US News & World Report Screws Paleo Without Research

As many of you know, I “went Paleo” a couple months ago. After several years of being a pescetarian, I discovered that I had a small issue with gluten. I’m not celiac or anything of that magnitude, but I do have a very noticeable sensitivity to gluten-containing foods. As a result, I cut out most of the bread, pasta, cereal, and other high-gluten foods, even beer! I decided my gluten-free mostly vegetarian diet was both too limiting for my busy schedule, and quite frankly, not much fun. I am very careful about what I eat and drink. I am by no means perfect, mind you. I like my occasional Diet Coke or dessert. I love wine. But I try. So I started reading about new ways to eat.

I read Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution. I read Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint. I started listening to podcasts about Paleo eating. I read dozens of blogs. I read the medical papers that some of those well-researched blogs linked to. Then I did it. I started eating real meat again. I cut out the gluten. I reduced my dairy. It was easy for me, since I don’t eat fast food, and I’d cut out most processed food years ago. My grocery bags are now full of fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy-free dark chocolate. Gone are the boxes of pasta, the crackers, the cereal. Even whole grains are out.

For the last couple months, I’ve been a very good caveman. No bread, no cereal, no pasta, no beer, very little dairy. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? You know what I miss most about limiting my diet to the Paleo Approach?


I have more energy, I sleep better, I’m still pretty regular in the poop department, and my skin is better. My hair grows faster (too fast, if you ask me), I’m stronger, and most importantly, my mind is clearer. I think the clear mind thing is mostly due to the no-gluten thing, if you believe the research.

This is why this story bothered me. [US News and World Report][6] did one of their top-20 stories about the Best Diets.

They claim the diets were evaluated by a panel of health experts. What they don’t say is who those experts are or who they work for. Was the panel made up of doctors? Dietitians? Nutritionists? [Monsanto][7] employees? [FDA shills][8]? Who knows. On top of that, we don’t know who actually wrote the story. So, against my better judgement and contrary to everything I’ve been taught about attribution, this article was written by “THEY”.

The top spot went to the government-endorsed DASH diet. This diet has about 35% fat, “acceptable” protein, recommended carbs, and meets the recommendations for salt, fiber, potassium, calcium, B-12, and Vitamin D.

Then there were all the others. Notably the Mediterranian diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, and all the regulars.

At the very bottom of the list was the Paleo Diet. This diet has 39% fat, exceeds protein recommendation by a couple percent, has lower carbs, lower salt, higher fiber, higher potassium, higher B-12. It lags behind in only one nutrient: calcium. But that claim is completely rebuked by anyone with a Google Machine. Kale, spinach, almonds, broccoli, and other nuts and dark greens have calcium, and the plant variety is more readily absorbed than the dairy calcium. Milk has more calcium on paper, but if your body doesn’t absorb it, what’s the point? To see both sides of the calcium debate, check out [Pro-Con][9].

The article is severely biased. Check out the following quotes: When asked “Will you lose weight?” On DASH:

Likely, provided you follow the rules, and especially if you design your plan with a “calorie deficit.”

On Paleo

No way to tell. Paleo diets haven’t yet drawn the attention of many researchers. One tiny study that looked at weight loss found that 14 participants lost an average of about 5 pounds after three weeks on a Paleo regimen. (But even the researchers called their study “underpowered.”) Still, if you build a “calorie deficit” into your Paleo plan–eating fewer calories than your daily recommended max, or burning off extra by exercising–you should shed some pounds. How quickly and whether you keep them off is up to you.

These are the SAME answer. If you have a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. However, with DASH, it is “likely”, and with Paleo there is “No way to tell”.

When asked “Does it have cardiovascular benefits?” On DASH:

Yes. Rigorous studies show DASH can lower blood pressure, which if too high can trigger heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. (In fact, the name DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension–hypertension being the medical term for high blood pressure.) It’s also been shown to increase “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, a fatty substance that in excess has been linked to heart disease. Overall, DASH reflects the medical community’s widely accepted definition of a heart-healthy diet–it’s heavy on fruits and vegetables and light on saturated fat, sugar, and salt.

On Paleo:

Unknown. While some studies have linked Paleo diets with reducing blood pressure, bad “LDL” cholesterol, and triglycerides (a fatty substance that can raise heart disease risk), they have been few, small, and short. And all that fat would worry most experts.

First, “all that fat” in the Paleo diet is typically less than 4% more fat, so it is nutritionally negligible. Both get marks for reducing blood pressure, lowering bad cholesterol, and lowering triglycerides. But DASH gets 4-1/2 stars for heart health and Paleo gets 2. Weird.

The best part is this one. From the overview of the DASH diet:

Just emphasize the foods you’ve always been told to eat (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy), while shunning those we’ve grown to love (calorie- and fat-laden sweets and red meat). Top it all off by cutting back on salt, and voila!

Then from the Paleo:

Can you get used to the idea of breadless sandwiches? Or having your milk and cookies without either milk or cookies? Diets that restrict entire food groups are difficult to follow.

If you take “whole grains” out of the DASH quote, you get The Paleo Diet! Most Paleo people accept a small bit of dairy, since it’s widely agreed that there was some dairy in the caveman diet. There are numerous reports of yak and goats milk being used as far back as 10,000 years ago in Iran and Egypt. Why is it that in DASH you “shun” foods you’ve grown to love, and that’s OK, but it’s bad to have a breadless sandwich?

BIAS. Plain and simple.

So why are these very similar approaches to eating so far apart on the scale of “The Best Diets”? Is it because the FDA approved the DASH diet? These are the same people who have given us 4 different food pyramids in 30 years, only to say “It’s all wrong! Here’s a [plate][10].” These are the same people who approved then recalled [dozens of drugs][11] that were found to kill people. These are the same people who allowed Donald Rumsfeld and Ronald Regan to [ram through Aspartame][12] despite falsified lab results, dead lab rats, and previous bans.

I have tons of other examples, but the point is this: The FDA is incapable of protecting you or telling you how to eat. Even without the [corruption][13], lobbying, and the fact that the [entire board of directors is owned][14] by the drug and agriculture companies they’re supposed to be monitoring, it would be an impossible task. But I digress.

Sorry about that little sidebar. I get angry sometimes. Back to food!

I believe food is life. You are what you eat. Insert your cliche here. I’m not going to tell you what to eat. My goal is to share with you what I eat, and why. I include links to all these books and articles because these are the things and types of things that I read on my journey. “They” who wrote this article think that drinking a pre-packaged shake or a box of frozen processed food is better for you than whole, natural foods. This is not only false, but I see it as irresponsible.

If you are well informed, you can make your own decision. Just make sure you research what you read and see. If the US News and World Report can have such a shotty, non-researched, bordering-on-humorous-if-it-wasn’t-so-sad piece of crap on their site, think of how little research the 24 hour news channel does before they do a 3-minute puff piece on the latest diet craze.

UPDATE: Just an hour or so after posting this, I was listening to[ Latest in Paleo][15], a fantastic podcast on 5by5. In episode 19, Angelo Coppola talked about the same article, with many of the same points. He added this quote by Dr. Loren Cordain (from [Paleo Diet’s Facebook Page][16])

The writer of this article suggests that the Paleo Diet has only been scientifically tested in “one tiny study”. This quote is incorrect as five studies (1-7); four since 2007, have experimentally tested contemporary versions of ancestral human diets and have found them to be superior to Mediterranean diets, diabetic diets and typical western diets in regards to weight loss, cardiovascular disease risk factors and risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

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