How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days)

Ruh-roh. (Photo Credit: We Love Costa Rica)

Following our Paleolithic ancestors, our Neolithic ancestors lost an average of six inches in height. Most people now have those last 5-10 pounds that seem impossible lose. The causes for both, surprisingly, may be the same.

Robb Wolf can explain. Robb, a former research biochemist, has functioned as a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism and is co-owner of NorCal Strength & Conditioning, one of the Men’s Health “top 30 gyms in America.” He’s also a former California State Powerlifting Champion with a competition 565 lb. squat, 345 lb. bench, 565 lb. deadlift…

I have known of Robb for several years, but I only met him through a friend a week ago. Several weeks earlier, that same friend had sent me a copy of Robb’s book, The Paleo Solution, which I ended up devouring in a few sittings. The chapters on digestion and improving digestion were particularly fascinating to me, and, for that reason, this post is a book excerpt. It details a particular problem and specific solutions. Enjoy.

Enter Robb Wolf.

A Common Problem

Below I describe several people who at first glance appear different, but in fact they all share a common problem. They had significant health issues with no apparent cause or solution and assumed they had no treatment options, as their doctors were stumped and could offer few solutions.

For you, this chapter may represent the “missing link” in your quest for improved performance and health.

Alex, Age Five

I first learned of Alex from my friend Kelly. She related a story of a little boy who was very sick, underweight, and suffering from constant digestive problems. If you like kids and other small, scurrying critters, Alex’s features and symptoms were literally heartbreaking. He had painfully skinny arms and legs, attached seemingly at random to a torso dominated by a prominently distended belly. At night Alex thrashed and turned in his bed, wracked by diffuse pain in his arms, legs and, especially, his belly. Alex had severe lethargy and a “failure to thrive.” His doctors ran extensive tests but found nothing conclusive. They recommended a bland diet of toast, rice puddings, and yogurt, but with no benefit to the little guy.

Kelly contacted me on behalf of the family and asked if I had any ideas that might help Alex. I made a few specific recommendations, which the parents enacted immediately. Within ten days, Alex’s perpetually distended belly was flat and normal. He gained six pounds in a little over two weeks and was noticeably more muscular in the arms and legs. His sleep shifted from the thrashing, restless bouts that left him listless and tired, to the sleep all kids should have: restful, unbroken, and filled with dreams. Alex’s energy improved to such a degree that the other kids and parents could hardly imagine he was the same kid. He was healthy and happy, all because of a simple adjustment he and his family made to his eating.

Sally, Age Sixty-One

Sally was referred to us by her family physician. Sally’s doctor had worked with her on a variety of issues: low thyroid, osteoporosis, gall bladder problems, depression, and high blood pressure. It was an impressive and ever-growing list of ailments that both Sally and her doctor attributed to “normal” aging. Her doc was pretty forward thinking, however, in that she recommended that Sally perform “weight bearing exercise” to help slow the progression of the osteoporosis and muscle wasting that been accelerating in the past four to five years.

When this recommendation brought Sally to us, she was a bit reluctant to get started with a strength-training program and was very reluctant to modify or change her nutrition. We were gentle but persistent.

Our recommendations focused on specific changes to her nutrition and lifestyle. Within two months Sally was off her thyroid medications, her gall bladder issues were gone, she was four pants sizes smaller, while her symptoms of depression had disappeared. After six months of training with us and following our nutrition recommendations, it was discovered that she was no longer osteoporotic.

Of all the improvements, Sally’s doctor was most impressed with the increased bone density. She asked Sally what she had modified to affect this change. When Sally told her doctor how she had changed her nutrition, her doctor pondered things for a moment, then said, “Well, it must be something else! Food can’t do all that.”

Jorge, Age Forty

Jorge started working with us primarily to lose weight. At five feet nine inches and 325 pounds, Jorge was heading down a path of significant illness stemming from type 2 diabetes and obesity. Compounding Jorge’s situation was a condition neither he nor his doctors could figure out. Nearly every time Jorge ate, he would break out in a rash and his tongue would swell. Like really swell. Jorge had to keep an epi-pen on his person at all times, similar to someone who has a severe allergy to bee stings or peanuts.

Jorge is a practicing attorney and several times a week he would dash out of the courtroom on a mad trip to the emergency room, where he would receive antihistamines to bring his tongue swelling under control. His doctors were (again) stumped. His blood work did not show a specific allergy, nor did he appear to have a full-blown autoimmune disease. Certain immune cells were obviously overactive, but in an atypical fashion that left the allergists and rheumatologists scratching their heads.

We recommended a nutritional change for Jorge, which he fought tooth and nail. God has never made a person more appropriate to be an argumentative lawyer! Part begging, part threatening, we finally won Jorge over and told him, “Just do this for a month. If it does not work, what have you lost? If it does work, what will you have gained?”

Jorge gave things a shot and his tongue swelling disappeared. Now a year later, Jorge is down to 255 pounds and making headway toward his goal of a lean, strong 225 pounds. Thankfully, Jorge now argues for us instead of against us! Not to beat up on the physicians too much, but when Jorge told his docs what he changed, they too did not believe the cause and effect staring them straight in the face.

So, What Did We Do?

It will come as a surprise for most people that the underlying cause of all the issues described above, in these very different people, was the same thing—a common component in nearly everyone’s diet. Gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye oats, and barley. Other grains such as corn and rice have similar, but less problematic proteins (we will talk about that later).

OK, calm down, I get it. Bread, pasta, and cookies are yummy. They are also likely killing you. The other sections of this book I’m willing to give you a “pass” on understanding the technical points. Most people kinda get the insulin/high-carb issue. People are slowly realizing there are “good fats.” So, I’ll not hold you responsible for that material. However, I insist you read this grain issue, ponder it, and then do what I recommend.

We are going to learn the whole story about gluten, grains, and their roles in disease. I’ll then give you quantifiable measures for determining how much healthier you are without them. Then it’s all up to you. If you want to be healthy, you will find some level of compliance that works for you.


We have all seen pictures or videos of smokers dying from lung cancer yet still smoking through tracheotomy holes in their throats. Amazing, right? How can people do that? Well, gluten consumption is on par with a pack-a-day smoking habit.

Like most things, we need to start at the beginning.

Grains Anatomy

When I say “grain,” I am talking about one of many domesticated grasses in the gramineae family. This includes staples such as wheat, rye, oats, barley, millet, rice, and sorghum. These plants are derivatives or descendants from wild grasses that have been managed and bred for 2,000–5,000 years. All grains have the following anatomy:

Bran:

The bran is the outer covering of a whole, unprocessed grain. It contains vitamins, minerals, and a host of proteins and antinutrients designed to prevent the predation, or eating, of the grain. When you see brown rice, the bran is the flakey outer covering of the rice.

Endosperm:

The endosperm is mainly starch with a bit of protein. This is the energy supply of a growing grain embryo. When you see white rice, this is the endosperm with bran and germ removed.

Germ:

The germ is the actual reproductive portion of the grain. This is where the embryo resides.

In the wild, the cereal grain is distributed by the wind, and when conditions are right, the germ (embryo) begins the process of growth using the endosperm for energy. It may come as a surprise, but plants are not benign, altruistic organisms just waiting to send their next generation of young into our mouths in the form of sushi rice or French bread. Grains, like all critters on this planet, face the challenge of surviving long enough to reproduce. This is particularly problematic for grains in that their most nutrient-dense portion (the part we eat) happens to be the reproductive structure.

Sidebar: Oats, Quinoa, and False Friends

Hey Robb, I appreciate your concern, but my dietician told me Oats are gluten-free, so no need to worry about my morning bowl of oatmeal? Yep, I love oatmeal too, but it contains similar proteins to gluten. Cereal grains tend to have proteins that are high in the amino acid proline. These prolamines (proline rich proteins) are tough to digest, and thus remain intact despite the best efforts of the digestive process to break them down. The result is gut irritation, increased systemic inflammation, and the potential for autoimmune disease.

Corn has a similar prolamine called zein. Now you can heed or disregard this information as you please, but grains are a significant problem for most people. Upon removal of these grains, you will notice that you feel better. With reintroduction of grains…well, you feel worse. Keep in mind this inflammation is also a factor in losing weight and looking good, so don’t dismiss this if your primary goal is a tight tush. What I’m asking you to do is take 30 days and eat more fruits and veggies instead of the grains. See how you do. Not so hard, right? And just to head you off at the pass, let’s tackle two other grain related topics: “Whole grains” and Quinoa.

When we factor in their anti-nutrient properties, and potential to wreck havoc on our GI tract, grains are not a sound decision for health or longevity. For the purposes of our discussion, consider dairy and legumes in the same category.

[Note from Tim: Many of you know that I consume some legumes and beans. Normal cooking will reduce anti-nutrients in both, but, when possible, I also soak them overnight beforehand in water with a tablespoon of baking soda. Soaking for 24 hours at room temperature has been shown to remove 66% of the trypsin (protease) inhibitor activity in mung bean, 93% in lentil (this is what I eat most often), 59% in chickpea, and 100% in broad bean. Remember also to distinguish “in vitro” (e.g. red blood cells in a petri dish) vs. “in vivo” (e.g. after normal digestion) studies.]

Quinoa pops up frequently and the refrain goes like this, “Robb! Have you tried this stuff Quinoa (the pronunciation varies depending on how big a hippy you are). It’s NOT a grain! It’s fine, right?”

Well, you’ve likely heard the expression, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…” Quinoa is botanically not a grain, but because it has evolved in a similar biological niche, Quinoa has similar properties to grains, including chemical defense systems that irritate the gut. In the case of Quinoa, it contains soap-like molecules called saponins. Unlike gluten, which attaches to a carrier molecule in the intestines, saponins simply punch holes in the membranes of the microvilli cells. Yes, that’s bad. Saponins are so irritating to the immune system that they are used in vaccine research to help the body mount a powerful immune response. The bottom line is if you think grains or grain-like items like Quinoa are healthy or benign, you are not considering the full picture.

One for Me and One for You

Some plants, like blueberries or similar fruits, have evolved a strategy of “give a little to get a little.” Critters (us included) eat these fruits, then pass the seeds in a convenient, warm fertilized package that all but guarantees the next generation. Sewage systems aside, this is a reasonable trade off. The critter that eats the blueberries gets a little nutrition in exchange for spreading the blueberry seeds for subsequent generations of blueberries.

Other plants take a different approach and try to dissuade all predation by shrouding themselves in nasty substances that are either irritants or outright poisons. Consider poison oak or poison ivy. These plants have developed chemical warfare capabilities and use oils that have a tendency to work their way through the skin of animals that come in contact with the leaves. This oil sets off an alarm that irritates the immune system. Lymphocytes and other white blood cells attack the oil and in the process release pro-inflammatory chemicals that lead to a rash. Keep this idea in mind as we talk about grains, as it will help you to wrap your mind around what is happening when we eat this “staple” food.

If we compare grains to the strategies listed above, “give a little, get a little,” like the blueberry, or “bugger off,” like the poison oak, we see that grains are much more like poison oak. If a critter eats a grain, that’s it for the grain. That does not mean that the grain goes down without a fight! Grains are remarkably well equipped for chemical warfare.

Lectins:

Grains contain a variety of proteins, some of which are called lectins (not to be confused with the hormone leptin). In simple terms, lectins stick to specific molecules and thus play “recognition” roles in biological systems.

For our purposes, we will look at wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), which is one of the nastier lectins, but also one of the better studied. Keep in mind, WGA (or similar molecules) are found in all grains, but it’s my opinion (and that of many other researchers) that wheat, rye, and barley, which are the gluten-containing grains, are likely the worst of the bunch with regard to health. Millet is similar to oats, in that it contains a protein only a few amino acids different from gliadin (the main problem in gluten), and it is therefore problematic for digestion. Be careful with “gluten-free” snack foods that seem too good to be true, millet-based or otherwise. Corn and rice can also be problematic, but they are safer if consumed infrequently (we will look at this later). WGA and similar lectins are problematic for several reasons:

  1. Lectins are not broken down in the normal digestive process. This leaves large, intact proteins in the gut. If you recall, most proteins are broken down in the digestive process, but the structure of some grain proteins makes them very difficult to digest (for the geeks: these proteins are high in the amino acid proline). Grains also contain protease inhibitors (dairy and some other foods also contain these), which further block the digestion of dangerous lectins. This lack of adequate protein digestion leads to serious problems, as you will see.

  2. The lectins attach to receptors in the intestinal lumen and are transported intact through the intestinal lining. Remember how amino acids and sugars are transported out of the intestines during digestion? Certain lectins “fool” transport molecules in an effort to gain entry into our bodies intact.

  3. These large, intact protein molecules are easily mistaken by the body as foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, or parasites. It’s perhaps unpleasant to think about, but the intestines are not the nicest place to hang out. This area is a major source of infection by bacteria and viruses, and the immune system lies primed, waiting to pounce on any invading pathogen. Not only does WGA enter the system intact, it damages the intestinal lining, allowing other proteins to enter the system. Why is this a problem? Our immune system mounts an attack on these foreign proteins and makes antibodies against them. These antibodies are very specific to the shapes of these foreign proteins. Unfortunately, these proteins also tend to look like proteins in our body.

Brother from a Different Mother—Molecular Mimicry

Proteins are made of molecules called amino acids (AA). Let’s imagine for a minute these amino acids are represented by Legos, with different shapes and colors denoting different amino acids. Imagine a string of Legos with a specific sequence; let’s say its five to ten Legos long. Now imagine another, identical set of Legos attached on top of many more Legos. The top five to ten of the long piece is identical to the short piece.

Let’s assume the short piece is WGA and the long piece is a protein in the beta cells of your pancreas where insulin is made. If the WGA is attacked by the immune system and an antibody is made against it (because the body thinks WGA is a bacteria or virus), that antibody will not only attach to WGA, it can also attach to the protein in your pancreas. When that WGA antibody attaches to your pancreas, it precipitates a wholesale immune response—attacking that tissue. Your pancreas is damaged, or destroyed, and you become type 1 diabetic. If that protein happened to be in the myelin sheath of your brain, you would develop multiple sclerosis.

Celiac:

Most people are familiar with a condition called celiac, which is an autoimmune disease caused by gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and millet. It is clearly understood that celiac is an autoimmune disease caused by lectins. It is also clear that other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjögren’s, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other autoimmune conditions occur at much higher rates in celiac patients. However, this association, for whatever reason, was largely dismissed as an anomaly until researchers recently made the connection between the development of celiac and other autoimmune diseases.

We now understood that WGA and other lectins have a significant effect on the enzyme transglutaminase (TG). Transglutaminase is an enzyme that modifies every protein we make in our body. How many proteins does TG modify folks? That’s right, all of them. Heart, brain, kidney, reproductive organs—all of them. So, if lectins can cause problems with TG, and if TG modifies every protein in our body, how many things can lectins cause problems with? I hope this is obvious—lectins can and do affect every organ system. Reproductive issues, vitiligo (a skin condition where the individual loses pigmentation in the skin) Huntington’s, narcolepsy—we have found literally hundreds of conditions in which lectins appear to be the causative factor. Not only do we have science to support this, we have observed clinical resolution of these conditions upon the removal of grains, legumes, and dairy. I hate to do this to you, but we have to go back into the intestines.

Really? Digestion? Again?

When food is emptied from the stomach into the small intestines, it is mixed with bile salts that are produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder. Remember, bile salts are much like soap and are critical for our digestion and absorption of fats. In addition to bile from the gall bladder, the pancreas releases digestive enzymes that are critical to digestion. And lest you forget, much of the digestive process happens at the tiny structures in our intestines—the villi and microvilli. Now let’s see how lectins interact with the intestinal lining to produce autoimmunity.

Lectins such as WGA bind to a receptor in the microvilli, allowing WGA to be transported into the body. This is the mechanism of the autoimmune cascade I described above. If the gut wall (microvilli) becomes damaged, the entire contents of the intestines can now make its way into your system. Yes, that’s as bad as it sounds. You are not only in a position to create antibodies against WGA, which leads to autoimmunity, but you now have the potential to develop multiple allergies due to a permeable gut lining and inadequately digested food. This is how you can develop allergies to chicken, beef, apples, or other normally benign foods.

Additionally, if your gut is damaged, you expose yourself to a host of chemicals that would normally remain in the intestines. This can lead to conditions such as multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, which is regarded more as a psychiatric problem than legitimate medical condition.

Let me be crystal clear about this: Anything that damages the gut lining (including bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections, as well as alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy) can predispose one to autoimmunity, multiple chemical sensitivities, and allergies to otherwise benign foods.

As my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach says, “This no opinion is, this fact is.”

“If the gut wall (microvilli) becomes damaged, the entire contents of the intestines can now make its way into your system.” [Note from Tim: this is where the “feces in the bloodstream” post title comes from]

Full of Bile

While this digestive disaster is taking place, there are several other problems brewing. As you recall, the function of the gall bladder is to release bile salts into a meal as it is emptied into the duodenum from the stomach. When the intestinal wall is damaged, the chemical messenger, cholecystokinin (CCK), is not released. CCK usually sends the “on” switch to the gall bladder and the secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes. When this signal is blocked, we do not properly digest our foods, particularly fat and protein. The lack of bile release allows cholesterol crystals to form in the gall bladder, which leads to gall stones. The standard medical practice of removing the gall bladder is effectively killing the “canary in the coal mine.” Gall stones are a symptom of a problem, an alarm. Instead of treating the cause (remove grains) we cut out the gall bladder. People who have had gall bladder removal are almost certainly undiagnosed celiacs and likely have a number of other progressive diseases. In my experience, these individuals are plagued with digestive problems, culminating in dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing.

Achtung!

The disruption of CCK and related hormones (PYY, adiponectin) in the signaling cascade of digestion is a really big deal. Not only is the digestive process severely damaged, much of our satiety signaling is taken offline as well. We cannot properly digest our food, we are always “hungry,” and the very food we crave, refined grains and sugary junk, happens to be the cause of the problem.

It Gets Better

Another piece of the chemical defense system used against us by grains is a group of enzymes called protease inhibitors. Protease inhibitors prevent the breakdown of proteins. This means that when you consume grains you do not effectively digest the protein in your meal. Protease inhibitors also stymie the digestion of lectins such as WGA, making these already difficult-to-digest items virtually indestructible. This leaves more large proteins in the intestinal contents, which increases our likelihood of developing autoimmunity, allergies, or chemical sensitivities.

Osteoporotic Much?

If you do not have a bellyache thinking about grains by now, let’s look at one more player: antinutrients such as phytates. Phytates are important for seeds and grains because they tightly bind to metal ions (like magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and copper), which are crucial for the growth and development of the grain. If the metal ions are not tightly bound by the phytates, the process of germination can happen prematurely and this can spell disaster for the grain.

When we consume grains, the phytates are still active and powerfully bind to calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. This means the calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron are unavailable for absorption. Because of the action of antinutrients such as phytates combined with the gut damaging characteristics of lectins and protease inhibitors, our Neolithic ancestors lost an average of six inches in height vs. our Paleolithic ancestors due to the Neolithic diet of grains and legumes. Are you concerned about osteoporosis or iron deficiency anemia? Do you suffer from fatigue or heart problems that might be caused by magnesium deficiency? Have you diligently consumed a “smart” diet of whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy as per the recommendations of your dietician and doctor? Do you see how ridiculous that suggestion is in light of what you now know about grains, legumes, and dairy?

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another!

Here is a recap of how grains cause malabsorption issues and how that affects our health and well-being:

  1. Damage to the gut lining. If the gut is damaged, you do not absorb nutrients. We need healthy villi and microvilli to absorb our nutrients, be they protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, or minerals.

  2. Damage to the gall bladder and bile production. If you do not absorb fats and fat soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, K, and other nutrients, you will have problems utilizing any minerals you do absorb, to say nothing of the nutrient deficiencies from inadequate essential fats.

  3. Phytates tightly bind to metal ions and make them unavailable for absorption. Analytical chemists actually use purified phytates in experiments where it is necessary to quantify the amounts of metal ions like calcium, zinc, or iron in a sample because the phytates bind to these metals tighter than just about any other molecule. The same thing happens when you eat phytates, and this is not a good thing for bone health or iron status.

  4. Open door for autoimmunity and cancer. Once the gut lining is damaged, we are at exceptionally high risk of autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and several types of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The pancreas is assailed by grain-induced inflammation due to CCK problems and elevated insulin levels. This inflammation is a potential cause of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Why does all this happen? Because grains are pissed that you want to eat them and they are willing, and able, to fight back.

Here is a short list of the problems associated with leaky gut and the autoimmune response:

• Infertility

• Type 1 diabetes

• Multiple sclerosis

• Rheumatoid Arthritis

• Lupus

• Vitiligo

• Narcolepsy

• Schizophrenia

• Autism

• Depression

• Huntington’s

• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

• Hypothyroidism

• Porphyria

But I’m Not Sick

Some of you, however, may think you have no issues here. You have eaten grains, legumes, and dairy your whole life and are “fine.” Well, maybe. But I suspect that is not the case. I’ll bet that if you completely remove these Neolithic foods from your diet for one month, you will notice a dramatic improvement in how you feel and perform. Why? Because if you are consuming these foods, I’ll wager you have gut irritation and other systemic inflammation issues.

A recent study looking at children with type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune condition) found that a significant number of them had overt gut pathology, i.e., celiac. Some had a positive antibody test for celiac, but a number of kids were negative on both the WGA antibody test (a common blood test for celiac) and on an intestinal biopsy. So doctors would think there was no gluten influence in their condition. Interestingly, however, nearly all the kids showed antibodies in the deep tissues of the microvilli to . . . transglutaminase.

The study authors suspected most of the kids would at some point develop what is commonly described as celiac. What this tells us is gut damage can be fairly benign (few symptoms) but still lead to autoimmunity. Once initiated, autoimmunity can and does progress to other problems. Your doctor or dietician will likely dismiss this information, especially if you are “negative” for any of the standard blood work or lab tests for celiac. They are foolish in this regard, but hey, it’s only your health.

Trust your medical professionals, they always know best. Or, try a simple experiment: Follow a Paleo diet, and assess how you feel and perform. I know, I can hear the MDs now, that it’s “just anecdotal.” If you are going to save your ass you are not likely to get much support in this matter unless you have a forward-thinking and aggressive primary physician.

What is the ultimate gold standard in all this? How do you know for sure you do or do not have an issue with these foods? The answer seems obvious: remove the potentially offending foods! Reintroduce them after thirty to sixty days. See what happens. Now there is a caveat to this. You only need to be exposed to things like gluten once every ten to fifteen days to keep the gut damaged. This can bedevil people as they “cut back on gluten” but do not notice an improvement in their overall health. I’m sorry but there is not a pink “participant” ribbon given out for doing this “almost correctly.” You need to be 100 percent compliant for thirty days, then see how you do with reintroduction.

Now, I’ll be honest, the reintroduction is for you, not me. If I did a phone consult with you, I’d ask, “How did you do when you had that piece of bread?” I know exactly how you did—I’ve seen this scenario thousands of times, but you are the one who needs convincing. When you reintroduce gluten you will not feel good. Sorry kiddo, it’s just the way it works. Now it’s up to you to decide if health and a long life are worth forgoing some of these foods more often than not.

Does all this seem hard to believe? Well, remember how I described the effects of poison oak on your skin? It’s a similar deal here with gut irritation and lectin exposure. If you want to get the full power of this program, you need to actually give it a shot. Worst-case scenario: You spend a month without some foods you like. Best-case scenario: You discover you are able to live healthier and better than you ever thought possible.

But I Like Bread and Pasta!

Yes, I like that stuff too, but they make me sick. I suspect it makes you sick, as well. Not only do grains make you sick by raising insulin levels, messing up your fatty acid ratios (n-3/n-6), and irritating your gut, but they are also addictive. Grains, particularly the gluten-containing grains, contain molecules that fit into the opiate receptors in our brain. You know, the same receptors that work with heroin, morphine, and Vicodin? Most people can take or leave stuff like corn tortillas and rice. Suggest that people should perhaps forgo bread and pasta for their health and they will bury a butter knife in your forehead before you can say “whole wheat!” Sorry folks, I don’t make these rules, I just have the lovely task of educating you about them.

Why I had to focus on gluten-free living, exercise, and trying to get you healthy, I will never know. I should have just peddled hookers, cocaine, and pastries! So much easier.

Instead, here’s a one week food plan. There are hundreds of great options, but this is a simple menu to get you started:

Week 1

Monday

BREAKFAST: 2–4 poached eggs, almonds, small piece fruit or berries

LUNCH: Chicken fajita salad

SNACK: 2 oz chicken, apple, few avocado slices

DINNER: Grilled salmon, roasted green beans, side salad

Tuesday

BREAKFAST: Leftover salmon, walnuts

LUNCH: Lettuce, tomato, onion, and condiments of your choice over 1–2 burger patties, orange, almonds

SNACK: Jerky, macadamia nuts

DINNER: Rotisserie chicken, steamed broccoli, side salad

Wednesday

BREAKFAST: Leftover chicken w/salsa, ½ avocado

LUNCH: Tuna and cabbage salad

SNACK: Remainder of tuna and cabbage salad

DINNER: Crock-Pot pork loin, tomato sauce, zucchini, chopped cauliflower, basil. Make a large portion, leftovers will be used for several meals!

Thursday

BREAKFAST: Slice of ham, 2–3 scrambled eggs, fruit

LUNCH: Leftover pork loin

SNACK: 2 hard-boiled eggs, almonds

DINNER: Stir-fry beef salad. Serve over bed of greens with balsamic vinegar

Friday

BREAKFAST: Sausage stir-fry breakfast

LUNCH: Easy ceviche

SNACK: 2 oz chicken, apple

DINNER: Spaghetti squash (Note from Tim: this is delicious) or kelp-noodle spaghetti: cook either choice with marinara sauce, ground meat, olive oil

Saturday

BREAKFAST: Chicken apple hash

LUNCH: 5–6 oz deli turkey, ½ lb steamed broccoli, drizzle with olive oil

SNACK: 2–3 oz turkey, carrot sticks, almonds

DINNER: Indian-style coleslaw, leftover pork loin, side salad with olive oil

Sunday

BREAKFAST: Western omelet, sweet potato hash

LUNCH: Lamb patties, tomato, lettuce, strawberries

SNACK: Turkey, avocado

DINNER: Halibut, roasted asparagus, berries with balsamic vinegar

For full 30-day meal plans, recipes, and more, this is the resource.

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Afterword: Holy religious war, Batman! Hundreds of strong comments below, including a few very smart contributions from MDs, nurses, etc.. Robb has also answered some of the most common questions in the comments.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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1,393 Replies to “How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days)”

  1. the reason I came back was I saw the email about only eating “clean” “uinprocessed foods” and laughed… tomatoes and potatos, oranges, mushrooms and all nightshade veggies are natural foods which are not tampered with and yet they were high on the list for giving me problems. So it’s important to get to the bottom of what your list of “no no” foods are really as eating fresh veggies doesn’t always solve the issue. Natural foods can be just as toxic to some people as processed.

  2. the reason I came back was I saw the email about only eating “clean” “unprocessed foods” and laughed… tomatoes and potatos, oranges, mushrooms and all nightshade veggies are natural foods which are not tampered with and yet they were high on the list for giving me problems. So it’s important to get to the bottom of what your list of “no no” foods are really as eating fresh veggies doesn’t always solve the issue. Natural foods can be just as toxic to some people as processed.

  3. I love that there are over 1,000 comments here! Tim, this post changed my life… It introduced me to Robb, whose words of wisdom and awesome Paleo community have helped completely cured me of my Crohn’s symptoms. I encourage all of the sceptics to try it out for at least 30 days. No harm in that!

  4. I would say that someone needs to do a study on Massai Warriors to determine exactly what they died of? In my opinion, in tribes there is a lot of spats to dominate and it isn’t so much what they eat that is the problem or which shortens their life span, as fighting over women and to dominate a tribe involves killing men. Also, if the odd woman or man wants to get a quickie divorce, there is no paperwork…just a knife to the chest.

  5. Hi,

    My family is sick, fat, tired, and unfortunately, poor. We have a multi generational household with11 people in it. We have a food budget of 1000 dollars a month. No matter how I try to figure it out, our finances will not allow us to eat only paleo. This is so sad to me because my husband and daughter both have been diagnosed ( w/ biopsy) as having Celiacs. My insurance would pay for chemical medicine, but not fruit and veggies. I am begging anyone out there to please help my family come up with a meal plan that can stay in our budget, feed 6 teenagers and 5 adults. We would literally eat anything to get well, but I can’t figure it out. Hoping for a miracle,

    C

    1. Hi Carly,

      I had to find creative ways of eating Paleo in college when I was broke 99% of the time. Maybe some of the things I found could help…

      1. Get a Sams Club or Costco membership. No, the meat wont be grass fed nor the veggies organic. Still, its better than nothing. My membership cost ~$50 a year and it paid for itself in a month. I’d stock up on meat and veggies every 2-3 weeks. I’d also go to the local grochery store every week to restock my produce.

      2. Buy the cheap meat. As soon as I started following Mark Sisson’s advice on fat intake my meat bill was cut in half. I stopped buying chicken breasts and lean cuts of beef and started buying the fattier meat like ground chuck and chicken wings. These taste better and are usually half the cost. (Again, grass-fed and free-range would be way healthier than these, but these are way better than a grain diet.)

      3. Fat is cheap. I started buying and adding fat to most of my foods. This in effect made me more full, faster ,and for longer. My favorites were coconut oil, butter, and coconut milk. As soon as I started eating more fats I started losing more weight too. I was undereating before; at 6’4″ and 235lbs I was eating 1500 calories a day because food was too expensive. Now I can get a more appropriate 2500 cals without effort, the majority from fat.

      I know that there are some Paleo followers that would disagree on my higher levels of fat intake. Technically I follow Primal Blueprint, which is slightly different from Paleo. It allows for much higher fat, something that worked very well for me.

      4. Make larger dishes. Instead of eating just meat and veggies for a meal I would take the same food and make them into a large soup. Add fat and spices and I could have several meals. A brisket at Sam’s Club cost around $25 for about 13lbs of meat; easily a week’s worth. I’d cut it up and add it to other foods like salad, omelettes, and stir-fry.

      5. Intermitted fasting. This isn’t for everyone and probably not for growing kids, but for me when I fasted for several hours everyday (only ate between noon and 8pm) I ate less. I would try and get my daily amount of calories met, but that wasn’t possible. I’d be too full during those eating hours. I have to admit too, I felt pretty good during the fast. More mentally sharp, and it also got me into ketosis fast.

      When I got used to eating Paleo on the cheap I could get by for around $150 a month. I’m big too, so smaller folks could feasibly do $100 a month. Compared to other budgets I’ve seen, that’s not bad.

      I hope some of this can help,

      Brent

    2. Carly,

      I made a few calculations, based on prices on my local Asian/Mexican supermarkets (which provide some of the cheapest foods around). You will need about $1500 per month to feed 11 people on Paleo. Your budget of $1000 per month is not enough, I’m afraid. Given that you have 2 celiac people in your home (and possibly more than 2, it’s just that the disease might not have shown up yet to younger members of your family), I think you’d need to go gluten-free, grain-free, seed-oil-free, and legume-free ASAP. Some suggestions:

      1. Buy from cheap places, like Asian supermarkets and local farmer’s markets. Even the worst meat/veggies/fruits/fish are better than a glutenous diet. Use coupons, and always hunt down the best prices for each product!

      2. Get a Costco membership. They carry “real” olive oil (most in the market are imitation), cheap butter, and cheap coconut oil (on Paleo, avoid vegetable seed oils, like safflower, canola, soy/corn oil).

      3. Buy whole milk only and full fat yogurt/cheese. No low fat products.

      4. Your kids should get food from home, and not get gluten at school (unless the school provides gluten-free food, and it’s cheap or free).

      5. On Paleo, white/wild rice and (skinless) potatoes are considered an “acceptable cheat”. They are considered the least-bad foods from the ones that are not generally allowed. So for your family, since your budget is low, consider these foods as kind of your staple. White rice and potatoes are cheap-enough and can fill you up like bread can!

      6. Once or twice a month you could have some corn too, it won’t kill you.

      7. Once a month, you could have some lentils, AS LONG AS you have soaked them in water for at least 24 hours (change the water 3-4 times).

      With these points in mind, you should be able to make it with a budget of $1500 for 11 people, and feed them a really healthy diet comparatively.

  6. Hey

    I am wondering if tomates are okay?

    They are included in the menu in the example, but they contain lectins too, don’t they?

    Cheers!

  7. I have read most of the comments and article – well done, very interesting.

    When I eat no processed foods, no wheat and dairy ( and no alcohol nor caffeine which for me is easy as I hate it) I feel great. When I changed my diet I stopped catching germs. I used to catch so many since i was a child – about 5 or 6 germs a year, sore throats, colds, all lasting 3 – 6 weeks. When I came off sugar and when wholefood I was transformed.

    Surprisingly few people baove have written about mental health. The UK/US have an obesity epidemic and a depression/mental health epidemic. They are related. Sugar ./ processed foods makes our mood go up and then down. Most food commentators say similar things these days – fat is not bad, sugar is bad, avoid processed foods.

    If you do the above you will feel better. I happen to find the small amount of basmati brown rice with wild rice I have with each meal (and I mean small) is necessary to keep me stable and hjappy. Dr des Maisons and Dr Wahls (the latter mentioned above) and paleo experts really have similar diets recommended. Wahls points out how much we need what is in leafy greens like kale.

    Every eating disorders and depression centre just about recommends 3 healthy balanced meals a day and few or no snacks.

    What remains controversial are two issues (i) should all grains be removed – for many people eating the typical dreadful UK/US diet if you simply move to whole foods even if you keep in brown grains, rough carb etc you do yourself the world of good – most people in the West eat far too much refined carb and I suspect the US is worse than the UK (ii) should we eat meat or not. I have no idea if it is related to my A rh+ blood group but I need some rough carb to remain stable and happy and I have fish virtually every day, eggs, bacon for breakfast, steak once a week. For me fish/eggs/meat are good.

    We had a television programme in the UK this week about sugar and how its changed how the UK/US is which summarised a lot of these issues. Astoundingly it said in 40 years we are now on average 42 pounds heavier.

    I am never ill and hardly ever had been in my life, never had one day off sick, had 5 healthy chidlren with no problems. I am very very lucky but in part as I get older that “luck” is choices in what I eat and getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night. We used to sleep dusk to dawn as there was no light. On my island in the Pacific alone last November when darkness fell my only choiec was to sleep in my tent and wait until the sun came up listening to the waves. That combination of sunshine all day (there is precious little sunshine in the UK this summer), moving all day long in rain forest and sea and long sleep makes us feel very good.

  8. Hi Tim. Great blog! I am confused though. Don’t you suggest legumes in your book The Four Hour Body. Also you recommend cheat days where you are supposed to eat wheat and refined sugar. What’s up?

    1. The anti-nutrients in most legumes are destroyed via processing like soaking and cooking. Robb will tell you as much.

      I think when Paleo dieters are talking about legumes being an “agent of disease” they are mostly talking about the soy bean and its derivatives, soy being a potent phyto-estrogen and goitrogen and soy bean oil being rich in n-6 which is something nobody needs in to supplement with.

      I don’t know if Tim says to we are supposed to eat “sugar and wheat” on the cheat day. It’s more like it’s allowed. The cheat day is a psychological trick to get people to buy into going on a diet in the first place. It’s not for health reasons.

      1. Actually, if you read Tim’s book, cheat days are to keep your thyroid from kicking your metabolism into low gear. That’s why they can never be more that 7 days apart.

  9. Hi Tim,

    I’ve just posted a question about mushrooms!

    Do you have any thoughts on them? I haven’t yet seen whether you do or not.

    Many thanks for your time.

    Cheers

    Kit

  10. I think more than anything it’s a person’s discipline and motivation is the key to any diet that person is in.

    You need to fully understand what your body requires before going through a diet plan. You have to make sure your body will adapt well with what you decide to put into your system.

    And as I always say, a diet is not a one time big time thing but a lifestyle. You should be able to sustain your regimen for a long period of time.

  11. Hey Tim,

    Any recommendations for wraps/similar breads that aren’t made from grain flour? I take lunch to work and haven’t got any option to buy/make it there. I would have just taken salad but I hate keeping food in tupperware.

    Also, what can diabetics do if grain is off the table? are there ANY exceptions, like black rice? barley? (I’m type 1 and carbohydrates i like AND are good for me are few and far between

  12. I have been gluten free for 3 years now and all the sudden I am bloated up like a balloon. I know I ate some dairy and gluten on accident but have been careful to eat neither for over a month. What can I do. I am in so much pain and look like I have belly fat.

    1. Try 2tbs of Raw Organic Apple Cider with the mother and a little raw unfiltered honey in 8 oz of water. 3x a day 30 minutes before you eat.

  13. I found the article interesting unt I got to the portion where it tried to tie in Huntington’s disease with gluten.

    Huntington’s is a fatal genetic disease. Gluten, leaky bowel, or anything else cannot create it. The life expectancy is pretty predictable once you know the repeat count.

    With that claim the author has lost all credibility with me.

    1. It’s not “either/or” Genes and environment play off each other. You can have a genetic susceptibility to an environmental agent. Familial Hemochromatosis is “genetic” but can be treated by avoiding foods high in Iron.

      1. As far as having alleles for the disease go sure, but but how do you know it’s pathogenesis can’t be treated or modified via some environmental factor? You know like the same way Familial Hemochromatosis is treated via a low iron diet. Most diseases ARE caused by multiple pathogenetical processes that work together.

        Having gone back a read the article, he basically says two things about Huntington’s

        A. It’s “associated” with celiac disease and leaky gut.

        B. Lectins “appear” to be a causative factor.

        The first statement is actually true in that people with Huntingtons DO have higher incidences of celiac and gluten sensitivity http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15825133

        The second statement is an overstatement for sure. He should have put “hypothetically” somewhere in that sentence. Hypothetically, people with Huntingtons have higher incidences of celiac and higher levels of tissue transglutaminase (tTG). (tTG) has the power to modify every protein in the body… http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11738471

        Hypothetically, plant defense chemicals in wheat and other grains induce the secretion of IgA-class autoantibodies which target tissue transglutaminase (tTG)….in turn the immune system starts wiping out (tTG)….yada yada yada, maybe there is a role for plant defense chemicals in the pathogenesis of Huntingtons.

        Boom a hypothesis is born.

        Just because it’s a hypothesis doesn’t mean it’s wrong. All hypothesises are true until you test them with a clinical trial i.e. put someone with alleles for Huntingtons on a gluten free diet from birth and see what happens.

  14. This article focuses on what NOT to eat. I was eager to get to the what DO I eat part. I disagree with your meat solution. The best info I’ve found on what to eat that’s making a difference for me is drmcdougall.com who is from the low fat vegan camp recommending plant based nutrition. The most interesting thing about drmcdougall.com is he tells you on his web site under his Free Program exactly what to eat in simple terms. Want to read something potentially life changing? Check out his book The Starch Solution.

    1. No offense, but McDougall wouldn’t know proper science if it smacked him upside the head…

      http://www.forksoverknives.com/the-paleo-diet-is-uncivilized-and-unhealthy-and-untrue/

      Here is (one of) his attempts to debunk the meat-focused interpretation of paleolithic nutrition over at the “Forks Over Knives” vegan movement. I originally wrote a long, detailed reply to this article, which eviscerated his arguments point-by-point. It was deleted (and not for gratuitous insults, though he sure deserves it…) but you can read all the other comments below which decry his failed attempt at research. McDougall HAS helped people, as have other plant-based nutritionists, but as Denise Minger pointed out in an AHS 2011 lecture, it’s because of what they remove (processed products and refined carbs) and not what they add in (lots of plants). Healthy vegetarian is possible, but harder. Veganism? Practically impossible to be optimal and be vegan – you may be healthy relative to the rest of the population, but would still be sub-optimal from an N = 1 perspective.

      Moving on… this article by Robb was on a very specific topic and is an excerpt from an entire book. Any bets on whether the book contains a “what to eat” list? Think – write down all the food groupings you can eat (grain, dairy, meat, fish, vegetable, fruit, nuts), cross off the ones that he advises against (grain, dairy, legumes, though dairy/legumes are a gray zone), and you’re left with….?

  15. The connection with Huntington’s is further enumerated in the references in the book. The two I could find directly relating to it (and not to general leaky gut or transglutaminase antibodies, which obviously affect the whole body anyways) were as follows:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17509100

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18279698

    It is quite clear from the numerous studies Robb has posted, and from general understandings of biology (i.e. carbs -> sugar -> fat via insulin, unless you are lean and insulin sensitive), that a paleo type diet provides a healthy metabolism. Metabolic disorder is extremely common, therefore as per the second link metablic disorder + Huntington’s = “possible contribution of deficient energy metabolism to the development of an excitotoxic cell death cascade in MSN”. Listen to the Robb, for the Robb knows… well, not all, but quite a lot more than you or I. Biochemistry degrees aren’t just for show, you know (though I see you’re a smarty pants yourself Brian C :). It seems to me that, though the evidence is preliminary in terms of direct involvement with Huntington’s, it exists and should be acted upon posthaste by those wishing to live to the fullest with such a disease. Carpe Diem/YOLO.

  16. Long time since this article went up, but here’s something that seems like a contradiction in the article that I can’t find anyone posting about. Two points are made, the first in great detail and the second just kind of in passing:

    1) Grains have remarkable and highly evolved chemical warfare systems to discourage creatures from eating them since that’s the end of the line for them unlike things like blueberries.

    2) Grains have opiate-like chemicals in them that make you addicted, coming back for more and more even if it takes decades to kill you and makes you feel like crap in the meantime.

    I’m not saying I disagree with being addictive. But I just don’t get how these two things square and I have to say it feels like a bit of cherry-picking to emphasize the first and then just use enough of the second one as a “scare tactic” to try to reinforce the overall argument.

    I feel like this happens far too often when science-based food advice is given. Almost NOTHING wants to be eaten. And even those things that do often are pretty particular about who eats them. Deadly nightshade berries are incredibly poisonous to humans but birds eat them up and go along fine. Heck, even the leaves are horribly poisonous to us but rabbits, sheep and cows can eat them without any obvious ill effects. And there’s not a great logic to why other mammals can eat the LEAVES, since that doesn’t actually spread the plant like seeds do.

    So it seems like as others have pointed out, the closer you look and the harder you cherry-pick, you can argue that almost any set of foods are terrible for us. Even water will poison you in certain circumstances. There’s just still so much unknown that it seems like most of these arguments are taking a half dozen pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, putting them together and insisting that the whole picture must be a field of daisies since all the pieces fit and that’s all they see.

    I don’t feel like Tim approaches it this way. I wound up here due to the Nerdist podcast and it seems like he is more balanced and less extreme. I think that’s a better approach, as too much of the extreme becomes “food religion” rather than “food science”.

    1. Oh, and one other thing I meant to include. This post also falls upon the whole “if you don’t believe my arguments, just try it for 30-60 days and see if you feel better.” But this is a massive change that scrambles all kinds of variables at the same time. First off, it will either drastically cut down or eliminate eating at restaurants. Likewise, it will probably drastically cut down on eating pre-packaged and processed food. Third, it will mean actually paying attention to what you eat instead of just blindly going with the flow. All of those things are recipes for success with all sorts of diets. Even if you didn’t go on a “diet” and just did those three things, you’d probably feel way better in 30-60 days.

      1. To some extent, you’re right, at least on the “this would make anyone feel better” front. On the restaurant front, I just went to Outback, got a large fatty ribeye and some broccoli, skipped the bread, and drank water. Not rocket science.

        As for the first two points Robb made, let me enumerate further:

        You’re right that certain things are harmful/beneficial to certain groups of animals. In our case, we’re talking about humans. So for humans (as well as other mammals) grains are detrimental, whereas (edible) fruits and veggies are not. Grains protect their offspring with phytic acid, to lock in and chelate metal nutrients to prevent their digestion by predators (us). Grains contain indigestible fibers that rip up your intestines. Grains contain lectins which inhibit repair of the GI tract (which things like excess wheat fiber make necessary). About 1% of people have Celiac disease (gluten = omg I feel like I’m dying), 1/3 of people are gluten intolerant/sensitive (gluten = wow that’s incredibly uncomfortable), and 100% of people release zonulin in response to gluten. Zonulin regulates tight junctions and intestinal permeability. Zonulin release = cells in the gut open up, leaving big holes for foreign proteins/bacteria/feces-in-the-bloodstream. If the undigested protein looks like your myelin sheath, your antibodies will kill them both and you will get multiple sclerosis. Same with the pancreatic beta cells and diabetes.

        So let me ask you, knowing this and the fact that insulin causes fat storage of carbohydrates, and that high carb diets prevent gluconeogenesis and fat-burning which causes fat accumulation and sugar/carb cravings…. is it worth it?

        Lastly, grain opiates. Anecdotally true, but not yet scientifically proven (though it’s quite likely): http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-wheat-addictive/#axzz25e2AoV51

        I appreciate the questions, and it’s always good to be skeptical of a diet. This isn’t just a diet though, as it’s backed by evolutionary biology and modern science, and can’t be generally defeated by saying “some things are bad for everyone” and “all diets that eliminate bad things will have the same results” (I hope I proved that last one especially wrong because people think that a whole-grain-heavy diet is healthy long-term). Let me know if you have any more questions.

      2. I still don’t see how this addresses the conflicting claims that plants developed chemicals to hurt us to protect from being eaten while simultaneously developing chemicals to make us addicted to eating them. It just doesn’t add up.

        Also, the phrase “anecdotally true, but not yet scientifically proven (though it’s quite likely” is quite telling. This is the kind of thinking that always winds up in these diets with a strong fan base. It’s cherry-picking, once again. You choose to believe the things that fit with what you’ve already decided to believe. You go by “common sense” and anecdotes and maybe even a rat study or two.

        It’s like the worst kind of terrible science reporting turned into a way of life.

      3. You’re right that would be dangerous if I were saying it was actually true/known that grains have an opiate effect on the brain. I do think it will be proven true because of the various studies shown in that article, wherein chemicals from digested wheat enter the bloodstream at the very least (the only question remaining is whether they cross the blood brain barrier and exert an opiate effect there – there is no question that the chemicals ARE opiates). Anecdotally, people find it incredibly hard to give them up and sometimes experience what they would call “withdrawal”, but whether that’s low-carb flu or wheat addiction one cannnot say.

        Secondly, I do see your point. The evolution of chemical plant defenses, like lectins (actively defend against predators), phytic acid (passively defends against predators by preventing nutrients from being digested by said predators), and other chemicals certainly support the first statement.

        The second statement is not that it’s evolutionarily advantageous for opiates in grains to keep predators coming back, but that’s just how it is (or might be, as he did not point out that difference). The chemical defenses of plants don’t get broken down – it’s our digestive processes that is making the opiates from gluten, thus it’s a freak accident of nature and not a technique designed by the plant. Whether or not you can actually get addicted to wheat, who knows.

        Does that make sense? And if you disagree with the science of the arguments I presented, go find studies to back yourself up – I’m not a fanatic, and I do have reputable experiments backing this stuff up.

      4. It seems like gluconeogenesis is a good thing in your response. Doesn’t gluconeogenesis mean that your body is feeding on protein (muscle) for energy? If there are no carbs, and fat burning is too slow, wont the body start burning muscle, which will lead to muscle loss?

  17. As far as I know it’s scientifically true that grains have opioids in them. But you have to remember…

    Humans aren’t they only predators plants have to worry about. Often times plant defense chemicals that are designed to efficiently kill smaller animals are non-lethal to humans. Caffeine and Nicotine come to mind. The opioids are no different.

  18. This article is a godsend to me! I had worked out that wheat makes me sick and I avoid it but I was mystified as to why. Mystery is now solved! The diet is fabulous except that I don’t eat meat. What are the most effective non-meat protein sources that are healthy options?

    1. Do you eat eggs or no? If you get whole milk (preferably without synthetic vitamins added, which some farmers markets have) or, even better, cheeses and greek yogurts (maybe with whey protein added) you can get plenty of protein to be healthy. You can also get whey protein from dairy sources or egg white sources, whichever you prefer.

      Beans are legumes (lectin-heavy) and not the greatest so I would advise against them, but they have some protein. Stay away from soy because it has phytoestrogens.

  19. I can buy into the idea that gluten causes a lot of issues for a lot of people, and that our overly refined grains-based diet just is bad news because of the high carb content. What I don’t buy into is the idea that grains don’t like to be eaten, therefore they are bad for you. based on that logic, might as well become a meat eating fruitarian, since fruits and veggies where one eats the fruit are the only plant parts that don’t emit nasty chemicals when being chewed. In fact, good old lettuce and spinach release far more potent insecticidal components than any grain ever will.

    There is a lot of science behind gluten intolerance, and there is also a lot of science behind the unhealthy nature of eating a lot of carbs from refined grains. But there is no science whatsoever behind the idea of tossing all grains overboard even in their whole forms. It’s all a matter of degree. If one is really gluten intolerant, the only way to find out is to remove the gluten from the diet for a little while, and then add it back and see if adding it back causes problems. And beware of the placebo effect and other side effects. One of the major side effects of the paleo diet is a natural increase in protein intake and a decrease in carb intake. Everyone is going to feel better as a result of this change. But the improvement doesn’t come from tossing grains overboard, it comes from eating more protein and less carbs. There’s really no more scientific evidence for the claim that the post-paleo height shrinkage came from grains as there is for the existence of UFOs. And grains are not the source of all Western medical ills – refined carbs and refined flours are the real culprit.

    Bottom line is, I like a lot of ideas in this article, and I am not going to sign on to an anti-grain religion. So yes, kudos on a lot of the ideas on what to eat, and the nice recipes, but can we please throw the dogma overboard? People ought to be wary of any sort of dietary dogma like paleo, fruitarianism or veganism – they’re all just yet another trip to go on. There is no panacea, bottom line is that a good, balanced diet which includes a lot of whole foods and very little processed foods will simply make you healthier. At that point, a bar of chocolate here and there and a little “deadly” grain won’t hurt you. Just stay away from wheat if you are gluten intolerant.

    1. A very sensible comment and very similar to what I wrote above. It really is a dogma, because people so want to *believe* in something. Something that will make their life better. With that approach, you get food religion, not food science.

      It would be fascinating to see a study where participants switched to the paleo diet, but it included a shake. In one group, it was a protein-rich shake. In the other, it was a gluten-rich one. Or maybe the same amount of protein PLUS gluten. I’m talking about the amount of gluten you’d be cutting out of your diet by going paleo. That would be a far better test of whether it’s the gluten that’s the problem or just the upending of your diet to cut out processed foods, refined sugars and your typical restaurant choices.

      1. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/10/paleolithic-diet-clinical-trials.html

        Note the second trial (study linked in-text), where the placebo effect is eliminated via comparison to a Mediterranean diet. I like the skepticism and rational thought before jumping into things, but here’s some more evidence that it’s a religion like soccer is one – a way of life.

        Also, even better point I can pose to you: if you had a set amount of calories to eat in a day, then would you eat more nutrient-dense foods or nutrient-poor foods? Assuming they were equally tasty, everyone would choose the nutrient-dense foods. So it should be with a 2000 calorie diet and meat or starchy veggies vs. grains. If you can name any vitamins or minerals that are more present (or even reasonably concentrated) in a slice of whole grain bread, I would be severely impressed. Please take into account phytic acid chelating metal minerals in your response.

        Here’s some helpful info if you need it: http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/living-with-phytic-acid

        Also, this line stuck out to me: “Phytates represent just one of many anti-nutrients in grains, nuts, tubers, seeds and beans. These include oxalates, tannins, trypsin inhibitors, enzyme inhibitors, lectins (hemagglutinins), protease inhibitors, gluten, alpha-amylase inhibitors and alkylresorcinols.” What is your take on those in “safe in moderation” grains?

      2. That’s a wonderful link, and the main point this link makes is that it’s best to eat your grains and legumes in a more processed, cooked form. I can buy that. Raw grain isn’t very tasty at all. Good nutrition is about variety and moderation. Meat is loaded with substances that are also bad for you. But going on an extreme and trying to eat like a caveman doesn’t make sense. I have felt much better when I increased the protein in my diet. But I ended up feeling much worse when meat and high protein food was practically all I ate. Most people eat way too many carbs and will naturally feel better when reducing carbs and increasing protein intake. But this is still a far cry from an absolute anti-grain religion. The bottom line is that saying we should only eat what is meant to be eaten is silly, because then eliminate meat too, because grains are no more happy about being eaten than animals are. Fruits are “meant to be eaten” and eating too much fruit is bad for you because of the overwhelming amount of fructose. If you absolutely need a religion, then sign on to the omnivore religion – eat meat, plants, grains, insects, dairy, eggs, anything that isn’t overly processed to death.

        The only people who benefit from food religions are the priests. They make a ton of money by selling their diets, because what they sell is hope. Meanwhile, everyone knows the right answer: variety and moderation, but that’s not a message you can make money with.

      3. Yes, one of the main issues with grains is the phytic acid vs. nutrient density thing, which is removed by soaking and sprouting. But I don’t see any grains, processed or not, which are pre-soaked unless you do that yourself. Thus, the argument against the grains is still valid, not to mention gluten/lectins that are not denatured by heat.

        The paleo framework/theory is just that, a theory. It’s based on evolutionary biological principles though, and therefore a paleo hypothesis is more likely to be correct on a probability basis, and is thus a way of minimizing risk while maximizing gains from a health standpoint. Evolution differentiates between animals and plants that do not want to be eaten via their defense mechanisms. Animals move, plants do not. If an animal doesn’t want to be eaten it runs, bites, etc. If a plant does not want to be eaten, it makes bright colors, it blends in with its surroundings, or it makes chemical defenses similar to a fire ant (but less obvious). Animals therefore do not waste extra resources making chemcial defenses against other animals in their arms, for example. That is the THEORY, and you’re right that it’s not necessarily true for all plants (or else starchy tubers would be non-paleo). I consider paleo to be the connection between foods that are likely to be evolutionarily beneficial as well as safe via modern preparation methods, and I incorporate facts like “rice miRNA impacts LDL receptor function” (see: nature) into my personal flavor of the “paleo diet”.

        Variety and moderation of non-processed foods is easy to say, but i’m talking optimal health here, not better-than-most. Variety of non-starchy vegetables is good though, because that prevents high intake of dose-dependent vegetable toxins. Likewise, cutting the fat off of grain-fed meat will prevent your intake of factory-farmed animal toxins from sick animals. If you’re eating grass-fed, eat the whole thing. That’s science and variety coming together in a wonderful blend of food. Unless you’re soaking your grains and killing off the lectins, I don’t see how meat and grains are even comparable. I’m happy you enjoyed the link, but I’m still not convinced that this science is a religion. I agree with the fruit/fructose issue (in fact I just wrote a paper about it for a class) and it’s one of the many points where theory + science combine to make informed food choices. In some cases moderation is the answer there, in terms of grains I don’t see that. Perhaps you can get away with soaked buckwheat or quinoa as best of all grains if you must have moderation, but you’d be missing out on an even healthier omelette.

  20. What I don’t understand is…. if you’re eating Paleo – how did they make cream? Or cheese? Or drink milk? Isn’t this diet based on a time before our systems learned to tolerate lactose?

    1. Use paleo not as a strict “you must eat old foods to be healthy”, but as a tool for “this is more likely to be healthier than that”. If you can tolerate dairy, that’s a wonder of modern cavemen/women and you should take advantage of it with some full-fat dairy products esp. fermented for some awesome calcium. Full fat’s better not because carbs are bad (unless you seem to do better on low-carb, which some do – that’s the experimenting part) but because fat is the healthiest part of milk and it contains the important fat-soluble vitamins. Also, yogurt or cheese > milk. Enjoy

  21. I have been 100% gluten-free for over a year. I am a 55 year old active woman. I was just SICK of being sick ALL THE TIME! I had lost my youthful zip, and was tired of just dragging myself around. I cycled several days a week, but was still not “me”. I stopped eating bread years ago because it immediately made my gut blow up, but I would have pizza and pasta once every week or 2 without any immediate reaction.

    Since going 100% gluten-free: I no longer have pain in my head, hips or feet, I have had less respiratory infections and am able to recover in 7 days instead of 6-8 weeks, I dropped 10 lbs and now weigh 116 lbs. (?), I am able to focus, read again, and I sing and skip and laugh way more. I recognize this type of diet is very difficult for many folks, but 30 days is not difficult if you really want answers. 100% conviction will bring results. This site is priceless. Thank you.

  22. Hello,

    Can anybody give me some information regarding adapting this type of diet to strength training. I would like to give it a go but as I train a lot (I competed in natural bodybuilding) the meal plan above scares me when it comes to energy. I did get great results from a “normal” diet (great energy to train and dropped bodyfat to 6%), which contained grains, so I wonder how to adapt the proposed plan to support 5/6 workouts a week (weights and cardio). Is it just a matter of adjusting the size of each meal?

    Amy advice welcome,

    many thanks,

    Jmf

    1. Jean-Marc,

      In answer to your question, I would suggest that it might be worth asking yourself why, if the so-called “normal diet” worked for you so well previously, you would consider doing this.

      Despite Robb’s admittedly impressive bona fides, there’s just not a lot of good evidence to suggest that eliminating grains is necessary, or even desirable, for a typical person. Emphasis, of course, on typical.

      1. Well I think there would be health benefits that aren’t related to your bodyfat levels. You’d want higher carb if you’re working out that hard, so don’t go low carb. Intermittent fasting, carb refeeds after workouts (and lower carb on rest days) can help keep a low body fat. See: http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2012/04/adelfo-cerame-road-to-wheelchair_12.html

        The best grains are: steel cut oats, buckwheat, and quinoa, if you want to keep eating some of them, and I highly doubt they’ll cause terrible issues.

        But to answer your question Brian C, there is lots of evidence that gluten plays a causative role in most diseases of civilization (not saying they’re the only factor, of course, but clearly they are A factor): http://evolvify.com/the-case-against-gluten-medical-journal-references/

  23. Hi,

    I am very lost to what can be health lately. I understand and agree that wheat is very bad for you, but i also know that eating to much animal protein make your blood very acid. Therefore, you will lose calcium from your bones in order to bring your blood to be alkaline.

    1. This should help: http://www.westonaprice.org/blogs/2010/02/10/does-meat-really-leach-calcium-from-the-bones/

      Long story short, meat is acid-producing but protein causes increased calcium uptake, so it’s not “leeched from bones” so much as you pee out more of it because it’s more bioavailable.

      So meat = strong bones (especially for the elderly). I wouldn’t agree with what some paleos say also that dairy isn’t good for bones, but it’s true that if you’re already taking in enough calcium the meat, which has more protein, will give you more bone benefit.

  24. Very good. I always feel much better when I eat like this. I have no problems now not eating bread etc and lose the craving for chocolate when I am off it for 2 weeks and life feels better without the roller coaster of the sugar addict which in some ways is not too different from being addicted to cocaine or alcohol.

    My only issue now is needing to lose the 28 pounds I put on when I fell off the wagon for a couple of years. Even if I never lost any weight eating well like this is great but I cannot feel quite myself, don’t look good, reluctant to date at this weight and yet I cannot lose it. I know exactly how to lose it – no nuts and raisins, no fruit whilst losing weight and don’t eat those things between meals but I cannot make myself do that, cannot make myself only eat when hungry but I must. There is a family wedding in the Autumn. Just about everyone will be slim on both sides of the family and I don’t want to stick out as the fatter one.. However I am not going back on to diet drinks and missing meals as it just makes me head for chocolate.

    Dark chocolate cacao does not work for me sadly as it is like speed on my brain, same effect as amphetemine and always seems to lead to going back on to chocolate even though it’s better. It all started on a cocao plantation in Panama where I bought some and after that 2 years of bingeing on sugar.

    Anyway very good article. My late mother had very bad osteoporosis. I hope I don’t when the time comes later in life.

  25. Very interesting article…! I have been having intestinal and digestive problems for several years now, I’m not a big eater of grains, breads, pastas etc. I just can’t digest them. But my biggest problem is sugar….I can’t stay away for CANDY…! I eat quite a lot of fruit and veggies, and try to eat protein also….just trying to figure out how I should be eating. My doctors haven’t found anything so far. And yes, just thinking about eating breads and pastas indeed makes my gut hurt…!!

  26. It has be frequently stated that we don’t have enough land to raise enough beef on grass. Phil has stated this here. But you get more beef per acre by grazing cattle on grass than the land taken up by corn and soybean farming. And we have enormous areas of grass (lawns) that could provide for feeding many, many ruminants.

    Next problem?

  27. Um, this whole Paleo idea is pretty retarded. I have tried it, along with every other fad diet under the sun. What works for my family and has had amazing results is eating a 100% plant based diet. We eat tons of fresh fruit, fresh & cooked vegetables, beans, nuts, legumes, coconut fats, limited soy and a moderate amount of grains. After 12 years of eating an exclusively plant based diet my husband and I have experienced more energy, more stamina (hiking up mountains like never before), PERFECT blood results, amazing sex, a feeling of well being (not eating animals), my husbands eyesight has improved so much that his contact prescription has been reduced twice… I just can’t say enough about how a plant based diet has improved my life. It makes me sad to read articles and comments on this page, because so many people are going to live much shorter lives and be sick. Also, this cruel animal farming will continue as long as people promote such ridiculous “Paleo”, “Atkins”, etc fad diets. Just give it up already and realize that for optimal health, you need to give up eating animals and their secretions! Better for you, better for the planet.

  28. My first problem with this article is the title. Fecal matter entering the blood stream would likely kill an individual rather quickly from septic infection. The fantastic relation of the title is simply a trap for the unsuspecting sap looking for a magic bullet for their beer gut.

    This article has compelling claims but hasn’t referenced any of them. The absorption of amino acid dimers being immunogenic is a very tall claim considering that the immune system reacts to much larger molecules (they didn’t explain just how small 2 amino acids are).

    Suggesting that gluten or gluten like proteins ‘interact’ with transglutamase and thus altering it’s activity everywhere in the body (implying that gluten-like immunogenic proteins completely make it across the intenstinal wall intact) implies that there’d be a serious deviation of the emzyme’s ability to function normally: this would be a scenario likely incompatible with life.

    Gluten may be quite a foreign protein to the body. Perhaps even a protein that hadn’t been introduced to the human race until rather recent meaning our bodies haven’t yet evolved a way to properly digest it. This article, nor it’s physician’s referenced sources, have provided any credible evidence that gluten isn’t denatured enough and broken down in the small intestinal lumen to be absorbed like any other protein. Nor have they touched on the consequences of non-broken down protein still in the intestines (likely benign).

    Those with Celiac’s have a definite reaction to gluten. Celiac’s disease is characterized by malabsorption syndrome, anemia and chronic inflammatory sequelae. This article claims that we all have in fact a form of Celiac’s yet do not present with similar symptoms.

    Furthermore, suggesting that gluten containing foods react with opiate receptors would suggest that these foods would have use in chronic pain if it were to have such ‘addictive’ properties, ironically speaking. The writer has skillfully omitted how addiction is largely a psychiatric issue stemming from within the individuals. This is why most addicts have issues with multiple substances, strangely pasta isn’t often one of them. Individuals become addicted to substances, the substances don’t ’cause’ addiction the way the DEA would have us believe.

    Perhaps it would be beneficial to modify our diets, I’ll even try it, but I’m not buying the less than credible explanation. Enough pseudoscience to shock and awe the general public like a street performer selling the latest tonic on top of a milk crate.

    -Pharmacist

  29. I must say, as substantially as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt help but lose interest after a while. Its as if you had a good grasp on the subject matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from much more than one angle. Or maybe you shouldnt generalise so considerably. Its better if you think about what others may have to say instead of just going for a gut reaction to the subject. Think about adjusting your very own believed process and giving others who may read this the benefit of the doubt.

  30. Hi there, great article on the damaging effect of grains. You seem to have done your share of research on the topic,…but it leaves me to wonder why you haven’t researched the damaging effect of eggs and meat? I can write an article ten times as long as this one on what negative things meat does to your body. I find it strange that you’d choose to avoid whole wheat bread over a disease infested chicken…..don’t you? Don’t you think it’s strange to avoid mingling with your own feces, but you don’t mind eating a pig that eats it’s own feces? This is not meant to be rude or critical, I’m just extremely curious on how you would reply to this. Thanks!

  31. Great post! I have worked with Robb multiple times in Crossfit. I’m good friends with him, and thankfully so. This guy knows SO MUCH.

    One thing I have learned is there are no g’dam excuses. I know people reading this will say “Oh, i see… but I cant cut pasta!”. Well… then youll die early and never perform or feel like you want to.. case closed. People need to decide whats more important.. life or the “thrill” of pasta……

  32. Hi there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us

    so I came to take a look. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!

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  33. Check your facts on saponin in quinoa. First of all by soap-like, a more accurate descriptor would be amphipathic. 8 of 21 of our amino acids (Ala, Val, Ile, Leu, Met, Phe, Tyr and Trp) are all amphipathic or “soap like” as are the lipid molecules that make up all of our cell membranes.

    Saponins have been shown to actually lower cholesterol because they prevent reabsorption after being excreted as bile (http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/saponin.html). There is also evidence that they may inhibit metastasis of cancer cells (http://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy-um.researchport.umd.edu/pubmed/23717968). I will give you this, they are able to penetrate cell membranes because they are amphipathic but at the end of the day there is not enough research to make such definitive claims about saponins. A PubMed search on saponin will turn up literally thousands of studies.

    Lastly, spinach also contains saponins. Should I cut spinach out of my diet too?

  34. I thought I understood the no-grains, no-dairy, no-legumes idea, but the one-week sample plan lists roasted green beans. Aren’t green beans legumes?

  35. Great article, really laid things out in terms of the science. I feel he kinda skipped over the whole eating gluten every 10-15 days can maintain damage, which would effectively negate the gluten-free benefits of the SCD because of cheat day. How much damage does gluten once every 7-10 days do? how long do the effects persist? Is there research/ theory that can be cited? Of course I’m bias because I’ve followed a slightly modified SCD for about 1 month now and probably could not cope without mah cheat days.

    But I really love Robb and his work, really clicked with me. I loved him speaking on JRE. And, really my modified SCD (sweet potatoes added, because I do terrible on low-carb, also practice muay thai, which is just too exhausting for me on low-carb. very occasionally having fruit) looks a lot like paleo.

    1. Alex, I thought your response was very good. If I were you I’d do gluten free cheat days – you can still have pretty awesome GF treats and save your intestines. I’ve read that if you eat gluten every few weeks it will keep your intestines constantly inflamed (I might have read that in Tim Ferriss’ book, I can’t remember). Gluten is EVIL.

      I did something stupid a couple of months ago and took cayenne pepper capsules on a cleanse. I could tell they did something really bad to my intestines and my skin broke out as badly as when I was a teenager (the cleanse was supposed to make it better). Probably tiny amount of cayenne would have been okay, but these capsules were not tiny. I ordered Renew Life’s Intestinew and I could almost feel it working. It contains L-glutamine, which I’ve taken for years, and some other ingredients as well. Once the container is gone I will go back to straight L-glutamine, but I would highly recommend this product (can be found on iherb, if you need a coupon, PEY 561 works).

  36. For those folks who wish to be vegan or vegetarian, more power to you. But I take issue with the “we all need to stop eating meat so that we can covert the land used to raise meat to feed people argument.” Not all ecosystems can sustainable produce human plant food but work well to produce animals. For example the great plains raise cattle and/or bison equally well, vegetables and grain farming not so much. Or on a personal note, we live in the well watered sunny south but our yard is fully shaded with less than 2 hours of sun a day and soggy acid soils. So we have shitake mushr ooms and chickens. Works for us.

  37. Hello all, just wanted to pop in and say I am definitely going to start this diet. I’m 20 years old and was just diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. As you can imagine it was pretty devastating, especially because my case is considered severe. After reading this artical I’m thinking that all the grains I was consuming might have played a huge role in my getting the disease, as well as a predisposition (my grandfather had it and my father has a very mild case of it). I’m on remicade and imuran as well as being weened off prednisone but I’m still feeling…crappy (pun somewhat intended (gotta find humour where I can)). Anyway I actually can’t eat many things that are on the paleo approved list, like nuts and raw veggies. Raw fruits like apples and stawberries are to be eaten in moderation as are tomatoes. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can still get the proper nutrients into my body, without setting off my UC?

      1. Thank you for this information! I’m going to have to do some research and see which one I think would work the best for me. Maybe try them both and just record everything and make a decision based off that. Everyone on here is so helpful it’s really nice 🙂

        Thank you again for the links, very informative and that book sounds like an interesting read.

      2. I think that you will find that specific carbohydrate diets will provide a suitable basis for your diet. It should be possible to modify the diet a little as you go along, but for the induction period it would be advisable to stick with the prescribed program and food lists.

        I use the GAPS version of the diet, as the program is easy to understand and follow. Here are the details of the introductory diet:

        http://www.gapsdiet.com/INTRODUCTION_DIET.html

        More details here:

        http://www.gaps.me/

        http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2010/02/the-gaps-diet-what-it-is-and-why-you-might-consider-doing-it.html

        http://nourishedkitchen.com/what-is-the-gaps-diet/

        Good luck!

    1. Amy

      Sorry about your condition.There rae plenty of people who think if you eat lots of good meat, fish, eggs you will receive just about all the vitamins you have. Beef alone has many more than most veg and an egg gives you loads of vitamins you would have to eat a load of spinach to obtain. If you manage it try a breakfast of something ilke bacon and eggs, lunch salmon omlet (I add peppers and courgettes but you may not be allowed those if they disagree with you) and perhaps a large piece of steak for dinner (if you can afford it). I also like mixed sea food omlets as there is a lot of goodness in things like oysters, mussels etc if you like those.

      I am not against the occasional sweet potato too with butter.

      I eat no grains nor any processed foods and virtually no dairy products and only drink water and never seem to be ill. I can only very rarely have nut and raisins as I need to lose some weight.

      1. Thank you for such a quick reply, it’s so wonderful to see how everyone is so supportive and encouraging in this community. (this one time I talked about not being able to eat nuts and someone said I could just grind them up really finely and eat them like powder, gross haha) Those recipes sound awesome 🙂 I am so going to try them out. (Especially the seafood omelet yum). But really thank you for sharing that info with me, eggs were always a staple in my diet and now they are becoming more so, so it’s great to know the health benefits.

        -Amy

  38. Hi there, sorry, this post is very old, I’m very late to the party. Since this is Tim’s blog, most of us follow the slow carb diet. It’s gluten-free 6/7 days of the week. Does the one day of gluten binging totally remove the benefits of a mostly gluten free diet, or is the effect of removing gluten scalable?

    I’d really love to hear Robb or Tim’s thoughts on this, or anyone savvy with some reliable information on his.

    Thanks

    btw, I really thought this was a great post..

  39. Hey, great article! I agree with the concept and am a keto fan…but could you please stop using pictures of fat people with their faces/heads not shown? It’s extremely demoralizing and demeaning. I was once that big and those pictures didn’t alert me to my own health nor inspire me…the opposite is true! They are motivation killers. Please stop this objectifying habit, please. Also, pleaase realize that people of ALL SIZES need to stop the carb craziness. Showing only these headless fat people glosses over the fact that many thin unhealthy people could benefit from this!

    Love,

    A former morbidly obese person WITH a head

  40. you did not mention salt. as far as i know, salt is also forbidden on Paleo. i have two small children, ages 3 and 1 and i cannot make them eat some meat, while i sneak in some chicken and fish in their diet. Dairy is a daily must for their growing bones and pasta, rice and potatoes are a staple in their weekly menues. I certainly want them to grow healthy without endangering their growing bodies, but what healthy substitutes will you suggest for small kids like mine?

  41. I’ve been doing the 4 hour body and recently read about the Paleo diet which doesn’t allow legumes. They do bother me even eating mostly refried black beans for two meals and not all three. Would it be ok to still follow your diet and cut out the beans? It sounds like you approve of Paleo. If legumes bother my digestive system would you recommend Paleo instead?

  42. Whoa! I came here to look at recipes and there are certainly much divided opinions. When I was vegetarian, I became anemic. When I tried vegan, I had the worst candida reaction. I also made Seitan practically ALL gluten and under an hour felt like I had the worst hay fever.

    I was also diagnosed with a genetically inherited neuro disorder and with this get headaches and balance issues. Out of desperation, as I wasn’t a big meat eater, I decided to try GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), which has very similar elements to paleo as it is grain free. Two months in and I have had improvements and hardly any headaches. However, I can’t go into ketosis as this make me very ill.

    I think the message here is that we need to go with what works with our bodies. I sometimes struggle with eating meat, but feeling better and starting to function outweighs this. I try and buy organic but if I can’t I don’t, but I’d much rather follow a food system that works, rather than raise my hand up and quite because I can’t afford organic all the time.

    As the saying goes “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”.

  43. What do you think about Einkorn grain. I read that it is an ancient grain that has not gone through the hybridization of other grains. The US government has tested this on people who have celiac disease and their intestinal lining showed no ill effects.

  44. I get that I’m waaaay behind the 8 ball here, but I’ve been GF for 10+ years. Best decision I’ve ever made. I eat some grains sometimes but for the most part, I avoid them. I lost 10 lbs. (I never been overweight really) in the first 2 months after just cutting out gluten. Better than losing weight is feeling good and not having horrible digestive problems. It’s a win win.

    People react very poorly to hearing this but if they’d just try it . . .

    Also, I just got a juicer so now I juice cleanse once weekly & that is really treating me well.

  45. I’ve been told by numerous doctors that I need to have my gallbladder removed because my gallstones are causing complications. The surgeon should be calling me tomorrow to book the consult. No one ever mentioned to me how gallstones form. I’ve been trying to save my gallbladder for almost a year, but with these past few attacks the doctors convinced me to get it removed. Now I’m doubting it again! But they’ll just fight me on it and I’m not educated enough to debate them. Oh dear….

    1. Kristen, gallstones, dozens, liver stones, hundreds, can be flushed out by an easy and fun process using nothing more than olive oil, lemon juice, epsom salts, and apple juice. Hulda Clark has the best recipe, and she recommends a parasite cleanse first, which is also easy and can be done two hours before the liver flush begins. Search on “clarkia” will locate an inexpensive kit for parasite cleanse. Search on “regehr gallstone cleanse” should locate Hulda Clark’s recipe which is better than several in books I’ve read. Basically all I take from Clark is her recipes for parasite cleanse, liver and gall bladder flush, and her kidney tea recipe is great but for that I usually just use capsules of Indian or Ojibwe or Essiac(Rene Caisse) Tea, 3 burdock, one turkey rhubarb, one slipper elm.

    2. Watch Andreas Moritz on liver and gall bladder cleanse on youtube. I did 18 so far. No more stones at #15 and 16 and a few months later the biggest stones ever came out. If you have a gall bladder attack, take 1 heaped tbsp Epsom salt in 3/4 cup of water on an empty stomach. Just watch Moritz 🙂 ! Research and get well!!!

    3. I hope u find alternatives. I was on anti anxiety meds when the pain started, the dr said not possible as a side affect. I went and found out gallstones as the cause and surgery needed. Well couldn’t afford the copay so planned it for a few months out. In meantime an ins issue caused me to go off meds for a bit and the pain left. Never got the surgery and rarely have pain now. Not paleo but have been limiting processed foods eating more natural foods. Do believe food affects well being drastically as well as chemucals in foods and meds.

  46. So following your logic we are not aloud to eat any seeds at all (incl. grains, seeds, nuts and legumes) because they are all embrios of the actual plant? That limits the options. 🙁

  47. Tim – I have been a long time follower of your work from your first book. I appreciate all your insight and forward thinking when it comes to better living. I have been researching topics to become even better then I am currently and I have been introduced to the Paleo diet from several friends. This blog post sealed the deal for me, I’m throwing out all my bread, pasta, and whatever garbage I have in my fridge and reinventing the way I eat. I hope someday, Sir, that I get to meet you and have some wine and talk about all the cool stuff in life! Cheers, Mate!

    1. just some side points – the food we buy today has very little to do with palaeolithic food, in terms of nutrition etc.

      we’ve also had a body long time to adjust to grains, as a species.

      other v than that, it certainly sounds like concepts to , and an adventurous diet, why not.

      I’d say find out what works for you, put the hours in. Were all human mammals on planet Earth , but not every gut is the same. Sound like too much work? That’s how you get results im afraid. that’s how Tim does it too BTW.

      (I’ve been hearing about paleo for years and was expecting it to fade already. so maybe there s some time proof there…)

      PS: I find it entertaining how half of the comments assume the grain info was written by Tim…

  48. What do you think about soft boiled eggs instead? I watched a podcast of dave asprey where the guy said that hard boiled or fried eggs become acidic.

  49. Hey Tim, great article (as usual). As someone who is starting to learn about this, there are lots of statements like ‘it is clear that X’ but lack any reference to the actual studies. I know in a previous post about cancer as a metabolic disease, you posted links to actual references. Any chance to do that on articles like these in the future? Or is there a reference list you used to base this on? I know it adds a bit of time on your, but would be awesome for further reading (especially since some of these claims are not clear by just reading your article). Thank you!

  50. This might be tmi, but I’d never had a regular menstrual cycle since I first started at 13, I’d probably have it at most 4 times a year, went to multiple doctors, they examined me and I seemed fine, no cysts or anything like that, said it just happens sometimes. One put me on BC pills (I’ve since stopped taking them). Last December I decided to go paleo, and I’ve been having regular monthly periods since then, it’s a bit shocking that it made such an immediate difference. I’ve also lost about 25 pounds as well (but I did do a juice fast for 10 days in April and didn’t really gain much of the weight back either). SInce May I’ve been in italy though and it’s a bit difficult to eat paleo when you’re staying at someone’s home. I haven’t gained any weight back, but since I’ve started eating a gluten rich diet, I have more bloating, constipation and I’m on allergy meds (but that may just be pollen from spring/summer since i’m in the countryside)..

  51. Wow! I’m 48 and have vitiligo (autoimmune disorder) since the age of 6. Up to this point, I’ve enjoyed stellar health despite the predisposition to an assortment of ailments. 3 months ago, I go for an annual physical and, as usual, all blood work comes back normal except for one showing renal insufficiency. The doctor thinks maybe I was dehydrated. Fast forward 3 months, we recheck and find the same result. 2 weeks ago, I arise from bed and nearly pass out as if blood flow restricted to brain. Symptoms continue and persist for 6 straight days with accompanying nausea. No vertigo symptoms, just feeling extremely lightheaded and mild to moderate nausea. On 6th day, I go to hospital and numerous imaging studies (all done w/out contrast because of renal insufficiency) done of carotid and vertebral arteries, brain, head, etc and everything comes back negative. Followed up with primary a few days ago (more blood and urine tests). We are checking to see if autoimmune response (among other things) is the culprit for renal and inner ear issues. I’m a big fan of rice and bread but, experimentation is now in order. Thanks for the info!

    1. The term paleo is a rather misleading one. It really depends which actual period we are talking about. Most recent studies show that primitive humans had a largely varied diet similar to our ancestors, in common with apes and monkeys. Meat would be a rare treat to which our guts are not particularly suited. Modern medical studies show that people who eat a mainly vegetarian diet, particularly with low levels of red and processed meat, and who include whole grains in their diets, fare better in terms of heart disease and bowel cancer.

  52. So is it really the glutens that are a problem or the other stuff described in the post? The author references gluten at a very high level throughout, but the detailed explanation only relates gluten to Celiac (which most of us do not have). The rest of the detailed explanation discusses stuff like lectin, saponins, phytates and protease inhibitors as what is bad for us. My understanding is that these things are highly correlated with gluten, but that they aren’t the same. I think the post should make this distinction more clear. For example, are there gluten free foods that contain WGA and thus should still be avoided? Or are there gluten containing foods that are free of lectins, etc that don’t necessarily need to be given up?

  53. I was diagnosed last in September 2013 with the auto immune vitiligo as mentioned in the post. This is where my body loses pigment in my skin. The Dermatologist said it was permanent.

    I started removing gluten from my diet and now, with the help of the summer sun my Skin is starting to repigment.

    I know it will take time for my gut to heal and since skin is the least vital of organs it’s usually the last to heal. But i’m confident in the kicking of grains i’ll gain my pigment back.

  54. Wow! I feel enlightened. This wasn’t easy to follow as I’m from Germany, the land of bread and beer – and had to read some sentences twice, as there were a lot of the medical terms. But, holy smokes. Might this be the answer I was looking for?

    I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons and am struggling with the nutritional side of a gluten-free diet. I would really like to try it and find the cure to the many added problems in my body. But, would it even be smart? Or do I have to give up my values to survive this mess and start eating dead cow again?? :/

  55. What’s missing from this discussion? The other creatures that live in our gut that break down some of these “bad” substances into necessary nutrients.

    Any diet that doesn’t consider effects of these other critters, that outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1, is simplistic and potentially misleading.

  56. I’m curious…. You slam grains as the devil…

    But your menu consists of several meals with “beef”. Are we not concerned with high levels of saturated fat, clogged arteries, and heart desease; which red meat causes. I also see salmon listed several times. But most salmon sold is “farmed raised”.. Overcrowding ponds full of fatty salmon, which destroys it’s nutritional value. Also, you have tuna listed in back to back days. A 150lb person should eat chick light tuna once every three days or albacore once every nine days due to the high level of mercury. If missed you warm people about these killers… I apologize. If I didn’t miss it, let’s really educate people on how the food industry really uses people to make money. And is destroying us with crap like this.

  57. Sounds great. Unfortunately that menu would double my food bill, and vastly increase the amount of cooking at breakfast time. I can’t digest potatoes at all, and onions give me heartburn. Some of those things I never even heard of. Fish and real meat are far too expensive to eat every day let alone at every meal. As usual with these diets, only rich people with cooks can follow them.

    Breakfast needs to be fast and microwavable. Lunch needs to be portable and require no more than 5mins preparation yet be the largest meal. Evening meal must be light and again no more than 5 mins preparation so it has time to go down before exercise classes.

    No potatoes, no onions, no balsamic vinegar (it’s vile), no crock pot, no weird veg that’s not available except at a premium. No expensive nuts and what the heck is ceviche? No rotissery, no kelp pasta.

    Can you try a menu for normal people on a small budget without all the expensive meat and fish, and without shops stocked with weird imported veg?

    please?

  58. Hi Tim and Robb, Excellent post!

    I have a question about grain’s evolved mechanisms. Grain, as you say, goes down with a fight but it goes down nonetheless. How is this defense mechanism actually working out for grain if we, humans at least, do in fact, however poorly, digest the grain? Is grain adapted to cause diarrea in other animals than humans? Is it a tale of competing evolutionary tracks where humans have only evolved part-way to deal with grain’s toxic load?

  59. Enjoying your work Tim, which I’ve just discovered, loving The 4 hour Body. Where do children fit into all of this? Having been raised on a ‘hippy’ whole food diet all my life, my tendency is to give my daughter brown rice and oats as part of her diet. Am I harming her? Best, Emma

  60. Tim, you said in your book The 4 hour body that the best diet is the one you can stick to. This is why you suggested to have 1 cheat day in the slow carb diet, when you can eat anything.

    Because Bread and pasta are yummy, and a lot of people – maybe me included – won’t be able to stick to it, at least not without a cheat-day occasionally. So Robb & Tim, in this diet, are there any cheat days?

  61. Tim this seems to conflict with your slow carb approach, am I missing something? Legumes and lentils bad, fruit ok etc? This is what is so frustrating for people trying to eat healthy! Please help!

  62. Hi Tim. Great article. Very in depth while at the same time not overtly preachy. I just have a question about vegetarianism and this diet. Without wanting to go into the egalitarian/health reasons for/against vegetarianism, what can one eat other than tempeh? In Australia we have this brand of fungus meat called Quorn, which is quite delicious, but I am dubious about how good it is for us to eat. Thanks. 🙂

  63. This totally makes sense. When I eat nothing but vegetables, fruit, and meat I have energy to burn. Add in dairy and any kind of grain, and I feel crappy. It’s that simple

  64. Hey Tim!

    Here in Brazil we are in a hype moment about the gluten free diet, but most of the people follow it don’t have a clue on why. I was a little bit sceptical about it, mostly because it’s hype… Not before studying a little bit. But I still have doubts…

    I have been following the Blood diet for 12 years now. I’m type A Blood, meaning basically a vegetarian diet with eggs, chicken and fish as neutral foods. I follow with with added eggs and fish daily, no red meat, no damaging foods for my system (like tomato).

    When I started this diet I had significant boosts in energy, focus and other positive feedbacks. But now I have eliminated legumes (lentils) due to stomach irritability. I have NO problem with Brown Rice or white beans. I also did one week only on Brown Rice. No problem, good results in energy and system cleanup…

    I ended up following a almost full paleolitc diet, naturally to eliminate the white carbohydrates.

    That’s good and maybe a clue, BUT, before trying it…

    Since I believe in the blood diet, and have been having positive gains for almost a decade, and being observed that globally 40% of the population is Type O, type A around 30% and B and AB the rest, I found that most diets are a mix of the recommendations of Type O and A (the two dominant then), whereas type O is a meat based diet (without grains and dairy) and type A a vegetable based diet (based on grains and legumes). The researches and diets that I read most of the times recommend something based on an 60% of good results in a group, but in none or few studies, the distribution of the participants is done with Blood type in mind, so one can have results that Grain is bad for 60% of a group, but it could be that 60% of it is type O. (i might be wrong and researches do look the blood type, or not, since we booth know a lot of things are underlooked)…

    So, Since the Blood Diet follows the same thinking as the Paleo Diet, being the evolution of the human populations, from a basic hunter practice (Type O, more carnivorous), to farms (type A more grains) and mixed practices (like the B and AB type), I question if the Paleo diet discoveries Are more fit for type O, since the Type A has adapted to a more Grain diet along the evolution of the human populations over the thousand years. *IF you follow the Blood type logic, of course…

    That’s also why maybe some have bigger or fewer problems with gluten based diets.

    DO you have any thoughts on that???

    Thanks!

  65. Dear Tim,

    If I may ask… what is the rationale behind adding a tablespoon of baking soda when soaking your lentils?

    Kindest Regards,

    Dom

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  67. I would say everybody is different and can react to different things and raw food or any other diet is not a exception. We shouldn’t create a dogma. I can not say which diet is the best but I can say that so far raw food works the best for me since I was on normal diet, Paleo diet and now on raw food (all my allergies or even inflammation of the intestine is gone and doctors said I will be taking pills to the rest of my life). But there are definitely some negatives in regards of un-cooking, digestive problems or even right food intake in order you could get all nutrients to your body. [Moderator: link removed]

  68. Awesome article! Passing this on to others. This whole month, I have not eaten any foods with legumes, dairy or grains in it. 15 days in I got heartburn and I have never had this before. Any insight by anyone would be appreciated. I have heard that probiotics(ie Apple Cider Vinegar) can help. Should I continue with this diet as is so my gut can heal or try supplementing probiotics?

  69. Not. Not. Professionals, athletes, soccer specially, where there they don’t use anabolic steroids or drug like in American football and American athletes or cyclists. They are full of vitality, 99% are full of hairs and without grey hairs. They eat plenty of grains, the Italians, Spaniards eat a lot of wheat. Just all this thing contradict you. There is any leak gut, any inflammation in the gut. They have the ultimate tehcnology to check they performance. Think about it. Your theory is to believe or not. It is on the wake of the paranoia pose. Nevertheless, I wont eat any grains or sugars never more.

  70. I haven’t had my gallbladder for over 20 years. I immediately gained 45+ lbs that I’ve been able to shed. What do you suggest I do?

  71. This was a great read! I really enjoyed the in depth perspective.

    However, (and yes I read the “Note from Tim”) is this a correction I should apply to the slow carb diet?! I don’t think 4HB mentions anything about baking soda and trypsin.

    Will soaking it in baking soda for a day also take care of the various health issues besides trypsin?

    What about canned beans?

    This article is great but such a bummer at the same time. I love beans and legumes. I always knew Slow Carb had its similarities to Paleo but beans seem like a staple on the SC diet, and I seem to do much better on it.

    What would Tim do?

  72. If you live in the bay area, PlateJoy.com has been tremendously helpful for following a Paleo diet (and eliminating countless other foods). They send you organic groceries and recipes that meet your preferences, you can filter based on macros, etc. They deliver weekly (although I think you can do bi-weekly too) and cost is whatever they pay to buy your groceries for you at Whole Foods + $8 delivery.

    Never felt better in my life since eliminating gluten and dairy. Tim, what do you think about corn?

  73. I think it was Mat LaLonde who said in one of his AHS talks that studies have shown that wheat germ agglutinin was destroyed by the heat of normal cooking methods. Since just about nobody eats raw grains, wouldn’t that make most of the proposed etiology in this article moot? Or did Mat get it wrong?

  74. Great read. Does anyone know where beer falls into this plan? Should it be considered a “grain” and completely avoided? I understand beer contains gluten …just not sure where it falls I into this specific diet. Thanks!

  75. Hi Tim

    Don’t you advise eating legumes and beans in the low carb diet? What vegetarian options do I have besides lettuce and cabbage?? I eat chicken and fish as well but do need some veg alternatives also. Please advise.