OMG: Paleolithic Diet is Associated With Unfavorable Changes to Blood Lipids in Healthy Subjects

Yep. Read it and weep, you idjit Paleos; you, so erroneously self-assured as to dismiss the dietary diktats of your superior masters and their grain and drug peddling bedfellow financiers.

The abstract of the “study,” courtesy of all-around fuckwit, Eric Trexler.

Background: The Paleolithic (Paleo) diet is one modeled after the perceived food consumption of early human ancestors of the Paleolithic Era, consisting of mainly meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, eggs, and nuts. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a paleo diet on blood lipids, including high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), non-HDL cholesterol, triglycerides (TG), total cholesterol (TC), and the ratio between TC and HDL (TC/HDL) in a healthy population. [emphasis added]

There’s your premise: ‘we’re going to evaluate your results according to our standards—not yours.’ Of course, their “standards” are based on a chronically unhealthy grains, sugar, and machinery lubricant (processed food makeup) munching, highly overweight and obese society that subsists primarily on some manner or other of processed crap in boxes and fast food cheaply produced and engineered by global food conglomerates, combined with increasingly uniform and tight “standards” in terms of biomarkers—such that the global drug conglomerates and their distribution network of pushers (i.e., doctors and grant whore researchers) can sell you pills to ameliorate the problems caused by the former.

It all has zero bearing on a healthy diet, Paleoish or, The Old Grandma Diet.

Methods: Subjects of both genders (23 males, 20 females) with no history of diabetes, heart disease, dyslipidemia, or other metabolic disease were asked to eat an ad libitum paleo diet for 10 weeks. Throughout the intervention, subjects participated in a CrossFit-based, high-intensity circuit training exercise program. Prior to the intervention, body weight, body fat percentage (BF%), maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), TC, TG, HDL, and LDL were measured. These measurements were repeated following 10 weeks of a paleo diet.

Wowzers! 10 whole weeks? Well, can’t allow those people to go without all those “cholesterol lowering” crap-in-a-box cereals for very long (in favor of meat, fish, fowl, vegetables, fruits and nuts) now, can you? You might run into problems with the “ethics” committee. Or, hell, perhaps The Ohio State University might put in jeopardy some of that nice research funding. Here’s the Fed portion of their total $934 million (about 50% of all).

OSU Federal Funding
OSU Federal Research Funding

Notice how the National Institues of Health (cholesterol is BAD) and Department of Agriculture (grains are hearthealthywholegrains = GOOD) make up about half of the Fed portion, so 25% of the whole. Then there’s Industry Funding, 11% of the total, $101 million.

Don’t suppose that has any bearing on things. It’s all just about Teh Data.

Results: As a whole, there was a significant increase in non-HDL (107.1 ± 6.0 mg/dL to 120.2 ± 6.5 mg/dL; P < 0.01), LDL (93.1 ± 5.4 mg/dL to 105.6 ± 6.1 mg/dL; P < 0.01), TC/HDL (3.0 ± 0.2 to 3.3 ± 0.2; P < 0.05), and TC (168.8 ± 5.4 mg/dL to 178.9 ± 6.6 mg/dL; P < 0.05) in healthy subjects following a paleo diet. When stratified into groups based on initial blood lipid levels, deleterious changes were found in those with optimal HDL (82.1 ± 3.2 mg/dL to 68.6 ± 4.8 mg/dL; P < 0.05), non-HDL (86.6 ± 3.9 mg/dL to 101.4 ± 4.8 mg/dL; P < 0.01), TC (157.2 ± 0.7 to 168.2 ± 0.9 mg/dL; P < 0.05), TC/HDL (2.5 ± 0.1 to 2.7 ± 0.1; P < 0.05), and LDL (69.1 ± 3.1 mg/dL to 83.5 ± 4.1 mg/dL; P < 0.01), whereas those within sub-optimal stratifications showed no significant changes.

“[D]eleterious changes were found.” OMG! Change your whole diet and workout regime and over 10 weeks (!!!) your lipids wiggle around a bit +/-. “Deleterious” simply refers to the completely unestablished premise that cholesterol levels mean much of anything for individuals one way or the other. It couldn’t possibly be anything like, dropping sugar water and sugar laden crap in a box for 10 weeks begins to clear up subclinical fatty livers with a concomitant rise in LDL, Trigs & such, ya think?


Subjects also decreased body weight (177.6 ± 5.8 lbs to 170.6 ± 5.3 lbs; P < 0.001) and BF% (24.3 ± 1.2% to 20.7 ± 1.2%; P < 0.05), while increasing VO2max (3.18 ± 0.14 L/min to 3.46 ± 0.15 L/min; P < 0.001).

Say WHAAAT? Oh, cool: seven pounds average weight loss (2/3 pound per week), 3.5% loss in body fat (so the “weight loss” was fat loss), and athletic performance increased. Then let’s take a look at the conclusions.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that an ad libitum paleo diet intervention is associated with deleterious changes to blood lipids in healthy subjects, despite concurrent improvements in body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness. Future research should focus on determining recommendations that embrace the positive aspects of the paleo diet, while minimizing any deleterious impact on blood lipids in a healthy population.

Turns out that Dr. Adel Andro of SuppVersity mentioned this study a few days back and did up a nice chart (click for full size).


He also wrote:

If you take a closer look at the abstract and the actual “side effects” (figure 2), the 10-weeks of paleo dieting + CrossFit-based, high-intensity circuit training exercise program had on the body composition and fitness levels, I personally cannot but ask the following question:

“What is the significance of the elevations in LDL and minor reductions in HDL in a scenario that produces exactly what has just been shown to be at the heart of the ‘Obesity Paradox’ and lipid values that are still within the ever-narrowing ‘normal’ or ‘optimal’ range?”

I’ll leave it up to you to answer this question and decide whether it can really be so bad to rid yourself of all modern, processed foods including any form of processed sugar, soft drinks, and coffees, while fueling your life and workout related energy by increasing your consumption of lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, fruit, and vegetables.

Now, let’s take a look at the title of the study, again:

Paleolithic Diet is Associated With Unfavorable Changes to Blood Lipids in Healthy Subjects

That’s manipulative dishonesty, folks, and plain as day. By smuggling in an unsubstantiated premise (that cholesterol really means much of anything causal for individuals) and using it to imply that “Healthy Subjects” were transformed into less healthy, as a direct result of a paleo diet of whole foods and intense exercise Eric Trexler renders himself unfit for employment in any trusted position anywhere.

Personally, I wouldn’t trust that dishonest, lying fuckwit to fetch my mail or take out the trash.

Now then, I have just rendered richly deserved justice.

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  1. Sean on May 14, 2013 at 10:44

    Subjects of both genders (23 males, 20 females) with no history of diabetes, heart disease, dyslipidemia, or other metabolic disease were asked to eat an ad libitum Paleo diet for 10 weeks.

    I’m already done when I read that.

    We randomly handed out two different brochures on how to eat, then looked at the results six months later. Double blind study, biatches!

  2. […] The Animal / Posted on: May 14, 2013 Free The Animal – Yep. Read it and weep, you idjit Paleos; you, so erroneously self-assured as to […]

  3. Will on May 14, 2013 at 12:02

    At both Richard and Sean: what would constitute a good study from your perspective? (And, I mean that as a legitimate question). I’m an academic, but I work in a very different area from this (biochemistry, nutrition, etc.). And, I’m a relative newcomer to the material that’s the focus of this blog – I’ve just turned 55 and I’m trying to enhance to quality of those years I have left (maybe even extend them out a bit). So, I’m curious as to what passes as valid knowledge-claims for you? What do you trust, and why? Both of you (Richard, obviously to a greater extent) point to aspects of the study you find problematic – aspects that you both clearly think are obviously problematic and in little – or no – need of argument. Clearly, I need to do my ‘homework’, but could you annotate your points a bit for those of us who would like to take your challenges seriously? I’m sure if I go back to Richard’s post, I’ll find that I just didn’t read carefully enough, but on a first (and very quick) pass, it struck me more as a complete dismissal rather than engagement.

    • Reagin on October 16, 2015 at 14:55

      I’m REALLY late to the party but wanted to answer your question anyway in case anybody else comes along to wonder the same thing.

      I’m currently doing a meta-analysis of studies about Paleo diet and blood lipids, and most of the studies I’m finding either had meals delivered to participants or gave them an exact diet to follow, including snacks, or had them keep meticulous food diaries (the least reliable method). Also, they made attempts to keep participants’ weight stable because weight loss will also throw your lipid panels off.

      These guys seem to have simply made diet suggestions AND put them on a weight loss regimen with the Crossfit. The title of the article could just as accurately be “Weight loss is associated with Unfavorable Blood Lipids.”

      Furthermore, they apparently gave the participants some food logs to use, but only 8/44 were returned, so the authors decided the logs that WERE RETURNED must be inaccurate, so they just scrapped that part of the study. Whereas really, they should have assumed the other 36 dieters were not completely following the diet suggestions.

  4. tatertot on May 14, 2013 at 12:03

    A better headline would have been: “Consuming 1 pound of human body fat a day for 10 weeks raises bad cholesterol”

    How could they even conceive this was a well-designed study? What’s cool, though, is it showed eating ad libitum paleo still resulted in great weight loss.

  5. tatertot on May 14, 2013 at 12:05

    @will – my take is a better study would have been to have the people follow a paleo diet for 6 months and when they have been weight-stable for several months, then do labs. How could you get accurate results with all those endogenous lipids circulating? They knew this going in, though.

  6. Robb Wolf on May 14, 2013 at 12:11

    Some positive:
    1- Someone decided to do a study looking at the PD.
    2-They had a 100% completion in this study. I think that is VERY significant. Crossfit+ paleo “works” and is engaging enough to keep people coming back.

    Some head scratchers:
    1-Why NO report of triglycerides? THAT is really, really odd.
    2-Same for glucose levels.

    Some questions:
    1-Does this vindicate Cordain’s original interpretation of the PD?
    2-Why have higher fat ketogenic diets produced dissimilar results if we are hanging this all on fat and cholesterol?
    3-Why no look at LDL-P? Why no acknowledgement of the limitations of CHOLESTEROL levels in CVD?

  7. Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2013 at 12:19


    That’s probably semantics. I think it’s a safe bet there was decent adherence given the profound fat loss, bf reductions and increased athletic performance.

  8. LeonRover on May 14, 2013 at 12:59

    This is not an NHANES sample.

    There are only 43 subjects: so it is quite easy to present before and after data for all of the subjects, and on all the measurements.

    It would then be easy for anyone to explore hypotheses about how, for example, the high HDL subjects had different responses to the low HDL subjects, which had higher or lower weight loss etc.

    There is more concealed here, than is revealed.

  9. Joseph on May 14, 2013 at 13:14

    Everyone knows the magic numbers trump all else. Everyone. That is why we changed our eating habits. Because of magic numbers.

  10. Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2013 at 13:14


    I think you miss my point, so perhaps it would be good to read the post carefully.

    The point is: good study, good results (fabulous, predictable results) and rather than put the C number in various perspective due to shortness of time, individual adjustments, clearing a subclinically fatty liver and focus on the WOW of the fat (not weight) loss (because of the bf loss) and increased performance, he chose instead to actually make it a NEGATIVE result.

    Unforgivable in my book, will never tolerate such dishonesty at the expense of signalling to potentially thousands of people : I knew it, all that fat & meat will kill me.

    Fuck him and next. Hope YOU do better, or you get the same treatment given the same sorts of (commonly and expected) results.

    Btw, Robb I have the whole good cop bad cop thing worked out. :) (joking, else some conveniently take it otherwise).

  11. Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2013 at 13:26


    Well, thanks for introducing two relevant posts: All Diets Are High Fat Diets and Losing Weight is Pretty Much Like Eating Lard.

  12. Doug McGuff, MD on May 14, 2013 at 17:51

    The pendulum is swinging. The honeymoon is over. They are chumming the water for more anti-paleo studies. Almost every patient that I see with acute ST elevation MI ends up with a NORMAL lipid profile….yet still gets discharged on a statin (based on the best NIH funded research).

    My advice. Do not ever measure your lipid levels. Eat real food. Exercise hard. Sleep deeply. Mostly, do not read crappy government-funded literature from rent-seeking academicians.

    Or….get a vegan girlfriend, eat lots of soy and grains, get on a statin, worry about the environment, recycle, drive a smart car, renounce your former paleo ways and wring your hands over your lipid profiles.

  13. Scott Sterling on May 14, 2013 at 18:33

    With total cholesterol rising from 169 to 179, I think you would find that studies say your mortality risk will DECLINE. If that’s true, am I correct in thinking that’s a GOOD thing? :)

  14. Richard Nikoley on May 14, 2013 at 20:18

    @doug +1

    And with that I think I’ll watch a little food channel.

    Likely my most aweful vegan rant coming up tomorrow.

    It’s a ranty kinda week.

    I do have another resistant starch post coming up, but I suffer from too much information. Trying to sort it all out. At this point, definitely multi part.

  15. Eddie Mitchell on May 15, 2013 at 00:34

    “Sometimes when talking to someone about their cholesterol, I ask them to ask me what my cholesterol is. Then I answer: “I have no idea, because I never have it checked.” That’s not because I take an ostrich-like stance on matters that relate to my health – it’s because the great likelihood is that knowing my cholesterol numbers would not lead to me having a different view on my health or have any bearing on how I live my life. End of.”

    Dr. John Briffa.

  16. Ulfric Douglas on May 15, 2013 at 00:39

    What was the “ad libitum” (Ad lib? = what? make it up yourself?) diet really? Fuck that Latin, tell it straight.
    Heck suddenly 10 weeks of crossfit is going to do “something” to your body chemistry … whether you pretend to eat “paleo” or just eat pop tarts.
    Worthless study.
    Give fifty subjects just bacon & eggs for three months and you’ll get more meaning.

  17. Dr. Curmudgeon Gee on May 15, 2013 at 01:49

    was LDL measured or calculated? (probably Friedwald)

    no TG?

    he did acknowledge the positive in the conclusion of this thesis but negated it right away. (p.24 of his thesis)

  18. Raphael S on May 15, 2013 at 03:34

    You’ve shown how the study becomes informative once you’ve side-stepped their bullshit interpretation – there’s a lot of it to wade through.

    Isn’t transient hypercholesterolemia likely the proximate cause for their change in lipid levels? Is that what you are referring to when mentioning the “clearing a subclinically fatty liver”?

  19. Sean on May 15, 2013 at 05:32

    @Will, I don’t know exactly what they did in this study but so many studies are simply “counseling” and self-reported diet. Tell people to eat a high fat diet, meet with them every three months to discuss the diet, something along those lines. This just isn’t hard science, because as House says, people lie. Even to themselves. Actual double blind, with diet strictly monitored and a large sample group, that’s a real scientific study. The are tons of studies that are half-ass, the money would be much better spent in fewer, much higher quality studies.

    @Richard, I suspect you are right, but from the abstract it’s not clear how much diet was monitored. As Robb says, paleo+xfit is going to equal some serious health gains (assuming one doesn’t get injured doing xfit), but one can’t just be skeptical of stuff that one disagrees with. I’m skeptical of studies with half-ass methods no matter which way they break. There’s always going to be a placebo effect of just enrolling people in a diet study.

  20. Jack Kruse on May 15, 2013 at 20:12

    Not sure why this study is shocking to anyone. It is expected and not really notable longer term for health or longevity. It is all tied to dehydration and low Magnesium levels and the lipid problem stays worse longer on paleo if you are heavily halogenated by F, Cl, or Br. I mention it several times in the first 4 paragraphs……and I did not need any funding for it. What a waste of money for an ivory tower study, but at least it woke some folks up.

  21. Paul C on May 15, 2013 at 07:10

    It’s really impossible to keep people from cheating even on a double blind study unless you have have them locked in a room. Plus you’d have to measure “output” as well, since everyone’s ability to absorb the input is in a different state. A perfect study will never be done, which makes nutrition great fodder for spin doctors and snake oil hucksters.

    The dramatic positive results you can get by eating real food, and having Richard point out how stupid you are to ignore it when it’s so extremely obvious, may have a chance of embarrassing enough people to take action. That is where I see the pendulum swinging.

  22. Antti E on May 15, 2013 at 07:50

    @ Robb, actually they did report TG levels:

    @ Dr. Curmudgeon, it was calculated using Friedewald.

  23. Antti E on May 15, 2013 at 07:51

    Oh, I forgot to ask something. What does ‘ad libitum’ mean when it comes to a diet? Eat anything as much as you want from this list of foods we gave you?

  24. Robb Wolf on May 15, 2013 at 07:56


    I have “never” seen someone eat paleo/LC, lose weight and ELEVATE triglycerides. I mean, “never.”

    Doug- If we opt for vegan bliss can you write me a script for T-gel…I don’t think that’ll work out well for my hormones.

  25. Richard Nikoley on May 15, 2013 at 08:41

    @ Robb, OTOH, those TG levels were pretty damn good to begin with. Usually you see people in the 200s, and they always get below 100 in very short order. I’ll bet that increase is statistically insignificant and perhaps why not addressed in the abstract.

  26. Richard Nikoley on May 15, 2013 at 08:43

    @Antti E

    Yep, exactly—which, of course, given the fat loss (3/4 pound per week!) and BF loss, is just another HUGE resultant implication that wasn’t even addressed.

  27. Sean on May 15, 2013 at 10:04

    It’s really impossible to keep people from cheating even on a double blind study unless you have have them locked in a room.

    Then put them in a locked room. It might be difficult to keep people from cheating entirely, but it’s quite possible to cut way, way down on the extraneous variables. Supply the food, use CCTV cameras, put the test subjects into barbed wire camps–as long as they consent to it voluntarily (sorry vegans, Bloomberg and ilk). The whole art of experimental physics is coming up with experiments that isolate variables, it’s why Michaelson and Morley were geniuses–they measured the speed of light using a sodium flame, basically a lamp . I did it in college with a friggin’ laserbeam (although not attached to my head) and wasn’t as accurate as those guys did it back in 1887. The same attempt at rigor could be applied to nutritional studies but it isn’t, not even close. Instead thousands of crappy experiments are performed worldwide.

    If you read these papers there is all sorts of fancy talk about p values and other stat crap but the data itself is quite often abysmal: questionnaires, counseling, self-reported data, high, mixed dropout rates, etc. THIS ISN’T SCIENCE! And then, some asshole comes along and cherry picks a bunch of these half-ass studies and does a meta-study that shows that red meat causes cancer or that salt makes your tits fall off and the “science” journalists all run it on their front page.

    But at least they are all peer-reviewed, thank fuck for that. Hate to read a study that wasn’t peer-reviewed, my own tits might fall off.

  28. Eddie Mitchell on May 15, 2013 at 10:09

    “THIS ISN’T SCIENCE! And then, some asshole comes along and cherry picks a bunch of these half-ass studies and does a meta-study that shows that red meat causes cancer or that salt makes your tits fall off and the “science” journalists all run it on their front page. ”

    Spotonski most of it is complete bollocks !

  29. Paul C on May 15, 2013 at 10:26

    Sean, that set-up guarantees a black market sex-for-chocolate bartering system within the first week of the study.

  30. Sean on May 15, 2013 at 11:03

    Sean, that set-up guarantees a black market sex-for-chocolate bartering system within the first week of the study.

    Duh, robot guards. It’s like you aren’t even trying.

  31. Paul C on May 15, 2013 at 13:45

    Title of published study: “Robot Guards Lead to Favorable Changes in Blood Lipids”, followed by NIH approved line of said guards.

  32. Tim on May 15, 2013 at 16:09

    Peter wrote about it today, too!

  33. Lucy S on May 15, 2013 at 17:24

    Remember this article written from 2010 about a Greek Researcher who studies research studies and finds that most are lies….or damned lies…flawed?:

  34. Richard Nikoley on May 16, 2013 at 10:34


    I see you over there.


    For everyone else, though I have no idea who she really is, she made v3.0 of The Manifesto what it is.

  35. Dr. Curmudgon Gee on May 15, 2013 at 22:07



    maybe someone can recalculate LDL using Iranian formula?

  36. AndrewS on May 16, 2013 at 08:37

    Peter brought up two good points: a rise in trigs suggest “paleo” subjects were consuming a lot of sugar, perhaps fruit and fruit juices; and a drop in HDL suggests study subjects followed the study guidelines and ate lean meat — perhaps accompanied by cheap cooking oils and margarine, i.e. PUFAs. And maybe a ton of nuts. Drinking tons of fruit juice instead of liters of Coke a day is not an improvement.

    The study diet feels to me like it’s a politically-correct lean meat & carbs diet.

  37. pzo on May 17, 2013 at 14:19

    Damn! My body didn’t get the memo!

    When I go VLC, my trigs plummet and the various ratios are on the up side of excellent. When I go modest carbs, not quite as good, but better than the average bear.

    Most of these researchers use foods and terms that we wouldn’t use in the paleosphere. I’ve seen a diet described as high fat with fat making up 40% of the total. High fat if you are a Pritikin.

    We biological machines are just WAY too complex to run experiments with. Probably tens of thousands of variables that no one can keep control of. But when you get thousands of n=1 changes, it is no longer anecdote, but data.

  38. Bex on May 18, 2013 at 19:52

    Hmm. Well – all I have to say is that as an overweight female who has battled with my weight for years, I had to laugh a little. I went on vegan per my dietitian’s request. Grains, tofu, noodles, fruits, veggies, more grains…not only did I NOT lose any weight, I didn’t feel that great and my blood glucose levels went higher than they have ever been in my life and the “norm” for my level was on average 180. A month and a half ago I knew something had to change and found a book on Paleo, read it and really felt like it made sense. I read some more, did more research, prayed about it and within 3 days was full-on Paleo. One and half months and I’m down 30 pounds, have TONS of energy, my blood glucose readings are rarely over 120 and blood test results (i.e. cholesterol, triglycerides,etc.) have improved. So – screw this so called “study.” I’ve actually gotten healthier with Paleo and that’s all the proof I need.

  39. Mike on May 18, 2013 at 23:12

    Not surprisingly, this article amounts to nothing more than vitriol. I have never read any substantive content on this blog.

  40. What’s Happening: Food that Heals - Shaggy's Caveman Diet on May 21, 2013 at 02:54

    […] Richard Nikoley delivers a scathing rebuttal. […]

  41. john merritt on October 21, 2013 at 19:35

    While my own data is purely anecdotal here it is. Both my wife and I started the paleo diet 3 months ago after a friend of ours went from looking “normal” to amazing in two months. We also went on it because my wife has suffered from stomach problems including ulcerative colitis for about 10 years and I thought this might help. Additionally I was hoping that it would help with my chronically elevated blood lipids. I am an RN at a major cardiac center in Grand Rapids, MI and my wife is a PA in oncology. We were initally sceptical. Not any more. No stomach pain for her (unless she cheats) My blood lipids improved between Jan 13 to Oct 13 (afetr PD for 3 months). Total Chol went from 295mg/dL to 213mg/dL. HDL from 53mg/dL to 62mg/dL, Tri 151mg/dL to 72mg/dL and LDL from 212mg/dL to 136mg/dL. Additionally I went from 178lbs to 163lbs. No drugs, no change in exercise (very little). I’m a believer.

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