It seems like everyone is like Art and Loren who recommend trimming fat off of grass-fed meat and avoiding fatty cuts of meat OR eating bowls of coconut oil and pound of bacon for breakfast and dousing their chicken with heavy cream. Either people who advocate low-carb OR people eating just fruit. Either people saying fiber is teh devil or people scouring their poor colons with the stuff. Where is the middle way in all this?
Has everyone forgotten that there is another option between all of these extremes?
Where is the middle way in all of this?
The "middle way" is to stop relying on outside influences when it comes to your health. Ultimately, it all comes down to you.
If we continue to externalize everything - THIS Expert says to eat THIS, not THAT. THAT Expert says to eat THAT, not THIS, etc... we'll never truly own our health. We'll always be at the mercy of the next fad. This has been the bane health and fitness for the past 30 years.
Subject matter experts are great sources of information, but they are not gurus. Nobody has all the answers. Seek out as much knowledge as you can, but ultimately you are the best judge of what works for you. Own your own health. Do what works best for you.
wherever you want it to be.
ETA: i dont mean to be glib. i just think that in experimenting with all the different versions of paleo that people might try something to an extreme. its funny that paleo itself is considered an extreme diet by most of america, but within paleo we have zealots of all different stripes. fanatics tend to be the loudest, but i think the vast majority of us ARE the middle ground.
My version of paleo has always been middle-way spectrum. Neither super low carb, nor super high carb. I've had life-long issues with carbohydrate metabolism, and my N=1 experience keeps telling me, over and over again, to limit or avoid starch and certain fruits. Beyond that, it's simply a matter of eating real food and avoiding NADs.
I think the Perfect Health Diet is in the middle. It is fat-friendly, but stresses the importance of being well-nourished in protein, carbs, and micronutrients.
I've done it, too. I ate only animal products for over three months, enormous amounts of fat and protein.
I think tinkering with one's eating and watching and controlling its effects on body comp is a great way to really understand all the issues surrounding cals and macros. I don't think extremes are bad at all. Course, this assumes one has enough self-control to manage things well.
I did my extremes after reading about similar extremes from authors and authorities. Again I don't think its bad at all. I never was religious about it - I knew that I'd try something and then fix it if it didn't work. There is an element of control-of-habits that I do feel is missing in at least American society today. People are always amazed (not in a good way, just shocked kind of) that I routinely do these self-experiments. I think its a great way to make yourself understand fuel's effect on the body.
Right now, I am indeed, after years of extremes, settled into a relative middle path of equal parts protein and carbohydrate and the remainder of cals coming from fat. I don't drown anything in some wonderoil, I don't eat huge amounts of some amazon berry, etc.
I recommend people try more things out on themselves. That is how you will learn that despite what someone's book may tell you, calories do matter and so do hormones and macros.
My own impression seems to be that most paleos do occupy the middle ground. Those positions are simply less attention-grabbing.
I think it is easy to be swayed by extremists. If you watch the news, you might think that this country is split between socialist liberals and gun-totin' conservatives, but the day-to-day reality is that most people don't clearly define themselves as one or the other.
When it comes to diets, its the same thing. I appreciated ready GCGC by Taubes because I now have a much better understanding of the effects of carbohydrates, but does that mean that I am now afraid to eat any carbs? Heck no!
Well, maybe I was scared of carbs for a little while, but that's the point, eliminating fruit from my diet made me feel worse, not better, so I had to trust my own body and my own intuition regarding what foods to eat.
Good question. I'm just at my beginning exploring Paleo and will likely never fully commit to a degree that I can't go off the reservation once in a while.
For me, and I think for many, it's all about gradients. As a guy nearing middle age and previously seeing my blood numbers getting all screwby, Paleo made sense at the foundational level of getting away from high amounts of sugar, sodium and processed foods. Ok, done (grudgingly so!).
Next, was adding in foods that did specific things for me (more Omega 3's, more zinc, etc), and deleting other things that were verboten (legumes, starchy carbs). Done.
Next will be finding better resources for "cleaner" foods - grass-fed beef, organic fruits and veggies, etc. Also to investigate further with maybe a Whole30 routine to see if dairy is entirely bad for me.
All the while, I'm monitoring my reaction to adding/deleting things. I think I'll find a balance of what works for me and my body, and will continue to research and listen to those in the community. Regardless, if there is anything I'm learning, is that zealotry is rarely good and experimentation with what works and what doesn't is the most important aspect of this journey. Good luck, brother!
I see paleo as a philosophy that encompasses many different food plans. There really are many paths to paleo God. Our extremists are so important as they set the parameters for us. Between the extremes we see a full spectrum of possibilities. Or at least we can see if we so choose. Operating within this given spectrum each of us can and must find out what works best for our bodies and our lives.
With respect to just the animal-fat issue I tell my patients/clients this: If the animal's fat is/was naturally-occurring, then don't worry about it , you're good to go. And if the animal's fat is there due to 'un-natural' causes (cheap, CAFO Beef), then you shouldn't be eating it anyway.
By the late paleolithic era our ancestors, who are virtually genetically-identical to us, had long-emigrated around the globe and lived nearly everywhere on the globe at varying latitudes with some even living well above the arctic circle. Animal food sources at higher latitudes generally contain high levels of fat (due to the animals' need for thermal protection and also as stored fuel in early winter due to seasonal non-availability of food of hibernators.) Examples: whale, caribou, Polar bear, Salmon, etc. Animals in equatorial regions generally contain lower fat (due to lower need for thermal protection and lack of strong seasonal variations in food availability..therefore no need to hibernate, for instance). Examples:Duiker, Antelope, monkey, cats, etc. So, we know that for many thousands of years, our late Paleolithic ancestors generally got along at varying latitudes, eating a wide variety of animal-fat as a % of calories in their respective diets. For instance, arctic-dwellers ate higher % animal fat and equatorial peoples ate lower % animal fat. We also know that, in general, virtually none of these groups suffered nearly any of the chronic 'diseases of civilization'. So, in my opinion, it is difficult to make an argument for either high-fat and/or lower-animal-fat exclusively, as our ancestors varied pretty widely.
So remember to ask yourself: Is the food-source's fat component naturally-occurring or not? I do not think it is a perfect rule, but it helps clarify things for folks and opens up more choices for many trying to go 'Paleo'.