Paleo 2.0

Paleo 2.0Kurt Harris over a PaNu (link later when off the iPad) coined the Paleo 2.0 term in his “Manifesto for Paleo 2.0” post. Whilst I am not very keen on the term itself for a number of reasons I decided I will go with it, in the hope that along the line someone somewhere will come up with a better one (UPDATE: more on that topic here). After all, there is a long history of giving work-in-progress a codename, and changing it once the product was nice and finsihed. So Longhorn became Vista, and Windows 7 became – ahem, forget about it… So lets move on to the more substantive points:

Paleo 2.0 Venn Diagram from PaNu

In my view, the absolute core of this manifesto is the three circle chart (that I will insert inserted as soon as I have access to a computer, hoping that Kurt does not mind). The key message here is that (a) most of the foods that are bad for you have been introduced in the Neolithic age (most Paleo 1.0 folk will certainly agree on this one), but (b) the reverse is not true: there are a number of neolithic foods that are nevertheless good for you (mind you, it is neither sodas nor cookies, sorry to disappoint here. I would argue that many dairy product fall into this category, for many people at least, and Kurt refers to potatoes and sweet potatoes).

I agree wholeheartedly that the villification of carbs per se is a bad thing. I would like to point out however that this is a step that many Paleo (or Primal for that matter) have already taken. Mark Sisson for example allows up to 150g of carbs per day which is by no means a small amount, and I would argue that even that is negotiable, assuming that (a) your body is able to handle it (implying for example you did not screw up your metabolism by a lifetime of bad choices…), and (b) the carbs you are eating are of the good kind (eg few sugars, few grains, no overload of starches, few highly processed food, few fruit juices etc).

I believe there is ample evidence that we should eat carbs, and all those how-was-groks-life arguments are not ultimately helpful here, as none of us was there. It is the combination of what we know about our evolution and what we know about metabolism that should guide us. Now what we know about metabolism is that, whilst we do not need carbs, they are certainly pretty useful. This is an important statement, so let me clarify what I mean:

We don’t need carbs: Most processes in our body can use various fuels, either fats or ketones in addition to carbs. Moreover, the body is able to produce the carbs needed where they can absolutely not be replaced by breaking down proteins (muscle, if needed). Therefore one can in principle survive indefinitely on a zero carb diet.

Carbs are useful: they are the fuel of choice for high-intensity activities, and the body has not only local stores in the muscles, but even developed a whole organ to store them, the liver. What’s the point of having those stores when we avoid the food that fills them?

I could go on for a while like this, but this post is already long enough as is and I have a few other things to do today. Suffice to say that I am fully behind Kurt Harris Paleo 2.0 initiative (and would hope that people outside the Paleo circle, eg @CharlotteGFE who has written a related post just today also engage). It would be nice though if someone, somewhere would come up with a better moniker than “Paleo 2.0”.

PS. I will prettify this and add some links when off the iPad

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7 thoughts on “Paleo 2.0

  1. In case you didn’t catch it in the responses, I had suggested to Dr. Harris that his moniker sounded like an academic course – an advanced course on Paleo, the basic one being Paleo 1.0; also I thought it sounded like an exercise module. He quickly chided me for not being computer savvy. The computer metaphor does not sound right to me – maybe to geeks but I prefer neo-Paleo – the “new ” Paleo. This way of characterizing it (using “neo”) has a long history as in the following examples: neo-Marxism, neo-Darwinism, neo-Confucianism etc…

    • yeah, I agree that the computer stuff does not work, even though, being a more of a geek than you I suppose, I got it from the start. I am personally not to sure about your proposal either though unfortunately – it is very classicist / philosophical. The next logical step then for me would be post-Paleo 🙂 …

      I know it is much easier to criticize than to come up with something that works, and no offense intended in the above. It is just a tough one, partially because the word paleo is so differently perceived within and outside the community. It is very difficult to find something that works in the mainstream whilst not alienating dedication paleonists.

      I have to say – I did like the Primal Blueprint spin of things, but of course this is Mark Sisson’s baby. Maybe we can find a word that is similar to Paleo and Primal, but has less of living-in-a-cave connotations, more something along the back-to-the-roots lines.

      Arent there any marketing whizkids in the Paleo community? On second though I guess they are all retained by the FMCG giants and are therefore conflicted…

  2. I must admit I am a fan of the carb. They are so damn tasty! But I do believe you must choose wisely and not stuff your face with empty carbs. I must say I’m impressed by your research.

    • You’ll love the Archevore stuff than (at least more than old-style paleo). He allows you starchy carbs (but no grains). This means french fries should be OK (there is a catch though: they have to be fried in lard, and I dont know where you could find those short of frying them yourself)

  3. Very interesting! Like I said on Twitter, I’ll be watching this newest advancement with great interest. I have paleo friends who say they see a big backslide in their health when they eat potatoes etc. but I have plenty of others who seem to be able to eat them with impunity.

    • Like I said on Twitter

      what is your Twitter ID? @anonymous? 🙂

      But more to the point: I believe carbs is extremely personal, partly dependent on your genes, and even more how badly you have treated your metabolism in the past.

  4. Pingback: Arrhythmia, heart palpitations, ketosis, and low-carb diet | Thor Falk

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