“The Original Low-Carb Diet”

Just a quick hit, as I said earlier that I'd review Jimmy Moore's interview with Dr. Loren Cordain once I'd listened to it.

First off, I highly recommend it. The best parts concern anti-nutrients and toxins in foods that a low-carber might eat, because the focus is on low carb and not on foods we evolved to eat (and the "foods" we should avoid like the plague). In other words, low-carbers often don't experience the sorts of health benefits paleos do, because many eat stuff like this and other modern concoctions. In essence, many are stuck in the same place as the low-fatters. You can only eat so much protein, the upper limit being around 1/3 of total energy. So, the remainder is going to be some combination of fat and carbohydrate. Consequently, the low-fatters are necessarily high-carbers, and industry has seen to it that they have plenty of low-fat processed products loaded with sugar and other crap. Conversely, industry is seeing to the low-carbers as well, giving them all sorts of processed "food" with cheap ingredients nobody ate for the 2.5 million years preceding the last 10,000 years. That would be all fine and good, but we're talking about foods that are literally poison to some degree for most -- maybe even all -- people, causing low-level inflammation below the pain threshold that goes unchecked for decades. To make matters worse, many of these grain-based products promote the production of small, dense LDL (VLDL) and oxidized LDL, the very thing that acts upon inflamed arteries to form plaques.

The good thing about the paleo principle is that it's a principle, not a description for a macronutrient ratio. As such, you could never call this low-carb bread paleo. Look at the ingredients:

whole grains, bean, seeds of kamut, spelt, wheat, rye, millet, lentils, eggs, soy protein, flax, sesame, quinoa, amaranth, wheat gluten, 7 grain flakes, oat bran, sea salt & yeast.

So, while it meets the qualifications of a low-carb diet, very nearly all of the ingredients -- and the top 8 in terms of volume -- are not things anyone would have consumed in any important quantity prior to 10,000 years ago. Virtually all plants have toxins, but our ancestors spent 2.5 million years in a push-pull struggle with natural selection to adapt to most of them.

Now, everyone will want to know: yes, Cordain is still beating the "lean meat" mantra, though he doesn't seem to be dwelling on it, as least not to the obsessive extent he did in his book. And, he's still justifying this stance on the basis of the total fat proportion of the total edible content of wild animals, while relying on the assumption that primitives would have eaten entire carcasses, one by one, start to finish, nose to hoof to tail, rather than being wasteful and selective, as virtually all predators are -- which is why there's a whole wild kingdom of scavengers in virtually every ecological niche.

One notable difference from his book, published in 2000 I believe, is that he's now recommending supplementing vitamin D for all, regardless of diet and he says 2,000 IU per day out to be the lower limit. I agree.

No mention of "Paleo" skinless chicken breasts, "Paleo" canola oil, or "Paleo" diet soft drinks, thank god.

All in all, it's a great interview, Loren Cordain is a hero, and Jimmy Moore is a superstar with his podcasts that you can subscribe to on iTunes.

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Comments

  1. Dear Richard, great post and fully agree when you say "Loren Cordain is a hero, and Jimmy Moore is a superstar". I think the paleo community is getting stronger, and stronger, perhpaps preparing for world paleo domination? Ahahah!;) Best wishes. PS: I suppose the paleolithic diet, most of the time, wasn't a low carb diet, so we can't call it "the original low carb diet" (but it certainly is "the original low-glycemic diet"). Please see my demonstration about this, based on the acid-alkaline balance, in this forum (last message): http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthread.php?t=377374&page=2

  2. Oh, you've made some very good points.

    Five years ago when I went low carb, I lost weight and at first I felt great, but after a year or so, my energy levels plummeted. It was like constantly walking through waist high water and I was c-o-l-d all the time. Turns out I was hypothyroid, though I suspect my thyroid function was slightly low long before I dropped my carbs. But I do wonder if I didn't tax my thyroid further (like the proverbial straw on the camel's back) during the final year of high carb eating (lots of bread machine baking with added wheat gluten) and that first year of low carb (overall I didn't eat many of those LC manufactured foods, but I did eat low carb bread with added gluten and soy protein).

    First I ditched all the added soy (except for rare and small servings of traditionally fermented wheat-free tamari) when I realized soy could interfere with thyroid function, then I ditched the LC bread as I cleaned up my diet and moved away from packaged, manafactured foods. Along with a T4/T3 thyroid hormone treatment combination, my health has improved tremendously in the past 3 three years. I've been off all wheat & gluten in strict way (as opposed to merely limiting them) entirely for a number of months and wish I'd clued into the gluten problem years ago.

    Now, I still stay low carb, but I'm guided by an evolutionary context for my foods and I choose those that I know will support health, not sabotage it, like soy and wheat.

  3. Yes, here's another issue I have with Cordain and, is why I refer to my diet as paleo, primal, ancestral, etc. While I'm sure there were plenty of populations, particularly in tropical and equatorial regions eating net alkaline, there were certainly plenty of peoples father north eating net acidic, at least most of the year, and for those near the arctic circle, all the time.

    I think, and my approach definitely is, to find what works best for you in that spectrum.

    What I'm contending is that anything from a zero carb to a relatively high carb (like the Kitavans at 70%) can be part of a perfectly paleolithic, primal, ancestral diet.

  4. I don;t want to be nasty but I'd have to disagree about Jimmy. His podcasts can be great, but one minute he is doing an interview with Loren Cordain the next he is running a competition to find great recipes involving his latest affiliate venture – low carb bread – whole grain bread. I don't know if you have ever looked at JM's menus – they are a disaster.

    For all the great interviews he does he seems to ignore it when he comes to his own diet – lots of products full of artificial sweeteners and diet sodas. I've dialogued with him about this but it is like talking to a brick wall.

    However I have come to realise that he is a professional blogger and a lot of his sites are about generating affiliate income. Hence he will promote this low carb bread or chocolate bars or whatever.

    Business is where all this gets a bit distasteful. But I suppose that is the freedom of the market. It just all seems a bit inconsistent.

  5. Anna, what are your thoughts on sourdough, particularly from rye? Although I think the best evidence leads to an opinion that sprouted/soaked grains are suboptimal (see my comment on the statistical comparison of dental health of WAPF-type grain eaters to more paleo eaters, here: )http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/04/fructose-vs-glucose-showdown.html), I'm wondering if such foods couldn't be part of healthy diet for people without an underlying metabolic issue/damaged glucose metabolism. Not paleo, but the proper processing seems to rid these foods of a good portion of their anti-nutrients. My fiance still loves bread, and I think I'm going to try making sprouted rye sourdough and see if we can't get him off of commercial bread, at the least.

  6. Chris:

    Let me clarify about Jimmy. I think he's a superstar for all he does to promote others, like Cordain, Taubes, Eades, Davis…I could go on and on. He's doing a lot of great work out there, and, in spite of his increasing focus on processed food products, he's probably saved a number of lives out there just by helping people to lose weight.

    Never looked at his menus until now, but this tells me all I need to know:

    http://lowcarbmenu.blogspot.com/2009/04/april-23-2009-low-carb-menu.html

    Make no mistake. I consider that a pretty awful diet, even not considering his unfortunate faux pas with the energy drink. Now I remember why I failed at Atkins about 6 times and I'll never fail at my mod-paleo.

    Here's what I don't get. First, he already proved to himself that sweets derail his own progress, and yet he doesn't even seem to be trying to curb them now. Second, in the interview with Cordain, Jimmy validly speculates that his wife's fibromyalgia is likely a product of all the wheat she consumes — and yet, he's promoting that low carb bread like there's no tomorrow.

    Well, when and if I ever begin having corporate affiliations, they will all be centered around real food only, made with great care.

  7. Yeah, I don't tell people I do 'low-carb' anymore because of all those disgusting low-carb bars and products that people associate with it.

    Question: One thing that has been confusing me recently is the discussion of fermenting and how it relates to beer, whiskey and vodka. Those products are wheat or grain-based, but does the fermenting reduce the harmful effects? I like to go to a bar every once in while, and will continue to do so, but is there a 'less harmful' product I can choose? I usually dislike the wine selection, so that isn't really an option.

  8. Fantastic! Good listening material makes my daily work commute so much less a drudgery. Thanks for the heads-up on this one, Richard.

  9. Richard, you're exactly right about what most people do about "low-fat" and "low-carb". That is, they buy the processed foods with those labels. I know, because I've done both and neither worked for me :)

    We need to get back to eating the foods that our ancestors ate, not the manufactured crap filled with nasty additives, covered up with addicting flavor enhancers, and dressed in glitzy packaging. It's time to go backward to the future :)

  10. I'm afraid I have to agree with Chris regarding some of Jimmy Moore's low-carb food choices/menus and products advertised on his site. But, the information, interviews and people he brings to his podcasts and blog posts give us something to learn. HIs blog, forums and podcasts are fantastic, they bring information to us, so we can all incorporate it as we see fit. It is very evident that "low-carb" and "paleo" nutrition are not the same thing! My nutrition is evolving and Jimmy Moore's podcasts are a huge part of that.

    Cordain is fascinating, his recent interview is very agreeable to me. His book could likely benefit from a re-edit/re-write in regards to certain aspects that are negative towards higher fat intake and saturated fat intake from free range animal sources (if Cordain now sees things that way himself) and to eliminate support of artificial sweeteners and such non-Paleo things. See this reveiw at Weston A Price:

    And, David, if only cannabis were legal, we'd have paleo options for getting a buzz on! I'd guess wine is likely to remain the best paleo-ish option for an adult drink from time to time. Again, low-carb does not equal paleo!

  11. Back to the future. A great reference.

    Richard Nikoley

  12. Monica,

    Quick reply to your question – I think I tend to think along the same lines as you with the gluten-sourdough issue. Since testing positive in January to both antibodies to gluten and genes that predispose to gluten/celiac problems (both my son and I), it's on my mind a lot. I've decided not to tempt fate with the sourdough. I l-o-v-e sourdough bread, don't get me wrong, but it isn't worth it to me to constantly trigger my immune system or risk fat and fat soluble vitamin malabsorption for my growing son (he was mildly positive on this test, I was not). I'm just so over the bread addiction so it really doesn't matter to me anymore. Wish my son was.

    But, for people who don't over do it, don't seem to have gluten issues, don't have BG issues, etc. the true sourdough breads are probably not too harmful if not over consumed. In terms of the Price data populations, it's splitting hairs compared to modern day diets. The problem as I see it is getting people to truly understand what is long-fermented sourdough bread and what is a pale imitation. Too many would accept the pale imitation sourdough and think all was well.

    And most of the info I see on this in modern times is based on self-reported GI symptoms or lack of GI symptoms. My son and I don't get much in the way of GI symptoms ( we have other symptoms), so that's not a good barometer for us. for others, it might be a good indication of damage or not. I just think this is an individual issue, but one which needs more investigation.

    Thanks for the Jimmy more interview. I don't often listen any more, unless there is something especially of interest, like this one. I've been listening to Gary Null lately instead.

  13. The thing I keep saying to Jimmy is that he should eat real food. Meat, eggs, veggies some fruit. There has been such a breakdown in culture that many people rarely cook a proper meal form scratch anymore so such a prescription is a real challenge to them. They simply do not know where to start.

    Plus I think people are literally addicted to the sweet taste, be that sugar or artificial sweeteners.

    I don't want this to turn into Jimmy bashing, but It is the inconsistency that gets me with Jimmy – the fact that he is simultaneously promoting wholegrain bread while talking to Cordain. But it is about business – his sites are selling products, even his daily menus. Real food doesn't have much potential in terms of affiliate income, whereas locarb chocolate bars or bread can earn a crust.

    Plus he is still struggling with his own weight – last time he reported it he had a 46" waist and was over 240lb. When he cuts the artificial products he does better, but it seems he can't kick them.

  14. Not sure about the booze, but re fermentation in general I've been reading a few of Seth's posts about his introduction of more femented food e.g.

    http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2009/02/12/the-comforts-of-the-unami-hypothesis/

    A few weeks ago I came up with the idea that evolution shaped us to like umami taste, sour taste, and complex flavors so that we will eat more harmless-bacteria-laden food, which improves immune function. (I pompously call this the umami hypothesis.) It seemed so likely to be true that I started eating more fermented foods: miso, kimchi, yogurt, buttermilk, smelly cheese, and wine. To avoid stomach cancer and high blood pressure, I later cut back on miso, kimchi, and smelly cheese.

    There have been other changes, too:

    After buying meat or fish, I don’t try to get home quickly to put it in the fridge
    I don’t worry that eggs have been in the fridge for 3 weeks
    When buying eggs and other perishables, I don’t try to get the freshest
    I don’t worry about leaving milk out
    Bacteria and viruses from other humans pose a threat. This is why we find fecal matter so offensive. It’s why hand-washing by doctors matters. But I believe plant-grown and dirt-grown bacteria are harmless because the substrates are so different than conditions inside our bodies. As for meat-, fish-, and dairy-grown bacteria, I don’t think they are very dangerous. Has anyone gotten food poisoning from yogurt?

    He has had some really interesting posts and is now a strong advocate of live food – yoghurt kefir, etc. It is also interesting to read how much rotten fish the eskimos ate.

    http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2009/03/26/what-did-eskimos-eat/

    Other good posts at:

    http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/category/fermented-food/page/3/

  15. I agree about the obsessiveness about cleanliness and refrigeration. Many examples, but one that comes to mind is that when I buy French cheeses, they stay on the counter until consumed, sometimes several days. Makes 'em nice & ripe. You'll want to keep them covered under glass or something, however, or you'll stink up the house!

  16. Thank you for this interesting article! My husband and I are doing our best to lose weight. We started with almost no carbs (Atkins style) and found that the "Atkins" brand food actually stalled you!
    We are now doing a low carb, low fat, small portions type plan. We are eating natural foods for the most part. We are not obsessed but at the same time want to be healthy for our baby girl.
    Thanks for the great info!

  17. Listen to your body first and foremost is what I say. Best wishes to you and family.