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If it fits your macros article "Paleo! too much healthy food made me fat"

by (15)
Updated April 03, 2014 at 10:13 PM
Created April 03, 2014 at 6:31 PM

I thought I would post this article. I found it googling how much fruit for fat loss, I asked a question about it on here and received mixed opinions. I found a blog by a personal trainer, who was formerly paleo and then tried eating whatever he wanted, avoiding nothing and just counting his micronutrients, and protein requirements.

Rather than worrying about how much sugar and how much this and that and what to avoid he joined a simple food diary app and followed the requirements, ate ice-cream, brownies, pizza, toast etc etc.

Enter Mike???..

He???s health personified. A 20-year old personal trainer who preaches the benefits of clean eating.

His clients know they need to avoid refined grains. Meals should revolve around protein and vegetables. If carbs are to be included in a meal, they should only come in the post-workout period, and even then, should only be from fruits, sweet potato, or possibly brown rice, couscous or quinoa.

Mike doesn???t eat dairy. Or gluten. He???s not lactose intolerant or celiac, he just knows that foods containing these aren???t part of a healthy diet. As for artificial sweeteners, you???re kidding, right? When Mike goes out for a meal he doesn???t even look at the menu ??? he orders steak and asks to swap the side to vegetables or salad, and it???s water, not soft drinks, or ??? heaven forbid ??? alcohol that accompanies this fare.

Here???s the thing though???..

Mike???s fat

Okay, we???re not talking obese here, but despite his healthy ways, his food avoidance, and strict adherence to what most would refer to as ???clean eating,??? Mike???s no cover model.

I???m Mike.

Yep, that???s me.

At least that was me. Now my diet???s slightly different. I still stick kind of to the diet detailed above, but now I eat cereals for breakfast. I have ice cream most days, eat out at pizza restaurants, Mexicans, Indian and Chinese restaurants and order from the menu a couple of times per week, and put Splenda in every coffee I drink.

Considering my diet???s now a lot ???worse??? you???d expect me to be pretty fat right about now. Well???..

Yep, that???s me. Let me explain???..

It Started with Paleo

Back in 2011, I was a staunch advocate of Paleo eating.

If you???re unfamiliar, paleo eating is the caveman diet. You basically eat as close possible to how our ancient ancestors supposedly did 10,000 years ago. That means you eat some kind of animal protein at every meal. This is accompanied by (preferably in-season) fruits and vegetables. You can eat nuts and seeds too, plus some oils, but Paleo is mainly defined by the foods you can???t consume, which include -

- Grains (That???s all grains ??? brown, white, wholegrain, it doesn???t matter.)

- Dairy (Some versions of the Paleo diet allow butter and cream, but that???s it.)

- Legumes. Yep, those harmless little kidney beans in your chilli, or the lentils you use to make your vegetable soup ??? they???re banned too. Apparently ancient man didn???t have access to the facilities needed to make beans, legumes and pulses safe for human consumption, plus they???re pro-inflammatory, so they???re off the menu.

- There???s also the obvious ones, like microwave meals, artificial sweeteners, pastry, junk foods, alcohol, and so on.

Paleo-food-pyramid

Herein Lies the Issue

I have no issue with the concept of the Paleo diet. I mean, what???s not to like in terms of health and fat loss about basing your meals round meat, fish and eggs, eating plenty of vegetables, some fruits, and then filling up on nuts and berries. Leaving aside the needlessness of the banned foods (which we???ll touch on later) it seems pretty sound.

But

With the Paleo diet, there are no rules on how much you can eat. By that, I mean you???re not given a set calorie or macronutrient goal to hit each day, as the theory behind Paleo eating is that the low-carb, high-protein nature of the diet leads you to feeling naturally full, and prevents over-eating.

Well, say hello to the incredible eating machine. Also known as ???bottomless pit Samuels,??? or ???the human bin.??? I don???t seem to have a full setting. When I???m not given a set amount to eat, I just eat.

For me, a typical day of Paleo eating meant eggs for breakfast. ???Eggs you say? I???ll take five. And we???re allowed nuts on Paleo? Well then, I???ll load up a bowl with some cashews and almonds and snack on those.???

I???d carry on snacking on nuts, and maybe the odd bit of fruit until lunchtime, when it was inevitably more meat or fish with veggies. As you can see from the food pyramid, you???re supposed to eat the fat on meats, which meant I???d devour a hefty serving of full-fat beef or lamb mince, or a couple of salmon fillets, accompanied by four or five different veggies ??? all cooked in oil or grass-fed butter.

The afternoon snacks continued coming in the form of nuts and fruit and the odd protein shake. (Most paleo diets allow you to have protein powder. Weird, I know ??? it???s both man-made and dairy-based, yet you???re allowed it. As this isn???t intended to be a Paleo-bashing post however, we won???t touch on yet another flaw in the structure of the diet here.)

Dinner would be more or less what lunch was, and then I might snack a bit more in the evening ??? potentially a few boiled eggs, some fruit, or a protein pudding.

6 months into the Paleo diet, I???d gained weight.

Sure, my strength in the gym had gone up too, but I???d got fat. I was at a loss ??? I???d followed the diet probably 95% to the letter, yet instead of looking like all these Paleo-loving Crossfit athletes, with their 6-packs and biceps veins, I was one chunky SOB.

See, because of Paleo???s lack of accounting for calories, and it???s tendency to recommend low-carb, but higher-fat food sources, my calorie intake was through the roof. As I???d not been allowed some of my favourite foods like oats, rice, cottage cheese, beans and bread, I???d compensated by filling up on more of the foods I was allowed. End result = a ???healthy??? diet that had made me overweight.

Out went the rules, in came MyFitnessPal

I did some reading and research, and found where I???d been going wrong.

Instead of looking at foods as good vs. bad, I should have been looking at my overall diet as a whole.

This is a concept a lot of folks fail to grasp.

See, a diet isn???t about good and bad foods ??? it???s about numbers. To lose fat, you MUST be in a calorie deficit, meaning you???re burning more calories than you consume. In theory, you can lose weight eating whatever foods you want, provided you???re in a deficit.

This has been demonstrated a good deal in the media, with perhaps the most well-know, and often cited story being Jared: The Subway guy -

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/jared-subway-guy-marks-15-years-turkey-subs-article-1.1365511

More recently, there???s been examples with the University professor who based his diet around Twinkies - http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/06/health/la-he-fitness-twinkie-diet-20101206 and the man who lost 56 pounds in 6 months eating only McDonalds - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2575755/Getting-fit-fast-food-Man-lost-56lbs-eating-McDonalds-six-months-documents-experience-new-book.html

It isn???t ALL about calories though. Other factors do come into play, and those factors are in the form of macronutrients ??? proteins, carbohydrates and fats. For more on those, check out my article on calculating your macronutrients for a fat loss diet -

http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/how-to-calculate-macros-for-cutting/

I realised that I???d been looking too much into supposed food ???quality??? and not enough at food quantity. I needed to start tracking my intake, so I signed up with MyFitnessPal, a site that allows you to input all the food you eat in a day, and keeps a running total of your calories and macronutrients.

Then came Layne Norton: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

After doing some digging, I began tracking my macros, and had made some steady progress. But I was still, by definition a ???clean eater.??? I really struggled to get my carbs in, and resorted to big portions of the same foods all the time ??? mainly fruit, oats and rice, to bump up my intake. I was also having a hard time keeping my fat intake down, having been so used to cooking everything in oil or butter, snacking on nuts and choosing fatty meats all the time.

I decided to reach out to someone for help, and went to Layne Norton ??? a natural pro bodybuilder, record-holding powerlifter, and, get this ??? a nutritional scientist with a PHD.

Layne-Norton

Layne sent me through my plan after a consultation, and we got to work.

The line in the plan that struck me, and stays with me until this day, was this -

???It matters much less WHAT you eat than the number of protein/carbs/fats you take in. It is important to get as close to your numbers as possible.???

Quantity trumps ???quality??? every time.

I???m Mike, and I???m a recovering clean eater

As things progressed, and time went by, I started to break my clean eating habits. I realised I could have a beer with friends at the pub, that if we went out for a meal, it was okay to order something ???normal??? and that if I wanted some chocolate, I could have it.

In my restrictive Paleo days, I???d been prone to binge eating. I???d go three or four weeks sticking perfectly to my plan, then find my cravings for non-Paleo foods got so huge I???d succumb to 5 -6,000 calorie binge on cereals, cake and chips.

(NB: Take a look at my post on cheat meals ??? Cheat Meals: The Rock(y) Road to a Crappy Physique - http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/cheat-meals-the-rocky-road-to-a-crappy-physique/ )

Fast Forward to 2013

And I decided that I was lean enough to justify stripping down to my skimpies and doing a photo shoot.

While dieting was tough, and by the end, my carb and fat intake was relatively low (around 120g and 65g per day respectively) I had NO RESTRICTIONS on what I could and couldn???t eat. Most of my foods certainly came from nutrient-dense, minimally processed sources, and I was a meat and veggie-eating machine. But I also made frequent trips to Subway to grab lunch between clients, I ate ice cream every single re-feed day (and on some non refeed days too,) I went on holiday to Amsterdam and Barcelona, and eyeballed all my food, eating Pop Tarts, burgers, pizza, pasta and sandwiches, and drinking beer and cocktails, and ended up the leanest I???ve ever been. All through simply tracking calories and macronutrients.

MikeSamuels_Col037

Get to the Point Samuels???..

What???s the point of this post?

It???s not an attempt to bash anyone for following any type of restrictive, or rules-based diet, like Paleo, Atkins, Primal, Dukan, or whatever, and it???s certainly not meant to encourage people to base their diets around junk foods.

What it hopefully serves to do, however, is to make you realise that there???s much, much more to a diet than good vs. bad foods. You needn???t cut out any food when trying to lose fat ??? it???s simply about eating mostly healthy, unprocessed foods and controlling your calorie and macronutrient intake, but not freaking out if you do include high-sugar, high-fat and processed foods, provided they fit in with your plan as a whole.

The main reason people screw up when dieting is a lack of consistency. This inconsistency comes through boredom, or feeling that a diet is simply too hard going. For most people, this is almost bound to happen when following a diet with lots of rules, that doesn???t permit them to eat their favourite foods.

Moderation is key. Moderation lets you eat ice cream and Subway and get lean. Moderation is awesome.

Tags: clean eating, fat loss, fat loss diet, fat loss myths, flexible dieting, IIFYM, paleo

http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/how-clean-eating-made-me-fat-but-ice-cream-and-subway-got-me-lean/

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10134 · April 03, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Matt here has observed that Paleo diet is mainly for sick people. I had to severely restrict processed grain carbs (glucose source) to control my blood sugar. If not the excess glucose would have killed me. I only found out by accident that I had become diabetic, but once you know you deal with it. I controlled it, and today have gone back to eating the killer carbs. Others here can never go back, especially those who can't handle the difficult proteins. The Paleo restrictions are meant to heal people, not turn them into Joe Atlas.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 9:15 PM

Dude you seem pretty reasonable and likeable, please understand I am not anti paleo, I am just pro calorie and macro setting.

You can do it paleo, I just see zero evidence paleo diet where you hit macros is any better than a mixed diet hitting macros. And if you are not hitting macros you will gain weight or lose muscle depending which end of the overeating underrating scale you go.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 9:11 PM

He was already a personal trainer and weightlifter while eating paleo and not tracking calories.

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10134 · April 03, 2014 at 9:09 PM

The sham is that he went to a bodybuilder. You don't get ripped eating Paleo. You don't win Olympic medals eating Paleo. It's a different book. Most of us want to look like original Mike: muscular and not fat, like a good linebacker. If you want to sculpt yourself you have to moderate your eating, you have to eat to the macros (more protein especially), and you have to do the hard work.

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 9:07 PM

Calm your tits man.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 9:05 PM

I live in Manchester, that guy lives in fucking east England. Now I just exposed your lie, please go feel bad for having to lie because someone challenged your dogmatic beliefs. So sad.

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26017 · April 03, 2014 at 8:57 PM

IP Trace. It's not a coincidence.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Oh no proof again, what a surprise, keep labelling foods unhealthy without proof of it. What a surprise, conspiracy foodie alert. Bread kills. Please answer how a man lost 40 pounds and lowered his cholesterol if his diet was unhealthy.

Please define healthy, please tell me why the biggest and most respected nutritional scientists in the world all recommend flexible dieting or "iifym" and if you can't just stop posting in a thread asking you to prove the IIFYM hypothesis wrong.

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 8:32 PM

Many neolithic foods are perfectly healthy, for example, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, lemons, domesticated cattle and pigs and olive oil all came after the paleolithic era and were developed by selective breeding or processing thanks to man's own hand. Neolithic doesn't equal unhealthy, but many neolithic foods are extremely unhealthy, like ice cream, cereal, sweets and desserts, etc. Eat whatever you like, being stupid is your right.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Yes, as you saw, you can get healthily following your mcros at mcdonalds and get fat not following your macros on paleo, solution, eat wherever, eat also if you want, just follow macros.

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10134 · April 03, 2014 at 8:17 PM

You won't look like Mike unless you lift seriously. Having a lot of meat in the diet helps build those muscles. There's where Paleo comes in. Not complicated at all , but a distinctly different approach than the heavily starch/sugar/veg oil typical Western diet.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Where is the evidence this is a sham, he trained the same but merely followed macros, thats it. Why is that so forbidden to say? Please provide evidence for a sham or don't post biased things that I would be criticised for doing about paleo.

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10134 · April 03, 2014 at 8:11 PM

OK so he used to look like Fred Flintstone. It looks like he got a lot more serious about lifting in addition to changing his diet. In 5 seconds I could google up thousands of photos of sedentary obese people at McDonalds eating ice cream, fries, Big Macs, etc. Diet may not be everything, but this is a bit of a sham.

http://www.sharenator.com/fat_people_mcdonalds/118014/fat_kids_funny_caption_Fatties_natures_jokes_s500x400_54672_580-62405.html#img-62405

If you lift like crazy you get ripped. Michael Phelps won a lot of gold medals on this stuff. If you don't refer to photo above.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:55 PM

No he is a scientist, hence my point about there being no scientific backing to exclude neolithic foods, hence why nutritional scientists advocate merely following calories, protein requirements and micronutrient needs.

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Some people on here might accept anecdotal evidence, I never have. I have always said that epidimiology and anecdotal evidence are both useless garbage, so go back to my previous posts and read them.

Also, read a physiology book and you might learn something. I don't give a shit for "gurus" either, to me science is about experimental evidence and controlled trials. But then again the only one bringing up anecdotal bullshit (see spam post above) and obscure gurus on here (Layne Norton, your guru I presume??) is you.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Why do you keep calling him me?

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Good comeback, prove evidence eating grains and dairy at a calorie defect while hitting the macronutrient profile is less healthy than paleo. DID YOU SEE THE SCIENCE TEACHER WHO LOST OVER 30 POUNDS IN 3 MONTHS BY ONLY EATING AT MCDONALDS 3 TIMES A DAY?

He followed his macro plan.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Is not selling a system, based on a specific diet. Which he is not, he's just a personal trainer. As he said, you can do the paleo diet, a mixed diet any diet, as long as it fits your macros. Hence, not biased.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:31 PM

I asked why this does not disprove the paleo diets central premise. Of course no answer can be given, because to do so would mean to accept calories in calories out is a scientifically proven thing and no matter how much grass fed butter you put into your coffee, its only effective if you follow your macros.

And if you follow your macros you can eat anything and don't need to restrict food sources.

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 7:29 PM

So telling people to eat ice cream and McDonald's is helping them to "getting healthy", but telling them to eat paleo and avoid junk food is "cultish"? Dude, go troll on Weight Watchers. You are not paleo so GTFO.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Hence IIFYM, sugar, wheat, milk, all fine if they fit macros and calories, unless you are one of the tiny tiny minority with real intolerances, not "anecdotal" ones

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26017 · April 03, 2014 at 7:26 PM

it was closed because it was spam -- not a question. this is a question and answer forum.

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26017 · April 03, 2014 at 7:25 PM

you said that this dude (you) isn't selling anything. That's BS.

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26017 · April 03, 2014 at 7:24 PM

you. And paleo didn't make you fat. Overeating did. Eating Disorders are Still Eating Disorders.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:23 PM

So why is anecdotal evidence accepted on paleo hacks when it is pro paleo? Peoples anecdotal transformations on here are championed as proof of paleo being the way to eat.

And actually Robb wolf even said work put out by Layne Norton was good scientific data. These people are scientists, they have PHD's, they are the "nutritional scientists" of the world.

But let me guess, some unheard of guy who says sugar is really bad knows way way more right, right? Its the illuminati hiding the truth right?

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 7:22 PM

Your "answer" is not an answer, it is a statement in favor of your own premise. Accepting it makes no sense and clearly shows your confirmation bias.

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 7:19 PM

Anecdotal evidence is not science, I'll be happy to debate science when you actually bother to bring some to the debate....so far all you bring is "yo I eat ice cream and still make mad gainz". I'm sorry but that is pure garbage.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:18 PM

I am sure closing threads showing people getting healthy by leaving the paloe diet really boosts the paleo community in its respectability and peoples view on it as cultish.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:18 PM

The thread was closed so no one else can answer, the only answer I got was its an infomercial, hence, mine was best.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:13 PM

Explain the science behind why losing weight is as simple as eating below maintenance. Please tell me how that is wrong.

Please tell me how grains are bad for everyone, not just those with intolerances. Please tell me, please show me actual evidence. Not a study hinting at something when done on rats r non pier review studies. And don't just google www.iamright.com and cherry pick a bunch o nonsense by Atia or Taubes or some other hack.

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 7:12 PM

You accepted your own answer as the "best answer" to your own question? Man, this is totally going to boost the credibility of your post. You know, because those 50 paragraphs of broscience just weren't enough....

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:09 PM

The fear of debate on this site is so sad, it really is.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:08 PM

And of course he sells things, he's a personal trainer, how does that make him biased, unlike people who claim grains or other things slow down weight loss, when lots of people eat them and get shredded and have great bio markers.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:07 PM

except paleo, which made him fat, thats where your anti science stance is failing you on this topic.

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 7:06 PM

So much broscience in this post I got a headache.

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26017 · April 03, 2014 at 7:04 PM

first off it he (you?) sells shirts questioning paleo, sells online coaching, and sells articles promoting his business.

second, if you are young, and workout all day as a professional trainer than you can eat almost anything and stay fit.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Add Mark Sissons if you are not sleeping in a dark room and waking up naturally without an alarm clock, don't expect to lose weight advice and you can clearly debunk a lot of the pseudo science that I am really having a hard time understanding.

Calories in calories out, protein target, micronutrient target. Alan Aragon, Layne Norton, Mcdonald etc etc etc, all having either nutritional scientist, PHD or multiple titles. Why would they say to just hit these goals and you will be good, where is the counter evidence to these claims, why would they lie, why would they follow a loose dieting protocol based on counting macros if it didn't work considering their jobs in the fitness and bodybuilding industries?

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 7:12 PM

You accepted your own answer as the "best answer" to your own question? Man, this is totally going to boost the credibility of your post. You know, because those 50 paragraphs of broscience just weren't enough....

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 7:09 PM

The fear of debate on this site is so sad, it really is.

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15 · April 03, 2014 at 6:48 PM

@samc Not really, this dude isn't selling anything and it clearly is a question, why did this dude do so well on a diet of non paleo foods, why is sugar and other stuff discussed on here and treated as a real issue about insulin when people consistently go from fat to fit eating lots of sugar.

Showing cases where high carb lower fat diets involving HFCS, candy and bread have lead to success is an important topic, they also make people like Garry Taubes look like absolute charlatans.

Take robb wolf, he clearly has extreme intolerances most of the population simply do not have. Does this lead to a bias on his part concerning paleo dieting and does the fact his income is based on it make him bias?

No one sells if it fits your macros books, its free, all the calculators are online and there is no iifym market to pedal books on.

Again, no problem with paleo, but a lot of the science and logic within paleo circles seems kinda sketchy at times, especially the low carb end of the paleo spectrum.

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26017 · April 03, 2014 at 7:04 PM

first off it he (you?) sells shirts questioning paleo, sells online coaching, and sells articles promoting his business.

second, if you are young, and workout all day as a professional trainer than you can eat almost anything and stay fit.

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188 · April 03, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Infomercial not a question.

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301 · April 03, 2014 at 7:06 PM

So much broscience in this post I got a headache.

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