5

votes

What is your opinion of the "Island Paleo" diet?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 14, 2011 at 3:52 AM

Let me define Island Paleo first:

You are stranded on a desert island. The island is small, and variety in foods is limited. Amazingly, this island seems to fit all the stereotypes one would see in a "Lost" sort of island. Namingly, you have access to fish, coconuts, fruit, and spring water.

I had a thought to recommend this type of diet to two sorts of people: recent vegans/vegetarians, and those who do well with limited foods when trying to lose weight.

On the positive side, it is sooooooo simple. Steam some fish, add some form of coconut, have fruit for desert. Maybe some veggie or herbs to add flavor or use as wrapping. Hundreds of fictional characters have survived this diet and had their amazing stories told. Tom Hanks, John Locke, Joe Kitava, etc etc. The cast of Survivor always has some dude who loses a ton of weight with this diet (duh, there's not much food around and not too many things to choose from).

Here are potential cons I can see. First, there is not much variety. The importance of variety is debatable. Lowering toxin load is a real thing, but might not be a big deal with these foods. One can easily get a variety of phytochemicals by eating different fruits. The second thing is that eating a ton of fruit might not be great if you are metabolically broken. Some paleohackers might not think it's great even if you're healthy. Third...is there too much omega 3 and not omega 6 in this diet? What a crazy problem to have. I'm assuming here that spearing the local boar is too unpredictable and dangerous and will lead to a Lord of the Flies type incident, and that tubers are hard to find for the time being. Leading to problem number four: is it hard to get enough calories eating the Island Paleo diet? Tubers usually would be a great source of calories, as would fatty red meat and associated marrow and stuff. I guess you could make fish jerky to keep around?

So anyway...thoughts on Island Paleo?

36b7a2776d028dc8d5743e2e56ece34d

(812)

on July 14, 2011
at 07:19 PM

Oh alright in that case you could pretty much survive off anything until someone found you.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 06:15 PM

I heard that Christian Bale force-fed himself for American Psycho, then ate something crazy like crackers only for The Machinist. He seems to be very good at controlling food intake.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 05:52 PM

Nutritiondata.com says a serving of coconut has 0.165 grams of omega 6 and no omega 3. The Island Diet seems to be quite low in PUFA.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 05:50 PM

Good point on the relative lack of food. But this is a fictional diet for a recent castaway--civilizations that develop on islands would no doubt find starch.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 14, 2011
at 05:37 PM

M - I couldn't see the booty to confirm since that's the only way I can pick you out of a line-up

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on July 14, 2011
at 05:10 PM

with the highest of regards and is generally only eaten during feasts (such as weddings and village gatherings - which tend to happen at the end of every lunar cycle)."

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on July 14, 2011
at 05:10 PM

That's a great post, thank you. Here's another good quote: "For an island nation, fish isn't eaten as much as one might think. Whether this has always been the case or relatively recent, I am unsure. Some fishing is done in parts on most days (such as Tanna Island, where we witnessed the teenage boys spending most of the day on the reef fishing), but in other parts, they only tend to fish a couple of days per week. This is possibly due to the availability of chicken and beef, which is available in abundance throughout most of the islands. Pig is held [Continued]

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on July 14, 2011
at 04:46 PM

@Kamal, saw your comment to Ben about non-cold-water fish having less omega 3. Another thing I was thinking: linoleic acid is actually an *essential* fatty acid, which means as you know that our bodies can't make it. (Ironic for us, since we get too much of it.) According to Wikipedia coconut *does* have LA.

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on July 14, 2011
at 04:16 PM

that's interesting.......sounds gross.

1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:43 PM

needs starch, i adore hawaiian purple potatoes

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:41 PM

"Some days little to no meat is eaten at all... but coconut milk is always eaten, every day, and several times per day. They have no concept of carbs, proteins, and fats - they just eat food, and very much the same food day in, day out."

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:40 PM

Lots of gems in there..."On the topic of nutrition and nutritionism, it was often quite a source of humor telling the villagers what job I do. I couldn't say I was a nutritionist - they just simply didn't know what one is (which is a good thing, me thinks). I explained my job as being someone who shows others how to eat healthy food. They thought it was hilarious that I needed to do such a thing."

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:19 PM

ill choose the fishing net over the wooden spear when i win the first challenge.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:18 PM

A - is it blurry enough for you to believe I am the blonde in the bikini?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:17 PM

Survivor- Team Paleo vs Team Vegan?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:15 PM

On second thought, omega-3 overload might not be a big problem. Desert islands always seem to be near the equator, in warm waters where fish isn't as oily. If I remember correctly, salmon needs all that PUFA in order to live in cold water without freezing.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 14, 2011
at 02:43 PM

@Meredith - the new picture is awesome, but too blurry

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 14, 2011
at 02:42 PM

@Kamal - I hope that is not near Derkaderkastan?

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 14, 2011
at 01:40 PM

Kamal - I think the negative ions are good too - they promote proliferation of good gut bacteria as well as super human epigenectic expression.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 14, 2011
at 01:07 PM

if nothing else 'LOST' has taught us a few survival skills (minus the long shelf life boxed, canned goods they had access to)

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 14, 2011
at 12:28 PM

I want to move here. Are there women on this island yet? Or do I have to wait for a later season?

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 14, 2011
at 11:08 AM

I have no experience, but I figure if Tom Hanks can do it, any of us Hackers would master it easily :-)

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:24 AM

And you are alone. At first that is. Then one paleohacker is added every week until a new nation is formed--Paleogyzstan.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:21 AM

I totally forgot about earthing! Don't forget the negative ions from waves crashing...

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:18 AM

But serious question here-- is omega-3 overload an issue for those that temporarily have to live on fish alone? It seems the issue would be even more extreme than for Inuit. Outside of easier bleeding, I wonder if you would not heal so well.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:16 AM

Paul and Melissa are both right-- I guess you would have access to starch in to form of certain unripe fruits. But there is no underground source of starch to be found on this Hollywood island for the time-being. Things like tubers come later, as the plot unfolds (as do mysterious visitors, radio batteries, etc etc)

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:10 AM

Is it possible to spear a fish with just a wooden spear, or would one need to attach a stone tip? Actually, attaching stuff securely might be difficult too.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 14, 2011
at 08:45 AM

Re: postscript- I have *heard* that actors who gain weight for a role generally *one* food into their regular diet that can easily be cut out after filming in order to lose the weight again. For example, supposedly Jared Leto drank a pint of melted icecream mixed w olive oil every day (which was so gross, he easily cut it out), and Rene Zellwegger supposedly ate Krispie Kreams.

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on July 14, 2011
at 06:18 AM

coconut fibre will make a net to catch fish, and it is worth putting the effort in to reap the rewards afterwards, eat the coconuts whilst you are making the net.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on July 14, 2011
at 05:37 AM

Fish are "easily" speared, eh? I have done a fair amount of spear-fishing -- not as easy as you might think, especially if you have to live on them.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on July 14, 2011
at 04:45 AM

Although as a serious question: on any island big enough to have coconuts (which presumably floated there -- a lot of islands in the Pacific are relatively new, because they've been formed by reefs surrounding seamounts, etc.) would there also be these other starches?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on July 14, 2011
at 04:43 AM

No, no, Melissa, it's a *Hollywood* island -- no starch on the Hollywood island.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 14, 2011
at 04:34 AM

is there an island culture that doesn't consume starch? interesting question. I don't know of any.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 14, 2011
at 04:33 AM

you also have access to starch. Breadfruit, yams, plantains, etc.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 14, 2011
at 04:18 AM

I'd be looking to eat the fat kid. What was his name? Piggy, right? Good book.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on July 14, 2011
at 04:18 AM

Here's a comment by KGH that I always remembered for some reason (there are a number of small comments by him that really sank in -- you know, when you've just started paleo you're impressionable (a good thing when KGH is your reading material)): http://www.archevore.com/qa-and-testimonials/2009/6/27/click-on-comments-to-post.html#comment4750926

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 14, 2011
at 04:16 AM

I'd be looking to eat the fat kid.

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6 Answers

4
D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 14, 2011
at 04:13 AM

Based on the health of the Kitavans, Island Paleo clearly works. To address each of your points

1) As per Stephan Guyenet's Food Reward Series and the benefits of monotony, I see this not as merely tolerable, but arguably desirable, particularly if one is coming from a place of metabolic derangement and the associated obesity of such derangement.

2) The avoidance of gluten, excess omega-6 and other neolithic toxins hopefully outweighs the fructose load. Since this is a hypothetical, I will assume that on your island, fruits have not been bred for unnaturally high levels of sweetness and therefore the fructose load will be relatively low compared to those of us shopping at Trader Joes

3) Crazy indeed

4) Fish are easily speared. Coconuts and fruits don't fight back (notwithstanding the risks of climbing the trees). As long as population growth is constrained by natural resources, then supply will level out with demand - http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2007/06/living-on-isolated-island-of-kitava.html

Is this island accessible as part of a 3 hour tour?

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on July 14, 2011
at 06:18 AM

coconut fibre will make a net to catch fish, and it is worth putting the effort in to reap the rewards afterwards, eat the coconuts whilst you are making the net.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 14, 2011
at 11:08 AM

I have no experience, but I figure if Tom Hanks can do it, any of us Hackers would master it easily :-)

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:10 AM

Is it possible to spear a fish with just a wooden spear, or would one need to attach a stone tip? Actually, attaching stuff securely might be difficult too.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on July 14, 2011
at 05:37 AM

Fish are "easily" speared, eh? I have done a fair amount of spear-fishing -- not as easy as you might think, especially if you have to live on them.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:19 PM

ill choose the fishing net over the wooden spear when i win the first challenge.

2
F3fc2e0a9577e7e481a387d917904d1e

(1070)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:26 PM

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:40 PM

Lots of gems in there..."On the topic of nutrition and nutritionism, it was often quite a source of humor telling the villagers what job I do. I couldn't say I was a nutritionist - they just simply didn't know what one is (which is a good thing, me thinks). I explained my job as being someone who shows others how to eat healthy food. They thought it was hilarious that I needed to do such a thing."

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on July 14, 2011
at 05:10 PM

That's a great post, thank you. Here's another good quote: "For an island nation, fish isn't eaten as much as one might think. Whether this has always been the case or relatively recent, I am unsure. Some fishing is done in parts on most days (such as Tanna Island, where we witnessed the teenage boys spending most of the day on the reef fishing), but in other parts, they only tend to fish a couple of days per week. This is possibly due to the availability of chicken and beef, which is available in abundance throughout most of the islands. Pig is held [Continued]

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:41 PM

"Some days little to no meat is eaten at all... but coconut milk is always eaten, every day, and several times per day. They have no concept of carbs, proteins, and fats - they just eat food, and very much the same food day in, day out."

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on July 14, 2011
at 05:10 PM

with the highest of regards and is generally only eaten during feasts (such as weddings and village gatherings - which tend to happen at the end of every lunar cycle)."

2
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 14, 2011
at 12:27 PM

I think fish, coconuts, fruit, and clean water are all you need to be completely healthy.

I think you???re wise to use this as a possible point-of-entry, or whatever, for recovering vegetarians.

As to the potential cons:

  1. I don???t think variety, in this pristine environment, is a problem.
  2. I would agree that if the subject is metabolically broken then fruit may not be great. But for normal people I don???t see it being an issue. Also, even for the met broken homies, I think that, given that the rest of their diet will from the starting point onward be pristine, their metabolic issues will slowly ameliorate.
  3. I???m not too sure on the n3/6 thing. I don???t think this particular diet you lay out would cause problems but branching out from your topic to certain segments of the paleocult (that I think I may occasionally fall into) I would say that for the strictest among us there could be a possibility of having an unhealthy ratio of n3:n6, skewed too heavily towards the 3s.
  4. Even without the mighty tubers (which I love and consume heavily) I do not think it would be a problem to achieve some sort of maintenance calories. Do I think it???d be easy to hit the 3-5k mark for the seemingly growing mass-gainer segment of our P-hacks crue? No, prolly not. But to just live, live well, maintain more-then-enough lean mass, be active and happy ??? yes I think you could easily get that amount of kcals.

If you make this a show or something I???m down, I???ll go.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:15 PM

On second thought, omega-3 overload might not be a big problem. Desert islands always seem to be near the equator, in warm waters where fish isn't as oily. If I remember correctly, salmon needs all that PUFA in order to live in cold water without freezing.

2
33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on July 14, 2011
at 06:25 AM

You seen Castaway haven't you? I would rather have a castaway Tom Hanks than a UPS freight worker Tom Hanks anyday and I wouldn't complain if he slept on the floor.

Seriously though, this is a headline from the film:

"Cast Away: Tom Hanks loses 40 pounds on crabs & coconuts diet"

what-is-your-opinion-of-the-

(no offense to UPS workers there, you have to see the film)

p.s. in searching for this image I came across this site. WOW, look at these actors, what the hell did Christian Bale do to get that thin, and that heavy? that is dedication to a movie roll for you.......

EDIT: oops I have just seen your mention of Tom Hanks in the question there Kamal, sorry, should have read it through completely.. Oh well, you got a pic of him thrown into the mix as a bonus and I just had a great half hour thinking of men on desert islands.......

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on July 14, 2011
at 08:45 AM

Re: postscript- I have *heard* that actors who gain weight for a role generally *one* food into their regular diet that can easily be cut out after filming in order to lose the weight again. For example, supposedly Jared Leto drank a pint of melted icecream mixed w olive oil every day (which was so gross, he easily cut it out), and Rene Zellwegger supposedly ate Krispie Kreams.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 06:15 PM

I heard that Christian Bale force-fed himself for American Psycho, then ate something crazy like crackers only for The Machinist. He seems to be very good at controlling food intake.

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on July 14, 2011
at 04:16 PM

that's interesting.......sounds gross.

2
0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 14, 2011
at 04:46 AM

Disclaimer - no science, just fantasy (island????)!

The food part will probably take care of itself. I mean our ancestors probably did not debate what was optimal, they just bolted what was ripe = fruit, coconut goodness!

Circadian rhythms would be optimal (ever go backpacking for a week, nighty night time comes at dark, what else ya' gonna do - wink wink wink?).

Camaraderie - are we stranded alone or with fellow hackers? I assume I am not alone in thinking this kind of companionship would be very tolerable.

Optimal Vit D Status - lots of sunbathing...nice.

Are we bare foot? Then hell to the yeah - earthing vibrations and all! Lots of positive biophotons.

Is this something we can sign up for yet? Let me know.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 14, 2011
at 02:42 PM

@Kamal - I hope that is not near Derkaderkastan?

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 14, 2011
at 03:18 PM

A - is it blurry enough for you to believe I am the blonde in the bikini?

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 14, 2011
at 05:37 PM

M - I couldn't see the booty to confirm since that's the only way I can pick you out of a line-up

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on July 14, 2011
at 02:43 PM

@Meredith - the new picture is awesome, but too blurry

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:24 AM

And you are alone. At first that is. Then one paleohacker is added every week until a new nation is formed--Paleogyzstan.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 14, 2011
at 01:40 PM

Kamal - I think the negative ions are good too - they promote proliferation of good gut bacteria as well as super human epigenectic expression.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 10:21 AM

I totally forgot about earthing! Don't forget the negative ions from waves crashing...

1
36b7a2776d028dc8d5743e2e56ece34d

on July 14, 2011
at 04:42 PM

Kitavans never ate a diet like you describe. Their diet is based on sweet potatoes(which are more like potatoes since they aren't sweet). Most islanders base their diet on starch, with some using coconut. I read a journal speculating humans wouldn't be able to live in the tropics without agriculture because there isn't enough food for us to access.

36b7a2776d028dc8d5743e2e56ece34d

(812)

on July 14, 2011
at 07:19 PM

Oh alright in that case you could pretty much survive off anything until someone found you.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on July 14, 2011
at 05:50 PM

Good point on the relative lack of food. But this is a fictional diet for a recent castaway--civilizations that develop on islands would no doubt find starch.

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