weight and fat mass.

    Paul:

    They make a good case…but I have some evidence that the picture is incomplete, which I hope to discuss soon.  And while I continue to recommend the PHD as the best “paleo” diet book out there, I also continue to note that a significant fraction of people simply do better both mentally and physically on VLC, without the side effects Paul experienced. 

    Again, biochemical individuality is real — and while the theoretical optimum for the average person is an excellent starting point, it may not be the real-world optimum for you or I as an individual.

    R.:

    I'm sure Layne Norton would disagree with Martin at leangains, who is both giant and ripped, so who knows?  I tend more towards approaches that satisfy the 80/20 rule: 80% of the benefit for 20% of the work.  I'll let the professional weight class athletes and the body-image obsessed do the 80% of the work that gets that last 20% of benefit.

    Jen W:

    Jamie Scott over at thatpaleoguy gave a great presentation at AHS12 about the benefits of training in a carb-depleted state, while carbing up for events at which maximum performance is required.  But it's like training with a weighted vest: it'll hurt and slow you down until you take the vest off.

    JS

  • Ulrik

    J, I just saw your video from AHS12 – (Link edited, as it changed -JS) – awesome stuff! I think you did really well, and I learned a few things that maybe I missed from your original blog posts or that you perhaps added for the talk.

    I thought maybe you should write a short post alerting your subscribers to the video? I discovered it quite by accident!

  • Ulrik:

    Here's the update with both the Vimeo and Youtube versions of my presentation, and a link to the bibliography.  And yes, there's a lot of new material in it, which I look forward to exploring in more detail.

    JS

  • Martin @ Leaky Gut R

    Now I am really inclined to order. Thank you for the review.

  • […] Then I am certain a sabertooth would come along and eat me. (btw he wrote a nice review of PHD) Book Review: Perfect Health Diet (Scribner Edition, December 2012) - GNOLLS.ORG Yesterday was a higher calorie day in my zig-zag. 1988 was my goal. I seemed to be hungrier […]

  • eddie watts

    J i have just begun trying out adding a few grams of dextrose to my protein shakes on the apex predator diet (currently in the middle phase).

    just wondering if the suggestion was to do this in all shakes for a day or just those around workouts?

    currently this past week i have added 5g dextrose to my pre and post workout shakes.

    considering doing it with every shake but concerned this will elevate my dextrose intake over 30g a day without looking at veggies and stuff like that.

    also did you hit rampage days with only paleo foods? how did you manage on that, this is the hardest part for me: to get enough carbs in to hit the suggested target on those days.

  • eddie:

    I did it in all of them.  Again, the idea is that if you're basically doing a PSMF, some amount of the protein is simply going to be diverted to gluconeogenesis, so why not eat the glucose directly?  Bonus: extra insulin helps drive the protein into muscles.  Besides, 30g of dextrose a day is nothing, relatively speaking.

    Keep in mind that as whey gets more expensive, the cheaper protein powders generally get cut with a bunch of maltodextrin (= glucose) anyway, so you might be getting 5-7g/scoop just from that.

    No, I didn't keep strict paleo on Rampage days, though maintaining PHD was much easier: rice noodles are great if you're trying to get as many carbs down the hatch as possible (and, therefore, not great for weight loss).

    Note that I haven't done APD for quite a while…I found that any diet at all causes me to not gain muscle mass unless I effectively Rampage for about 36 hours post-workout.  If it weren't for half and half, I don't think I could gain any muscle mass at all!

    JS

  • eddie watts

    thanks for that, from tomorrow i will be doing it with every shake.
    the blend shakes i use are very low in carbs but i use a UK only company so no use to you!

    the last week i’ve experienced better results so this refinement will hopefully help too.

    i’ve actually gained considerable muscle mass while dropping fat, just lucky like that i suppose, but upper back and shoulders are the primary areas, upper back was an area i just did not train as hard as previously so this is probably why.

    worked out that my evening meals often work out around 250g protein and high in fat too, not as high as 250g admittedly, but i sleep so well on this diet too, which is odd for me.
    although i don’t intend doing this forever i think the evening high fat/protein meals will stay in some format moving forward.
    sadly i don’t have the freedom of being able to hit the gym twice a day even on weekends :(
    my waist is now what it was when i got married and was hitting crossfit 5 days a week, but i’m now over a stone and a half heavier.
    i don’t know how much fat i’ve lost but only my waistline has got smaller, so it’s definitely working.

    plus it has stopped me constantly tinkering with my diet, which for me is a nice mental relief. i don’t fret about it in the way some do, but i struggle to decide what to stick to for a long enough time to see results.
    anyway, thanks for the answer J hope everything is going good for you :)

  • eddie:

    That's excellent progress!   I'm glad the plan is working out for you.  It makes sense — your body uses more than 30g of glucose a day, even in ketosis — but it's nice to get empirical confirmation.  Make sure to tell Jamie sometime.

    JS

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