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The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat Paperback – 3 Dec 2010
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Like Ray Audette s Neanderthin (St. Martins, 1999), this is another "if you can t find it in the wild, don t eat it" diet that takes the germ of a useful idea and runs with it. According to Cordain (health and exercise science, Colorado State Univ.), Paleolithic humans were fit and lean because, as hunter gatherers, they ate what was available: meats low in saturated fats, fresh fruits, and nonstarchy vegetables. Nor did they suffer from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, the byproducts of our poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Then again, the average Paleolithic life span was about 30 years, not long enough to develop most chronic illnesses. Still, the author asserts that by eliminating grains, dairy, refined sugars, and processed foods from our diets, we, too, can thrive as our ancestor did. Three levels of diet and six weeks of sample menus, with recipes, are included. --Library Journal
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AT LAST, THE UPDATED EDITION OF THE BESTSELLING DIET BOOK! "The Paleo Diet helps you lose fat, improve your health, and feel great. Why? Because the Paleo Diet works with your genetics to help you realize your natural birthright of vibrant health and wellness." Robb Wolf, author of the bestselling The Paleo Solution "Loren Cordain′s extensive research demonstrates how modern westernized diets drastically depart from the original diet humans consumed for millions of years. In The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Diet Cookbook, Dr. Cordain shows how diets high in grains, dairy, vegetable oils, salt, and refined sugars are at odds with our genetic legacy and then shares his uncomplicated strategy for losing weight and getting healthy." Arthur De Vany, Ph.D., author of The New Evolution Diet Healthy, delicious, and simple, the Paleo Diet is the diet you were designed to eat. If you want to lose weightup to seventy–five pounds in six monthsor if you want to attain optimal health, The Paleo Diet will change your life now. Dr. Loren Cordain, the world′s leading expert on Paleolithic nutrition, demonstrates how by eating all the lean meats and fish, fresh fruits, and nonstarchy vegetables you want, you can lose weight and prevent and treat heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, and many other illnesses. Incorporating all the latest breakthroughs in Paleo nutrition research, this new edition of the bestselling The Paleo Diet includes six weeks of meal plans to get you started on the Paleo path to weight loss, weight control, increased energy, and lifelong health.See all Product description
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The theory is our bodies were designed, and still optimized, to eat what our Paleolithic ancestors ate. Like your hunger-gatherer forefathers, on Paleo you get all the meat from wild animals and unlimited fruits and vegetables you can eat. But no starchy vegetables (like potatoes), no legumes (like lentils or beans), no wheat, and no grains (like quinoa or corn) because those plants were invented by human beings during the agricultural revolution after our Paleolithic ancestors left the planet. You get one cheat day where you can eat whatever you want (“Occasional cheating and digressions may be just what you need to help you stick to the diet.”) No oil because it puts omega 6 and omega 3 ratios out of whack which should never exceed 2:1, except olive oil if you must. Dairy is also prohibited. And meat must come from animals that weren’t fed grains (like corn) because grains lead to inflammation and increased fat.
Cordain explains that high intake of fruits and vegetables is one of best ways to reduce chances of cancer and heart disease. He notes that protein has twice the calorie burning effect of fat and carbs and is more satiating than both. He explains that starch, fats, sugars, and salts together cause us to keep eating. So if we limit our diet to fruits and vegetables and/or meat, we’ll stop eating when we’re full. And if you stop eating when you’re full, you’ll lose weight and won’t get fat. And as you lose weight, your cholesterol will improve (regardless of what you eat). This all makes sense and can’t really be disputed. If you want to lose weight, the Paleo diet will get you there and probably quickly. But Cordain’s hypothesis applied to long-term health falls short.
Cordain admits that meat leads to plaque and increases cholesterol where plants wouldn’t. And science establishes that plaque and cholesterol lead to heart attacks and strokes. But Cordain argues that plaque alone is insufficient to cause harm. Rather, it is plaque combined with inflammation that causes heart attacks and strokes. So avoid acid, salt, legumes, wheat, starchy vegetables, dairy, oil, fatty meats, and grains because they cause inflammation. But if both science and Cordain agree that plaque is a necessary part of the heart-disease equation—and that meat causes plaque—why should we follow Paleo rather than just forgo meat?
In making the case for meat, Cordain presents anecdotal evidence of Eskimos who lived their full life without a heart attack. The Eskimo diet consists of 97% meat, which he concedes causes all Eskimos to develop atherosclerosis—a common precursor to heart disease. But Cordain says Eskimos never die of heart disease. He discusses one Eskimo who lived 45 years and another who lived 53 years, both without heart disease! He then jumps to the conclusion that because these Eskimos didn’t get heart attacks, even with severe atherosclerosis, meat must have protected them from heart disease. So Cordain’s best case for lots of meat is that you can live to the ripe age of 45 or even 53 without a heart attack. But do people—even unhealthy smokers or the obese—generally get heart attacks before age 53?
Cordain argues that chimpanzees and horses avoid meat, and they have big bellies that we would have if we didn’t ditch plants for meat. He also says meat increased human brain size, and decreased stomach size so we can have the six-pack abs that chimps can’t. But I looked at his endnotes with citations to research and couldn’t find the source for these theories. I also couldn’t find research showing that legumes and grains were invented by humans.
Cordain is an anthropologist—not a doctor or scientist. So it’s no wonder why his focus is on human development rather than on how nutrition impacts long-term health.
For immediate weight loss, Paleo is a great and healthy solution. But after carefully reading and considering, I’m unconvinced that Paleo is optimal for long-term health. I think, in fact, it might lead to heart disease and other ills associated with heavy meat consumption. Although many of Cordain’s theories fall apart long-term, I thoroughly enjoyed the read and highly recommend the book. You should read critically and decide for yourself.