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Old 09-14-2005, 09:21 AM   #1
Neal Winkler
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Yesterday I decided to do some research on the Paleolithic diet.

I did a search in a database of 1700+ scientific journals, and in the past 20 years, only 113 artlicles contain the term "paleolithic diet" or "paleolithic nutrition." That is not a relatively lardge amount of research. Some of the articles suggested that we should think about consumming a paleolithic diet (1)(2), while other contradicted this position by claiming that there is no one paleolithic diet (3)(4).

Of those that believed there was a paleolithic diet, they disagreed over what exactly the macronutrient intake was for such a diet. Some suggested that the paloelithic diet was compromised of a very low fat intake of ~10%-20%(5) and a high carbohydrate intake, which is contradictory to the 30% fat intake prescription of Crossfit and it's many of its members. Others claimed that it was a highly variable 24%-47%.

However, in short research I did come a across a diet called the "Mediterranean diet" or "Crete diet." A database search for "Mediterranean diet" or "Mediteranean nutrition" over the past 20 years returned 1522 articles, which is a substantially greater amount of research. The people of Crete were found to have the greatest longevity and lowest occurence of many illnesses.

Interestingly, a paper by Simopoulos showed that the Crete diet resembled the Paleolithic diet in terms of fiber, antioxidants, saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and the ratio of (n-6) to (n-3) fatty acids (6). However, the Crete diet differs greatly in that one comsumes grains (e.g. breah, pasta) and dairy, all foods eschewed by the Paleolithic diet.

I'm sure there are more studies on the Paleolithic diet that I did not find, and admittingly, a couple of the studies that seemed to have pro-Paleolithic diet titles I was unable to view an abstract or full-text for.

(1) Bashetti, R. (2005). The ideal diet is one indicated by evolution, 96(1), 166.

(2) Eaton, S. B., & Konner, M. J. (1997). Paleolithic nutrition revisited: a twelve-year retrospective on its nature and implications . The European Jounal of Clinical Medicine, 51(4), 207-216.

(3) Milton, K. (2000). Back to basics: why foods of wild primates have relevance for modern human health. Nutrition, 16(7-8), 480-483.

(4) Garn, S. M. (1997). From the miocene to olestra: a historical perspective on fat consumption . Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 97(7), S54-S57.

(5) Poston II, W. S., & Foreyt, J. P. (1999). Obesity is an enviromental issue. Atherosclerosis, 146(2), 201-209.

(6) Simopoulos, A. P. (2001). The mediterranean diets: what is so special about the diet of greece? the scientific evidence. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, 131, 3065S-3073S.

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Old 09-14-2005, 11:08 AM   #2
Jason Berger
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Very interesting. Now I'm interested in the Crete Diet.

I love reading the Weston A. Price Foundation's work (even though I'm not sure I agree with all of it) and they claim that fat consumption was between 40-80% of traditional diets (not just the Inuit); if you're interested in more research along these lines, the WAP Foundation's website has a great list of recommended reading.
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Old 09-14-2005, 12:43 PM   #3
Seth Orell, Jr.
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Thank you for doing some legwork on this, Neal. I place a high degree of importance on scientfic, peer-reviewed publications.

Now, this could mean that few studies have been performed on "paleo" diets, that few "paleo" studies are worthy of publishing, or any combination between. Time will tell.
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Old 09-19-2005, 11:24 AM   #4
Neal Winkler
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But the question is, if few studies have been peformed on paleolithic diets, then how can there be a basis for making nutritional recommendations based on the paleolithic diet?
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Old 09-19-2005, 11:38 AM   #5
Jeff Martin
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Robb is probably traveling today. Give him some time he'll respond to this I'm sure.
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Old 09-19-2005, 01:23 PM   #6
Roger Harrell
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Robb's just coming off the seminar...
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Old 09-20-2005, 02:59 PM   #7
Robert Wolf
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I have actually been avoiding just craks open a whole can of worms. has some of the best science around on the topic.

Placing legitimacy on a protocol based on the "peer review" process is absurd IMO. There are thousands of research articles on sugar, does this legitimize its consumption? There are NO research articles on CrossFit, should I quit doing it because it has not been anointed as legitimate by the NSCA?

F.A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom among many other books) Was one of the most insightful economists of the 20th century yet he is completely ignored by current economics departments...he is essentially a non-entity, so forget his work?

I could go on...sorry if this is cranky but there is plenty of information and basic intuitive sense regarding a diet that was generated as a consequence of evolutionary bniology...the Mediteranian diet which you mentioned above based part of it validity on being similar to our "ancestral diet". Humans are opportunistic omnivores and no single diet describes their history but there are certainly some clues of what we did NOT eat and some things like optimum foraging theory and this pesky concept to thermodynamics that leads one to some solid conclusions regarding what we would and would not have eaten....again this is covered in Loren Cordains work at

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Old 09-21-2005, 04:41 AM   #8
Larry Lindenman
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Look up the Zone. "High protein", "high fat", "fad diet", "no basis for recommendation". Heard it all. Hard to respect the OPINION of researchers who's "Helen" time would be measured in hours not minutes. Also nutrition studies all suck...25 average males...50 overweight individuals...75 college students. Compliance is a huge issue and your not going to find a study which relates specifically to what we do. When people within my community latch onto somthing, it's because it works for them, in the community. You've got a lot of no nonsense people in this community supporting paleo/Zone. They make no money to offer their support. Do your own study. 6 months on Paleo/Zone ain't going to kill you...commit and see what happens. If your not happy...go to Crete and eat some more bread.
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Old 09-21-2005, 07:07 AM   #9
Joe Miller
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"F.A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom among many other books) Was one of the most insightful economists of the 20th century yet he is completely ignored by current economics departments...he is essentially a non-entity, so forget his work?"

Rob, where did you go to school?!!? I got plenty of exposure to Hayek when I studied economics, as did most economists I know. I even hit my first year students with some of his ideas when I taught intro courses.

Sorry to completely hijack the thread... this just piqued my curiosity...
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Old 09-21-2005, 07:37 AM   #10
Neal Winkler
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Thanks for link. There are a lot of the research articles on Cordain's site that I was not able to find in the searches.

Now, don't think that I am trying to argumentative by bringing this up, I would be more than happy to go to a paleo diet if that's what was right. However, I do believe that it is important for things like this be studied and if I don't find a lot of confirmation of it from our best scientific resources then I feel it is best to hold back and stick with something else until the data for the new theory has been substanciated.

I read that you have a degree in biochemistry or something of that nature, so you have to keep in mind that as someone who is somewhat of a layman it is hard for me to reconcile the vast differences between the current nutritional recommendations and those of the paleo/zone diet. What am I to think? Who am I to believe? I am in no position to look at the debates between Cordain, Sears, and their adversaries and decide for myself who is right. I can read a scientific article if it doesn't get too dense, but when people start saying that such and such that the other person said is not true and then they come back and say that it is, then I'm out of luck.

Anyways, thank's for your time, and I will definately take a close look at Cordains site.


I doubt that Sears or Cordains "Helen" times would be much better. :wink: And you're right when you say that the people in the crossfit community don't make any money off the paleo/zone diet, but Cordain and Sears do. They make money off of book sales and premade zone diets that you order off the internet ect.. I had been thinking of doing your suggestion of trying the diet myself to see how I feel though, perhaps for a week or more.

Anyways, in closing to both of you, please do not take me as just being argumentative or "trolling" or anything of the sort by bringing this up. I honestly set out to research the paleo diet in good faith. As Robb commented, due to the intuitive nature of the theory, I actually thought at the onset that I would find a lot of confirmation of the paleo diet, but it just turned out that I was less than satisfyied with the results. That's ok, I will keep looking at things and hopefully come to a conclusion.
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