The Worst Thing About eBooks

Big ebook fan for a while, now. I got the Sony a few years back, upgraded to the newer 505 model, but ultimately didn't like having to use the computer and software interface to buy books (plus, Sony refuses to make a Mac version of it, and since my never-to-look-back switchover, I hated having use Windows, even on my cherished MacBook Pro). So, a few months ago I got the Kindle, and just last week, the new Kindle 2. Big hardware improvement.

However, there is a drawback, which gets to the point of this post: you can no longer throw a book across the room, which is what I wanted to do last night — yet again — in my love / hate relationship with Loren Cordain's book, The paleo Diet.

What I do love about it is the fundamentals, the principles: evolutionary biology, and pretty solid research into what foods our Paleolithic ancestors would have eaten, and hence, what we would be most genetically adapted to eating ourselves. What I hate about it is how, when politically convenient, Cordain seems perfectly willing to violate his principles. Skinless white meat chicken, lean meats only, trim the fat, lose the salt, hold the butter, ditch the lard, fear animal fat in general…but, but, go right ahead and wash all that "heart healthy lean leal lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean (it's got to be the most frequently occurring word in the entire book) meat with a diet soda

Many other examples abound, but here's the one that had me in fits last night. He goes on for page after page with valid information on the necessity of a proper ratio of omega fats (6/3) and finally gives us the rundown.

Best: Flaxseed oil is, hands down, the best oil for you. It contains a very low omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of 0.24. The next best bet is canola oil, with a ratio of 2.0, followed by mustard seed oil, with a ratio of 2.6. […]

When you add one of these four oils to any food or dish-even by rubbing it on meat before you cook it-you'll help lower your overall dietary omega 6 to omega 3 ratio to a healthful level (the cutoff point is about 3; anything lower than 3 is good). Also, flaxseed oil is composed mainly of polyunsaturated fats (66 percent of the total fats), which will help lower your blood cholesterol. Canola and mustard seed oils, in which the primary fats are monounsaturated, lower cholesterol, too.

Better: Walnut oil is not quite as healthful (its omega 6 to omega 3 value is 5.1), but it's still a good fat, because it contains mainly cholesterol-lowering polyunsaturated fats (63.3 percent).

Good: Olive oil-the staple of the Mediterranean diet-is deliciously flavorful, and it contains high levels of healthful, cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fats. However, its omega 6 to omega 3 fat ratio is marginal, at about 13 to 1. The same is true of avocado oil. However, if you love these oils, don't worry. You can still use them, and if you want to improve their omega 3 levels, you can blend them with either canola or flaxseed oil.

Setting aside all the irrelevant, unimportant, "cholesterol-lowering" PC hoopla crapola gobbledygook, got it? Take the oil squeezed out of clearly paleo food sources like olives and California apples (avocados) and improve them with canola and ("the very best oil") flaxseed — processed frankenoils, as many of us call them.

Cordain is cherry picking, and that's very clear to me; and I think he's doing it to make The paleo Diet PC. It 'aint. A paleo diet is bloody and fatty, and that's just the facts.

Now, if that wasn't bad enough, can you guess what is the very worst fat on his list [Correction: I hadn't turned the page and he did have a lot of worse ones, if his numbering arrangement corresponds to bad to worse]? Coconut, the very plentiful tropical staple that grows like weeds and has been nourishing tropical peoples for eons. The Tokelauns traditionally got about 50% of their total energy intake From. Saturated. Fat. Hint: they were studied, and no, not dropping like flies from coronary artery disease. In science, that's called falsification. Cordain needs to go back to the drawing board, to very square one: his protestations regarding saturated fat are false, and to the extent that he does not specifically and thoroughly address the Tokelauans (and others), he's being dishonest.

Here's another clue. He dismisses coconut oil in a slimy way, by implying it has a huge 6/3 ratio, which is true. That's because it has no omega three, so the ratio is "infinite." However, coconut only has 1.8% polyunsaturates to begin with, so though there is no n-3, the n-6 can be dismissed as virtually trace.

I had not posted this short book review by Sally Fallon of The Weston A. Price Foundation before, as I considered it a bit inflammatory, particularly not having read the book myself. However, I have no reservations about linking it now. I recommend reading it for a good laugh.

All that said, there's many parts of Cordain's work that is very valid, very heroic; and there's no doubt he has helped a lot of people. I will try to focus most of the energies I expend on his behalf towards the positive.

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  1. Ricardo Carvalho on March 2, 2009 at 18:11

    Richard, just in case you didn't read the Paleodiet's FAQ, at: , please see the answer to "Why do you recommend eating lean meats on a true, Paleo Diet? Wouldn’t hunter-gatherers have savored fatty meats?". Also, read the old Paleo-List and you'll understand Fallon's unpolite review of Dr. Cordain's book: I'm from Portugal and I can confirm that olive oil is our most valued fat, truly delicious and flavorful. I/We would never mix it with flaxseed and never with a GMO like canola.

  2. David Brown on March 2, 2009 at 21:24

    It's a shame so many otherwise good scientists have it in for saturated fat. It's their training I suspect.

  3. David Brown on March 2, 2009 at 22:03

    Richard, have you got any solid data to back that assertion or you just guessing?

  4. Minneapolis J on March 2, 2009 at 16:42

    Richard, couldn't agree with you more. Another thing you forgot to mention is that Cordain tells us to drop the eggs…..limit to 6 per week. So basically we are talking a diet that is lean meat, fruit, and vegetables quite literally.

    Have you had a lean pork chop? It tastes awful. The same goes with too lean beef or chicken. And meat with no salt……again, pretty unappetizing.

    Isn't this the same guy who wrote a book "Paleo Diet For Athlete" where this diet is used in conjunction with marathon running?(that was a rhetorical question)

  5. Bryan-oz4caster on March 2, 2009 at 17:58

    Yup, said well. Too bad Cordain has PC blinders on. Sometimes we gotta take the good with the bad. Or maybe I should say take the good and leave the bad :)

    I'd like to see a sausage renaissance, made the old fashioned way with meat, offal, and lots of fat!

  6. Sue on March 2, 2009 at 18:17

    Cordain mentions you can rub any of these oils on meat before cooking (flax, canola, mustard). I know you are not meant to heat flax oil.

    Its a shame, Cordain is so anti-satfat and recommends canola oil!

  7. Sue on March 2, 2009 at 18:21

    "Don't use flax oil for cooking. Oils high in essential fatty acids are not good for cooking. In fact, heat can turn these healthy fats into harmful ones. Add flax oil to foods after cooking and just before serving."

  8. minneapolis J on March 2, 2009 at 20:49

    haha, yea right. you are the boss Richard. let no one make a mistake about that.

  9. Chris - on March 3, 2009 at 07:39

    I have to agree with Richard C. above. I personally have not done enough of my homework to have solidified my position on saturated fats. I'm not arguing their merits one way or the other here.

    However, Cordain does very clearly address and justify why he recommends the lower saturated fat intake.
    Statistically groups like the Tokelauns are outliers. This doesn't mean they are unhealthy – and they may well tell us something very useful about metabolism and nutrition, but their diet is not the norm, even among early people.

    Most hunter gatherer groups probably did not get that much of their caloric intake from saturated fat. I believe this case is made pretty clearly. Looking at the percentages of fat in their prey animals (including the organ meats, marrow, etc..) you come up with an average intake of 10-15% of calories.

    If you want to argue that more is healthy, on the basis of scientific evidence that's fine – in my opinion that's NOT what the Sally Fallon piece did, she restorts to mocking and straw man attacks that are really out of place in an educated debate. Her condescending description of a caveman "throwing away the skin" from his chicken shows that she either had not read Cordain's analysis of the fat content of game animals or was choosing to ignore it.

    Minneapolis J –
    I'm curious what your objection to "The Paleo Diet for Athletes" is.

  10. on March 3, 2009 at 08:46

    Chris from "fitness fail"

    What about groups like the Maasai, Dinkas, Samburu, French , and Inuits who eat a diet very rich in saturate dfat and have very low rates of CAD? How does Cordain explain away them?

    Cordain knows little of the Mammoths, Hippos and Rhinos all hunted enthusiastically during the Paleolithic. They were evry rich in saturated fat. In fact an adult hippo carries around 90 kg of adipose tissue .

    As for the claim that fat from wild game is proportionately lower in saturated fat than domesticated animals, a quick check on the USDA database shows otherwise.

    The fat from wild bison , for example, has a similar percentage osf saturated fatty acid content to beef fat. Animals like anteloupe, buffalo, caribou, wild boar , elk, and so on contain 30 -38 % saturated fat. The fat from domesticated pork, by comparison, contains 37 % saturated fat.

    Cordain is 100 % wrong.

    Are you sure you did your research?

  11. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 09:12

    I call that the malevolent nature "hypothesis." Like eggs (they're trying to kill you).

  12. Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2009 at 18:13

    I agree. Sausage done right is great food. Maybe time for a post on that.

    Richard Nikoley

  13. Chris - on March 3, 2009 at 10:53

    In the beginning of my post, I indicated very clearly that I was not taking a position on saturated fat, or siding with Cordain on health effects one way or the other. Frankly I'm still doing my own reading on this, and will not be arguing one position or the other until I feel confident in both it and my ability to support it.

    Several people (not Richard I should note – he is actually addressing the point I tried to make, which I appreciate) are reciting the party line defending saturated fat consumption. However, I never argued otherwise. I think I made it very clear that I was not arguing the health, only the relative percentage of calories it was likely to represent in a typical hunter gatherer diet.

    As an aside, I believe the diet of the Inuit is mostly Monounsaturated (I can dig up a link to this study if you like – it surprised me as well).


    You have a very valid point. I'm sure the fatty portions WERE the most prized and as Sam pointed out, Cordain my be cheery picking the evidence.

    But, do you really think that early people would discard the less prized (but still palatable) portions of the game? I can see this happening during plentiful times to be sure. I'd think the story posted above (about attempting to boil the tongue to make it soft enough to chew) would serve to illustrate that the would generally attempt to consume all of the prey that they could.

  14. Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2009 at 20:03


    What are you trying to do, take over role of master commenter?


  15. Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2009 at 20:18


    Sorry, but neither link works. The first is an easy fix (the comma), but the second is such I'm not sure where to find it.

    Your blog is beautiful in appearance, BTW, though I don't understand hardly a damn thing. :)

  16. Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2009 at 20:21

    It really compromises his work with those who've done a lot of study themselves. If he's get straight about fat, he'd have a thousand voices trumpeting his work that are now either silent, or adversarial (I'm about 50/50).

    It's sad. Such an opportunity squandered.

  17. Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2009 at 20:23

    I think that's not just a good rule for PUFAs, but all fats. Really, you don't need a lot to cook, so use minimal to cook and then add more in at the end.

    One of my favorites is to melt a ginormous pat of butter in a pan of scrambled eggs after the heat is off. Stop the cooking and makes 'em buttery creamy.

  18. on March 3, 2009 at 11:57

    Perhaps Cordain himself is unfamiliar with the 18 clinical dietary intervention trials to date examining the saturated fat /CAD issue. None of these 18 show any reudtcion at all in CAD mortality, CAD incidence or total mortality from saturated fat restriction or dietary cholesterol lowering.

    The National Diet Heart Study 1968 , The Minnesota Coronary Survey 1989 are two of the 18 that are also double blinded.

    The most recent of all of these is The Women's Health Initative 2006, another which shows no support at all to the farcical idea that "saturated fat causes CAD" pushed by the fraud of Ancel Keys.

    When put to the test of a randomized double blinded clinical trial, the idea that saturated fat causes CAD does not hold up at all.

  19. Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2009 at 21:41

    It's THE DEVIL!

    Richard Nikoley

  20. Joe Matasic on March 3, 2009 at 06:40

    I'm with you guys on the sausage. I read about a company making old world sausages in San Fran (I think). It was in a Wegman's booklet and then I saw a special on the food channel. The brand was Columbus. When I checked them out they had corn syrup plus sodium nitrate and nitrate I believe. No thanks, I'll pass. I don't think those were around in the old world. At least the corn syrup. It just pissed me off.

  21. Marc Feel Good Eating on March 3, 2009 at 07:39

    Richard, I'm with you on Cordain. I highly respect his work, just don't agree with all of it. I think Dr. Eades and he have decided to agree to disagree ;-)

    I read a post a while back where the author said; Nature made fat, did nature realy set out to make a good fat and a bad fat (ie; sat. fat)?
    Made me smile.
    Have a great day!!!


  22. Sam on March 3, 2009 at 07:42

    Nice take on Cordain, Richard.

    One small nitpick – olives were certainly not a paleo food. Raw olives contain oleuropein which is so bitter it renders them inedible. Brining removes this substance, a processing step I seriously doubt paleo h-gs would have spent a minute doing…

  23. Sam on March 3, 2009 at 07:59

    Cordain is discounting (or is unaware of) the practice of preferentially hunting the fattest animals and preferentially eating fat and fatty meat.

    These two practices were performed by paleo h-gs (abstract url is too long, but google for "Adults only. Reindeer hunting at the Middle Palaeolithic site Salzgitter Lebenstedt, Northern Germany" and related papers) and recent groups with hunter behavior: the Plains Indians, the Inuit, and the Sami people.

  24. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 01:03

    To what "assertion" are you referring? If you're talking about the "devil" crack, that's just tongue-in-cheek.

    Don't believe in "he" exists, either.

  25. Patrik on March 3, 2009 at 09:37

    @Chris –

    Most hunter gatherer groups probably did not get that much of their caloric intake from saturated fat. I believe this case is made pretty clearly. Looking at the percentages of fat in their prey animals (including the organ meats, marrow, etc..) you come up with an average intake of 10-15% of calories.

    No way I believe that. A couple points to ponder:

    1) Cordain's analysis of fat content is bogus. Hunter-gathers did not just eat an animal, on average. That would be stupid. Meaning although an animal maybe, whatever, on average 10% fat —- they actually picked out the and ate disproportionately more of the fatty bits as they are more easily digestible and provide more calories per gram, and not to mention, are tastier. Organs such as liver, as well as bone marrow etc etc

    2) Look at this interesting story about hunting, alongside African Bushmen, a Cape Buffalo:

    Several of us walked back to fetch the truck while the rest of us worked for hours skinning and dismembering the animal. It took four of us to life a hindquarter into our truck. We even took the head back to be given to old people who would cook it and patiently get as much meat off it as could be gotten.

    Finally we had some meat in camp. Unfortunately it turned out to be completely inedible. There was hardly a trace of fat anywhere in the animal, and like everyone in the Kalahari we craved and dreamed about fat. We boiled the tongue all the next afternoon, hours and hours, and at the end we could hardly cut it with a knife.

    3) When the human body stores fat — it stores it as saturated fat. If we were not meant to eat sat. fat — why on Earth would we store it as such?

  26. Scott Miller on March 3, 2009 at 09:52

    I have a very hard time recommending Cordain's book, because he has it so wrong on the fats and oils. I'm definitely looking forward to The Primal Blueprint, which I'm sure will be THE book to recommend at that point forward.

  27. Marc Feel Good Eating on March 3, 2009 at 13:06


    Primal Blue print will be Mark Sisson's book. not Devany's I believe.


  28. Minneapolis J on March 3, 2009 at 13:25


    I actually found Art DeVany a bit confusing. Sometimes he seems to be a "high fat" advocate and then other times he'll condemn it. I also don't think he is very high on saturated fats.

    Mark Sisson and you both paint a clearer picture. I think reading both of your blogs makes it clear about fat. I honestly don't think saturated fat is a big monster. Trans fats are terrible for you, but saturated fats occur in animal fats naturally. Sally Fallon's numbers seem to show that in the bigger scheme of things saturated fat is improperly maligned.

    Yes, she might have sounded caustic of Cordain's work, but I felt a little bit ticked off reading the word "lean meat" so many times. Cordain is going a bit to PC. Not only that, in his paleo athlete book he thinks you should eat as much fruit as you want. Sorry, the fructose monster will cause problems at that point…

    Both you and Sisson make it quite clear( and I agree) that fruit and carbohydrates should be in moderation.

    keep the carbs at bay, balance the omega 3 and omega 6, and I think you can still eat a good share of saturated fat along with some protein.

  29. minneapolis J on March 3, 2009 at 13:38

    You raise interesting points. Cordain does have some good points, but I don't know if its as clear as a bell that saturated fat is bad.
    1.The reason being is that Cordain may not represent the saturated fat/unsaturated fat percentages in animals. Didn't the Okinawans eat a lot of saturated fat in the form of lard?
    2.Also Cordain continues to be PC, he coauthors the book with Joel Friel who trains different kind of triathlon athletes. He lets Friel put potatoes and sweet potatoes into the "modern day paleo diet". He also advocates as much sweet fruit into the athletes diet as possible.. this is not paleo and there should be a limitation on carbs, fruit included.
    3.Devany paints the best picture how exercise should be. Its all about Intermittency. Sprints, Short-Intense Weight Training. Do you think marathon running is anything like what our h-g's did for physical activity, at least as far as intermittency is concerned.
    4.If Cordain chops of this monstrous saturated fat, where exactly does the fat come from? I suppose one could eat organ meats like he suggests, but Cordain cuts out egg yolks and nuts on top of the fat that comes from meat. Personally I think animal fat is superior to nut fat just because of the inflammatory factor of nuts(Richard wrote a nice article on this).

  30. Sam on March 3, 2009 at 14:17

    I have the same mild reaction to raw walnuts although I'm fine with raw pecans and almonds.

    Don't forget that most nuts have a fair amount of anti-nutrients (enzyme blockers in particular) that can be reduced or eliminated by soaking in a weak brine solution overnight and then drying at less than around 150F. Check out Sally Fallon's _Nourishing Traditions_ for more tips on processing nuts.

  31. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 09:09

    This is a devastating (read: falsification) argument, in my view, and it even discounts the strong likelihood that once an animal was butchered, the fattiest portions are preferred over the lean, far less tastier ones.

    I like a decent (lean) filet now and then, for example, but that's because of the wonderful tenderness and texture of the meat (the melted garlic & herb butter helps, too :), but all in all, the ribeye is so much tastier. I doubt Paleolithic man was dumb to that at all and I'm confident that sort of dynamic exists across most game, i.e., acceptable portions, good portions, and cherished portions. Does anyone seriously doubt that the fattiest portions were the most cherished of all?

    So, even if you do end up with an animal that's only 15% fat, and perhaps half of that saturated, you can still achieve a high sat-fat intake by preferentially eating the fat.

  32. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 09:37


    Don't have time to dig through the archives of that list, but I did (re) read the portion of the FAQ you cite, as well as the preceding two questions on cholesterol.

    Here's my beef with the whole thing: he's inconsistent. He readily admits that h-g's would have preferred the fattiest cuts, that h-gs in different locals and seasons had different diets, and so on. Then he goes on to advocate a low sat-fat diet for EVERYONE, and industrial processed oils (as preferred to natural ones) for EVERYONE.

    If he just said, 'look, I think my take on the Paleo diet is the best and will deliver OPTIMAL nutrition,' I'd not have a beef in the world with him. But, to be PC (I think, so he's not dismissed out of hand by the mainstream — good luck in any case…), he goes so far as to malign natural diet relatively high in sat-fat (and, let's be honest, less than half of the fat in most animals is saturated, so, even if you're getting 60% energy from all fats, you're probably going to be less than 30% from sat fat) as "artery clogging," and he does so in a way that mirrors the conventional hype.

    Hell, even if he expressed it in a less hyped way, or expressed it as a reservation of caution, I'd likely give him a pass.

    Has he ever specifically addressed the 50% sat fat Tokelauans? Merely dismissing them as "outliers" is a cheap copout. That undercuts HIS WHOLE ARGUMENT. If there's whole populations that are outliers for sat fat intake, then how about outliers for grain-based diets, of dairy based diets, or, hell, processed food based diets?

  33. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 09:49

    I'm going to look into making my own. I have an electric grinder I got for xmas, so I just need to get to it.

  34. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 09:54


    I believe you're dead right about that. Thanks, correct my errors anytime.

    Interestingly, I was eating a few raw nuts (in the shells) last night (the kind people often have out during holidays), and the walnuts give me a very slight "tingle" in the mouth, and I recall that as a kid, they made the inside of my mouth itch, so there must be something I'm mildly allergic to there. Also, I found the pecans absolutely inedible in terms of bitterness. I love roasted pecans, however.

  35. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 11:12

    I'm with you on that, Scott. I think De Vany's is likely to come out somewhere in the middle. Though Art seems to go for the leaner stuff, and he's said he trims his meat (I do sometimes, as well — depends on the taste and tenderness of the fat; I often cut up bits of it to eat along with the meat and of course, there's the tasty visceral melted, yum yum fat), but I've never heard him talk of artery clogging and so on and so forth, and he's never recommend flaxseed oil or canola. Moreover, he eats plenty of eggs — with the yolks.

  36. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 11:28

    Strangely enough, I agree with Cordain when he says in many places that diets varied among populations, by geography, by season, and so on. That's why, for example, you have people in the tropics eating fruit year round and getting huge percentages of energy via highly saturated coconut fat.

    The difference is that I'm consistent with the argument from top to bottom and wall to wall. I most certainly do not think that Cordain's diet is unhealthy in the least, even allowing for the industrial processed oils and diet sodas. Hell, it may even be optimal on a distribution — don't know and don't think it'll be easy to know given wide differences in individuals.

    I've said many times that I think virtually all natural, non-industrial diets are perfectly healthy — even those that include some measure of soaked, sprouted, fermented grains, rice, dairy, and high carbohydrate from tubers.

    You've got the Inuit at 2-5% carb to the Kitavans at 70%, all apparently in good health. You have Masai, Tokelauans and others that eat lots of saturated fat, all apparently in good health. Pick something in that wide, natural, non-industrial spectrum that works for you, i.e., promotes physical leanness and absence of hunger, go on a fast now and then for good measure, move around and lift and carry heavy things now and then, and enjoy the great feeling and long and healthy life you're likely to have.

  37. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 12:23

    Yep. It's not associated at all, just like cholesterol (50% have high, 50% have low), except that I believe there's an association in older people with LOW total cholesterol (higher all-cause mortality).

    Cordain paints it as though it's not just an association, but and INDEPENDENT association, like slitting your wrists is risking death independent of any other variables (and if you do it right, it's causal).

    He seems uninterested in even entertaining the possibility that any association with sat fat is utterly coincidental and that the real culprits are grains (white wheat four, primarily), sugar, and industrial frankenoils.

  38. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 13:09

    Oh, I see how that might not have been clear. I meant ditto on Sisson, and that De Vany's book (to come out next year) could possibly be in-between Cordain and Sisson on the animal fat issue.

  39. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 13:27

    lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean lean…

    It is easily the single most occurring word in the book.

  40. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 14:31

    That clearly would not work for those is the shell, I assume. One reason I
    like the one in shell is that you have to work to eat them and you go
    through far fewer of them while watching Lost and 24 on the DVR :)

  41. Richard Nikoley on March 3, 2009 at 14:32

    Actually, just remembered I have Fallon's book and so will check that out.
    So far, I've only used her liver recipe (without the flour coating), but I
    can tell you that the fresh lemon juioce soak is fantastic for tenderizing.

  42. Monica on March 3, 2009 at 15:02

    I believe animals store fat in their fat tissue as mostly monounsaturated fat, not saturated fat. Including humans. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong.)

    Sally Fallon presented a talk once where she cited a research paper done at the Univ. of Nebraska comparing grassfed vs. grainfed beef. She claims that this paper says (haven't read it) that there are a few differences. Obviously there is a lack of CLA and a different n6:n3 ratio in grainfed beef, but that practically ALL the extra fat in grainfed beef is monounsaturated, not saturated. Yet in King Corn, Cordain can be found criticizing the amount of saturated fat in grainfed hamburger. If Fallon is right, then either Cordain's criticisms of grainfed beef make no sense or there is still some controversy about the fat content of grassfed vs. grainfed beef.

  43. on March 4, 2009 at 07:22

    Do you think Cordain is aware of the fact that scientists have shown that the fatty acids found within atheromas are predominantly of the 'heart-healthy' unsaturated kind? Over 50 % of the fatty acids found in advanced atheromas are polyunsaturated, 30 % are monounsaturated and only 20 % are saturated.

    Cordain's recommendation must be on political correctness, you would think.

    Carpenter KL, et al. Lipids and oxidised lipids in human atheroma and normal aorta. Biochemica et Biophysica Acta , Apr 7, 1993 ; 1167 (2): 121-130.

  44. Chris - on March 4, 2009 at 07:26

    You guys make some very good points (that I hard largely missed) about the "PC Slant" of Cordain's book. I wanted to thank the people who responded here – I'm always pretty impressed with the quality of the discourse here.

    I think Richard put it best, saying that he'd give him a pass if he just argued that what he proposed was optimal, but that he continues to toe the party line and denigrate other approaches that are just as valid.

    I did want to respond to Minneapolis J. about "The Paleo Diet for Athletes". I'm not defending or advocating long slow endurance work for people who aren't endurance athletes. I think you can obtain most of the general health and fitness results with shorter and more intense work. You'll also subject your body to less wear, and your life won't be centered around working out.

    So we're in agreement there.

    That still doesn't help endurance athletes who do their sport for other reasons. For example, I'm an endurance athlete of sorts (mountain climber). While a great deal of my training consists of short intense bouts I have to train long, because my event is long. I've tried doing long events without long training sessions; it doesn't go well.

    I eat high fat the majority of the time, but around long events I DO need to load up on the carbs. This is simple physiology. Long low intensity efforts can be fueled by fat oxidation. Short high intensity efforts switch the fuel to muscle glycogen, but are generally over before the inability to replenish this becomes an issue. Longer, more intense efforts are going to require carbs – I just wrote a blog post about what happens when I attempt to do long, intense workouts without adequate carb intake, and it's not pretty. I'm not arguing that this is the most healthy approach, or what everyone should do. But if you're a serious athlete in an endurance sport, what would YOU suggest you eat?

  45. minneapolis J on March 4, 2009 at 08:20


    Well now that you put it that way, I think the activity you do is not necessarily bad. Mountain climbing, I wouldn't put in the realm of marathon running. I am sure the foraging people's dealt with long distances of climbing, hiking in some areas.

    You raise a very good point about carbs and in some ways I didn't consider the level of physical activity. Chris, if you are able to maintain a great physical body composition then, I would eat as much carbs as you need. Youd should probably get a good hit from good carbs and fats as you feel you need.

    Like Richard said, it may not be "carbs" that are the problem for everyone, but the refined, industrial frankenfoods. I guess when I addressed a low carb diet, I was sort of hingin off of Mark Sisson and his advice as well as what best caters to my fat loss. I don't respond well to a high carbohydrate diet as much as someone else.

    It also is an issue of metabolic typing, some respond better to carbs better than other. I would recommend that you make them quality carbs..I am sure you were well aware of that though.

  46. Richard Nikoley on March 4, 2009 at 07:49

    Well isn't that inerstin'. I'd always just assumed it was mostly saturated, leading to a priori, "you are what you eat" conclusions, apart from the complexities of biology in general and hormonal and metabolic factors in particular.

  47. minneapolis J on March 5, 2009 at 10:08

    So Sam and Richard, are you suggesting that raw nuts are not the way to go? I eat so many, but does it cause problems with nutrtious food I am already getting

  48. Richard Nikoley on March 5, 2009 at 10:16

    I eat quite a few (mostly dry roasted), but I try to go periods where I don't buy any for a while (if I buy, I eat). I think that's a good policy for most foods (intermittency).

  49. OnTheBayou on September 5, 2009 at 09:45

    I've not read Cordain's book, but instead many, many papers of his and interviews on line. I agree, it's love/hate. It's hard to argue with some of his research, for instance, about the saturated fats, poly, and mono in game animals at different times of the year. Not so much saturated as we might think. In fact, not so much fat except in the fall.

    OTOH, in the quest for exact duplication of what paleo man may have eaten, he ignores the very real possibility that maybe more saturated fats are actually increasingly beneficial.

    And brushing meat with canola oil before grilling? How cow (pun not intended), cancer on the plate! The high temperatures of grilling assure the complete breakdown of the lipids into carcinogens, I'm guessing.

    Bottom line, a mixed bag. I think Cordain is one of those very bright, very cutting edge researchers that gets part of “it” right and then goes off into a fairy land no better than la la New Agey types.

    • gallier2 on September 6, 2009 at 02:14

      He still talks about brushing meat with oil? That's really a blow to his credibility. In the past he even suggested to brush linseed oil on the meat. He was poopooed for it from several people (Eades, Colpo), now he changes to canola oil. This is ridiculous, the reason for which objections were raised against brushing the meat with linseed oil are still valid with canola. The peroxydation of the PUFA will be a bit less on canola but will still be there.
      PS: A little trivia, did you know that France has banned linseed oil for human consumption since 1904. In fact every oil with a linolenic acid content above 5%.

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