Paleo f(x) 2016 Day One


Paleo f(x) founders, Keith and Michelle Norris

One day, about a couple of months ago, I realized I’d not been to any conference-like events since 2012. I thought I might be done with them. But I decided to check out #PFX16 based on high marks from a couple of people whose judgments I pay attention to. The event is now in its 5th year. So, since Thursday afternoon I’ve been taking it in and enjoying it more than I thought I might.

Of course, there are the reunions, always fun. First one? Ran into jimmy moore. It was wholly cordial and we parted promising to keep butting heads in the future. Keith and Michelle Norris, Skyler Tanner, John Durant, Chris Kresser, Chris Masterjohn, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, Michelle Tam….hope I haven’t missed anyone.

Then there are the encounters with strangers, in which, the more common thing I’m told is that I blog like I don’t care what anyone thinks (true), I change my views with more information, and readily admit when I’m wrong and tend to enjoy doing so as it’s a signal of progress.

One of a bunch of vendor isles.

One of a bunch of vendor isles.

Everybody is so nice, even those who may have unwittingly ended up face-to-face with me—like across a table during lunch and they see my badge with name and blog and go “oh.”

I initially got into the exhibit hall and my gut reaction was to kind of hate the commercialization. Yea, I’ve got that streak. But, I’ve also got my FitBit operational again (…48,000 steps for 20 miles last weekend, with 10,000 ft accumulated ascent) and so, walking through the isles of the exhibit hall is a great way to rack up my steps. I didn’t sit at all.

Lots of space for the hands-on fitness oriented exhibitors.

Lots of space for the hands-on fitness oriented exhibitors.

So, in walking and walking the halls more and more, observing more and more and thinking about it, I’ve developed a view of it that differs from my first reaction. Some of my initial product complaints, and after sampling a few of the edible ones:

  • So many products seem to focus more on what they aren’t than what they are (gluten free; soy free; grain free; sugar free; non-GMO; etc.)
  • Too much junk food (bars, chocolate, cookies, candy)
  • Cold-brewed coffee and tea is dumb, in my opionion
Mark Sisson surrounded by the ubiquitous crowd of fans

Mark Sisson surrounded by the ubiquitous crowds of fans

So, yes, some of the stuff is ridiculous, and some “food” products I found myself compelled to spit out; but then I thought, what better platform for a budding entrepreneur to get a lot of valuable information, and then the smart ones act on it in whatever way?

I’ve collected a number of cards from various products I like, really like, or adore, and will save those specific mentions and promotions for another post. But let me offer some general things.

  • The product really has to taste good and have a competitive texture. 90% of gluten free products are simply uncompetitive except amongst themselves
  • Do something other than a bar, but if you do a bar, load it with carbs; like honey, maple syrup, or whatever. Call it “sweetened with x” instead of “refined-sugar free”
  • Forget about low carb. If you must, do a separate product and keep it under the counter for those who ask for it
  • Meals that come pre-prepared are by definition processed foods. Do something like Plated, Blue Apron, or Home Chef instead, where you deliver a box of ingredients in a Paleoish framework that someone cooks at home (I use all three of the aforementioned services and recommend all three)
  • More bone broths and stocks, please. Consider a frozen kit a person brews themselves with a gallon of water and crock pot
Someone in the crowd had asked, "Robb, give us your best Jack Nicholson."

Someone in the crowd had asked, “Robb, give us your best Jack Nicholson.”

The most promising aspect of this—and if paleo f(x) and the 3,500 attendees and hundreds of vendors are any indication—is the waning influence of low-carbohydrate and ketogenic dietary angles in the paleo movement.

I head carbohydrate conflation (a Coke = a Potato) only a single time, yesterday, during Dr. David Perlmutter’s presentation (which was otherwise very good). Otherwise, few vendor booths even mention carbohydrates at all, few tout LC. There’s a fair amount of carbs on the floor.

Finally, the best of yesterday was a gut health panel, and two people really stood out. The first was Michael Ruscio, a functional medicine doc who actually had the courage to contradict another panel member, essentially—in so many words—conveying the idea that all these gut tests are unreliable. Something I personally, and other readers have certainly found to be the case.

The second was Chris Kresser, another functional doc, with the winner statement of the day. They were talking about the established efficacy of FODMAP diets for various gut problems, which Chris acknowledges. But, then, in signaling his uncertainty—in contrast to perhaps some others—he says one thing that concerns him is causing a problem down the road. For instance, what if I treat SIBO with a FODMAP diet, but the patient gets cancer ten years down the road for lack of fermentable fiber in the colon.

The point is: thinking, uncertainty, and speculation that leads to testable or at least epidemiological study down the road.


Chris Kresser on stage

So, good job on that, Chris.

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. solver on May 28, 2016 at 16:34

    Good to see you back! Whether you like to admit it or not, you are part of the paleo/clean food glitterati. While many people would have recognized Sisson, Moore, Masterjohn etc., very few could say that Sisson, Moore, Masterjohn etc all recognized them!

    Pity Art DeVany didn’t make it.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 28, 2016 at 17:05

      I have no idea why Art comes up. He has never been to one single event. He was on the original AHS11 tentative. Never saw it through.

      Long history. Nobody even mentions him.

      Just a couple of weeks ago I got an email where he thanked me for my Amazon review of his book, four years or more after the fact.

      Don’t know what to tell you, man. Not very impressive on any level I can think of. That’s OK, but he’s nothing to bring up as though everyone’s missing out.

    • solver on May 28, 2016 at 17:59

      Ah. My mistake. I have confused Art’s earlier paleo conference and the AHS/Paleo(fx) stuff.

    • JP on May 31, 2016 at 07:07

      So what does Jimmy Moore look like these days? Talk about yo-yo weight changes over the years.

      I think some “celebrities” at these events do major fasting or cut weight like wrestlers/MMA fighters beforehand. Just like they do before a book release…

    • Richard Nikoley on May 31, 2016 at 07:11

      Sadly, Jimmy is bigger than I have ever seen him. Substantially so.

      Still, I was nice to the guy and he to me. I hope he figures it out eventually and it’s never too late.

  2. Tim Steele on May 28, 2016 at 19:44

    Chris Kresser really is a class act.

    • king of the one eyed people on May 28, 2016 at 21:48

      +1. My mother likes him and she hates everyone and everything except ‘jesus’.

  3. Martin on May 29, 2016 at 07:31

    Any pictures of the main protagonists showing what shape they showed up in after their recent approaches to diet, e.g. fasting vs. potatoes? ;-)

    • Richard Nikoley on May 29, 2016 at 11:12

      Martin, I think you can see all sorts of pics if it interests you enough to follow on the various social media where people are putting up pics regularly.

  4. Aaron Blaisdell on May 29, 2016 at 07:32

    Glad you’re having fun at PFX! I have not had the opportunity to attend one yet, but hope to do so someday.
    I’ve told Mark Sisson before that he needs to market a line called “Grok Pots”, which consist of a ready made set of ingredients that you buy at the store (or via online delivery) and just plop the contents in a slow cooker and add the water (if needed).

  5. VW on May 29, 2016 at 14:21

    Thank you for your comment that cold coffee sucks and is stupid. (paraphrased)

    I have argued this for a long time.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 29, 2016 at 20:02

      I don’t mind an iced coffee made from hot brewed, especially in latte form or with some cream.

      This is actually brewed cold. They soak ground coffee in cold water for a long time. Like days. It does not have the depth and complex flavor that hot brewing does and I doubt it extracts all the nutrients coffee purports to have.

  6. Ruscio on May 29, 2016 at 16:36

    A big meh to Michael Ruscio. Dude ordered a ton of gut tests for me a couple years ago, seemed thoroughly confused by the results, and Didn’t make an ounce of progress as to what I was seeing him for. Didn’t stop him from taking a TON of my money for tests and supplements before I realized he was making it up as he went along.

  7. gab on May 30, 2016 at 13:16

    Good suggestions, Richard.

    What do you mean by frozen kits? As in frozen bones? Wouldn’t they have a problem with shipping? I.e. thaw out and go bad in transit?

    Last time I ate a ‘bar’ was 2004. Atkins. I think these bars encourage abnormal hunger. They are some sort of righteous junkfood. Unless someone is out on a multiday hike or canoe trip or doing something that really requires an energy boost, then, okay because the body needs the energy. But for walking around doing the usual urban stuff? Nah. Better to fast and teach the body to go without food for 12, 15, or even 18 hours.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 30, 2016 at 15:11


      Yes, frozen. So, it’s like shipping other frozen products. Packed, and with frozen gel packs. Example:

      This is the best broth I have ever had, and one kit makes a whole gallon and it’s luscious. I tried to duplicate it twice by using obvious variables they use, i.e., ginger and medjool dates. Couldn’t come close. This stuff is better than coffee.

      Just had a convo with John Durant in Austin yesterday shortly before I left. He’s backing a bone broth company, haven’t tasted it, but they package in the typical 1-Qt soft containers. My guess is that shipping the frozen bag that makes a gallon is far less expensive than shipping a gallon of water weight.

    • Eric on May 31, 2016 at 12:24

      I think one reason you see so much junk food even at a paleo conference is that it’s a hell of a lot easier to start making something like that at home in your kitchen and comply with your state’s cottage food laws and not worry about USDA regulations as you would with something that has meat.

  8. gab on May 30, 2016 at 15:46


    From making my own bone broths, I know it’s surprisingly expensive. There’s people who claim that collecting the kitchen detritus and plunking it all into a pot along with bits and pieces of leftover this and that will make fantastic soup. They must not know what really great soup tastes like. A good bone based soup is an art form.

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