In an interview with Paleo Magazine, Mark Sisson says, "The idea, then, is to cut out the grains, cut out the simple sugars, cut out the omega six oils, and instead eat literally all you want from a long list of very tasty healthy foods..."
In one question on PaleoHacks, Jack Kruse comments that you can "[eat] as much as you want as long as its good healthy food."
On NerdFitness, Steve Kamb also says the Paleo Diet "allows you to eat as much as you want."
On PaleoDietLifestyle, Sebastian Noel claims "you should probably have as much [fat] as you want."
And when I first learned about Paleo, this food list was one of the first ones I looked at and the first line reads "Starting with meats, eat as much as you want for breakfast, lunch & dinner." I had been a vegetarian with an eating disorder for a few years so my first thought was, "Really? As much as I want? WELL SIGN ME UP."
We all know that you obviously shouldn't eat as much as you want, even if you're really active and especially if you're trying to lose weight. Is saying you can eat as much as you want on the Paleo Diet just a way of enticing people to adopt it? I think that statement is misleading. It's like, "Hey you're full? But you still wanna keep eating? Well alllllrighty then!" Now I think it would be better to say, "You can eat as much as you want. But you'll find you don't have to eat so much since this diet is so satiating" or something along those lines. I don't know why this is frustrating me.
A major part of the paleo diet (that is often overlooked) is eating to satiety. When the various paleo gurus say "eat all they want," they are advising someone with a healthy relationship with food who is aware of when they have sufficiently fueled their body.
Eliminating harmful foods can improve health, but calories are still calories, and if you are consuming a great deal more than you're burning, you're going to store the rest of it. I've heard people get very upset when told they won't magically lose weight eating the same number of calories that got them to where they were, just by eating less carbs and more something else.
"Eat all you want" isn't intrinsically wrong, it's just not complete.
To me, "eat as much as you want" means not counting calories or macros or blocks or whatever.
Many come to paleo unhealthy and needing to lose weight. So there are two scenarios to consider (and I believe Robb Wolf talks about this too):
1) Do I need to lose weight? Yes - then I can't really eat as much as I want, but it still probably is not as strict as a "normal" diet.
No - refer to scenario 2.
2) Am I at my ideal weight?
Yes - then I can eat as much as I want until satisfied.
No - then refer back to scenario 1.
Choose your own adventure!
Yeah, and I can't count the number of posts I have read here from people new to eating this way and frustrated that they are eating 3000 cal from healthy fats and proteins and gaining weight- feeling like they were tricked, and they sort of were.
Maybe what they mean is that you can eat as much Paleo food as you want without doing damage to your health- but that doesn't mean you won't gain weight?
Obviously the idea is that Paleo foods tend to be much more satiating, but we all know that in reality you can over eat on any diet, and it will always lead to storing weight.
Maybe a person with zero poor eating habits, no history of ED, eating out of boredom, food addiction or emotional eating, and a perfect metabolism may be able to stay so tuned to their body that they can eat all they want because their body only asks for the right foods at only the right times... I can only theorize, since I have never met anyone like that.
If you can eat as much pasta, cake or bread as you would like. How much pasta or cake would that be?
Now compare that with eggs, steak or broccoli. How much would you eat of that? Big difference, huh?
After once slice of bread, I want a second and third. After one serving of steak, I am not going for seconds and thirds.
This diet naturally gives you natural speed bumps. But of course you can binge on any diet.
Because Paleo is not calorie restrictive. It is certain food restrictive. Total calories are not what is important. Sensitizing your body to insulin and leptin is. This is what makes Paleo different from any other "Diet." It is more of a lifestyle that works based on evolutionary biology.
If you cut out grains, processed carbs (inc simple sugars) and foods with a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, you end up with a limited range of foods that - in addition to their excellent nutritional profile - have two defining effects on the hypothalamus:
Whilst both of these effects are known, (2) is rarely mentioned in terms of the "you can eat as much as you want and still [insert goal]" paradigm.
To understand how (2) works, its important to view food not only in terms of its macro/micronutrient content but also in terms of its neurotransmitter effect, particularly neurotransmission associated with reward.
Sugar, for example, is associated with elevation of dopamine and serotonin. However, dopamine and serotonin are also released during goal achievement, exercise, sex, novel experiences, etc.
Paleo type foods don't have the same dopamine and serotonin releasing effect as processed foods rich in carbs and being on a Paleo type diet starves the brain of the serotonin and dopamine that it has become accustomed to obtaining from a Westernized/processed foods.
Consequently, one must revert back to activity-type dopamine and serotonin release, which has additional beneficial effects that are synergistic with appetite control and metabolic rate.
Take home messages:
reward effect is equally powerful to satiety effect of food.
reward may be mediated by ingestion (food/drugs) or activity
This advice is obviously based on the tacit assumption that how-much-you-want-to-eat when eating healthy whole foods will become an appropriate amount. I don't think they should be interpreted as saying you can eat any amount of food that one could conceivably want to eat and that will be fine. I don't think the ""Hey you're full? But you still wanna keep eating? Well alllllrighty then!" scenario applies to their recommendation. Eating even when you're full sounds distinctly like eating more than you "want" in the sense meant. I think it's pretty obvious that they don't mean "eat as much as you want, even if you want to eat solely to fill some psychological urge unrelated to hunger."
I do eat all I want, it's just that I am very full on about 1500 calories a day. I only know that that is my usual calorie intake after the fact, when I occasionally log my foods, so I'm not aiming for that. I eat as I want, and I just end up there.
All those guys know how filling the food is, and that as we lose cravings for bad food, we will enjoy and consume more of the good food in a way that has us paying more attention to signs that we are hungry or full. Well, that's how it is for me. I don't think people should consume 5000 a day, but I have no idea how anyone could eating paleo.
I pretty much eat all I want. I count nothing. I have no idea how many calories, carbs, etc I get per day and don't care. I'm in the best shape of my life.
What's wrong with the idea that you can eat as much as you want if it's good food?
Edit: Some of us eat paleo for health, not weight loss. I'm not trying to lose pounds, I'm just trying to thrive. I thrive by eating when hungry and playing when sedentary. For me - the advice you say is wrong, isn't.
A major part of cutting the crap out of your diet is that "eating as much as you want" really becomes "eating what you need." Your body has great hunger/satiated signals as long as they're not getting screwed up with the wrong inputs. For the last 4 years I have never counted a calorie or stopped eating while I still felt hungry, and I have no trouble maintaining weight. If I have a really active day, I'll get really hungry; especially for fat and I can easily have a 6,000 calorie day if I think about it and add it up. If I have a lazy day on the couch, I won't get hungry and I may skip lunch (because I forget about it), and have a small dinner (because I'm still not hungry).
I totally buy the "eat as much as you want" mantra, but it has to be real food, not paleoized copies of bad food. You can't do the "technically paleo" trick. You can't feed your sugar demons with fruit.