Paleolithic paintings from Lascaux cave in southern France
Paleolithic paintings from Lascaux cave in southern France

I imagine most readers of this blog would expect a group of subjects to do better on a Paleolithic diet as compared to a standard American diet, but there are few studies actually making the comparison. One was posted yesterday in the Advance-0nline-Publication section of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that shows subjects following a Paleolithic diet made major metabolic changes, and made them rapidly.
Before we get into the study, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page when we discuss the Paleolithic diet. We we say Paleolithic diet, what are we really talking about?
The Paleolithic era refers to that period of history of the genus Homo, which began more than 2 million years ago and ran until the Neolithic period started circa 10,000 years ago. The Neolithic era dates to the time when early man set down roots both literally and figuratively when he started to cultivate plants for food and domesticate animals. The Paleolithic era ends and the Neolithic era begins with the advent of agriculture.
So what did Paleolithic man eat? We don’t know precisely because Paleolithic man didn’t leave any written records, menus, cookbooks, etc. The only records Paleolithic man left are the cave paintings, of which Lascaux in France is the most famous. Virtually all of these paintings feature animals prominently, which would lead one to believe that animals figured greatly in the lives of Paleolithic people. Since they didn’t domesticate these animals, and since it seems unlikely that they kept zoos, the most obvious reason these early people focused so much artistic effort on these animals is that they ate them. Carbon-13 isotope studies bear out that idea as the same carbon isotopes found in grass are also found heavily concentrated in the bones of Paleolithic man and other known carnivores, which leads to one of two conclusions: either Paleolithic man spent his days grazing or he ate animals that grazed. I would opt for the latter interpretation.
Keep this idea of Paleolithic man as a meat eater along with the idea of the cave pictures in your mind. We’ll return to them later, but first, let’s look at this study.
Nine healthy, sedentary, non-obese subjects (6 men; 3 women) over the age of 18 recruited from the San Francisco Bay area completed the study. These subjects had their starting diets analyzed – all were on their own version of the standard American diet – and a battery of tests done on them to evaluate multiple metabolic parameters.
Once the beginning data was in hand, the researchers started the subjects on a ramp up to the full Paleolithic diet by giving them daily increases of fiber and potassium.

For the intervention phase, beginning day 1, for adaptation purposes, a series of 1-day cycle diets with gradually increasing levels of potassium and fiber were developed by the research dietitians. This was to allow the subjects’ intestinal tract and potassium handling systems to adjust to the markedly higher dietary content of fiber and potassium. ‘Ramp 1’ diet was given for 1 day, ‘Ramp 2’ diet for 3 days, ‘Ramp 3’ diet for 3 days and finally the ‘Paleo diet’ for the remainder of the study.

Once ramped up, the subjects went on the full Paleo diet for 10 days.  An interesting twist to this study was that the subjects were monitored carefully for any signs of weight loss over the course of the study, and any subjects losing even small amounts of weight were encouraged to eat more of the Paleo foods in an effort to maintain their starting weights.  Since weight loss itself can bring about metabolic changes, the researchers wanted to make sure that any changes came about as a result of the diet composition and not as a side effect of weight loss.
What did they eat?

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, canola oil, mayonnaise and honey were included in the Ramp and Paleo phases of the diet. We excluded dairy products, legumes, cereals, grains, potatoes and products containing potassium chloride (some foods, such as mayonnaise, carrot juice and domestic meat were not consumed by hunter-gatherers, but contain the general nutritional characteristics of preagricultural foods).

Hmmm. More about which later. For now, here is a layout of the specific foods the subjects ate during the ramp and the full Paleo diet.

Table 2
Table 2

The macronutrient composition of the regular diets of these subjects was 18% protein, 44 % carbohydrate and 38% fat.  The Paleo diet was 30% protein, 38% carbohydrate and 32% fat, mostly unsaturated, as the authors were quick to point out.
After the 7 day ramp period and the 10 days of Paleo dieting, subjects experienced large changes in most parameters measured.  Lipid changes are shown in the table below.
Derived from Table 3
Derived from Table 3

As you can see, there were significant decreases in triglycerides, total and LDL-cholesterol with no change in HDL-cholesterol.
The body of the paper reports an insignificant decrease in blood sugar after the Paleo diet, but the units listed in the paper are incorrect, which is one of the hazards of dealing with a pre-publication paper.  All the kinks haven’t been worked out.
Fasting insulin levels plummeted by more than two thirds in (11.5 to 3.6 µU/ml) and the total area under the insulin curve was lowered by almost half.  What these figures tell us is that the diet made these subjects much, much more sensitive to their own insulin.  In other words, they required substantially less insulin to keep their blood sugars in the normal range.  Since they were producing less insulin, they had less circulating insulin, which meant less fat storage, less arterial stiffening and less of all the things that too much insulin causes.
Along with the improvements in lipids and insulin sensitivity, the subjects experienced a significant drop in diastolic blood pressure and a decrease in mean arterial pressure.  These improvements likely occurred in part because these subjects had substantially increased brachial artery diameter, a measure of arterial distensibility.  There arteries had become less stiff and more pliable over a mere 17 days of dietary change.
Urinary potassium loss increased, indicating an increased potassium intake by the subjects.  And urinary calcium excretion decreased.
Another interesting aspect of this study is that these findings were pretty much across the board.  Instead of a couple of hyper responders raising the average, either all nine or in a couple of cases, eight of the nine subjects demonstrated pretty much the same changes, indicating

consistently improved metabolic and physiological status with respect to circulatory, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism/physiology.

The authors of this paper found

in a small group of sedentary, slightly overweight, but not obese adult humans, that switching from their usual diet to a paleolithic-type diet, which contained no cereal grains, dairy [or] legumes, resulted, after only a short period of time [17 days] and without weight loss or increase in activity levels

significant positive changes in all the parameters discussed above.
I was fascinated by this study because the changes were so rapid, but I was a little put off because it could have been so much better.  I mean why didn’t they test a real Paleolithic diet?  Probably because of nutritional correctness, i.e., fear of saturated fat.
During Paleolithic times, man primarily subsisted by hunting.  The preferred food was large game animals, and Paleolithic man, a skilled hunter, wiped most of them out.   And not just the large grazing animals.  Paleolithic man completely decimated the Cave bear.  As you can see from the photo of my Cave bear skull below (from a slide I use in presentations), these were enormous animals that didn’t go down easily.  Cave bear, like all bears, had high levels of body fat, which must have been highly desired because these ferocious animals were hunted to extinction about 15,000 years ago by people wielding little more than pointed sticks.  I would have to value fat a whole lot more than I do to tackle one of these guys.  The largest bears that I could find the fatty acid composition for were polar bears, which should be appropriate since cave bear lived in northern latitudes.  Polar bears have on average 30 percent saturated fat, 50 percent monounsaturated fat and 15 percent polyunsaturated fat.  (I know these figures don’t add up to 100 percent, but they are the figures as presented in the article.)
The majority of the large animals that roamed the world are gone thanks to the depredations of Paleolithic man.  If you ever get the chance to go to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, take a stroll through the many large halls filled with the enormous skeletons of these animals that used to roam what is now the United States.  Experts estimate that it took Paleolithic man only about a thousand years to range from northern North America were he crossed the Bering strait to the southern tip of South America wiping out all the large game that existed at the time.
These large mammals that Paleolithic man decimated are now only present in skeletal form so we don’t know for sure what their fatty acid composition was.  But we do know that of those left, the larger the animals, the larger the percent body fat.  And the larger the percent body fat, the greater the percentage of saturated fat.  Given those two facts, one has to conclude that Paleolithic man consumed a large percentage of his energy as saturated fat.  We can’t look at the fat content of deer, for example, and use that to estimate the saturated-fat content of the Paleolithic diet.  Deer, as we know them today, were tiny animals as compared to those Paleo man typically dined on.
If you look at the fatty acid breakdown of the horse, a large animal (not grain fed) that we are all familiar with that is comparable in size to many of the animals Paleolithic man hunted to extinction, you find a large proportion of saturated fats.  Horse fat is about 36 percent saturated fat, 34 percent monounsaturated fat, and the rest polyunsaturated fat.  Even rabbits carry over 40 percent of their fat as saturated fat, but rabbits have much less fat per weight than the larger animals.
It seems pretty obvious that Paleolithic man would have eaten considerable saturated fat.  Which begs the question: Why always cut the saturated fat in experimental diets testing the hypothesis that the Paleolithic diet is more healthful?
I don’t know the answer for sure, but I expect that it’s due to the nutritional equivalent of political correctness, which I call nutritional correctness.
Researchers are simply afraid to imply that saturated fats might actually be harmless, so they go through all kinds of contortions to present their data in such a way that it couldn’t possibly present saturated fats in a positive light.  And much good research and reporting has suffered as a consequence.
A case in point is a otherwise wonderful book published 20+ years ago titled The Paleolithic Prescription.  This fascinating book goes into great detail describing the physical exploits of our ancient ancestors based in large part of reports by European explorers encountering ‘primitive’ peoples untouched by the forces of ‘civilization.’  The authors, based on the anthropological literature, describe the size of our Paleolithic forebears as being similar to our own, but their strength was significantly greater:

These people were strong – stronger by all estimates than most agricultural and industrial people (including ourselves) who lived after them.  Skeletal remains reflect strength and muscularity: the size of joints and the sites where muscles are inserted into bones indicate both the mass of the muscles and the magnitude of the force they were able to exert.  Average Cro-Magnons, for example, were apparently as strong as today’s superior male and female athletes.  Strange as it may seem, Cro-Magnons and other hunters and gatherers may have worked fewer hours per week than did the agriculturalists who followed, yet they were significantly more robust.

Think about this last sentence for a minute.  Strong, robust Cro-Magnons who settled into a life of agriculture circa 10,000 years ago, and who worked harder than their pastoral predecessors, showed a decline in strength and muscle mass.  Why?  What The Paleolithic Prescription says about energy expended is true.  The skeletal remains of agriculturalists show much more arthritic changes and incidence of joint wear implying much more regular physical activity than hunters.  So why did agriculturalists develop less muscle mass and strength?  Could it be because of a switch from diets high in fat and protein to diets low in fat and protein and high in carbohydrates?  Makes sense to me.  Same genetic material, greater exercise, different diet, yet weaker and less robust.
Getting back to my original point about this book, the authors presented a mass of data showing our Paleolithic ancestors to be more robust, healthier and able to routinely perform feats of strength that are almost unbelievable to us today.  And they dwelt on the massive amount of hunting that sustained these ancient peoples.  Then, when it came time to apply these dietary lessons to people of today, the authors tried to shoehorn their findings in a nutritionally correct regimen that followed the low-fat diet precepts that academicians are so attached to.  It’s really a shame because this could have been a wonderful book.  It’s still well worth reading, but simply ignore the dietary advice.
It would have been great had the authors of the paper above used a real Paleolithic diet for their study instead of an imaginary Paleolithic diet that conformed to the tenets of nutritional correctness.
Based on my own experience with thousands of patients, I can predict what the findings would have been.  Lipid parameters would have been improved, but with LDL staying about the same or maybe going up a little.  HDL would have gone up significantly.  Triglycerides would have fallen maybe more.  The all-important triglyceride/HDL ratio would have plummeted much more than with the faux Paleo diet.  Fasting insulin would have dropped like a rock and the area under the insulin curve would have fallen at least as much, if not further.  Blood pressure would have decreased and all the measures of vascular pliability would have improved.  All in all, my prediction is that the outcome of the study would have been better than the outcome of the study as it currently exists.
The Paleolithic diet data indicates that early man ate more saturated fat than he did carbohydrates.  And he was molded by the processes of natural selection to thrive on such a diet.  When he bolted from that meat-based diet, as he did when he settled in to life as an agriculturalist, he paid dearly for it with a devolution in health.  Since the evidence is so obvious that a diet higher in saturated fat worked wonders for Paleolithic man, it seems like some academicians somewhere would ranger up and test such a diet.  But it appears that the pox on saturated fat is so virulent that no one wants to risk it.
If such a study were done and the results tally with what I’m positive the results would be, the authors would find themselves in the untenable position of having to at least tacitly imply that saturated fats aren’t harmful.  And that could ruin an academic career.  No more invitations to present at meetings. Expulsion from the club.  People tsk tsking behind their hands.  It just couldn’t be done.


  1. I always bump my saturated fat content in meals by tossing down raw organic egg yolks… fast, cheap, easy and actually kind of yummy – folks always ask me why my hair is shiny I always point to my egg yolks and organic lard
    also on the subject of saturated fat, I am steering away from my high price Whole Foods market grassfed beef lately and been happily munching on my Costco Prime NY and ribeye steaks for 60% less per pound – will this obviously grain fed meat really drive me into the grave that much faster or is it kind of a non issue for those of us who are on practically a zero carb diet (for my sanity, I just pretend that egg yolks have no carbs and don;t jack up my insulin/blood sugar)?
    as always, thank you Dr. Eades
    I am hoping once I get to lean and trim I can inspire my fellow Indian-Americans to migrate over to your nutritional discoveries
    We eat plenty of Costco prime steaks at the Eades’ household, so I don’t think it makes a major difference. I like grass-fad meat a little better healthwise because it contains less pollutants. I think that those on zero or even just low-carb diets don’t have to worry.

  2. Doctor Mike…
    What happened to the pic of the Cave bear skull ;0(
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the assumption that cattle (and other animals) will get fatter (almost twice as fat) in the form of saturated fats while eating corn and other grains than they will if they were pasture-fed, and that it is this type of saturated fat which is dangerous to eat. So, shouldn’t we be more concerned with the ratio of the amount of Omega-6 fats to Omega-3 fats being consumed as opposed to the total amount of saturated fats being consumed?
    Thanks in advance! :0)
    The photo of the cave bear skull is now up. Thanks for the heads up.
    There are different kinds of saturated fats based on the length of the carbon chains of the specific saturated fatty acids. The lipophobes consider all saturated fats bad, so I lumped them all together for purposes of this post. Palmitic acid, a 16-carb chain saturated fat is the fat that cattle and humans produce in the face of a high-carb diet. Why do all these anti-saturated fat people rail against palmitic acid and encourage people to overeat on carbs when those carbs are converted to palmitic acid? It just doesn’t make sense. I think the O-6/O-3 ratio is important, but it has nothing to do with saturated fats and the unreasoning fear so many have of them.

  3. Very interesting post. I was puzzled by one thing:
    “Based on my own experience with thousands of patients, I can predict what the findings would have been. Lipid parameters would have been improved, but with LDL staying about the same or maybe going up a little. HDL would have gone up significantly. Triglycerides would have fallen maybe more. The all-important HDL/triglyceride ratio would have plummeted much more … ”
    Why would LDL remain the same or might even go up?
    Because it has been shown that increases of dietary saturated fat CAN (not that it necessarily will, but that it CAN) raise LDL levels. What’s never been shown is that these slightly elevated levels are harmful. Even if LDL goes up a little and HDL goes up a lot, the ratio of the two improves.
    Why does LDL go up on such a diet and does it pose a considerable risk in the presence of a HDL/Triglyceride ratio of 2 (my case)?
    I just read the recommendations of the Australian Heart Foundation. It does now warn against refined carbohydrates and sugar but it is also still keeping up its ‘agitation’ against saturated fat.

  4. Hi Doc,
    Well, we don’t have written records from the Paleolithic era, but here is an ancient Aussie TV commercial (c. 1976). You can tell it’s close to the Paleolithic because everyone is carrying around ancient Malibus. Observe how healthy everyone is, pre the low fat era. And those curves! Enjoy!
    (Think it was filmed at Bilgola Beach, which is near to where we live.)
    Michael Richards
    Great. It did indeed look like the ol’ Paleolithic days I enjoyed so much.

  5. What a great post.
    I’ve been following your posts for so long and have been somewhat surprised at how little the Paleolithic perspective is mentioned, since Paleo and low-carb are somewhat overlapping philosophies.
    I sometimes find it’s hard to convince others of the benefits of a low-carb diet. To do so you have to explain glucose, insulin, ketones, and all sorts of other concepts — this is where others tend to fall back on defensive, anti-fad, anti-Atkins mentality.
    I enjoy explaining low-carb from a Paleolithic perspective and many of my friends seem to follow that logic better. Evolution, the agricultural revolution, and gene expression are concepts that are easier to follow and more convincing/interesting than a detailed explanation of biochemistry.
    Oh and by the way, ever since I started this Paleo/low-carb/high-fat goodness, I’ve been feeling more like a caveman. High saturated fat => more testosterone? Either way, I grunt at the gym more and feel like more of a badass in life.
    I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  6. On the old board that got hacked and went down, there was a thread that talked about the animals found in a cave being excavated in northern England – as I remember. The cave was called something like “sun cave” and the implication was that it had some seasonal calendar function using the sun as it shown into the cave. There was a link to the actual paper written by the researchers.
    Of the animals found, there were two predominate ones. One that was estimated to be around 200 pounds the other 500 pounds. The poster then pointed out the relation of percent body fat to overall size. Plotting these with all the many mammals known yields a curve that slopes up in per cent fat as the total weight goes up. The poster pointed out that the larger animals were the ones hunted and eaten extensively. Given that they would have been harder to kill, the only reason for killing the larger animals would seem to be the higher fat obtained.
    I have searched for the article linked in that post to no avail. Is there any chance you would know of this article and could provide a link??
    I’m not aware of the article you’re referring to. We wrote about Boxgrove man from Boxgrove, England in the PPLP, but I’m drawing a blank on anything about a sun cave. Sorry. Any readers out there who can help?

  7. “The all-important HDL/triglyceride ratio would have plummeted much more than with the faux Paleo diet.”
    I think you meant to say, e.g., “zoomed” rather than “plummeted”, right? The ratio increased in the study (from 50/80 = 0.625 to 50/53 = 0.943), and it’s thought that higher is better for this ratio.
    Actually what I meant to say was the triglyceride to HDL ratio, not the other way around. The way I had it, the ratio would have zoomed. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll get it fixed.

  8. Hi Doc,
    Even further off topic. In the past you complained that your Meat Growers Association (or whatever it’s called) were namby-pamby about promoting meat. Let Australia’s Sam Kekovich show you Seppos how it’s done:
    Original Address to the Nation 2005:
    2006 version
    The 2009 version (“Yes we can!”):
    There are others. Wildly successful! These are actually shown on free-to-air and cable just as you see them here. Looks Paleo to me! Did cave men have their tongues so firmly in their cheeks??
    Michael Richards
    (OMG! The final scene of the last one was taken round the corner from our house!)
    Hilarious. Nice neighborhood.

  9. This might be a bit nit picky but most from what I have heard climate change and other non-human factors have been the cause of paleolithic species extinction. It makes since in my opinion, you don’t wipe out the animals you depend on to survive.
    If climate changes of a magnitude that would decimate the large animal population took place 15,000 years ago before humans could have possibly had any impact, why are we worried about human-driven global warming now? I don’t think climate had anything to do with it in Paleolithic times – most of the archeological and anthropological data indicates extinction from over hunting.

    1. fenris – just check out Maori history on New Zealand to see how a people – without any mechanism of environmental over site – can easily wipe out formerly-abundant edible species – in their case, an emu-type big land bird –
      if you don’t know you are killing the last big bear that night for dinner, why would you stop?

  10. i thought that cardiologists are more focused today on your particle numbers and size. I have a good ratio of HDL/Trg of 51/20, but 1300 particles all of which are small. Diet is meat, fish, poultry, hard cheese, greek yougurt, whey, and veggies and some fruit. Supplement with fish oil and am adding ground flax and oat bran to see if it helps. Yet still on a sugar and grain free diet small particles. I can only guess that this type of diet, which is low carb, does not result in large dense LDL for all. Any suggestions?
    First, you’re not on a grain-free diet if you are consuming oat bran. We’re I in your shoes, I would probably cut the flax and the oat bran and the yogurt, and go on a higher fat, lower-carb real Paleolithic diet to see what happens. One thing that is certain in medicine is that everyone is different, and not everyone responds to whatever type of therapeutic regimen in the same way. In your case, it would be nice to know what the particle size was prior to the low-carb diet. I would bet that even though it’s not perfect now, it is a lot better than it was before starting.

  11. I am getting 20-30% of my proteins and fat through dairy (milk and yogurt). I thought it was allowed for a Hedonist. Is it Ok?
    It’s fine as long as you are doing okay.

  12. You said, “Since they were producing less insulin, they had less circulating insulin, which meant less fat storage, less arterial stiffening and less of all the things that too much insulin causes.” Would you list the things that high insulin levels cause or even help cause?
    Thanks, Nate
    The entire metabolic syndrome encompasses those things caused by too much insulin.

  13. Hi Doctor,
    Did you hear about a recent study in the journal Genes and Development about antioxidants? While i haven’t read the piece, i was told the gist of it by a friend. Supposedly a study was conducted to determine whether antioxidants help prevent oxidation and therefore delay aging. The “participants” in the study were nematode worms. I’m not sure if they make for a good study comparison with humans. Anyways, the study found no connection between antioxidant intake and the delay of aging. Also interesting is that the study suggested that this theory of antioxidant intake was first promulgated in in the 1950s. So, i wonder, is this the first study of many that might suggest that this theory is also a “big fat lie”, drawing on Taubes’ artile title of course.
    No, many, many studies have failed to show that increased intake of antioxidants prolong life. It’s an interesting conundrum because most studies show that people who have higher levels of antioxidants in their blood seem to live longer, but trying to increase those antioxidants and increasing longevity by popping supplements has proven a failure. It’s probably best to get antioxidants from food rather than supplements.

  14. Hi Doctor,
    Me again. I think what is valuable about this study is that it offers further evidence of the benefit of reducing carbs. Of course, like you, an others, i would like to see a study that puts even more emphasis on saturated fat. In fact, i don’t know how people adhere to a low-carb diet if they are afraid of eating saturated fat in abundance. I add cream to coffee and regularly have bowls of cream with some fruit. Also, butter and cheese is commonplace my meals and snacks. The result: improvements in blood readings, very little hunger pangs and more energy and better menal clarity.
    What is also surprising about this study, at least to me, is how much carbs they still consumed and got good results. It indicates how valuable cutting out agricultural carbs can be. I would go as far to say that a person’s blood readings and well being would improve even if they consumed saturated fat in large quantities with a diet that consisted of fruit and honey, as in the study.

  15. What’s with the honey? I would assume you don’t see much difference between honey and white sugar from a metabolism perspective. Was there a limit for the Paleo phase of this diet?
    Somewhat of a limit. And you are right, there is very little difference metabolically between honey and sugar. I’m sure Paleolithic man enjoyed honey when he could, but getting honey in the wild is not done without peril, so I doubt he made a steady diet of it.

  16. fascinating post; the comment about your reluctance to hunt cave bear made me lol.
    I’ve always thought Paleolithic Prescription was a sadly neglected book; glad to see you mention it.
    I knew Boyd Eaton at Duke University and, trust me, he was one of the handsomest, smartest guys on campus.

  17. Hi Dr Eades,
    I really enjoyed this post ! I’ve been on a Paleo diet for nearly three years now and my lipid profile is pretty good I think – my HDL is 93 and my triglycerides 36. My LDL is a bit on the high side at 154 but I’m not worried and my doctor’s okay about it.
    Many years ago I spent a week in the Dordogne visiting several caves with Paleolithic art, including Lascaux, and it was wonderful. I wasn’t on the Paleo diet then but I bet if I had have been I would have felt even more of a connection with our ancestors than I already felt – it’s really something to be standing in front of a painting or drawing made by someone 30,000 years ago.
    That Paelo diet they used in the study – I think it had far too much fruit carbohydrate in it, our Paleo ancestors would not have eaten such sweet fruits as pineapples or orange juice ! So they should have cut out most of the fruit as well as increased the saturated fat !
    all the best,

  18. “It makes sense in my opinion, you don’t wipe out the animals you depend on to survive.”
    History is full of people destroying their own environments. Read “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed” by Jared Diamond (
    For one thing, I’m sure Paleolithic man (and woman) had no clue they were hunting a species to extinction. Sure, the herds were getting smaller and harder to find, but I seriously doubt that they thought in these terms.
    Also, although we don’t have cookbooks from the Paleolithic era, we do have fossilized teeth, which clearly show the wear patterns associated with primarily meat eaters rather than plant eaters.
    I’m often faced with having to explain longevity and life spans. Someone said to me the other day that even if ( ! ) early humans ate meat primarily, they only lived to be 20! They didn’t have time to develop heart disease and clogged arteries from eating all that saturated fat.
    As you wrote in PP, there is a misconception regarding longevity and “average age of death.” Sure they died young. Look what they were hunting! A gash or even a broken leg or arm was enough to do them in. Physiologically, Cro-Magnon is us. If we have the ability to live to 100 or more, so did “he.”

  19. hi doc
    thanks for this great blog. i do low carb, but from around sundown i feel hungry, tired and weak. a non carb meal does not help much. what can i do. secondly, i think one of the big problems with lo carb eating is the is very high for people with a small income and a family. any suggestions?
    Make sure you’re taking plenty of potassium, for one. There is no doubt that meat is more expensive than carbs. But, if you go with ground beef, pork and other less expensive cuts of meat, it’s not too bad.

  20. This made me think of my grandma. She is in her 80’s and has never had a health problem in her life. I remember her breaking her arm in a car accident once…that’s it. She’s not a small woman, not fat, but just STURDY, know what I mean? She can go out in her garden for hours standing up bent over digging up weeds, etc… Getting to the point… I always remember my mom being turned off by my grandmother’s (her mother in law’s) dinners. Always fatty beef (not the LEAN like my mom would buy). The side would be greens or squash and she’d have loaf bread in the middle of the table that no one wanted (regular store bought loaf bread isn’t that appealing!) My grandma and grandpa haven’t had the problems I hear about 70 and 80 year olds having, and my dad’s health is remarkable, too, and it makes sense because he grew up eating this food… all that (BAD?!) saturated fatty meat! 🙂

  21. First, you’re not on a grain-free diet if you are consuming oat bran. We’re I in your shoes, I would probably cut the flax and the oat bran and the yogurt, and go on a higher fat, lower-carb real Paleolithic diet to see what happens. One thing that is certain in medicine is that everyone is different, and not everyone responds to whatever type of therapeutic regimen in the same way. In your case, it would be nice to know what the particle size was prior to the low-carb diet. I would bet that even though it’s not perfect now, it is a lot better than it was before starting.
    excellent suggestion; will eliminate the tablespoon of oat and flax which were only added in last month. Was unclear, but only yogurt is Greek plain 2%: no good?. Particle size was small before going low carb, but amount of small particles did drop from 1805 to 1305 which is a nice drop despite size not changing. could just be a genetic thing given large heart disease in family. Brother heart attack at 52, Dad at 62. Would worst case love to drop particles even lower. No problem with weight. Interestingly enough, w/o any increased exercise, my HDL jumped from 39 to 51, and LDL 91 to 94, and Trg from 41 to 20. So, aside from particles whcih are worrisome to doc in light of fam history, you are correct in stating there has been some improvement.
    Thanks again very much for your advice; i think with some tweaking i will get the number of particles down further,but not sure size will change. According to many it is unclear that this happens in all cases; some do not get a change in particle size.

  22. I found it rather odd that they gave the participants pineapple for the fruits. I don’t recall seeing any paintings of pineapple plants at Lascaux. European Paleolithics would have had access to fruits, but only seasonally, and then the fruits would likely be something like crabapples or berries. Cantaloupe and carrot juice were also probably not prominent on Paleolithic menus except perhaps at the gourmet restaurants.
    I know someone who went on a Paleolithic diet and gained weight because he ate a lot of fruit.
    That’s why I wrote “Hmmm,” after the description of the diet. I think the researchers put these subjects on an imaginary Paleo diet, a Paleo diet they (the researchers) would like to think is a Paleo diet, instead of the real thing. It’s much the same with the much vaunted Mediterranean diet. There is very little similarity between the Mediterranean diet as promoted and the actual diet people eat in the Mediterranean area.

  23. Dr. Mike,
    Is this just too simplistic?
    When the “nutritionally correct” crowd rails against saturated fat, shouldn’t the question be
    “Show me ANY EVIDENCE that saturated fat is dangerous when carbs are controlled?
    Nope, it’s accurate. I would even add, “Show me any evidence that saturated fat is dangerous, period.” If it is consumed in combination with carbs, who is to say that it’s the fat that’s problematic and not the carbs. We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that too many carbs cause problems, so why does adding saturated fat to too many carbs somehow make saturated fat dangerous?

  24. I have a question about your comment to Steve, because I too have good ratios, but a lot of small LDL.
    Were you suggesting that he cut out
    ALL dairy? In which case that would mean no whey or cheese, wouldn’t it?
    I have been unsure about dairy for me for a while due to other, inconsistent but more observable reactions. At this point the only dairy I have is ghee, some occasional good raw cream and raw butter. But maybe I will cut them all out and see how the next particle test goes.
    It’s worth a try just to see.

  25. Dr. Mike
    Have been trying really hard to No-carb for a year now since reading Dr. Donaldson’s Strong Medicine and GCBC by Gary Taubes. Happy to report weight loss, lower blood pressure and most miraculously, a varicose vein on lower leg that had troubled me for years has disappeared.
    I often eat 4 ozs of creme fraiche for lunch and wondered if I should give up the dairy fat? Also tend to use butter for frying. Should I switch to lard? Keep up good work.
    If you’re doing great, I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for the report on the varicose vein; I’m glad to hear it went away.

  26. A metric shedload of anecdotal data from various diabetes newsgroups and forums over the years would tend to agree with your premise. LDL may well increase with more sat fats but HDL almost inevitably increases more.
    Off the top of my head Feinman’s site is about the only place where papers on the subject are published
    It’s not just anecdotal data – there are many controlled studies showing same.

  27. I read somewhere that Paleolithics ate tubers and fruits except for ones which have natural toxins such as potatoes. That could be why carrot juice and fruit was included in the diet.
    If Paleolithics made their way to the southern tip of South America, they must have had access to an abundance of fruit due to the warmer climates they experienced. Isn’t it feasible that they didn’t draw pictures of pineapples because the conquest of them wasn’t a challenge and didn’t consume their pysche? Isn’t it also feasible to assume that Paleolithic man did put on fat occasionally to exist in his feast or famine world? The only feast or famine modern man seems to experience is that of an economic nature.

  28. “The preferred food was large game animals, and Paleolithic man, a skilled hunter, wiped most of them out.” Could this have been one reason Paleolithic man settled into a life of agriculture circa 10,000 years ago, “?
    Many experts in the field believe so.

  29. That’s a beautiful skull. Is that the one you got from Russia? If you would ever like to sell it, please sell it to me! 🙂
    I studied anthropology for 10 years. It boggles my mind that I knew this stuff 20 years ago, yet was unable to put the pieces of the puzzle together until I read Atkins and Protein Power in 2004. It was a revelation. I suspect the brainwashing from the biochem professors was more powerful back then.
    Just my opinion, but none of these fancy modern nutritional studies can compare with 2.5 million years of evolutionary evidence.
    I have a little story for you that fits in with this and recent posts. When my hubby started low carbing with me in ’04, he brought his Tag:HDL ratio down from 7.6 to 2.03 within two months.
    But in December ’08, it was 2.18. That number might not seem so bad, but his Tag had shot up to 83. He confessed that he had been succumbing to the vending machine for a snack every day. A small bag of cookies.
    So I got him lots of snacks that he could keep in his desk. Jerky, small salamis, and nuts. Fast forward to 1/31/09 and his ratio is now 1.3, and all that over only one month.
    So there’s my anecdotal N=1 story. It’s amazing.
    It is the one from Russia that we wrote about in the PPLP. If I ever decide to sell, I’ll call you first.

  30. I think you are overlooking an important issue. The carb content of the diet was still 38%. Which to my mind begs the question, “Is it really the “carbs” or is the issue grains and dairy?” Given that low carb diets tend to be low in both, how much of the benefit of LC diets is due to carb restriction and how much is to due to grain and dairy restriction?
    My opinion is that it is a little of both. But I think the majority of the improvement comes from the carb restriction. It would be nice to see that hypothesis tested.

  31. IS dairy still frowned upon then? I guess paleo man didnt really consume dairy by any means obviously, but im just wondering if they removed it from the studies for reasons other than that.
    Cheese and yoghurt are 2 of my fav foods.
    Also, their paleo diet was 38% carb? isnt that actually really high? Assuming a modest 2000 calorie per day thats a whopping 135 grams of carbs per day? Are my figures wrong or something. Because I seriously doubt paleo man ate 135g of carbs per day.
    Nope, your figures are on the money. That’s why I wrote that I would like to see a real Paleo diet tested instead of an imagined Paleo diet that is nutritionally correct.

  32. Hi Dr. Mike. Fantastic article. Very interesting outcome in terms of changing the composition of dietary carbohydrates. Some of these strike me as non-sequiturs, e.g. cutting out potatoes but allowing honey. The one thing that stands out is grain. There is at least test-tube evidence that lectins in grains, such as wheat germ agglutinin, bind to hormone receptors (including those for insulin and leptin) and create mischief. See e.g.
    One might generate a similar hypothesis from the recent population study in China, where rice (low in lectins) was essentially exchanged for wheat (high in lectins).
    An interesting aspect of WGA (can’t find the paper) is that it apparently binds to the insulin receptor and at least partially activates the signal chain. However, when insulin binds to the receptor, the whole complex is basically swallowed by the cell, both clearing insulin from circulation and of course decreasing the number of active insulin receptors. Apparently when WGA binds to an insulin receptor, it just sticks there. Don’t know if there’s any evidence that this has biological significance, but it’s interesting to consider that perhaps wheat (and fructose?) play a special role in the development of metabolic syndrome.
    Some support for this argument can be gained by looking at ancient civilizations. The Aztecs ate a corn-based diet, and apparently wrote down fairly detailed medical documentation. They experienced some of the diseases of civilization, such as obesity and tooth decay, but were notably missing descriptions of diabetes, cancer, and heart attacks (though they did document angina). I believe other wheat-based civilizations such as Egypt and India documented diabetes. Distant descendants of the Aztecs, such as the Tarahumara in Mexico, eat a fairly high-carb diet, largely based on corn and starchy vegetables like squash, and are a notable “cold spot” for Type II diabetes (though do not exhibit particularly robust health otherwise).
    Anyway, that’s all interesting but largely academic, since if you just stick to the paleolithic diet you don’t have to worry about hair-splitting over which carbs are good or bad. And once you’ve got MetSyn, carbohydrate metabolism broken across the board, and significant carbohydrate restriction is pretty much the only thing that makes sense for treatment.
    I agree. But I don’t worry a lot about it because on a good low-carb diet one doesn’t have to worry much about substituting potatoes for grain or vice verse since both are pretty much verboten. Consequently, I haven’t made it my life’s work to tease out the differences.

  33. What’s with all the carrot juice (not to mention mayo & canola oil). I don’t recall there being Paleolithic Osterizers. Carrots/tubers occasionally would make sense, but not carrot juice several times a day. Your “Hmmmm” is well placed.
    Glaciers covered most areas north of ~48 degrees latitude until 10,000 years ago, delaying the start of agriculture in the north, so presumably the Paleolith/Neolith dividing time varies with latitude and also with isolation and different cultures. First Nations people in the Plains and Rockies in Canada were living paleolithically longer than whities in the east. In petroglyphs in western Alberta, where we see paintings of wild animals we also see men chasing them with spears or clubs. All the ones I’ve seen show very large game; I suspect they also hunted smaller animals, but a picture of that would not be much of a testament to their virility.

  34. Cave paintings are considered to be about sympathetic magic–creating what they want to happen. The dangerous important animals were drawn on the cave walls, and supposedly the hunters would have rituals to go along with the paintings to create luck in the hunt.
    One hardly has to do this for birds, rabbits, and other small game. They probably left that to children.

  35. Hi Dr.Mike,
    For some additional ideas about Paleolithic diet, go to Discover Magazine’s
    website, look for the April 1998 edition, and enter the name of Olga Soffer.
    The only idea to disagree with, I think, is that both carbs and fat are needed to
    combat protein poisoning; fat by itself will do the job.
    Hope you enjoy the article.
    Nice article. Thanks for the link.
    You are correct. Either carbs or fat will combat the problems attendant to overconsumption of lean protein.

  36. Pete,
    The Hyperlipid guy, Peter, posted a writeup of a study in which people who ingested NO fruits and vegetables lowered their rate of oxidative damage.
    “The overall effect of the 10-week period without dietary fruits and vegetables was a decrease in oxidative damage to DNA, blood proteins, and plasma lipids, concomitantly with marked changes in antioxidative defence.”
    Check out this link:
    It would seem that, as with dietary fat and heart disease, the relationship between “anti-oxidants” in plant food and effective anti-oxidant activity in the human body is not a simple business of what you eat, you become. In fact, eating plant anti-oxidants would seem to cause oxidative damage to humans.
    (If only plants weren’t so darn tasty . . . )
    This is why an all-meat diet is so good. But a lot of people find it difficult to stick to out of boredom.

  37. In regards to your comments on the lack of evidence supporting the notion that consuming antioxidants prolongs life, I suspect that it is more important to consume food that allows the body to produce antioxidants on its own as opposed to just consuming pills with antioxidants in them already.
    It seems as though it’s another case of shallow thinking. If we think more deeply about the impact of food on our metabolic processes (as you have done so well), it would be easier to see how foods that contain saturated fat actually can be a good thing for your body.
    Something that is seen as evil by a shallow thinker, can be seen as not so evil when you think more deeply about it.

  38. I have a question about your comment to Steve, because I too have good ratios, but a lot of small LDL.
    Were you suggesting that he cut out
    ALL dairy? In which case that would mean no whey or cheese as well as no yogurt, wouldn’t it?
    I have been unsure about dairy for me for a while due to other, inconsistent but more observable reactions. At this point the only dairy I have is ghee, some occasional good raw cream and raw butter. But maybe I will cut them all out and see how the next particle test goes.
    I suggested that he give it a try to see what happens. All of the papers I’ve read in the literature show that switching from low-fat, high-carb diets to low-carb, high-fat diets bring about an increase in LDL particle size. In my own experience with patients, I found this to happen every time I checked. I don’t have first hand experience with this phenomenon not taking place, so I can’t say what to do to for sure to fix it. If it happened to me, I would experiment a little by getting rid of dairy or adding some saturated fat, for example, just to see what happens.

  39. Nice skull. But maybe a little plain. Check out mine:

    (I hope that link worked!)
    I also wanted to comment on the pineapple, carrot juice, mayo, etc. In one of the quotations from the study, it said they started Phase 1 with increasing the levels of potassium and fiber. Why in the world would they have to increase the fiber? And why the potassium? Is our modern-day (LC) diet that low in potassium?
    And one comment regarding LDL rising a little with saturated fat. Who’s to say that the current “standard” is correct? Maybe the LDL should be a little higher, and the HDL a LOT higher. Aren’t those numbers based on averages? How do they know what the “ideal” number is?
    Those numbers are not averages; they are what are considered by the ‘experts’ to be ideal for good health.

  40. LOL, that diet sure does look heavy on the fruits to me! OJ, pineapple, mandarin oranges, cantaloupe, canned pears … Gee, not even *fresh* pears? And presumably the mandarin oranges were canned as well. And as others have said – look at all that carrot juice, not to mention tomato juice, honey every single day – plus the canola oil and mayo. Still, it was grain-free which is a big plus at least IMHO. It looks like the sat fats were kept pretty low too – lots of turkey and chicken, and I’m willing to bet all skin-free, though the above does not specifically say so. I see it does include pork tenderloin. But I find pork these days tends to taste more like shoe leather than meat, not at all like the pork chops rimmed with fat that I recall from my childhood. 🙂
    But it’s nice to see that just cutting the grains and lowering the carbs a bit from the SAD can have a positive effect. It helps bolster me up after reading a lot on a blog someone sent me a link to (who is very anti my LC diet) – Sandy Szwarc’s . Her header claims that her blog consists of “CRITICAL EXAMINATIONS OF STUDIES AND NEWS ON FOOD, WEIGHT, HEALTH AND HEALTHCARE THAT MAINSTREAM MEDIA MISSES. DEBUNKS POPULAR MYTHS, EXPLAINS SCIENCE AND EXPOSES FRAUD THAT AFFECTS YOUR HEALTH.” But when you read a lot of the blog in one gulp the only mantra she seems to truly espouse is that “there is no possible way to successfully lose weight. No diet on earth works longer than a few months and no matter what you do you will always gain it all back” … as well as “nothing you eat makes the least bit of difference in your health in any way. There is absolutely nothing you can eat or not eat that had any bearing whatsoever on whether you will get heart disease, diabetes, etc or be able to improve your health if you have such conditions.”
    So coming back here and reading your blog and others akin to it are the ones I need to give me hope!
    I enjoy a lot of Sandy’s writing, and she does an extremely competent job much of the time. She is excellent at dissecting nonsensical studies appearing to show a correlation when what they really are are observational studies. Except when such studies vilify low-carb diets. Then she accepts them with open arms. She can’t have it both ways.

  41. Oops! The link didn’t work.
    Here it is:
    The “BawdyWench” in the path is my username on all the LC forums. It’s not what you think. A guy here in Maine was selling winches at the side of the road. We drove by and saw the sign: “Wenches for Sale.” Hubby said, “If they’re bawdy, I’ll take two!” Hence my nickname from then on.

  42. Hi Dr. Mike,
    I think I mis-stated what I meant. The article suggests that both carbs and
    fats will combat protein poisoning. True. But I did notice an emphasis on
    carbs and a hint of the modern day disapproval of fats.
    It’s a good thing that fat by itself will balance the protein nicely because people
    could get both the protein and fat in the same animal. Carbs, esp in winter,
    might be scarce, nonexistent, or in storage some distance away at base camp.
    No, I knew what you meant. The piece did emphasize the carbs, but fat will do the same thing. Thanks again for the suggestion – I hadn’t read that article.

  43. It looks like they choose to go with Loren Cordain paleo diet. He doesn’t seem to agree with you on the types of animals that were hunted and the fat profile.
    Thanks for spending time on educating the rest of us – I have learn a lot from this blog and I’m looking forward to read more.
    Dr. Cordain and I have decided to agree to disagree on this issue.

  44. Doc, I’m wondering whether you are ever tempted to try a true paleo diet and eliminate dairy, most fruits, alcohol, coffee, etc.? Have you ever tried, and if so, did you see improved results over your current modified paleo?
    It seems like their real diet was largely meat with a couple tart fruit feasts a year, some roots and tubers when they found them, but probably little if any greens which would have been of little caloric value and mostly inedible raw. Instead of some small number of carbs per day, they probably got zero carbs most days and a ‘dose’ of carbs here and there. Maybe that should be the model!
    I have tried it – it’s the way I eat most of the time. I add some alcohol and occasionally some dairy (mainly butter), but 90+ percent of my calories come from a Paleolithic type diet.

  45. Perhaps the reason LDL levels go up in a high SFA diet is because the number of big, fuzzy, friendly LDL particles increases. Since these have a greater mass than the tiny, beady-eyed, evil LDL particles, a simple ‘cholesterol’ test would reveal an overall increase in LDL – a strong basis for both prescribing statins and a low-fat diet, with a disapproving look from your GP thrown in for free.
    Regardless of the size of your LDL (which, I have read, is as much down to genetics as lifestyle), it seems to me that the real harm is in creating an environment where arterial plaque formation and subsequent MI is likely to occur – you know, modern living – so inflammation, oxidative stress and poor circulation couldn’t possibly be equally as important in the fight against CHD. Funny how we never hear about people trying to get their C-reactive protein levels under control, or working up a sweat to break up all that nasty plaque! I guess changing your lifestyle to avoid these sorts of things does sound like an awful lot of work – much easier to just pop a pill. After all, lifestyle IS everything…

  46. My HDL increased 50% after I overcame my (physician induced) fear of saturated fats. Foods that come with lots of saturated fats also taste very good.

  47. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for a great post.
    I wanted to ask a slightly off-topic question — how’s your 5000 IU of Vit D3 going? I am just off to buy some Vit D3 now — was on it for about 3 months last year but ran out and was lazy and didn’t buy anymore. I had eye problems last week which I thought was from vast amounts of computer use (I have had convergence problems since mid 20’s that got better through muscle exercises, but I stopped them silly me, now 33)… and almost fully recovered after a week of no computer… but even after a perfect MRI scan the neuro-opthamolgist thinks it could be MS and I’ve heard Vit D3 is worth taking in case it helps (I know of a mouse model where D3 helped prevent a mouse disease said to be similar EAS?… and only rough correlations with humans… so no proof right, but doesn’t hurt).
    My question is… do you still think 5000 IU is optimal and safe? No overdose risks? I am someone who minimizes sun because I like looking young… so I don’t get a lot of sun.
    Thanks so much,
    I do think 5,000 IU is a safe daily dose, especially for one who doesn’t spend much time in the sun. The medical literature is full of papers correlating MS with low vitamin D and lack of sun exposure. The incidence of MS is greatest at high latitudes and virtually non-existent at the equator. If I even thought I might have MS, I would run for the vitamin D3. If you’re worried about getting too much, just get your 25(OH) D checked from time to time. It’s no longer all that expensive.

  48. First, you’re not on a grain-free diet if you are consuming oat bran. We’re I in your shoes, I would probably cut the flax and the oat bran and the yogurt, and go on a higher fat, lower-carb real Paleolithic diet to see what happens. One thing that is certain in medicine is that everyone is different, and not everyone responds to whatever type of therapeutic regimen in the same way.
    The above is an excellent suggestion by you and i will try it. note that the oat bran(1 tbs has only been added in last 5 days; only dairy is Whey, zero carb,stevia sweetned protein powder taken in am, and Greek 2% yogurt several times a week between meals. Will eliminate it all if you think it works, but that will make me have to find something else for breakfast 3/4 times a week. Regarding the literatue on particle size changing, Dr William Davis states there are those who due to genetics may be slim and eat little carbs, nevertheless do have small particles. As male, 5’6″ and 145lbs, i may fit that category.
    Your advise is quite sound and as always sensible. Best to do before large doses of statins come rolling in! I would guess that family history of heart disease related to small particles.

  49. “Carbon-13 isotope studies bear out that idea as the same carbon isotopes found in grass are also found heavily concentrated in the bones of Paleolithic man and other known carnivores, which leads to one of two conclusions: either Paleolithic man spent his days grazing or he ate animals that grazed.”
    I find this particularly fascinating, as I’ve been trying to find (though with no luck) any reputable source about exactly what happens to animals when they are grass fed or grain fed, aside from the fatty acid ratios and overall health/bacteria/e coli problems of the animals. I’ve read that you think it’s generally not unhealthy to eat grain-fed meat, however I’ve not been able to find any trustworthy information if it makes a difference to someone who’s allergic to grain/corn/soy… i.e. if one is allergic to corn, would corn-fed meat possibly trigger an allergic response, or has the biochemical processes in digesting the corn and building the muscle result in nothing that would be allergenic, just perhaps different fatty acid ratios or composition?
    Evidence of what we eat, even indirectly, ending up in our bones makes me very curious indeed exactly how much it matters what our food sources eat.
    I don’t think an allergy to corn would cause an allergic reaction to domestic animals that had eaten corn. The corn is completely broken down and reassembled molecularly. The only thing carbon-13 does is measure how much carbon actually came from substances containing it.

  50. There are lot of comments and replies here about HDL, LDL, and Triglyceride ratios. I’ve been looking around to see if I can find what good/bad ratios would be, but I can’t. Would you mind reiterating them again here, please? I just got back into the swing of things. I’m down 12 pounds so far, and my blood work is “concerning” to my physician. She is, of course, pushing low-fat/high-carb/etc diet with plenty of cardio “to get that LDL down.” I’d post my numbers, but I’m traveling on business right now. So if you can post the ratios you consider good/bad, I’ll compute my own ratios when I get home. Thanks! -Mike
    The ratio that I look at is the triglyceride to HDL ratio. Over 5 is worrisome. The more under 5, the better.

  51. Peter over at Hyperlipid has been cataloging research about how various foreign proteins invade us and are then identified as foreign by the immune system. Unfortunately, the proteins are very close to ones of ours, so the immune system starts attacking us. Apparently, a protein in gluten is very close to one in human cartilage, and rheumatoid arthritis may be the result.
    In MS, it’s possible that a sinus infection with acinobacter is where the immune system gets activated — and there’s a protein in acinobacter which is very close to one in myelin:

  52. How can they even call that a “paleolithic” diet? I would agree that it is lower glycemic than and thus healthier than the typical American diet. The improvements could be due to that alone. I doubt the paleos ever ate mayonaise (certainly not using canola oil) or too much tuna salad and certainly not that much fruit on a regular basis (unless they were living in tropical climes). And chicken breasts? Please…where’s all the red meat and fat? Their fat intake would have been almost exclusively animal or fish fat…mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats. There would have been little vegetable oil, if any (except maybe coconut in tropical areas, which is highly saturated). Sounds a little fishy to me, but I suppose it’s ok if it opens the door to a newer way of thinking about diet.
    And since when can you draw any valid statistical conclusions based upon a sample of 9? The magic numbers is usually 23 or more.

  53. “Nope, it’s accurate. I would even add, “Show me any evidence that saturated fat is dangerous, period.” If it is consumed in combination with carbs, who is to say that it’s the fat that’s problematic and not the carbs. We know beyond the shadow of a doubt that too many carbs cause problems, so why does adding saturated fat to too many carbs somehow make saturated fat dangerous?”
    I would add that fat added to a high carb meal would slow down the rise in blood sugar and therefore less insulin would be secreted. Speaking of which, those over at the Weston Price website consume relatively alot of carbs (from unrefined sources), but add plenty of fat.
    “This is why an all-meat diet is so good. But a lot of people find it difficult to stick to out of boredom.”
    Interestingly, those men who accompanied Vilhjalmur Stefansson on his artic expedition grew so accustomed to eating nothing but meat after a few weeks had passed that many of them abstained from a carb-based meal when it was presented to them. I think alot of the problem with adhering to a low-carb diet is based on the premise of your previous post; we are socialised to believe that carbs are necessary and therefore one can’t possibly think an all meat diet is healthy.

  54. Dr. Mike,
    I am grateful for your posts; I read them all because you give me information I can’t find elsewhere. While I am happy to learn about the study you post today about “Paleolithic” diets, some of your information is not correct. Even though Jared Diamond wrote (Gund, Germs, Steel . . .”) that early hunters killed big game to extinction, it is now thought that it was more likely the germs that humans introduced into the environment when they migrated into new areas that sent the big game into extinction, not hunting.
    The bigger mistake you keep repeating however, is that Paleolithic “men” (“men” repeated endlessly as if there were no women or children in such times) ate mainly big game. #1– The animals depicted in the famous Cave Paintings were not the kind of animals that the people ate; these are not hunting magic paintings. #2–Male hunters did go on big game hunts, but probably only once a month at most; most of the animal food that people ate was deer size or even smaller game like rabbits and squirrel-sized) which women also hunted.
    These points might seem to have nothing to do with your points about diet; but you don’t want your data encased in archeological error. If I had more time I could expand the context and show you why these points matter . . .
    Please keep your wonderful essays and reports coming. I consider many of them treasures and keep them in a special folder for reference and for sharing when a topic you have written about comes up in my conversations with friends and relatives.
    Congratulations on the work you do. Write me for my phone number if you want to talk further about the fascinating, important topic of “Paleolithic” people. (Actually I do not use “paleolithic” any more . . . it means “old stone age” while the characteristics and tools that distinguished human life in those days often had little to do with stones. Not every group had access to stone, for one thing. And so forth.)
    Gramma in New Jersey
    I would be interested in seeing the references in the anthropological literature that substantiate your points.

  55. Hi Michael- with all due respect I am just wondering why americans, in particular, are so obsessed with dissecting food instead of enjoying it. It seems many other cultures have a much healthier relationship with food although I know some of that is changing due to globalization. They also have much less of an issue with weight. Where is the joy? At times it all seems so intellectual and out of balance. It also keeps people confused and sells many a book. I am not saying this is what you are doing – just an observation.
    You may be getting an incorrect picture of the American relationship to food if all you’re reading is this blog, which is devoted to the quest for the optimal diet. If you travel the country, going to restaurants, fairs, amusement parks, etc, you will find the masses enjoying their food immensely.

  56. Very enlightening article. I am interested in knowing the ‘truth’ about saturated fats as well. Have you read the book: Coconut Oil Miracle? Very tempting to try, but need to lower LDL.
    What would you recommend for someone with this situation:
    Strong family history of heart disease & diabetes. Long term adherence to prescribed ‘heart healthy diet’–low saturated fats, high fiber, low sodium.
    Current tests:
    Cholestrol 203
    HDL: 58
    Chol/HDL Ratio: 3.5
    LDL/HDL Ratio: 2.27
    Triglycerides: 67
    Also, what’s the particle size about? What test shows this?
    Why do you need to lower your LDL? It looks fine to me. Look up particle size and lipid hypothesis in the search function, and you can read all about it.

  57. Hello Dr.
    Are you familiar with the work of Dr. Kwasnewski of Poland? He wrote a book called Optimal Nutrition. He advocates a ratio of Protein/Carb/Fat by weight of 1/.5-.8/2-3.5 (adequate P, low C, and high F (from animal sources). He has cured many diseases with this diet but he has also been completely ostricized my the medical establishment in Poland.
    Also, do you think the title of your book Protein Power was nutritionally correct (instead of calling it Fat Power)? 🙂
    I enjoy your blog.
    Best Regards
    I am familiar with Dr. Kwasnewski.
    And I didn’t name the book – the publisher did. I have never liked the name Protein Power.

  58. Concerning the cave paintings of really big animals — my understanding is that cavemen ate a wide variety of things both hunted and gathered — but as Gary Taubes pointed out in GCBC, once you cut the carbs your body reorients itself through taste to protein and saturated-fat rich foods — they’re what you crave because they’re nutrionally superior. If I’m hungry and I try to think what I’d like to eat, I usually don’t imagine a salad (although sometimes I do) but I’ll eat it if that’s what’s available. Likewise, if cavemen were using rituals to invoke the things that gave them sustenance, they’d probably ritualize what was most sustaining, even if not always readily available.

  59. For the previous poster concerned about eye problems and MS, Hyperlipid has an important recent article:
    Also note that gluten is likely associated with at least some MS. Your poster may be avoiding gluten if he’s low-carb but from what I’ve read, anyone worrying about MS should be as careful to avoid even minuscule amounts of gluten as is a person with Celiac Disease.

  60. Off topic perhaps but not off blog topic ?!
    ref losing fat paleo way after having done it afore on a low carb diet.
    Low carb is usually low cal right….usually.
    It satisfies allowing stored fat to be used a la Pennington and other figured oot.
    But this mechanism evolving in a different evol. context is ‘designed’ to best ‘keep’ fat on the body as food was such an up and down variable
    So it evolved to keep fat as it were as fat meant survival in lean times.
    So the very fact of it being low cal kind of scuppers one or at best and seems after the first time to slow fat loss down as with low cal it slows down metabolism.
    So all this taken into consideration the absolute best thing to do to jump start the metabolism would be to eat more cals than one would normally do on a huger satisfying paleodiet ?
    It just seems far harder to lose fat after the first time even when keeping carbs low.. and meaning they really are deadly low.
    Sorry for being thick and if you’ve answered this afore.Have been pouring oer Senor Taubes
    Is this right or wrong or a mixture please ?
    Hey Simon–
    Sorry about the delay on this and not dealing with your other comments/questions on the subject in a timely fashion, but I’ve been thinking about it a bit. What I’ve realized is that your question contains the fallacy of presumption. The fallacy is that people didn’t evolve to keep fat in lean times to allow survival. This was the original ‘Thrifty gene hypothesis’ promulgated by James Neel, but Neel himself refuted his own hypothesis in a later publication (Taubes laid all this out in his book). It appears that there really wasn’t a lot of famine or starvation during hunter-gatherer times because the hunters followed the game. The mass famines and starvation didn’t start until humans settled down to a life of agriculture. Then, when crops didn’t come in as planned, people were in a bad way. All the signs of starvation, malnutrition, nutrient inadequacies, etc. are visible in the skeletal remains of agriculturists, not hunter-gatherers. And since most of our genome was laid down during the eons of time as hunters, we didn’t really evolve to store fat during lean times. Which means that the best diet for weight normalization is a Paleo diet that naturally reduces calories.

  61. The fact that so many “optimal” diets exist shows that considerable ignorance remains. Until we can reliably determine an individual’s genome, epigenome, proteome, etc., we will not be able to prescribe the optimal diet for the current systemic state of an individual. Maybe in 5-10 years this will become possible, along with real-time tracking of hundreds of markers.
    Maybe in 5-10 years or maybe in 20-30. As it stands right now, I don’t have a lot of faith in genomic studies to determine the ‘optimal’ diet.

  62. Sir would you know if cals taken in (from protein and fat) are matched roughly cal for cal from stored fat ?
    Am wondering as if one eats a good cal low carb diet say of 1800 cals….its enough to allow stored fat to be used ones satiated cos of that but one still cannot access the other stored fat one wants to lose.
    Cutting cals doesnt work as it slow down metabolism and retards access to stored fat.
    Maybe to jump start ‘trick’ the body into giving up more fat one has to eat more good cals than one needs for however long and after the body has moved away from the ‘we’re on the edge of starvation here’ state one can then cut cals for however long and the body will give up the stored fat as it’s not ‘scared’ its going to left minus any stores with nowt coming in i.e. death rather quickly.
    Again sorry.
    See answer to question in the other comment on this post.

  63. DR. Eades wrote: “Because it has been shown that increases of dietary saturated fat CAN (not that it necessarily will, but that it CAN) raise LDL levels. What’s never been shown is that these slightly elevated levels are harmful. Even if LDL goes up a little and HDL goes up a lot, the ratio of the two improves.”
    Another key is that the type of LDL greatly improves when on a non-grain diet. LP(a), especially, soars on a grain diet, and remains low on a non-grain diet. LDL is not inherently bad. It’s the composition of the LDL that may be bad, and the paleo diet creates a healthy composition.

  64. Dr. Michael,
    Great post. I really live for the day when Americans will no longer be brainwashed by all the low fat propoganda. Just imagine how the healthcare crisis could be all but eliminated if only everyone shopped the perimiter of the grocery store.

  65. We eat plenty of Costco prime steaks at the Eades’ household, so I don’t think it makes a major difference. I like grass-fad meat a little better healthwise because it contains less pollutants. I think that those on zero or even just low-carb diets don’t have to worry.
    That’s timely information for me as I’m about to become unemployed. What’s your take on the difference between organic and nonorganic eggs? I’m only eating meat and eggs. I cook in butter. What about organic verses nonorganic butter?
    I don’t know if there is a huge difference between organic and non-organic eggs, but there is a difference in butter. Pollutants and pesticides tend to accumulate in fat. Butter is all fat, and, consequently, concentrates these substances. You can avoid a lot of them if you stick with organic butter.

  66. Oat bran is a grain. It has been clinically proven to lower LDL cholesterol. It is a major part of Dr. Davis’ track-your-plaque protocol ,which is why I eat 3 tbs/day.
    Should I completely stop using oat bran if I want to go exclusively Paleolithic?
    I also eat lentils (legume) @ 1 cup/soaked and cooked once or twice a week because it’s so rich in fiber and minerals. I should definitely stop that one… right?
    Looks like I may have to increase my psyllium and chia seed intake to take their place.
    If you’re doing fine, why switch? Paleolithic man didn’t eat oats nor did he eat lentils and did fine without them. Same for psyllium and chia seeds. A Paleolithic diet is a diet that Paleolithic man would have eaten. But, again, if you are doing fine and accomplishing your health goals, why switch?

  67. I hope I am not beating a dead horse here, but I was wondering where you stand these days on arachidonic acid and inflammation. The reason I’m asking is because my husband was recently diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. I encouraged him to try low carb. He has been at it faithfully for 2 weeks, losing weight of course, but discouraged because no improvement in his psoriatic arthritis. I think it is too soon to make any judgments about whether low carb will help, but on the other hand he has been eating a lot more eggs and meat than before so I can’t help but wonder if that is negating any anti-inflammatory benefits of low carbing.
    I’ve more or less backed off of the ideas presented in PP about arachodonic acid in the diet being problematic. The subsequent data just haven’t backed it up. I would look at adding some vitamin D3 for the psoriatic arthritis. That and get some sunshine.

  68. Dear Dr Eades,
    I read recently that fat-burning increases the level of oxoaldehyes circulating in the body e.g. methylglyoxal is doubled in Atkins dieters
    These compounds are more reactive than glucose and readily form aging crosslinks between proteins.
    Is this something low-carb eaters need to be concerned about?
    No. Put methylglyoxal into the search function, and you can read what I’ve written about it.

  69. Off topic, but I was wondering if you’d seen this study on statin celebration:
    I’m suspicious of the results. Seems to good to be true, and given the history of the statinators, I suspect some data manipulation.
    I have seen it. It is an observational study, so it means very little. I actually planned to post on it, but it got very little publicity, so I kind of bagged it.

  70. Dr Mike,
    Some comments:
    Have you ever come face to face with a moose? I would not describe this deer as ‘tiny’, even next to your cave bear. The paleolithic horse, on the other hand, was actually tiny relative to the domesticated horses that we see today. The large size of the domesticated horse is the result of selective breeding.
    The fatty acid composition of the cave bear is likely to be much different than the polar bear. Diet, not latitude, is what determines fat composition in the body. I doubt that the cave bear ate many marine mammals.

  71. i believe lorain cordain’s analysis is that wild game have low satuated fat levels for most of the year & are mainly muscle / mono-saturated, this seems to make sense although i personally like & eat a lot of saturated fat, sure the large beasts may have had higher sat levels & paleo man ate the brain etc but still for the most part they must have been eating smaller, leaner prey even wild buffalo etc are leaner, isn’t it the fattened farm cattle of this era that have the high fat & particularly high sat fat levels from being over fed grain?
    There is no doubt that grain-fed cattle have greater levels of saturated fat. But there is no evidence that saturated fat is problematic healthwise. And who knows what the saturated fat levels of ancient cattle, mastodons, and all the other huge animals that Paleolithic man hunted to extinction?

  72. The lipophobes consider all saturated fats bad, so I lumped them all together for purposes of this post. Palmitic acid, a 16-carb chain saturated fat is the fat that cattle and humans produce in the face of a high-carb diet. Why do all these anti-saturated fat people rail against palmitic acid and encourage people to overeat on carbs when those carbs are converted to palmitic acid? It just doesn’t make sense.
    I’ve said the same thing countless times.

  73. Hello Doc, Nice article!
    I am SO glad that more people are realizing the truth, and, opening up their eyes to the paleo diet. We have all been brainwashed that unsaturated fats, fiber, whole grains and veggies are good, and that saturated fats, cholesterol and red meats are killers. But in reality, the OPPOSITE of what the government/medical authorities are recommending is what is truly healthy.
    I’m wondering, doc, do you eat all your meat completely raw (unheated, uncooked) as many people do? I don’t think fire has existed for all that long as claimed, and I really don’t believe the paleo man would cook his food as we do today.. Maybe he would heat it a little over a fire, but, more often he would eat just after a kill or scavenge, meaning, raw organs, raw meats. And considering fruits are only in-season a couple of weeks per year, wild fruits are VERY low in sugar, and wild vegetables are often toxic, I think a paleo hunter (whose genes we carry) would have a diet consisting of mostly raw meats, raw organ meats, raw saturated fats, raw fish. 0 carbs, High fat, moderate protein. What do you think doc? Are hetero cyclic amines and AEGs a concern with cooked meat? Should people do 100% raw to receive the benefits of the enzymes, bacteria and the fully RAW, un-denatured proteins, un-oxidized fats? How important is it to be raw this way?
    I don’t worry about cooking my meat. From everything I’ve read, fire has been around for about 500,000 years, and pre humans were cooking meat way back then. I would bet that we’ve evolved (especially since anatomically modern man has been around for only about 100,000 yrs) the ability to deal with whatever substances fire adds to or changes in meat.

  74. The problem is that paleolithic nutrition has been co-opted by the so-called “PaleoDiet” (TM), with its unlimited carbs and anti-saturated fats bias. If any books deserved the PaleoDiet moniker it was PP and PPLP.
    When Cordain is ready to see the effects of a real paleolithic diet send him over to join me on my intermittent fasted all-meat diet. 🙂

  75. “Paleo diet” indeed. According to the study, the paleo group derived 38% of their calories from carbohydrate. Well, assuming a daily calorie intake of 2000, 38% would be 760 calories from carbs. There are 4 calories per gram of carb, so that would be 190 grams of carbs per day. EEK!! That is one HUGE, HUGE s….load of carbs. And so much of it fast-acting sugary fruit…not paleo fruit, but stuff bred for sweetness. Honestly, I’m amazed ANY improvement occured from such a small shift away from carbs and toward more fat/protein. A truly lowcarb version of paleo would have been an interesting trial. Is is possible to attain a really paleo diet with a fear of saturated fat? Maybe not.

  76. I suspect while the Paleo MEN were celebrating their hunting of large prey, the women and children were ranging nearer to home collecting leaves roots insects and small game etc. Check out some of the wild versions of modern vegetables and they have far higher levels of fibre and probably bioflavinoids etc. to the point of being almost inedible
    I’m working on a theory here, William Davis has a big downer on wheat. The only thing that spikes my BG worse than wheat is wheat mixed with other carbs. Even wheat bran does it. My athlete cousin has greatly reduced her postprandial BG spikes by avoiding wheat, even if she eats toxic (to me) levels of rice cakes. A Type 1 I know describes wheat as having a non-stoichometric relationship to his insulin doses, unlike other carbs. It seems not uncommon that other grains are more user-friendly, though often for small values of “more”
    Now wheat is a kind of natural GM crop, a transgenic hybrid with far too many chromosomes.
    A friend still grows old varieties for thatching straw and the difference between that and his modern varieties is astonishing, it’s four or five feet tall with comparatively tiny heads while modern feed and bread wheats are a foot or two tall with comparatively massive heads and so dense you could almost walk across the top of it.
    Apart from yield one thing the breeders have worked on is disease resistance which may well have altered the biochemistry (lectins?) In the Mediterranean they grow far more Durum wheat. Some years back there was a lot of Soissons grown, this is an awned wheat and distinctly different from all other varieties.
    I’m wondering if there’s any work on the differing chemistry of the modern wheats compared to older varieties? It may be simply a quantitative effect in that the increased yields cause the Food Industry to stuff more wheat (and wheat starch) into every foodlike substance, or might there be a question of quality changing in recent years so the toxic component(s) are higher for the same quantity?
    I’m not familiar with the literature on differential wheat chemistry, but my fried Loren Cordain has done a lot of work on the problems wheat, or more specifically, the wheat agglutinen antigen (WGA) causes to humans. Check out his stuff here. Just don’t get too wrapped up in his ideas about saturated fat.

  77. I’m curious about your advice to one person above to eliminate flax. From everything I’ve read, flax is very low in carbs and may help with inflammation. I use it as the prime ingredient in everything I bake, along with ground almonds and whey protein. Do you see flax as problematic on a low carb diet?
    Flax is a cultivated plant that wouldn’t have been available to Paleolithic man, therefor I wouldn’t consider it part of a Paleolithic diet. Flax contains a fair amount of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, which converts in the body to EPA and DHA, the fats found in fish oil. But the conversion isn’t all that efficient. Most people take flax and/or flax seed oil to increase their levels of EPA and DHA, but it’s much easier to get these fats already in their final form by taking fish oil or krill oil and not have to worry about whether the conversion is taking place.

  78. Very good post! Interesting study. We need more research like this, minus the “lipophobia” (love that word. I’m going to have to sneak it into my everyday conversation).
    I have a slightly unrelated question, and am hoping you might be able to point me in the right direction. On a paleo or low carb type of diet, where one is concerned about eliminating grains, what do I do about eating foods suitable for long distance endurance running? I’m concerned about the inflammatory nature of grains, but I’m also told I need to increase my glucose stores through some kind of carb loading prior to an endurance event. Are other types of carbohydrates suitable for this? Is carb loading necessary, or is ketosis just as good once acclimatization occurs? I’m confused!
    This is the second time I’ve been asked this question in as many days. I guess it means I need to do a longer post on it. In short, the situation is as follows. There are two ways to burn fuel: aerobically (in the presence of oxygen) and anaerobically (without oxygen). Endurance types of exercise fall into the former category; sprints or short term high-intensity exercises fall into the latter. The main fuel burned during aerobic activities is fat, which has to have oxygen to be metabolized. Glucose is the only fuel for anaerobic exercises. Since fat is the primary fuel being burned in endurance exercises, and since long-distance running is definitely an endurance feat, why would you be concerned about increasing glucose stores by carb loading? It doesn’t make sense. What you want is to develop the ability to access stored fat quickly and easily, which you do by keeping insulin levels low. If you pig out on a bunch of carbs, you then raise insulin levels, making it more difficult to access the fat you need for aerobic exercise.

  79. Is there some way to make sure your iodine levels are adequate on a paleo diet- or do you need to consume a lot of seaweed which I think is fairly contaminated?
    Use naturally harvested salt, Celtic sea salt, for example. And take some Iodoral if you’re worried.

  80. Thanks for a fantastic blog, Dr. Eades!
    A slightly unrelated question: I seem to remember you mentioning in Protein Power that rosacea is one of the things that you and MD noticed improvement of in your clinic patients when they were put on a low-carb diet, but I can’t seem to find that in the books now. I may have read it elsewhere, but do you have any comment on if/how rosacea might improve on a low-carb diet?
    I don’t recall having written about it in either book (PP or PPLP), and a quick check of the indices of both confirms that it’s not there. But, we have had some success in treating patients with low-carb diets. Not that we used low-carb diets to treat rosacea, but that our patients with the condition reported improvement after starting the diet. One of the theories as to what causes rosacea is that the disorder is a response to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small bowel. If that is the case, then the disorder would most likely improve with a low-carb diet.

  81. Isn’t that fat phobia catching?
    Tell someone your father ate lard all his life and lived into his eighties and plenty people will regale you with similar tales about their relatives. Tell them *you* eat lard and the same people go “Yeuch!!!”
    I have a Theory, which is Mine and Belongs to Me, about the thrifty gene.
    Sedge warblers are sparrow sized birds that breed in northern Europe and migrate across the Sahara to winter in Africa.
    In order to make the journey they double their weight. They do this by eating high carb insects (aphids full of sugary plant sap).
    The fat is not to see them through times of starvation but fuel for the migration. Maybe that’s why exercise has such a beneficial effect on insulin resistance, we are supposed to program ourselves for fat storage (high IR and high insulin) then switch to fat-burning mode (low IR and low insulin) for the journey after the migrating herds of Wildebeest. Only our current diets have broken the switch.

  82. “Sedge warblers are sparrow sized birds that breed in northern Europe and migrate across the Sahara to winter in Africa.
    In order to make the journey they double their weight. They do this by eating high carb insects (aphids full of sugary plant sap).
    The fat is not to see them through times of starvation but fuel for the migration. Maybe that’s why exercise has such a beneficial effect on insulin resistance, we are supposed to program ourselves for fat storage (high IR and high insulin) then switch to fat-burning mode (low IR and low insulin) for the journey after the migrating herds of Wildebeest. Only our current diets have broken the switch.” – Trinkwasser
    I’m confused. Are you arguing that in order to better mimic Paleolithic man’s IR and insulin response, we should try to gain weight for half the year then try to burn the resulting stored fat by exercising like crazy and going into starvation mode for a couple months?
    That sounds very much like a yo-yo diet, the perfect diet for becoming obese.
    I don’t think we evolved from Sedge Warblers either.
    Or, maybe I just didn’t understand your story at all. That’s very possible.
    Or, maybe I should just get Dr. Eades’ books – PP or PPLP – then maybe I’ll find the key to your story there? 🙂

  83. Highly interesting. There were several comments relating to the paleolithic man as killing of the big game and that the need to do so was clearly to gain some nutrient benefit. There was talk of setting oneself in the paleo perspective and that the painting art of big game must signify something such as being important to their diet.
    A) If I were in the woods, I may very well wish to kill off those animals which pose a threat to my survival. Fear is a significant motivating force. I suspect hunger was less fearful as we could eat anything (which is mainly the reason we exist today.) The extinction of the cave bear may have been from fear and that caves is where man at that time found shelter, if only during the worst storms.
    b) Modern man often wipes out pesky animals in their areas, not to eat, but because they are annoying or threatening. If large game comes to town, they’ll kill it (understandably.)
    c) Art: Personally, something dynamic, animated and oozing blood when killed, as oppose to a plant that you don’t have to sneak up on, or strategize to kill, would offer a greater story. I can’t imagine the group sitting around listening to how we captured the great broccoli.
    The argument I’m posing is that I don’t think the paleo went out of their way to gain the cave bear meat, and certainly did not kill these beast to gain food. This would simply argue against the physiological need for such fat overcoming the natural and necessary fear of the cave bear.
    I think it argues FOR the physiological need for such fat. Otherwise, why put oneself at such risk for it. Certainly not just to have a good story to tell around the fire.

  84. Guess what.
    In that “wonderful” book The Paleolithic Prescription, the author recommends a low fat diet as well.
    I know. I still own that book. Cordain sticks to his guns too. Maybe there’s something to be said…
    What’s to be said is that they’re wrong. My point on the Paleolithic Prescription was that the authors did a bang up job of describing Paleolithic life, then tried to shoehorn the Paleolithic diet into one that would correspond to the prevalent nutritional wisdom, i.e., that the low-fat diet is the best.

  85. Wow I am glad I stopped and read this blog! I was refered to a Dr. in FLorida while on a holiday a short while ago. I told her I was on PP diet, and she really was unhappy with me. She referenced that as a diabetic I was in danger of kidney damage from the protien, then out lined how I should eat carbs before and after each excercise session. She recommended the Paleo diet for me, and I got the book and read it and found much that confused the issue for me. There was another diet she recommended and after reading up on it, you actually gain weight first on the it. Man was I confused …… it clouded th whole issue for me.
    My weight loss is at a standstill, and with the grains came weight gain. I again am thankful to your blog because the PP diet has proven successful in handling some blood sugar situations, as well as triglycerides and cholestrol problems. Maybe my weight gain is slow, ok, but the rest counts too.
    I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. The idea that protein damages the kidney is a total myth. Your doctor should know better.

  86. To Paul M, no you understood my story but got the conclusion exactly wrong! (grins)
    What I was saying was that “thrifty” genes may have evolved to fuel migration rather than hibernation, but without the migration what we absolutely must not do is stuff ourselves with carbs like dieticians suggest, or like the birds we will double our weight.
    Next question?

  87. Actually there’s a lot of debate about what happened to the big mammals. It’s not a settled thing, just like the issues of saturated fat and cholesterol levels are not a settled thing, even though the public believes they are.
    Re: climate change, of course it’s taken place without human intervention. That’s a foregone conclusion and even Al Gore admits it. 😛 What’s going on now, though, is allegedly in a different pattern than what’s come before–the temperatures started rising sooner, or are rising more steeply, than had done in the past. I wish I could elaborate, I did rent An Inconvenient Truth, but I also have a small child in the household who is bored by such things. End of story. I suppose I should go check out the book.
    (I would be less apathetic-sounding about this but if we really are facing human-engendered global warming, there’s no way to stop it really, so there’s no point me getting all worked up about it. The planet’s many systems are likely to be self-correcting, as Lovelock posits.)

  88. On your recommendation I picked up a copy of ‘The Paleolithic Prescription’ (via the Amazon link, of course) and have been reading it over the past week or so.
    True to your warning, the dietary and nutrition advice is absolutely appalling. Everything from “Saturated fat gives you cancer” to “Obesity is the reason for elevated insulin levels”, they constantly refer to obesity as a “cause” of disease rather than a symptom. Granted it was written in 1988 (and apparently at gunpoint by the Food Pyramid Gang), but it is quite fascinating from an anthropology perspective.
    I just wish there was a similar book that was infused with your particular brand of human nutrition – seems like it would be a match made in heaven…
    Maybe a “Paleolithic Power”. 🙂
    Great name for a book!

  89. Ryan, you might check out Mark Sisson’s new book, The Primal Blueprint (Mark’s Daily Apple blog). He’s quite knowledgeable and isn’t held hostage to the saturated fat-phobe crowd. His philosophy blends quite well with the Eades’.

  90. Dr. Eades,
    I’m not sure why you are focusing so much on the negatives here. It lowered insulin to an astounding degree in just a matter of days. How much lower does insulin need to go??
    The way it was set up seems legitimate. And honestly, it shows that very low-carb isn’t necessary, nor is adding in more saturated fat necessary to achieve rapid health improvement. While you can debate that these changes may help, the study stands on its own just fine.
    It’s okay; it could have been a lot better. And it wasn’t a real Paleolithic diet.

  91. Something I’ve often wondered about—just how much real research has there been to support the notion that all early fruits were small and tart? Or is this just another myth that everyone repeats because “everyone knows” it? When I was a kid, we had wild plums growing on our farm. If left to completely ripen, those plums were the sweetest, most succulent thing this side of heaven. Also, some years ago I knew a couple who spent summer vacations in the woods somewhere in Wisconsin, living mostly on the wild berries while they were there. I remember being incredulous that they gained weight eating all those berries. At the time I still bought into the eat-fat, get-fat notion and couldn’t imagine how something with zero fat could make one fat.
    While I agree completely that such treats would have been both seasonal and occasional—no orange juice every morning for breakfast—how do we know that wild fruits weren’t sweet—perhaps much sweeter than the hard-as-a-rock, green-as-grass stuff available in our supermarkets today?
    I’m sure the wild fruits were sweet, but they were seasonal and probably small. And early man had to compete with the birds and other animals for them. Whatever size and sweetness they were, they weren’t available year round.

  92. I love this blog! Thanks for putting it up! The whole idea behind the Paleo diet makes a lot of sense but when I read the book “Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type” by Dr D’Adamo, it gets me confused again.
    It seems to encourage folks with type A blood (which is what I have) to eat lots of vegetables, beans, pulses AND grain based foods (which I dislike) because he said type A blood reacts to lectins found in protein but not ones from carbs. He suggests A’s should all be vegetarians! So I went on that diet for a short while, only to grow weak and become severely underweight. I stopped it after that.
    In another twist, I found an article by Dr Balzer, who mentions lectins found in grains, beans and pulses are toxic to the gut. Grains purposely make lectins (a glue type pesticide) to protect themselves so they don’t get digested in the gut of a predator (humans), that way they can survive being eaten so they get pooped out to germinate. Same reason why we can’t eat the seed of the apricot – it’s toxic. I’m so tempted to swear off as much refined or organic unrefined carbs out of my life as soon as possible but I wanna be cautious.
    I would love to try out the Paleo diet to the fullest but somehow, I’m still worried that my A blood type will react to too much meat and cause side effects. I’m not sure which diet to follow. They all seem to make so much sense in their own right but still conflicting when placed next to each other. I wish the above study also revealed what the blood types of those participants were, then we’ll really see if blood type diets stand up to their claims!
    In my opinion, the idea that proper diet is a function of blood type is ludicrous. The evidence seems to indicate that different blood types evolved to deal with different infectious diseases, not different diets. Although it isn’t a blood type sickle cell anemia is a good example of this kind of phenomenon. People in Africa who have the sickle cell trait are much more resistant to malaria than those who don’t. In the same way, people with certain blood types are more resistant to other diseases. Lectins are real and do cause certain problems, but again, they have nothing to do with blood type. I wouldn’t let your blood type stand in the way of going on a good diet.

  93. HI there,
    Don’t you feel the “Eat Right for your Blood Type” diet has value related to your paleolithic diet findings/comparisons? My husband and I are both type O blood type and I feel your findings support Eat right for Blood Type (type O diet) greatly. Your thoughts on the comparison?
    I think the Eat Right for your Blood Type diet is bogus. From all available scientific evidence, blood types evolved in response to infectious diseases, not foods, and, as such, have nothing to do with diet.

  94. Great article. I studied nutrition under Dr. david Seamen in chiropractic school and he taught extensively about anti-inflammatory diets. Nice to hear someone else explain it though. Paleo Diet and Paleo Diet for Athletes are also great books. Another site that shows people how your food inflames you is Very good site. Thanks again for the post.

  95. Dr, I’m interested to know, if you could eat and live exactly as the Paleos did, would you still take supplements?
    If so, which and why?
    I would have thought that the diet and the sun would provide everything we evolved to require.
    If I ate exactly as did Paleolithic man I probably wouldn’t take supplements, but then again I might just as cheap insurance against nutritional inadequacies.

  96. Dr. Mike wrote: “I don’t know if there is a huge difference between organic and non-organic eggs, but there is a difference in butter. Pollutants and pesticides tend to accumulate in fat. Butter is all fat, and, consequently, concentrates these substances. You can avoid a lot of them if you stick with organic butter.”
    You can now get organic butter at Costco. Good to hear some .. dubiousness… about the necessity for grass-fed (expensive!) meat. I’ll go back to Costco meat with a clear… er… conscience and I’ll cook that meat in organic butter until my coconut oil comes! But I’m in a quandary about eggs: “vegetarian-fed eggs” seem to be the wrong thing (birds eat no bugs, no worms); but ‘industrial eggs” also seem the wrong thing. (My homeowners association won’t let me keep chickens! Tee hee hee!) I have not yet been able to find a local farm yet (but I’m still looking), and I do eat a lot of eggs… What’s a low-carb girl to do?! (You ‘don’t know if there is a huge difference’ — but which do you choose?
    Thanks SO much for all your knowledge and help!

  97. Hi Doctor –
    This is a sort of “barely” on topic post from the far North [born and raised in Alaska … and after accumulating a couple of degrees, back again].
    Well, ok. I wrote a whole “on topic” book below before I got to the barely on topic part 🙂 … but not much need since there are lots of those.
    Personally, however, it is very easy to convince myself of the proof of a low carb [durn near 0 – just ’cause I never much liked them and Adkins gave me an excuse to stop gagging them down] I am the easiest living proof that high meat, low carb diets work … at least as well as we can know over a few decade time frame. You’d have to run a few multi-century experiments to really know what it does to health and longevity. I used to eat lots of carbs just because that’s what someone put on the table or in the pantry or on the grocery store shelf … without thinking about it. As per all the men in my family I went from “really too skinny” [165 lbs. – 6′ 2″] to “really too fat” [265 lbs. – 6′ 2″] over the period of three or four years in my early 30s. I loved it. I finally gained my “adult weight” and felt (and was) vastly more powerful physically [partly because during this period I was doing, for modern society, an incredible amount of hard physical work … much of the gain was muscle]. But it was still too much.
    After some serious hiking out from Nome [Alaska], shortly subsequent to a storm that had turned up masses of metal from the late 1800s/early 1900s gold rush … and lacking transportation other than my feet. The “gold beach” (yeah, you can still get gold, but given a few spoonfuls of fairly ugly flake gold [not the pretty stuff we have farther south] versus a turn of the (last) century woman’s clothes iron [solid steel] or pick-axes [solid steel] or gobs of other cool stuff … no issue. The gold held no allure. But I packed hundreds of pounds of steel for many miles each day for several days.
    Got home and my joints (particularly my left hip) hurt for weeks. I realized I was the only male in my entire line … backwards, forwards, sideways, up, down …. everywhere I looked … I was the eldest male in the clan that had not had hip replacement surgery. Figured it was about time to stop packing around that extra 50 lbs or so that I enjoyed but really didn’t need. Also … I build things and do lots of climbing … going up a 20 foot ladder with just “me” was the same as if the right sized “me” was carrying a 50 pound bag of cement up that ladder. Which is difficult if you’ve never tried it. Those suckers are heavy! 🙂
    I’d never thought I was overweight. I rejoiced in being big [I carried it very well … I looked powerful, not fat]. And I’d certainly never tried to lose any! Didn’t want to! Until I decided it was that or I was going to have joint surgery in the near future.
    So … I stopped eating all the foods that my Mom had always piled on my plate and said “eat your whole dinner young man!” But now I didn’t have to any longer! If the President of the U.S. didn’t have to eat his broccoli then neither did I!! 🙂 I never had a sweet tooth, but when I started paying attention I found I was DRINKING huge amounts of sugar! Soda pop, heavily sugared iced tea, etc. Basically, I knocked off all the fruits and vegetables that I had never liked anyway. Swapped cottage cheeze for the potatoes that I used to use to drench the meat grease, dropped the iced tea and switched from regular Pepsi to diet Pepsi … and I hit the right color on the kerotyn (or whatever it is called) strip in about a week.
    I didn’t push it. After the first few days it was barely noticeable. After the first few weeks I paid no attention except that I just “ate that way”. When we vacationed in Hawaii I ate all the carb stuff since local cusine is always part of exploration of a culture. Only weighed myself every few days. Didn’t check a keytone strip after the first week or so.
    It always irritated me that the commercial butchers at the chain (and most other) grocery stores started trimming all the fat off! I was ticked off for years until I found out that the butchers were too. They hated it also and always took home “well-marbled” steaks with a couple inches of fat on them for their personal diets, but the stores had to play gastronomical correctness games. Much of it was wasted!!! The best, most expensive, and most (pre)historically hard come by food … large quantities of animal fat … was being thrown away or given to animals [if you love Fluffy, why give her food you think is bad for you???] Anyway, after that I just bought my steaks “special made” and the butchers loved me. They would even give me (free!) bags of “trimmin’s” … straight fat … wonderful stuff! Get a skillet of hot grease going and pop a bunch of pieces of those in and salt heavily …. mmmm … I’m getting hungry! 🙂 Cracklins … can’t beat it. Straight hard white meat fat.
    I come from a land that was still eating Paleo to a large extent even when I was growing up. In reality the “Paleo” diet means “whatever you can find to keep from starving”. Up here than meant a lot of meat … moose, caribou, elk, deer, rabbit, squirrel … whatever … and the Interior Athabascans still faced starvation nearly every winter. But it was all “low-fat” by today’s standards. I used to eat a moose or two a year, but I got tired of having to grind most of it up into mooseburgers so that I could grind in major quantities of beef fat to make it palatable. Most wild game in “difficult to survive” country like up North here … just doesn’t carry enough fat! You can actually starve to death with all the wild rabbit to eat that you want. [Different regions therefore had very different “Paleo” diets!]
    The oceanside folks, Inupiats, Yupiks, Aleuts … they did much better; starvation was very rare. Loads of fatty salmon (one of nature’s greatest health foods). And then the ocean mammals. A bowhead whale was more work to kill and bring home than a mammoth … but it was wonderfully almost straight fat. [And once you develop a taste for it … muktuk is delicious … though us “white folk” have to develop the taste! 🙂 [I was determined to and did. Now, give me a piece of muktuk, wrap it in straight raw blubber, dip it in a jar of seal oild … now that is good stuff! But I concede when I first tried it … it was not an immediate attraction :-)] Sea otter, walrus, seals … all the wonderful (and incredbly fat) marine animals … plus! the greatest of ocean delicacies. Crab, shrimp, abalone, clams, mussels … it was nature’s true bounty.
    But with a few incredibly minor rare exceptions, there was not a vegetable or fruit in any meal. It was all just meat. Those that had to live on skinny meat sometimes starved. Those who lived on fat meat lived long and well.
    But … dieters hate me. I only tried to lose weight once in my life. Got it over with quickly without paying it much attention and no pay no heed at all to carbs, sweets, whatever. BUT … when I decided to do it … to take off that extra baggage … with no hassles or feelings of “missing” anything (after the week it took me to acclimate to diet Pepsi) … I LOST 50 LBS. IN THE 5 MONTHS BEFORE MY 50TH BIRTHDAY!
    Biggest hassle was that I had to “work” to put the brakes on. I didn’t like regular Pepsi as well any longer. I preferred my steak grease poured over cottage cheeze instead of potatoes. I’m holding at about 190 lbs. now after finally pulling out of the dive at about 180. [I’m 55 now … pretty stable at ~190 … would like to put another 10 lbs back on, but work won’t do it — amassing muscle is ok, but you pay for it in lost fat so why bother? Some people even think exercise is good to make you LOSE weight!!! 🙂 Duh. If I wanted to gain it … I’d have to cram a bunch of carbs … and it just isn’t worth it.
    Oh. Yes. Numbers. The fact that I’m physically incredibly healthy, almost never even catch a cold when all those around me do … the fact that I have had no joint pain in years … none of that matters. It is all a numbers society. I didn’t “do” doctors and medical stuff so I, unfortunately, have no “befores” to compare with. But I was “convinced” that I should once in awhile afterwards My blood pressure I do have before and after on … before was always really close to 120/80. After … I’m about 105/65.
    [I don’t know what these numbers mean, btw. They just handed me this bunch of lab report stuff and said to keep doing whatever I was doing! 🙂 I asked if that meant I was still supposed to drench my grease in salt so that you can barely see anything else (which is also a family tradition! … oh, in case it matters, although raised in a 50/50 Native/White village, I’m 100% … well, probably 98% western Caucasian. [The 2% is just an old family joke about us being a mix of so many nationalities … my grandpa used to say that “Yep, we had anscestors come over on the Mayflower … and anscestors here to meet ’em” :-)]
    Lipid Panel: Cholesterol total: 181 mg/dL; Triglycerides: 94 mg/dL; HDL Cholesterol: 84 mg/dL; [in bold, marked “HIGH” … I’d have been worried but was told it was a good thing … in fact the lab note adds a “Comment” which says “HDL cholesterol values >59 mg/dL are associated with reduced cardiac risk.] VLDL Cholesterol Cal: 19 mg/dL; LDL Cholesterol Calc: 78 mg/dL.
    Prostate-Specific Ag, Serum 1.0 ng/mL [Beckman (formerly Hybritech) ICMA methodology
    TSH: 1.939 uIU/ml
    Oh lord … there are pages of this stuff. Doctor said everything was excellent. The lab reports have several things in bold with w/a “flag” comment. I’ll settle for reporting those: on the CBC with Differential/Platelyet … etc. :
    RDW 11.5 (“Low”)
    Platelets 121 (“Low”)
    Comp. Metabolic Panel (14) –
    Glucose, Serum 134 (“High”)
    Globulin, Total 1.3 (“Low”)
    I don’t know what other numbers are important. I asked Doc if there was anything in there to worry about and he said something about the concern of outliving all those I love [:-)] but other than that … go have a heavily salted, well-marbled steak, and to come back and see him in a couple decades … sooner if “lifelong members of TOPS” [which is the most absurd thing in our society!] ganged up and sat on me.
    [Ok, that wasn’t “quite” the exact quote 🙂
    But the point is just that I seldom intentionally eat fruit or vegetables although I’ll eat them [some I really like … give me a salt shaker and turn me loose in a tomato patch and I’m happy all day.]
    But it just took one kick to the metabolism and the weight came down instantly. My numbers are … well, you know better than I … all I know is that those with knowledge of such things are always extremely jealous. If anything I kind of have to work to remind myself to eat more carbs and sugar to keep from losing more weight. At that … it is really stable … it doesn’t yo-yo or anything.
    The Native cultures here had even less vegetative matter than I eat. They lived on blubber and steaks. The Paleo diet here had no choice. There wasn’t anything else! Until white folk brought disease (and much worse … guns with which they enslaved the Natives and killed them … and, sadly and to our shame, not theirs … booze), the Native folk had a history of longevity.
    So … we’re all doin’ fine up this way without anything that the — fruit and berries nuts … uh, the berry and nut fruits … uh … the “nutty, fruity and bury early” crowd [:-)] — would put in their body and eating ONLY stuff that they would NOT put in their bodies … we’re doing fine. In our 90s we’ll still be the active pallbearers for the much younger berry and nut folks we’ll be hauling off to the graveyard.
    But that was NOT what I was writing about 🙂
    My initial sentence referred to something only barely on-topic. Someday (should get to it soon, he’s in good health but he is, by well over a decade, my older brother) I’m going to write a book about it.
    But my brother is almost certainly the last surviving human being who has eaten mammoth meat!
    Let it sink in! 🙂
    When he was just a kid up in the Nome area he hung around a group of scientists and crazy archeologists who were digging up prehistoric bones. One day one of the sled dogs tore into camp with a bunch more right behind it trying to grab the big chunk of meat the first one had. Folks traced it back to a mammoth that was melting out of a glacier. But it was in such great shape that we aren’t just talking about bones or traces of hair or skin. This was an almost complete baby mammoth (it is now in a museum. I have a bunch of notes on exactly where and all that aren’t handy … but I’ve seen pictures of it. It is still around. [Kept frozen!] So the crazy archeologists took a slab of the meat and tossed chunks of it in the skillet. They let my brother have a few bites. And they were all adults … mostly on the gray side of 50. As best we can tell, none that could possibly have had a bite are still alive now. Except my brother.
    The Last Mammoth Eater! 🙂
    He’s is great shape too. See what 20,000 year old meat does for you? 🙂
    Thanks for letting me have fun today. [Every word that wasn’t specifically referenced as a joke …. is dead true and accurate though!]
    Thanks for commenting. I would love to have had a bite of that mammoth myself.

  98. I think it’s a wonderful idea for a diet…but,
    I can’t buy into the theory that humans hunted those gigantic creatures into extinction.
    If I were a cave man you couldn’t melt me and pour me on an Entelodont aka, the “pig from hell”. And a Mammoth, forget it! I’ll just hunt some dear or rabbits, thank you!
    I believe these bizarre creatures are why humans have a natural fear of the dark. It’s probably ingrained in our inherited memory (if such a thing exist).
    Yes, something did kill them, we survived whatever it was but I don’t think there was enough humans to do the job and anyway, why would they? Surly there was easier prey. I’d put my money on humans doing a lot of running and hiding instead. Maybe we killed out the Neanderthals but not short-faced bears! Lol. I’m thinking the the first sacrifices were actually very brave (or injured) people giving their lives to save their families.
    Remember the first city walls were constructed to keep out wild animals.

  99. Dr Eades,
    I have been eating non-starchy vegetables with extra virgin olive oil,fish,fowl and lamb (not organic or free-range) since June this year.
    I removed sugar,refined carbohydrates and grains from my diet since January,
    stopped fruits since march,
    Started portion control in protein since 15 days to get 59gms protein per day which is my lean muscle mass..( as a result I can stop eating easily when I am satisfied without uncontrollable feeling of wanting to eat more ,which often lead to binge eating…)
    feel like my insulin level has come down a lot in 15 days ..I was showing symptoms of hyperinsulinemia last year .Not more binge eating these days.Also I eat only two or three meals a day.
    My fasting blood sugar shows 85mg/dl and postprandial BS is between 97-105 mg/dl after any meal .
    Blood pressure 115/75 mmHg ( last year 130/90 )
    But today my lipids showed the worst result..
    TC- >500.. (checked three times) , last year 140 mg/dl
    TG- 132 mg/dl
    HDL- 42 mg/dl
    I am an Asian male of 38 years..
    following a Body by Science workout for the past 15 weeks with 30-40 minute walks few days a week.
    Could you please explain why my lipids could be at such dangerously abnormal levels?
    Does it take so much time for lipids to become normal ?Should I wait for a few more weeks and check again? should I get my thyroid checked?
    Thanks, Krish
    ( just don’t want to go on medication )

  100. I have a question as I am transitioning into a lowcarb diet. Where does fiber fit in, I know you can get a lot of fiber from veggies which I am making sure to eat plenty, but from a standpoint of not getting any grains in your diet, would it be ok to take psyllium husk fiber supplements to aid with getting a good amount of fiber in the diet. And are those fiber supplements as good as lowering cholesterol as they claim?
    I’m not a big believer in fiber. You can read this post I wrote about the effects of fiber to kind of see my views on it.

  101. From what I could deciper from the article is that since Paleolithic man has been eating food with high concentration of satuation fat for years, his body, his immune system got well adapted to this type of diet. Once he switched his diet,most probably the body did not accept it. And that is why there were health issues. Who knows maybe the men before Paleolithic era could have been different diet and the transition would have caused some health issues which we might never know.

  102. 70% of my calories come from fat, and I am absolutely the healthiest I have ever been. My parents (both doctors) insisted on blood work weekly when they heard about what I was going to do.
    They are now both on the high animal fat version of Paleo, after seeing my blood work.

  103. Dr. Eades, I have a really important question. I always eat chicken,salmon(as much as I can…because of the diffucult to access in my area), tuna fish, and meat and so on. I really get scared because even though I haven’t got kidney problems, my creatinine level went up to 1.4 recently and after a week or two it went down to 1.1 .Also the most recent my BUN level was 29, which is close to 30, the number normal people can’t get. I’m not sure exactly what the paleo style is, but I know that to make insulin level low, I eat proteins mostly, oh,,I love milk mixed with coffee.. by the way. With this way of diet I get fit and I try to get away from the situations when I should eat carbos…which I don’t like..which makes me slow and sleepy. Of course, I get tired everyday,,I recently started to take magnesium oxide and vitamin once a day …I read your book.
    Anyway, what I worry about is that do I have to stop eating protein like this because it might lead to kidney failure?? I’m satisfied with the situation looking at myself fit and lost weight and got some muscles…what do you think?? Is this dangerous to eat so much protein without exercise?? I eat plenty plenty of meat everyday.

    1. There is no evidence that protein damages normal kidneys. The admonition to decrease protein intake is for those who have damaged kidneys to begin with. But even those people have to get an adequate amount of protein. If your BUN and creatinine numbers are a little high, you probably need to drink a little more water.

  104. i would like to disagree on the suggestion that Mega Fauna disappeared solely (and only )due to over hunting by humans.Remember many species that went extinct in the western hemisphere also went extinct in Europe and Asia around the same time.Those animals in the Eastern Hemisphere had been living and hunted by Man for close to 30,000 years or so without being driven to extinction and only went extinct at the sametime Mega Fauna did in the West.Here in North America some 70 different species went extinct,3/4’s of them large mammals including mammoths,mastodons,giant bison,camels,ground sloths,cave bears and even a beaver the size of a small bear supposedly because of humans hunting one species to extinction then moving on to the next until none were left.
    If man came to the last of the large mammals ,why did he not do the same to the next in line.The grizzly bear is not a small animal,yet it survived as did the modern bison(it’s cousin the Giant Bison with horns six feet across went out like a candle) we call the buffalo,the moose is not a small animal either,yet it is still with us.Also,the killing of the mega fauna was calculated to have taken only a thousand years or so,yet in the following 10,000 years humans in the west were unable to wipe out the modern bison,grizzly,moose,elk etc and they had far better weapons than their ancestors,better orginazation and a much higher population to support and to do the hunting.
    Their were also extinctions in areas that man had no or little dealings with such as a great number of bird species and plants
    again not just here in the west but in both hemispheres.
    No doubt the enviorment was changing (for any number of reasons to many to go into)and had been for sometime placing stress on world wide animal populations.No doubt Man did his part in finishing them off but he was not the only reason for their disappearance.

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