4

votes

How modular is paleo? Any parts particularly bad to take "out of context"?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 14, 2013 at 6:21 AM

I'm digging this community's inclusiveness. There are people who are interested in "pure" paleo, ketogenic diets, celiac, FODMAP, intermittent fasting, all sorts of stuff, and they're sharing ideas and celebrating common principles rather than starting holy wars.

That said, are there any ways in which you think paleo does need to be taken all as one piece?

For example, if someone were to switch from PUFAs to saturated fat, but still get 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, would you expect them to get partial benefits, or none at all? What about someone who eats a paleo-style macronutrient distribution, but their carbs are high-GI wheat products? Someone who avoids wheat and dairy, but eats lots of legumes?

To be specific, I'm interested in these questions:

  • Are there any elements of the paleo diet that require other paleo elements in order to produce any benefits at all?

  • Are there ones that you'd recommend for anyone, even if they're otherwise eating the SAD?

  • (Most interesting:) Are there any elements that would actually become harmful if taken out of the paleo context and used with an otherwise ordinary SAD?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 15, 2013
at 01:31 AM

I've seen that statement made before, Mscott, at the time the argument/data made sense. Saturated fat isn't all rainbows and unicorns good... particularly when in a SAD.

4bd4e2fe6a095663f80c69656936e487

(744)

on March 15, 2013
at 01:26 AM

Paleo is not a system. It's just a basic notion, that people should eat more like our ancestors. From that idea, the diets developed can vary widely, as people have different ideas of what our ancestors ate.

800e726cb5dff569fd8edf604c3e2793

(1655)

on March 14, 2013
at 08:11 PM

I think the problem is mainly empirical -- people who eat high-carb high-fat (and so necessarily low-protein) tend to end up with worse health, notably the metabolic syndrome. I'm not sure there's a simple mechanism to explain that, but purely as a practical matter I would be very suspicious of such a diet. I guess ease of overeating is part of that, too.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 14, 2013
at 07:41 PM

What is the problem with high fat / high carb? Is it just that sweet food + high caloric density makes it easy to take in too many calories in total? I've always assumed that ice cream was preferable to an isocaloric amount of pure sugar, since the fat should keep the GI down a little and help keep your blood sugar from going quite as wild.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 14, 2013
at 07:33 PM

Are you saying that high carb eating affects saturated fat in different ways from unsaturated fat, making it less rather than more healthy? Or just that there needs to be replacement in terms of total calories, so that you're not adding fat in a way that hugely increases your energy intake?

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 14, 2013
at 07:32 PM

Are you saying you think replacing high O6 seed oils with coconut oil or another saturated fat source could be problematic to someone eating a SAD diet?

A3c56c85290f748410a6f340ddd552b3

(321)

on March 14, 2013
at 06:17 PM

Excellent question.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 14, 2013
at 05:29 PM

My parents are old-school Appalachians. They don't care about health at all, but as long as it tastes the same and it's kosher, they are willing to eat whatever I put in it. All my new dishes, I keep the oil choice in mind, but for their old favorites, they aren't willing to sacrifice the treasured taste.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 14, 2013
at 05:26 PM

I no longer use coconut oil myself, olive oil goes in everything, extra virgin at that. Fries, bakes, even "sweet" things... I guess I like EVOO flavor though. :)

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 14, 2013
at 05:20 PM

Not scared :) I do cook with it where it works, like for roasting veggies and frying chicken, but for their main uses of oil it just won't work - mostly fried potatoes. I still use canola oil to make their cornbread, since I don't eat it anyway, and olive oil wouldn't work for that and I don't want to waste coconut oil or add more saturated fat to their diet under the circumstances. They don't really eat that much meat, and what they do eat is mostly chicken and turkey. My father's blood lipids are still quite healthy, so hopefully it's not harming them.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 14, 2013
at 03:46 PM

Luckie: olive oil seems like the perfect solution. Cook with it, don't let them scaremongers tell you not to.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 14, 2013
at 03:25 PM

Yeah, I'm having this problem with my family. Coconut oil has become our go-to, but they're still eating tons of wheat and sugar. I won't eat their canola for health reasons, they won't eat my bacon fat for religious reasons, and one person hates butter (though that's still saturated). Not sure how to fix this, but since they don't care about what they eat anyway, I'm going to leave it as their problem.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on March 14, 2013
at 01:00 PM

This is the number one thing to me as well. I see people at Costco with freezer bags of cheeseburgers and tacquitos, and a gallon of coconut oil Aack!

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

6 Answers

best answer

2
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 14, 2013
at 12:16 PM

  1. Simply going to natural food sources eliminates most of the hyperpalatable foods so it's not possible to do one without the other. Other than that the "Paleo" components can be used individually or separately as fits your lifestyle and activity level. As an example, my macros are around 50% Fat, 30% Protein, 20% Carbs, I include dairy, I IF a couple of times a week (coincident with lifting fasted), etc. -- That is what works for me.

  2. Eliminate Sugar and Hyperpalatable foods. If you remove those and still have bread on your sandwich or pasta a couple nights a week, you will be much healthier.

  3. Going high fat requires the removal of hyperpalatable foods. If you are going high fat, and still downing Oreos, Pringles, and Cheetos you will suffer.

4
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 14, 2013
at 12:24 PM

Switching to saturated fat only while keeping carbohydrates/sugar high is a recipe for diabetes, likely even worse than SAD... simply adding coconut oil to a crappy diet actually makes it worse. There has to be replacement. Saturated fat is only good in the context of a low(ish) carbohydrate diet. There's a reason saturated fat is associated with all sorts of disease states.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 15, 2013
at 01:31 AM

I've seen that statement made before, Mscott, at the time the argument/data made sense. Saturated fat isn't all rainbows and unicorns good... particularly when in a SAD.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on March 14, 2013
at 01:00 PM

This is the number one thing to me as well. I see people at Costco with freezer bags of cheeseburgers and tacquitos, and a gallon of coconut oil Aack!

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 14, 2013
at 03:25 PM

Yeah, I'm having this problem with my family. Coconut oil has become our go-to, but they're still eating tons of wheat and sugar. I won't eat their canola for health reasons, they won't eat my bacon fat for religious reasons, and one person hates butter (though that's still saturated). Not sure how to fix this, but since they don't care about what they eat anyway, I'm going to leave it as their problem.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 14, 2013
at 05:29 PM

My parents are old-school Appalachians. They don't care about health at all, but as long as it tastes the same and it's kosher, they are willing to eat whatever I put in it. All my new dishes, I keep the oil choice in mind, but for their old favorites, they aren't willing to sacrifice the treasured taste.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 14, 2013
at 07:33 PM

Are you saying that high carb eating affects saturated fat in different ways from unsaturated fat, making it less rather than more healthy? Or just that there needs to be replacement in terms of total calories, so that you're not adding fat in a way that hugely increases your energy intake?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 14, 2013
at 05:26 PM

I no longer use coconut oil myself, olive oil goes in everything, extra virgin at that. Fries, bakes, even "sweet" things... I guess I like EVOO flavor though. :)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 14, 2013
at 03:46 PM

Luckie: olive oil seems like the perfect solution. Cook with it, don't let them scaremongers tell you not to.

61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10490)

on March 14, 2013
at 05:20 PM

Not scared :) I do cook with it where it works, like for roasting veggies and frying chicken, but for their main uses of oil it just won't work - mostly fried potatoes. I still use canola oil to make their cornbread, since I don't eat it anyway, and olive oil wouldn't work for that and I don't want to waste coconut oil or add more saturated fat to their diet under the circumstances. They don't really eat that much meat, and what they do eat is mostly chicken and turkey. My father's blood lipids are still quite healthy, so hopefully it's not harming them.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 14, 2013
at 07:32 PM

Are you saying you think replacing high O6 seed oils with coconut oil or another saturated fat source could be problematic to someone eating a SAD diet?

3
Medium avatar

on March 14, 2013
at 07:56 PM

I think "red meat is fine" taken as "eat piles of the fattiest red meat you can find every day" could potentially be problematic. It may not even require a particularly strong genetic predisposition to iron-loading in order to for a male or post-menopausal woman to accumulate excessive amounts of iron. It took very little time indeed for my ferritin level to hit 300, and that was following 8 years with no animal products whatsoever in my diet.

The amount of saturated fat as well that many eat hasn't much precedent either. Most of hominin evolution involved the hunting of African ungulates whose fat stores are lower than those seen elsewhere in the world. The animals have little fat in prime condition but even less if it's a male during the rut, pregnant/nursing female, sick, drought-stricken animal etc. And certainly less when it's a scavenged kill. There wouldn't necessarily be negative health consequences (at least in the cases of palmitic and stearic acids) but gorging on long-chain saturated fats while trying to lose weight is a bit strange.

This seems relevant regarding the Hadza:

"Even with unusually high-powered bows, having draw weights of 45kg (100lbs) or more, and arrow points smeared with poison, individual hunters fail to kill (or scavenge) large game on 97% of all hunting days."

Our carnivore fantasies are not rooted in reality unless your direct ancestors were chillin' in the arctic.

Additionally, the near prohibition of linoleic acid in the diet is absolutely absurd and without ancestral precedent. In reality, the historic ratio is likely something on the order of 10g of LA, 10g of LNA and something like 3g of AA and 1g of DHA per day. Obviously the standard western practice of eating 20+ grams of LA and a negligible amount of the rest is detrimental, but it probably has more to do with the absence of LNA and DHA vs the presence of a lot of LA. If you took that proposed historic ratio above and doubled the LA, I doubt there would be any ill-effects. Excess unsaturated fats are selectively oxidized for energy when there is an excess, so they'd be torched in short order. People view linoleic acid as though we have no mitochondria that can burn it and no desaturase or elongase enzymes to alter it into other forms. Or they think that we have uncontrolled AA-derived eicosanoids simply because we're eating LA. LA is present in its normal form in places like skin surface lipids but is also simply a raw material, a substrate for a whole host of essential compounds; it's not some "inflammatory" boogeyman.

2
Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on March 14, 2013
at 03:15 PM

I think intense exercise is definitely one element that shouldn't be taken out of context. If you train hard on a lousy diet, you're just tearing your body down without giving it the tools to repair itself - that's worse than not breaking it down in the first place!

Things I'd recommend to everyone: vegetables. Even if you aren't absorbing all the nutrients due to malabsorption/gut irritation, they can't hurt and you'll probably get something out of them.

1
366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on March 14, 2013
at 06:44 PM

Agree with everyone above -- would not add more saturated fat to a SAD diet. But also agree that just replacing processed food with home cooked meals from high quality ingredients would help anybody.

If I was going to make just a few changes, but stick with a SAD diet, these are the things I would do, in the order of importance (IMHO, obviously)

  1. cut out all modern hybrid wheat and replace it with ancient wheat alternatives (spelt, kamut, einkorn, etc).

  2. switch all dairy to pastured sources

  3. stop using industrial seed oils as much as possible

  4. stop eating industrial meat, find sources of pastured/properly raised meats

1
800e726cb5dff569fd8edf604c3e2793

on March 14, 2013
at 04:22 PM

Elements recommended for anyone: stop eating crap out of boxes and cans. Buy non-processed food.

Harmful elements taken out of context: high-fat approach. High-fat combined with high-carb (think cakes, icecream, etc.) is not going to be good at all.

800e726cb5dff569fd8edf604c3e2793

(1655)

on March 14, 2013
at 08:11 PM

I think the problem is mainly empirical -- people who eat high-carb high-fat (and so necessarily low-protein) tend to end up with worse health, notably the metabolic syndrome. I'm not sure there's a simple mechanism to explain that, but purely as a practical matter I would be very suspicious of such a diet. I guess ease of overeating is part of that, too.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 14, 2013
at 07:41 PM

What is the problem with high fat / high carb? Is it just that sweet food + high caloric density makes it easy to take in too many calories in total? I've always assumed that ice cream was preferable to an isocaloric amount of pure sugar, since the fat should keep the GI down a little and help keep your blood sugar from going quite as wild.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!