Paleo fail

For my Application of Nutrition Concepts course, we were divided into groups and told to pick a weight-loss book to review.  I’ve been curious about Paleo diets, and my group agreed on this topic.  I conducted a good, old-fashioned Google search for Paleo diet books, and one of the first things that came up was Eat to Live by Joel Furhman.

Knowing nothing about the book, but seeing that copies were readily available at both the city and county libraries, I suggested the book to my group.  Everyone agreed, and we submitted the title to the instructor.  And then I started reading the book.

Dr. Fuhrman’s weight loss plan is definitely NOT Paleo.  Oops!  Eat to Live advocates a plant-based diet, which on the surface seems the exact opposite of Paleo.  However, some of the components for sound, safe weight loss are shared.  Dr. Fuhrman’s plan focuses on increasing nutrient density in the diet.  Adherents should avoid processed foods and cut out refined carbohydrates (pp. 36-39); this is an aspect that the diet shares with Paleo.

Instead of learning more about Paleo, I ended up with a book that tracks rather closely with how I already eat, except that my diet is much higher in fat than what Dr. Fuhrman advocates, which makes sense given that I am trying to maintain weight (in a body that, unlike most people’s, doesn’t hoard pounds).

Eventually, I’ll get around to reading more about Paleo diets.  I’m also fascinated by ketogenic diets, since they claim many of the same health and weight-loss benefits as a very low-fat, plant-based diet (as seen in Furhman’s book), but are at the extreme opposite end of the fat-consumption spectrum.



  1. Karen Karabell says:

    What do you know about Abel James? I’ve been listening to his podcasts. Love that guy! Today I ordered his book “The Wild Diet.” While I’ll be overlooking all of the meat stuff, I think the rest of his book will be useful.

    1. Keri says:

      I enjoy Abel James. I haven’t read his book, but I enjoy his podcasts. I recently listened to him interviewing Furhman, who came across hostile to Paleo. While I found Furhman’s affect off-putting, he’s right that Paleo seems to use a lot of stories to fill in the gaps in philosophy that isn’t really confirmed scientifically (or maybe it is but it’s not mainstream… it’s hard to know anymore when you consider how long we were lied to about dietary cholesterol despite decades of research that couldn’t prove it caused heart disease). A lot of “eat real food” advocates have backed away from the Paleo label because it’s been kinda bastardized by its popularity.

      For keto, I recommend starting with these guys: The first one is pretty technical – aimed at doctors. The second is for athletes.

      1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

        Two votes for Abel James — sounds like I need to check him out! I’ve never heard Fuhrman speak, but his tone in the book is pretty “all or nothing.” On the other hand, I think many physicians and dietitians alike are hesitant to encourage people to make real, meaningful dietary changes, so in that sense, Fuhrman is refreshing.

        Thanks for the keto reading recommendation.

  2. Rachel says:

    Not sure how I’m just seeing this post now (Feedly user-error, I guess?). We’ve been primal/paleo for about 5 years. Start with Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint (new edition coming in 2016 with updated citations and a revised stance on alcohol. Spoiler alert, the alleged benefits of red wine are overblown) (website: Chris Kresser’s Personal Paleo Code is good, but I think he renamed it (the copy I got from the library was Personal Paleo Code). Dallas and Melissa Hartwig wrote It Starts with Food (explaining the science/philosophy behind the rules of Whole 30, which is a very strict version of paleo), and of course it’d be worth reading what Loren Cordain has written since he is the one who coined the term “paleo.” He and Mark Sisson differed greatly when their things were first published (for example, Sisson has always advocated eating fatty meat if it is well-sourced, whereas the paleo camp used to focus on lean meat only), but as far as I can tell there is a lot of overlap between the two at this time. Also, ignore paleo bloggers who seemingly focus on bacon. Paleo eating is not all bacon, all the time. 🙂

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