So a lot of us in the Paleo community love Dr Davis's blog.
Without using the word "Paleo", he seems to be taking Paleo head-on in his latest blog post:
Uh-oh. I tend to buy in to the Paleo worldview. I also tend to buy in to Dr Davis' writings. They are usually compatible.
I don't know how to reconcile these here.
My instinct is to take Dr Davis' side - if only because, that's how I've been eating ever since I discovered paleo. But I always attributed it NOT to my lack of belief in paleo (I still thought Paleo was right) but my own psychological weaknesses preventing me overcoming practical hurdles that prevent me from implementing paleo more completely in my life. So I always thought it was my fault, not paleo's!
The best response I can think of is this: "Well, cave men would kill a boar occasionally, and then eat fruits and vegetables the rest of the time in-between. So, Dr Davis actually isn't criticizing paleo! In the paleolithic era, people did eat meat less frequently and then food like berries in-between kills - so he's being perfectly consistent, and the contemporary so-called 'paleos' who eat 42 strips of bacon per day and never lettuce aren't living up to the true, noble name of the paleo."
That response makes sense to me. So then, building on my hypothetical response, here is my follow-up question -- which is really the question implied by Dr Davis' original post, but not answered: how much meat should a modern paleo eat? (Lets assume, average weight, height, age, health, etc.) Should we pig out for dinner once per week and then eat fruits and veggies in-between? Should we have a meat dinner with some veggies and only veggies the rest of the day (ie, equivalent to a daily kill?) Should we (as Dr Davis recommends) eat mostly fruits and veggies and put a bit of meat here and there? Or.....?
asked byMorgan (1670)
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on April 19, 2010
at 03:08 AM
Having had some conversation with Nassim Taleb I think the answer is: it should be random! Hunter-gathereres ate a random diet based on what they found. Hunting and foraging always has an element of gambling. I remember when I lived in Sweden and went out daily looking for the prized chanterelles and cloudberries. I was SO happy to find a cache of these treasures, but most days I had to settle for wild onions, nettles, lingonberries, and pine needle tea.
I don't have a paleo diet plan. If I see something at the farmer's market that looks good and fits under the basic paleo definition, I buy it. Some days I eat mostly meat, others I eat plants or fish. Having done both zero carb and raw vegan, I have no desire to sit at either extreme. Each leaves me feeling...lacking...if done for more than a few days.
Neither diet is one proved by ancient cultures. Inuit didn't just eat some hamburger from the grocery store- they ate a wide variety of various parts of hundreds of creatures and some plants if they found them ranging from berries to kelp. Even in the high arctic I was able to forage for berries and the people there are obsessed with them when they are in season. Lapplanders go out with buckets for hours looking for particular berries. I assume it's an ancestral habit.
Paleolithic people didn't have plans. I have enough to do lists and programs in my life, I don't need any more.
on April 19, 2010
at 01:41 PM
I don't get people's obsession with vegetables apart from the starchy ones: there's no calories in them! In England we get blackberries and wild strawberries, and plenty of inedible berries, I doubt I could eat more than 1000 calories before I got an incredible stomach ache!
As far as leafy greens go, I might find a wild lettuce and eat that (I don't know why, it certainly wouldn't be tasty) but then I may try the leaf of rhubarb and die! You need extensive knowledge of any region to know what will and won't kill you.
Animals are 'calorie dense', and I don't know of any meat that is going to kill me. On their own, leafy greens are not particularly pleasant, not even the modern ones. We don't have many wild nuts. By comparison to animals, plants are rubbish.
I still eat them though.
on April 19, 2010
at 11:49 AM
I posted a link to this paper in the comments of that article:
Although definitely not zero-carb by any measure, 75% of current hunter gatherer groups get over 50% of energy intake from animal sources.
I think vegetables are important but meat and offal is where the majority of nutrients come from.
on April 19, 2010
at 04:06 AM
I think you are thinking about this all wrong. You are thinking about fruit and vegetables in modern terms. Fruit was very small, sour and only seasonally available. Likewise veggies were nothing like we have now and again not easy to get and depending on the area non-existent. I challenge you to go into your nearest wild area and live on what you can forage for. I'll bet you don't last a day. Kill a deer or pig and you eat well for days. I don't imagine fruit and vegetables were ever more that a lucky find and certainly never the bulk of the diet. Add to this the fact that modern fruit is bred to be so sweet it is really a candy bar from a tree and not something I'd eat very often at all.
on April 19, 2010
at 02:51 PM
Dr Davis really doesn't make clear what he means, so it's impossible to work out whether his suggestions are sensible or not.
There's a huge difference between getting most of your calories from plants and getting most of your food from plants. Getting most of your energy from plant you are necessarily going to be getting getting a huge amount of calories from carbs or from PUFA (if you go the olive oil, nuts, avocado route). This is, I think, pretty uncontroversially a bad idea and contradicts Dr Davis' own advice. Getting most of your food from plant by volume conversely, is pretty easy and possibly quite sensible. I'll often eat half a kilogram of spinach in a day and yet this constitutes virtually none of my calorie intake (4.6% daily calories, 5g net carbs). I'm entirely open to the idea that large quantities of low calorie veg is optimal for health.
It's very misleading to call this eating ???mostly plants, with meat as a side??? though. Given that I think- for myself- around 100g protein and far less than 50g carb is optimal, it's obviously that there's a lot more meat in the diet than plant energy wise. The way I look at it is that most of my mostly meat-based nutrients (zinc, B12, iron etc) come from meat and most of my plant-based nutrients (magnesium, potassium, vitamin E etc). Even then most of my calories aren't coming from either meat or plants, they're coming from added fats (mostly SFA/MUFA). There's a great bit on Hyperlipid where Peter explains that in his casseroles the meat is just for show, it's the fat that he's eating.
It's also intuitively appealing (but wrong) to think that meat- sausages and bacon- are unnutritious compared to fruit and veg. The only thing wrong with sausages is the lack of meat in them, plain muscle meat compares favourably to most plants for vitamins and minerals, before you even start thinking about offal.
All the individual arguments of Davis' post seem quite mistaken to me. Taubes has rather derailed the fibre hypothesis (it's not without its uses, but it's by no means crucial). Polyphenols and flavanoids we know are a contentious area. Vitamin C, like fibre, we know might have its uses but is by no means essential on a genuinely LC diet (cf Steffanson). Vitamin K1 pales in comparison to K2, which would be rather undermined by having animal products only as a ???side??? (and certainly by ruling out butter). Tocotrienols, I suspect, fall into the same category of polyphenols/flavanoids/antioxidants in general, rather than being a particularly crucial compound. The acid load question is a controversial one, but I'm more convinced by Stephan, than Don that there's nothing in it.
Of course Davis' suggestion, whatever its merits, it rather undermined by the rather poor breakfasts he gives as recommended examples. Both his preferred breakfasts sound a recipe for lacking protein and getting 9g omega 6 in the first case. The high animal product breakfast he suggests is really a straw man- the only problem with sausages is their not containing enough meat!- a decent serving of fatty pork easily trumps his two meals for vitamins and minerals.
on April 19, 2010
at 01:37 PM
Please! When I went on Atkins- I eat more vegetables than I ever eat in my life- Atkins included a LOT of veggies in his diet program- it is the dieter that failed to eat them.
on April 19, 2010
at 03:17 AM
Sometimes I think Dr Davis has gone off the deep end. Only recently he told us that fat doesn't make us fat, but butter does make us fat. http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/butter-and-insulin.html
Jimmy Moore and his panel of experts pretty well nuked that idea here: http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/?p=7573
Yet he keeps talking about how eating carbs makes small dense LDL. And now he advocates carbs as the main course with a little meat on the side. WTF?
In his own words:
Carbohydrates Make you fat--Carbohydrates increase visceral fat, in particular. Increase triglycerides Reduce HDL Increase small LDL particles Increase glycation of LDL Increase blood pressure Increase c-reactive protein Reducing carbohydrates reverses all the above.
And then he advocates eating plant based and does not like animal product sources.
Lex Rooker has been eating exclusively raw meat daily for 4 years and suffers none of the ailments that Dr Davis talks about such as osteoporosis, or not having a source of Vit C makes you teeth fall out. In fact, Lex's dentist says his teeth are strong with good bone structure holding his teeth in his mouth quite well without any build up of calculus. He now gets an hour a day of sunshine Vit D3 walking with no shirt and shorts.
Dr Davis' work at Track Your Plaque is stellar...but what are we to think. If one looks back at a lot of his blog writings, carbs do all the bad things to the body. How can he now advocate carbs? What percentage I don't know.
I think I will continue to eat my animal based saturated fat diet with less than 5% tuber carbs...because my n=1 experiment says I feel fabulous when compared to eating my very sad SAD which included lots of veggies.
on February 16, 2011
at 04:04 AM
Someone here said something about that tired old acid/alkaline saw and I didn't have room to rebut him right at his comment. I'll do it in my own space.
Carbohydrate (really sugar--all true carbs are sugars, even fiber) and fat molecules have the same elements in them: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Protein differs slightly. It has C, H, and O, but it also has N--nitrogen. Your body uses nitrogen, but if you've got free N floating around, that can cause problems. So your body gets rid of it via the kidneys.
Having extra nitrogen hanging around is what affects pH, as I understand it (if I'm full of it, somebody correct me). But that's what your kidneys are for. They remove the excess nitrogen from your bloodstream, and you pee it out as ammonia. If you think about how quickly the water you drink goes to your bladder, you can appreciate that the removal of excess nitrogen is a fairly quick process as well.
Now here's the fun part.
I was reading recently about a study in which it was shown that plant proteins contribute to bone loss, but animal proteins do not. Now, this study was based on questionnaires. I hate those kinds of studies; they're useful for establishing a basis for further study but not anything to rest upon themselves. That said, reading about the study triggered a memory for me. I recalled reading someplace that a certain amino acid had a buffering effect in the body--it helps maintain proper pH. I remembered it was one of the amino acids starting with "glut-". So I went and looked up glutamine first.
Bingo. It works in the kidneys to convert nitrogen to ammonia and get it out of the body.
Even more fun? Glutamine's available in several foods, but most notably it's available in animal foods. It's also in plants, but go look up the protein values for some of the plant foods that are highest in glutamine (for the plant kingdom)--wheat, spinach, parsley. How high are those foods in protein? How high are they in protein you would want to make a large portion of your diet? Yeah. Didn't think so.
The fun part is, glutamine is only a conditionally essential amino acid. That means as long as you're healthy, you can make enough to suit your needs. So you are making enough glutamine to buffer a limited amount of protein intake if the protein you are eating does not already contain significant amounts of glutamine. But if you are going to eat a lot of protein, I'm going to guess you would eventually run low on your own capacity to make the stuff. So if you want a lot of protein, you need to be getting it from the animal kingdom. Otherwise you are going to run low on glutamine, and at that point your body may begin drawing on its calcium reserves.
At least, that sure would explain the findings of the study I mentioned earlier, if their questionnaire numbers on protein intake were accurate.
It also explains why so many long-term vegans are coming out and saying that they lost bone mass on the vegan diet. Whoops.
And this, boys and girls, is why you should not rely on urine pH to tell you what your blood is doing. If you die, your blood pH was wrong. That's all you need to know. If you're alive enough to do a pH test on your pee, you're probably fine. Eat some freaking steak and relax.
One more thing. I know it's a useful system of classification to refer to foods as Paleo and not-Paleo. But could we please stop talking about THE Paleo diet and about what "we" did in Paleo times? In case you hadn't noticed, there are still a few scattered, random bands of people in the world who never left the Paleolithic age. Every culture's Paleolithic age, if that culture existed that far back, ended in a different time period. And since all those groups lived in different parts of the world, they had different foods available to them and therefore followed different diets. I'm sure there was a range of nutrient ratios within which they all operated, but that was a pretty wide range.
There IS no "the Paleolithic diet." There IS no "when WE were in the Paleolithic age." We are only one culture. There have been thousands and thousands of others throughout human history.
If you have any further questions about this, I suggest you crack open some Daniel Quinn. He'll knock your brain sideways. He did mine. But it needed knocking. I recommend Ishmael and The Story of B for starters.
P.S. As a feminist (though not a college feminist), I appreciate the efforts to play up the value that gatherers provided to the tribe. But if these tribes depended half as much on plant food as some of you are claiming they did, the women would have never had time to raise their kids because they'd have never stopped gathering from dawn to dusk. Gathering fell to the women because it was something they could do easily between childcare duties. It wasn't until the advent of grain agriculture that plant foods contained enough calories to make it worth the physical effort and even then, I suspect (based on random evidence I've run into from time to time) that grain ag was developed first to make beer, not to feed a populace. (You no more develop agriculture to feed starving people than you sew a parachute when you've jumped out of a plane without one.) The fact remains that animal food would have been the backbone of any Paleo diet--grubs, if nothing else. Bugs are kingdom Animalia, remember? There were no vegan Paleo groups, not even heavily vegetarian ones until after they'd developed horticulture, at minimum, and then been forced onto marginal land. Given the choice, human beings go for the animal fat and always have. (Again--bugs are high in fat, and bugs are animals. And humans, being primates, were originally insectivores!)
Any old way, there you go, and sorry for the textwall.
on April 20, 2010
at 03:12 AM
I think that Dr. Davis contradicts himself too much.
on April 19, 2010
at 07:00 AM
Dr. Davis seems to be backing himself into a corner on this subject. Why...who knows? These two posts are the first I saw of it. The comments are telling. He ignores or evades the questions Dr. Harris asks again and again. Peter from Hyperlipid gives an excellent explanation for the phenomenon Dr. Davis reports in this one:
Here is the first of that series:
I wasn't interested in too much he had to say after witnessing all of that.
on April 19, 2010
at 11:21 AM
I think his post is spot on, and if you are a "paleo" eater and you aren't eating a bunch of plant-based foods, you're missing the boat. You've got the "hunter" but not the "gatherer."
As Dr. Davis says, you end up with an overly acid PH balance on a too-high protein diet, and that leads to malabsorbtion of calcium, and thyroid dysfunction. The breakfast he suggests, combining nuts, blueberries, eggs, olive oil, and basil, is not only sensible, it sounds downright awesome (and it's 100% paleo).
There is a tendency to confuse a kind of Atkins like approach to eating with the Paleo theory. They are not the same. Paleo is more compatible, in fact, with Michael Pollan than with Atkins. Remember what Pollan recommends in his "In Defense of Food": "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables."
There's absolutely nothing wrong with that advice.
On the subject, I do wish that Greg Glassman would revise his famous slogan about food to the following:
"Eat plenty of vegetables, enough meat, some nuts and seeds and fruit, little starch, and no sugar."