One Potato, Two Potatoes

You know, I almost never have any clue what particular posts are going to explode in comments. It seems to be the general case, however, that those entries in which I invest the most time get less attention in comments than other posts I just toss up. Perhaps it's length, or perhaps the ones I spend more time on have less loose ends that need to be explored in comments. At any rate, it can be interesting.

...Like last week's "Paleo Fear of Potatoes" post, now at 152 comments and still going... Wow, what sacrilege I'm apparently guilty of. For some, it's resistance to the idea that paleo lifestylers ought do anything but low or very low carb (evil insulinz, y'know) and any carbs you do get should come from non-starchy vegetables & fruit. For others, it's more of a orthodox, even fundamentalist religious insistence that the concept of "paleo" not be sullied with any neolithic foods that may nonetheless be more-or-less "primal" or real food in nature. So, while various sweet potatoes are clearly "paleo," the poor ol' white potato didn't come on the scene until a few thousand years ago, missing its 10,000 year cutoff, and while reasonably comparable to sweet potatoes in terms of nutritional density, it's neolithic, not paleo.

Actually, I don't really have a problem with the distinction. I already consume a decent number of primal, real foods that are neolithic, not paleo: dairy (butter, cream, cheese, yogurt), minimally processed meats (bacon, sausages, ground beef), dark chocolate (rarely), supplements (a few), sparkling water, wine & other spirits and likely a few other odds & ends. So where does one draw the line? How many neolithic agents are you allowed before you're looking at damnation, or, in my case, excommunication?

Apparently, Don Wiss, proprietor over at the fabulous Paleo resource center, paleodiet.com, thought enough was enough, I guess. See, I was one of the few blogs listed, along with Mark Sisson, Don Matesz, Stephan Guyenet. But not anymore. I have sinned the unpardonable sin.

Well said James. Because of this thread I removed my link to FreeTheAnimal. [...]

The way you and I define paleo is what could be called orthodox. I don’t want to see the term diluted.

OK, I don't begrudge anyone the links they choose to have or not have on their sites. I'm happy to have been included in the first place and it was appropriate. At around 200,000 real people (not bots, as so many like to report) page views and 35-40% of visits being first timers, I'm...well...doing my job. At the end of the day, it's about the real results. So, upon due consideration I responded to Don's comment thusly.

“Because of this thread I removed my link to FreeTheAnimal.”

Oh, my. Guess I’ve been excommunicated, then. That’s fine, Don. Actually, it was because of this that I discovered my oversight of not having your reference pages in my blogroll, an oversight I intend to correct, since the real results of my readers is infinitely more important than orthodoxy. I wouldn’t want newbees to miss out on good information on account of disagreements that at best, constitute only 10% of entire dietary makeup.

Don’t know how much of a cop you want to be in all this, but I think I’m in pretty good company with others listed on your pages.

Dr Stephan:

“I eat a lot of potatoes. I agree with commenter Aaron in the last post, they seem like a 'clean' fuel. Rapidly absorbed, low anti-nutrients, some fiber but not excessive, plenty of vitamin C. Plus the protein quality is quite high, so you don’t have to complement it with other protein sources to make good use of it. It also contains a surprising amount of protein (roughly 10% of calories). I also like that they’re cheap and totally unprocessed.”

Don Matesz:

“I think any potato fits the picture, but I prefer sweet potatoes.”

And:

“On the other hand, I know from experience that people can lose fat while eating 100-200 g carbs daily and including bananas and sweet or white potatoes. I consider them primal foods since they appear in H-G diets.”

And by the way, I am not “encouraging” anything, but I do discourage potatoes for those trying to lose significant weight still, diabetics, or those who feel bad eating them.

Onward.

Jeez, and I didn't even get mean with him... Glad I didn't or I might be a bit...crispy by now.

I don't know... I rather hate seeing this all turn from the increasing international popularity we're currently enjoying into a Shiite / Hezbollah hysteria over doctranary authority & dogmatism.

So what do you think? At what point ought not someone refer to themselves as "paleo?"

To recap, according to some:

Unpardonable Sin:

Grilled Bavette Baked Potato
Grilled Bavette & White Baked Potato

Super Duper Paleo Ring, with Decoder:

Sweet Potato
Sweet Potato

I must finish by noting that last night was my first ever baked sweet potato. In the oven, 400 for an hour. I was pretty amazed. I've used them in cooking, before, mostly in stews & such. I've also done mashed orange sweet potato, or yams or whatever you call them. Both my wife and I couldn't get enough of this, and it really didn't even require the cinnamon (or anything else). It was like a sweet pie filling. So, thanks to some commenters on that last potato entry; the sweets will definitely be figuring more prominently in the future.

Comments

  1. Sign me up for the decoder ring.

  2. Like I said before, all I care about is nutrition and health, not historical re-enactment. I’m glad you were civil with Wiss and took the high road. There’s absolutely no purpose in burning bridges against people acting in good faith and honesty, even when they are wrong.

    • Jim Stone says:

      My thoughts exactly, Kyle. Saves me from posting, so I’ll just register my vote with what you said :-D

  3. Jeez, like we need any more fundamentalists in the world. People can put whoever they want on their blogroll, of course. But, as I and many commenters before me have said, Richard, one of the things you offer is a different voice – you don’t sound like anyone or everyone else. But that isn’t even the most important thing. I return to FTA almost daily because of your open mind, willingness to experiment with your own life, the currency of the news and — oh yes, the recipes! Well, and the occasional, highly entertaining, cussfest.

    • John Campbell says:

      Deb – well put – I completely agree. Richard, I like your style – keep it up.

      We are looking to the stone age for guidance, but lets not set anything in stone. We are all here on this planet to explore and learn – can’t we even discuss potatoes without freaking out? There are already way too many religions out there – we don’t need another one – Our Holy Church of the Strict Paleolithic Diet and Lifestyle – count me out.

  4. No, wait, I prefer white. Guess I’m going to hell, too.

  5. I’m strictly about health and longevity. Paleo eating (or something based on paleo), is pretty close to optimal for health, though not perfect. Potatoes are not optimal for health, though they’re not too damaging, either (the primary damage comes from increased glycation via increased blood sugar, plus they reduce fat burning for a few hours). I view a fully stacked (butter, bacon, cheese, chives, sour cream) baked potato as a cheat meal. I’ll have two a month on average. And I never eat a whole one, just a third or so.

    Potatoes are not anywhere close to a great dietary evil, which is why many H-G societies could eat them and do pretty well, health-wise. But, again, they are not optimal. If they represent the worse part of a person’s diet, then that person is doing better than 99% of the US population.

  6. I’m glad you and CSPI can agree on something!

    http://www.foodreference.com/html/sweet-pot-nutrition.html

    I suppose I will add in a sweet potato or two, but not as a staple. I’m Irish enough to be wary.

  7. This whole thing is getting over complicated.

    Potatoes are paleo. I think some of these other sites shouldn’t call themselves Paleo, they should call them selves Low Carbed Paleo.

    As far as I’m concerned, dairy can be considered Paleo. We know we consumed it back then too. Maybe simply from mothers milk, but so what. We got smart. Pretty sure we didn’t always cook our meat, but I enjoy grilling my steaks personally.

    People need to chill out and live a little.

    As far as Type 2 diabetes and modern disease, pretty sure most people didn’t get there from consuming too many potatoes and fruits. Lets be realistic, its from highly processed foods, sugars, grains, and the overall crappy junk found on store shelves today.

    Richard, I bet if you had eaten the way you are now all of your life,fruits/taters included, you would have never had a weight or weight related health problems.

    My 2 cents.
    I don’t care if you’ve been unlinked, I’ll keep reading your blog :-)

    Beatle.

    • “As far as Type 2 diabetes and modern disease, pretty sure most people didn’t get there from consuming too many potatoes and fruits. Lets be realistic, its from highly processed foods, sugars, grains, and the overall crappy junk found on store shelves today.”

      Agreed. As a diabetic, I eat potatoes 3-4 times a week now. This is after avoiding them for over 3 years due to glucose concerns. When I first re-introduced them in January I definately had some spikes in the high 200’s and even 300’s – even with 5 units of insulin with the meal. But I wasn’t scared off and kept with it; had to see if it was an acute response or a chronic response.

      3 months later – with only 1-2 units with a meal, the last 5 times I ate potatoes my 1 hour post-prandial readings have been:

      111,66, 100, 96, 84

      About 3-4 years ago when i first became aware of my blood sugar issues I simply lowered my sugar, and by default, carb intake. Which worked wonders. Fixed everything within 3 days with no meds at all. We are talking 75-125g/day at this time. It worked for about a year. Then all the sudden I was having high readings again. Went even lower; <50g/day, lower than that most days. Did nothing was so ever. Waking up fasted over 300 eating <50g/day with 1000mg of metformin.

      Finally decided to start using insulin. 15 units of lantus at night, 10-15 units of novalin during the day starting in January. Three months later I eat 3x as many carbs as (~150-175g/day), but I only need to use ~ 6 units of each insulin per day. I have also ditched the metformin completely.

      It's not so simple as to just blame the carbs – you have to distinguish between processed/refined or not. To me, a potato is REAL food – can't see the logic in bashing it.

      Definately some religious-fanatical overtones with some folks.

  8. Monica Hughes says:

    “Insulinz….” hah, love it.

    As I pointed out on OEvolve a few hours ago, if you were to eat 10 potatoes a day — around 1500 calories — you would also get 30 grams of complete protein, some B vitamins, and quite a few minerals. Cook them and you get rid of most of the lectins.

    Not my choice, but we’ve been eating tubers for around a million years. I just can’t go Taliban on white potatoes, either. Very few differences from sweet potatoes outside a few toxins that may pose problems for people with inflammatory issues.

  9. Hi Richard,

    Glad you finally found sweet potatoes. This one looks a little bit pale. I’d recommend buying the richest orange and red looking ones you can find. America curiously enough grows quite good sweet potatoes (as opposed to the limpid tomatoes and greens and fruite, all colour and water).

    The best way to cook them which I know of is baked, but in a slight bed of olive oil surrounded by whole garlic cloves. The garlic needs to be introduced somewhat later. Once can also cook sliced carrots in along with the garlic. No salt or spices necessary.

    Sometimes we like to dress the baked vegetables with a bit of high quality balsamico after cooking, mixed with the garlic seeped olive oil.

    Bon Appetit!

    • Actually, Alec, we have both the deep orange and the white. I’ve done the white in things like Thai Massaman curry and I’ve done the orange as mash and sweet potato fries. Soon, I’ll bake both and see is there’s much of a difference. Incidentally, check out the beta carotene levels of the orange sweets. Off the charts, just like carrots.

      At any rate, the whites are super sweet and like pudding. Pretty amazing, baked. Glad I listened to my commenters, as I always do.

      • Richard,

        Looks like you might now know why I so favor sweet potatoes, especially the whites. I always bake them at 400 in a convection oven.

      • Oh, man, Don. I can’t believe I’ve spent almost 50 years being so ignorant. Had one this morning (the roast beef, in my latest post).

        For my with my cutting regime right now it’s great as I don’t even have to add any fat, though withing weeks I’ll be experimenting with that.

    • not to be forgotten are the purple okinawa sweet potatoes. mashed or sliced the color alone makes them a special addition to the table. sweet enough to be a paleo dessert, especially whipped up with some butter, egg yolk, coconut milk, whatever. http://onokinegrindz.typepad.com/ono_kine_grindz/images/okinawansweetpotato2a.jpg

  10. Janet (Pantry Bites) says:

    I also think that it’s getting overly complicated. We live in a modern world so why not take advantage of the “neolithic” foods as you do? It seems like we’re getting too hung up on labels.

    I also consume a combination of neolithic foods and paleolithic foods. I am a huge fan of the primal/ paleolithic diet but I’m not purist. I live in a modern world and I believe that we need to balance the old and the new as both have worthwhile merits.

  11. Y’know, if you like it & it makes you happy, then eat it. We’re fussing over potatoes… not Twinkies. For what it’s worth, I read your blog nearly everyday & have never previously heard of Wiss.

  12. Hey this is so odd. I just wrote a post myself on your potato controversy, and then came, and read your blog and voila. Anyway, I think that everyone is different. I think you should just carry on as you are because in the end your weight loss results speak for themselves. Potatoes or no potatoes. Primal or Paleo. For me I find I need to be more on the orthodox side because when Im not I tend to stagnate in weight loss.

  13. Dave C. says:

    My decoder ring only told me “Remember to drink your Ovaltine”. I want my money back.

    For what it’s worth, I do think labels have some importance because it helps to reduce ambiguity and confusion. A single concrete idea probably has a much greater chance of reaching critical mass as opposed to a disjointed mishmash of related concepts.

    Anyway, I want a Team Sweet Potato t-shirt! If you print them and put them in your online store, I’m buying!

  14. If only people would put this much energy into teaching people how to cook/eat real food. I guess some would say the debate over each individual food item is necessary to shape these diets. I just feel like so much time is spent arguing amongst ourselves over minute details. I go to the lunch room to see friends and coworkers chowing down on sandwiches and wish we could somehow focus the energy to fixing that problem.

    Guess this comment might fit the last post better, but I got tired scrolling down the page ;)

    • Kat, I agree. There are some foods known to cause definite damage (high fructose corn syrup and industrial oils, for instance), but in general there just needs to be an overall shift in the way our society views food. Deciding whether a specific real food is “good” or “bad” should mostly be an individual pursuit. When we get dogmatic about certain foods we turn to quibbling amongst ourselves, which is completely unproductive, both in our own lives and in the bigger picture of changing the way our society views food as a whole.

  15. I’m into eating paleo-ish for the healthy food. Quite frankly, the Paleo community is loaded with know-it-all dogmatic fundamentalists as much as the Raw Vegan crowd or the Weight Watchers crowd with their points. It is not a way of eating, it’s religion, and don’t mess with their religion, or dare disagree.

    IMO, it’s tiring, boring, insulting, and condescending to people who just want to learn about the various Paleo diets, or eat Paleo-style food, and actually enjoy the experience without feeling like the Paleo Taliban is judging everything that they put into their mouth.

    PS – I occasionally eat both white and sweet potatoes and I enjoy every last bite.

  16. Alex Thorn says:

    I don’t label myself a ‘palaeolithic’ dieter. In fact I don’t like to label myself at all because I actually like language and words and respect their meaning. That is why I say a potato is not a palaeolithic food – because in the strictest definition of that word it is not.

    I think we can learn a lot about how diet impacts on health by studying the probable dietary habits of our palaeolithic ancestors but we do not need to re-enact the palaeolithic lifestyle complete with skins, furs, spears and caves and we certainly can’t recreate their diet exactly! Very little, if anything, that was likely eaten back then is in existence now anyway (in its original form). All food has evolved, or been hybridised in some way over the ensuing tens of thousands of years.

    The best we can do is apply the basic principles to what we have available today and clearly if we accept that, for the most part and in the greater number of cases, palaeolithic man’s diet was protein/fat rich and carbohydrate poor than we cannot really be eating lots and lots of potatoes, breads, rice, pastas and other starchy foods all the time. Otherwise we are just back to the standard modern western diet without the highly processed synthetic crap!

  17. Well Richard, then you won’t wince at my upcoming post tentatively titled, This Is Not Your Father’s Paleo, where I tackle the issue of paleo/primal/neolithic and attempt to answer the question, “when should someone stop calling themselves paleo?”

  18. What’s missing from this conversation is that the paleo-diet is a shotgun approach to experimenting with one’s own body. It’s not a (n=1) experiment in the slightest. For there to be some semblance of scientific merit to the approach, you have to remove all the neolithic food groups and later, if you desire, challenge your body by reintroducing a new ingredient _once at a time_.

    If you start randomly substituting in one or another groups without actually testing them (via exclusion) then the entire approach is largely uncontrolled and useless. Potatoes do have some anti-nutrients to them (e.g. lectins, solanine) and should not be on someone’s menu when they first start a paleo-approach. Neither should eggs be for that matter, nor dairy, nor tree nuts. Potatoes are not paleo but people in general are not going to stay strict paleo forever and ever. They don’t have to.

    Personally I eat lots of eggs (~ 4 a day), about a 1/4 cup of tree nuts a day, and occasionally potatoes (whatever their colour). I can’t handle dairy at all. Conversely I’m sure there’s someone out there who can eat dairy but is allergic to eggs.

  19. “At what point ought not someone refer to themselves as “paleo?”

    I personally try and avoid that tag, since it has different connotations for different people. The idea, in it’s infancy, was sound, but now it’s exploded into different definitions. At the end of the day, I prefer to tell clients “Hey—eat real, whole food”, and the following prescription varies based on carb tolerance, exercise frequency/intensity/duration, age, and a number of other variables. People get stuck on What Is Paleo? , and then start splitting hairs.

    Everyone is different, and to include starchy carbs or not varies. The term Paleo is now a catch-all, but despite different meanings for everyone, I would (perhaps naively) hope that end goal would be optimal health and wellness through diet.

  20. Its no secret I thoroughly enjoy sweet potatoes, both orange flesh and white, and wouldn’t survive during the times of the year when I literally eat a Kitavan style diet without them. White potatoes are tasty to, but not nearly as compatible with all things coconut when I am eating Kitavan style.

    Lately, with the the warmer weather, I have been enjoying much more fruit than normal, which I generally don’t eat much. But I have desired it and indulged. Couldn’t see any good reason not to do so.

    Recently at night I have been “sauteing” apples in lots of ghee/butter over relatively low heat, sprinkling with cinnamon, nutmeg, and flavoring with a tiny bit of honey (depending on the apple variety). Then dropping the mix in a bowl and eating up. Yummy. Especially the liquid ghee flavored with spices. I imagine mixing with some fresh whipped raw cream might even make it tastier.

  21. So, I have been self experimenting.. Knowing that most Asian cultures, particularly Japanese (Okinawans), have a long life-expectancy and have relatively low disease rates (in general), I was adding a little bit of rice to my plate (cooked in coconut milk to slow digestion). Then I read this post earlier today: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2010/04/practically-paleo-perspective-rice.html and came across this post not long after. When you look at the anti-nutrients in brown rice and then see how little you get from white rice, especially compared to a WHITE potatoe, I think potatoes are a better addition than rice.. Especially sweet; ask a Kitavan. I think people are going to the extreme.. The community is becoming “True Believers” as Tom Naughton so elegantly puts it: http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=571, http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=558

    Jeromie.

    • Dr. Stephan Guyenet wrote an excellent post on neutralizing the anti-nutrients in brown rice. You can find it here or here. I was being a little difficult in the comment thread until I read it more closely. :-)

      If you are going to eat it, rice cooked in coconut milk is the only way to go as far as I’m concerned. :-)

      • Joe Matasic says:

        I actually made some white rice for the first time in probably 6 years. Granted I have it with sushi occasionly. We did have guests and wasn’t sure that they would like the cauliflower “rice.”

        Anyways, how do you make the rice with coconut milk. I’m always trying to get more of that in the diet. Do you just do the 2:1 ratio of coconut milk to rice, then boil and let sit like normal? Or with all the fat would you make it more like risotto?

      • I try to keep the 2:1 ratio, but a can of coconut milk is 13.5 ounces (roughly 1 and 1/4 cup) so I add some water to the coconut milk. After it begins to boil I add some pasture butter or coconut oil and the rice, and it is kinda of like a risotto. Creamy, delicious, starchy goodness!

      • Sorry, math was wrong, 1 and 3/4 cup.. It’s just a splash in the pan before adding the coconut milk.

      • I just follow the directions for whatever rice I’m using. The last variety called for a 3:1 ratio of liquid and I cooked it just like rice in water. It came out perfect.

  22. Lute Nikoley says:

    Personally, I don’t thing anybody is strictly eating 100% paleo, unless you hunt for your meat, farm your own fruits and vegetable, fertilized with non chemical or synthetic fertilizers and watered with filtered water of course, because public water has chemicals in them. Also the beef, lamb, pigs and chicken are not what they were 20-100K years ago. Even if you eat all grass fed, they’ll still be different. Wild game I suppose would be the closest to paleo. So please some of you get off your high horse of being a paleo purest. There aint no such thing.

    • So please some of you get off your high horse of being a paleo purest. There aint no such thing.

      Well now we know Richard. You are the chip but he is the block. ;-)

    • How paleo is it to tell somethere they’re not paleo while using the internet?

  23. Both Loren Cordain and Staffan Lindeberg have condemned potatoes for containing too many lectins, so I don’t eat them. Fortunately I’m perfectly satisfied with sweet potatoes. But in my opinion, potatoes are much more paleo than dairy, oils or processed meat, which a lot of people ignore just because they are low-carb. This attitude indicates these people don’t understand what paleo is about and consider it just a way to validate the low-carb hypothesis. Paleo is about consuming foods we are adapted to, whether they are rich in protein, fat or carbohydrate. Any food we are not adapted to could be harmful. When rabbits are given a diet rich in dietary cholesterol, they develop atherosclerosis. Why? Because rabbits are herbivorous and plant foods have no cholesterol. It’s an unnatural diet for a rabbit and it makes it ill. Animal protein causes the same effect. Paleo is not low-carb, much less zero carb; it’s about consuming foods we are adapted to. And everyone makes compromises.

  24. Almost 2 decades before I heard about the Paleo diet and as I was still leaving in France, my diet was (instinctively) constituted of:

    _Plenty of fruits (fresh and dried), plenty of veggies, plenty of nuts, mostly organic and raw.
    _Olive oil
    _Some fish, sea food, eggs, non-industrial sheep or goat cheese (but never any type of other dairies) on a daily basis (I would not eat bigger animals for ethical reasons at that time)
    _Some honey, but really seldom.
    _Absolutely NO sugar, processed/industrial/canned food, NO grain, NO alcohol, NO supplements of any kind.
    _POTATOES on a DAILY basis, sometimes twice a day (but hey, I was not following a Paleodiet, so who cares :D).

    I have never put on weight, have barely never been sick or even ill in 20 years, probably less than 10 times, and actually only 2 times since I have started eating meat again 10 years ago.
    Of course, my lifestyle was also made of a lot of natural movement, exposure to sunlight, air, rain, water (especially cold water), plenty of rest.
    I am nearing 40, look younger, and can move like a wild human animal. I still enjoy potatoes from time to time and despite I think they are not the most nutritious food, they are very filling while super easy to digest and do not cause me to be sluggish.
    BTW, dealing with mild doses of anti-nutrients has never killed anyone, it is actually what makes us stronger, more resilient, and there is no doubt our ancestors have adapted to try all sorts of foods and sometimes to get by thanks to them even if it was not the optimal alimentary food. This is what counts to me, I am all for an empirical approach of food, and I have no interest in dogmatic people willing to become the authoritative, almost religious voice of an illusory orthodoxy or purity.
    I am Caucasian, does it mean I should never eat exotic fruits? If my tribe had explored faraway territories and found foods their lineage had NEVER eaten before, does it mean they would have been reluctant to try them? That would have been, from an instinctive, survival AND evolutionary perspective the most ridiculous attitude. They would have tried them, maybe went on eating them, depending on how they would FEEL, how the new foods would have compared to others in terms of taste (trusting their instinct!), digestion, mental clarity, physical energy etc…
    I mean, we know now that even animals know what plants to eat when they don’t feel good. Do they have any kind of science to tell them if this is the right thing to do, or the right medicine, or food? They don’t.
    They have: EXPERIMENT, OBSERVATION, not freakin dogmatic INTELLECT.
    Science is great, but eventually, trust your sensations, check everything out through experience.
    Evolution is not only behind us. Modern HG would cautiously try new foods when they find them, because human are opportunists.
    There is no one-size-fits-all. And really, when you meet conservative “all-must-fit-my-size” people, run AWAY. They are control-freaks, they are “domesticators” in disguise. They are evolutionary imams and Jesuits.

    Richard, you are not excommunicated because there is no evolutionary religion and there is no heresy and we don’t need dogmatism in this community.

    So I will end my post with a quote I love (by another fellow Frenchman, writer and philosopher):

    “Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.” By Andre Gide

    Guess who’s seeking the truth here, and who found it? ;-)

    Melissa put it a more humorous way and I loved it:

    http://huntgatherlove.com/comment/reply/274

    • Can I buy a Meta-Rule?

      • Meta rules all the way. Paleo is a good place to start but isn’t everyones finish line. That being said I hate white potatoes, not because of the carbs or non paleo-ness, because it is a nightshade and thru self experimentation, my life is better without nightshades (GI, skin, etc). Though I do miss the taste of a nicely baked yukon gold finished with some kerry gold…glad I have yams, sweets, and squash to fill the void.

  25. Dave from Hawaii says:

    Well Richard, since you’re no longer 100% paleo, you might want to take the next step.

    Fry some potatos in 100% expellar pressed/extra virgin coconut oil. Sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, yukon gold potatos…it’s all good.

    I too went through a period of avoiding all starchy tubers while I was working on losing weight. Now that I’ve lost all my excess and have kept it off for over 3 years now, I’ve slowly added some carbs I used to completely eschew, with no problem in weight, energy etc.

    • My favorite frying with potatoes is in the dripping from freshly cooked bacon. For the occasional chips, I like a mixture of coconut oil and tallow skimmed from my bone stocks.

  26. Information and opinions should be available to all. Then you are free to use your own brain and form your own opinion on what is right and wrong for you.

  27. I absolutely have no love for dogma in something as simple as good nutrition. I don’t want eating to feel like penance and I try hard not to express that in my advocacy of nutrition online or otherwise. But I *do* have some sympathy for the proper use of terminology. Paleo eating precisely entails the consumption of Paleo era foods and analogues of those foods by descent, without regard to efficacy or ultimate healthfulness. It’s *presumed* that a Paleo diet will be much more healthful than a Neolithic diet, but not that it will be the ultimate representation of healthfulness a diet could possibly achieve. I would prefer to see some of the offshoot diets be referred to as “Paleo inspired”, or “Rooted in Paleo”, or something to that effect, not just for the sake of preserving Paleo but so that the offshoots themselves don’t incur any unwarranted connotations either.

    • fireandstone:

      I have no problem designating individual foods as pure paleo, neolithic, or questionable. Where I have a problem is the sort of arbitrary dealing where you can be “paleo” even though, say, you consume some dairy — but hell no if you consume some white potatoes.

      I think it should be 80/20. If 80% or more of your diet is paleo, then you’re paleo.

  28. What!? More about potatoes!

    Richard, I am removing you from my list of paleo web sites that I keep in a Notepad file. Sorry, but it’s done.

    There is another list that I keep in an Excel file, which I use less often, and you are still there – but don’t tempt me with another post about this known toxin!

  29. More seriously, couch potatoes, “paleo” or not?

    • Since this blog comment section is turning even more serious. We need to ask whether a paleo orthodox would refrain from non-paleo euphemisms, such as “Now that’s using your noodle.” (euphemism for making an intelligent decision). Maybe they would come up with their own orthodox versions, such as “Now that’s using your offal.”

  30. Nathaniel says:

    After spending a lot of time reading and researching, I have come to the conclusion that potatoes are a lot more nutritious than people give them credit for.

    Paleo? Maybe not. Paleo-analogous and full of important vitamins and minerals? I say yes.

    Even modern-day chimpanzees dig up and consume starchy tubers, even when other food is available.

    In my opinion, potatoes are a whole food, and if someone is looking to include some starchy carbs in his or her diet, potatoes are an excellent choice.

    Love your blog, Richard.

  31. My 2 cents worth:

    I never imagined this much controversy could arise from the consumption of potatoes. It just boggles the mind. I’m not the first one to say this but if we all just ate mostly real unprocessed foods, we would not be having this obesity and diabetes epidemic that is sweeping across the globe. Which is why I have a lot of respect for people like Jamie Oliver who is putting in a lot of effort to help educate people, especially our children, on eating better. His recommendations are already light years ahead of the junk food that many people are feeding their kids these days. Sure, he’s not paleo by a long shot but does it really matter? People would be better off if they followed his advice.

    I still eat baked or mashed potatoes, fruit, and white rice. And *gasp* the occasional dessert, and alcohol in moderation. So I’m definitely not paleo by any definition but everybody can benefit immensely from exposure to the paleo principles, even if they do not adopt it 100%. I know I did! Like I mentioned earlier, I had long term compliance in mind when I made the decision to adopt some but not all of the recommendations. I think this will be an issue for a lot of the folks out there as well.

  32. Oh, and I love sweet potatos too!

  33. JUPITER says:

    Seeing that the internet is not paleo i guess i don’t need to keep his site bookmarked anymore

  34. “Recently at night I have been “sauteing” apples in lots of ghee/butter over relatively low heat, sprinkling with cinnamon, nutmeg, and flavoring with a tiny bit of honey (depending on the apple variety). Then dropping the mix in a bowl and eating up. Yummy. Especially the liquid ghee flavored with spices. I imagine mixing with some fresh whipped raw cream might even make it tastier.” Man, that’s decadent…

  35. Throwing small children off of a cliff is very paleo.

    Just sayin’.

  36. aroumell says:

    Actually, from what I’ve been reading from your dietary changes you’re getting pretty close to what bodybuilders call “eating clean.” They know low carb, they know high protein, and the ones that know their nutrition go ketogenic during certain goals, and they really get fat loss. After extended periods of low-carbing most bodybuilders cycle more carbs in in the forms you’re adding in more of because thyroid levels can lower during really low carb eating with any kind of exercise /sports training. For sedentary or less than intensive training one could low carb near indefinately. For those much more active, most seem to do far better with between 100-200 grams of “clean” carb sources like fruits, rices and potatoes. It doesn’t say anything for the insanity of calorie counting and goal dieting but that’s all in the competitive aspects that generate other forms of extremes as well.

    • I was once involved deeply in bodybuilding culture and still have many friends that are bodybuilders (along with some strongman competitors and powerlifters) and “clean” is relative to the goal of adding muscle mass and dropping fat before competition, not to lifelong health or vigor. Bodybuilders as a group are among the least healthy of all people in general. I don’t know how well that speaks to Richard’s food regimen or his health, but it’s something to consider.

      • well this is temporary. But I will say this, I’m actually eating cleaner than ever before. Since I began this almost two weeks ago, I have eaten out exactly once. One of my big weaknesses before was eating breakfast out, often 3-4 or even 5 times per week (“cook my eggs in butter, please…”). Then dinner out usually twice per week on average.

        But because I have such detailed mac-nutrient requirements I have to do everything myself at home. I really enjoy it.

      • aroumell says:

        dead on there. it’s goal based, predominantly for those that are competitive. those that pursue “bodybuilding” as an activity or more specifically resistance train are usually quite healthy unless they’re chasing trends or wrapped up in the sub-culture that can come with it. It’s not fair to say bodybuilders as a group are unhealthy, more specifically those trying to win competitions tend to drive themselves into the ground health wise. Athletes in most sports are that way, push your limits because and just because you want to be better than everybody, that’s not “for life.” I tend to do far better when I set goals and treat food as a tool to do whatever it is I want to do. Richard is on the money about detailing what you’re eating to make linear goals attainable, its a must to reach low body fat.

      • Yes, I was taking “competitive bodybuilders” to be the set. By and large they don’t even think of others as bodybuilders proper, just people who use bodybuilding methodologies to develop some level of hypertrophy for personal satisfaction. You don’t even put your foot in the door until you’ve nearly filled out your genetic ceiling on muscle mass and started your first cycle of “gear”. Most of the nutritional wisdom found in elite bodybuilding circles only has efficacy when the body has synthetically induced anabolism anyway.

  37. William says:

    Richard, don’t sweat it man! Purists are dull, people who can’t see outside their own little constipated world view. The Caldecott Tunnel during rush hour is far more interesting than their tunnel vision view of “intellectual superiority!” Often, these people of “purity become bureaucrats, and bureaucrats become assholes who want to regulate every step of our free will. The latest salt regulation fiasco is just another example of these putrid putzes prancing on our rights. But we’re talking about potatoes here: Last night, I made a potato and chicken soup. I happen to be a legitimate expert on soups, but that is a story for another time. The result of eating my soup came with predictable symptoms, but the remaining five and a half quarts were enjoyed by my less carb sensitive friends. So now I know for sure potatoes are something that should never pass my lips, but I couldn’t possibly get on my throne to denounce others who implement this versatile little tuber into their diet, regardless of what that diet might be. But my god, what glorious moments my taste buds had with the garlic and rosemary used to amp up this savory dish. The consequences were on me, and me only though.

  38. Sweet potatoes are amazing when they are baked. I try to prepare them this was when I have time. Other times when I am rushed I make fries in the oven or I use the other neolithic contrivance called the microwave to cook them. Cooked in the oven is by far the best for sweet potatoes, yams, squash, you name it.

    I don’t get all the fuss with potatoes. What would be preferable:

    1. People eating minimally-processed real food, that may include some neolithic foods, and sticking with it for the long run to maintain excellent health, or

    2. Would it be better to have people attempt to go “Puritanically Paleo” only to fail because of rigid and restrictive food “choices” and then backslide all the way into conventional wisdom? If people choose to go this route, and they can do so, more power to them. But for others…

    I am no expert, but option number 1. that you, Mark Sisson, Kurt Harris and Don Matez (among Primal/Paleo bloggers) advocate is the more sensible and maintainable path for people to choose. I’m with you guys. Now hurry up and pass the butter before my potato gets cold!

  39. Imagine the disgust and ridicule I might receive from eating a bowl of oatmeal every morning-with protein powder in it (I can feel my intestines burning). Wait-If I eat oatmeal every morning and paleo otherwise, can I still consider myself a paleo eater? Or do I have to make it clear that I’m impure and only 80-90% paleo? By the way, I’ve gotten very lean eating this way, and my fasting insulin is still <2 uIU/mL.

  40. this is a test

  41. Dominic says:

    Hey Richard,

    I forgive you for a little “sin” because your blog has so much more to offer than a little bit of entertainment from the chattering classes and their purist mentality. We are in the 21st century, are we not? We still wear clothes don’t we? And some of us could be referred to as neo-paleo eaters. Keep up the good work, you rock!

  42. Tin Tin says:

    Richard, I suspect the chorus of paleo fundamentalists would be silenced if you were ripped like Mark Sisson. Potatoes or not, just get ripped – ripped like Mark Sisson!

    Remember Super Mike from Art’s website? He used to eat ice-cream for christ’s sake! Who could argue with him when he was ripped – ripped like Mark Sisson!

  43. Tin Tin says:

    Gosh darn it! Get ripped Richard! Ripped like Mark Sisson!

    • Dave C. says:

      I agree with Tin Tin. Typically, in most situations issues are resolved quickly when one of those involved is ripped.

  44. Nathaniel says:

    Can anyone tell me why sweet potatoes are considered “more paleo” than white potatoes? I mean, aren’t they both equally native to the New World?

    “Sweet potatoes are native to the tropical parts of South America, and were domesticated there at least 5000 years ago.” – Wikipedia

    So why are sweet potatoes so much more “in” with the Paleo crowd? What’s the difference, other than them not being nightshades, and having more carotene?

    • Dave C. says:

      “other than”

      You seem to preclude attributes that would probably answer your question. They are probably more in with the paleo crowd because they aren’t nightshades and have a lot of carotene.

  45. Alex Thorn says:

    There is no difference in the sense that they are both neolithic foods (i.e., discovered/developed after the dawn of agriculture). This is the danger of labelling diets as ‘paleo’. You often hear people saying that palaeolithic hunter-gatherers ate tubers (as do chimps studied in the wild today) but how do we know exactly? What were these tubers? Where they anything like sweet potatoes or white potatoes as we recognise them today? Often these observations are based on studies of modern-day hunter-gatherers and there are a great many assumptions made when translating these observations to what prehistoric hunter-gatherers ate.

    There are many ‘concrete’ ways of determining the character of the likely diet of our ancient ancestors (though none are perfect) such as radio isotope studies on fossilised remains, examining coprolites (fossilised human faeces), middens and even looking at cave paintings. Taken in toto this indicates a huge reliance on animal foods with scant evidence of significant plant consumption. Another aspect is how the biology and physiology of humans compares to other primates – we have larger brains and smaller guts, we cannot synthesise sufficient vitamin B12, which can only be optimally provided by animal-based foods, particularly red meat. When you plug all this data and observational evidence into an evolutionary model you have to conclude that there was a significant transition, in the earliest hominins, from a largely plant-based diet to a largely meat-based diet.

    People are free to look at this data and construct a modern diet that best compliments this evolutionary physiological/hormonal milieu or not. Or vary it according to their personal taste or tolerance. But once you label it as one thing or another you are bound to create inconsistencies.

    As for references to Kitavans, Tokelauans and Okinawans, there are often assumptions made here too. Okinawans, for example eat a tremendous amount of pork (everything, it is said, bar the ‘oink’!). Kitava has not yet been fully investigated from an anthropological stand-point but what little has been done seems to indicate that human habitation of the Trobriand Islands (of which Kitava is one) began around 40,ooo years ago. When you compare that with the palaeolithic era (99% of mankind’s technological history) as a whole, which covers a period dating from 2.5 mya to the dawn of agriculture and the neolithic period around 12,000 years ago, you can see it is small percentage of that time (1.6%).

    Also the medical studies on native Kitavans have been criticised for being relatively cursory (ECGs/EKGs, for example to determine heart health are quoted as only being 40-50% reliable). So the debate could go on and on!

    I’m personally happy being as low carb as possible while eating modern whole foods wherever possible (mainly meat, poultry, fish, eggs and some dairy – yes, dairy!) but I would label may diet as ‘paleo’, though I try to adhere to dietary principles that could be said to derive from the best evidence from palaeloithic anthropological studies.

    • Alex Thorn says:

      Sorry, that last sentence should have read: “…but I would NOT label my diet as ‘paleo’, though I try to adhere to dietary principles that could be said to derive from the best evidence from palaeolithic anthropological studies.”

    • anand srivastava says:

      Just one point. HomoSapiens arrived around 200,000ya, this means a 20% of the time. We are simply concerned about the diet since Homo Sapiens arrived. Before that we were different species.

      Normally when people talk about effects of carb, the first thing is obesity. The whole thesis of GCBC was that carbs cause weight gain. And here we have people who eat predominately carbs and not a single person on the whole island could be called fat. Also they are not starving. They have plenty to eat, don’t exercise. They are the complete anti-thesis of carbs causing obesity thesis. The fact that there is no known heart disease or diabetes or cancer, etc is just icing on the cake (pardon my distinctly unhealthy language).

      To say that it is not sufficiently proved that Kitavans don’t have artherosclerosis is just beside the point. Nobody talks about the Fact that Inuits have large scale artherosclerosis. The only reason Inuits don’t have any heart related problems is because their blood is too thin due to the high omega3:omega6 imbalance.

      If you think that Kitavans diet of high carb is unhealthy then Inuits diet of only meat must be deadly.

      My point is that Carbs are not bad. The fact that we have damaged our metabolism is what causes carbs to be bad. If a person was born to parents who were born to grand parents eating real food diet then he would not have cause for any carb restriction. It takes three generations to fix such deep problems. He would be able to handle carbs as well as the Kitavans. The only issue is that we are not healthy enough to handle carbs properly.

      Kitavans prove that some carbs are good for healthy people, and we are unhealthy, so it is bad for us.

      • Alex Thorn says:

        I wasn’t talking about homo sapiens but hominins in general. While they may have been different species, the evolutionary genetic make-up of humans can be linked back over the course of the entire hominin evolutionary line. Genes are not just scrapped and started over every time there is an evolutionary change to a species – this is why we share 95% of our genome with chimps (who split from our human progenitors long before 2.5 mya) and 75% with yeast. There may not be a direct link but nature does not waste anything and the basic genome is just modified and built on through the evolutionary tree of life.

        Yes, the Inuit may have arteriosclerosis and no heart disease, whether through thin blood or other lifestyle factors – same goes for the Maasai. My point, with the Kitava study, was to show that conclusions based on their current diet and health status are by no means cut and dried.

        Healthy people without insulin resistance and associated metabolic disorders may very well handle carbs better. But at what dose? for how long? What caused the dysfunction in the first place? Were they born with it or was it acquired? If it was acquired, what aspect of diet and other lifestyle choices caused it to develop? If you fix the problem by reducing/cutting out carbohydrate consumption and find you can reintroduce them without obvious negative consequences does this give you carte blanche to continue indefinitely, maybe to precipitate the problem over again?

        What about if it is not that the carbs in the Kitavan diet is necessarily good for them but the negative consequences are somewhat mediated by other aspects of their diet (like the saturated fats in the coconut they eat) or other lifestyle habits?

        Until these questions can be answered with any certainty I’m sticking with what works and makes the most sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

      • “Genes are not just scrapped and started over every time there is an evolutionary change to a species – this is why we share 95% of our genome with chimps (who split from our human progenitors long before 2.5 mya) and 75% with yeast.”

        While our genetic relationship to other species is an interesting fact, a 75% genetic relation does not in any way assume a 75% similarity of function. As astonishingly complex as the genetic code allows a genome to become, it pales in comparison by orders of magnitude to the complexity of genetic *expression* in a living organism. I’m not assuming you don’t already know that, but too often people take the percentage of genetic intersection between humans and some other species to mean that’s how much “the same” we are to that species, which is fully misleading.

      • Alex Thorn says:

        Yes, I am reasonably conversant with the ‘epigenetics’ – how genes are expressed due to environmental factors, etc. However, from a metabolic standpoint, the genes we share in common also code for proteins in common, which also have basic functions in common – insulin and its actions being just one notable example.

      • I’m not simply referring to environmental switching, but to gene expression in response to developmental signals . A gene in one organism will code for the same protein as another organism, but have a completely unrelated function because that protein links to something else entirely, or is timed differently to respond to different stimuli or diminish production at a different rate from a different feedback signal. The possibilities are endless. The fact of insulin production says little about the role that insulin plays in an organism’s life cycle. Wolves and cats also produce insulin, but a diet that took advantage of that fact (e.g. fruit heavy) would be extremely deleterious to the wolf and fatal to the cat.

      • Alex Thorn says:

        Its all the same. Insulin still serves the same functions whether in a fruit bat or a cat! Even carnivores need glucose – they just make it endogenously via gluconeogenesis instead of getting it exogenously from their diet. That’s what I meant about genomes being built upon rather than started over. Life started off being dependant on anaerobic respiration using glucose as the primary fuel substrate, then we incorporated aerobically respiring organisms, which became the mitochondrial cells and whose genetic material became incorporated into the hosts genome…and so on and so on. At a metabolic level we do not operate so differently across species and no doubt the genetic signalling to produce these hormones and enzymes we have in common has likewise been passed down with only minor mutations/modifications over time.

      • Most of that is not being disputed by me (to what is, I would leave to a future debate), only the implied assertion that we can choose the nutritional and metabolic pattern of any of our antecedent forms and expect a positive outcome. If that *isn’t* what you meant to imply, then we have no argument.

      • Alex Thorn says:

        No it’s not. Otherwise that would imply we could eat like one of our exclusively/predominately plant-eating antecedents and expect a positive outcome – but look at any long-term vegan and you can see that isn’t true!

      • Any benefit she derived by cutting carbs from her diet could only at most be marginally be related to worm physiology. The results of even rodent models more often than not fail replication in later human clinical trials. To extrapolate a connection between a worm model and human metabolic health doesn’t follow well from her educational pedigree.

      • Alex Thorn says:

        It wasn’t ‘related to worm physiology’ but to endocrinology. The C. Elegans worm broadly uses insulin for the same signalling pathways that we do.

        While I agree not all animal studies can translate to humans, you have to be able to differentiate between the exact mechanisms the researchers are studying.

        For example, feeding rats or mice three different diets that mimic typical human diets, then observing which get fat and which don’t and then inferring the same thing will happen in humans is a nonsense since the natural diets of rats or mice and humans are completely different.

        However, if you look deeper at, say, insulin signalling in the rat you may find there is more common ground with humans.

      • “The C. Elegans worm broadly uses insulin for the same signalling pathways that we do.”

        I don’t have the kind of specialist knowledge to argue the similarities between the endocrine systems of humans and C. Elegans, but I wouldn’t take any result even partially argued on the basis of the quoted condition to be of more value than “warrants more analysis”, because “broadly” doesn’t mean “precisely” and it doesn’t even necessarily imply that the function is of common adaptive origin, only that they function similarly in concurrent organisms. A living organism is a pre-calculated chaos function whose initial parameters are genes, and very tiny changes in low order processes have non-linear effects over the sum. Her conclusion might be true, but I wouldn’t consider it sound, not from a scientific perspective at least.

      • Auggiedoggy says:

        Agreed but try telling that to a vegan or even worse a fruitarian! Is it any wonder I call them religions?

      • anand srivastava says:

        We already know what causes damage. Sugar, refined oils, mineral and vitamin deficiencies, and environmental toxins. Potatoes don’t have fructose, not much fat to cause an imbalance, is pretty nutritious. So there is no problem. The only problem is for people like us who have a damaged metabolism.

  46. Matthias says:

    The funny thing is that most people who don’t consume potatoes, because they are “neolithic” still consume huge amounts of tomatoes, eggplants and any kind of pepper. Like those are somehow less neolithic than potatoes (and I would even argue that some of them have a much much higher anti-nutrient count). Kinda ironic.

    Honestly, some paleo peeps would beat any vegan when it comes to pathetic, dogmatic behaviour.

    • Dave C. says:

      A lot of people avoid nightshades in general, which includes potatos, tomatos, and peppers.

  47. Jeez, and to think I read that post and just thought it was a good point and left it at that.

    I liked what you said in the original though – not the best if you’re trying low-carb to lose weight, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with potatoes.

    Keep up the good work. I’m keeping you on my Google Reader for sure!

    • Jeez, and to think I read that post and just thought it was a good point and left it at that.

      LOL! I thought the same thing. I read it when it was first posted and there were no comments. I had no idea that it exploded the way it did.

  48. “Recently at night I have been “sauteing” apples in lots of ghee/butter over relatively low heat, sprinkling with cinnamon, nutmeg, and flavoring with a tiny bit of honey (depending on the apple variety). Then dropping the mix in a bowl and eating up. Yummy. Especially the liquid ghee flavored with spices. I imagine mixing with some fresh whipped raw cream might even make it tastier.”

    This sounds awesome. Will do this, but will probably add whole cloves and/or very coarsely ground cardamom (start with the whole pod and grind it myself, of course) to the ghee. Cloves and cardamom are very commonly used in Indian desserts. I wonder what else can be treated this way – pears, nuts, ??

    • This sounds awesome. Will do this, but will probably add whole cloves and/or very coarsely ground cardamom (start with the whole pod and grind it myself, of course) to the ghee. Cloves and cardamom are very commonly used in Indian desserts. I wonder what else can be treated this way – pears, nuts, ??

      I have cloves and cardomon and will probably use them in the near future. It certainly would work as a nice dessert for pears. Seems to me if you did this for nuts you would need a carrier of some sort.

  49. I was just reading how potatoes are in the top 12 foods treated heavily with pesticides so I recommend buying organic when you can.

  50. Nathaniel says:

    I also read something, somewhere about a possible harmful compound in genetically modified potatoes, so, that’s another reason to buy organic… so you know they’re not GMO.

  51. I agree that this argument is just stupid. Pardon me while I crack open my can of coconut milk in the midwest of the United States and hunt through my well stocked exotic spice rack to cook and season my imported salmon.

    I guess I prefer the “primal” tag in any case but honestly …at some point the irony is unavoidable. Paleo lifestyle catechism? Who are we kidding?

    This is the place where I get most of my slam dunk recipes and new ideas. Keep up the good work.

  52. WOW…. just wow, the attention this posting about potatoes gets is absolutely ludacris…

    really? A potato controversy????… y’all who are hatin on the potato are only doing so b/c either youre scared you’ll gain weight, your’e scared your insulin will go hay-wire, your read to much into Gary Taubes “assumption” on carbs, and you believe the ZC non-sense dogma thrown around the carnivorous net.

    potatoes, sweet and white are REAL FOOD…. i would like to see this controversy but with dairy and paleo, at least there is a debate in it’s paleo-ness, but the potatoes…there’s no debate EAT THEM. no one is saying you have to, if you dont want to then dont. personally i love sweet potatoes, but i can’t get any home grown ones and the genetic modification to the ones here is ridiculous. i CAN get homegrown butternut squash in season and LOVE IT(closest thing i can find to sweet potato). i simply don’t like white potatoes… i dont see the point of them b/c they are tastless and if i have to add gobs of bacon/coconutoil/something else to it to make it taste good then what’s the point… kind of like gung-ho deer hunters… they always make sausage and non-deer tasting stuff out of their kill… b/c deer is lean and tough and gamey… i hate deer b/c if i grill an unadulterated piece it tastes like shit- same concept

  53. William says:

    Hi, I think “paleo” should be a GUIDELINE, not RULES. I think Richard’s philosophy, and Mark’s (with his 80/20 and stance against measuring and charts and spreadsheets) are under guidelines and looser. Those that view them as RULES will be very guilty over drinking a glass of milk, or having a drink, or who spend hours making paleo versions of SAD foods (i.e. almond pancakes). I don’t say that as a criticism necessarily, but as an observation.

    For me you just have to weigh how strict you are, versus the quality of your life. At some point there’s a point of diminishing returns. Kurt over on Paleonu has 12 steps, that can be enacted in any order. People should improve the quality of their lives and get healthier. Baby steps are fine so long as one’s headed in the right direction. The SAD is so incredibly destructive, that small changes compounded over time can have massive beneficial effects.

    But back to the question, for me, it’s irrelevant wether Richard is “paleo” or not. Is he adding value? Yes. Does what he does work for him? Yes. Does he periodically reevaluate where he is and TRY things? Yes.

    I consume dairy, and yes, occasionally nibble on some chocolates and might have some rice if I’m out at a family dinner. Not the end of the world :) Maybe this is a little unfair, and having “trained” my body somewhat I can handle variations better?

    One thing with many causes/communities/etc, si people forget why they exist in the first place. Bottom line is are we eating healthier? Variations here and there are irrelevant. Purple is purple, whether it’s lilac or lavender.

    • “Hi, I think “paleo” should be a GUIDELINE, not RULES.”

      The *practicioner” at home should feel free to experiment with their diets as they see fit to suit their own purpose, but you can’t call something Paleo just because you like it, or determined that it’s healthful. Rugby and American football are pretty similar sports because they’re derivatives of a common root, but rugby players don’t want people calling their sport football, and football players don’t want people calling their sport rugby. Paleo is Paleo and the healthfulness and appropriateness of a certain food has nothing to with whether it qualifies for the moniker. It could be shown beyond doubt that the strongest, smartest, healthiest and most long-lived people on Earth eat a diet of nothing but 100% potatoes and it still wouldn’t make the potato Paleo, it just means it’s something good to eat.

  54. William says:

    Firestone I agree. Though I’d say it’s irrelevant wether potatoes are or aren’t Paleo, provided they’re not harmful to you. That was my main point.

    • Ultimately I think my point goes more toward the impetus of the OP, namely that Don Wiss chose to remove this site from links to Paleo blogs. If he felt that this site wasn’t an honest purveyor of Paleo information, then I wouldn’t have begrudged him that point based on my already stated rationale. That doesn’t mean that freetheanimal isn’t a worthwhile site to visit and it’s already popular enough to not require formal endorsement. My dietary philosophy is rooted in Paleo, but I’m no more Paleo than Richard is since I happily eat and endorse Neolithic dairy foods and I don’t even take the trouble to advise fermentation. Just on that basis I wouldn’t ever expect to be greenlighted as a Paleo resource. Nonetheless, it would be *nice* if some kind of common ground could be resolved along with a common respect for each other on the basis of common ideals. Internal drama does alot to light the fires of people already involved in alternative “real food” lifestyles, but not much in the way of drawing more people into the fold.

  55. Paleo isn’t a guideline or a rule. I think when it becomes either the cart is placed before the horse.

  56. Nathaniel says:

    Personally I’ve already moved beyond calling my diet “Paleo.” I prefer to call it “the nomadic pastoralist diet” because I eat so much dairy.

    • Dave C. says:

      I’m sure that confuses the hell out of people when they ask you about it. LOL! :D

    • Auggiedoggy says:

      Nathaniel,

      With my Irish and Welsh ancestry, I have a hard time giving up dairy. Gotta have my Swiss cheese and milk! I have the lactase enzyme and I know how to use it … :)

  57. I don’t think potatoes have much place in the optimal human diet, but I also don’t think orthodoxy has any place in the Paleo (or whatever we choose to call it) community. This is the beauty of adulthood: if you don’t like potatoes, you don’t have to eat them, and you can still partake of the wealth of information at FTA, 95% of which we all tend to agree upon. Also, I do plan on eating a burger and fries when I get my deadlift to 500.

  58. I wonder if we could ressurect a caveman what would he think of all of this. If a group of fire using paleo dudes were walking on the savannahs and found some potatoes growing would they cook and eat them? I say yes. I understand that paleo is healthier but humans have a tendency to get carried away with ideas. I know there are raw meat advocates and road kill advocates but I wonder how far would some paleo followers be willing to go? I like the fact that you eat potatoes. They are delicious.

    • John Campbell says:

      And a week later that same caveman would be down at the multiplex, wearing 3D glasses watching Avatar, holding a giant tub of popcorn covered in Becel, with a huge cup of Coke in the holder beside him.

      That caveman is us. Not to mock the comment – just saying.

  59. How about coming up with a better name? I refer to my diet as “Paleo-Plus” when asked and I recently read a blog post where another commenter used the same label. I also like “Palevo”.

  60. So, let me get this straight…
    Help me here.
    Any diet where one can get ripped is paleo?
    I thought “paleo” was supposed to refer to pre-agricultural foods.
    No?
    I’m not treating “paleo” as a religion, but if I’m trying to communicate with someone, any diet eaten by an individual who’s ripped automatically qualifies their diet as “paleo”?
    Is that definition a bit too broad?

  61. I just stick to the saying “whatever floats your boat”. I think everyone has their own individualized ‘paleo’ that works for them. Its about eating REAL food. period. If you prefer potatoes with your steak, more power to ya. If it works for what you want to do, then do it. If it doesnt then dont do it.

    Why do people care so much about what other people put in their mouths? Those comments were sounding surprisingly similar to my CW friends and their concerns about the lack of bread in my diet.
    Keep rockin it. Love readin your stuff

    • What do I tell those who scream,
      “GRAIN is REAL food!” “It’s PALEO, just like the POTATO!!!
      ?

      This is the future:

      question: “Are you familiar with “paleo” in regards to diet?”

      answer: “Oh, yea…you mean that diet that includes all the foods on the USDA pyramid….yea….I’m quite aware of those foods…”

      Real effective communication?
      Not so much.

  62. I made a new logo for you Richard…

    • Spencer says:

      James. Quit being a dick.

    • James:

      You didn’t make a new logo.

      You simply shamelessly lied your ass off and misrepresented what these discussions have been about.

      So, I’m fed up with you. Bye. Don’t come back.

      To be clear: go fuck off.

  63. TrailGrrl says:

    Paleo Schmayleo. I love me some taters. I do like sweet potatoes, but they just don’t hit the spot for me like a good baked potato or Yukon Gold with a ton of real butter on it. My mom used to fix me boiled potatoes when I was a kid, and peel the skin and then butter the hell out of them. They were the absolute best. And real homemade mashers with lots of cream and butter. I never feel bad after eating potatoes, so that’s why I keep them on. My “primal” philosophy is to not let anyone tell me what to eat ever again or how to work out (I do Erwan’s MovNat philosophy for that), and I must say that I’m in better shape and about to turn 46 in two weeks than I was at 36 or 40 before I started eating real food. I used to think I had to eat brown rice, but the fact of the matter is, it SUCKED. So I have a little white rice now and then with Thai food. I may have to try this cooking in coconut milk for the rice, it sounds really yummy. Bake it, fry it, mash it, and BUTTER it.

    TrailGrrl

  64. peterlepaysan says:

    Sigh! FCS! potatoes, sweet potatoes (whatever they are, we do not grow them in my part of the planet, we do grow something called kumara which may be the same tuber.)

    We grow yams but theses are VERY different from yams grown in neighbouring countries. In fact the plants have no resemblance to each other.

    OK to the point. We evolved as omnivorous scavengers that THRIVED on meat. Witness all the extinct animals that were doing fine until humans arrived.
    We were and still are hunger driven just like the rest of the biological flora and fauna.

    So hunger driven we devised means to make olives, cashews, edible. One is revolting the other can be toxic if mishandled.

    Potatoes (white, sweet, brindle, yams of whatever tribe would not have been discovered and exploited until the ice barrier between the american continent and north eastern eurasia had been breached. This had to be “paleo”.

    The only thing I can see that might be controversial is the starchy carbohydrate load.
    That is easily handled by the quantity one eats over time.

  65. I’m with you, Richard! You put an amazing amount of information out there for us and use yourself as a guinea pig. Keep it up!

  66. Mike R. says:

    I don’t get the purists. There is no way to completely recreate a so called “paleo diet.” If we avoid grains, sugar, and vegetable oils I think the majority of people will be ok. Things such as tomatoes, potatoes, and dairy should be evaluated on a case by case basis. Some people can tolerate dairy, others can’t. It is different than franken vegetable oils.

    One thing I heard De Vany say in an interview that stuck with me is that people are too concerned with inputs, rather than outputs. For example some say he eats too much fruit, but he claims his insulin levels are extremely low. So if you occasionally eat potatoes, which some may deem as unhealthy, but all your blood work, physique, etc is near perfect why sweat it.

  67. Walter Norris says:

    A little while back Kurt Harris suggested that maybe the label Paleo had out lived its usefulness. I kinda agreed with him then, and I am only more inclined to agree with him now. Maybe ADV was right all along and evolutionary describes the aim better.

    • Yea, Walter. “Primal” is looking more attractive to me by the day. So while a white potato may not be pure paleo, hard to argue that it’s not “primal.” Same with dairy.

      Looks like Mark really thought this one through

      • Matthew says:

        No food is really “paleo” unless it is a wild species gathered from the wild such as wild mushrooms or wild venison. All other foods we can eat are agricultural aproximations of paleolithic foods be it meats, nuts, fruits, vegetables, tubers etc. They have all been shaped and altered by human hands.

  68. I’m new to your blog and happy I found. It is obvious that you put a huge effort into it.
    I’ve always liked sweet potatoes and white potatoes. They just agree with me and create a feeling of
    satisfaction after consuming them. Do I know if they spike my blood sugar or insulin after eating them? The answer is no. I also don’t care at this point.
    Its good to know that I’m not the only one who thinks potatoes can be part of a real food diet

  69. John Shier says:

    I’m fairly new to the ‘paleo’ lifestyle (~6 mos). Came to it via CrossFit like many other people. The thing I find very interesting is how much orthodoxy is involved with many of these non-traditional models of diet/exercise. When I come across something new, I like to do a fair amount of research before implementing the recommendations. I start slow, experiment and expand from there. Paleo was no different in that I took it slow and made adjustments only after reading much of the science behind the claims. It came as no surprise, however, when the orthodoxy started showing. Particularly, lists of unequivocally GOOD and BAD foods. Why must it be this way? Why must we be fundamental/orthodox/dogmatic in everything we touch (a bit melodramatic, I know)?

    Whatever happened to moderation?

    Overall I live and eat in a way that, to most non practioners, would seem quite excessively primal (but heresy in the eyes of ‘purists’). Yet I don’t see why there can’t be room for deviation. The old 80-20 rule (for both diet and exercise) has taken me from 220 lbs to 175 lbs. I feel great, I look good and my athletic performance has improved overall. I eat real food most of the time. I very rarely eat processed foods, sugar, grains or anything else that doesn’t seem nutritionally advantageous. But I also like to enjoy life and experience new things.

    I was recently in Germany and found myself consuming way more beer daily than I would normally drink in a week and it was wheat beer. Gasp! If you’ve tasted the stuff you know what I’m talking about. This is by far the best beer I’ve ever had. On a positive note, I also ate way more pork and pork related products than ever before so that took care of the paleo guilt a bit. Due to the volcano I was trapped there with no expectation of when I’d be able to return to NA. So I headed south where airports were still open. This took me to Rome. A wonderful place that I’d never been to before and guess what; the wine, pasta, gelato, tiramisu, bread and countless other forbidden things were both plentiful and absolutely delicious. I was there for two fantastic days. I ate an unapologetic amount of these banned foods and went home with a big smile on my face. That can’t be a bad thing.

    Now that I’m back, it’s primal time again and I don’t feel any worse for the experience.

    Let’s get over the rules, eat real food most of the time and enjoy some time off for good behaviour. If that means eating a potato, then eat an fucking potato. If it means pissing off the paleo purist intelligencia then fuck ‘em, I don’t want to be part of their club anyway.

    • I have always wondered why if Paleo and Low Carb are the end all be all, why do these countries like France and Italy and Japan eat a variety of foods and lots of the LC and Paleo “forbidden” foods and still remain healthy fit and strong.

      I think it boils down to, again, eating REAL FOOD, eating a variety and not getting the majority of your calories from starches and grains. Not many vegetarians or vegans in these countries.

      I think because we are brought as young children on macaroni and cheese, crackers, cookies, juice… we need to heal our bodies by going the extreme. A high meat diet and very low carb. Then when all is good and your body is healed and your blood sugar is stable eating a diet of real and varied foods is fine.

      • William says:

        I too have wondered about the diet of the medittereneans (Tunisians, Italians, Greeks, French, etc). They’re healthy, have good skin complexion, etc. I visited Italy this summer and I barelyk saw any fat people. But the French and Italians eat pleanty of cheeses, sip on lots of wine and eat a lot of breads & pastas. Given that they’re eating lots of dairy and breads, their health shouldn’t be possible. However, what they are NOT eating is processed stuff, stuff is fresh and wholesome. I suspect the main culprit is an excess of processed sugars first and foremost. This is the one contradiction that has kept me from embracing “Paleo” all in…I’m more of a “real food”/Primal philosophy type of person, and I draw from Richard and Mark Sisson the most. I feel they have the right balance of drawing from science, evolution, but at the same time they don’t have too many suffocating rules and they value quality of LIFE (i.e. no calorie counting).

      • “Health” and “lack of obesity” are not interchangeable notions, and the former is entirely subjective when assessed superficially. The truth is that all of the nations that are supposed to have great health in fact have great longevity. So say that the Japanese are healthy, for instance, is wildly speculative considering their near epidemic of elder convalescent care. Being skinny and living a long time are only markers of health to people that are obese and at risk of early mortality. The fact is that people in Western Europe and East Asia *degenerate* in roughly the same way we do. The striking feature of those hunter-gatherer populations that inspired Paleo wasn’t that they were non-obese, or long-lived, but that they were vigorous and of youthful capacity into their elder years and lacked the diseases of civilization (all of which are present and widespread in all of the so-called healthy populations being mentioned here).

      • This can’t be emphasized enough. Yep, however long you live, you want to be vibrant until you just fall off a cliff.

    • Auggiedoggy says:

      Beer and meat? Isn’t that what the Norse gods ate and drank? That’s kind of primal, wouldn’t you say? Congrats on your Viking Diet! ;)

  70. There’s some serious conflation going on here about what the problem actually entails. It’s not the “eating” of the potato, but the “advocacy” of the eating of the potato that’s been marked for debate. The point goes to what Richard Nikoley stands behind. Is it Paleo? Is it some derivative but varying Paleo-like diet? Is it Weston Price? Is it Real Food® (a moniker as meaningless as “all natural”)? Is he an advocate of any kind whatsoever? This blog might still just be a space for his personal experiments with food, and people are just taking it too damned seriously because of its popularity. There’s no need to get angry about potato eating, potato advocacy, potato persecution, or any of it…as long as the *tone* is civil and people provide simple respect for personal lines, then it all amounts to just some nice friendly brainstorming about what’s what.

    • In my own experience, living in France and many visits to Italy, way more overweight in Italy, especially women over 40 or so. By contrast, France has some of the most attractive women “of a certain age” anywhere.

      I attribute it to the pasta and perhaps bread. French don’t eat that much pasta, and not in huge portions. Italians, however, regularly do both bread & pasta at nearly every meal. The other thing that applies to both countries is that they are pretty loathe to eat anything between meals.

      • “By contrast, France has some of the most attractive women “of a certain age” anywhere.”

        France, despite its reputation for effeminacy, is one of the most carnivorous nations in the world. British vegetarian tourists often complain about the lack of non-meat dishes at restaurants in France, almost always having to settle for an extra helping of some kind of side dish. Plus Sebastien Chabal, the last Neanderthal on earth, lives there and plays rugby :-)

        http://img.skysports.com/08/11/218×298/SebastienChabal_1496007.jpg

      • gallier2 says:

        Chabal is also always associated with meat, as his name ressemble the name of a big brand of meats in France (Charal).
        Here one of the original ads

        (tanslations of the 2 sentences:
        1. Now, who is the biggest carnivore again?
        2. We’re not stopping to make you love meat.

        Here a little selection of spoofs
        http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3be7c_chabal-charal_sport

      • Auggiedoggy says:

        Don’t call him stupid, I hear that Neanderthals can be quite touchy on that subject! ;)

    • “as long as the *tone* is civil”

      lol

      Wrong blog.

      But it’s a great blog.

  71. Awesome post, Richard.

    You got me laughing out loud — the juxtaposition of those 2 photos with those brilliant captions was classic.

    Hey, I don’t claim to have ultimate knowledge of who is or isn’t right on the potato score. But it seems to me it’s far more likely that either:

    potatoes ∪ sweet potatoes = healthy

    or:

    potatoes ∪ sweet potatoes = unhealthy

    than:

    potatoes = unhealthy; sweet potatoes = healthy

  72. Tovah Steffen says:

    Hi Richard! Just started following your blog and wanted to put my two cents in:

    I am Primal. I consider myself primal because A) it allows more flexibility in my diet, which is important if I am going to stick to it for the rest of my life. And B) What I’ve seen so far, a lot paleo “authorities” seem to have a stick up their butts.

    Why does it matter what you eat personally? Does that immediately negate all of your experience, knowledge, and just plain relatability when conferring this information to us? Nope. And that’s why I read blogs. Not because I want hard and fast rules, but because I want ideas, inspiration, humor, and a feeling of community. And for the record, you are doing an awesome job at all those things.

    Pardon my french, but Eff ‘Em. You don’t need your blog linked to there to get new readers. I stumbled across through links from other primal blogs!

    Keep up the good work and the good reading.

  73. Flying Burrito says:

    Regarding Mediterraneans, the indicative cultures are very pedestrian…they walk, and walk, and walk some more from here, there to everywhere. They’re generally not very sedentary. And they have an aversion to processed foods. They shop at local markets and are pretty astute at choosing their meat, poultry, fish and vegetables–they won’t suffer a tasteless fuel (sic) gladly. I do think the Italians get a bit heavy-handed later in years and carb-load too much. But then again, there’s all the walking–up and down hills and mountains, no less. And they’re outdoors a lot. Just my two cents.

Trackbacks

  1. […] state of rippedness. Today marks the end of week 4. OK, here's the deal:In spite of the — gasp! — potato carbage, I've lost a net 4 pounds since starting.In spite of losing 4 net pounds I have increased […]

  2. […] course I've been writing about some of this stuff for a while and have talked quite a bit about potatoes. And this isn't my first post on Big Meals. Click on the photos in series for the hi-resolution […]

  3. […] consider themselves paleo (or whatever) paint the world in black and white, us vs. them terms (see Richard getting kicked off the island for eating potatoes), when a healthy diet is much more fluid. In fact, if I could take everyone […]