“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
U.S. News and World Report ran this story today in the on-line version of the magazine. Not sure if this story is to go to press in the print version or not; I’d like to see the story in print, if for no other reason than to simply gauge John Q. Public’s reaction.
All in all, I guess you can chalk this up as a favorable review of the Paleo lifestyle; as favorable, at least, as we’re likely to find in any mainstream publication. As excerpted from the article:
On its merits. History aside, the paleo diet has health merit. Except for the dairy and grain issues, it’s pretty close to the tenets of the traditional eating patterns like the Mediterranean and Asian diets and other dietary patterns that focus on plants, fish, lean protein, “good” fats, and whole grains. (Cordain says Stone Age eating is closest to a Japanese-style diet.) It also fits into the small but growing movement turning away from factory-farmed meat and toward eating animals fed what they’ve evolved to eat, like grass rather than grain.
Now, if we could just shake this damn energy balance notion once and for all. Hell, even the mention that an “alternative” viewpoint (a.k.a., Taube’s, a calorie is not a calorie) would give me reason to cheer. And then, of course, we’ve got the whole “proper exercise” issue to contend with. Again, as excerpted from the article:
Ungar and Leonard don’t blame our modern diet-related health problems on any specific food group. Rather, they’re convinced that our major problems these days are the lack of that diversity in our diet—and a positive energy balance. In other words, unlike our Paleolithic forebears, we are taking in more calories than we burn off. “The difference is not simply in what we’re eating but in what we’re doing,” says Leonard.
The greater availability of cheap, high-calorie, high-fat foods is contributing to high rates of obesity, he says, but so is the fact that we aren’t moving anymore. “If you add even an extra 30 minutes to an hour of moderate exercise a day, it’s going to get you to a point where it will make a difference in your long-term energy balance,” he says. “Slow and steady is the mantra. You didn’t see people in farming and herding societies sprinting around. They moved at a low to moderate level of intensity over the course of an entire day.” (emphasis mine)
Uh-huh. Well, Just a thought — I’d like to know what part of hunter-gatherer is consistent with farming and herding? I guess that’s an idea, though, that’s lost on both Ungar and Leonard.
Progress in fits and starts, I suppose, is better than no progress at all.
*A late edit: Here were my thoughts as posted on the US News and World Report article comment section —
A hearty thanks to Katherine Hobson for spelling out the basic tenants of the Paleo lifestyle. Between her article, and Richard’s (of Free the Animal) comment, readers new to the “Paleolithic lifestyle” will gain much valuable insight. I hope this sparks a curiosity that will culminate in the conversion of many new “Paleo disciples”. To be critical, though, I have to say that both Unger and Leonard have missed the boat when it comes to exercise prescription and energy balance.
Our paleo ancestors lived an explosive and sprint/power-dominant lifestyle that was anything but what is depicted here as the “slow and steady” farmer/herder lifestyle. This is exactly the point of the Paleo lifestyle – to consume what the body was engineered via eons of evolution to thrive upon, and to push the body physically in such a way as is best suited to encourage development of a powerful, explosive phenotype (i.e., infrequent bouts of short duration, high intensity exercise).
On the point of energy balance, one must remember (1) that the human body is anything but a closed energy system, therefore rendering the “energy balance theory of weight control” the fool’s chase that it is, and (2) the overriding contribution that insulin plays in the partitioning of ingested nutrients, and insulin’s response to the inordinate (and totally alien to our genome, I might add), ingestion of carbohydrates – especially simple carbohydrates, and those derived from grains. This, in effect (and to cop a phrase from Garry Taubes), renders one ingested calorie not necessarily equal to another ingested calorie.