Diet Investigation: Primal/Paleo

Since last week Peggy shared her story about healing PCOS (among other maladies) with a primal/paleo diet, I thought I’d pick up the diet investigation series we began last month and dissect this particular diet a bit.

Primal Diet bacon

photo credit: shawnzam

I read The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson last summer and follow a number of “primal” bloggers. As a family we also went completely grain free and mostly primal for 3 months last fall. So I guess I can say I have a fair knowledge of what’s accepted in the diet and what’s not, but I’m going to be writing this based on what I remember and not research it to death. I just plain ‘ol don’t have time for that nonsense right now!

The basics of the primal diet are this:

  • No grains in any way, shape, or form. No bread, no rice, no cereal, no muffins.
  • No legumes: beans, lentils
  • Very low in starchy root vegetables
  • A small amount of nuts and fruit allowed
  • Meat and veggies seem to make the base of this food pyramid
  • More restricted versions have no dairy

The thought process behind this is that our ancestors that lived a million years ago (bear with me) were hunter/gatherer types and had plenty of energy, and slim/fit figures. They didn’t suffer the maladies of our modern lifestyle. They ate what they could find while walking around and hunted the meat they needed. These cavemen didn’t farm at all and they didn’t raise animals.

The Pros of the Primal Diet:

  1. It’s void of all modern and processed food, leaving us with fresher foods that provide much more nutrition.
  2. Sugar is consumed only in a natural form, mostly fruit, and limited at that
  3. Consumption of vegetables is high, making up the carbohydrates that one would eat.
  4. Organic and pesticide meats and produce are strongly recommended which lowers our toxic body burden.
  5. Only good fats like coconut oil and butter are allowed, keeping the diet free of any transfats and scary vegetable oils.
  6. Better health and lowered insulin resistance.

The Cons to the Primal Diet:

I have asked some of the ‘big-wig’ primal/paleo bloggers some questions regarding this diet, the problems I found while following the diet, and still have yet to get them answered. So the following are a few reasons that I personally have with following the diet 100%.

  1. Not everyone experiences weight loss! Most stories of healing with the primal diet also tell of significant weight loss. I was primal (still including some dairy) for 3 months last fall and more strictly paleo (no dairy) for a month this spring. I lost not one pound last fall and 2 pounds this spring. I think the people who lose weight, more often than not, are coming from a modern diet and not a whole foods diet.
  2. The earth is not a million years old and I was never an ape. So this one is personal and religious for me, but I don’t believe in evolution and I don’t believe the earth was created by accident. :-) I do believe we ate differently back in Genesis, but due to the fall of man, our dietary needs and habits changed. Then the flood changed things. And as we’ve begun civilizations in different areas of the world, our dietary needs have also had to change to compensate them.
  3. The biggest thing I have yet to have someone actually tackle and answer for me is this: living in Michigan HOW am I supposed to remain “primal” the entire year? I mean, summer is easy when produce is plentiful – but if we relied on the “hunter-gatherer” method for meat, only fish and small game like wild turkey is huntable then. In the fall, starchy root veggies are ripe and more easily preserved for winter than say….lettuce or cucumbers. And toward the beginning of winter large game also becomes available. Speaking of winter…….where I am supposed to find all of this produce I’m supposed to eat? The NT folks would recommend lacto-fermenting or drying everything – but if we’re looking at the primal diet, it doesn’t seem like they would be preserving much. Right? I could store nuts – but the primal diet is supposed to be low in nuts, not consisting entirely of it. I was thinking about this thought last March; we had just had our first thaw and it was still about 30 degrees. The growing season not to start for another 2 months. If I was only a hunter-gatherer the only things in our woods to eat would be: dead grass, tree bark, maybe some gross nuts from under 3 months of constant snow, and scrawny animals.

Everything is dormant and dead. And I’m hungry.

So I beg of you – if you are a primal blogger, please tell me how this is done without resorting to buying produce from California.

4. The other problem with this diet is the cost. Like most whole food diets, you’ll be spending more on organic and grassfed food products, but with the primal diet you won’t be using the more inexpensive fillers like beans, potatoes, rice, and breads. When we’ve gone completely primal, my grocery budget went from $300.00 to at least $400.00. And that was been I was being pretty stingy and buying less than desired meats so that we could stay away from grains. Going full force primal/organic/grassfed increased our budget to over $500.00 a month for our 2 adults and 2 small children.

ย We’re not finished with this whole diet investigation and my thoughts on each (have one you want my thoughts on?) so I won’t go into my final personal thoughts, but the primal diet is fabulous for some people. We went to this diet to help some of our families overcome some medical issues they were beginning to see – and it worked. But we’re not long time “paleo” people either.


Other posts in this series:

Diet Investigation: Standard American Diet

Diet Investigation: Nourishing Traditions Type Diet

Diet Investigation: Vegetarian Diet

Diet Investigation: Primal/Paleo Diet

Diet Investigation: Gluten Free









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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. Preach it, Donielle! I live in Ohio and have been playing around with Paleo for a few months now. Just yesterday I was googling squash recipes because that’s just about all I could think of that might see us through the winter! And can I just say, BLECH to months and months of squash? Let me know if you figure out how to Paleo through the blizzards…

    Good luck!

  2. Donielle,

    I love your investigative mind! It’s wonderful that you don’t just believe what you hear but ask questions.

    Allow me to shed a bit of light on your questions, but by all means, continue questioning!

    Your religious beliefs do not need to stand in the way. You don’t even need to go that far back to see which foods humans were designed to eat. Not every type of person put on this earth has always been an agriculturist. Countless tribes in Africa, Mongolians, Eskimos, and many American Indian tribes are examples of cultures which did not rely on growing things to survive. In fact, they survived and thrived mostly on meat, seafood, and often milk and blood.

    The Mongolians come from a harsher climate than yours in Michigan and they survive quite well in the winters. They herd yaks and sheep among other animals (herding animals for milk is thought to have been going on for at least 30,000 years, if you believe in 30,000 years??). In the winters they drink fermented milk, cheese, dried meats, and a few other dried things. Ancient people didn’t eat tons of fruits and vegetables. The idea that we need ample fruits and veggies is nonsense started by a raving lunatic named Graham and later Kellogg to get people to be vegetarian and stop having sex. Digestive systems work perfectly fine without plant mater and usually better. (I’ll be posting an article about that tomorrow.) Lacto fermenting enough vegetables at the end of the warm season to provide each person with a few bites a day throughout the winter would be sufficient both for nutrients, fiber, and variety. Read some old literature about the Japanese and you will see that they ate seafood and rice and often just a few bites of fermented veggies with each meal. Entire plates of fruit and veggies is a Western thing with a contrived (theoretical) sense of nutrition. Real nutrition comes from bone broths, organs, insects, and other special foods.

    Cost? Forget cost. This is your health we’re talking about, meaning quality of life. Your health is what makes you happy, smart, successful, beautiful. That is worth gold. Some of my readers asked me how I afford paleo. In short, I live simply. I get my pleasure from activities and friends, not stuff. That leaves a lot more money available for food.

    I hope this helped a bit. Keep up the investigation!

    donielle Reply:

    @Peggy The Primal Parent, Thanks for chiming in Peggy! I definitely don’t think we ‘need’ as many veggies to stay healthy, and I also think the primal diet is perfect for lots of people – especially those with insulin issues. I was actually hoping for some dramatic change for myself, and it just didn’t happen. :-)

    “Cost? Forget cost. This is your health weโ€™re talking about, meaning quality of life.” I do agree with this in almost every way. We don’t have cable, don’t spend a lot of money, shop at garage sales and thrift stores, I only leave the house twice a week because of gas prices, we drive old cars, and spend as little as humanely possible. We have pared our budget down to the bare minimum these last couple of years and for us – there is just no way of going lower other than selling our house. And in fact – it is for sale. :-)

    Our family is still about 80% primal most weeks, but grains don’t seem to bother any of us (though we’re still gluten free for my husband) so for now, that’s what we’re doing. Without extending my budget to go into debt I’m just choosing to use properly prepared grains instead of opting for conventional meats.

    Stacey Reply:

    @donielle, I realize this is an ooooold post, and you may not even see this comment. However, I’ve been doing a lot of learning about what God calls food, and I think that no matter where you turn, you will always find people who think they know better than He does.

    If you go back to the beginning of time, to creation, God gave Adam & Eve all fruits, veggies, and seeds to them for food. It wasn’t until after the flood that God told Noah that they could add in CLEAN animals to their diet. And you know what? Noah already knew what was considered clean and unclean! Go figure.

    My thought is that eating a whole foods diet comprised of what GOD called food (no pork or shellfish, etc) will yield the greatest health. He blesses what he created, right?

    Stacey Reply:

    @Stacey, Oh, and all the reference to bread in the Bible? I don’t think that God would call Himself the Bread of Life if bread was sooooo bad for us. Preparing it traditionally with whole grains is obviously important ๐Ÿ˜‰

    donielle Reply:

    @Stacey, I completely agree. :-)

  3. Donielle,

    I didn’t realize how big Paleo was until I ran into Primal Toad, Mark’s Daily Apple and more recently Peggy The Primal Parent (and saw on her blog her connection with you – how cool!). I’m so glad you blogged your experience with it since I haven’t yet read the book. I like the connections between NT and the Primal diet and I certainly appreciate Peggy’s value-add with being able to overcome PCOS with this diet change (I hope I have that info correct – I’m going by memory). It’s my goal to make bone broth a big party of our diet this winter.

    I’m not quite willing to give up my grains (I’ll cook them in the bone broth) but I am grateful to live in CA :)


    donielle Reply:

    @Renee Harris, I had dinner with Todd (primal toad) once. :-) We are still about 80% grain free right now and there are so many good things about the diet!

  4. Your questions about eating through the winter are good ones. I don’t know that the primal diet, the way that it is laid out by the “professionals”, is necessary sustainable.

    I do have to say that as we prepare to move off-grid and start our own homestead next month I am realizing that a grain-free existence is more in line with our hope to eat what we grow and grow what we eat.

    Last winter I went 2 months without buying anything and I ate grain-free. We did eat lots of stored squash, turnips, and some potatoes. I also had dehydrated all manner of vegetables – zucchini, greens, tomatoes, onions, carrots, etc. that were thrown into stews. As far as meat goes… eating ground beef and steaks isn’t highly likely to have happened pre-electricity days. What is more likely, and something we are planning to do, is to preserve meat via dehydration, salting and curing, fermenting into sausage, and brining.

    So I think in terms of going grain-free it is absolutely doable, but setting rules like not too much squash, etc. is only doable for a wealthy nation such as ours. I actually find it more useful to look at what our ancestors did before electricity (and this before the outsourcing of food preparation and growing) than it is to listen to the various diet gurus.

    donielle Reply:

    @Shannon, Thanks for chiming in Shannon! I love to hear your thoughts – especially since you guys are going ‘off the grid’. As someone who currently is not growing most of my own food, it’s hard to see past what we’re doing. It’s our goal to one day be able to grow and hunt most everything we eat, including sweeteners, so as we move that way I can feel we’re coming to realizations about what we’re eating now that really wasn’t available before.

  5. Thank you for standing up for Genesis!! I read about the Primal diet and wondered how “right” it was since evolution is a crock. Like you said – there are probably good things and not so “right” or accessible things about it :) Thanks again!

  6. Well, I must chime in…

    I am actually going to write a full blost post in response to this. Donielle – You will know as I will of course link to you.

    I’ll just mention a few things…

    No rice – Actually, according to a poll that someone took inside the community, 50% believe white rice is ok. It of course depends on so many factors. It’s not recommended for diabetics. But its great for post workout and its as cheap as dirt.

    Cost – I am in the midst of debunking this myth. My “primeals” are quick, simple, inexpensive primal meals. Some are more than others but if you need too you can pay an average of $2.50 per meal or less for a 2000 calorie diet that contains 100% grass fed beef, local produce, etc.

    And, I am not against people eating fruits and veggies that was shipped from overseas. Would you rather have someone eating broccoli from Peru or locally baked bread?

    I excel at getting people to live inexpensively yet enjoy a healthy, fun, vibrant lifestyle – more than they ever thought possible.

    And Peggy is right about your beliefs. Look at cultures from just 5,000 years ago.

    And, I must add this…

    It’s NOT a diet. Not by a long shot. Food is great. What about fitness? I workout for free. Getting quality sleep? Get good sleep and ditch the coffee. What about play? That is free too. Oh, and millions around the world slather on sunscreen. I haven’t touched the stuff but am building a beautiful tan. That’s more money saved.

    Shampoo? Don’t need it. Ok, yes I do have short hair but there are plenty of women with long hair that have ditched shampoo and will neve go back. Use coconut oil and baking soda! Toothpaste? Use half baking soda and half coconut oil. Wash your clothes less.

    Maybe you already do these things – you did say you live more simply. But that is part of “primal living.” At least it is for me!

    Ok, I am done. A blog post is coming soon as I start to write follow up posts to other bloggers :)

    Oh, and a lady and I are working on a Primal Unite website. It will include WAPF folks. Sure, I believe in evolution but that does not mean folks who do not are not welcome. Believing in God, or your higher self, or the universe, can do wonders for one’s soul. It’s a networking site and it will have a dating section. It’s going to be pretty damn sweet.

    Primal Toad Reply:

    @Primal Toad, I’ll add that I am following the sun for the next decade. So, eating paleo in the winter… well… eat more animal foods during this time. Seriously. I crave more fruit in the summer. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Fruit is awesome in the summer in Chicago and Grand Rapids. Of course I crave it!

    Hunt down a deer for the winter and enjoy that along with dozens of other species.

    How bad do you want it? If you want to live primal then you will find a way. If you are kind of “yea, whatever” about it then you won’t find a way. It’s your choice folks!

    Summer Reply:

    @Primal Toad,
    I was going to write my own comment, but decided to reply to this one.
    in response to what you are saying, I wouldn’t call the fact (I use the term loosely) that the paleo/primal diet is expensive a myth. If my bill goes up from 300 to 500, it is in fact expensive. The fact that there are also things you can do to make it just as affordable as a standard (on the healthy side) diet is more of a solution to a very real problem. In your defense, though, I spend about 400 on groceries a month that are for the most part not even organic, and I only live with my husband. spending 500 on four people a month for groceries is not incredibly expensive for four people, relatively speaking.

    As far as the genesis thing goes, even our great great grandparents lived way healthier than we do, with much less processing and more fermenting, especially in less developed countries. I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but I can’t agree either with the idea that millions of years ago, our ancestors did not get sick from the same things we do. You can rationalize why they didn’t, but you can’t prove it. It’s impossible after millions of years to say if anyone living then was healthy or not.

    As far as reconciling with religious beliefs, if you don’t believe there were humans a million years ago, then don’t eat like a human would a million years ago. It doesn’t make any sense. However, we know that many prophets were shepherds, and if that is true, than men have been cultivating livestock for a really long time. Why would prophets be shepherds if raised animal products aren’t good for you? Raw milk is extremely healthy and healing. In fact, preliminary studies on raw camel milk are showing real progress in curing anaphylactic allergies. Many young children who cannot tolerate anything else can tolerate raw goat milk. You don’t have to ascribe to the whole diet. If something sounds fundamentally wrong to you, adjust it until it makes sense. I do, however, think unfermented “dead” (pasteurized) dairy is really bad for everyone but those with the most healthy gastrointestinal tracts. Same with most grains. I don’t think grains are inherently bad for us, a life of processed foods and unhealthy habits have made them bad for us. As far as eating in extreme climates, pretty much all peoples that live in such climates are nomadic herders that spread their consumption of resources over large tracts of land and survive on meat, dairy, and whatever small forages can be made. In places with simply bad winters, a lot of groups ferment. fermented foods are full of probiotics, and even if our “ancestors” a million years ago didn’t do it, there is no doubt that they are healthy and healing.

    Primal Toad Reply:

    @Summer, Your bill went up because of certain actions you took. If I lived by you and knew exactly what your financial situation was, where you spent your money and what food you buy and how many calories each individual eats then I could save you hundreds of dollars per year. I will be proving this soon by doing this with families.

    So you think its possible that our ancestors suffered through the diseases and cancers that we do today? How in the world could a species be so dominate if they got sick so often? We would have gone extinct.

    Sure, we may have gotten a disease or cancer once in a while but nothing like we do today. The rate is ridiculous in todays world.

    donielle Reply:

    @Primal Toad, Glad you came to leave your thoughts! :-) I do in fact agree with much of what you said:

    It is not a “diet” how we look at the word diet right now as to lose weight. But more in the actual definition of the word diet: “The usual food and drink of a person or animal.” So for me, the word is just a way to specify the differences between the different diets we’re looking at.

    And yes – I already live very simply – I make all my own beauty products and don’t use sunscreen. Nine out of ten weeks I buy nothing other than food!

    I’m in no way debunking the fact our ancestors were as sickly as we were – they were much healthier overall, their downfall was hygiene as the cities grew. So they came down with illnesses regarding those matters, not so much nutritional decline.

    And it’s funny how 50% of primal folks think that white rice is ok! There are so many forms of this “diet”, based on individual needs. Which is really my main point with this whole series – that we need to eat specifically for our own bodies.

    And I have severely tried to lower my grocery budget when 100% primal and it just wasn’t possible. I was able to keep it at $300.00 when we changed from a processed foods diet to a whole foods/nourishing traditions type diet. I was able to keep it under $300.00 when we went gluten free over a year ago. I have yet to be able to figure out how to do so when eating primal. And I make ALL my food from scratch and skimp and save like crazy. A roast chicken can last 3 meals, etc, etc. But without using properly soaked rice, beans, millet, oats, etc every couple of days, we can’t stay near our budget. And having cut every un-needed expense out of our budget already, I feel just fine using grains every once in awhile to help us NOT go into debt to feed our family. Our average meals for a week cost about $4.00 per person per meal. That’s up from an average of $3.00 per person per meal. Times that by four and it does make a significant hit to the budget.

    Primal Toad Reply:

    @donielle, Your average meal per person is $4 per person per meal? Really?! Up from $3?!

    Well, this is interesting… the ebook I am working on, Toadally Primeals, will contain well over 100 meals for less than $3 per person. All will be 100% paleo approved. And I use 100% grass fed beef. Wild caught tuna, salmon, etc. Organic spinach and coconut, etc. The average calorie count will be close to 700 for a 2000 calorie diet.

    This is all I have to say :)

    donielle Reply:

    @Primal Toad, You know – I’ve been thinking over this the last few days as I’ve been cooking for my family. I’ll bet our average breakfast costs about $.50 per person – especially since we have our own eggs. Lunch maybe up to $2.00 per person. Dinner is more some days than others – so I guess to say our “average” cost per meal is either 3 or 4$, isn’t really accurate. We also entertain and feed others just about every weekend buying things for them that we don’t eat ourselves, or we’ll need to grab something to eat while we’re out every once in awhile which means we pay for convenience. So it’s not always the food we eat for basic meals that cost us an insane amount more.

    And it’s also a little different when you have a spouse and kids you also need to feed! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have to work around the taste buds and preferences of four so I do what works for the family as a whole to save my own sanity.

    Primal Toad Reply:

    @donielle, Good points. Well, if I had my own eggs then I’d save a lot too! Everyone is completely different. We all need to do the best we can with what we have from where we are!

    When you have a family, the average cost should be less compared to an individual since it makes more sense to buy in bulk ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. I am so glad that you all publish your food budgets! But even more helpful would be to give a few examples of what you eat. Our budget is usually around $600 and I struggle to keep it that low and that is for 2 adults and 1 child. But when I tell my husband some examples of what people do on the low budgets we read about (from wearing clothes two days before washing to only eating 2 chickens a month) he says ok, keep it at $600. We are buying a 1/4 pastured raised and finished cow for $400 this month. Next month a large amount of chicken, other bulk items and grain. Much less the veggies and other items. At least $150 a month just on dairy (per week: a gallon of milk for drinking, a gallon for yogurt and other cooking, 3 doz eggs, cheese, cream for butter, etc. from pastured cows that will be not only grain free this winter but hay free as the farmer plants fast growing grass crops throughout the winer – this is great but not cheap!). We also like to include nuts, seeds and other misc items. These high quality items would just not be possible at $300-400 a month without leaving us hungry! So, when I see the low food budgets I appreciate examples to see how this actually works and then decide if the low budget is important enough to us to make the changes.

    One thing I rarely hear people talk about when it comes to saving money is to increase one’s income. Right now, my husband works full time and goes to grad school at night. He is going to an expensive grad school to yield a higher return post graduation. We could spend our evenings gardening to shave our grocery budget but in 2 years we would be in basically the same place. By increasing the income stream we hope to increase the budget and to enable us to do long term investments such as buying a piece of property allowing for a few animals and a garden.

    Health is worth the cost! We too live a simple life – though in some areas the simple life is not cheap! I guess we try for a simple but high quality life.

  8. There is an epic thread at MDA about women following a primal diet and using a neurosurgeon’s leptin Rx to solve PCOS. The other ladies results look pretty remarkable My results showed my OB. Their experimentation started on June 15 and are still on going. I followed his directions and got my period back within 6 weeks. It appears leptin controls human fecundity and my doctor never told me that!


  9. I don’t know, this will probably sound ignorant or whatever. But, it just seems like this is leaning towards legalistic living and less toward living by grace. I am finally coming to a place with food where I am not worshiping it as an idol (as much as I used to). I went through a phase where I was eating strictly vegan and macrobiotically because I felt it was the most healthy way to live. Yet, I was keyed up on eating the right foods that it became a god for me. I am learning to eat by grace, if you will. All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial…I will not be mastered by anything– I’m so thankful for this scripture Paul wrote. It is a great reminder to me when I have the tendency to be enslaved by the food I eat. I truly believe in eating a more traditional diet with as-much-as-possible local produce, least amount of processed foods as possible, especially sugar, and so forth. However, I realize that food was meant for the body, and so that we can give glory to God with our lives. I’m sorry, I think I’m sounding preachy and I don’t want to be. Basically, I just want us to not become enslaved to food and miss out on the freedom we have in Christ. Hope this is an encouragement and not the opposite :)

    Emily Reply:

    @Emily, And by “this” I mean the primal/pale diet/lifestyle, just to be sure.

  10. Hi to all

    Very interesting inputs! I am from South Africa and we have been going Primal for the last 4 or 5 months. I would like to comment on the grocery bill….. the food you buy on the primal lifestyle is definately more expensive but (and it is a big one) you really do start to eat at least 30% less food than you ever did on a high carb diet because of the high fat intake. So that combined with the fact that you cannot put a price on your health really does make a difference.

    Coming from the agriculture sector (Animal Scientist) the nonsense that gets sprayed onto the food you buy and gets ito the meat you eat should be enough of scare factor to make you at least try and eat organic. We live in a townhouse and only have a small garden and have managed to plant all kinds of vegetables all through the year, even leafy greens (and yes, we do have very cold winters -10 minimums) although our winters here are very short, being only 4 months long. And as mentioned earlier, it is more than possible to cook and freeze greens, or eat dried fruit and nuts with meat.

    On dairy and evolution, being from Africa and being a scientist (albeit a Christian), I do believe in evolution, but even if I didnt, there is enough research to show that it takes a culture/population about 1000 years to adapt (evolve) to a diet so only cultures that have a long history with dairy and milk will be tolerant to it. It is a very very common intolerance in the world today but cultures stemming from, for example, the Netherlands seem to have skipped that.

    For evolution or rather adaptation to happen you need to have natural selection or rather getting “rid” of people who react badly to certain things (sounds terrible), but in our world and society today, we favour or even promote this and that is why no adaptation has taken place for the past few hundred years to most dietary allergens or intolerants. We tend to rather give medication that suppresses these problems, or eat around them.

    Basically, if you go and look at how much healthier we are, how much less we eat (and feel full to the brim) then it is definately worth every cent. Just remember the damage to the environment by using and eating all the mass grown crops (especially grains) might make your food cheaper now but in the long run, it will cost the environment and your future generations much more.

  11. “For evolution or rather adaptation to happen you need to have natural selection or rather getting โ€œridโ€ of people who react badly to certain things (sounds terrible), but in our world and society today, we favour or even promote this and that is why no adaptation has taken place for the past few hundred years to most dietary allergens or intolerants. We tend to rather give medication that suppresses these problems, or eat around them.”

    Interesting that you should say this! Todd and I watched a reality show off of netflix awhile back where these doctors went in to jungles/traditional tribes type of places to see how they treated their ill and sick with what was available. One of the things they kept saying in the jungle was how STRONG and FIT the people were – but it was because the weak had died off when they were young.

    And you can even see this happening in animals – we allow and help the weak and ill to survive and those genes get passed on. NOT to say of course that I would get rid of my “weak” friends or relatives of course!! :-)

  12. Hey, Donielle: Thanks for this post on the paleo diet. I second your questions. When a human is a hungry, he/she eats whatever the heck is available, whether it causes gas, bloating, headache, whatever. This is the most “primal” instinct we have. When food is plentiful, we’re pickier. Our very early ancestors were nomadic, in order to find food. Just like other animals do, we go where the food and water is, and we eat what’s available. The more energy it provides (read: sugar and fat), the more urgently we want it. The less energy (read: protein), the more we prize it for growth.

    In defense of paleo, grain may have a good percentage of energy in it, but when it’s not mass-harvested/produced, it requires more energy to make it edible than what we get out of it. The same applies to nuts. Milk may not require as much energy to make it edible, but it wasn’t available to the extent it is today, and besides, it induces sleep, not energy. So, while we may have eaten grain, nuts and milk in the way back, it was probably in miniscule amounts, and only in times of scarcity of the foods we need, such as fruits, veggies, meats and fish.

    As far as weight loss, it’s difficult to imagine that, at least in colder climates, it’s only been the last hundred years or so that we have come to believe that thinner is better. A little padding means warmth in the winter, fat stores for energy, and an indication of plentiful resources. We should be less worried about being thin, and more concerned about being healthy and energetic.

    All this said, I think paleo is sort of right, just as most fad diets (such as Atkins, SouthBeach, Weight Watchers, etc.) are. They all have a few grains of truth (no pun intended), but are not a panacea for every person. I don’t do well on too much protein, because I find my muscles get sore and I’m sleepy all the time. I need more fruit (fructose) and fat. I’m hypoglycemic, and the best way for me to manage my blood sugar is to eat a big piece of fruit and then something fatty, such as 5 or 6 brazil nuts, and to eat such meals 3 or 4 times a day, and then one meal of protein, such as raw tuna or grass-fed beef.

    Anyway, I very much enjoy your blog and have found some great tips on it. Keep it up.

  13. Hey Donielle,

    I am in the process of transitioning our family into a paleo/primal lifestyle. Will and I are going to start by doing the Whole30, and are planning to keep the girls as close to the same standards, as we can. In reading what was written above, it dawned on me that you did not mention anything about exercising. Did you do any regular form of exercise while you were primarily paleo? Mark and most every other writer that I have read anything from, include regular exercise of some form in their recommendations. Mark has specific guidelines in Primal Blueprint, and many others promote Crossfit. Anyhow, if you weren’t then I would feel it safe to say that is why your weight didn’t experience much change. Just my 2 cents :) I have been working out 3x week regularly for the last 4 weeks, running, strength training, and doing pilates, and I have noticed a definite change in my weight. I am excited to see what is going to happen when we begin the Whole30 and continue primal living :)

    donielle Reply:

    @Tarra, Yup – exercise is the one thing I have a problem finding time for. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Though most people that have told me they specifically lost weight on paleo, did so just because of the loss of grains. Todd did! He lost 10 pounds I think in 3 months doing nothing different. But one of the big issues with dealing with adrenal fatigue is that energy is hard to come by……. It’s better now, but was definitely at it’s worst when we did a strict primal diet – and it wasn’t the diet, but stress that caused it in the years previous. We’re about 80% primal now as I’ve found energy wise, that’s where I feel my best. :-)

  14. I think exercise is a huge part of losing weight when going Paleo, for those of us who’ve been primarily “off” the S.A.D. diet for some time. Those switching from a carb heavy diet, to a fat heavy diet, will lose weight just by changing their source of fuel. However, going from a not so carb heavy diet, to a high fat diet, is introducing more fat that needs to be burned somehow :) Mark Sisson doesn’t say more is good, he promotes less is more :) So it doesn’t need to be a rigorous routine, but becoming/staying active goes hand in hand with the lifestyle. I don’t think you can fairly judge the weight loss aspect of it, without doing both; just as following the exercise recommendations would do nothing without changing the diet part :) Just my 2 cents, for what it’s worth :)

  15. So I wanted to note that even though it may seem there are not lots of things to eat in the winter there are things to eat. And yes “primal people” did save food. I’m not a huge advocate of the primal diet but I do see its value. Anyways I am studying in a wildfoods class currently and we are specially studying what NW native americas ate and how they got their food. Native Americans were primal eaters just a few hundred years ago so you dont need to back “millions” of years to find out what people really ate. They stored food for the winter. They spent all year drying fish, clams, and deer. The also dried berries. They saved camus, a starchy root vegetable as well. I’m also learning about lots of things to eat in the wild that I didn’t know about. The local foodshed provides if the land is in good health. Here local people ate fernheads, salmon berries shoots, nettles, etc. This was early spring well before the summer harvest time. There also had a lot of plants that were used as medicene that provided vitimins as well. They used the hemlock tree to make tea which is high in vit C. Traditional diets are complex things and are alot more interesting than how they appear on the surface.

    Donielle Reply:

    @Julie S, Thanks for your response!

    Do you have any resources for finding out how the Native Americans ate? I’ve tried getting books from the library, but they were less than helpful and not what I was looking for!