I am 22 year old fit and active male with a high insulin sensitivity, great muscle tone, and a low body fat percentage (sub 8% year round). I have been "paleo" since I was 14, but when I started out I ate a lot of carbs from root vegetables, very low fat low fat (sub 20%), and medium protein. In my early 20s I moved to a high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet b/c I was hearing how carbs were so terrible and how fat was so good. So, the natural perfectionist in me decided to give VLC a try. My life took a turn for the wrose within the a month. I started having panic attacks, I couldn't concentrate for extended periods of time, and I had to drop out of light weight crew b/c my performance had rapidly began regressing. I stuck it out and became borderline hypochondriac for about another 6 months, and then got sent to the ER because my weight had dropped so low and my internal organs were causing pain when I would run b/c there was nothing protecting them. I just lost a little fat and a lot of muscle, but since I already had virtually no body fat to begin with I was horribly unhealthy. Oh, my libido sucked for the first time in my life too, which, when your 20, means something's wrong
After that nightmare I one day ate a yam at lunch and felt amazing energy that afternoon with a drastically improved mood. I did the following the next day, and kept increasing my root vegetable consumption again until I was eating starch or fruit at every meal. My health quickly returned- mood, libido, focus, strength, sense of humor, everything. I gained about 20lbs of muscle that I had lost, and I maintain a six pack effortlessly and defined muscles. It seems to me that high carb is the only way to go if you want to be mentally (like a student) and physically (like an athlete) active. I will never go low carb again and I feel badly for people who think that it is the only way paleo can be. Maybe if you were obese and eating SAD, then maybe, just maybe eating VLC paleo makes an improvemnt in your health. But I say maybe with great hesitation. I think that it is trendy to be VLC and even more so to be VLC paleo. So, I sometimes wonder if people just like the label and have a great deal of suspension of disbelief to persist in their VLC, high fat way
I think this would make sense for certain people who have particular health problems. The body can make the fat and then use it, hopefully, rather than keeping ridiculously large amounts of it around for a rainy day. For low carb diets, the original induction level was 20g, and I was losing weight just fine at 50g; if you are an athlete it would be easy to sustain a 100g-200g carb load, depending on your size. The VLC thing, which I think tends to be below 20g all the time, is what happens when you are already locked into playing the scale game. I lost a lot of weight, and the drops would come in about two week intervals- so naturally if I didn't see the scale budge all week I'd try lowering the carbs more because I got addicted to seeing that number on the scale go down. But I don't think it actually made the scale go down any faster than plain old regular low carb. 50g represents a lot of fruits and vegetables, which may well have meant better nutrition. Ketogenic diets have been shown to be beneficial for certain medical issues, and it is certainly possible a low fat paleo diet could solve different medical problems as well. For normal people it makes more sense to have variety; each of these physiological states have benefits and drawbacks- we get stronger by staying in them just long enough to get some adaptation, but not long enough to get damaged. The ideal, of course, is to be able to not think about these macros at all. Grok just ate stuff, you know? I can't see a man in the paleolithic arguing about whether a sweet potato or a chunk of pork belly is better. He'd just eat the sweet potato on his way to kill the pig.
I think your assumptions come from believing that there is only one way to eat "paleo". I even hate using the word 'paleo' to describe my diet. I've studied lots and lots of different ancient cultures. I've done research on many paleolithic sites. All of the information I've read or gathered in no way what so ever did paleolithic humans eat one particular way over another (considering carbs). If lots of fruits and veggies were available in a season then they ate more carbs, if not then it simply didn't get as many carbs that day, week, month... you get the idea. Your diet should be as varied and as seasonable as possible, as this reflects the dietary conditions that humans evolved under much more so than naming off percentages that you should eat everyday. Sorry you had to feel like crap so long to learn that carbohydrates (from fruits and veggies) and the nutrients that come with them are not evil.
1) Not everyone is an active 20-something year old athlete.You already were in great shape so your goals and reasons for being Paleo are very different than what I dare say are MOST of the Paleo eaters out there.
2) You may want to read Paleo Diet for Athletes. The book talks about how athletes, especially endurance athletes, need to modify their Paleo diet to fit their active lifestyle. It helped me reconcile a lot of things in my diet.
I agree with the first responder that you need to create a Paleo diet that fits you.
VLC makes me feel like a blob of nothingness with absolutely no concentration. I honestly think that it works for some people, and not for others though I've heard such a wide variety of people leading a wide variety of lifestyles that have had amazing success with VLC, that I don't know exactly what it is. I thought I wasn't doing it "right", but after several runs at it with terrible results following word-for-word what the pros said, I figured why push myself to do something that didn't make me feel good when I had something else that made me feel great? Now I eat moderate to low carb with a healthy portion of fat, and not too much protein (something which I've tended towards in the past).
However, I wouldn't qualify myself as "low fat" paleo, just "moderate amounts of macronutrients in general" paleo. I think actively seeking low fat is ridiculous for me because my satiety just disappears and I become ravenous.
There are other paleo-ers who like a high-fruit or higher-carb style of paleo, most distinctly I think Denise Minger: http://rawfoodsos.com/
I agree. Being young and active the VLC thing did NOT work for me. It made my body temp lower wayyy too much and I was constantly thinking about food. I would over-eat on fat to compensate and that just made me gain weight. I am doing much better with carbs from squash and sweet potato and have the energy to get through amazingly tough work-outs. I don't think fat should be added in, but naturally included in your diet like, "Hey it's in my burger, or let me put some oil on this salad (but not heaping) or hmmm I really want an avocado" versus going out of your way to eat EXTRA fat..not a good idea for me...I just put on weight.
I started with a higher-fat version but found it aggravated my IBS. Fat triggers bowel motility, so I was finding it worsened my colon spasm. I'm now finding lower-fat, higher-carb to be better, although I am still tweaking.