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When/how did the paleo lifestyle become a low/no carb lifestyle?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 22, 2013 at 1:46 PM

It seems as though many people think paleo is strictly low carb/no carb. Not only people who are not paleo but those who follow a paleo lifestyle as well. I read numerous posts every week where someone answers "EAT MORE CARBS!" When I started paleo I didn't think of it as a low carb lifestyle, I thought of it as a "get rid of the sh*t carbs" lifestyle. Any thoughts on why so many people think of paleo as being synonymous with low carb?

D1d9b0d839144b72b5f5dae893a686d3

(602)

on April 23, 2013
at 06:01 PM

Compared to the SAD, which is actually EXTREMELY high (low quality) carb, even high carb paleo is low carb. Even if you are eating lots of fruit and sweet potatoes, a guy who is having those foods with a bunch of bread 3 times a day with chips and crackers between meals washed down with soda is going to consider you low carb.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:57 PM

@NB&S, Here's his comment that I read, "dried fruits contain excessive sugar, and from the table below, you can see they more closely resemble commercial candy than their fresh counterparts"

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:55 PM

@Varelse, The question is not, "Is Paleo Low Carb" -- The question was why do people associate paleo with low carb. That is how I was framing my answer. I follow pretty close to the primal blueprint recommendations (just with a lot more beer :) ).

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:06 PM

Seems like though if in his book he advocates against starches and against fruits then many people would walk away thinking they should eat low carb? I mean where else are people going to get carbs anyways?

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:05 PM

Unless you quote something from the book Nasty, it seems like this answer holds. Since in his book he apparently seems to be pretty anti-fruit. Which would mean this explanation as to why people seem to think paleo is low carb is sound. If he's changed his ideology that's great but it doesn't change the fact that he seemingly helped contribute towards paleo being associated with a lower carb diet.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:03 PM

@CD - I agree with your points regarding Primal Blueprint, but I think there is a key difference (albeit small and perhaps nitpicky) between "low carb" and "restricting carbs." Sisson's maintenance recommendation of 100-150g per day is only low carb in comparison with SAD. It is pretty high carb compared to a truly low carb diet like Atkins intro.

211d4075d68b24cd0aa7ebfa94262bb9

on April 22, 2013
at 06:55 PM

Cordain on dried fruit: http://thepaleodiet.com/what-to-eat-on-the-paleo-diet/ "Pre-cut carrot and celery sticks, sliced fruit, and pre-portioned raw nut/dried fruit mixes are easy snacks."

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 22, 2013
at 06:38 PM

It has always irked me that paleo was sold as a package that bore little resemblance to how paleos ate and lived. Having read a lot in the last 5 years on ancestral cultures, it irks me even more. Dietary supplements? Butter eating? Sedentary lifestyle? It still has its cult-like quirks but a lot of them are going away.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 22, 2013
at 06:34 PM

In his book, Cordain says to: (1) eliminate all dried fruits; (2) limit high sugar fruits if you are overweight; (3) To the extent possible, substitute vegetables in lieu of fruit. -- If he's changed his mind, then good -- but that is not what his book says.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 06:34 PM

Yea, I guess it's more that he's anti-starch that made it easier for people to draw the low carb conclusion. Not that he necessarily says vlc. He does seem to advocate fruit n veggie consumption. I don't follow the LC movement much so before I wrote that answer I did a quick search and found Cordain's book in the low carb book section of amazon, so I guess there is still a little lee-way there.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 06:33 PM

Yea, I guess it's more that he's anti-starch that made it easier for people to draw the low carb conclusion. Not that he necessarily says vlc. He does seem to advocate fruit n veggie consumption. I don't follow the LC movement much so before I wrote that question I did a quick search and found Cordain's book in the low carb book section of amazon, so I guess there is still a little lee-way there.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 22, 2013
at 05:59 PM

I've heard Cordain say Paleo can be low carb. Not that it has to be.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 05:40 PM

Oh okay, I guess you're right that cordain allows unlimited low glycemic carb consumption. Yeah for fructose! lol..

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 05:18 PM

I am all for people doing what works best for them. If I implied that everybody should do it one way or the other that was not my intent. My question was not why is paleo low carb (because it doesn't have to be) but why do so many people assume it is.

211d4075d68b24cd0aa7ebfa94262bb9

on April 22, 2013
at 05:16 PM

Actually Cordain advocates unlimited fruits and vegetable consumption: http://thepaleodiet.com/paleo-diet-faq/

8634d4988ced45a68e2a79e69cc01835

(1617)

on April 22, 2013
at 04:53 PM

Same with me. As a vegetarian, I ate LOADS of breads and crackers! Meat, fruit, nuts, and veggies are low(er) carb than that junk, but not truly LC or VLC. I exercise to much to do very low carb. It always bites me in the ass if I do too low carb for too long.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 04:38 PM

I wish I had seen that earlier, it didn't come up in my search. Thanks!

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 22, 2013
at 04:28 PM

this is it. Paleo started to mainstream with cordain. The "Paleo Diet" is Cordain's, and it advocates restricting carbs. "Primal Blueprint" is the biggest player in paleo and it advocates restricting carbs. Despite all the, "Paleo is not low carb" , that goes on this site. For the vast majority of the books and gurus out there -- it is.

1deaea445ff3b1cb5d1354a043dc8fb7

(275)

on April 22, 2013
at 03:10 PM

the evolutionary evidence or at least that which cordain and eaton present, in terms of unchanged populations, is that they DID NOT eat low carb: not below 22% some as high as 40%, eskimos are one of the only low carb populations and they live in such an extreme climate in is not applicable.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 02:33 PM

Perhaps that is where I missed the boat on plaeo, my introduction to paleo wasn't that it was VLC, only that it was very low inflammatory carbs.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 02:10 PM

But don't you think a number of people (based on questions posed here) who do exercise pretty aggressively still go low carb? I guess it seems as though low carb is the "default" for a number of people. I think perhaps because my introduction to paleo was because of gluten/wheat protein issues I never thought about cutting all carbs, only those that left me writhing in pain.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 02:03 PM

True, when you compare the amount of carbs in the SAD paleo can look pretty low carb.

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9 Answers

4
3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on April 22, 2013
at 01:52 PM

Because Robb Wolf and other gurus encouraged low carb, and to only eat tuber carbs if you're exercising. Personally, I feel best at up to 100 gr net carbs per day.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 02:10 PM

But don't you think a number of people (based on questions posed here) who do exercise pretty aggressively still go low carb? I guess it seems as though low carb is the "default" for a number of people. I think perhaps because my introduction to paleo was because of gluten/wheat protein issues I never thought about cutting all carbs, only those that left me writhing in pain.

3
Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on April 22, 2013
at 04:25 PM

I asked this on Mar 26 at 1:22, and Paul Jaminet posted a dandy answer.

Does anyone know when, who, what originally tied ???paleo??? and low-carbohydrate together that people constantly have to say it isn???t? http://paleohacks.com/questions/187664/does-anyone-know-when-who-what-originally-tied-paleo-and-low-carbohydrate-tog

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 04:38 PM

I wish I had seen that earlier, it didn't come up in my search. Thanks!

3
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 03:13 PM

Because a low carb diet helps some people lose weight without exercising. Also, isn't loren Cordain the first person to use the phrase paleo diet? I'm pretty sure he's a low carb advocate.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 22, 2013
at 05:59 PM

I've heard Cordain say Paleo can be low carb. Not that it has to be.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:57 PM

@NB&S, Here's his comment that I read, "dried fruits contain excessive sugar, and from the table below, you can see they more closely resemble commercial candy than their fresh counterparts"

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 22, 2013
at 04:28 PM

this is it. Paleo started to mainstream with cordain. The "Paleo Diet" is Cordain's, and it advocates restricting carbs. "Primal Blueprint" is the biggest player in paleo and it advocates restricting carbs. Despite all the, "Paleo is not low carb" , that goes on this site. For the vast majority of the books and gurus out there -- it is.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 06:33 PM

Yea, I guess it's more that he's anti-starch that made it easier for people to draw the low carb conclusion. Not that he necessarily says vlc. He does seem to advocate fruit n veggie consumption. I don't follow the LC movement much so before I wrote that question I did a quick search and found Cordain's book in the low carb book section of amazon, so I guess there is still a little lee-way there.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:55 PM

@Varelse, The question is not, "Is Paleo Low Carb" -- The question was why do people associate paleo with low carb. That is how I was framing my answer. I follow pretty close to the primal blueprint recommendations (just with a lot more beer :) ).

211d4075d68b24cd0aa7ebfa94262bb9

on April 22, 2013
at 05:16 PM

Actually Cordain advocates unlimited fruits and vegetable consumption: http://thepaleodiet.com/paleo-diet-faq/

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:06 PM

Seems like though if in his book he advocates against starches and against fruits then many people would walk away thinking they should eat low carb? I mean where else are people going to get carbs anyways?

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 05:40 PM

Oh okay, I guess you're right that cordain allows unlimited low glycemic carb consumption. Yeah for fructose! lol..

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:03 PM

@CD - I agree with your points regarding Primal Blueprint, but I think there is a key difference (albeit small and perhaps nitpicky) between "low carb" and "restricting carbs." Sisson's maintenance recommendation of 100-150g per day is only low carb in comparison with SAD. It is pretty high carb compared to a truly low carb diet like Atkins intro.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 07:05 PM

Unless you quote something from the book Nasty, it seems like this answer holds. Since in his book he apparently seems to be pretty anti-fruit. Which would mean this explanation as to why people seem to think paleo is low carb is sound. If he's changed his ideology that's great but it doesn't change the fact that he seemingly helped contribute towards paleo being associated with a lower carb diet.

211d4075d68b24cd0aa7ebfa94262bb9

on April 22, 2013
at 06:55 PM

Cordain on dried fruit: http://thepaleodiet.com/what-to-eat-on-the-paleo-diet/ "Pre-cut carrot and celery sticks, sliced fruit, and pre-portioned raw nut/dried fruit mixes are easy snacks."

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 22, 2013
at 06:34 PM

Yea, I guess it's more that he's anti-starch that made it easier for people to draw the low carb conclusion. Not that he necessarily says vlc. He does seem to advocate fruit n veggie consumption. I don't follow the LC movement much so before I wrote that answer I did a quick search and found Cordain's book in the low carb book section of amazon, so I guess there is still a little lee-way there.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 22, 2013
at 06:34 PM

In his book, Cordain says to: (1) eliminate all dried fruits; (2) limit high sugar fruits if you are overweight; (3) To the extent possible, substitute vegetables in lieu of fruit. -- If he's changed his mind, then good -- but that is not what his book says.

1
D1d9b0d839144b72b5f5dae893a686d3

(602)

on April 22, 2013
at 05:13 PM

It isn't necessarily low carb, but eating that way has a lot of benefits for a lot of people. Some people do better with higher carbs and that is fine too. It does not have to be one or the other, I'm right and you're wrong. Eat what makes you feel good and helps you accomplish your goals, whatever they are. Just realize that other people will do the same thing and their conclusions may not match yours.

D1d9b0d839144b72b5f5dae893a686d3

(602)

on April 23, 2013
at 06:01 PM

Compared to the SAD, which is actually EXTREMELY high (low quality) carb, even high carb paleo is low carb. Even if you are eating lots of fruit and sweet potatoes, a guy who is having those foods with a bunch of bread 3 times a day with chips and crackers between meals washed down with soda is going to consider you low carb.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 05:18 PM

I am all for people doing what works best for them. If I implied that everybody should do it one way or the other that was not my intent. My question was not why is paleo low carb (because it doesn't have to be) but why do so many people assume it is.

1
33d508b09cc22b95807ae027a0ac3473

on April 22, 2013
at 03:20 PM

When I switched to Paleo, for me it was EXTREMELY low carb, compared to what I was eating before (bagels for breakfast, pizza or sandwiches for lunch, freely grazing on baked goods in the break room at work, crackers in the afternoon when I was crashing). Even though I ate tons of fruit at first, and never counted carbs, or even thought about carbs as I made the switch, I had major carb withdrawals at first, and felt weird as shit without my usual dietary staples.

Maybe many of you weren't really carb addicts to begin with, so the change wasn't as drastic or noticeable for you.

8634d4988ced45a68e2a79e69cc01835

(1617)

on April 22, 2013
at 04:53 PM

Same with me. As a vegetarian, I ate LOADS of breads and crackers! Meat, fruit, nuts, and veggies are low(er) carb than that junk, but not truly LC or VLC. I exercise to much to do very low carb. It always bites me in the ass if I do too low carb for too long.

1
86c97b2779feab3c330f5e1c5fea7e25

(2312)

on April 22, 2013
at 03:13 PM

They want to lose weight...low carb has been highly touted as on of the best weight loss tools...so they eat low carb.

I personally did low carb when I was trying to shed some pounds, now I eat tons of yams, fruit, etc

1
06bf7b92d77f1ac1d8e3dc9d539d8254

on April 22, 2013
at 02:25 PM

The Paleo diet by default is and always has been extremely low carb. Those of us that have been following for a few years have seem some strides made, but when I first discovered Paleo it was as if carbs were made out of devil's flesh. Some gurus have softened on the issue, but some people that are just finding the diet are naturally going to follow the progression of low carb, feeling awesome, feeling awesome crash, questioning everything, reworking their plan and ultimately eating plenty of carbs again.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 02:33 PM

Perhaps that is where I missed the boat on plaeo, my introduction to paleo wasn't that it was VLC, only that it was very low inflammatory carbs.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on April 22, 2013
at 06:38 PM

It has always irked me that paleo was sold as a package that bore little resemblance to how paleos ate and lived. Having read a lot in the last 5 years on ancestral cultures, it irks me even more. Dietary supplements? Butter eating? Sedentary lifestyle? It still has its cult-like quirks but a lot of them are going away.

1
048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

on April 22, 2013
at 01:58 PM

I think that it is because people who has ended in Paleo is searching for the ultimate healthy diet and this may have to do a lot with low carb. Today the paradigm trend on macros seems to have shifted with most people advocating for low carb diets vs high carb, so I think its pretty normal that people end in a paleo style + low carb diet and tie the two together.

Evolutionary evidence seems to point that the most usual food used for the human was animal flesh and that carbs make a small amount of the food. Carbs are difficult to get naturally on winter and fall on many places on the earth so going seasonally without carbs seems like a feat we should be able to accomplish and we might be supposed to work like this. Even if we could have plenty of available carbs, the amount we should get I guess it could be considered low carb compared to how we eat today (massive amounts of sugar).

So in the end I think it all makes some sense.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 22, 2013
at 02:03 PM

True, when you compare the amount of carbs in the SAD paleo can look pretty low carb.

1deaea445ff3b1cb5d1354a043dc8fb7

(275)

on April 22, 2013
at 03:10 PM

the evolutionary evidence or at least that which cordain and eaton present, in terms of unchanged populations, is that they DID NOT eat low carb: not below 22% some as high as 40%, eskimos are one of the only low carb populations and they live in such an extreme climate in is not applicable.

0
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on April 22, 2013
at 03:09 PM

People think of it as synonomous with low carb because all the familiar carb sources are inflammatory neolithic foods. There's not that terribly much carbwise in the modern world that's not neolithic.

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