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Functional Paleo: A Definition And Short Manifesto
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August 3, 2011
2:05 pm
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First-Eater
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Sean and Asclepius' comments have reminded me of a point which I've added to the definition:

"Questions like “What would Grok do?” and “Imagine yourself in the woods,
or by the ocean or on some fertile plain, with nothing but your own
wit. What would you be able to eat?” are mental shortcuts to
evolutionary context."

Asclepius:

As far as the fasting issue, I view the timing of meals as part of the eating of meals.  I haven't talked about IF too much because people like Martin Berkhan cover the subject so well, though I did touch on it in "The Breakfast Myth". (Part 1 and Part 2.)  Energy storage and retrieval is a huge part of having a functional metabolism, and "metabolic syndrome" is basically a disease of broken energy storage and retrieval.

Again, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything: I'm just trying to coin a term for what already exists.

Paul:

Functional paleo isn't so much contra-Grok as it is "Grok is a useful guideline that keeps us in sight of evolutionary context -- but when science actually manages to give us concrete, usable knowledge, science must take priority."  As discussed above, though, good science can only go so far, and we have to eat something and live somehow while waiting for the long-term controlled studies to complete.  And the process of science is both fallible and easily perverted, which is why I emphasize that we must keep in sight of our evolutionary context.

As far as "this is going to be strong stuff", I'm continually sharpening my own understanding and sharing the results with you and my other readers.  I'm not dispensing pieces of a "truth" I claim to have already discovered and understood in its entirety. 

Walter:

Good point about the Eadeses.  Perhaps I'll be able to ask them what they think at the AHS.

Eddie:

Definitely true for many.

JS

 

August 3, 2011
2:16 pm
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primordial49:

Absolutely.  Some people, even within the paleo

community, simply don't understand that reality, and make fun of low-carb practicioners.

As far as distinguishability from Cordain/Lindeberg/etc., I offer the example that broccoli is no more intrinsically "paleo" than milk…wild cabbage was domesticated and bred into its modern forms long after animals were first domesticated.  Furthermore, nuts contain meaningful amounts of lectins and other toxins, which are apparently OK in nuts even though they're not OK in beans, because Paleolithic humans ate them.  And their very high n-6 content is also somehow not a problem, even though the n-6 content of modern grain-fed beef (which is bad, bad, bad!) is trivial by comparison. 

Hopefully that illustrates a few of the reasons I don't follow their approach.

JS

OK, everyone, I'm already late and I have to leave.  Expect sparse replies until I return from AHS.  Thank you for the stimulating dialogue!

August 3, 2011
3:06 pm
Steve S
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I know Kurt Harris struggled with this and Mark Sisson dealt with it back in 2008:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/whats-the-difference-between-primal-and-paleo/

The problem then: "A fundamental difference? The role of saturated fats." -MDA

I'm pretty sure Robb Wolf covered Cordain's change of heart on the subject. Would you put Robb in the "Functional Paleo" camp?

Anyhow, primal, paleo, Functional Paleo, (would say Archevore but just learned this is dead) it does not make a difference to me. What I do think is important is that Primal and Paleo lifestyles go beyond diet and cover fitness and environmental topics like sleep and stress. This differentiates us from low carb'ers and keto folks.

What about "Evolutionary Wellness?" This is a term I use in my RSS reader to file many blogs under but would it describe the Eades, Taubes and Dr. Art Ayers from coolinginflammation.blogspot.com? Probably not but I've got them all lumped together anyhow.

I think if you had to go with one term to define a lifestyle that nutritionally excludes the neolithic agents of disease, whole foods, grock-style primal fitness, sunshine, outdoors and living free of chronic stress I would go with "Paleo" if only because this word is used more often and is short, sweet and to the point. There will be a Paleo 3.0 and beyond but it will still be Paleo.

Eggs, no eggs, high fat, low fat, dairy, no dairy, if it's working for you, it's functional paleo!

August 3, 2011
3:11 pm
wozza
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What do you call traditional paleo? That's where I'm at. Who do you think those best bloggers are?

August 3, 2011
3:34 pm
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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Wozza - Loren Cordain wrote 'The Paleo Diet' and Robb Wolf wrote 'The Paleo Solution'. Cordain is the founder, Wolf the protege. That's what you might call "traditional paleo", or original paleo.

Robb Wolf runs a website, blog and forum.

Do check out Mark Sisson as well, who is considered one of the "functional paleo" writers in this piece. He runs a website, blog and forum as well.

URLs? Go hunt and gather! It's paleo ...

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

August 4, 2011
4:26 am
eddie watts
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i should have said, i would consider myself functional paleo if i considered myself to have a "dietary label"
i eat high fat dairy like cheese and greek yogurt, avoid low fat dairy. i don't eat grains, i eat some peanut butter. (would make my own nut butter with mixed nuts but the price has just shot up here)
i try to avoid eating too much cheese as i find this to stimulate eating binges in me, i have some daily still but keep quantities low.

total avoidance of sugar and all flours seems to work for me, i'm currently not eating fruit too as i'm losing some weight too, which is needed. will eat fruit again once lost the weight but it is another food i could eat tons of easily 😀

August 4, 2011
4:41 am
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Gnoll
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Like you, Eddie I continued to call my dietary regimen "paleo" while continuing to eat dairy and without a great issue with potatoes. I didn't see that I needed to use an alternative term, although "primal" and "archevore" are both very good.

I am not at all lactose or casein intolerant and so cheeses like feta, cheddar and those lovely crumbly cheeses that we seem to do so well in the UK are eaten with some frequency. Yoghurt is a mainstay for me an I believe that eating probiotic yoghurt, coupled with total removal of grains and temporary total removal of potato, has made a serious improvement to my gastric reflux problem and started on the long path to healing my gut. I get very occasional pangs of heartburn and I am not carrying emergency antacids around with me any more. For all intents and purposes, I'm healed ... and that's through "functional paleo".

I am happy to cook potatoes occasionally for my wife. When I consider that I am down to my correct fat size I might bring them back in. My wife is not "paleo", but comes along for the ride since I do all the cooking - she said to me yesterday that she MUCH prefers what we are eating now to what we were eating six months ago.

This article is a good stake in the ground.

There are a good number of us already who are vocally "paleo plus" - that's paleo with dairy and perhaps potato, certainly high fat; and I think a really useful short set of principles will form the manifesto over the coming period.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

August 4, 2011
9:35 am
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Gnoll
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"I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything: I'm just trying to coin a term for what already exists."

I think that this is an important point to emphasise. People are on the look out for dietary fads. Paleo is burdened by confusion with LC, Atkins and cavemen! The fact that it manifests under several names (evolutionary fitness, NED, Paleo, Paleo 2.0, primal etc...), seems to generate suspicion.

It is strange that many of us who follow the paleo concept find it pretty easy to understand and implement (and have no problem with the grey areas of IF, dairy, starchy tubers etc....). Even the divergence with WAPF is no big deal - we can accept the consequence of traditional cooking methods upon otherwise intolerable foods even if we shun grains ourselves, fermented or otherwise.

I believe that 'when the student is ready, the teacher arrives'. And so once an individual accepts the broader paleo premise ('that we should look to evolution for cues as to what to eat'), it makes sense to have some robust, scientific-based arguments in place to help navigate this concept.

Gnolls.org is definitely a good place to look for directions!

Good luck with your presentation at the AHS.

August 4, 2011
9:38 am
Todd
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Robb Wolf is a lot less dogmatic then some give him credit for. His position on things like cream and butter have changed, and he has said that his admonitions against "fatty meats" assume standard rearing practices (high Omega 6) and not grass-fed.

August 4, 2011
5:09 pm
hellaD
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Interesting discussion! I hadn't necessarily though of myself as paleo prior to this but under that definition I would probably be a functional paleo, I guess that means no juicing though? I do most of my food processing manually, but I do like fresh carrot juice once in a while. I suppose that isn't in the spirit of paleo at all though....

August 5, 2011
11:20 am
eddie watts
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hellaD while juicing would not be paleo per se, it's pretty benign if you're talking vegetables. compared to fruit or soda

August 7, 2011
12:53 am
Jacquie
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I like your proposed 'functional paleo'. I'm pretty new to this way of life - just over 5 months in. The thing I've found is that the huge variations in what the gurus are suggesting/instructing/dictating paleo-ites to do renders the concept exceedingly difficult to understand and then to articulate. I tend to tell people that I'm avoiding processed foods - and if I like them, I'll add that I eat meat and veges almost exclusively. Functional paleo suggests that within some very broad and shifting guidelines, we do what makes sense for our bodies from an evolutionary and practical perspective. I'm in.

Your hunger series is wonderful. It's the only time I've ever linked a blog to my facebook page. Thanks!!

August 7, 2011
1:37 pm
Functional Paleo 
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[...] This is an incredible article from Gnolls.org that, once again, puts a logical, straight-forward exp... [...]

August 8, 2011
3:45 am
Gnoll
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August 1, 2011
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J. Stanton said:

primordial49:

Absolutely.  Some people, even within the paleo community, simply don't understand that reality, and make fun of low-carb practicioners.

As far as distinguishability from Cordain/Lindeberg/etc., I offer the example that broccoli is no more intrinsically "paleo" than milk…wild cabbage was domesticated and bred into its modern forms long after animals were first domesticated.  Furthermore, nuts contain meaningful amounts of lectins and other toxins, which are apparently OK in nuts even though they're not OK in beans, because Paleolithic humans ate them.  And their very high n-6 content is also somehow not a problem, even though the n-6 content of modern grain-fed beef (which is bad, bad, bad!) is trivial by comparison. 

Hopefully that illustrates a few of the reasons I don't follow their approach.


 

That's my critizism, too. Additionally:

-We never ate animal protein without the animal fat

-We never ate vegetable or flax oil to get omega-3s

-It makes no sense to eat that much fruit and vegetables with lean protein.

First, we neaver ate that much protein. Because carbohydrates were often scarce, H/Gs needed to eat at least 70-80% fat, otherwise protein toxicity kicks in. And even if we had some carbohydrates, there would still be a lot of fat in the diet.

-Raw nuts are especially harmful, thanks to lectins

 

Ironically it can work in the short term because the massive amounts of protein counteract hunger which is caused be that much fruit carbs.

August 11, 2011
5:19 pm
Ancestral Health and
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[...] way of life – Paleo (Prof Cordain), Primal, Evolutionary (who started this one?), Archevore, Functional Paleo, and Ancestral. In general I agree that Paleo doesn’t work all that well as it refers to a [...]

August 12, 2011
3:22 pm
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I'm starting to catch up on comments: thanks for your patience!

Steve S:

Robb is sort of a transitional figure AFAIK: he started as a Cordain protege, but he's become more flexible over the years.  Though his book is still basically Cordain.

Evolutionary wellness is a good term.  And I absolutely agree that paleo goes beyond diet and exercise: I've written about it before, and will write more in the future.  But right now I've got a lot to say about diet.

I absolutely agree that "Paleo" is a good term, and unlike Dr. Harris, I'm unwilling to abandon it.  But I believe there's a pretty solid dividing line, and that it's important to distinguish functional from traditional paleo.  Saturated fat is the most obvious of the issues, but not the only one.

wozza:

Probably Robb Wolf and Whole9Life.  Cordain updates very infrequently.  Anyone with more suggestions?

eddie:

Absolutely you're doing functional paleo.  As are most people, frankly.

Paul:

That's what functional paleo is about: evaluating foods on their biochemical merits, even Neolithic foods.

Asclepius:

Absolutely.  The #1 misconception I see and hear from those not already familiar is "caveman diet", often followed by "but cavement only lived to 25 and didn't have refrigerators".

I didn't give a presentation at AHS: I participated in the "Meet the Authors" event, along with everyone from the Jaminets to Nora Gedgaudas to Sarah Fragoso.

Todd:

Yes.  That's why I count him as a sort of transitional figure: his position continues to slowly evolve.

hellaD:

What Eddie said.  Juicing is a gray area, because it allows you to hork down a whole lot of food that you couldn't otherwise.  I discourage fruit juices for that reason, but if a juicer helps you get vegetables down the hatch, why not?

Just remember that you shouldn't juice in quantities you wouldn't eat.  If you can do that and aren't gaining weight (I see people making endless banana + protein powder smoothies and wondering why they aren't losing weight), it's probably OK.

Jacquie:

Absolutely.  Functional paleo allows us to not get caught in the "but cavemen didn't eat that" trap.

I'm glad you enjoy the hunger series: it's coming back in just a few days!

primordial49:

Absolutely.  I have no idea how an active person is supposed to eat enough lean meat and veggies to maintain caloric balance without protein toxicity.

JS

 

 

September 8, 2011
8:25 am
Functional Paleo: A
Guest

[...] Functional Paleo: A Definition And Short Manifesto September 8, 2011By: J. Stanton Read the Full Post at: GNOLLS.ORG [...]

September 30, 2011
4:52 am
~pjgh » Blog A
Guest

[...] paleo bloggers, Stanton and Harris, have made some significant contributions to the paleosphere - Functional Paleo is now defined and Archevore has moved to a version 3.0 and the role of starches in the paleo diet [...]

December 14, 2011
8:37 am
~pjgh » Blog A
Guest

[...] it The Primal Blueprint, Functional Paleo, Archevore, the Perfect Health Diet or Paleo+ what we have is a gentler, more playful paleo but [...]

November 1, 2012
12:21 am
Peewee
Guest

Sean said "the human body is much more complicated than an atom and the tools we have to study it relatively more primitive than high-energy particle accelerators"

It's much simpler to split a human than an atom no, much simpler to dismantle a watch than an atom.

'Particle physics has been likened to trying to figure out how a clock works by smashing it with a sledge hammer and looking at the pieces."

thats a terrible analogy it would be much more like flying a supersonic jet into a watch recording the trajectories of all the pieces , reconstructing the properties of the materials based on how far they went, how fast they went, what kind of paths they took.

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