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Which approach to paleo eating is better: "broad-to-narrow" or "narrow-to-broad"?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 27, 2012 at 7:58 PM

I'm just full of questions today.

There seem to be many different approaches to the paleo diet, and I love that it can be customized to individualized needs. That being said, I am curious as to whether a "broad to narrow" plan of action is more affective than one that is "narrow to broad", or vice versa.

This might be confusing to some people, so let me clarify.

A broad-to-narrow approach would begin with a focus on eating real high-quality foods while excluding NADs. There might not be too much of an emphasis on macro-nutrient ratios, supplementation, or meal frequency in the beginning. As time progresses, the individual could then choose to further "hack" at his or her lifestyle and implement different strategies to accomplish whatever their individualized goals might be.

A narrow-to-broad approach involves the exact opposite. The individual starts on a strict protocol (for example Dr. Kruse's Leptin reset, or something similar) that proscribes a specific set of parameters that is very detailed and involves multiple facets of diet and nutrition. Once the individual has followed this protocol for a period of time, they may choose to re-introduce certain foods into their diet (increase carbohydrates, add back dairy, etc.) perhaps because this strict phase helped their body heal.

What are your thoughts on these approaches? Do you think one is better than the other? Why? Please consider the fact that the success of these plans is measured not only in their ability to heal disease/promote well-being, but also in the rate of compliance. A diet could be perfect, but if it is nearly impossible to stick to it, it's value goes down significantly

Ec6e6cb0bee067776433dea987d6c844

on February 27, 2012
at 08:59 PM

I think it would be up to the individual. Certainly, the conditions you listed I would see as health issues. As far as simply not being optimally healthy- I guess it would depend on the person and how they saw it.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on February 27, 2012
at 08:14 PM

How would you define "underlying health issues"? Would it have to be a diagnosis as serious as celiac, crones, hashimotos, etc. or would the average overweight/low-energy person qualify?

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4 Answers

1
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 27, 2012
at 08:17 PM

Somewhere back a long time ago I read somewhere that the best exercise for you is the kind you'll do regularly. I.e., compliance is key. I think this applies to diet as well. But your situation also matters.

So I think that, in general, the best approach is the one you're going to keep doing for a long while, because dropping it in a couple of weeks certainly won't help. So for many "broad-to-narrow" is a good start.

But if you have a specific health issue you're trying to address, "narrow-to-broad" may work much better. And if you wind up noticing real improvements as a result of the narrow approach, the compliance will likely take care of itself.

1
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 27, 2012
at 08:08 PM

I view it as proscriptive versus prescriptive. Take the approach of Dr. Kurt Harris or Dr. Terry Wahls as examples.

Dr. Harris merely says what to avoid in the broadest terms, whilst Dr. Wahls has you munching on platefuls of very specific veggies (3 cups brassicas, 3 cups green leafies...)

The Dr. Harris approach is easier and probably very effective for 80-95% of the population. but if you are really sick (ie. MS) you may need to go further and do something very specific. Of course, we don't know if just being paleo would have been good enough for Dr. Wahls, but anyone can self experiment and find out what works best for them.

0
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 27, 2012
at 09:44 PM

I think I'm misunderstanding your question despite the level of detail provided, because I want to answer "broad to broader." In this instance, I'm not trying to be difficult although I am capable of such with my family. :-))

I started with the elimination of NADs as outlined in your broad to narrow definition, but I've steadily increased my rotation of whole foods to include some I'd never eaten and I've even identified a list of NADs that work just fine as holiday treats without causing problems.

I was never on a narrow list of foods and it feels the widest right now that I've ever had.

0
Ec6e6cb0bee067776433dea987d6c844

on February 27, 2012
at 08:04 PM

I think much depends on circumstance. If a person has underlying health issues, narrow-to-broad is probably wise. If not, it's likely easier to do broad-to-narrow, and I'd guess that way has higher adherence.

Ec6e6cb0bee067776433dea987d6c844

on February 27, 2012
at 08:59 PM

I think it would be up to the individual. Certainly, the conditions you listed I would see as health issues. As far as simply not being optimally healthy- I guess it would depend on the person and how they saw it.

1dcfcebc5f36408d121f124a78292d42

(1295)

on February 27, 2012
at 08:14 PM

How would you define "underlying health issues"? Would it have to be a diagnosis as serious as celiac, crones, hashimotos, etc. or would the average overweight/low-energy person qualify?

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