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"Eat Like A Predator, Not Like Prey": Paleo In Six Easy Steps, A Motivational Guide
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July 13, 2012
12:57 am
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kareem:

I don't have enough experience with martial arts or weight training to answer that, but I know someone who does.  Try asking him.

JS

July 16, 2012
8:14 am
ArekExcelsior
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It's not just the historical Okinawan diet. The Japanese diet in general has been heavily carbohydrate-focused; moreover, even you admit that the historical Okinawan diet was pork-focused, not focused on beef or extremely fatty red meat.

My concern with the paleo diet is that our paleolithic ancestors had an immensely different lifestyle where they might actually put a lot of that protein and complex carbohydrates to work. Bushmen, for example, walk miles a day on average, whereas many Americans might walk a thousand feet in total. You advocate living like a mythical predator, but human beings in modern civilized contexts just aren't.

The empirical confirmation for snacking is immense. Dismissing it based on a loose analogy of predators and prey is silly.

That all having been said, my understanding of paleo has been that it heavily emphasizes nuts, fruits and vegetables, with meats of any kind being the second tier of consumption. This seems to be a solid plan to me.

July 17, 2012
1:42 am
johan
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i heard that dairy product such milk is complete protein and eating them in moderation would you to lose fat. is this true and what is your opinion on this?

July 17, 2012
7:09 pm
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Arek:

There are plenty of ways to eat better than the Standard American Diet -- historical Okinawan and Japanese diets being among them.  However, as I've said many times, "better" is not "optimal"...and we know enough about human history and human biochemistry to point ourselves toward a reasonable set of optimal solutions.

"The empirical confirmation for snacking is immense."  Really?  Please feel free to cite some of it.  On the other hand, there's plenty of empirical confirmation for intermittent fasting...

"My understanding of paleo has been that it heavily emphasizes nuts, fruits and vegetables, with meats of any kind being the second tier of consumption."

That depends if you're measuring by weight, by volume, or by calories.  Meats are more calorie-dense than veggies, tubers, or fruits...so though meat provides the majority of calories, it'll almost always be a minority by volume (unless you're not eating veggies at all), and can easily be a minority by weight depending on the dish.

johan:

Milk is indeed complete protein -- but casein, in particular, causes issues for some people (including acne and allergies).  I recommend getting your complete protein from meat and eggs instead of milk or cheese.

JS

July 27, 2012
8:30 am
David Crewz
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It is consoling in this world of industry-inspired medical misinformation (such as, saturated fats are bad) to see a treatise on diet that incorporates much of what I have come to understand after a lifetime of biological research (65 yrs old and counting). I agree with almost all of what you have written (I have not yet looked at the links however) but have one (possibly unfounded) reservation.

My research interest for the last 10 yrs or so has been in regard to vitamin E (tocochromanols, which includes the eight vitamers, alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocopherols and the same for tocotrienols, plus plastochromanol-8) in plants and animals (in my case, seagrasses and manatees). In recent years the pro-oxidant, as well as the anti-oxidant, roles of alpha-tocopherol have been revealed, and it is becoming clear that taking too much of the alpha vitamer is probably harmful.

Critical to human well-being are the non-alpha forms of tocochromanols, and these are obtained mainly from seeds and seed products (e.g., vegetable oils), whereas the alpha form can be obtained mainly from eating leafy parts of plants (associated with chloroplasts and photosynthesis). This is not to say that alpha-tocopherol cannot be obtained from animal fats (it prefers to dwell in fatty membranes), and this is the rub. Humans and other animals have enzymes that destroy the other forms in preference to retaining the alpha form, but the other forms, although more transient, are important in resisting diseases such as cancer. The chemistry is complex and I won't go into it here.

My point is that, even though "eating like a predator" has some validity, I suggest that a tocochromanol supplement (esp. gamma- and delta-tocotrienols) that does not contain alpha-tocopherol is needed to reduce some of the risks that this diet might create. alpha-Tocopherol will actually contribute to the destruction of the other forms, so an excess taken as a supplement or when eating only animal products may be risky. I take a pure tocotrienol formula each night, which I get from A.C. Grace company, called Delta-Gold. Look up tocotrienols and you will understand why industry is killing people with the excesses of alpha-tocopherol based on misinformation.

It has been suggested that our species evolved eating mostly roots and tubers that could be grubbed from the ground by women and children (approx. 60% of the diet), and these contained essential phytonutrients such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. Also, fruits with their seeds, where available, could augment levels of melatonin and serotonin that are necessary for a healthier life. Hunters (men) brought back fatty meats to augment the diet of the clan, as well as to barter for sex; more meat led to more sex and ergo, more genes into the next generation. Life expectancy during those times was short (on the order of several decades), and living to be my age was rare. The concerns of long-term nutrition were just not an issue. The sole issue for men and women was to survive predators and falling rocks (and unknowingly, pathogens), while trying to get more sex with the more desirable humans. Meat was the currency for men, who, unlike women, did not know for sure if their children were actually their children. So, more meat equals more genes in the next generation for men. Those who could get meat were fit, and those who could not, were not. It seems that meat-eating evolved along with humans.

As you say, ones' health is up to one to research and decide what is proper. I suggest that using the paleo diet approach is a positive step in building good health, but that certain nutrients must be obtained from different plant parts for one to have a lower risk of developing diseases. This may not be possible if whole categories are eliminated from one's diet (such as sources of non alpha-T vitamers).

I am going to explore your thesis in more detail, and I thank you for the effort it took bringing it together in such delightful prose. I will eat like a predator but make sure I get what I need for good health (until a train runs me down or a tree falls on me).

Dave

July 31, 2012
7:03 pm
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David Crewz:

That's some interesting information on the various vitamers of E, which I confess I haven't spent a lot of time on...I'll have to look into the subject.

However, I disagree with your recapitulation of the "nasty, brutish, and short" meme.  See:

http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/gurven/papers/GurvenKaplan2007pdr.pdf
"The average modal age of adult death for hunter-gatherers is 72 with a range of 68-78 years. This range appears to be the closest functional equivalent of an "adaptive" human lifespan."
[...]
"Illnesses account for 70 percent, violence and accidents for 20 percent,
and degenerative diseases for 9 percent of all deaths in our sample."
[...]
"Post-reproductive longevity is a robust feature of hunter-gatherers and
of the life cycle of Homo sapiens. Survivorship to grandparental age is achieved
by over two-thirds of people who reach sexual maturity and can last an aver-
age of 20 years. "

And it's well-established that the "average" modern hunter-gatherer eats a diet of appx. 2/3 animal-source calories and only 1/3 vegetable-source calories, so I don't understand where you find the assertion that "our species evolved eating mostly roots and tubers that could be grubbed from the ground by women and children (approx. 60% of the diet)."  Unless you want to go back to the Pliocene, at which point you also have to go back to the australopithecines and a 400cc brain.

JS

August 4, 2012
2:41 am
JB Primal
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This is the best case I've seen for laying out why eating in the Paleo style is superior to the SAD diet. I almost can't believe how we as a people have gotten it so wrong for the last sixty years or so.

By combining Intermittent Fasting with Paleo style eating, you are able to dramatically improve your health in a very short period of time. After reading this and implementing J. Stanton's suggestions, I've lost almost 30 pounds in about 3 1/2 months.

Along with the other Paleo "gurus" Stanton stands out! Thanks so much for all you've done. Please keep posting.

August 6, 2012
5:03 am
Jen Shurek
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J. Stanton... by far your writing is not only the most educational but most well-written and pleasing to read. I'm a nineteen year old intern at a local gym that is heavy in paleo. I was introduced to your website by the owner of the gym to begin reading your index. Without a doubt your articles have become pivotal in my entire way of lifestyle. You are my idol and I want you to be aware of the surmounting respect that has developed for an extroardinary and evolutionary author like you.

I've been wanting to say this for quite some time...
In your interview, Richard asked something along these lines "J., I've noticed that you write your articles with a more "sciency" approach than most authors...why is this?"

I began to laugh uncontrollably.. This questions is exactly why I have great trouble finding credibility in most people... IT CONTAINS SCIENCE: FACT.

Some topics I would be excited to read about from you are the following:

1.) Someone argued with me that meat actually shortens our lifespan. Maybe we could dive in on the life expectancy of a paleo-activist or more concrete examples of the effects of paleo-activist's after years of change? To sustain an active (I train anerobic and aerobic exercises every other day) lifestyle where mucle isn't lost and I have enough protein to not have just the body composition - maybe for my vanity's sake - but a little extra to not be too lean?

2.) How exactly does paleo affect a human being PSYCHOLOGICALLY. This would be very interesting. Let's say for every one thing we put into our body, it's a "super power"
People always worry about getting enough vitamins, nutrients, protein (especially for me), and apparently SUGAR IS A NECCESITY some people say. I understand that for an active lifestyle, carbs ARE - in controlled quantities - useful. Do these combinations of food establish not only a physical difference but a psychological foundation? This is probably too broad of a question to fully analyze.

3.) It would be very interesting if you were to write an article about fasting! I read your article of your hike and how you didn't need all that much food or water.

These are all off of the top of my head. Thank you, J.!

August 18, 2012
4:10 am
Wanderer
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Hello, I've just signed up to this website because not only to I agree with the information presented here, I also wanted to ask you a question:

I'm already aware that ruminants are built to digest grasses moreso than grains, and I'm also aware that this plays into their health and by extent the health of the consumer. That however, is the technical side of it.

I had a question about how you feel about the ethics of feeding them a substance they have not evolved to consume, and on a not entirely related note, how do you feel about the treatment of said animals in their life and death?

Please note that I do indeed agree with the science presented here and am in no way trying to imply anything disagreeable; I am merely curious.

August 19, 2012
9:32 am
Sierana
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Interesting read, my ex got very into the paleo diet and I keep coming across things about it and these wars between vegans and paleos and as just a general omnivore I wanted to ask some questions..
This is all based on the premise that humans evolved, started eating meat, were predators etc and then just.. stopped evolving thousands and thousands of years ago..
Humans have progressed as a species from a time where this was relevant to a far taller, more intelligent, omnivorous species. Humans are evolving to be leaner and have far different sets of teeth from the time they originally began hunting. The thing that confuses me is that clearly if you've gotta go chase down a gazelle and rip it apart you need to be a powerhouse of energy, very built up, just as a lion is.. But our modern consumer culture has absolutely no need of this whatsoever and has evolved well past the point where this can be reversed and where we can all start eating a diet where the majority of it is meat and whatnot. You can forgive me for being confused and just questioning where the logic is coming from here.
Thanks =)

August 24, 2012
5:20 pm
Nick "LapsusHom
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I also have one more question. Suppose I am currently in a position where I am not the deciding factor in what is bought as far as food is concerned (More specifically, I'm 17 living with parents).

Should I not be too worried about all of this for the moment (My young body is maybe capable of my current lifestyle at the moment? Don't get me wrong, I follow these steps wherever I can, though), at least until I have my own income and am capable of living this way, which hopefully should not be too many years in the future?

Thank you for your input.

August 27, 2012
9:45 am
Steven
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Dear JS:

Having been on paleo for about a year my cholesterol, tri numbers, etc. are where I want them, after having failed miserably with the doctors' pills and SAD diet. Recently however there are medical reports that prostate cancer is increased substantially by heated red meats. I don't feel like eating raw meat at this time, though perhaps that's what they originally did? Do you dispute the causal relation cited in the research?

August 28, 2012
12:16 pm
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JB Primal:

Congratulations!  30 pounds isn't a full ruck, but it's quite a bit to not carry around with you all day. 

(Note: Brooks' website is http://www.jbprimal.com )

Jen Shurek:

It's easy to pontificate, issue opinions, or ramble on.  It's hard to do research, and it's even harder to present it in a coherent way that non-professionals can understand.  Thank you for noticing!

1. "Meat shortens our lifespan" -- you can point that person to Denise Minger's refutation of the book "The China Study".  It turns out that meat consumption is strongly associated with longer life!

The problem with long-term evidence for a paleo diet is that it's all either anthropological (studies of hunter-gatherer cultures, which lack things like hospitals, antibiotics, and 'assisted care facilities') or anecdotal (Paleo is too new to have any population data, so you're looking at the lives of people like Vilhjalmur Stefansson, R. Buckminster Fuller, Owsley Stanley, and Dr. Wolfgang Lutz.)  It might not be a bad idea, though, to put all the anecdotes together in one place.

2. The psychological effects of a paleo diet are substantial but difficult to quantify.  One very common report of people on VLC is that they become far less emotional.  Again, there's very little hard data, so it ends up being somewhat anecdotal and speculative...but it might not be a bad idea to collect them.

3. Re: fasting, I've written two articles on "The Breakfast Myth" (part 1, part 2), which you'll find relevant if you haven't already seen them.  The problem I see is that the subject has already been covered remarkably well by people like Martin Berkhan at leangains, so I'd have to find a unique angle from which to approach the subject.

I'm glad I've been able to inspire you (and the others at your gym).  Have you read The Gnoll Credo?

More soon!

JS

August 28, 2012
12:25 pm
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Nick:

"I had a question about how you feel about the ethics of feeding them [ruminants] a substance they have not evolved to consume, and on a not entirely related note, how do you feel about the treatment of said animals in their life and death?"

Obviously it's the wrong way to do things, and I buy grass-finished meat when I can...but I'm more concerned about the effects of factory farming and a grain-based diet on people than on cattle.  Living alone or in a "nuclear family", commuting to work, spending your day sitting in a cubicle or on a production line, and thereby becoming fat and sick from "food" made of processed grains is at least as cruel and evolutionarily discordant for humans as feedlots are for cattle.  The analogy of cubicles to veal fattening pens is not entirely specious.

Steven:

We've been over this before...is that more associative data (usually bunk), or a controlled study?  Go find the original paper and let me know.

JS

August 29, 2012
11:06 pm
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Sierana:

"This is all based on the premise that humans evolved, started eating meat, were predators etc and then just.. stopped evolving thousands and thousands of years ago.."

The premise isn't that we've stopped evolving!  Agriculture has mostly been a relaxation of selection pressure...you don't need to be particularly smart or strong to do the repetitive manual labor of plowing, sowing, weeding, grinding, etc.  So: both our brains and our bodies shrank dramatically as we took up agriculture, because being smart and strong are energetically expensive -- and if there is not selection pressure to maintain an adaptation, it will tend to atrophy.

The differences between the Paleolithic genome and the modern genome are small except in a few narrowly defined categories such as disease resistance, lactase persistence, and a lower frequency of the HLA MHCs associated with celiac.  Remember that “anatomically modern humans” first appear between 200 KYA and 100 KYA…in other words, our ancestors were archaeologically indistinguishable from modern humans for 20-40x the span of time between the agricultural transition and modern times.  And compared to ~6 million years of hominin evolution, and 3.4 million years of well-established meat-eating, none of this is terribly significant as it relates to optimal diet.

See the comment thread here for more discussion on the topic...and for an (ongoing) explanation of the evolutionary issues, you might want to start at Part I of that series.

Nick:

"Suppose I am currently in a position where I am not the deciding factor in what is bought as far as food is concerned (More specifically, I'm 17 living with parents)."

Making what you want into a point of negotiation might be helpful: "I'll stop asking for <pick a junk food> if you'll get me coconut oil/serve rice instead of bread/etc."  Basically you give your parents something they want in exchange for something you want.  And parents are generally short on time and energy, so anything that involves you cooking some part of your own food (and cleaning up afterward) is generally a huge win for them.

That being said, I suspect you may have to choose your battles.  I'd go for the low-hanging fruit (staying gluten-free, using coconut oil and butter instead of seed oils) before I'd try to convince them to buy grass-fed beef or other expensive stuff they'll view as a luxury.  So long as you can stay grain-free except for white rice, seed oil-free except for eating out, and so long as you have eggs available, you'll do fine.

Then, once you've graduated high school, you'll be in a much better position to control the rest of your diet...and you're starting much earlier than I did!  

JS

September 1, 2012
3:45 am
Jen Shurek
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Thanks for the info, J.
I've inquired of your book on iBooks to no avail. I'm currently residing in Kyiv, Ukraine. Once I return, I'll either hunt down or order your book. I have read the sample and am lured towards the writing style.

I've read The Paleo Diet, The Paleo Diet for Athletes, and The Paleo Answer by Loren Cordain. He has a slightly different stance on certain saturated fats such as Bacon, Canola oil, and Coconut oil (among other coconut products) while The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf seems to contradict that even though their basically a collaboration.

I've stumbled across sites like Everyday Paleo and Nom Nom Paleo that allow certain quantities of pastured butter, other pastured dairy, bacon, tubers, and certain vinegar even though their resources include Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain.

I've read quite a lot of your index and indices of others' work about intermittent fasting (including the breakfast myth). I strongly advocate it notice a significant difference in my satiation when eating. I'm battling a mild case of hunger during the process of eating. The natural taste of foods and my capacity to eat a lot at once (eat two large meals throughout the day and try to not snack) make it difficult to stop eating sometimes. Loren Cordain strongly states in several chapters of each book that eating lean meats, fresh fruit, and vegetables shouldn't have a limit and limiting your sugar intake isn't too important unless suffering from autoimmune disease. I've read from other "Paleo" resources that put stronger emphasis on sugar consumption. The same goes for tubers. Some advocate it quite more than others. I am confounded whether these limitations or emphasis's are for weight-loss for the ill or recommendations for athletes. Each paleo resources clearly makes autoimmune disease the example, but athletes and their recommendations aren't mentioned nearly a tenth as often. The Paleo Diet for athletes is a little too extreme (mainly for Olympian intensity) where glucose stores must be replenished with tubers (not potatoes) but I don't know if I even hit "their" threshold since I exercise frequently but am not sure whether that switch from fat burning to glucose was changed.
I'm a mess, I know. It's hard to handle the plethora of information, especially when even a hint of bias is involved.

Anyway, any interesting articles that you can think of (I'll read the ones provided in your latest response) would be appreciated. I'm head-over-heels into paleo and believe it with my "heart." I want to read as much as possible. I follow your links and re-read the articles for the sake of my enjoyment and personal growth - to refresh myself.

I'm going to enter PSU and am stumped as to what curriculum would best suit me. It's perplexing enough to figure out how I'm going to afford college with my parent's divorce and bankruptcy that just took into effect not even a year ago and what loan or grant will keep me afloat. I'm a novice personal trainer at the gym, [www.Clackamaspc.com, and am volunteering as an intern until the potential rise of the beginning of my career there. I am not allowing a job to conflict with the process because the hours simply will not coincide with my current ones. I'm in the pursuit of a full-time education and my gym for the sake of being intertwined with the only local "paleo" society I know. I've heard of CLEP but and am skeptical of digging a grave into a loan at a college. If a university, I thought maybe taking microbiology, biochemistry, and anthropology would be good goals. I don't even understand if "Paleo" is BECOMING or ALREADY IS it's own career path. If it's "underground" or just not mainstream and how I can dive into the flow of the growth. I'm coming off of the original topic with this random background story, I know. Any help from you would be worth a million bucks!

Any guidance would be almost surreal coming from you! Also, good to have you back. I'm excited that you were able to reply! Thank you so much.

- Jen Shurek

September 6, 2012
9:01 am
Danny J Albers
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Thought I would share my latest labs, eating this way.

Needless to say Gnolls is a major influence on us at Primal North. MAJOR.

Cholesterol Results

September 10, 2012
1:14 am
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Jen Shurek:

I know you want to do what's best for your mental and physical health, but I think you're overanalyzing a bit.  Once you've eliminated gluten grains and products, eliminated seed oils (including canola), minimized nut consumption (including nut flours and nut butters), and minimized casein consumption (milk and cheese...butter is fine) -- and replaced them with healthy whole foods like meat, eggs, veggies, and tubers -- most of the other issues are extremely minor unless you have specific allergies, intolerances, or autoimmune conditions.

For instance, putting vinegar, clarified butter, and white potatoes in the same "Not Even Once" bin as bread is just plain silly, and anyone who demonizes coconut oil due to saturated fat is ignoring a huge body of knowledge on the biology of MCTs and the health of Pacific Islanders.  There's a continuum of harm to everything, and it's the reason I give the six steps in the order I do.  Furthermore, some early assumptions (like "nuts are OK in any quantity, but white potatoes are bad in any quantity") are simply wrong.

That being said, there's nothing wrong with doing a Whole 30, figuring out how much of a difference it makes -- and if it does, slowly reintroducing foods to figure out what's making the difference.  (Note: even the Whole 30 allows clarified butter now.) 

At the end of the day, I think the Perfect Health Diet does the best job of triage -- actually figuring out what's good for us and what isn't, modulo specific personal issues.  (I've read the new edition, due in December, and it's even better than the current one!)

My rule on starch for paleo athletes is simple: to find your range, eat more until it stops helping or starts making you fat, then eat less until you start feeling "flat" or feeling sugar cravings. 

In my experience, it's really hard to eat too much starch if you're not consuming liquid calories or "energy" bars/goop, even if you add rice to your potatoes and sweet potatoes.  That said, there are advantages to endurance training in a glycogen-depleted state: see Jamie Scott's articles on the subject.

Tip: You can buy a copy of The Gnoll Credo from The Book Depository, which ships free worldwide (even, I believe, to Ukraine!)  Of course, if you'll soon be back in the USA, you can get a signed copy directly from my publisher.

Re: curriculum, there's no degree in Paleo...and if you try to get any formal training in nutrition, you'll end up fighting conventional wisdom the entire way.  There's no formal career path in paleo, either.  Every paleo "authority", whether online or published in print, has gained their reputation via self-education and self-promotion...

...and that includes all the people with doctorates and medical degrees, none of whom received any formal training in paleo principles.  No one has any academic or professional standing to define what paleo is, what paleo should be, or who is or isn't "paleo".  We all gained our reputations the same way: by studying the material ourselves, collecting and organizing our thoughts and ideas, and presenting them before the court of public opinion.  It'll be a long time before there are enough primary sources to create a curriculum and associated dogma.

Result: you're going to have to clear a path for yourself, and I can't say what that

PS: Say hello and thank you to Jason Seib for me!

 

Danny:

Those are excellent numbers.  Congratulations on your transformation!  I'm glad I've been able to inspire it in some way.

A note: I myself tend to eat a more Perfect Health Diet level of starches...but unlike some, I don't see the evidence that VLC necessarily causes (for instance) thyroid issues.  Biochemical individuality is real (I'll be writing more about this in the future), a meat and offal-based ketogenic diet is within the range of biochemically viable and anthropologically plausible options, and each person needs to find the preferred balance between their own individual homeostases.

JS

September 14, 2012
12:08 pm
Danny J Albers
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J what you say is so true.

It really saddens me to see the rampant paranoia stirred up regarding the thyroid and low carb diets. Technically even the original PHD is borderline a low carb diet...

My friend Liz is wonderfully intelligent in regards to nutrition, and has come at soem of the other issues claimed caused by low carb and they all seem to come to mucin difficiency. She successfully eradicated hers by attacking the protein side of the equation instead of the carb side, and added collagen, things like pig skin to her broths, chicken feet, etc... just like great great great great great great grandma used to do, and it was successful.

I think you are correct, epi-genetics is real, but I also think most people could thrive on a low carb diet with minor tweaking as exampled above. I do however consider 20% calories from starch a moderately low carb diet... Most low carb studies that have positive outcomes have around that range. So Paul is not out of line either.

For me, I have started adding super starch... and all I can say is WOW, if you want to follow that progress I am logging it all on my blog. Super starch + keto adaption I think is a game changer...

Oops, got me rambling again!

September 21, 2012
5:11 pm
Nick "LapsusHom
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I very much appreciate the reply, and I apologize with my late response. Thanks for your advice. I don't eat junk food really at all I have been trying to follow these guidelines whenever at all possible, and from you saying that me beginning on this diet much earlier than you, (especially judging from how healthy you seem to be) it is of great comfort to me. (This sentence is awkwardly put together, I know. What I'm trying to get across is that if you can begin much later than I and still be healthy, it's of great comfort to me that I am beginning earlier.)

And I absolutely mean no offense, if there is anyway that I didn't see that the previous couple sentences could be offensive.

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