3

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Return of the Paleo Jedi

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 07, 2013 at 12:44 AM

Who will be the paleo luminary who tips paleo into mainstream culture? Is it even possible or even desirable? Do you care, as a paleo eater?

The reason I ask is this: the other day, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with a member of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Committee. Between sounding like a bumbling fool and espousing saturated fat benefits, I managed to get lost in the science. In other words, she knew way more science than me, because she is a biochemist extraordinaire. Her knowledge of enzymes and pathways overwhelmed my simple views on oxidation and fatty acids, and I had to concede some important points.

But...I know there are paleo people out there who can handle their own both scientifically and charismatically. Sisson is crowd friendly and knowledgable, for example. Robb Wolf is young and tied into the crossfit crowd, with a biochem background. Kurt Harris is a straight shooter with a medical degree. Stephan Guyenet is knowlegable neuroscientist and doesn't ruffle feathers.

The tipping point (sorry for the hackneyed language) could come from another best-selling book, from a researcher publishing a landmark study, or from some unknown way. Who do you think can do it?

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on April 09, 2011
at 10:33 AM

His book was just not good though. Errors and sloppy editing.

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on April 09, 2011
at 07:51 AM

"Taubes was strangely Owen-Wilson like in manner and appearance" OMG Kamal, what a fantastic observation! HAHAHAHA! xD

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on April 08, 2011
at 04:40 PM

I think RW is the guy but I wish he'd get a good copyeditor. His content is great, but the sheer number of typos and grammatical errors in TPS is really distracting, and diminishes his credibility in the eyes of anybody who doesn't know him already.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 08, 2011
at 04:23 PM

'it ain't no thang like a "crunchy sweetened popped-up corn cereal" thang.' Whoo, that's funny!

9cfa1ab909f6f89544be665d4ef6e3ea

on April 08, 2011
at 12:25 PM

It sounds like you lost a fight and are looking for someone who can successfully beat up the person who beat you up.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 07, 2011
at 11:52 PM

Dr. K- yes, she is a pure scientist with an epidemiological bent, and that population can be a bit far removed from the fast pace of clinical un-published evidence.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 07, 2011
at 11:51 PM

Resurgent: I can't unfortunately, because she was talking pathways. I brought up a paper showing that dietary fat intake significantly changes cell membrane composition in a short time period depending on the fatty acid saturation, and another paper correlating adipose fatty acid content with plaque content. She was talking about the similarity of membranes between different people, the dependence of the membrane on exogenous factors other than dietary fatty acid content, and pathways of plaque oxidation.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 07, 2011
at 11:45 PM

biochemists dont know clinical medicine.....and that is where the rubber meets the Road. the tipping point is going to come from a clinician with results

A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

(3895)

on April 07, 2011
at 11:41 PM

kamal, is it possible to get the details of the references she quoted, that had you dumbfounded.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 07, 2011
at 11:03 PM

Yeah, although it is really a challenge to the paleo practitioner. If you want to get involved in public debate with science-y people, you better know your biochem! 40 years of publication bias stacks the deck quite heavily against paleo when it comes to quantity of evidence.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 07, 2011
at 09:04 PM

As a rule I think it's pretty easy for people to blind others with science, it's easy to make assertions (with the right mix of hand-waving and arrogance) that the other person can't disprove until they've gone and looked up the reference and seen than it's rubbish- such is the way with empirical disciplines.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:53 PM

Hehe, okay then. You know if there is all of this amazing evidence for saturated fat killing you dead you would think that the USDA would just publish something on it isn't of this cholesterol pseudo-science. Palmitic acid does have some pathological properties but as Robb Wolf writes, the solution to palmitic acid is not a low fat diet but a paleo fat diet. Eating a high carb diet you will just turn much of it into palmitic acid for later use. Eating paleo fats is the way to have the least palmitic acid.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:44 PM

I also agree. Also, youth is on his side. Every year is a new opportunity to bring sheep into the fold. (wrong analogy)

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:39 PM

She said a lot that was over my head. Gary Taubes came to talk at our school, and I asked both of them questions. Taubes was strangely Owen-Wilson like in manner and appearance, by the way. She responded to my supposition that saturated fat is not harmful by talkinga about enzymes of which I knew not. I countered with examples of papers about saturated fat and plaques. She countered with some things I again knew not of.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:39 PM

Agreed. Dr. Harris is knowledgeable and very rational, but he isn't enough of a public teddy bear. Mark Sisson is a teddy bear and knowledgeable but not quite knowledgeable enough in the science department. Robb is the real deal.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:38 PM

Agreed. Dr. Harris is knowledgeable and very rational, but he isn't enough of a public teddy bear. Mark Sisson is a teddy bear and knowledgeable but but quite knowledgeable enough in the science department. Robb is the real deal.

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:36 PM

Totally. Overall, he's a good guy.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:30 PM

Robb Wolf said that he was going to write some more argumentative books but that he just needed a newbie one for now. What did she say about saturated fat?

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:30 PM

I agree...plus he's so down-to-earth, approachable, and generally doesn't seem like a snake oil salesman.

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6 Answers

5
A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:28 PM

I think it's Robb Wolf. His background (and his material) suggests that he has a great grasp on the science side. I'm sure studying under Dr. Cordain helped :-)

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:39 PM

Agreed. Dr. Harris is knowledgeable and very rational, but he isn't enough of a public teddy bear. Mark Sisson is a teddy bear and knowledgeable but not quite knowledgeable enough in the science department. Robb is the real deal.

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:30 PM

I agree...plus he's so down-to-earth, approachable, and generally doesn't seem like a snake oil salesman.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:38 PM

Agreed. Dr. Harris is knowledgeable and very rational, but he isn't enough of a public teddy bear. Mark Sisson is a teddy bear and knowledgeable but but quite knowledgeable enough in the science department. Robb is the real deal.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:44 PM

I also agree. Also, youth is on his side. Every year is a new opportunity to bring sheep into the fold. (wrong analogy)

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on April 07, 2011
at 08:36 PM

Totally. Overall, he's a good guy.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on April 09, 2011
at 10:33 AM

His book was just not good though. Errors and sloppy editing.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on April 08, 2011
at 04:40 PM

I think RW is the guy but I wish he'd get a good copyeditor. His content is great, but the sheer number of typos and grammatical errors in TPS is really distracting, and diminishes his credibility in the eyes of anybody who doesn't know him already.

4
84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on April 08, 2011
at 08:22 AM

1. Who will be the paleo luminary who tips paleo into mainstream culture?

I don't know honestly. We can speculate you need to be nice and shiny smiled but what about Bukowski ? I think different people reach out to different people. Zen Stephan and F Bomb Nikoley have different fanbases.

I just checked the Wikipedia article about the Atkins diet and I found it very interesting that the first book was written in 1972 but the height of popularity was in 2003/04 (and bankruptcy in 2005). Thirty years is a long one and we aren't there yet.

As for community effort, we need to start picking up celebrities and transforming them to "paleo" eaters. Kamal got dibs on Audrey Tautou and I on Emma Stone.

2. Is it even possible or even desirable?

I think it can be possible as a trend, having a peak for about a year and then declining. Some people's heads are just too hard no matter how powerful the effects of "paleo" might be. Fat makes you fat, sleep is overrated and it ain't no thang like a "crunchy sweetened popped-up corn cereal" thang.

As for desirable, hm. Mo' money, mo' problems Biggie said. Maybe it's the same with exposure. From my point of view, I don't see anything really new. Old players published books, that's good but I think that would have happened regardless of any "paleo movement growth".

My main concern is monetization of "paleo", whether through "paleo foods" or 453564 consultants who offer "JUST FOR 4.99 a month".

3. Do you care, as a paleo eater?

I would like a better and bigger selection of real foods in my area but I think mainstreaming paleo will bring 85% increase in "PaleoFoodsOhMyGodZ" with natural sweeteners and natural additives and hemp wrap and whatnot and a 15% increase in real food.

Same might happen with information. Will we get 85% new "paleo" religion leaders who will "banish you from the cave" if you'll eat potatoes and 15% good blogs ?

And in all, I'm quite happy in the underground, makes me feel special ;)

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 08, 2011
at 04:23 PM

'it ain't no thang like a "crunchy sweetened popped-up corn cereal" thang.' Whoo, that's funny!

3
A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

on April 09, 2011
at 02:01 PM

There needs to be many, not just one, if it is to ever get beyond being another fad diet in the eyes of public. It needs to get enough publicity from various sources, that people start to recognize it as a way of thinking, new approach, and not short term weight-lost solution. If it is presented in magazines as "diet of the week" it will lead to nowhere. We need more academics teaching it on a regular basis, textbook contributors, etc.

This kind of changes take time, and need many feet to stand firmly on the ground.

3
F4aff43df6a8a49a1c3879c1233ee560

(459)

on April 09, 2011
at 06:20 AM

I plan to take care of it next thursday.

On a serious note, I don't think it needs to be a single person. I tend to think of paleo through a sort of contagious disease framework. Each person who succeeds will lead to others trying, and succeeding in turn. As long as we don't get hijacked by some luminary spreading disinformation, we should grow exponentially. The key point is that it works, it is science driven and it has the conceptual flexibility to help all comers, whereas all other diets either fail or succeed with a heap of misery.

1
2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on April 09, 2011
at 08:02 AM

I think they all have different merits. I love Kurt Harris, I love his "give a **" attitude and obvious intelligence, although Robb Wolf is really like-able and clearly very knowledgeable too, I also really like Chris Kresser, and Chris Masterjohn and Evolvify, I think we're really lucky to have so many likeable AND knowledgeable "go to" people in the "Paleo world" Seriously, the list goes on. Chris Kresser obviously has the advantage of having a working practice so observationally he is fantastic. I would recommend any/all of them to anyone.

0
76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on April 09, 2011
at 01:03 PM

I have high hopes for Mat Lalonde. He's definitely got the science part down, is young and super friendly. Heck, he looks like a model. That oughta be a plus in today's world.

Definitely agreed about the Taubes/Owen Wilson connection. It's the nose and that constant smirk.

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