• Your life and health are your own responsibility.
• Your decisions to act (or not act) based on information or advice anyone provides you—including me—are your own responsibility.


“Live Now, Live Later”: Paleo Diet, Paleo Life

From a mailing list I’m on:

> These long life diet plans always make me think of the Ninja warriors
> in Hollywood films who train daily for twenty years, then meet the
> American hero who pulls out a gun and shoots them dead. So much for
> their twenty years training!

That’s why I enjoy and advocate a more paleo-centered diet: because for me, and apparently for others, it results in an empirical increase in quality of life right now. I am leaner and stronger, my mood and attitude has improved dramatically, I don’t suffer food coma, I can skip meals at will, and I am both more creative and more capable. Any long-term life extension benefits are just a bonus, like avocado slices—though I am pleased to note that the research is pointing towards such effects.

Standard low-fat diets (Ornish, Pritikin, the “food pyramid”) basically eschew everything that tastes good. Sure, candy and donuts aren’t paleo: but prime rib, bacon and eggs, and a side of sweet potato with avocado slices most certainly are—and they beat the hell out of tofu, lentils, and brown rice. I deeply regret the year I spent trying to be vegetarian, and the decades I spent not eating the delicious food I eat now because it was ‘too high in fat’.

Are you a rodent...

...or a human?

Most diets involve substantial suffering: eat seeds (‘grains’) like a bird or rodent, and force yourself to ‘do cardio’ on machines that go nowhere, like a hamster on a wheel. “You have to work hard and give up your vices if you want to live longer,” their proponents say, as if boredom and misery is the healthy and natural state of humanity. (Vegetarianism is religious in origin.)

It’s dispiriting to shop in a ‘health food’ store. I see gaunt, prematurely aging supplicants carefully filling their shopping carts with the nutritional equivalent of Styrofoam peanuts (‘rice cakes’, ‘low-fat’ yogurt, ‘high-fiber’ cereal), buying crumbly, unsatisfying accretions of industrial products designed to simulate real food (‘soy milk’, ‘veggie-burgers’), and seriously obsessing over which variety of processed, extruded birdseed soaked in diesel fuel (i.e. ‘crackers’, ‘granola’) is ‘better’ for them.

They are buying these food simulations and eating them. How do they live on that stuff? It’s not even junk food…it’s not food at all! Are they even the same species as me?

But then I remember: that used to be me. There are uncountable billions of dollars devoted to subsidizing and advertising non-food, and I myself was bamboozled for years. I wish I could retroactively vomit up all the soy nuts and Kashi I ate.

“Paleo” is not just a diet or an exercise program. It is living as humans have lived for millions of years, and doing the same things that shaped us from apes into humans. Go outside, climb trees and mountains, chase animals and people. Play in the sun and the snow. Make and fix things with your hands. Sprint, lift heavy objects, eat meat. This is fun! If it’s a chore, you’re doing it wrong.

I reject the bizarre concept that millions of years of evolution has selected us to enjoy only things that kill us, and to avoid everything that keeps us alive and healthy. I reject the false dichotomy that we must be either sybarites (“Live now, pay later”) or self-flagellants (“Pay now, live later”). I propose a more accurate and joyous maxim for the paleo movement:

Live now, live later.

(And I’m reasonably sure that the gnolls agree with me.)

Live in freedom, live in beauty.


(Interested in trying it yourself? Start with my motivational guide “Eat Like A Predator, Not Like Prey”, and my Paleo Starter Kit.)

“Live now, live later” is a trademark of J. Stanton. Not that I intend to sue anyone, I just don’t want to see it stolen for the title of someone else’s cheeseball diet book.


Permalink: “Live Now, Live Later”: Paleo Diet, Paleo Life
  • Bodhi

    Well written, I couldn’t agree more. I wish I could go back 35 years and eat paleo. I feel like I wasted a lot of time and health living like a damn rodent. I also regret feeding my children that shit.

  • Check the links̷

    […] Live now, live later. […]

  • Ron

    Great idea for a t-shirt… Paleo: Live now, live later

  • Ron:

    I've had a design on my hard drive for a while…I may have to make it available to everyone!


    It's never too late to improve — and at least you found it before you got stuck in the old age hell of arthritis and statins.  And this way you probably feel like you're getting younger…if you had always eaten this way you'd still be getting older!


  • Max More

    Yes, yes, yes. I’m so mad at myself for sticking to a low-fat diet for 30 years — with WAY too many episodes of high-sugar junk (which I knew was bad but found very hard to control my cravings for). I was following the best evidence I saw 30 years ago, but I’d like to go back in time and smack myself for not looking into the evidence periodically.

    As Gary Taubes demonstrated brilliantly, the low-fat, high-carb orthodoxy really dominated powerfully despite the lack of evidence for it.

    Oh well. On the right path now. If Michael Rose is to believed, I’ve only missed a few years in which being non-paleo matters much. (Not sure he’s right though.)

    I’m enjoying the essays on your website. Not only highly informative but spirited too.


  • Ravi

    amen Bodhi – i’m 56 and hoping the damage is not too much from all that crap – and i am happy that my 3 year old is getting the chance at real nutrition! live now & live later, learn and move on, yes?

  • Max:

    You've got a lot of demands on your time, and I'm proud that you're choosing to spend a slice of it here.  Onward!


    I wouldn't be too concerned: being 56 certainly hasn't slowed you down!


  • js290

    What does the woman that discovered the genes that control aging in worms eat?

    No desserts. No sweets. No potatoes. No rice. No bread. No pasta. “When I say ‘no,’ I mean ‘no, or not much,’” she notes. “Instead, eat green vegetables. Eat the fruits that aren’t the sweet fruits, like melon.” Bananas? “Bananas are a little sweet.” Meat? “Meat, yes, of course. Avocados. All vegetables. Nuts. Fish. Chicken. That’s what I eat. Cheese. Eggs. And one glass of red wine a day.”


    “I did it because we fed our worms glucose and it shortened their lifespan.”

  • js290:

    That's an excellent article.  Thank you for bringing it to my attention!


  • mike

    i also beat my self up sometimes thinking about the shit i ate in the past. but on the flip side i am so grateful i discovered this diet/lifestyle while i’m just 23 years old, while most guys my age are still pounding down bagels and beer. i wish more people could know what it feels like to be a properly functioning human being. i’m looking forward to see what happens in the long term.

    thanks J for what you do…

  • mike:

    It's humbling to realize that this is what being human is supposed to feel like!  Tired, depressed, fat and sick is not our natural state.

    I wish I could go back in time and tell myself all this…but I'm not sure I'd have listened.  Meanwhile, I'm glad that my articles resonate with you.  And if you enjoy this type of article, you'll definitely enjoy The Gnoll Credo.


  • WalterB

    Ah, yes. I do feel regret that I did not get off the SAD or USDA diet until 65.
    (I lost about 100 pounds, basically cutting out the fructose.)

    All those years of carrying extra weight, very low energy, losing jobs because I could not stay awake or drinking too much coffee and losing the job because I was driven to total exhaustion and could not continue. The runs in the afternoon for candy, more coffee, anything to keep awake. I was falling asleep in high school classes. People just don’t tolerate that and don’t understand that it’s not intentional. Not to mention being the fat kid that gym teachers liked to torture and was always picked last for games.

    They called me beer belly in Boys Scout camp, I was a fat kid when I was in grade school when it wasn’t common and the food was relatively healthy. Today someone in grade school with my genotype might be 300 pounds.

    And anger about the bad to the point of genocidal nutritional misinformation I got. I remember looking at the nutritional information on a package of brown rice and thinking what is so good about this stuff, must be some mystical something and continued to eat it.

    I suppose those who take advice from the government and the nutritional establishment (and the major non food manufacturers deserve what they get, but the only thing you learn is not to take such advice.

    Anyway, we American and those of similar diets don’t have an antidepressant deficiency nor an anti tension drug deficiency, but we *do* have an animal fat deficiency.

    Oh, and I just came across the idea that one reason for the Japanese being so healthy is their large consumption of sea weed and other sea foods. IIUC their consumption of iodine is about 1000 times the MDR (which most Americans don’t reach). Notice that the Establishment is more concerned about people getting too much micro nutrients than to little. For example, the Vitamin D RDA level is set to the level that prevents rickets, the most spectacular and obvious sigh of Vitamin D deficiency.

    OK, better stop here before I start to rant.

  • WalterB:

    “And anger about the bad to the point of genocidal nutritional misinformation I got. I remember looking at the nutritional information on a package of brown rice and thinking what is so good about this stuff, must be some mystical something and continued to eat it.”

    Because everybody knows it's good for you, right?  I ate “soy nuts” because “everybody knows” they're good for you, big plates of pasta with marinara sauce because “everybody knows” red meat is bad for you, and puffed Kashi for breakfast because “everybody knows” cereal is a nutritious breakfast.

    “I suppose those who take advice from the government and the nutritional establishment (and the major non food manufacturers deserve what they get…”

    Not really…the bad information is so pervasive that it's almost impossible to find alternative viewpoints.  This was even more true in the days before widespread Internet access…there simply weren't any sources of information out there to counteract the mantra of “low-fat, high-carb, heart-healthy-whole-grains, cholesterol will kill you dead.”  Even today we're still getting headlines like “Eating egg yolks almost as bad as smoking”…

    I don't blame anyone for taking the government/media advice.  Where I part company is with fat, unhealthy people telling me I'm doing it wrong, animal fat and cholesterol are going to kill me, and carbs are the foundation of a healthy diet.

    Besides, think of it this way: if you hadn't discovered it this year, you'd have been another year older when you finally did!

    Re: Japanese iodine intake, it has been suggested that iodine needs increase with carb intake, as T3 is necessary to carbohydrate metabolism.  Therefore, high iodine intake may mitigate some potential problems with a diet high in white rice, and with the Standard American high-carb diet.


  • JayJay

    My favourite saying is “If it’s hard you’re doing it wrong.

    Now to encourage and almost teen to go paleo. She was much more compliant as a toddler

  • JayJay:

    That's a good maxim, with the caveat that there can be an adjustment period.  Some of us feel better instantly, and some of us take weeks or months to acclimate — whether from “low-carb flu”, gluten withdrawal, or some other reason.  But in general, I agree that the feeling of “swimming upstream” is a sign that you might be on the wrong path.


  • Paula


    I come to your blog via Tom Naughton’s Fat Head blog. Just wanted to say I’m enjoying myself so much as I make my way through your older posts. I consider myself falling somewhere between the “labels” of Paleo and low-carb, although the names truly don’t count. My husband and I have been eating much as you describe since the beginning of this year. To date, he has lost over forty pounds and I have lost over fifty. Our aches and pains has disappeared and we are enjoying life more than we did just a few short months ago.

    I just wanted to remark on something you said in this post: “I deeply regret the year I spent trying to be vegetarian, and the decades I spent not eating the delicious food I eat now because it was ‘too high in fat’.” It reminded me of what has become my one great regret since discovering this way of eating. For many years I was a binge eater. I tried everything I could think of to stop binging…from sheer willpower to therapy. Nothing worked. When I came to LCHF/Paleo, I was interested in being in optimal health and shedding some weight. Both of those have happened (with the speed and amount of weight loss both surprising and thrilling me!) But the most astounding thing that I realized was that my binging had stopped. Cold turkey. No need to fight the desire…the desire just wasn’t there. The thought of binging doesn’t even cross my mind.

    Before, I was convinced I had some psychological problem. Uh, no, I just needed REAL FOOD! I deeply regret that I was sucked into the whole USDA, FDA, food pyramid mess. Eating low-fat with grainsgrainsgrains made me a hungry MESS. Now that I have high-fat, satiating meals I’m HAPPY. I truly regret the mental anguish I endured thinking that there was something seriously WRONG with me.

    I see plenty of commenters here that describe the great things that have happened with their health after eating this way, but I haven’t seen anyone else mention this particular “improvement.”

    Just want to say you have a great blog here! I’m so thankful for people like you (and Tom!) who have completely changed my life!

  • Paula:

    Your experience is not uncommon.  I believe that many cases of binge eating spring from malnutrition: years (sometimes decades) of denying yourself the nutrient-dense foods your body craves leaves you with constant, gnawing hunger.  And no matter how many low-fat, zero-cholesterol “healthy foods” you eat, you'll never satisfy that hunger — because your body needs meat, eggs, fatty fish, and all the essential nutrients they contain.

    (Ever notice how the most satisfying binge foods tend to be very high in saturated fat?  Cheese, chocolate, ice cream…)

    It's a terrible system:

    1. Convince us that the foods we require are unhealthy and will kill us

    2. Convince us that the resulting cravings are a psychological problem

    3. Sell us medical treatment and prescription drugs that don't fix the underlying problem

    4. The underlying problem gets worse.  Go back to step 3

    But you've found the way out. Welcome home.


  • Linda Slater

    Live now Pay later /Pay now, live later:-
    The Blue V-meme (D-Q) of Clare Graves’ Never Ending Quest.
    Interesting read – not on Paleo, but on why we would ever think like that!

    Brilliant article as always.

  • Linda:

    The biggest problem with “pay now, live later” is that it's a monetary metaphor.  Money spent now is money you don't have later.

    However, health does not work the same way!  Being healthy and active now does not cause you to be less healthy and active in the future.  Health is not a deposit account you can use up.  It's a garden that flourishes when maintained and dies when neglected.


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