Reader Emails; This & That; Paleo / Primal Success Stories

Time for another installment of inspiration, especially for those of you just starting out, or considering the “Paleo / Primal / Caveman / Ancestral” approach to life, activity and diet. Many more stories here, and there’s a book too.

So, in no particular order…James from Australia on how he’s really looking into this, Larry creates a weight loss registry, Justin has a problem (now resolved), 19 yr-old Alex from the UK gets results, Kat is a reformed raw vegan, Scott’s in the best shape of his life, and I finish it off with a self-indulgent rant over pettifogger wankers that’s just al in a day’s work.

~ An email of appreciation from James in Australia. While not so much of a success story yet, this was received some months ago (I’m way behind getting to all of these) so I hope he’s continued to put things together.

I initially was buoyed by my enthusiasm for work but long hours quickly became long weeks. I ate bad food (wrong stuff, too much). My exercise was lifting the phone receiver and occasionally walking to the copier. The suits I bought to work in stopped fitting comfortably, and eventually stopped fitting at all.

I became depressed – I began to lose some of my vigor for work that began to sap my vigor for life. I was becoming unhealthy and could see and feel the effects—I felt slow and sluggish, my knees and hips and low back began to ache after too many hours in a too old chair (I have some residual issues from basketball and football), and I was tired all the time. I had to arrest, or at least resist, this slow decline I was having at the ripe age of 23.

My chance encounter with Free the Animal was probably not so chance after all—it was quite patently what I needed to find, when I needed to find it.

I’ve spent many hours (some of it work time, shhhh) reading your writings. Our opinions differ in places and converge in others and this is natural—given the breadth of your writing and the topics you’ve addressed, it would be bizarre for it to be any other way. But the vitality and ferocity of your approach to bullshit is refreshing, and reminds me that for keeping the mind fit there is no better exercise than wading through the quagmires of bullshit that dot our modern intellectual landscape. It is messy but necessary.

Anyway, a thankyou. It has been and continues to be a pleasure for me to read you. I wish you the very best of health in the future and continued vivacity in your writing and thinking.

(In terms of actual adoption – I am slowly trying to adopt some of your approaches (whole food clean eating, intermittent fasting but with corresponding feasting, and short but intense exercise regularly). The actual enactment of the eating plan have been very difficult. Put plainly, I stink at cooking, do not know how much of each ingredient I need, and worry that I regularly miss my ‘macros’. In a day to day sense, I am just not sure and feel as though I’m ‘doing it wrong’.)

~ Sorry this got shoved in a folder and not published immediately, but Larry writes:

My name is Larry Istrail and I am currently a medical student involved in obesity research. I have a master’s degree in nutrition and have been researching the benefits of paleo and carbohydrate-restricted diets for some time now. I have recently created the Ancestral Weight Loss Registry, to collect and publish data on the best ways to lose weight and get healthy on a paleo and/or low-carb diet.

I really enjoy reading your blog and following your tweets. Your transformation story is very inspiring! My goal is to get people like you, as well as those that were less successful to share their story for the greater good of carb-restricted eating.

The only way this registry will be effective is with a lot of data. I have had a large amount of interest already, and need your help to spread the word. Would you be willing to write a blog post urging your readers to join? Whether they were successful or not, I would like them to register.

I have also created a Related Science library, documenting the clinical data testing the safety and efficacy of carb-restricted diets.

Check it out, register, participate.

~ From Justin:

Huge fan of your website. Your posts on LDL cholesterol changed my understanding of the whole thing. After seeing your posts, I had my doctor order a NMR Lipoprofile with my yearly physical. I haven’t gotten it back yet, but I expect good numbers. I’ve been gluten free for about 4 years and paleo/primal for about 2. I do have some strange results on another test that I wanted to get your opinion on.

My blood work is showing some slight albuminuria – that is, proteins that otherwise stay in the blood are getting pushed into the urine. My doctor wants to put me on ACE Inhibitors (I told him NO). I’m at a loss as to why this is happening and how to fix it. If you could shed some light on this for me that would be great. Feel free to post the contents of this email if you make a blog post about it.

As to symptoms, the only thing I can think of is I think my cortisol might be high – feeling stress during the day, trouble falling asleep at night. Also have to pee in the middle of the night (never used to happen at all). I’m going to get some blackout curtains and try some magnesium oil and see where that takes me. Robb Wolf notes that sleep deprivation blocks the nighttime pulsitile release of aldosterone with the effect of increasing nighttime urine production, and also that elevated cortisol alters normal sleep cycles and can result in increased nighttime urine production. Hopefully this is all just tied to sleep issues?

Any input for Justin? [Update: email from him indicates the problem was isolated to excessive fruit and when he cut back, problem resolved.]

~ Alex from the UK appears to be on it, and for all the right reasons.

First, let me introduce myself. My name’s Alex, and I’m a 19 year old guy from the UK. My mum’s a highly gluten-insensitive and fructose-aphobic Italian (apparently Italy has more Celiacs than any other country on earth!) and, unlike my brother, I’ve inherited those ever so pleasant traits from her.

As a teenager who got into weight lifting, diet was always important to me…for the wrong reasons. I was happy to stock up on bagels, processed burgers and Skippy peanut butter if it meant I got my calories and my protein in at the end of the day…several years later, and I’ve been battling with never-ending shoulder pain and low back pain that has held me back from being where I want to be. In other words, the conventional diet has failed me, as it has so many others. In the past few months I’ve had a greater and greater interest in eating a more ‘evolutionary’ diet. At first I thought paleo was for nutjobs, but as I read more about it, and found out about the history of illness and stunted growth on my mum’s side of the family (bread and pasta lovers, if they could get it, little to no meat. Mum’s granddad from the meat-deprived south was 4’10, her father from the slightly more carnivorous north is 5’6. Go figure).

Recently, I took the plunge and made the slow transition to eating in this new way. I can confidently say that it’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time; I used to get an inflamed gut and even pain in my abdomen; gone. Over the course of a grain-based ‘bulk’ I ballooned from a 32 to a 36 inch waist; grains are gone, and I’m at about 35” with no strict dieting (yet), although I feel much smaller there at times. My teeth, which were in no good state beforehand, have improved dramatically. And I think I’m right in saying that grains have actually made my injuries worse – having ditched gluten outright these past few weeks, I was experiencing little to no joint pain, even when lifting. As of last night, which involved Yorkshire puddings (if you don’t know what they are, it’s a good thing – too good to resist) and cheesecake, I’ve had terrible pain, both in my gut and joints, and wasn’t able to lift as a result of it, it was that bad.

In other words, I’m writing to say thank you for being one of the many sources from which I decided it was time to ditch gluten and processed crap, and start down a road that would lead to better health, energy and even confidence. I’m more than confident that by the end of 2012 I’ll be a totally different person than I am now.

~ Kat is a Reformed Raw vegan. This one’s for reels.

I stumbled across your website and debate with (fruitcake) Durianrider, and I felt compelled to share my story with you.

I grew up on what I always felt was a very standard diet, with lots of home cooking and little fast food. I was always a pretty healthy and active kid who had an interest in health and eating right until high school, when I fell into the trap of eating what my friends were eating. I gained about 20 lbs in that time, and after recovering from a skiing injury and becoming very sedentary and sick my senior year (and gaining an additional 10 lbs), I was determined to find a better way to eat.

This was in the late 90’s, when the vegan movement was picking up a lot of speed.  Shortly after graduating high school, I decided that it was a good decision for me. I literally went vegan overnight. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t feeling better, but kept it up while eating plenty of vegan junk food. One day, while piddling around the internet, I came across a website that talked about great health achieved through a raw vegan diet. Again, I transformed the way that I ate overnight.

Upon getting better after I became incredibly sick from “detox,” I felt better than I had in a very, very long time. I had lots of energy and was losing weight! I was ecstatic! It was hard to keep up, but I persevered. I started to notice a difference in the way I was thinking after a short time, however. I started feeling like I knew better than everyone, and soon after, that I WAS better than everyone. I have always been a very humble person, so this feeling was very disconcerting to me. It became so disconcerting, in fact, that it drove me back to eating cooked foods. I went on like this for years – going raw vegan and returning to cooked foods, all the while wondering what was wrong with me.

Why couldn’t I do this?  Well, in my quest to be able to eat perfectly, I developed an eating disorder. I became bulimic, binging and purging multiple times a day most days (all on vegetarian/vegan foods, depending on where I was in my neurosis), and beating myself up about it all constantly, knowing that “if only I could stick with a raw vegan diet, then I wouldn’t be going through this.” By this time in my life, I was a divorced single mother. My oldest child was getting old enough to realize that something wasn’t right, and it occurred to me one day what exactly was happening.

I knew that something had to be done, so I sought out therapy and began the road to recovery. I started to accept that the way I ate as a child was okay…that eating a variety of foods was okay. I chucked everything I had led myself to believe and started eating whatever I was craving.  Interestingly enough, one of the first things I recognized as needing to eat was a steak. So, I went out and got one, found out how to cook it, and ate it that night.  I thought it might make me sick because it had been so long, but surprisingly, it didn’t.  Not only did it not make me sick, I felt great the next day! I did not feel like my body was eating itself anymore, as I had even before the disorder. I continued to add in more different meats and seafood, enjoying every bite along the way. I gravitated away from grains and sugar, and I loved my steamed veggies. I had the energy and the desire to workout again and play with my kids more.

This was about two years ago. In that time, I discovered primal eating (thanks to my dear mother-in-law, who also messed up her body severely through becoming raw vegan for far longer than I ever lasted…her thyroid and pancreas no longer work right), and realized that, just through listening to my body, I had been slowly gravitating that direction on my own since my recovery. My husband is on board with joining me now, and I find it interesting that my kids are rather drawn to these foods instinctively as well. I weigh less than I have in years, have more energy, and best of all, eating has become and joy again and not a burden. I truly believe that a raw vegan diet is a bad idea, and it gave me many distorted beliefs. I strongly advocate against it.

I thank Weston Price for his studies, and all the primal / paleo eaters for being inspiring and, most importantly, REAL.  Thousands of years of evidence does not lie, nor does the way I feel.

Wotta story, eh? Screw the vegan menace, and the hummus they slid in on.

~ And Scott rounds out this installment of six, with a bunch more to go over the next perhaps few weeks.

Thank you so very much for your blog, and the information you give out.

I came to your site originally from Tom’s FatHead website, after being sent to view the movie by a very dear friend of mine who is a chef. I guess you could say the rest is history.

I’m not in bad shape, but thanks to you and the inspiration of others doing similar work, I am by far after the past year in the best shape of my life. I eat real foods, and skip over the crap. Sure, every now and then Steak and Shake will lure me in (maybe once every 2 or 3 months,) but I know I’ll pay the price for it, and I accept it under those terms.

I ordered your ebook, and that day I read it. And then I read it again. I read it a third time. Congratulations… it really was that great a read. I’ve sent a number of friends the link, hopefully they will join in the health.

Thanks also for bringing Denise Minger to those of us in your regular readers, holy cats, man, she is amazing.

Glad to see the work you do, inspiring people to live their lives.

Glad to be a fan.

…I suppose it’s to be expected that in the weird way I conduct myself—stream of consciousness, often; obnoxious, often enough—that I’d increasingly get all sorts of criticism and scorn here and there, around the Paleosphere. Of course, that only means I’m effective, just as are many others upon whom so much scorn is heaped. It actually, really really does…fer reels…and those stories above, these stories here, and the dozens I have yet to put up (I’m up to about January 2012, now), prove it.

That’s right, they prove it. I’m effective, a real value to real people who really need it, and all the folks I’ve ever seen criticism from? Uh, not so much? Uh, put together even? So in great measure, I really have no choice but to accept, even embrace the hate. If I wasn’t getting any, that would be cause for concern—because the world is chock full of types who never really do anything much of any import…they merely fake it, fooling their own sense of self esteem by tearing down those who actually do things, do them effectively, and are recognized as such by the only people who matter one shit-worth anyway: those who benefitted.

Ha ha ha! And guess what? I’ll continue to be a value for those in need, and all the little pettifogging wankers out there can just go fuck themselves. …Wankers… useless, ineffective wankers.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. sonny on July 11, 2012 at 14:20

    If paleo is so effective, then why isnt it being accepted by the msm? Are they not as smart as you?
    And if your answer is corruption and greed, then wouldn’t the insurance companies back paleo? Wouldnt they stand to save millions by promoting paleo nutrition?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 11, 2012 at 14:30
    • Sonny on July 11, 2012 at 17:30

      Ok, but why doesn’t msm promote paleo? If the answer is influence by corporations that means we don’t have a free press. No free press is not what the founding fathers wanted. So if the system isn’t working it Is bc it has been hijacked, not bc it is a bad system as originally laid out. Do you agree?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 11, 2012 at 17:40

      “but why doesn’t msm promote paleo?”

      For the same reason they don’t promote Ferrari.

      Get it?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 11, 2012 at 17:43

      Let me explicate.

      The MSM is a business, big business, with stockholders. Get a trading account, you can own a piece, too. Their obligation is to make money for shareholders. They do this primarily through add revenue.

      As soon as there are large enough Paleo enterprises to put up the millions, tens of millions, and even hundreds of millions the huge food giants do to advertise their wares, Paleo will be the next best things after….uh, sliced bread….in the eyes of the MSM.

    • Sean on July 12, 2012 at 04:33

      And 60 years ago one could’ve asked, “If smoking is so bad for you, why isn’t it written about by the mainstream press?”

      There is, fortunately these days, a free press, and you are reading it.

      I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, if the system has been hijacked, it has been hijacked by complacency, ignorance and extremely low standards. Take a look at the average j-school grad, they are fucking idiots. And the average “science” journalist couldn’t science their way out of a goddamn erector set.

      The most eminent of them, such as NYT’s John Tierney, are disingenuous fools. And don’t get me started on low-fat vegetarian leaning idiots like Jane Brody. These people aren’t part of a conspiracy, they simply toe the still-conventional line that follows the lipid hypothesis and the rest of that bullshit.

      Fortunately, there’s plenty of resources these days for one to find out for oneself and make an informed decision about what a healthy diet is or isn’t. Hurray for the internet, let’s hope it doesn’t get “regulated” anytime soon.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 12, 2012 at 08:02

      Good point, Sean, about the free press. And look how the MSM in so many ways is being dragged along (due to loss of revenue, of course) by including relatively unmoderated comment sections on so many of their articles, op-eds, etc. And look how often they get slammed in them.

    • Joseph on July 12, 2012 at 10:13

      No vast conspiracies, just a lot of well-meaning incompetence (that people monetize because it is cheaper and more immediately rewarding than excellence). That’s how I see it, too.

    • rob on July 12, 2012 at 11:22

      I think generalized advice tends to be pretty useless no matter the source, given that not only are we all different from each other, we are in fact quite different from our own past and future selves.

      MSM necessarily has to address a very broad audience, otherwise the business folds, so they can’t address age, gender, individual goals and all the other myriad factors that come into play.

  2. cman on July 12, 2012 at 06:05

    hmm, pettifogging wankers, eh… btw, when’s the next man alive! post coming?

  3. josef on July 12, 2012 at 07:34

    Congratulations to all successful paleolites.

    However, didn’t Anthony Colpo dismiss paleo as an extension of the deadly – according to him – low carb diet?

    Based not only on his metabolic ward studies but on the experience of concentration camp survivors, who lost weight on high carb diets, can we really attribute the paleolite’s success to the paleo/low carb paradigm?

    • Richard Nikoley on July 12, 2012 at 08:15


      Actually, in his latest version of The Fat Loss Bible, he has a great chapter advocating Paleo, just not the LC version. He’s fully on board with it otherwise. His only exception really, is drinking sugar right after a heavy workout. Otherwise, don’t drink calories.

  4. Lilana on July 12, 2012 at 09:01

    I love hearing about this. Almost two years ago, after finally giving in to my husband’s pleading to try LC (and after a 10 lbs additional gain from a disastrously successful foray into baking), I cut out all carbs cold-turkey. Guess what happened? I lost 40 lbs over the ensuing 6 months (without doing any exercise–my knees were in a bad state from the extra weight), and discovered a lifelong wheat allergy that was responsible for my painful separation from physical activity due to asthma in my youth, and was also responsible for horrible mood swings and coldness (and a bit of the “know-it-all” feeling described above by the former raw vegan)!

    Now, I’m not totally strict no-carb (sometimes I will still eat rye or gluten-free bread, but it’s rare), but maintaining my weight is effortless and I continue to avoid wheat entirely. My 20’s were spent declining further and further into misery, fat, ill-health, and bitchiness, and now hopefully my 30’s will be everything I was supposed to have then! I also now have a paleo-breastfed infant, and he is bursting with personality, energy, and strength at a mere 2 months!

    I also have something to say when it comes to ‘anecdotal evidence’ versus ‘peer-reviewed research’. When you get anecdotal evidence, you can actually TALK to the person it happened to (in most cases), and see the results for yourself. When you rely on peer-reviewed science, you are at the mercy of whatever industry giant has been funding these studies or the education of the scientists themselves! (“Now class, who can tell me what we do for high cholesterol issues?” “LIPITOR!” “That’s right, you all get A’s!”) Give me decentralized, local, PERSONAL info any day!

  5. Pauline on July 13, 2012 at 09:16
    Hi Richard, posting some music, we are have wet, wet weather in the UK for summer. Heading to a live beer festival tonight for music and walkabout, maybe even try some local ale. Thanks for blogging so diligently, those of us who read and listen to all the ideas and comments, value all the work and thought that goes into making this work.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.