1

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Why isn't Loren Cordain lean?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created September 07, 2011 at 2:43 PM

I really like Dr. Cordain. After all, without him this website wouldn't exist.

If I knew as many things about different foods as he does, I would probably eat as perfect as possible. I wouldn't be able to cheat. So, in theory, I would get damn lean. But Loren Cordain isn't very lean.

Does anybody know how he eats? I gotta admit he looks healthy, but I wonder where his excess fat comes from.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on September 07, 2011
at 08:13 PM

+1. If you look at what, say, Mark Sisson claims to eat on a daily basis, you'll notice his calories look to be below 2000/day. He doesn't look like that from doing the "eat as much bacon and butter as you can stomach" version of Paleo.

E7a462d6e99fec7e8f0ddda11b34a770

(1638)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:59 PM

THANK YOU! You said it better than I could have.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:56 PM

20 is different from 30 is different from 60 years old. I ate shit when I was 20 and was lean and hard as rock. Now it takes concerted effort to maintain leanness at 32

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:52 PM

Agree with luckyB here. He prolly just eats to much and doesn't do a whole lot - busy researcher and all.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:42 PM

Check out some of his books on triathlon/biathlon training and you'll see that even during his "chronic cardio"/high carb days he was shredded.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:19 PM

Indeed, most elite strength trainers look like normal dudes.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on September 07, 2011
at 04:55 PM

So true...so true...oh to be 20 again.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:43 PM

Yeah but you're a 20 year old guy. That's an enormous advantage when it comes to reaching and maintaining a good/lean body composition.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:37 PM

actually Cordain looks good, but anyway his personal fitness status will depend not only on diet, also on exercise, genes, and the age at which he started a paleo diet. If he started it say at 40 or so he may never look as well as the guy starting in his 20s. Besides Cordain might enjoy more intellectual than physical work, he is a PhD after all...

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:34 PM

Totally true, Travis, but he does follow his own advice. He eats paleo. That's why I'm asking why he isn't lean.

3f11b5fda91063846bba45daac3541bd

(1186)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:28 PM

Agreed... The plumber often has the worst pipes... High performance types often don't get enough sleep and it could be as simple as that.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on September 07, 2011
at 04:28 PM

I am a unique snowflake! I am a unique snowflake! Really like your answer and i would really like some chocolate bacon.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:21 PM

Cordain is mostly telling people how to be healthy and not obese. If he publishes "Paleo Diet for Six Pack Abs" then he's going to need to step up his game.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:12 PM

Oh please no epic battle, it isn't personal, I'm really just trying to find out in what ways a person can fail on a paleo diet. Maybe I should rephrase my question.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:11 PM

I agree with you however Einstein, Beethoven and Van Gogh were not telling people how to get rich and so their financial status has nothing to do with their contributions.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on September 07, 2011
at 04:11 PM

I think the question posed is relevant...if a scientist, bio-chemist cannot master their own n=1 then WHY follow their advice? He really does not look bad to me however.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:10 PM

Really? I don't move around at all right now (exams) and I'm getting leaner every day. I eat 2500-3000 kcal a day.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:09 PM

The result of a good diet = being lean. The result of being a genius ≠ being rich. I don't agree with your comparison. I do agree with the rest of your post though.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Now *that's* an excellent response.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Now *that's* and excellent response.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on September 07, 2011
at 03:18 PM

Korion I really like him too. I would remind that not everybody trying to get washboard abs or look incredible.

66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

(12407)

on September 07, 2011
at 02:49 PM

this isn't gonna end well. there was an epic battle to a similar question months ago...

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12 Answers

11
Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

on September 07, 2011
at 03:57 PM

Short answer is: Who cares? What about these other questions: Why were Einstein, Beethoven or Vincent Van Gogh not rich men, if they were such geniuses? A man's contribution to science, art or human knowledge can not be measured, and should not be measured strictly on the n=1 experiment of his own personal experience.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on September 07, 2011
at 04:11 PM

I think the question posed is relevant...if a scientist, bio-chemist cannot master their own n=1 then WHY follow their advice? He really does not look bad to me however.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:37 PM

actually Cordain looks good, but anyway his personal fitness status will depend not only on diet, also on exercise, genes, and the age at which he started a paleo diet. If he started it say at 40 or so he may never look as well as the guy starting in his 20s. Besides Cordain might enjoy more intellectual than physical work, he is a PhD after all...

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:11 PM

I agree with you however Einstein, Beethoven and Van Gogh were not telling people how to get rich and so their financial status has nothing to do with their contributions.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:21 PM

Cordain is mostly telling people how to be healthy and not obese. If he publishes "Paleo Diet for Six Pack Abs" then he's going to need to step up his game.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:34 PM

Totally true, Travis, but he does follow his own advice. He eats paleo. That's why I'm asking why he isn't lean.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:09 PM

The result of a good diet = being lean. The result of being a genius ≠ being rich. I don't agree with your comparison. I do agree with the rest of your post though.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Now *that's* and excellent response.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Now *that's* an excellent response.

8
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:23 PM

Okay, first of all, Cordain doesn't OWN paleo. He has contributed greatly, especially on the grain issue, but paleo would exist without him. Unfortunately, for good or bad, the mass media associate paleo with him. Many people here (myself included) tend to regard a number of his views as incorrect (focus on lean meat, avoid sat fat/low salt/high fat dairy, emphasis on fiber/antioxidants/acid-base balance. He may be right on some of these things, but then again maybe not. Which may or may not have anything to do with his state of leanness.

Another thing that we seem to be findig out and constantly reminding each other is that we are all snowflakes. (You are unique - just like everybody else!) Food does different things to different people. Some thrive on all meat. Others become hypothyroid or have other problems. Just because he's eating a version of paleo, doesn't mean that it's optimal for him. And, to paraphrase Robb Wolf, everything else needs to be dialed in - sleep, vitamin D, n3/n6, stress, exercise, micronutrients, yadda yadda yadda.

Even if you grant that he has it all dialed in, people that want to be lean, who are not naturally that way, have to work at it (really work at it). He probablydoesn't care that much - he's a busy guy writing amazing research papers. Dr. Atkins, who started by researching how he could lose weight, was not lean either. I assume he just didn't care about that last little bit of paunch. The Dr's Eades also come to mind - they know how to eat right - but they also love good food. Just look up Mary Dan's post on chocolate bacon!

Btw, I wish I were as lean as any of them!

3f11b5fda91063846bba45daac3541bd

(1186)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:28 PM

Agreed... The plumber often has the worst pipes... High performance types often don't get enough sleep and it could be as simple as that.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:19 PM

Indeed, most elite strength trainers look like normal dudes.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on September 07, 2011
at 04:28 PM

I am a unique snowflake! I am a unique snowflake! Really like your answer and i would really like some chocolate bacon.

8
7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on September 07, 2011
at 03:17 PM

Well he got his B.S. the year I was born...I think he looks pretty darn good for being around 60. I did hear him on a podcast and they asked him what he ate that day...it was very strict paleo. I remember grapes for dessert. He also stated he is mostly sedentary while writing right now.

When the paleolithic famine hits...he'll have more in reserve than Rob or Stephen...maybe he's brilliantly strategic!?

7
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on September 07, 2011
at 05:52 PM

In what book did all of you read that Paleo makes you an Adonis, stops aging, heals every disease and fixed every problem??????????? Good grief! Newsflash. It does not. Paleo offers the promise of improved health and quality of life. That it all. It does not promise a body devoid of fat nor devoid of disease. It does not promise to make you perfectly beautiful by today's western standards. I wish we would stop insisting this is the case and continuing to perpetuate this myth. People, even healthy people, sometimes have fat on their bodies and that does not negate their very being. People come in different shapes and sizes and people who don't like that need to get over themselves.

E7a462d6e99fec7e8f0ddda11b34a770

(1638)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:59 PM

THANK YOU! You said it better than I could have.

5
Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

on September 07, 2011
at 03:37 PM

It's not just about how we eat but how we live, how well we do maintaining muscle mass etc

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:10 PM

Really? I don't move around at all right now (exams) and I'm getting leaner every day. I eat 2500-3000 kcal a day.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:56 PM

20 is different from 30 is different from 60 years old. I ate shit when I was 20 and was lean and hard as rock. Now it takes concerted effort to maintain leanness at 32

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:43 PM

Yeah but you're a 20 year old guy. That's an enormous advantage when it comes to reaching and maintaining a good/lean body composition.

7c9f81d68c78de1a31eab9c91c17b4b8

on September 07, 2011
at 04:55 PM

So true...so true...oh to be 20 again.

4
8c7a402462e29967a40b42d4f8b5e206

on September 07, 2011
at 05:17 PM

I think a lot of people that have the idea that eating and living a paleo lifestyle will automatically give you a six-pack and Sisson-esque body. What a lot of people miss, I think, is that it takes a lot of work to look muscular and lean. Yes, you can have an extremely healthy body by having a clean, optimized paleo diet, but it won't neccesarily (unless you have great genes) look like a model's body.

Like the previous commenter said, Dr. Cordain is pretty old. I'm sure he's super busy as well and doesn't have time or is not very concerned to be hitting the gym on a consistent basis.

P.S, Sisson used to be a personal trainer, triathlete, and probably has wicked genes.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:42 PM

Check out some of his books on triathlon/biathlon training and you'll see that even during his "chronic cardio"/high carb days he was shredded.

3
Medium avatar

(19479)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:57 PM

I think that it is important to remember that response to exercise, diet, and pretty much everything else varies from individual to individual.

While the science of epigenetics shows that we can influence gene expression, we can't do anything about our basic genetic heritage.

Don't think that genes count?

Check out this dog which, by the way, isn't on steroids, a special diet, or workout program...

why-isn't-loren-cordain-lean?

Or, this Belgian Blue cow that lacks a gene for the inhibition of myostatin...

why-isn't-loren-cordain-lean?

There is no guarantee that following a special diet/exercise program (or any diet or exercise program for that matter) will give you a shredded six pack, bulging biceps, and the VO2max of a thoroughbred.

In my case, I can either be skinny with a six pack or big and strong with a degree of "softness". I have achieved both of these states by various means and at various points in my life.

I think that following a Paleo/Primal way of eating offers me the best chance of overall health, so that's why I stay with it, not because I believe that it should "Sisson Me".

Competitive bodybuilders do their best to emulate the dog and cow pictured above and they are quite possibly the most unhealthy people on the planet. (I speak from personal experience having worked, trained with, and known professional bodybuilders). Yet, they "look great" so many people assume that their diet/exercise/"supplement" programs can be emulated for similar results. Anyone who has ever had a subscription to FLEX or Muscle & Fitness knows that this is not the case.

why-isn't-loren-cordain-lean?

2
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:40 PM

Because he probably doesn't eat paleo....

Who really cares when it comes down to it?

2
6d64cd6dc98d6ab763bd03678a317964

(2177)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:36 PM

It takes daily hard work and eating below maintenance to have a six pack, especially if you're over 50. His hormones are far different than someone in their 20s. Regardless of age, you could very easily get fat on paleo if you didn't move around much and ate lots of bacon.....

Some people think that by going paleo the rules of calories in/calories out do not apply. They do.

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on September 07, 2011
at 08:13 PM

+1. If you look at what, say, Mark Sisson claims to eat on a daily basis, you'll notice his calories look to be below 2000/day. He doesn't look like that from doing the "eat as much bacon and butter as you can stomach" version of Paleo.

1
Cc99879bfdec154dd83feeb71e3399d8

on September 07, 2011
at 05:41 PM

Think there's something to be said for Sisson, or Kruse even more then Wolf, talking about complete lifestyle changes, as opposed to merely healthier food choices, like Cordain.

Cordain seems to address a piece of the health puzzle, but hardly the whole "Quilt" or "Blueprint".

But I also think it's a point well taken. Diet theory from Santa, just doesn't work.

1
1fc9c11cf23b2f62ac78979de933ad83

(2435)

on September 07, 2011
at 04:55 PM

Oh, that? That's just extra skin ;)

0
D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on September 07, 2011
at 05:08 PM

I think everyone should be perfectly lean as a rail and that any bit of body fat is completely unhealthy. I try to judge other and I also try ignore the fact that indicators of mortality are better with a little (but not too much) extra weight.

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