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Old 11-17-2007, 02:31 PM   #1
Elliot Fuller
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"Why Paleo?" and other [not so] epic questions

I've read a lot about the merits of going Paleo.
I've read a lot about the merits of going Zone.
I've read a lot about the merits of Intermittent Fasting.

But most of what I've read is along the lines of "Humans originally did this..." or "Humans evolved with only this much food/having to hunt/etc."

I don't know how valid a concern this is, but isn't it possible that with all of this discussion about evolution, that humans have actually... evolved? Who is to say that the diet(s) we evolved on were necessarily the most effective diet for our species?

It may be that I just haven't searched hard enough for the empirical evidence to support the claims backing Paleo (the ones for the Zone seem to be much easier to find). It's just that usually what I find is a blanket statement of "We evolved doing this. Therefore it is better." The fact of the matter is though, that creatures continue to evolve, and perhaps the most ideal diet for our species has changed given the changes in our lifestyles, body compositions, and societies.

Don't think for a second that I'm trying to imply that we've evolved to the point where a 3 course McDonald's meal is our ideal diet. I'm just curious as to why there are so many hardliners who feel that a diet that was good for us hundreds of thousands of years ago is still necessarily good for us now.

Maybe the obvious answer might: "Look at our performance and judge for yourself."

I'm not trying to bash Paleo at all... just trying to get a better understanding of it.

The reasons I lean towards the Zone is because it seems to have more empirical evidence to back it up. While Paleo as a premise sounds like it should be great, it seems to me like there's more meat on the bones of the Zone.

Similarly, I know that Intermittent Fasting is still a little experimental and debated, but there appear to be somewhat "expansive" studies that back it as a healthy option.

Question/Topic 2 (I didn't want to make two posts on somewhat the same subject):

As a vegetarian for just over a year, I'm beginning to reconsider eating meat, provided that I can find it from "humane" suppliers -- Whole Foods comes to find. I'd like to get myself in the Zone and really increase my CrossFit performance (I've been CrossFitting for about 6 months).

Having also read about the benefits of Intermittent Fasting, is it wise/possible to do a consistent IF routine while still staying in the Zone? I found a 4 page thread that skimmed the surface of this question but accidentally closed the window and lost it to the abyss.

I want to have the benefit of a Zone diet that increases my performance, but I'm also very intrigued by the overall health benefits that IF might provide (increased lifespan... I want to be alive for the first man on Mars. After that, come what may.)

I think the usual recommendation is to start to get into the Zone. Master the Zone. Become one with the Zone. THEN try to experiment with IF. Which is what I planned on doing anyways. But is there merit to cramming a 16 block day into an IF plan? My understanding of IF was that you end up eating extra on your "on" days to make up for what's lost on the "off" days.

Anyways sorry for typing so much. I'm not looking for a step-by-step how-to (though it would be nice ). More of just a generalized idea of what's healthy/unhealthy.

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Old 11-17-2007, 03:12 PM   #2
Frederic Giraud
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Re: "Why Paleo?" and other [not so] epic questions

Hi Elliot,

I'm gonna go and try to answer your first question.

In terms of evolution and visualisation of that evolution it is important to keep in mind the actual time proportion, and to illustrate this point imagine your self the whole creation, evolution of the planet earth and all the time it took. Put this time under a 24h scale. Where 0h is the begining and creation of earth, and where 24h is the actual present.

With that defined, if we try to see at which time life appeared, it would be around 23h59min. When humans appeared would at 23h59min59sec.

So for the whole day (24h) , we humans have only be around for 1 second.
Yes, thats really not a long time

It took the previous minute (23h59min) for life to evolve into humans.
And it took the whole day to get enough of all the required mats in order to have life.

Evolution take an enormous amount of time.

Now the "paleo-lithic" (spelling??) time frame is somewhere around 10,000 years ago. And from genetician (??speling?) the human genome (DNA) has been modified yes but there's only around 0.3% difference between actual DNA and DNA of "paleo" man.

Thus they claim that such little change is far from being enough to take into consideration the huge shift in our nutrition ( grain based since then).

I'll let other more experienced with IF and Zone answer your second question, and I hope I clarify at least a bit your views on te whole evolution .
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:15 PM   #3
Steve Liberati
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Re: "Why Paleo?" and other [not so] epic questions

For the last few million years ago humans have evolved steadily on this earth until about approx. 10,000 years ago or so with the advent of the Agriculture Revolution (i.e. controlling the food supply and eating foods outside of our natural adaption) the health of modern man has slowly been deteriorating year after year with rising obesity rates, onset of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many other largely preventable diseases of civilazation (most of which did not exist in hunter gather societies and pre-agriculture ancestoral human diets.

If you still have doubts and questions surrounding the practical use of eating foods that our bodies are naturally accustomed to expressing our genes, just take a look at the outstanding work of Loren Cordain. Go to his site and browse through the pile of studies he conducted on the Stone Age diet and the great health and fitness benefits they infered.

While one can make the argument that are environment has drastically evolved (or better yet changed which is a much better word) it certainly doesn't mean our bodies have evolved at the same pace. In fact, just the opposite has occured leading many people to refer back to our natural patterns of eating and foods (i.e Paleo).
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:23 PM   #4
Susie Rosenberg
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Re: "Why Paleo?" and other [not so] epic questions

Oh, man.

You've touched upon a subject that for me, engenders passion. I'll try not to go on and on, but stick with your questions/concerns, and share my own experience.

1. Your question about evolving humans is a good one. It's not as simple as it appears at first glance. For example, it's not true that we stopped evolving when we first became homo sapiens. With the ability to map the human genome (and more recently, that of chimpanzees, our closest living relative) scientists can ascertain when certain genes entered the human genome. They are able to say that a gene called microcephalin arose between 14,000 and 60,000 years ago and is now carried by 70 per cent of people. Another example is a variant of the ASPM gene, is as recent as 500 to 14,000 years old and is now carried by about a quarter of the global population. This latter gene seems to be associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder. (I'm a psychiatrist, so I know about both these genes from reading my professional literature.) However, the rapidity of changes in our culture's ability to process and deliver manufactured foods is clearly of a pace faster than evolution. It's only been 50-60 years since the advent of fast food, and the 40s and 50s saw an explosion of manufactured and convenience products that just are not found in nature. And it's pretty clear that this stuff is NOT good for us. (Think trans-fats, high-fructose corn syrup, etc.) So for me, the evidence is pretty compelling that we shouldn't be routinely eating things made in factories and found nowhere in that form in nature. I call these "ersatz foods." They are not made for our health, they are made to have a long shelf life and taste good to us so we'll buy them.

2. Paleo says nothing about quantities. It's only about what foods to choose. The Zone is all about what quantities of what types of food to eat, about balancing foods to get an optimal hormonal/metabolic equilibrium. You will find items on the Zone list like tortillas, rice, and other grains that don't show up on a paleo food list. Some people use Zone arithmetic to construct paleo meals. That's pretty much where I'm at for the moment.

3. If you read nothing else, read THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA. It's an amazingly written book all about the industrial food chain. It changed my mind about a lot of things concerning food. I'm a former vegetarian, myself. This book helped me a great deal make peace with eating meat....but I don't buy supermarket meat. I go to a farm where I can talk to the farmer, see the animals, and know that these animals have been pasture raised without hormones or routine antibiotics. The animals are what THEY eat, and a grassfed animal is a way different creature, nutritionally speaking, than a feedlot, corn-stuffed, antibiotic-laced animal.

4. I started eating along paleo lines a couple of months ago. I can't tell you what a difference it's made in my life. I thought I ate a clean diet beforehand--whole grains, lean proteins, low fat...but since I started eating this way, I've put on muscle and lost fat---about 2 inches off my waist. I have what feels like almost unlimited energy. I also have begun using Zone guidelines for constructing my meals, and this has also boosted my energy and sense of wellbeing.....and performance.

I hope this was a bit helpful.
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Old 11-17-2007, 04:46 PM   #5
Elliot Fuller
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Re: "Why Paleo?" and other [not so] epic questions

Good points about the evolutionary time scale... I probably should have thought of that.

Just to nit pick, though:

the health of modern man has slowly been deteriorating year after year with rising obesity rates, onset of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many other largely preventable diseases of civilazation (most of which did not exist in hunter gather societies and pre-agriculture ancestoral human diets.
While that seems true in some respects -- heart disease, diabetes, etc. -- in other respects we are living significantly longer than our predecessors. I imagine that's more due to the advances in modern medicine, though, rather than diet.

Thanks for clearing up some of my questions. I'm not sure where I stand right now as to what I plan on doing. I made my first 5 block Zone meal this morning (eggs, broccoli, almonds, apple sauce, protein+milk), and for such a simple meal, it took me almost 45 minutes to plan I'm hoping it gets easier down the road.

On that note ... is it realistic or "easy" (I know that depends on what your definition of easy is) to consider an Intermittent Paleozone Diet? Zone quantities of Paleo-food on an Intermittent Fasting scale? As I said, I'm interested in BEING healthy, living longer, and not just LOOKING healthy (like the girls/guys who starve themselves, weigh 105 pounds, and call themselves "healthy" because they're not 250 pounds overweight).

I think CrossFit is one piece of the puzzle: fitness. But as far as nutrition goes, I'm completely lost between Paleo/Zone/IF. There's so much information on these boards about it (a lot of it conflicting), it's hard to get a grasp.

Thanks for all of your thoughts though!

[edit] Susie, in particular, your post was really insightful!

Last edited by Elliot Fuller; 11-17-2007 at 04:50 PM..
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Old 11-17-2007, 06:23 PM   #6
Jay Cohen
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Re: "Why Paleo?" and other [not so] epic questions


All solid replies to your question.
Suggest you jump in and try something for 30/60 days, see what happens, tweak, continue.
You might also consider visiting Performance Menu boards for more info.
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