The Paleo Diet – The Ultimate Review Released!


Walk into any Crossfit gym these days and the predominant nutritional advice you’ll hear is unfortunately that of the Paleo Diet. Now I am by no means knocking Crossfit – it is a fantastic style of exercise programming that forces extreme intensity and can yield awesome results in strength, speed, and endurance. I do find it disappointing though that such a great program is nearly always lumped with the Paleo diet. If you haven’t heard of it, the Paleolithic diet was created by Dr. Loren Cordain, and specifies that the ideal diet for homo sapiens is one that our hunter-gatherer ancestors (possibly) ate – one that is low carb, high in meat, vegetables, some fruit, and devoid of ‘modern foods’ that require agriculture or cooking such as grains, legumes, and dairy products.

While eating lots of fruits and vegetables and avoiding dairy products are obviously great ideas, current nutrition science shows that basing your diet off of meat is dangerous and will greatly increase your risk of heart disease and cancer, among other things. But don’t take my word for it!

An awesome video series has just been released that completely refutes the logic of the Paleo diet point by point, with loads of scientific evidence and all using scholarly rhetoric (as opposed to argumentative/opinion based-rhetoric)! And Marcella and I were honored to be shown in the first video as examples of athletes who follow a non-Paleo diet successfully; thanks for the recognition! Even if you aren’t nesecarily interested in whether or not the Paleo diet is scientifically sound, this series serves as one of the best resources for human nutrition I have ever come across, even when compared to university courses and professional certifications I have attended! I urge you to watch the entire series, and to share it with your friends (and your local Crossfit gym-goers!).


Some common questions about our evolution and nutrition that this series covers are:

  • When did humans start eating grains and legumes? Video 6 Are these foods really unhealthy? Video 17
  • Did meat consumption really contribute to encephalization (our brain size)? Video 10
  • Was the paleolithic climate really so cold that the only food source humans could find were animals? Video 11
  • Just how nutritious is the Paleo diet? Video 14
  • What about protein, is meat really the healthiest source? Video 19, 20, 21
  • Weren’t Eskimos healthy eating an animal-based diet? Video 27
  • Is fruit fattening? Video 49
  • Are low carb diets healthy? Video 52
  • Is grass-fed ‘natural’ beef environmentally friendly? Video 70

And much more! With 71 videos at roughly 10 minutes each, there is a phenomenal amount of nutritional information in this series – everything is covered! To introduce his series, the producer wrote:

“Welcome to The Primitive Nutrition Series. Created by someone who was nearly seduced by the Paleo Diet idea before going vegan, these videos provide a wide-ranging response to the evolution-inspired rationale for meat eating which so many have uncritically accepted… These videos are intended to be viewed in order, from 1 to 71. See them all and you will never again fall for a fad diet. It’s time to move away from gimmickery and hype, and toward a healthy and sustainable future. Let’s start something positive!”

So, please check it out and share it with your friends, plant-based advocates and skeptics alike!


43 thoughts on “The Paleo Diet – The Ultimate Review Released!”

  1. Why do I not know any meat eaters that are over 50 (and many younger than that) that don’t suffer from some sort of ailment be it diabetes, poor eyesight, impotence, heart disease, obesity, anemia, cancer, death, etc? Why are ALL of the vegans I know SO healthy, including my 97 year old grandparents, and my 70’s parents? Please tell me why my husbands sex drive increased 100% and his eyesight improved and continues to slowly improve on a vegan diet?

  2. Derek and Marcella,

    Thank you for posting this and to all who shared so passionately.

    I had two thoughts while reading (most) of the posts.

    1) I didn’t see anything on the time lining of eating more meat and the advent of cooking our food. It appears that cooking our food may have more to do with length of life and garnering calories from our food than does eating meat.

    2) I went back over the posts and it appears (I believe) that the people who are so passionate about the paleo diet are much more aggressive and less able to hear another side( does anyone else see that?).

    As an aside, I am age 40, a longtime vegan bodybuilder at 5’7″ 180 and 10% body fat and healthy as a “horse”. I am grateful for the information that I have learned and the way that I eat in regards to my health, the planet and my longevity.

  3. Are people seriously still harping on this nonsense that meat causes cancer and heat disease? Wow, haha. I thought everyone was past that nonsense. If you completely ignore evolution, and examine just molecular biology, it’s still pretty damn obvious. Poor, poor vegans.

  4. @Michael -Hominids evolved in a single climate zone.
    @Squidey-Along with technology and civilization came the modern diseases that we see in agricultural societies. These diseases are virtually absent in hunter gatherer populations today. Brain size and musculature was greater in Neanderthal Man than in modern humans, this is scientific fact. There is current and evolving evidence that is pointing toward an acclimation of pre-modern humans into modern human genetics instead of a vanishing of the sub-species. Agreed that agriculture provided us with more time to spend working on craft specialization rather than resource acquisition. This mattered up until the industrial revolution when technology provided us with increased craft production that no longer required specific craftspeople to create everyday items. People hoping to recapture the health and fitness realized by the hunter-gatherer populations have returned to our biologically adapted lifestyle.

  5. i was on the paleo diet too long ketosois set it blood pressure plummeted to dangerously low levels, i had problems sleeping and i experienced electrolyte imbalances. Fortuantley i recognized this early enough before it led to kidney or liver damage. i wish i had been warned.

  6. A recent NOVA exploring Darwins theories of selection suggests that brain development had NOTHING to do with diet, so sorry to both the meat eating and plant eating factions. Primates have enormous jaw muscles, and a result the sutures in the cranium must fuse in order to support that muscle. Humans have a genetic change the causes the jaw muscle to be smaller than primates. The cranium in humans due to this smaller jaw muscles do not fuse until adulthood and allowed for brain expansion.

  7. I am a little late in joining the discussion but I thought I would add my two cents.

    In an attempt to find the ”perfect” diet the most important aspect is how foods affect us NOW. It is interesting and in all likelihood reaffirming to know about our evolutionary history in regards to food, but we can only confirm that which we know now. Most scientific studies seem to show that a plant-based diet is beneficial to human health. As far as Lierre Keith, if you look at her interviews it is quite evident she has very little nutritional knowledge. ”There are no plant sources for fat-soluble vitamins”. I cannot think of anything more silly to say. This is false.

    In any case, for those who need to understand the evolutionary reasons for why humans seem to do well on eating mostly plant foods, Evolutionary Nutrition: The Scientific & Theoretical Validation of Veganism, is a very interesting read. It is based on archaeological and scientific evidence, although it must be said, just like any other theories regarding the evolutionary history of our diets, it is a theoretical work. It has theoretical explanations on human brain expansion, the benefits of caloric restriction, the benefits of plants, the false illusion of the benefits of protein-rich animal foods, etc. I encourage anyone interested in evolution to read it with an open mind and consider its claims.

    I have personally corresponded back and forth with the author who is a very educated person with a lot of nutritional knowledge with a PhD in Public Health/Epidemiology and a Masters in Thanatology. He is in addition an accomplished powerlifter who seems to be doing extremely well on a calorically restricted vegetal diet. Although his physique does not prove anything scientifically, it is certainly provocative considering his diet which is counter to what many would consider the optimal diet.

    1. On a last note, his book also answers the questions concerning the diets of our fellow primates, the ”Great Apes’, of whom we are a part. The carnivorous hunting excursions of certain chimpanzees is discussed.

      I am in no way associated financially with the author, but his work has challenged my own thoughts concerning nutrition and I thought he deserves a broader audience for those willing to research.

  8. I used to be vegan. Was for 4 years. All I can say is wow, when I switched to paleo. It makes so much sense now that I might just be the another one to write about the switch from vegan to paleo. Which by the way I don’t see any vegans that switch to paleo, switching back to vegan. Maybe it is because your are missing something? You can not survive in nature on a vegan diet. Without those supplements like b-12, your screwed. Synthetic just doesnt cut it either and if you switched to paleo youd have a clear head for a change.

    1. Gluten is bad. and any other “gluten like” protein found in grains and other starches is bad. Fact. Can’t argue that. Grass fed beef and wild caught fish are kings of protein. Starch makes you fat. Fact. Bodybuilders are the leanest people on the planet. No dairy and carb cycle in which they eventually completely cut out starch to get their leanest before a show.

      1. @grapeape such nonsense, gluten is fine for most of the population and there is nothing inherently fattening about starch. Saying ‘fact’ after each statement doesnt make them so.

      2. If gluten is so bad for you, why did my grandma, who thrived on a mostly vegan, high grains high fruit/veg diet, live to be a healthy (still lived by herself) 97 years old? And why did her son, who ate a heavy meat diet, need heart surgery at 47? PLEASE tell me?????

  9. If you Google “Beef linked to Cancer,” you will pull 35,700,000 results that implicate beef as the cause of cancer. But if you Google “Grass-fed Beef linked to Cancer,” you’ll find 500,000 results that suggest that CLA and Vitamin E in grass-fed beef PREVENT cancer. Ha! Where’s the beef now!!!

    Find another argument, genius.

    1. Ah, yes, the scientific method: when comparing two hypothesis just type them into the Google search bar, and see how many results you get!! It’s how I learned that it’s possible to enlarge one’s penis naturally (1,190,000 results) and that I can cut belly fat with just one weird old tip (2,010,000 results)…
      So much easier than book learnin’…

  10. Australopithecus robustus – vs- Australopithecus gracile…. we are direct descendants of Australopithecus gracile.. they began to forage for meat and bones…. Australopithecus robustu was exclusively Vegan.. the became extinct.. as for the post above ^^^.. decisions about nutrition should NOT be influenced by its impact on the environment. We should exclusively choose our foods and sources of those foods based on their impact on OUR BODIES. The suggestion exemplified by the study above is tantamount to suggesting that we all hold our breath because of its impact on the atmosphere.

  11. I love it. You guys eat Vegan, I’ll stick to grass-fed meat and starchy tubers. Then let’s talk in 15 years. Science aside, I know what makes me feel like a sexual tyrannosaurus. Eat like the predator you are…

    1. LOL going from eating animals to not eating animals improved my sex life with my husbnad 100%. So yeah, keep eating your rotting carcass. We WILL talk in 15 years…. if you’re still around.

  12. I was vegetarian for fourteen years and vegan for nine and a half of those years. Once I began eating a Paleolithic diet the quality of my health and physique skyrocketed.

    1. Results like this are hard to judge, because we have no idea what your vegan diet consisted of, or if anything else changed, like your exercise program. I witnessed a phenomenal improvement in body composition and performance when I adopted a plant-based diet, as have many of my clients. In fact, I’ve had several times more winners than any other trainer in my area in Gold’s Gyms annual fitness challenge, and I attribute that to plant based-nutrition and intense exercise.

      1. At times I ate high quality, legitimately healthy stuff–other times, not so much. But I always had gas (to one extent or another), was constantly hungry, and even had diabetic symptoms arise. I like how I now eat stuff that ends up fully digested (no gas) and can practice intermittent fasting with ease.

        1. be careful and watch for symptoms of heart disease. All the meat eaters in my family died of heart disease or diabetes. My vegan grandparents were the only ones lived to be 97.

          1. Laura – I am vegan and have been for a few years. But preachers like you give veganism a bad name. Quit it.

  13. I used to be a raw vegan — 99.99% vegan for 6 years. It is a FANTASTIC way to cleanse. Eating raw is DEFINITELY superior, so much that I wrote a book (The Live Food Factor) with 66 studies to prove it. But the vegan diet is too restrictive LONG TERM for most of us. It is unnatural. My newest book, Beyond Broccoli, goes into this in depth. I got all kinds of deficiencies which took YEARS to manifest…. because the body can store up certain nutrients. Yes, most nutrients found in plants can be converted to those found in animal foods (ex: omega 3 from flax to DHA), BUT THE CONVERSION RATE IS POOR. I now advocate a diet with SOME animal foods, but not as much as the Paleo people are advocating. It should be HIGH PLANT but NOT VEGAN.

  14. Thank you for the comments everyone, I’m glad to see this information is getting attention from people of different backgrounds! All of the questions and comments here are addressed in detail, and with supporting research, in the video series so I urge you to watch it in full! Any questions you may have thereafter would be better placed on the producer’s comment board under the videos – he is much more informed on the the topic of prehistoric nutrition and the surrounding issues than I am. I do know however that there is an abundance of current epidemiological evidence illustrating the dangers of consuming animal products, as well as excellent clinical research showing a whole foods, plant-based diet reversing or attenuating western civilizations most deadly diseases – heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. This strongly argues that consuming animal products is not optimal for human health, regardless of what past cultures may have eaten.

    1. If you call what the guy in the video shows as “supporting research”, most of his “research” are from special interest groups and quickly shown and pulled away so you can’t get an accurate idea of the study. Please read the “Framingham Studies” that were performed on HUMANS before making anymore negative comments on eating meat. I totally respect vegans for their ethics, but it’s rediculous to tell me or anyone else that quality grass fed meat is anything but healthy and extremely nutrient dense.

  15. Derek,

    Chimpanzees and Orangutans are both omnivores. Chimps will use classic hunting techniques to flush other, smaller monkeys, to other members of their pack (my word) to be caught and eaten. They have also been know to use sticks as spears to stab and kill Bush Babys. Orangutans have also been know to steal fish out of traps.
    If you would like Derek, I could send you a year’s subscription to National Geographic. With the theory of evolution under attack, they have been doing a wonderful series on the evolution of man and Darwinism this past year .

    1. Derek is too polite to say it but he has a degree in biology, my friend. The offer of a National Geographic subscription is sweet and all, and he does enjoy reading it occasionally, but he needn’t rely on it for his understanding of animal physiology. He’s got actual textbooks!!

  16. We are NOT primates? Didn’t you study Anthropology 101 in university? You’re the one who needs to do some serious reading.

  17. Aaron, are you saying a you would have preferred a friendly interview? You’d be happier with a Paleo infomercial? How could that possibly convey as much information? This series is about education and advocacy. It has a point of view. It’s bound to hurt some feelings, considering so many have invested themselves in this deeply flawed concept.

    You didn’t seem to understand the point about the appeal to nature fallacy.

    Whole grains are not high-GI. Soak and cook your grains. Realize these compounds have health-promoting properties. Epidemiology has demonstrated the disease-fighting potential of whole grains.

    No doubt Paleo was an improvement over your old diet. It’s still not worth closing your mind to new information. Or did you already know everything in that series?

  18. This is a silly criticism, in that Paleo is not low carb. There is no set macronutrient level in Paleo. There is more to Paleo than Loren Cordain’s first edition of his book. He has a new edition which is much revised and updated, and there are many Paleo books and resources since then.

  19. I always find it interesting that the people that tell you good thing about your bad habits find a way to make a buck from it. Ponder this. Do you think all the people in the prehistoric world were in one climate zone? People in colder seasonal climates most likely ate more meat as it was the only thing around during parts of the year. In more temperate areas, why would you pursue risky behaviors when you could gather plants? Look at aboriginal cultures today and you will see they eat far more insects than “animals”.

  20. Please remind me which culture throughout the entire evolution of Humans lived on a plant only diet, thank you in advance. Also, where are all the studies to tell us how good grains and sugar are for our bodies.

    1. Hi Aaron,

      Thank you for your comment!

      To answer your first questions all we need to do is look back to human’s first ancestors – primates. All primates survive on a 100% or nearly 100% plant-based diet, and we share 96% of our genes with them. And besides, that is not the message this series is trying to convey. We have ample research today that shows immense benefits of a whole foods plant based diet, so why should we base our nutrition off of what pre-historic humans may have eaten?

      And to answer your second question: No, refined sugar is never a healthy addition to your diet, no argument there. Whole grains, however, became the staple of every major civilization that evolved past the point of hunter-gatherer society; with wheat in Europe, rice in Asian, and corn in South American. You might even say we owe modern civilization to grains. We even have roughly 14 times more copies of the gene to produce amylase, the enzyme that digests starches like those found in whole grains, than our primate relatives. Why produce so much grain digesting enzyme and why have so many back-up copies of its gene if grains are bad for us? Some great resources touting the benefits of whole grains are:

      Dr. McDougal’s The starch Solution:

      The Whole Grain Council:

      1. Your “series” is mearly trying to act as if being vegan is superior to eating meat. I didn’t like the condescending tone of the gentleman that did the videos, lobbing insults at every available opportunity. A better approach would be to interview someone like Robb Wolf or Mark Sisson and let them answer your questions in a professional manner. The paleo/primal diet has changed my life and MANY others around me, when you bash other peoples lifestyles you will shut many people out to your true message. Additionally, I would NEVER get my whole grain information off of the “whole grains council” website, I prefer to follow independent studies. I can find you websites that tout HFCS, that doesn’t mean they are correct. As for your first answer, it could have just as easily have been, “there are none” (vegan human civilizations) we are NOT primates. The human body is inefficient at best when it comes to digesting whole grains which are loaded with anitnutrients and are far more glycemic than other food sources. Read up on phyates, gluten, and lectin if you would like and we will continue this discussion later. Take care

        1. We are NOT primates? Didn’t you study Anthropology 101 in university? You’re the one who needs to do some serious reading.

      2. The primate plant diet is the reason they’re primates and we’re humans with higher functioning brains. The best example is the gorilla which has to eat massive amounts of food (hence the giant belly) to sustain itself. The gorilla spends virtually all its time eating. Early hominids were able to develop higher functioning brain power because they ate calorie dense foods like meat. By eating meat, they were not only able to spend less time eating and thus developing other skills, the nutritional value of the food itself gave the brain the energy it needed (brains require lots of electricity) to develop into increasing complexity and power. Ironically, the only reason a human can sustain a “healthy” lifestyle with a vegan diet is because of the developmental gains made in the past by meat eaters.
        For the record, I fully support vegans and admire the low impact of a vegan diet on the environment but to sell veganism as a healthy option for humans is pure rubbish.

        1. also, check out Vegetarian Myth
          Well written book by a former vegan. Also, the idea that vegan/vegetarianism is less destructing to life is not true, especially if looked at with regards to soil, life forms in the soil and its destruction for large cash (grain) crops. Just my 2 cents

          1. If you do check out Vegetarian Myth, make sure to check out this video as well. For formal, peer-reviewed research comparing resources required for a variety of diets, see article “Geophysics and nutritional science: toward a novel, unified paradigm” by Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition as well as the the latest report from the UN, entitled “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production” that includes about 100 pages of evidence supporting the conclusion that “A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

        2. You should check out the latest post at paleoveganology that goes over the recent tests published that refute the expensive tissue hypothesis. I dont agree with your idea that eating meat meant we could spend less time eating, and as such allow humans to develop other skills. The biggest advances in technology and civilization came as a result of agriculture, not increased meat eating.

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