Research suggests the ketogenic diet is especially therapeutic when it comes to protecting cognitive health. Researchers believe that people with the highest insulin resistance might demonstrate a lower cerebral blood flow and, therefore, less brain plasticity. This is because insulin is a “vasodilator” and increases blood flow to promote glucose delivery to the muscles and organs, including the brain. This vasodilator function is stopped when someone develops insulin resistance over time from a high-sugar and high-carb intake, resulting in a decrease in perfusion of brain tissues and activity.
In William Calvin's The Ascent of Mind, Chapter 8 he discusses why he thinks that the Acheulian hand-ax (the oldest of the fancy stone tools of Homo erectus) was really a "killer frisbee." He argues that natural selection for throwing accuracy, which requires brain machinery, is the evolutionary scenario for bootstrapping higher intellectual functions. There are many more articles about evolution and human development throughout William's extensive site, though much of it these days is on climate change.
Low-carb approaches stem primarily from the hypothesis that lowering insulin, a critical hormone that produces an anabolic, fat-storing state, improves cardiometabolic function and induces weight loss. This approach has been recently called the carbohydrate-insulin model. Studies have shown low-carb approaches to be superior to other dietary approaches in producing rapid weight loss for the first 6-12 months. While diets inducing weight-loss produces a caloric deficit, the mechanism of low-carb diets remains in debate. When lowering carbohydrates from the diet, the macronutrient intake of fat and protein generally increases to compensate for the reduction of carbohydrates. One hypothesis of why low-carb approaches produce rapid weight loss compared to other diets is that fats and protein increase satiety and produce less concomitant hypoglycemia. This increase in satiety and less rebound hypoglycemia then reduces hunger and overall food intake and produces a caloric deficit. Additionally, another hypothesis contends that low-carb diets can produce a higher metabolic burn than high-carb diets. In recent studies, there appears to be a metabolic advantage of approximately 200 to 300 more calories burned compared to an iso-caloric high-carb diet. However, these theories remain controversial.
The Paleo diet, also referred to as the caveman or Stone-Age diet, includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Proponents of the diet emphasize choosing low-glycemic fruits and vegetables. There is debate about several aspects of the Paleo diet: what foods actually existed at the time, the variation in diets depending on region (e.g., tropical vs. Arctic), how modern-day fruits and vegetables bear little resemblance to prehistoric wild versions, and disagreement among Paleo diet enthusiasts on what is included/excluded from the diet. Because of these differences, there is not one “true” Paleo diet.
The study of low-carb diets has centered on weight loss in obese and overweight people as well as patients with or at risk for cardiometabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Ketogenic diets have also been used for seizure disorders and more recently have found use in the athletic population as an alternative fuel for performance and health.
Use fat as a lever. We’ve been taught to fear fat, but don’t! Both keto and low carb are high fat diets. Fat is our source of energy as well as satiety. The key to understand, though, is that fat is a lever on a low carb or keto diet. Carbs and protein stay constant, and fat is the one you increase or decrease (push the lever up or down) to gain or lose weight, respectively. So if your goal is weight loss, eat enough fat to be satisfied, but there’s no need to “get your fats in” once you’re satisfied.
That said, there isn’t an agreement that a low-carb diet is superior to any other kind of diet or that it’s healthier long term. A review in the December 2015 issue of Diabetes Therapy that looked at the diet among those with diabetes noted that when it comes to weight loss, a low-carb diet performs no better than other higher-carb diets; and that it doesn’t produce better glycemic control, either. (5) Another report in Diabetes Care also found that over one year, those on a low-carb diet lost weight faster than those on a low-fat one, but after a year, weight loss and A1C levels (an average of blood glucose over about three months) were remarkably similar. (6)
The premise behind "eating paleo" is that the current Western diet is contributing to the rise of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and cancer. Paleo diet proponents claim, eating this way can reduce inflammation, improve workouts, increase energy, help with weight loss, stabilize blood sugar and even reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
One larger randomized controlled trial followed 70 post-menopausal Swedish women with obesity for two years, who were placed on either a Paleo diet or a Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) diet.  The Paleo diet provided 30% of total calories from protein, 40% fat (from mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and 30% carbohydrates. It included lean meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, avocado, and olive oil. The NNR diet provided less protein and fat but more carbohydrate with 15% protein, 25-30% fat, and 55-60% carbohydrates, including foods similar to the Paleo diet but also low-fat dairy products and high-fiber grains. Both groups significantly decreased fat mass and weight circumference at 6 and 24 months, with the Paleo diet producing greater fat loss at 6 months but not at 24 months. Triglyceride levels decreased more significantly with the Paleo diet at 6 and 24 months than the NNR diet.
During this program there is no calorie counting, no measuring, and no weighing yourself for the entire 30 days. I know that can be hard — especially if you’re feeling totally bloated (which can happen in the beginning) or particularly svelte in the later weeks. Just don’t do it. Even though a lot of people’s weight begins to normalize during the 30 days, the program focuses a lot on the “non-scale victories,” as in how you’re feeling. Is your sleep better? How’s your skin? Do you feel like doing cartwheels with that extra energy? Cool.
In making the case for meat, Cordain presents anecdotal evidence of Eskimos who lived their full life without a heart attack. The Eskimo diet consists of 97% meat, which he concedes causes all Eskimos to develop atherosclerosis—a common precursor to heart disease. But Cordain says Eskimos never die of heart disease. He discusses one Eskimo who lived 45 years and another who lived 53 years, both without heart disease! He then jumps to the conclusion that because these Eskimos didn’t get heart attacks, even with severe atherosclerosis, meat must have protected them from heart disease. So Cordain’s best case for lots of meat is that you can live to the ripe age of 45 or even 53 without a heart attack. But do people—even unhealthy smokers or the obese—generally get heart attacks before age 53?
Good Morning – I am a subscriber of your newsletter/updates. I recently joined WW on-line and recently have been very sick. BP started to rise, something I have never had to worry about, hopefully the medication. Any way, my doctor suggested low carb/atkins diet to jumpstart my need to lose 30 lbs. All is so confusing!!! I have cancelled my WW subscription, not doing well with that and really can’t afford to continue. Anyway, what is the difference in your plan and Atkins. As I said, all confusing. Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks!
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It will take a while to trust and adjust to your new appetite. I personally found when I was low fat and on Weight Watchers, I was ravenous all day long, so to be told eat what you like was difficult to understand. By eating more healthy fats especially, will keep you fuller for longer. And depending on how long you have been dieting for, and how insulin resistant you are, will depend on how long it takes for you to adjust appetite and weight. The odd person gains weight when they start because they don’t listen to their body. Remember to eat until 80% full (it takes a while for your stomach to register you have eaten your meal) and only eat when hungry. Don’t snack if you don’t have to. Are you really hungry or thirsty (similar feelings).
All this said, I still think it's worth buying if you are looking for more variety in your Whole 30 meals. I think the least complicated section is breakfast and lots of them look delicious. However, anticipate that this cookbook may surprise some people who were used to the recipes and format from the 30 Day Guide. This one is definitely more work. I would love to see one like the 30 Day Guide, with more one pot meals, "make it a meal" options, etc...
1) Many of the recipes are complicated, like REALLY complicated. Some requiring as many as 20 ingredients to complete. Others require uncommon ingredients, which will likely not be reused, especially if there isn't another recipe in the book asking for it. Something I appreciated in the 30 Day Guide was that ingredients were frequently used in more than one recipe so they were worth the investment.
Alcohol is a no-no if you are strict paleo. Beer is made from grains, and liquor also contains traces of gluten. But, good news for cider-lovers: most hard ciders are gluten-free, so they are allowed. Check the label to be sure. Red wine is more accepted in the paleo community because it contains the antioxidant resveratrol, but sorry chardonnay lovers, white wine is technically not allowed.
Hi Mel, Assuming that your ranch dressing doesn’t have sugar added, you don’t need to worry too much about limiting it, but within reason. This is my homemade ranch dressing recipe, which has 0.9g net carbs per 2-tbsp serving. It would be hard to find a store bought one with much less than that, even though some round anything less than 1g down to 0g, which isn’t truly accurate. Also, keep in mind that if weight loss is your goal, some people find that too much dairy can cause a stall. Finally, make sure you aren’t using all your “available” carbs on ranch dressing – have it with some low carb veggies!
Kephart WC, Pledge CD, Roberson PA, Mumford PW, Romero MA, Mobley CB, Martin JS, Young KC, Lowery RP, Wilson JM, Huggins KW, Roberts MD. The Three-Month Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Body Composition, Blood Parameters, and Performance Metrics in CrossFit Trainees: A Pilot Study. Sports (Basel). 2018 Jan 09;6(1) [PMC free article: PMC5969192] [PubMed: 29910305]
In July 2016, a New York Times article on use of Instagram by dieters noted that participants in the Whole30 program had shared over one million Instagram posts using the #Whole30 hashtag, and noted that those sharing the tag were "one of seemingly endless like-minded communities," comparing it with the over 3.5 million posts under the #WeightWatchers hashtag.
A few days ago I was delighted to learn that Dr. Oz was going to again feature The Paleo Diet on his nationally syndicated television show along with one of my co-authors, Nell Stephenson, of The Paleo Diet Cookbook. I tuned into the Dr. Oz show and was happy about most of what I saw except for Chris Kresser, expounding upon the health virtues of a food group, beans and legumes, that definitely are not Paleo. Please read the following...