2

votes

Why is paleo considered low carb by default?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 02, 2011 at 6:09 AM

Also Why isn't it considered low protein by default as almost all Paleolithic people ate under 20% calories from protein but so many people now seem to promote high protein high fat ignoring this.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on July 07, 2011
at 01:52 PM

OK, maybe I was misremembering... :-)

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on July 03, 2011
at 10:38 AM

I followed the study chain and the basis for that claim is an unsourced (and thus unverifiable) statement in one study. I then looked at various animal foods carb breakdown and liver, the highest, has about 4g carb per 100g. This means you'd have to be eating something like 4.5lbs+ of liver PER DAY to get the 100g carb - basically, you'd have to eat nothing but liver. That's an obviously unsustainable eating pattern in the wild, and makes this claim even harder to believe.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on July 03, 2011
at 10:38 AM

I followed the study chain and the basic for that claim is an unsourced (and thus unverifiable) statement in one study. I then looked at various animal foods carb breakdown and liver, the highest, has about 4g carb per 100g. This means you'd have to be eating something like 4.5lbs+ of liver PER DAY to get the 100g carb - basically, you'd have to eat nothing but liver. That's an obviously unsustainable eating pattern in the wild, and makes this claim even harder to believe.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on July 03, 2011
at 10:22 AM

Well, I didn't downvote, but I would downvote if you think that low carbers eating a lot of meat are magically NOT eating glycogen. Also, the 100g+ glycogen a day sounds like a significant error - all other studies of traditional inuit cite glycogen as a trivial source of carbohydrate, not 15-20% of calories. 100g+ of glycogen is nearly a quarter pound, and you would have to eat an insane amount of meat in order to eat that much. So that claim is highly suspect.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on July 03, 2011
at 04:45 AM

@Cliff: No PRE-CONTACT Eskimo groups exist, so statements about their "HG" diet now is not pertinent, other than knowing that their *subsistence* foods today are the same as precontact, and that you cannot talk about "Eskimo" diets as being the same in the way that you cannot talk about coastal Maine and South Geogia rural agri. area diets as being the same! Southern Yupiks eat alot of salmon, coastal northern Inupiats eat very, very little.Tiny window of summer for silvers and few. S Yupiks don't hunt whales, bowhead whales are the center of N. Inupiat foodlife, along with caribou/seal/geese.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on July 03, 2011
at 04:33 AM

+1 for " people living in very different environments." Why would we ever think that the diet of Inuits in the high arctic would be like those of African continent peoples? But I *can* assure you that even just 2 and 3 generations above mine, the carb content among high arctic, coastal Inuits (Inupiats) was a good 90% protein/fat combo. Among very old elders, it is still very high. Among the younger generation: a combo of the worst of western diet plus subsistence food, heavy on the first. And in precontact times would have been ~ 99%. Snow 10 months/yr...go try and gather tiny greens in that.

627cf3f5d1ddfb4c2f4c96169420f55f

(1626)

on July 03, 2011
at 03:01 AM

Was this suppose to be a joke?

2ab6415f5f20b8fe1d34a94c7be85e6a

on July 02, 2011
at 10:51 PM

Kitavans actually do around 70% carbs, where did you get the 90% number from?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 02, 2011
at 02:52 PM

@joshua, i try to temper most of what i say because i don't yet have children. i kind of fear/am interested in the way my personal practices will change when i do have kids. What i say is of course possible for me because I'm a single guy with a job.@Rose, yes these two cultures or whatever has always been interesting to me. I found paleo through the more athletic/performance side of things, from crossfit back then. So, a lot of what i say and practice is of course colored by that. But i've learned a lot from talking on these boards with people from far different backgrounds.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on July 02, 2011
at 02:37 PM

Words of level-headed wisdom, Ben. I'm glad you enjoy talking about the phenomenon of the "two cultures"; I enjoy reading your insights.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 02:10 PM

No its not because we have absolutley no evidence of HG's subsisting on a VLC diet. I have no problem with VLC diets but they aren't paleo based on the current literature we have.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 02:03 PM

Actually Cliff, I'm not a VLC fanatic. I take offense to your dogmatic, soup-nazi stance accusing folks who choose to be VLC as "not paleo". I thrive on sub 20% carbs, but I've also lost over 100lbs following Audette's Neanderthin and eating up to 30-40% carbs in the form of *gasp!* fruit. Perhaps when my body comp changes I'll thrive on more carbs. But there are as many adaptations of "Paleo" as there are variations between HG tribes. To make a blanket statement about what paleo is or isn't, smacks of zealotry.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 01:56 PM

Wow - common sense. +1 ben. However, I will say I fall in both camps. I was/am an overweight strength athlete looking to cure myself of several ailments and improve my body composition. I lost 100lbs back in 2002 after reading Neanderthin and following Audette's diet... but gained a signifigant chunk back after becoming a dad and losing my job (basically killing my grocery budget and my time budget in one fell swoop).

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on July 02, 2011
at 01:29 PM

I dispute that paleo has to be lower carb than the standard western diet. As has been covered many times by now, many peoples clearly do very well with a diet that is around 90% carbs, like the Kitavans.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:38 PM

Eskimos also eat whale skin which is extremely high in vit C. Eating mostly meat doesn't equal eskimo no matter what anyone tells you lol

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:37 PM

Eskimos eat organ meats along with every other part of the animal. Maybe you should take a chill pill, I'm not trying to badmouth anyone. 23% isn't what HG's ate necessarily, this is just cordains percentage based on his sample diet. I'm just pointing out that a VLC diet is not paleo like the fanatics would love you to believe. I take it by your offense of the comment that you happen to be one of these fanatics...

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:29 PM

by the way, 23% is still low carb, especially compared to SAD dieters. I still sense a great amount of polarizing, badmouthing, etc... on your part... maybe your delivery could use some work?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:28 PM

It depends what people are talking about. Are they talking about actual hunter gatherer diets or made up diets based on removal of socalled neolithic foods?

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:27 PM

If VLC eaters eat mostly meat, and eskimos get their carbs from glycogen in their meat, what kind of meat are eskimos eating? Unicorns?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:24 PM

"The original published works on Paleolithic nutrition were relatively low-carb adaptations." Loren recommends against VLC diets and his diet menus in his book are 23% carbs. Maybe you guys missed the VLC part of my post?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:21 PM

Maybe instead of down votng and claiming I'm wrong based on absolutely nothing you can show me some sort of proof that what I said is false

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:20 PM

using data from the same Ethnographic Atlas, Lee (1) found that gathered vegetable foods were the primary source of subsistence for most of the hunter-gatherer societies he examined, whereas an emphasis on hunting occurred only in the highest latitudes. http://www.ajcn.org/content/71/3/665.full

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:19 PM

wow... The original paleo diet proposed by cordain and eades is not VLC, its actually pretty high in carbs. http://www.repairrecoverrestore.com/low-carb-paleo-diet-a-neolithic-fantasy/ . Alaskan Eskimos, for example, had an estimated total daily energy intake of 12552 kJ (3000 kcal): ≈50% from fat, ≈30–35% from protein, and ≈15–20% from carbohydrates, largely glycogen from meat . choosing the lower end of their estimate of 15% of the kcals from carbohydrates, this means that 450 kcals were carbs, and thus ~112.5 grams of carbs were consumed a day!!!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:17 PM

who cares what the eskimos did? This is one grouping among a globe full of people using different practices. Why focus so much on the exception. We all already know that we don't NEED carbohydrate, but that does not mean we can't, or others do not, thrive on them. Many people succeed with WOEs or exercise routines DESPITE their practices rather than BECAUSE of them.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:12 PM

Cliff I'm sorry man but this statement is not correct. The original published works on Paleolithic nutrition were relatively low-carb adaptations. Kurt Harris and Robb Wolfe's works predominantly have changed this conception, but finding a boogieman in the "low carb fanatics" is not only incorrect, but it's polarizing and demeaning.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:09 PM

You got a source for that "20% calories from protein" factoid?

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on July 02, 2011
at 11:58 AM

Do you have any evidence at all for your claim that eskimos eat 115g carb per day? Everything I've ever read disputes this, including accounts of how the eskimo used plants in their diet.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 10:02 AM

tubers? The unnatural carbs are paleo...

Frontpage book

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

7 Answers

best answer

4
6dcaa5ac2e962798a2e1650335ba0342

(143)

on July 02, 2011
at 06:52 AM

People consider paleo 'low carb' simply because it has lower carbohydrate levels than the typical Western diet. For example 2 slices of bread has around 30g carbs, a small serving of pasta has over 50g carbs. Compare this to say spinach which has 1.1g carbs per cup, tomatoes have around 7.1g per cup.

Those who eat paleo avoid these un-natural carb dense foods (breads, pasta, rice etc) and instead we eat the natural carbohydrates which come in veggies. It is not us who are 'low-carb', we are just eating naturally...If anything it is those on the Western diet that are on a un-natural 'high carb' diet!!

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 10:02 AM

tubers? The unnatural carbs are paleo...

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on July 02, 2011
at 01:29 PM

I dispute that paleo has to be lower carb than the standard western diet. As has been covered many times by now, many peoples clearly do very well with a diet that is around 90% carbs, like the Kitavans.

2ab6415f5f20b8fe1d34a94c7be85e6a

on July 02, 2011
at 10:51 PM

Kitavans actually do around 70% carbs, where did you get the 90% number from?

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on July 07, 2011
at 01:52 PM

OK, maybe I was misremembering... :-)

3
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:15 PM

We???ve definitely been over this before on paleohacks (that search engine really does work well), but I???m game:

Firstly I???d say there is a general association of paleo as being ???low-carb??? simply because it is relatively lower in carbohydrate most of the time as compared to SAD.

Secondly (and this is the meaty part that I have posted before about and enjoy talking about), paleo is a somewhat unique (oh I kinda hate when people use ???unique??? incorrectly but eff it) phenomenon since it really does draw two very distinct crowds: athletic individuals looking to just live better and perhaps improve performance and then people who are or may have been metabolically damaged, overweight, etc. looking to either lose weight or find novel ways of maintaining their current weight. No, of course they are not mutually exclusive.

In many respects these two loose groupings of people will have different applications of the basic paleo tenet: AVOID GRAINS LEGUMES DAIRY. As regards this thread, that difference would prolly be found in the amount of carbohydrates (particularly I believe, starch) they consume.

As regards your supplemental question about protein-intake I???d say there is clearly not enough evidence about the myriads of ancestral peoples??? consumption practices for your ???20%??? reference.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:28 PM

It depends what people are talking about. Are they talking about actual hunter gatherer diets or made up diets based on removal of socalled neolithic foods?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 02, 2011
at 02:52 PM

@joshua, i try to temper most of what i say because i don't yet have children. i kind of fear/am interested in the way my personal practices will change when i do have kids. What i say is of course possible for me because I'm a single guy with a job.@Rose, yes these two cultures or whatever has always been interesting to me. I found paleo through the more athletic/performance side of things, from crossfit back then. So, a lot of what i say and practice is of course colored by that. But i've learned a lot from talking on these boards with people from far different backgrounds.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 01:56 PM

Wow - common sense. +1 ben. However, I will say I fall in both camps. I was/am an overweight strength athlete looking to cure myself of several ailments and improve my body composition. I lost 100lbs back in 2002 after reading Neanderthin and following Audette's diet... but gained a signifigant chunk back after becoming a dad and losing my job (basically killing my grocery budget and my time budget in one fell swoop).

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on July 02, 2011
at 02:37 PM

Words of level-headed wisdom, Ben. I'm glad you enjoy talking about the phenomenon of the "two cultures"; I enjoy reading your insights.

3
D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on July 02, 2011
at 09:32 AM

We don't know what paleo man ate for sure, but assumptions are based on hunter gatherer societies.

From Wikipedia:

The mean diet among modern hunter-gatherer societies is estimated to consist of 64-68% of animal calories and 32-36% of plant calories,[63][83] with animal calories further divided between fished and hunted animals in varying proportions (most typically, with hunted animal food comprising 26-35% of the overall diet). As part of the so-called Man the Hunter paradigm, this ratio was used as the basis of the earliest forms of the Paleolithic diet by Voegtlin, Eaton and others. To this day, many advocates of the Paleolithic diet consider high percentage of animal flesh to be one of the key features of the diet. However, great disparities do exist, even between different modern hunter-gatherer societies.

The animal-derived calorie percentage ranges from 25% in the Gwi people of southern Africa, to 99% in Alaskan Nunamiut.[84]

2
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on July 02, 2011
at 06:53 AM

Unlikely all Paleolithic people ate under 20% calories as protein. No one will ever know the ratios. Paleo is not considered low carb by default, but some people see that carbs offer little and are not always essential. If one knows how and where to look protein is relatively easy to find in the wild. My people still have the memories and knowledge of how they ate before the white man came to north america.

1
02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on July 02, 2011
at 01:55 PM

As far as I know no ones knows for sure about the macronutrient composition of the diets of "paleolithic people". And there was no one "paleolithic people", but a people living in very different environments. That said, I agree that high protein, high fat is not the paradigm I would go for, if I had to choose one paradigm.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on July 03, 2011
at 04:33 AM

+1 for " people living in very different environments." Why would we ever think that the diet of Inuits in the high arctic would be like those of African continent peoples? But I *can* assure you that even just 2 and 3 generations above mine, the carb content among high arctic, coastal Inuits (Inupiats) was a good 90% protein/fat combo. Among very old elders, it is still very high. Among the younger generation: a combo of the worst of western diet plus subsistence food, heavy on the first. And in precontact times would have been ~ 99%. Snow 10 months/yr...go try and gather tiny greens in that.

0
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on July 02, 2011
at 12:30 PM

It's low-carb for me when compared to SAD.

-7
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 10:05 AM

The paleo diet is considered low carb because it was hijacked by atkins and low carb fanatics.

No current HG's eat less then 115g of carbs including eskimos, doing a VLC diet and calling it paleo is living in fantasy land.

The HG diet definitely varied but over all it was probably a lot higher in carbs then people think.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:24 PM

"The original published works on Paleolithic nutrition were relatively low-carb adaptations." Loren recommends against VLC diets and his diet menus in his book are 23% carbs. Maybe you guys missed the VLC part of my post?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:21 PM

Maybe instead of down votng and claiming I'm wrong based on absolutely nothing you can show me some sort of proof that what I said is false

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:27 PM

If VLC eaters eat mostly meat, and eskimos get their carbs from glycogen in their meat, what kind of meat are eskimos eating? Unicorns?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 02:10 PM

No its not because we have absolutley no evidence of HG's subsisting on a VLC diet. I have no problem with VLC diets but they aren't paleo based on the current literature we have.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 02:03 PM

Actually Cliff, I'm not a VLC fanatic. I take offense to your dogmatic, soup-nazi stance accusing folks who choose to be VLC as "not paleo". I thrive on sub 20% carbs, but I've also lost over 100lbs following Audette's Neanderthin and eating up to 30-40% carbs in the form of *gasp!* fruit. Perhaps when my body comp changes I'll thrive on more carbs. But there are as many adaptations of "Paleo" as there are variations between HG tribes. To make a blanket statement about what paleo is or isn't, smacks of zealotry.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on July 03, 2011
at 10:38 AM

I followed the study chain and the basic for that claim is an unsourced (and thus unverifiable) statement in one study. I then looked at various animal foods carb breakdown and liver, the highest, has about 4g carb per 100g. This means you'd have to be eating something like 4.5lbs+ of liver PER DAY to get the 100g carb - basically, you'd have to eat nothing but liver. That's an obviously unsustainable eating pattern in the wild, and makes this claim even harder to believe.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:12 PM

Cliff I'm sorry man but this statement is not correct. The original published works on Paleolithic nutrition were relatively low-carb adaptations. Kurt Harris and Robb Wolfe's works predominantly have changed this conception, but finding a boogieman in the "low carb fanatics" is not only incorrect, but it's polarizing and demeaning.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on July 03, 2011
at 10:22 AM

Well, I didn't downvote, but I would downvote if you think that low carbers eating a lot of meat are magically NOT eating glycogen. Also, the 100g+ glycogen a day sounds like a significant error - all other studies of traditional inuit cite glycogen as a trivial source of carbohydrate, not 15-20% of calories. 100g+ of glycogen is nearly a quarter pound, and you would have to eat an insane amount of meat in order to eat that much. So that claim is highly suspect.

627cf3f5d1ddfb4c2f4c96169420f55f

(1626)

on July 03, 2011
at 03:01 AM

Was this suppose to be a joke?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:20 PM

using data from the same Ethnographic Atlas, Lee (1) found that gathered vegetable foods were the primary source of subsistence for most of the hunter-gatherer societies he examined, whereas an emphasis on hunting occurred only in the highest latitudes. http://www.ajcn.org/content/71/3/665.full

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:19 PM

wow... The original paleo diet proposed by cordain and eades is not VLC, its actually pretty high in carbs. http://www.repairrecoverrestore.com/low-carb-paleo-diet-a-neolithic-fantasy/ . Alaskan Eskimos, for example, had an estimated total daily energy intake of 12552 kJ (3000 kcal): ≈50% from fat, ≈30–35% from protein, and ≈15–20% from carbohydrates, largely glycogen from meat . choosing the lower end of their estimate of 15% of the kcals from carbohydrates, this means that 450 kcals were carbs, and thus ~112.5 grams of carbs were consumed a day!!!

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:29 PM

by the way, 23% is still low carb, especially compared to SAD dieters. I still sense a great amount of polarizing, badmouthing, etc... on your part... maybe your delivery could use some work?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:17 PM

who cares what the eskimos did? This is one grouping among a globe full of people using different practices. Why focus so much on the exception. We all already know that we don't NEED carbohydrate, but that does not mean we can't, or others do not, thrive on them. Many people succeed with WOEs or exercise routines DESPITE their practices rather than BECAUSE of them.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:38 PM

Eskimos also eat whale skin which is extremely high in vit C. Eating mostly meat doesn't equal eskimo no matter what anyone tells you lol

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on July 02, 2011
at 11:58 AM

Do you have any evidence at all for your claim that eskimos eat 115g carb per day? Everything I've ever read disputes this, including accounts of how the eskimo used plants in their diet.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 02, 2011
at 12:37 PM

Eskimos eat organ meats along with every other part of the animal. Maybe you should take a chill pill, I'm not trying to badmouth anyone. 23% isn't what HG's ate necessarily, this is just cordains percentage based on his sample diet. I'm just pointing out that a VLC diet is not paleo like the fanatics would love you to believe. I take it by your offense of the comment that you happen to be one of these fanatics...

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on July 03, 2011
at 04:45 AM

@Cliff: No PRE-CONTACT Eskimo groups exist, so statements about their "HG" diet now is not pertinent, other than knowing that their *subsistence* foods today are the same as precontact, and that you cannot talk about "Eskimo" diets as being the same in the way that you cannot talk about coastal Maine and South Geogia rural agri. area diets as being the same! Southern Yupiks eat alot of salmon, coastal northern Inupiats eat very, very little.Tiny window of summer for silvers and few. S Yupiks don't hunt whales, bowhead whales are the center of N. Inupiat foodlife, along with caribou/seal/geese.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on July 03, 2011
at 10:38 AM

I followed the study chain and the basis for that claim is an unsourced (and thus unverifiable) statement in one study. I then looked at various animal foods carb breakdown and liver, the highest, has about 4g carb per 100g. This means you'd have to be eating something like 4.5lbs+ of liver PER DAY to get the 100g carb - basically, you'd have to eat nothing but liver. That's an obviously unsustainable eating pattern in the wild, and makes this claim even harder to believe.

Answer Question


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